Departures from Curriculum | Benefits of the Bunny Trails

Does the picture above remind you of something you’ve ever experienced?

When I was teaching and then after I became a homeschool mom, this was (all too often) ME!

I was always looking for ideas to make learning more fun and develop and nurture a student’s love for learning. I quickly realized that taking a short departure from the curriculum was all it took!

Advantages in taking short departures from scheduled curriculum

What do I mean by a short departure? It’s simply adding a quick, short unit study or bunny trail spurred by something not in the curriculum.

By doing this you can:

  • – Provide a productive break from the curriculum routine
  • – Open a child’s mind to new interests
  • – Continue to provide structure within which students can develop valuable skills in writing, research, observation, reading comprehension, and critical thinking all while widening content area learning in areas like science, geography, history or even math.

Where can you get some ideas?

It can be as simple as a quick trip to My Teaching Library’s Calendar page! On My Teaching Library, I have place hundreds of historical events, observations, holidays, and more on the calendar. I’ve done so to give you some ideas to take little detours in learning!

One thing I learned while teaching is this…Sometimes the most valuable lessons or biggest improvements in a student’s skill set came from what I call a ‘bunny trail’ lesson or a departure from the curriculum.

Finding My Teaching Library’s Calendar page

To check out the MTL calendar, simply go to the home page, scroll down past the “Skills & Concepts to Teach” and keep scrolling until you see Educational Planning Calendar

Then click on the words, View Calendar!

Here are a few examples of what you can find…

Example #1

On May 1st, you’ll see that the first U.S. Postal Card was issued. So, where could you go with this?

Perhaps you could do a quick study on the U.S. postal service. The end product could be asking students to do a timeline of what they found, do an oral report or for older students, create a PowerPoint.

Another idea would be to take the year, 1873, and investigate what other events occurred in the U.S. or even world history during that same year!

Example #2

On June 2, 1924, the U.S. granted citizenship to all Native Americans. WOW, this could lead to so many ‘bunny trail’ possibilities such as…

  • – A study of citizenship and the benefits that come with being a U.S. citizen
  • – A study on the process immigrants must go through to become U.S. citizens
  • – The effects (intended or otherwise) of this act in 1924 on Native Americans
  • – A study of a specific group of Native Americans, perhaps from your region of the country
  • -Native American reservations in the U.S. today

I could go on and on!

Finding Resources

I wish I could tell you that My Teaching Library has every resource you’ll ever need for all your ‘detours’. I can’t. However, I’m working on it! LOL

You can always do a key word search to see if MTL does…and remember that if your first key word doesn’t bring up something, try multiple different key words.

What I can do right this moment is to direct you to products that can be used again and again in multiple ‘detour’ studies.

The first is MTL’s Graphic Organizers. This is a set of 80 organizers from Venn diagrams to timelines that can be used for almost any study!

Another product is Generic Vocabulary Terms – Definitions Worksheet. This worksheet can be used for any study where students may be learning new words.

MTL also has Mini-Book Templates! Younger students can use these again and again to make mini-books about things they study.

If you want students to write on a topic, why not have them use MTL’s Newspaper Templates for Expository Writing! These templates can be used across the curriculum, for any study and students love to be a reporter!

I do hope I’ve given you some ideas on how you can expand learning while taking short departures from curriculum!



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