While reading this book, have children write a diary while pretending to be the canoe traveler. You could also have them draw the sights Paddle sees along the way.
The following suggestions are starting points. Dig deeper into any subject in which your children show an interest.
Chapter 1: Vocabulary: rudder, ballast. Ask children why the returning geese are significant to the boy. Try to find a whittler who is willing to teach your children.
Chapter 2: Find Lake Nipigon on a map (it is north of Lake Superior).Use a blank map to mark Paddle’s starting point. Use a symbol and start a map legend to label the symbol.
Chapter 3: Find out what the tracks of the animals look like that visited Paddle. Go on a nature walk to look for animal tracks and identify them.
Chapter 4: Look up more information about the animals mentioned that live in this pond. Find out what animals live in ponds where you live. Build your own beaver pond.
Chapter 5: Find out more about logging camps. How did they cut down the trees? What were the trees used for? How did they get the trees to the river banks?
Chapter 6: Vocabulary: bay. At the end of Chapter 6, have children write what they think will happen next.
Chapter 7: Visit a saw mill. Compare how they make lumber today to how they did it in the story.
Chapter 8: Trace Paddle’s journey so far on your map. Have children draw logs where the saw mill should be, and add it to their legends. Vocabulary: currents.
Chapter 9: Find Thunder Bay on your map and label. Add grain elevators to the map and legend. Research how grain is moved and what it is used for. Find out what a marsh habitat is like. Make a list of what lives in a marsh. Enchanted Learning has a nice basic marsh printout.
Chapter 10: Compare your list of marsh animals to those in the book. Mark the marsh on your map and legend.
Chapter 11: Find out about iron ore and coal: how they are mined and what they are used for. Mark Duluth and Superior on your map. Continue to trace Paddle’s route. Here for information about iron ore.
Chapter 12: Find out how commercial fishermen fish today. Visit some commercial fishermen if possible. Compare how fishing is done today with how it was done in the book. Go fishing!
Chapter 13: Research how electricity is made from water. Find out other ways electricity is made. Visit a power plant. Find Keweenaw Peninsula and label on your map.
Chapter 14: Research lighthouses. Find out if they are still used. Pick one and draw it and paint with watercolors.
Chapter 15: Find out what the Coast Guard does. Add White Fish Bay to your map and mark Paddle’s journey.
Chapter 16: Visit a lock and dam if there are any in your area. Explain to your children how they work and why they are necessary. Label the Soo on the map.
Chapter 17: Label Gary, Indiana on your map. Mark Paddle’s route.
Chapter 19: Discuss what causes forest fires and if there are any benefits to them.
Chapter 20: Find out how to ice fish. Research what Indians lived in the Lake Huron region. Plot Paddle’s route and label Saginaw Bay.
Chapter 21: Label Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, and Detroit. Research the auto industry. Why was Detroit the center of it? Who made the first car?
Chapter 22: Mark Paddle’s route on the map. Label Niagara Falls. Look at pictures of Niagara Falls. Visit a waterfall nearby.
Chapter 23: Mark Paddle’s route. What are coots and terns?
Chapter 24: Find out how Canada went from being “New France” to an English territory.
Chapter 25: Label Newfoundland. Find out what is the Labrador Current.
Chapter 26: Trace the rest of Paddle’s journey
Chapter 27: Write a story about a toy you make and set out on a journey.
Build a diorama of the journey Paddle made to the sea.
Create a scrapbook for Paddle using tourist magazines and brochures.