Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Planning for the Next 6 Weeks

One of the things I am always interested in is the planning process. I’m curious how other homeschooling moms go about planning their lessons – where they start, how they make choices, how long it takes them, etc. So I thought I would share a bit about how I plan my lessons. For me, planning is possibly the most important step in homeschooling (if you’re not unschooling). An organized method of presenting information is key to making things “flow”. I think there is a logical way to present information, especially in the core subjects. Each new thing builds upon the foundation previously laid, and so I want to ensure that my kids’ foundation is strong. That means good planning is essential so that nothing is left out …  and so, I plan.

As I mentioned in previous posts, this week is our “off” week. We do school for 6 weeks, then take a one-week break. We follow that schedule all through the calendar year. I use the week off to plan the next 6 week lesson period (what we call a learning module, or “mod”), which leaves us with 7 mods for the year.  If you’re new to lesson planning, I recommend getting a good lesson planner. You can buy them in office/school supplies stores, online (Donna Young has a good selection of printables. Here’s her homeschool lesson planner) or you can make your own, which I recommend once you know what you want to do. I also use Homeschool Tracker, a free downloadable program that lets to plan and/or keep records on your computer. Helpful because you can generate reports on everything and I am a fan of good record keeping.

Now, for the actual planning process, I begin by browsing. Today, I am just surfing the web, reading homeschool blogs and checking out websites that other moms like and making notes. I’m also reviewing my bookmarked sites because I tend to forget what all I have saved. I often will bookmark something with the intent of using it for a certain lesson and forget that I have it, so this review helps me use the resources I have gathered. I am using Ambleside Online (link in sidebar) as a basis for our year with heavy influence by The Well Trained Mind (link below). I also want to incorporate more Waldorf style into this mod, so I will be working on meshing that this week. I’m using these two articles about Waldorf curriculum to draw from: 1st grade & 2nd grade. You can search that site for Waldorf curriculum overviews for other grades.

We covered “Paddle to the Sea” for history/geography in the first 6 weeks (M1), so I need something new for M2.  I am thinking of buying History of the World, but since we covered “history” in M1, we might work on more “social studies” in M2 and then switch back to history in M3 and just alternate for the rest of the year. If we do social studies, we can still work in concepts like mapping (drawing our neighborhood, a local park, finding routes to locales around town), visiting a local fire dept and police department, the courthouse; even things like paying bills can become a discussion and lesson on how our society works. If we do stick with History, I am considering using the history section of The Well Trained Mind’s strategy and starting on a timeline. I have read that kids under 3rd grade don’t benefit from a timeline, but I am not so sure about that. It seems like such a logical way to show history in relation to a little kid’s lifetime. That will require some thought over the next week or so. I did find this online timeline, which is way cool. We’ll still make our own, but this will be a good one to start with and to help me know what to add and when. I also found a set of lesson plans at Core Knowledge (link below) that we may use for history as well.

I found a recommendation for Sequential Spelling while reading through this blog’s list of resources. The workbook we’re using for PeaGreen is one from his former school (though oddly, not the one they were using for spelling lessons) and so we’re going to continue using that for now. For LittleBoyBlue, the book I am using is just a workbook I picked up from somewhere and it’s short (only 8 lessons) so we’re doing that for M2, but it will run out in week 5, so we’ll do a review of the words form the book and I will probably pick up Sequential Spelling to begin in M3. I also found some spelling lists here, and if you scroll down, there are holiday and special occasion lists, too. I also have a book called Power to Spell 2, which is a teacher’s edition (it’s so old that it doesn’t have an ISBN number…), and one called Dr. Spello 2nd edition that I may use if we don’t get Sequential Spelling. (Wow – I looked that up and maybe it’s worth something??) One thing I am noticing is that the older spelling books seem more advanced in grade 2 than the newer ones I am finding. Proof that schools are dumbing our kids down?

For math, the boys are almost done with the workbooks we started in, so I need to come up with something to carry us through. Actually, when I looked, LittleBoyBlue is done with his. I have Saxon Math 3, but I am not sure if we’re ‘there’ yet. I will be looking over the skills they need for their grade on the IXL website, and planning quite a bit from there for this mod. I found a list of lesson plans at HotChalk that offers some neat games to plan that are math related using cards, dice, spinners and other manipulatives, which my kids love. We’ll add in a bunch of those, too. I am looking over Math programs and am considering going with Math-U-See, but am not committing to it just yet. I am going to get some of the block/place value manipulatives, but probably from Manning’s since I’ve seen sets there cheaper than $30.00. I may check and see if Manning’s has a 2nd grade workbook to finish out the year since “technically”, LittleBoyBlue will begin “3rd grade” in the fall.

I have Learning Phonics and Spelling in a Whole Language Classroom but we’ve never used it. I also have Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and we have used that before, so I think we’re going to use that more completely during M2. We’re using a couple of readers that I found at Goodwill (always good to pick up lost and older versions of text books…) for Reading and Language Arts. We didn’t focus a whole lot on reading last mod, so it’s going to be stepped up now. The kids read books, but not aloud, so I need to make sure they’re doing that more this mod. We’ll probably just use the readers (Bookworm for PeaGreen and Rainbow Bridge for LittleBoyBlue) chapter by chapter until we’re done with them, then look for something else.

Field Trips – we didn’t do many (only 1, not counting the library and playgroup) of these in M1, so I definitely want to plan several for this mod. I really want to go to the Botanical Garden in Orange, and since we’re studying plants is Science, and it’s getting closer to Spring, this will be a good time to go, I think. I’ll probably call or email them at some point this week to get their recommendation and see if they offer a lesson plan based on a trip there. I’d love to hit some of the museums around town, too. I’ll have to see what’s out there and how it can fit into our lessons for this mod.

For art, we’re going to continue with our study of Raphael. We’ve only covered 3 of the paintings recommended by Ambleside for the first term, so we’ll stick with that, and then move on to the next artist.  Music will continue with AO’s recommendation as well. I’m also going to buy some silk scarves from Dharma Trading Co. and we’ll kool-aid dye them for playsilks. I’ll get several 35×35 and a couple of the larger sized for tent-making. Handicraft-wise, I think we may work on some needlecrafts this mod.  I remember learning how to crochet when I was about 7, so the boys might enjoy that. I have a beginner’s kit, so this might be a good time to re-learn, myself! I also will plan holiday-oriented crafts for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter/Ostara /Spring Equinox will fall in this mod on March 20, so we’ll have some activity corresponding with that as well. Spiritually speaking, I don’t profess to claim any one religion; I think there is value in almost all kinds and want to present my kids with a well-rounded, open-minded view of things and so we’ll learn about the Christian holidays and the Pagan ones that influenced them.

Here are some of the sites I have bookmarked:

Super Teacher Worksheets

Beestar

Core Knowledge Lesson Plans

Big IQ Kids – spelling lists grades 1-7, math lessons and US Geography – This site is pretty neat. It features a “tutor” that speaks to your child. Downside is that all of the lessons are done online, so if you don’t like that (I prefer not to do lessons online) then this might not work for you. However, the geography one seems pretty cool.

Books available in whole online:

The Wonder Clock

Main Lesson – LOTS of books here, many from Ambleside’s curriculum including Milo Winter’s Aesop for Children, The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang and Elementary Readers by Treadway.

The Rosetta Project – Vintage picture books and lots of classics

Handbook of Nature Study – Anna B. Comstock’s 1911 version online.

And videos we like:

50 States and Capitals and worksheets

The Colors in Spanish, Numbers 1-30 in Spanish, The Alphabet Song in Spanish

You can also search story books, circle time or the name of a book and it may be read by someone and published on YouTube. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, The Carrot Seed (from FIAR) and many others can be found there.

There are also lots of kids’ TV series and videos, like The Magic Schoolbus and Grammar Rock (and School House Rock, too) videos!

So… that’s where I begin. I have a lot of information; now comes the part where it gets put together into coherent lessons. Basically, I take the information I want to cover and break it down into 6 “bites” – or more, depending on how many days per week we do that subject. For example, with copywork, math, spelling, phonics & reading – those are done every day so I need 24 lessons to cover the whole 6 weeks. With art, music and drama, I only need one per week, so 6 lessons will suffice. With history, geography and science, I can get away with only 12 lessons, or 2 per week for each. There are other lessons, too, like character education (Aesop and other resources), etiquette (Tuesday Tea and I’m using a book called White Gloves and Party Manners that I picked up a long time ago) that may happen daily or weekly, depending on our schedule.

I am going to go ahead and publish this now, but I may edit it later and add to it, so check back! If you have resources that you’d like to share, please comment. Any additions will be noted. Thanks for reading!

Warmly,

~h

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