It’s summertime and the planning’s good

Okay am I the only one who is geeked about planning for next year? Oh my but I love everything about it! Every year is a fresh start, full of possibility. New school supplies and clothes (we get these things), fresh teacher planners and juicy new dry wipe markers are all signaling school’s about to start!

I know you may wonder why I am chatting about this now. It’s early July, you think. I have plenty of time, you think. I’ll do that later, you think. I wouldn’t if I were you…

Planning for the year is important. You know the saying, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” It happens every time I think I can “wing it.” I like to think I’m a free spirit but I really need more structure than I want to admit sometimes. For me, writing it all down helps keep me on track and [mostly] productive.

Here is my planner for this school year. I have linked below to all the wonderful blogs whose free printables I used in this planner. Isn’t the cover beautiful? I cobbled the contents together from several sites to fit my needs. I laminated the covers and comb bound it (I happen to have tools to do both). Super cheap and just what I needed!

Here is a tour of my planner on YouTube. To me its easier than a bunch of pictures.


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Here are the links to the printables I used.

 

 

 

H is for…Homeschool companion

FACE offers a helpful resource for those new to BPA. It’s short and sweet and chock full of helpful info. It helps you take a deep breath and say, “I can do this!” It is written by a home educating moms who have been there and done that and lived to tell about it.

The Noah Plan Homeschool Companion is free with purchase at the FACE bookstore or it’s only $6 if you want it alone.

C is for…curriculum guides

The Noah Plan Curriculum Guides (CG) from FACE are wonderful tools for almost every subject. They are chock full of info on lesson planning, teacher notebooks, foundations of the subject, timelines and more. There are projects and checklists and sample student work. They are a terrific resource for newbies and experienced BPA’ers alike. I talked more about them in this post.

There are CG’s for history/geography, literature, mathematics, art, English, and reading. They are useful for K-12 and are useful for planning lessons because they have quarterly lesson outlines for K-12 in the front of each guide (except art). Science is not available but I hope it they write one. For some BPA help with planning science lessons and laying a science foundation from PMom click here.

They are also excellent resources if you don’t use the Noah Plan and even if you don’t homeschool. They offer each subject’s Christian history, resource lists and more.

 

 

Plans for this school year 2011-2012

So we are counting down the days until we get back into the school swing. My two oldest attend our church’s private school and I am teaching the younger two at home. I have a preschooler and a 2nd grader. Here’s what the big picture looks like for this school year.

Almost everything here is planned for me. Because I work full time and attend school myself, I can’t get into a lot of lesson planning from scratch. This is a very workable plan for us. It keeps us in the BPA but not overwhelmed with creating my own plans.In the near future I will go into a bit more detail about what we are going to do.

My sons and I can hardly wait for the new school year! I know God has good things in store for us.

“The Mighty Works of God: Liberty & Justice for All” review

Mrs. Smith is the founder of Pilgrim Institute. She has written a history series for home educators called “The Mighty Works of God.” I have used this myself so I feel I can give an honest review. For this review I will refer to this title as LJFA.

This is the second book in the MWOG series, intended for younger elementary ages. First off, this is not an intimidating tome. The student text is less than 200 pages and the teacher’s text is only a few pages more. It is an easy read for the students.

The teacher’s guide provides three or more lessons per chapter. Mrs. Smith has supplied a leading ides for each lesson, along with reasoning questions and a synopsis of the chapter. A CD-ROM is included with the teacher’s guide full of printable maps, notebooking pages and charts that correspond with the lessons.

If you are new to BPA it can be a terrific way to ease into a subject without having to build lessons from scratch. And if you have Mr. Rose’s book, this text corresponds with year 3 (second grade) in the chart on p. 207.

LJFA covers all of history, from creation to today. She uses the theme of liberty to connect the lessons throughout the year. I like this because it adds continuity to the lessons. There are scriptures, poetry, biographies and more sprinkled throughout the text. Many color drawings add to the enjoyment as your child reads about Moses, Marco Polo, William Penn, Jedediah Smith and more. Benjamin Franklin seems to be a favorite historical figure with children and the stories about him in this volume are inspiring and a great place to pause for a “rabbit trail.”

Why you might like this

  • She weaves a beautiful story, revealing His Story as it marches through time. It is taught from a Providential history perspective, focusing on Biblical reasoning to learn about historical individuals and events.
  • It makes history an easily teachable subject.
  • You are provided the leading ideas for each lesson.
  • It is flexible. Because there are no daily plans you can use as many lessons as you like. You aren’t left feeling as if you haven’t covered something.
  • Reflection and reasoning are supplied.
  • It inspires affection for America’s Christian history.

Why you might not like this

  • Your educational philosophy doesn’t jibe with a Biblical Principle Approach philosophy.
  • You want daily lesson plans.
  • You want literature-based history.
  • You don’t want to teach from a Christian history worldview.
  • You want a textbook.
  • You want something the child can do independently. This requires the teacher to reason alongside the student.
  • There are no tests or quizzes. (or maybe this should be in the list above!)

I enjoyed using this with my children. We learned a lot. I didn’t feel rushed through a huge lesson schedule, so we could take out time and focus on reasoning and not just facts. I was also able to teach multiple grades with this (4th and 1st). A little modification makes this easy to use with several ages at once. And because the leading ideas are supplied, I didn’t have to do a lot of preparation before we could sit at the kitchen table and talk about His Story together. It began a lot of great conversations about the why’s of history. Not “why do we need to learn this” but why people do what they do and why things happen.

Of lanterns and lighthouses

I love to plan. Seriously, I LOVE it. Home educating quenches that desire in me because I have to plan on a regular basis. Score.

Even though I really enjoy it, sometimes I think I can get by without planning. For some moms, loose plans or [gasp!] no plans aren’t a big deal. I am not one of those moms.

Lesson plans are the way the big picture gets done. They are a map to get you to your destination. Mrs. Smith says that goals are the lighthouse and lesson plans are the lantern. I love that! They are what enables you to move along the path without getting distracted and without losing sight of the big picture.  They keep you moving along toward your destination.

This summer I am trying to be more diligent about evaluating (more details to come) and planning for the year. I sleep better at night knowing not just where we are headed, but how we are going to get there.

I look to my lighthouse and get my bearings. Then I take my children by the hand. The lantern helps us avoid the rocks and other obstacles on our particular home educating path. I can’t see very far ahead but I don’t need to. I trust the Keeper of the Lighthouse has it all under control.

Transitioning to Biblical Principle Approach

butterflyBPA is so exciting, so life changing, so excellent that those new to this approach can, in their zeal, overdo things and burnout quickly. It can leave you feeling like you have failed or that BPA is not a fit for you. Because it requires more on the part of the parent-teacher, it takes more time to make the changes you desire to see in your homeschool.

It is not a matter of simply tossing out the old and starting fresh Monday morning. There is a process that will keep you growing, learning, and on track. I cannot stress strongly enough the word transition. It is a process, not a box you open and use right away.

First you must renew your own mind. You cannot teach it until it has been made light to you. Take time to internalize scripture, principles and the ideas of America’s Christian history before you even begin to add it to your lessons.

Then you choose one subject and 4-R that. Leave all your other materials as they are and teach only that one subject BPA. Introduce this new way of learning in history, literature or whatever subject you feel led to choose.

Add one subject each year that you teach from a BPA perspective. Baby steps will prevent burnout. Jumping in and trying to teach every subject this way from the start will leave you exhausted and frustrated.

Keep your standards high and your expectations low. Your children may struggle with ideas and producing their own work. Present one idea per lesson per day. Don’t overfeed and be patient. Let them sit with ideas and wrestle for their own education. They will own it and real learning will happen.

Making small changes over the years will get you where you want to go. Displacing ideas, Biblical reasoning and producing your own work all take time, effort and patience. As long as you understand it’s not a race but a journey, your transition can be a happy and painless one (but not without struggle!).

25 uses for index cards

I am in love with index cards. Have been for a long time. They are just so, well, handy. There are whole books devoted to using them in your homeschool, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Flash cards. That’s a no-brainer, right?
  2. Matching games.
  3. Making puzzles.
  4. Making 3-D objects.
  5. writing out lesson plans.
  6. collecting ideas for a paper or a book. they can be shuffled in any order until you are happy
  7. Phonics: putting parts of words on cards to match up together.
  8. Mental math. Put answers on cards and scatter on the floor. Read problem aloud and when they solve it they pounce on the right answer.
  9. Life size board game. Put directions on index cards and create a path through the house. Use big dice and the kids become the playing pieces, following the directions on the cards.
  10. For preschoolers: pictures on the cards help them communicate their feelings. They can point to the face that matches how they feel.
  11. Use them like soccer warnings. They get cards as discipline. Green, then yellow, then red. You can assign discipline as your family sees necessary.
  12. Create a flip book.
  13. Write chores to check off.
  14. Cut a slit in the end and wind stray ribbon on it. The slit holds the end of the ribbon.
  15. Keep a grocery list in your pocket.
  16. Lay several out and draw a road on them. Now your boy has a portable road he can assemble anywhere he goes.
  17. Make bookmarks for a friend.
  18. Recipes. Put one on the quick bread you give to a friend.
  19. punch holes and they become lace up cards.
  20. Keep a card file organized by month. Use it for birthdays, seasonal chores and other monthly duties.
  21. Use them as little canvases for mini fridge art.
  22. Make a countdown calendar. Number and decorate the cards and put them in order. Fold one card to make an easel and lean the cards on it. Each day the kids can move the card to the back and see how many days are left.
  23. Make a speech. Practice it and then give the speech in front of friends and family.
  24. Write or draw your clothes on the cards–Bottoms, tops. Mix and match to create new fashions from your same old clothes.
  25. Write your memory work on the cards so you can put them in your pocket for memory work on the fly.

What’s your idea?

Practical application of timelines

This is a guest post by JoAnne Bennett, a dear friend and mentor. She was kind enough to provide the following post and I’m so glad she did.

We will use the time line for the facts which must be memorized for that unit.  As we do an overview to introduce the unit, I emphasize that these are the most important events.  We will add other significant events as they are discovered and discuss their relation to the major events.

We usually draw separate time lines for political events and for spiritual developments during that period of history.  For literature, we will do one for the author’s life time and another for the setting of the story or the main character’s life.

photo courtesy Jon aslund

photo courtesy Jon aslund

The applications for time lines are numerous.  Perhaps the most indispensable is to show relationships between events.  One method is to use parallel time lines on the same page to  show cause and effect.  You can then draw  arrows from one line to the other to dramatize the relationship.  For example, make a line for a Washington’s life and one for the historical events of that time.  Note how the events around the man affected his attitudes and

accomplishments.  If he responded positively, the events could cause him to rise to greatness.  Point out that in every crisis God raises up a man to meet the needs of His people.

Another way to use parallel time lines is to color code specific periods or events.  When we studied the Middle Ages, we designated historic events on the basic time line.  Then we entered the periods of art and architecture as colored parallel lines: Byzantine was blue, Romanesque was red, and Gothic was yellow.  It was easy to see the political turmoil of the fifth and sixth centuries in Europe had a relationship to the simplicity of art and the elaborate adornment of the Gothic developed as prosperity came to the nobility through the feudal system.

Time lines give order and perspective to the events we study.  When we look at the “coon skin cap” and the “whale” stuck to our time line, it would be simple for even small children to reason that the time span is too wide for Jonah together.  Notice also how the important events get closer and closer together until, by the end, labels and pictures will overlap.  God is certainly moving faster as we near the end of  “the days of man.”

Another use of time lines is for periodic review.  No matter what time period we are studying, I will occasionally call for a “pop test” of  U.S. history.  This is based on a time line we did which includes crucial developments such as Columbus in 1492, Pilgrims in 1620, Revolution in 1776, Civil War in 1860′s, World War I & II, etc.  When we hear some news story which compares an event to the Great Depression, I want my children to be able to tie that to something concrete in their minds. Having them draw a time line to recall those facts has been the most efficient use of our time.  It is much faster than writing an essay question or having mother devise a fill-in-the-blanks test — and it is quicker to grade.

GO FORTH AND DRAW TIME LINES
Take the ideas I have presented and personalize them.  Improvise!  Improve!  See how many varieties you can use!  I believe you will agree it is one of the handiest tools in your “teacher’s bag.”

JoAnne Bennett is a seasoned Biblical Principle Approach mom. She has two grown children and three grandchildren, with one more due to arrive in June 2009. Since raising her own children, she teaches and mentors other home educators. Her internalization of Biblical Principles and application of a BPA philosophy makes her an important resource for home educating moms. You can find out more about her at her Web site, Academic Advantages.

My newest school planning helpers

I just love going to my local used home school store. The woman that runs it is a walking home school catalog. Her knowledge of all the different curricula is staggering. And there is where I happen upon most of my home school loves.

My newest favorite resources are these giant, yet unassuming books. They may not sound like a big deal, but they are–at least they should be.

I am in love with all the Teacher’s Book of Lists books (available at Amazon and other online bookstores). They are worth their weight in gold. Yes you can probably find all the information on the Internet, if you took months, and even then you may not find it all. Why put yourself through that? It’s organized and at your fingertips right in this book. For example, some things included in the comprehensive science book are:

  • plant terminology and classification
  • dyeing procedures (from plant sources)
  • animal classification, reproductive and life cycles
  • major terms of the 10 human body systems
  • determining to mole of a compound
  • balancing chemical equations
  • isotopes of chemical equations
  • classification of energy
  • calculating the specific gravity of a mineral
  • codes for weather symbols
  • classification of stars by color and temperature
  • base two
  • checklists for graphing conventions
  • metric conversions
  • professional publications
  • science fair project information and checklists

And that’s just a few of other over 290 lists. In the literature book you can find 247 lists like vocabulary lists for all sorts of writing; lists by theme, genre and author; lists of award winners and books that have been made into movies. You can search by literary period, find a nice list comparing gods and goddesses and even lists of famous characters.

I think you get the point. You will be so glad you have these books on your lesson plan bookshelf. It is saving me so much time looking up things that I need to grab and move on. These book keep me from getting lost in the details, so I can focus on the principles I want to teach. These lists are great for illustrating principles, gleaning ideas for reading lists and essay questions and for just plain fact-gathering and they cover k-12, so there are no other books to buy (always a winner to me!).

If you prefer integrated studies, these are still valuable. You can use them as project starters, essay fodder and just general resource. Because they are broken down by subject you are able to hone in on just the info you need. You can also see who the subjects intertwine. And you can use them to make mini offices for your kids on any subject. If you aren’t convinced by now, you are a hopeless case. Or you  have another easy source for all this information available at the tum of a page. If you’d like to share a favorite resource, please leave a comment. I’m always curious to know what other moms are using in the homeschooling.