I’m adding to a series on Planning that I wrote a few months ago.  Here’s the links to the rest of this series:

Part I – Getting my head around planning

Part II – Writing a Study Schedule

Part III – Prep Time

As I have already said, in Part III Prep Time – I keep my lesson prep to a minimum but there are some lessons that I do plan.  I like to have a balance between knowing what I’m going to teach and going with the discussions that come from our reading living books and life in general.

When I sit down to plan my lessons I cover these three things for each subject, for each day

  1. Know the book/resource we are reading
  2. Know the key issue or lesson that I want my children to learn
  3. Know what output (writing, activity, project) I expect from each child

Some of this week’s plans:

Bible:

  1. We will read the story of Samson.
  2. The key issue I wanted them to understand that being disobedient in the seemingly small things still brings consequences – maybe big ones.  But God is always faithful and He will still use you if you turn back to him.
  3. The output I want the kids to do is a worksheet which was like a “Report Card” on Samson.  We will brainstorm the different characteristics that we would expect would make a good Judge – and then assess Samson to that standard.  (He didn’t do so well!)   God called Samson to be a Judge – I will then give ask the kids what job God has given them (brother/sister/obedient childen), we will brainstorm what characteristics are required to do that job well and then they will assess themselves on another report card/worksheet.   So the output will be 2 report cards – one on Samson, one on themselves.

Living Math:

  1. We will read Zachary Zormer Shape Transformer
  2. The key issue I want to introduce to my children is a moebius, the symbol for infinity (continuous).  I also want them to anticipate and guess what would happen if…., and I want them to compare a moebius with a circle.
  3. The output I expect is a hands on activity where they will make a moebius and circle and then cut them both and compare and discuss their expectations with what actually happened (no permanent record for their math-notebooks)

Geography – Exploring Planet Earth by John Hudson Tiner:

  1. We will read a chapter on Rivers
  2. The key issue to understand is the impact that rivers have on the earth and the people who live near the rivers.  (we will also reflect how our river affects our life)
  3. Notebook pages:
  • A notebook page for each major river system as we discuss it.  I’ll expect the children to write notes about that river as I read the text.
  • A notebook page reflecting on the Ord River and its impact on our lives (plus a map)

This makes a very boring blog post but for those who want to see how I put a lesson plan together this is it.

If I am using a read aloud I do my lesson prep slightly differently.  I start off with my reasons/goals in reading this particular book.  I ask myself what are the key lessons I want to teach my children in reading this book (why did I choose this book.)  This will give me key lesson ideas which I may prepare for as above but other than that it is a little more on the hop planning.  As I read to the children I keep a sheet beside me that is divided into various subjects:  Math, Language Arts, Science, History, Geography, Bible principles, Character.  When I read something that I want to pursue I jot a note real quick and we either pause in the reading to talk about it then and there or we come back to it during our discussions.

Key Reminders:

Do not be dictated to by this prep.  After I read, my children often narrate back to me what they have heard/learnt and this opens up to many conversations.  Often these conversations go to places not consistent with my key lesson.  That is okay – unless the children are trying to distract me with nonsense – mostly the conversations are valid and right where my children are at.  This is the lesson they are ready to learn today.  We go with it.  The output would then reflect something of our discussion.  If I still feel the key lesson I had planned was relevant we would revisit it the next day.  This is the balance between going with something that sparks in your children’s minds, and yet not being driven totally by the children (after all God gave you the responsibility to teach your children.)

Don’t date lesson plans.  Without dates listed on the lesson plans we simply do the next one on the list whenever we are ready for it.  When I put dates, or plot how long a unit may take us, I get driven by my lesson plans not by the joy of learning, and I lose the joy of living with my kids – everything becomes about finishing my lesson plans on time!  Learning needs to become a part of our lifestyle, and sometimes we have room for our lesson plans, and sometimes we don’t.  It is my responsibility though that if I feel these lessons that I’ve planned are important that we make time for them – if I don’t feel they are important why have I planned them at all?

I believe in being intentional with all aspects of training my children and this includes the academic.  Lesson plans help me be both intentional and specific and encourages me not to be lost in the wave of busyness and family activities (though they maybe good activities).  To me my simple notes to my self (even though I’ve given them the grand title of “lesson plans” in this blog really they are just notes to self) keep me on track in introducing the world to my children and expanding their mental capacities.

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