Tip of the Week: Writing Homeschool Lesson Plans

homeschool resource

Don’t you just love freebies? I sure do – that’s why I’m offering a freebie for each of you this week. In addition to an article about writing lesson plans, I thought I’d throw in a lesson plan template. There’s nothing more fun than being able to do a somewhat tedious task on a beautiful piece of paper. But first, let’s talk lesson plans.

I’m sure that most of you veteran homeschoolers have a tried and true method of creating your lesson plans for the various studies that you do. I have to admit that I do as well. If we are going to go rogue and create our own unit study, I need to create a lesson plan that allows me to incorporate goals and objectives and enable our learning to be right on target. There’s no better way to do that than by using a basic lesson plan. Here’s my take on this (just fyi… I learned this method from my Graduate School professor!)

1) Think about the overall goal that you would like to accomplish with your unit study. Write this out in sentence format. This will be rather broad!

2) Decide how long this study will be. Once you determine the length – write a more precise goal for what you wish to learn each week.

3) Take each weekly goal and make a daily objective that supports that goal.

4) Now is where the lesson plan comes in. You see you really can’t plan a lesson until you clearly know what your goals are. I like to follow what I call the GOMMA method. I use this acrostic to help me focus on the big goal, the daily goal, the method of teaching this lesson, the materials that I will need to gather in order to teach the lesson, and the assessment that I will use to determine if the students understood the lesson.

Lesson plan

 

5) Keep in mind that the assessment does not need to be a test. This can be an informal or formal assessment and can consist of a project, a worksheet, a discussion time, or even a test or quiz. Whatever you believe is appropriate on a daily basis to determine that student learning took place.

So, without further adieu – here is your FREE downloadable and printable lesson plan template.

GOMMA graphic lesson plan

 

Back to School – Five Tips for Making it Real!

chloe

Yep, so here we go… back to school… In some ways, it is thoroughly refreshing, yet in others it’s like a huge heavy wave washing over me! (Ugh, washing – reminds me I have about 4 loads backed up as I write…) So, in reality that wave might be the huge landfill of clothing that needs washed due to my ever vigilant presence in our homeschooling room. Anyone else out there feeling the laundry pain? Ok… enough commiserating… on to the good stuff…

This year has really been great so far. Though at times I do feel more like a referee than a mother… I think that the few improvements that we made to our schedule and curriculum are really paying of. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Improving every year? Making it better and better? Sure – so that by the time your last one graduates… you are THE MASTER!!!! Then what? I guess we could homeschool our grandchildren? (I am definitely in a mood today…)

Ok…so my five tips for making it real… drum roll please?

1) Keep changing, working, reworking, organizing and reorganizing to find the right mix for your family. When you do, it will flow and you will know that you have “nailed it!” (I’m feeling a good bit of flow this year, almost ready claim that… )

2) Keep exploring new curriculum. There is ALWAYS new homeschool curriculum each year, and what is so amazing is that it actually seems to be getting better. I never would have thought that some of the curriculum we love would have been so awesome, unless I TRIED it! :)

3) Mix it up – sure… giving kids a variety of things to do each day really makes for happy kids! When I make my kids sit at their desks for long stretches of time… well let’s just say it isn’t pretty. Give them workbooks, videos, literature books, and online curriculum for a wide variety of experience throughout the day!

4) Get your own habits established. I know, some people balk at this one… but I have found that if I can get a good habit established of studying and learning each day during specific times… it is so much easier to keep that going! Less whining, less ugly… you name it!

5) Give the natives a snack! Ok… that sounds really trivial… but seriously this year we went to a new organizational method and are using the 10 drawer caddies… one drawer for each subject and they proceed in a linear fashion each day… completing their tasks without my reminding them (amazing by the way!) and one drawer – right in the middle is left for a snack… oh my word! You would think that world had turned upside down and somehow my children switched from grumpy trolls to sweet little fairies…. amazing what a snack can do!

So, keep it real… and don’t forget that life changing snack. :)

What are your kids missing?

Peer pressure…Stress…Bullying…Potty mouths…Hourly schedule…Drugs…


Homeschoolers are missing a few things… but they are things that we certainly are broken hearted over! In fact, homeschool children have the opportunity to take their time during the day. Instead of being rushed from one class to the next, the homeschooler has the opportunity to study, and even day dream. Yes, I said it… day dream!

In fact, children are really missing out when they aren’t given time to  play and dream. Does your child have the opportunity to dream about what they want to be when they grow up? Every child should. It’s part of what makes us who we are… give them time to dream… and then allow them room to make that dream possible.

Appreciate your children. When a child feels appreciated they feel free to become their best.

Our children are missing one of the most detrimental of childhood experiences… peer pressure. By homeschooling our children we are allowing them to be who they want to be without fear of whether the majority will accept or reject them. Most homeschoolers miss that junior high/high school level of needing their peers to validate who they are. They simply go from their day dreaming to having a purpose to accomplish that dream. They don’t need their peers to acknowledge or approve it.

To be honest, I am very glad that my homeschooled children are missing some things. I am especially glad that they have the time and opportunity to dream… and hopefully I can have a part in helping them fulfill their dream. I am always telling them that they can be whatever God leads them to be, whatever they believe He has created them to do… they can do!

4 Reading Rules to Boost Literacy

#1 Consistency

There are several different approaches to reading instruction. Yet, the most widely accepted and proven method to teach reading is through phonetic instruction. Even within phonics instruction some teachers begin with letter sounds, and add vowel blends moving to the right… others learn by word families such as “hit”, “bit”, “sit”, “wit”, and “kit.” The connection between these words are based on rhyming. Most new words we learn are decoded from words we know already and that rhyme. Once you’ve begun phonics instruction, it needs to be practiced daily. After they’ve gained a foundation, then introduce early readers to your children. Daily work with consistent rigor will yield success!

(If you are worried about just how to introduce phonics check out “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”, or “You can Teach Someone to Read” or use the website “Explode the Code.” My favorite early reader books are the Bob books, inexpensive, simple and easy to read. Don’t go for the expensive reading programs, you have everything you need in your local library and your computer.)

#2 SSR – Sustained silent reading

This is a well-known teacher strategy. The more a child reads silently and on their own the better they can read. Setting aside a specific amount of time each day for reading will grow a successful reader. You just might find that after you begin this, it will become a habit that your child will keep for life.

#3 Read for Understanding

Teaching you children to read for a purpose should be a primary objective. This should begin as early reading skills emerge. When a child reads his first sentence, understanding should occur. This should grow in to a process of analyzing and critical reading. There are several great books to help parents direct their children. “Critical conditioning” by K. Stout is great for exercises reinforcing these skills.

#4 Develop Expression and Love for Literature by Reading Aloud

A great way to hook you children on classic literature is to read aloud to them. Find a great story that they otherwise would not choose to read, and read it aloud to them. Another read aloud benefit is to have them read aloud to you. This develops expression and opens them up to dramatic reading opportunities.

Don’t let your children settle for poorly written literary works. Always encourage them to vary the genres that they enjoy, and challenge them to explore the classics.

A good reader is a good learner!

Homeschool Peer Tutoring

I know some of you are probably wondering what I mean. Peer tutoring can be a very beneficial way of keeping your children on task or even getting them caught up. Most of the time, homeschool peer tutoring is free. You know… older siblings helping the younger ones.

Using peer tutoring is a great way to keep things flowing and children on task when their are several young students homeschooling at once.

A great way to integrate this into your homeschool is to establish a contract of sorts with the older child that you want to be the tutor. Arrange some form of compensation for them. Whether it’s a credit for a certain chore around the house, or a free day every now and then,it will make a big difference for the older student to feel as if they are benefitting in some way. Then discuss it with the younger child as well, and lay down the ground rules. Then finally, schedule it into your weekly/daily plan.

Teaching Elementary Science part 1

Sure, there are lots of great ready made science curriculums that you can purchase. They make homeschooling easier, and they provide a knowledge base for parents who aren’t skilled in science. Yet, is that really a good thorough study of science? B.K. Hixson syas, “Good science education is always discovered and never force fed.” Learning science can either be a fact driven dry as dust (remember little) experience, or an experience that you did and remembered alot of. Mr. Hixson tells us there are several things children need to learn in a science study:

  • creating
  • classifying
  • experimenting
  • follow directions
  • graphing
  • hypothesizing
  • inferring
  • measuring
  • observing
  • sequencing

Yet, what is the point of a science study anyway? The world is a fascinating place, and with each exploration of it we are learning and studying the ONE who created it. The true point of science gives glory to God.

The study of science should be one of exploration and discovery not of memorization and rehearsing dry facts. Exploring the science around us will undoubtedly leave a greater impression.

…continued…

Carnival of Homeschooling

Have you ever noticed how thankfulness is waning in our culture? From t-shirts to sit-coms the prevailing attitude is “me first.”  I hope during this Giving Thanks holiday… that we can each find gratefulness and thanksgiving in our hearts. I for one am very thankful for all the great submissions I received this week. Take time to read through them, there is a lot of great stuff here… and it might even inspire a bit of thankfulness for that great endeavor we each have in common… homeschooling!

Let’s start off this carnival with a bang while Read Aloud Dad shares with us The Explosive Power of Reading Aloud.

Are you thankful for your family? I am so thankful for mine… with six children of my own, I appreciated this next submission.

Barb @ barbarafrankonline asks why people have such issues with large families in Fertility: The Greatest Crime?

A great way to really get your children to see others and other people’s needs is to get them involved in their community; here is a great submission along those lines.

Laura @ Lauragraceweldon encourages us to involve our children in the community with Bringing Kids Back to the Commons.

Be thankful for every minute… of every day…

Time Value is presented by Sage Parnassus… something we should be thankful for and cherish more dearly than we do.

Pamela helps us be thankful that there is More Than One Way to go through life at Blah, Blah, Blog.

Dave @ Home School Dad reminds us to listen to encouraging words in Puppy Uppers.

Great education starts with great ideas… here are a few to help put some oomph in your homeschooling.

Learn how to use The Illuminated Manuscript to teach children cursive writing with help from Allia at Homeschool HappyMess.

Home Spun Juggling points out in Spelling is Correct that only homeschoolers spell it “homeschooling.”

How about a “twist” on an oldie but goodie science experiment… Mary tells us about it in Science Fair – Tornado alley at Winecup Christian Academy.

Here’s something to be thankful for… What to do with a kid who loves math? This is posted by Alicia at Daily Creativity.

Carol lets us have a peek at how to Study Physics with Skyrail from Everything Home with Carol.

Kathi shares her story about how learning can take place in very “out of the box” ways. Check out Food Allergies, Robots, and Sick Kids over at Homeschool Online.

In Tangents and more Annette tells us how thankful she is for the freedom to “go on a tangent” while homeschooling at A Net in Time.

Margot reminds us that we can learn all the time in DOCTOR KABOOM from Learning beyond the Book.

Ann gives us a peek at the Black Capped Chickadee over at Harvest Moon by Hand.

You can get a glimpse of how to implement the Charlotte Mason method in How We Implemented the Charlotte Mason Method over at Olive Plants around My Table.

Annie Kate shares her story of “early to bed early to rise” effectiveness with Get Going Early in the Morning at Tea Time with Annie Kate.

Amy @ Our Homeschooling Resources Introduces the Concept of Rhyme in homeschooling.

Mama Squirrel presents a cool math hands on experiment In which the chambered nautilus flunks the test (a math lesson for Crayons) posted at Dewey’s Tree house.

Chris helps us see that we are educating our children from the day they are born in When to Start Homeschooling over at Home school vs. Public School.

Leah helps us see another great way to have Bible Review Time at The Faugh Family of Four.

Ever wonder what it’s like to feed bovines? Check out Lisa’s post Work LOVE over at Golden Grasses.

Kelly tells us about her Box of Goodies:Loving and Learning from Our Nature Exchange over at The Homeschool Co-op.

Have you noticed Our Kids Are Using More Digital Devices for Longer than Ever? Check out this informational post from K5 Learning.

Angela shows us how thankful we can be for kids learning through experience in Play Dough- Team Gray at her blog Team Gray.

Want a glimpse into a homeschooling family’s daily life? Check out North Laurel Home and School in their post Week Before Thanksgiving -Week #16.

Linda gives us an incredible story that will definitely cause us to be thankful that we homeschool on why You Should say Yes if Your Child Asks to be Homeschooled on her blog Parent at the Helm.

I just want to say, I am so thankful for all of the great articles that came in. I enjoyed reading through each one, and I hope that you did too!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!

Teaching Preschool Science

Teaching a preschooler is so much fun… well if you love wiggles, silly faces, and lots of questions! But it’s those questions that make it all worthwhile. The preschooler is a natural learner. They enjoy finding out what they can about their environment. Just think, in the few short years that they have been alive, they have quadrupled in size, learned a whole language, learned how to eat, how to dress, and how to walk. WOW! That’s more than what we’ve learned in the past few years…  They are incredible little learning machines, and introducing them to high interest subjects like science can be a great opportunity.

Of course, as most of you know I am not one of those who advocates pushing preschool learning. I think there are more natural ways to impart knowledge to these early learners. Science is a great way to do this. You can read them science stories, look at amazing science books (library has some pretty cool ones!), and even do some experiments. Natural learning by going on a walk and collecting things and then looking them up and finding out what they are when you get home –  is also an awesome way to get your preschool hooked on science. Make it fun, make it interesting, remember their learning potential is huge!

Busy Moms Need TLC too!

As a homeschooling mom, I used to put my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs at the bottom of the list each day. Yet, a few years ago I realized that if I didn’t give myself the attention I needed, I would be of no use to those I love anyway.
 
Once I realized this – I knew that I had to:
- make sure that my soul was fed ( meet with my Savior each morning)- then I could help meet my family’s spiritual needs.
-make sure that my spirit was rested (getting enough sleep, spending time with my husband) - then I could meet my children’s emotional needs.
-make sure my body was fit (eating healthy and staying physically fit)- then I could keep up with my family and help keep my family healthy and fit.
 
With each of these things, I realized I was like a cup. If I wasn’t filled and had the necessary supply there would be no way that I could pour out of myself to help others. So many days I lived like that… empty… without the supply I needed to help my family. These days it still isn’t “easy”, but at least there is something from which I can draw strength. I have found my stability most importantly in realizing the peace that comes from communion with God each day.
 
If I can meet with the Lord, and He fills my spiritual cup… then I can in turn have the supply to encourage others and give to them of the what the Lord has given me. This is the same emotionally. If I am exhausted I will have no patience with my family. Physically, well that’s easy to understand. If I don’t exercise or eat a healthy diet I will be physically depleted, and will not be able to keep up with my busy ( and very wiggly) family!
 
If you just don’t know where to start, start by reading God’s Word, praying, and resting. Then when you feel His peace move on to the physical by getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising. You’ll be amazed at the difference in your life!
 
Busy Moms Diet (ebook)
Beginners Workout Monthly Plan
Intermediate Workout Monthly Plan
Advanced Workout Monthly Plan

Classical Education and What’s Missing Today

As a lover of history, I never cease to be amazed at how educated Americas’ founding fathers were. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington, the standard of education for anyone in leadership was simply far above what is standard today. These men were educated in advanced math (without calculators), science, history, logic, rhetoric, memorization ( memorizing extensive scripture, poems, and fiction selections was common), and they even knew several languages. This was a truly classical education. Yes, it was a primitive day – they studied and read by candlelight, they had to go outside to use the restroom, and travel took days on horseback or buggy. Yet, they learned and they learned well.

So, why in our age where there is so much technological advance, science has made so many discoveries, and almost every home has a personal computer that we neglect the wealth of knowledge resting at our fingertips? We have great opportunities, yet our standard of education is lower than before.  I understand that we attempt to educate everyone and in their day, not everyone went to school. Yet, somehow in this scenario I am sensing that we have given up quality for quantity.

The example of the founding fathers is a simple one. These men were trained in a classical education. Latin was at the heart of their training, and most of them could read and comprehend books written in the language. They were trained in logic, and when it was time to debate the course of the new nation that they were so influential in beginning; they were able to reason intelligently through many outcomes to determine the best routes to take in protecting these precious freedoms.  What would our founding fathers think of our educational institutions today?

Somehow in our day, we have lost appreciation for the beauty of a classical education. Maybe we just don’t have the motivation, or perhaps we are just plain lazy. Could it be that the type of education that American children receive be the reason for the decay and decline of our nation?