View Full Version : Lesson planning suggestions

04-02-2010, 05:39 PM
I believe we fall in the eclectic style. Or we are just a jumbled mess. :)

I plan to use the "What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know" book as a guide for our studies. I am not sure how to go about making daily lesson plans though.

My problems are:
How much time a day and how many days to spend on each unit? (Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient China etc then the science section)
How many days a week to do a subject? (ex: Mon-Wed. History, Thurs-Fri Science? or Do History for a week, science for a week or?)
When to add in the Greek myths book? Do the lesson on Greece first, then stop history to do the Greek Myths and science?

The earth science seems to go well with the myths (astronomy, oceans, volcanoes, earthquakes etc). But there is much to go through just for this portion of the science covered in the book. How will I fit in the other sections? (body and energy etc)

I was hoping someone had some suggestions, or if others wouldn't mind posting their schedules.

04-02-2010, 08:47 PM
Well, you can do as little or as much as you want. Some people are very structured and some people are very relaxed and let the child lead what they'll do and for how long. Also, it depends on your kid's age and learning style, I think.

I'm pretty structured and this is what we do (we usually don't do unit studies though). Noah is in 2nd grade.

Math: Every day. We start the day with math so Noah is fresher and rested and it's out of the way. It works very well for us. If we have a field trip, Noah does his math in the car. That's the one subject we NEVER skip. I let him take however long he needs to complete a lesson in Horizons (we do 1 lesson per day). It usually takes him between 1 hour and 1.5 hour, and sometimes longer.

Language Arts. I require my kids to read one hour a day on their own. Noah is only in 2nd grade so since he reads long chapter books (about 300 pages each), he has to read 2 chapters a day. When he was reading the shorter chapter books at the beginning of the school year (Geronimo Stilton, Dragon Slayers' Academy), he had to read 4 chapters a day. For grammar, we take as little as 10 minutes 3 times a week or longer if I print additional worksheets. But usually we don't spend more than maybe 15 minutes, 3 times a week. Spelling, we spend about 15 minutes every day although lately, I have had him write a blog post once a week and he'll take a couple of days to write it and then we'll edit it together so that'll count as writing, spelling and grammar/punctuation. The only writing I require is *sometimes* a narration in History, his weekly letter to his grandparents and his blog. The past couple of months I also had him write a couple of sentences about the chapters he had read in free reading, but since we've started the blog, I've haven't asked him to do that.

History: We use SOTW and we do history 2 days a week. I block 2 hour blocks each day but usually we're down to just 1 hour by the time we've done everything else first. We do lessons 1 day and a project the 2nd day. Sometimes I don't like the projects suggested in SOTW so we will watch movies, online videos, or read additional resources about the week's lesson.

Science: I also schedule 2 days a week, 2 hours a day but as with history, we usually have a little less time. We do not do science and history on the same day (Mon-Tue is History and Wed-Thu is science for us). We do a lesson on the first day and an experiment on the 2nd day. As with history, sometimes (a lot of times!) I'm not inspired by the experiment so we end up doing additional reading, watching movies or online videos, etc. (we're doing Earth Science this year).

Additionally Noah does 1 hour of PE a week outside of the home and I take him to the playground a lot. He's also doing horseback riding for 1 hour and will start a summer swimming league this summer for 3 hours a week. We were supposed to do art projects, typing practice, etc. but I scheduled those on Fridays and we have found ourselves out of the house for field trips and park days almost every Friday this year so those haven't been happening much at all.

For next year I'm planning on being less rigid with the scheduling and just letting Noah decide what he wants to do when (with specific weekly goals in mind though, I just can't bring myself to totally let him loose yet!). I would think that, with unit studies, you would need to be less structured than I am because you don't always know where a unit study is going to take you. But I might be wrong.

Re-reading your post now, I'm thinking your theme for a week (or two or more!) could be "Ancient China" for example, and as you read the history text on this, you can interrupt to illustrate it with Ancient Chinese myths and legends, discuss Math and Science when the history spine mentions technological advances and inventions, scientific discoveries, etc... Unless you have to stop school by a certain time (as I do), you could just take your clues from your kid as far as when to stop for the day. He might be so engrossed in something that you might want to spend more time on some days than on others.

04-02-2010, 09:02 PM
I have looked at some of those books, but I don't use them and don't remember enough about them to be much help with how to implement a curriculum based on one of them. I'll try to give some ideas based on things I've done or things I've read about other people doing.

How much time a day and how many days to spend on each unit?

You could base this on interest. Do each for at least a week, then keep going as long as they're interested and you can think of things to do and read.
You could do this based on what exactly you want them to do or learn. Make a list of everything you want to do, then organize it into days or weeks. It takes as long as it takes, but you'll at least know in advance (after you write out the plans) about how long that will be.
You could do this based on how many topics you want to cover in a given subject and how many weeks there are in the school year. (for example: 36 weeks / 6 topics = 6 weeks each)
I've heard of people on a 6 weeks on/1 week off schedule. They will do a unit study for 6 weeks, take a week off to rest and regroup, then start their next 6 week unit study.

As for me, in the past I have done unit studies that lasted as long as they were interested and we could come up with ideas. Right now, though I am using curricula that have it planned out for me. In our history curriculum, some topics (like ancient Egypt) get many weeks, while others (like ancient India) get just one. In our science curriculum it's a similar situation. Louis Pasteur gets 2 weeks. It looks like the human body is given the most time - 9 weeks. We probably spend at least a half an hour each on science and history on days we study them. We've been known to do history for 2 hours in one day though.

How many days a week to do a subject?

Again, this will depend on your approach. If your child is interested in a subject, you could let them do it every day. If you're shooting for a certain schedule based on what you want to learn and in what time frame, you could spreadsheet it out. If you're going to do unit studies, one suggestion I have read is to do history OR science. So, do a history unit study, followed by a science unit study etc. We are currently trying to do history 3 days/week and science 5 days/week, but this is mostly because I have worked out a schedule for future years and to make it work we need to get through these quick-ish. Also, we started a lot of our curricula late in the year after doing a lot of unit study stuff. If I were using these curricula for a normal 9 month time period, I would do history maybe 2 days/week and science 4 days/week.

When to add in the Greek myths book?

I assume it is a book with various Greek myths. I would read one Greek myth each morning while we drank hot chocolate, or after lunch while we drank lemonade. The weeks during which I read Greek myths to them would coincide with when we were studying ancient Greece, but I wouldn't make it part of the history lesson.

The earth science seems to go well.... How will I fit in the other sections?

Don't? If you want to spend a year on earth science, go for it! You can study the human body and/or whatever else next year. Just because you're using the book as a guide, doesn't mean you have to follow everything it says.

04-02-2010, 09:30 PM
Umm, what they said.

You have to decide what you're comfortable with and go with it. In the long run, it doesn't really matter if you spent the whole year on Earth Science or not. Or how long you spent on Ancient China compared to Ancient Greece. But, what I find is important for me is to make a plan and evaluate it regularly (about 6-8 weeks works for me, unless of course there's the obvious, immediate 'this isn't working') to see how things are working, how happy both of us are with it, and if anything needs adjusting. Learning really shouldn't be stagnant.

For us (and DS is 7 and in 2nd grade, so who knows what this will be like by the time he's in 6th grade), we do science 2 days a week and history 2 days a week. Math and LA everyday. But, this week he was working on a big history project, so we dropped science and he did 4 days of history. It all balances.

04-02-2010, 11:17 PM
I think you've gotten some great input so far.

In terms of the more practical aspect, I set up a spreadsheet to help me plan the week. It is set up with sections for what we want to do 5 days per week (math, language arts), 4 days per week (science, spelling, spanish), 3 days per week etc. I lay out 2 weeks at a time as a go by. Once it is set up is it pretty detailed but in actuality it lets me be more flexible and I stress less because I have a bigger picture and I'm ALL for anything that lets me stress less.

If you think it might help I'd be happy to email it to you, just send me a private message with your email address. I set it up in Open Office but it will open in Excel too.

04-03-2010, 05:10 AM
We don't have a schedule really. We have a list of topics (which is scary huge) that is structured like a tree something like this:

Ancient Egypt
Expanding brackets
Mass and weight
Electric current

That tells us roughly what order we're going to work on things over the long term. So, we won't talk about gravity much until we've talked about forces in general and we probably won't do Roman history until we've studied a bit about Ancient Egypt. No hard and fast rules though. As for timing, we study until we think Ellen has done enough. It's a question of learning and understanding rather than meeting deadlines. There seems little point in rushing through stuff without actualy gaining very much from it. Having said that, meeting dealines is an important skill so every so often I'll give her a project and a specific deadline, often quite small things like "you've got 30 minutes to finish these sums".

We do have a weekly plan though. It's a list created at the end of the week for things we'll aim to do next week. Most items are about an hour's worth of work, some are open ended ("Do some German on LiveMocha.com"), some are a couple of minutes ("Print out family tree of Greek gods") and some are big projects that won't get finished in a week ("Work on your horse project"). Most Fridays we have about twenty items, about half of which are hang-overs from the previous week that didn't get done. During the week we'll add to this list as fresh things crop up. By the end of the week there will usually be about forty items on the list, about 25% of which won't have been completed. The good thing about this is that it gives Ellen some freedom to choose what she does as she knows she can add to the list or pick anything from the list. It's quite rare that we remove things from the list. She can work autonomously if she wants by doing things that don't need me or she can focus on one subject for a solid day. I'll step in now and again if things look like they're being avoided for more than a couple of weeks or if the balance of subject matter isn't being met over the longer term but apart from that it's a chance for Ellen to be sensible and mature. It also stands as a summary of what we've achieved for nostaligic purposes or should "The Man" ever decide to pay us a visit.

04-05-2010, 08:33 AM
For mythology, check out the Mythology Bundle (https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/index.php?option=com_hsbc_epp_order&Itemid=915) currently being offered through Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

04-07-2010, 12:22 PM
Thanks for telling me a bit about how you go about your scheduling/or not. :) And also thank you for reminding me that I don't have to finish up everything in that book.
I'm definitely going to look through the book more, and decide what it is we will be learning.

04-07-2010, 03:48 PM
You can look at our plan on my blog at this link (general plans (http://lostpersonshomeschool.blogspot.com/2009/08/general-plans.html))... Hope this helps!

04-09-2010, 04:17 PM
Again, I want to say thanks! I guess I was starting to panic a bit.