Monday, April 28, 2014

Planning Day

Sundays are Planning Day for me.  My process has become fairly streamlined over the years, and I can pull everything out, plan for the coming week, and put everything away in around an hour.  I took a bunch of pictures today for those who, like me, love to see how other people do things.

First, I need to clean up my work space.

Done cleaning, now on to the fun stuff.
This is everything I need to do my weekly school planning.  I put it all on the table before I start, because if I get up to get anything, I almost always get distracted.

The inside of my planner.  I used my 3-hole punch to punch holes in my EZ-Grader, because I had trouble keeping track of it.  Behind that is what is left of our Pizza Hut Book It certificates.  Then there is a sheet protector full of stickers.  When the boys get an A on their math, or do exceptionally well on one of the subjects I don't grade, they get to pick a sticker. 

This is the next section in my planner.  The past weeks' assignment sheets, plus blank ones for upcoming weeks.  I mark the week numbers in a the beginning of the year so that we make sure we get 36-40 weeks done, but I don't write the dates down until I am writing assignments down for that week.  The week numbers are important, as you will see later.

I pull out a blank sheet for this week.  It happens to be week 34.  We're almost done with the required number of weeks of school for this year!  Yippee!!
Next, I fill in the students' names and their "independent work" subjects, and the "Subjects We Do Together."  This planning page is located at  It works great for two students, and I'll probably keep using it once kiddos 3 and 4 join us for school, I'll just use two sheets for each week, and print back and front (I love duplex printing!) so that I can see both pages at the same time when my binder is open.
I have all of the information I need to fill in the blanks, right in the back of my binder.  I'll show you that next.  I fill in the independent subjects (math, language arts, reading and penmanship) first...
and then the subjects we do together (Bible, science and character studies)
This is my creation, and the reason why I only need one binder to fill in my planner every week.  No more hauling all of the books out to my desk every week!  I made this in Excel, and it has a box for every week we do school (usually 36-40 weeks).  I can send you the file if you want to use it.  I made one of these sheets for every book we have used in school this year.  I slide it into a sheet protector, and use a wet erase marker to mark off each week after I write it on the assignment sheet.  Each box is numbered, and that is why my week numbers on my planning sheets are so important.  I know where we should be in each book because of the week number.  Griffin's Saxon 5/4 math book is shown here.  I can easily see that at the end of this week, he will have completed 28 weeks, and have 6 weeks of work left in this book.  I have a divider for Griffin, one for Sammy, and one for Together.  Griffin's books get marked off in green, Sammy's in blue, and Together in red.
We don't use every book for a full year.  This was one of our Bible books, and it only took us about 9 or 10 weeks to finish this book, because the lessons were short and easy to read, and we ended up doing several in a week, instead of just one per week like I had planned.  Then we got to pick a new book to go through.

We use the Eclectic Education Series, which includes the McGuffey Readers.  We are using the Original books this year, but I believe that next year we will use the revised versions.  The wording is a bit more up-to-date, as is the content, but it still is full of godly, moral lessons.

Sammy's lesson for next week.  This is in the First Reader.  Each week, they do oral reading on Monday, spelling with me on Tuesday, copywork (I choose which paragraph) on Wednesday, spelling with their brother on Thursday, and either more copywork (Sammy) or answering questions about the lesson (Griffin) on Friday.  If there are no questions at the end of the lesson, Griffin does more copywork on Friday as well.  I just love the pictures in these books, and each lesson is just so wonderful for helping us pass on our faith to our children!
This is the Second Reader.  There are 4 Readers, and the content in the Readers takes a child through high school, and into college level reading.  The lessons are not very long, but they really make the child think.  Here was Griffin's list of spelling words for last week.  They do spelling orally for now, and they are both superb spellers.  If they spell a word incorrectly, we talk about its meaning, break it down into syllables, and sometimes talk about phonics as well.

Our penmanship binder.  I wrote out character traits, each with its definition and a Bible verse, once in print and once in cursive, and then laminated them together, one on one side, one on the other.  The boys take that week's penmanship down to the school room for the week, and they have to turn in 5 copies in their best penmanship (Sammy in print, Griffin in cursive) every Friday.  If they have written carelessly, they rewrite the sloppy ones.  I pick out their best page, they get to pick a sticker for it, and we put those in the binder behind the laminated sheet for the week.  We'll go through them at the end of the year and see how much they have improved over the year.

From Boyhood and Beyond, by Bob Schultz -- one of the books I read aloud with the boys during "Mom School" in the afternoons.  Griffin, Sammy and I spend about an hour every afternoon on the couch doing school together while the littles take their naps.  It is one of my favorite times of the day. 
This one is God's Names, by Sally Michael.  I am learning right along with my children as we read through it.  There are 3 more in this series; God's Promises, God's Providence, and God's Provisions.  I can't wait to read them all!  So fantastic.

This is Griffin's science/health book for the year.  It is all about taking care of your body.  We read it aloud during Mom School, and then Griffin takes a quiz at the end of each chapter.  Sammy won't get quizzed on it until he studies it when he's in 4th grade.

In every book we use for school, even if it wasn't intended for school use, I divide the book into sections and write the section numbers in, so that I can easily find where we need to be every day. 

We go over the questions every day after I finish reading aloud.  I ask the question, they think about it, and then they repeat the answer after me.  These are the same questions Griffin has on his Quizzes.
Griffin's book list for this year.  I spent a total of $67 on his books this year, and $30 of that was a critical thinking book that we won't be using any longer.  He finished it for the year, and we're not continuing that subject next year.  Homeschooling can be very inexpensive and still include good quality materials!  Most of our curriculum is in the Eclectic Education Series, which we purchased last year from  All of the books in the series are available for free online at public domain sites, but they are often not formatted, and some have pages missing... it can be time-consuming to piece together on your own.  For $159, we purchased 5 CDs that have all of the books we need for a wonderful, thorough 1st - 12th grade education.  If they finish all of the books in the series, they have completed 1st-3rd year college level work.

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