Lesson Plans: September 2013


I thoroughly enjoyed my August Break, but it feels so good to be back writing in this space again. My camera feels re-inspired. I have a bunch of posts lined up. And, most importantly, we got school started. Win. Win. Win. I do need to share one funny bit of irony: I had the most monthly views of my blog (by far!) and I didn’t write one original post. Not sure what to make of that . . . but I sincerely hope those who are new are not disappointed now that I have started posting again.

This is my favorite time of the year, when everything feels expansive, energetic and new. We are all excited to start school in earnest tomorrow and here is what we are up to:

Vincent, 11 1/2 years old, grade 6: We are beginning the year with Ancient Rome, which is a nice segue from Greece, where we ended last year. We will take about 6 weeks to cover the founding of Rome through the fall of the Empire. That is a lot of history, but we are concentrating on story, daily Roman life and biography using Charles Kovacs’ Ancient Rome as our spine with a few other supplemental books as well. I have structured this block with a main lesson book, however it is the only formal main lesson book we will be creating this semester. I have several maps, paintings and drawings planned, and also a written independent report on a single historical figure/concept. Vincent and I will continue to summarize together, do dictation and copywork during our main lesson time. Our handwork project for the month will be these embroidered color wheels I mentioned last month. (You can see my collection of resources, links and ideas for grade 6 here. I think of it as a gathering space of inspiration that I update frequently. I’m never, ever going to use half of what’s there, but it is good to draw from.)

Jude, 8 years old, grade 2: Second Grade will start with Animal Fables, using a combination of resources from Christopherus and Live Ed. My focus for Jude (again!) is to concentrate on his retelling of the tales. Admittedly, I went a little overboard in planning different props he can use to assist his efforts. We have felt puppets to sew, paper animal masks to color, real puppets to use and more. We won’t use half of these ideas, but I have them at my disposal as the year goes on. We will be creating a reader from a single fable and making a main lesson book for this block. My goal here is to go deeper with one story in addition to doing a single sentence summary/companion drawing for each of the fables we read. Jude’s handwork project will be knitting a little lamb from Barbara Dewey’s Handwork for Homeschoolers K-4. One of the last fables in our block features a sheep, so I am hoping this project will be finished by then. (You can see my collection of resources, links and ideas for grade 2 here.)

Sheila: See those two little paragraphs above? You would not believe how long it took me to write them. And I’m not talking about composing the words, but rather the mental gymnastics it took to figure out exactly what to include in our first blocks of the year. Honestly, I was making myself nuts. Remember my conversation with myself about Rome? Yeah, well, it continued unabated. Not so much as to what resources to use, but rather all the writing, projects, drawings and activities I was trying to squeeze in. One particular afternoon last week my brain reached a fever pitch. I went to the phone to call Tom. Then I went to text Andrea. Then I went to email Jean to give me a price for daily consulting – as in consulting every single day. Thankfully, I pulled myself back from the abyss. I got a cup of tea, quieted my head and focused on my boys. Not my fears about middle school. Not my anxieties about homeschooling. Not my ideals about the perfectly planned block. But rather, I asked myself one simple question: what does this child need? In this tiny pocket of calm I remembered two things. “Go deep, not wide.” and “Stretch them, but not to the point of frustration.” (Thank you, Jean Miller.) The results are what you see above. Not perfect by any means, but intentional, flexible and most of all, doable.


Here’s what we were doing last September: Ancient Mythologies and Letters.


5 thoughts on “Lesson Plans: September 2013

  1. I’m glad your voice is back (:

    I read somewhere along the line that when teaching people that you want to think of their ability as 3 concentric circles — like a bullseye. The center is where they are totally competent and comfortable and things they do are easy. The next ring is the stretching — capable with more thought than rote to do what is in that circle. The next ring is that which they are incapable of doing. Stick in the second ring. I’m glad I read that before I started homeschooling –especially because of Gracie’s relationship with Math. (By the way, a major breakthrough on that and she now “loves” math and thinks it’s the most interesting thing we do all day!!!)

    • LOVE the “circle” theory – a great visual as well.

      Can’t wait to hear more about Grace’s newfound love for math.

      I had an interesting insight with Vincent during our bird block – along the same lines as what you’ve said here. Still trying to work that one into words.

      Yes, the circle is brilliant.

  2. Oh, Sheila! I awoke one day late last week keenly aware that my two major emotions right now are melancholy and panic! So sad I didn’t get all the fun in that I wanted to this summer (I will always feel that way no matter how much fun I had!!!) and that feeling of I’m not ready (no matter how ready I may be)!

    “Go deep, not wide” is my mantra right now too! We do perform remarkable mental gymnastics to get the plan together, don’t we? At some point, it’s time to just decide and get on with it.

    As my friend Jane reminds me: All is well, and all will be well.

    The circle image is great!

    Hugs as we all begin anew,

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