Candlemas Fair!
The Loveliness of Candlemas

Lesson Planning Post, Part One

First, can I just say, I love lesson planning? It is my favorite time of the week, when all the ideas are fresh and seem so, well, possible! I just love our home learning lifestyle, and I love observing the turn of the year - both natural and liturgical - and planning our week involves all these things.

I like to begin lesson planning on Thursday. Thursday is the day I clean the learning room, so I am filing papers and re-organizing piles of books anyway. Also, this gives me two days to prepare my weekend to-do list. Many weeks I need a book or two from the library or a random craft item for a project I've planned. Saturdays are really the only day for me to get those errands run, so the earlier I start planning, the more focused my list is.

Actually, I first begin looking at the upcoming week on Wednesday. Wednesdays are my kitchen day, so I'm cleaning cabinets and the refrigerator, and starting a grocery list. By Friday the store flyers have come and I try to make time to look through those and organize any coupons I have. The grocery list goes on my clipboard, along with anything else I will need for the weekend.

But, I'm getting away from the lesson planning, so let me return! I took pictures of the learning room as I cleaned today (because I only scratched the surface yesterday). It's changed a bit since last summer when I last posted about it.

Here is the smaller of the two dining room tables where we eat (if we're not eating at the kitchen island) and do our seatwork.


This table, which once belonged to my grandparents, is a real workhorse - it has the dings and faded finish to prove it! On the right you see the world map which is slowly being covered up with projects. We're forever peeking underneath bits of construction paper to find this island or that mountain range, lol. Just above the head of the table is our Beatrix Potter wall calendar, and just below that is our book display. It is made of wrought iron and I bought it soooo many years ago at a craft barn; this was before I even had children. It comes in so handy for displaying the book we are reading that day. (Current pick: Castle at War) In the middle of the windows is our Most Holy Name of Jesus craft which we made earlier this month. I will take it down next week when we turn our attention to the February devotion.

Next come the "school" bags ...


Each of the boys has a bag of his own in his own color. They are medium-sized, regular-handled LL Bean Boat and Tote bags. Mine, on the right, is the large version. In these bags we keep our general home learning materials - the Saxon texts, the language texts and workbooks, the CCD books, flash cards, any magazines or personal reading. My bag holds teacher manuals and materials I use with all the boys - such as the Story of the World Activity Guide, The Beginning Naturalist and A Life of Our Lord for Children.

These bags stay in the dining/learning room for convenience, but can be moved to the bedrooms when company is coming.

Next comes the book area.


These piles change each week and are sorted by subject - nature study, science (life and earth), history, religion, read-alouds. I used to keep them on the work table, but since they have a tendency to grow and spread, it is better to keep them on the second table in the room - the longer dining table, which only gets used for dining at Easter and Thanksgiving. And oh yes, whenever we host co-op.

These piles get re-booted at week's end. In other words, I pull out books we are done with (some go right in the library bag) and add in books for the next week. Do you see Brigid's Cloak there in the upper right corner. I am soooo excited for this book. It's one of our Catholic Mosaic titles and I just love it.

It bears mentioning, tucked in the far righthand corner is the small blessings tree from Christmas. I've been holding off on storing it, leaving it up as a final bit of Christmas greenery to take down on Candlemas next Friday. :)

Also, on the far left side is the "in box," or storage bin, where we put finished work and other things to store away for filing later.

Now this photo turned out very dark for some reason (surprising for such a bright room) but it is where I do the planning:


This is my "desk" as I like to call it. It is where I sit to do "my" seatwork! Directly behind where I sit are my bookshelves ... 


Please do not mind the mess, especially on shelf number two! Third shelf down holds my liturgical books. (I'm going to do a post on them as soon as I can!) It's very easy to refer to these books when planning, having them so close by.

Bill put up the small bulletin board on the wall a few weeks ago. I am not entirely sure how I will use it just yet, but I like having it. For now I have a photo of the boys (because, you know, I hardly ever get to see them, lol) and the CCD schedules. Hanging on the side of the bookcase is the calendar we received at church on New Year's weekend. It is so lovey - all the feast dates are marked, as well as the liturgical seasons, days of fasting etc.

I usually stand at the counter you see on the left, with my laptop stationed up there. In an effort to sit down more and stand less, I moved the computer over to the "desk" corner. When planning out a week, I pull up Catholic Culture and check their wonderful calendar for ideas.

Here is the planning underway (notice the "teacher's pet" in the background).


OK, so I've cleaned up the work table, and straightened and sorted the book piles. Now I pull out next week's folder from my file crate. I open up the current week's folder and start weeding through it. Anything that we've done or have no further use for, goes into the storage bin. Anything that will be needed for next week goes in the new folder. Anything that will be handled over the weekend (library pick-up sheets, craft store coupon, recipes) gets clipped onto my clipboard, along with the marketing list in-progress.

Also in the folder is the weekly list from last week (notes and to-do's). I highlight the things that need to be moved to a new list for next week and then begin that new list. (The embellishments are Earlybird's handiwork.)


I look at my month-at-a-glance calendar to see what we have for activities, appointments and family events and add those to the list. Then I turn to my liturgical shelf to thumb through favorite books for ideas for the week. I jot down those ideas, mark the page with a sticky note, and add any needed items on the weekend list. (For example, I came across a St. Brigid's cross craft, so I added the materials to my craft store list.)

And I never forget to check out 4Real for ideas. :)


You see what I have to work around here? This is my Penny. :)

Once I have a grip on what's happening in the upcoming week, I go through all the general homeschooling materials to note what we will be studying. Here is Story of the World - next week we begin a two-week study of the Crusades.


Below you see our Catholic Mosaic page. When I read Cay's suggestion to make a page with blue felt and star stickers, I added those items to my weekend errand list.


Below is a neat page from China Bayle's Book of Days with a recipe for herbal candy. I thought we might try to make it for St. Blase on Saturday. I noted the need for herbal tea and a candy thermometer on my marketing list.


So, I'm going to stop there because A. this post is getting very long, and B. it is getting very late! You might be asking yourself, part two? What could she possibly have to say after all that, lol!? Well, later this weekend I will post what our actual lesson plans for the week ahead are!

For now, Good Night and God Bless!