(A peek at how I plan my seasonal homeschooling!)
A few days ago I shared a picture on Instagram which shows the primary picture books I'll be using with Little Bear this week. Our seasonal homeschooling theme is "Welcome, Spring!" (in honor of the Vernal Equinox this Wednesday) and so I chose five favorite books that highlight the spirit (and science) of the new season ahead. I also promised to follow up with a breakdown of how I used these books to create an easy and enjoyable lesson plan for the week. So today I'm here to describe my proposed plans for the week, and chat a bit about our style of homeschooling in general.
Now, the heart of our seasonal homeschooling is really found in embracing annual traditions, observing subtle changes in our habitat, acquainting ourselves with local flora and fauna, and enjoying our large collection of seasonal picture books. Reading the same stories at the same time of year, year after year, reinforces family memories while connecting us with the cycle of seasons.
So the books I chose for this first week of spring are:
Monday: And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano
Tuesday: When the Earth Wakes by Ani Rucki
Wednesday: The Spring Equinox: Celebrating the Greening of the Earth by Ellen Jackson
Thursday: The Seasons: Spring by Nuria Roca
Friday: A New Beginning: Celebrating the Spring Equinox by Wendy Pfeiffer
I keep the current season's books in a special basket, but I like displaying the "books of the week" on a separate shelf ...
When I started formulating my seasonal lessons - and this all goes back MANY years seeing as how my oldest is now 23 years old! - one of the first things I did was to begin collecting high quality books that reflect the seasons and natural phenomena. I buy as many books as I can, but I also make note of titles we can reliably borrow from our local library. All these books (divided by season into bins) provide a wonderful base for our seasonal homeschooling. These days we have a rather large collection, but I am always happy to add a new book if it has a meaningful message and lovely illustrations. For instance, I just purchased this book because we so enjoyed the winter tale by this same author!
Equally important to my planning is our established weekly rhythm and pre-selected weekly seasonal themes. With all of this in place I am able to organize my ideas more efficiently and realistically.
You can find a list of my 52 weekly seasonal themes in this post from 2016, and below is the weekly rhythm I pin our home lessons around:
- Monday: Nature Walk
- Tuesday: Crafting
- Wednesday: Storytelling
- Thursday: Cleaning
- Friday: Tea
- Weekend: Family Time
Once I've chosen the stories for the week's theme, I flip through each book to get ideas for follow-up activities. I write things down on sticky notes and then arrange those notes in my planner (see photos below). Here's what I jotted down for each book this week:
And Then It's Spring - observing the brown all around, planting seeds
When the Earth Wakes - wooden bear mama & cub, drawing of four seasons
The Spring Equinox - Anglo-Saxon legend of Ostara, goddess of spring and dawn
The Seasons: Spring - making a weather chart
A New Beginning - special food celebrations including eggs
Next I expand on each day's activities, giving thought to our schedule, as well as the holidays and events that will shape our week.
🌱Take pictures of backyard; repeat each Monday throughout spring. (Mon)
🌱Bake donuts for St. Joseph's Day, an annual tradition. (Tues)
🌱Sing a sweet "Winter Goodbye" song (found in this book) on the last day of Winter. (Tues)
🌱Carefully pack away our winter books. Bring out the Spring Book Basket. (Tues)
🌱Make a pretty spring wreath for the front door. (Wed)
🌱Sweep and clean up our front entryway, in anticipation of spring visitors. (Wed)
🌱Tidy the nature table - make room for spring treasures. (Wed)
🌱Prep vegetables for Pasta Primavera (our traditional spring equinox dinner). (Wed)
🌱Use my story apron and wooden animals to retell the story of "The Rabbit and the Carrot" (as found in this book). (Wed)
🌱Create a paper chain countdown - just one month to Easter! (Note: I keep a list of daily activities in my planner for this countdown.)
🌱Paper chain day 1: Make birdseed eggs to hang in our garden (Thurs)
🌱Begin spring cleaning! Start by organizing our natural cleaning supplies. (Thurs)
🌱Paper chain day 2: Let's have an Early Spring Tea. Perhaps invite nana and papa? (Fri)
🌱Bake seed bread/cake and mix up honey butter. (Fri)
🌱Slice boiled eggs. (Fri)
🌱Brew Spring Tea with Mama. (Fri)
🌱Listen to Vivaldi's "Spring" during teatime. (Fri)
🌱Paper chain day 3: Set up greenhouses in sunroom with Daddy (Sat)
🌱Paper chain day 4: Do yard work with Daddy; rake the yard clean! (Sun)
If you notice, many of these ideas involve the whole family or parent and child working together. I feel these kinds of learning/living activities are every bit of important as more "child-centered" things they might do on their own. This instills a sense of how important the season is to the household at large and the family's sense of togetherness and well being.
Here are some pictures of my planner page showing how I organize my week:
Left side of the weekly spread shown above - where I make note of weekly events, theme, dinner menus, homekeeping, crafty/comforting ideas and to-dos.
And then on the right-hand side ...
I have the week's agenda in a vertical column and next to that, a lined note-space. I added a bit of washi tape just for fun. :-)
Now, this week I am using my homemade planner for lesson plans. Recently I've shown you how I use the Erin Condren teacher's planner as well as my bullet journal for lesson planning. The EC planner is very specific to academics while my bujo is a rather free-form kind of planner/journal. The planner shown above falls somewhere in between. It's less structured than the EC planner, but it also has more writing space than my bujo. Needless to say I'm still trying to figure out which platform works best for my planning!
Well my friends, I hope you've enjoyed a peek into our "Welcome Spring" week, as well as a breakdown of how I work out our seasonal homeschooling. Let me know if you have any questions! Drop a note here or email me at drhanigan AT gmail DOT com. And if you are interested in my homemade seasonal planner, check out this post for my 2019 printable planning sheets.
As always I thank you all for stopping by! I hope to see you here again very soon ...