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A Birthday Brunch & Winter Blessings

2024 Planning: My Lesson Planning System

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Hello, my friends! I hope you are all doing well. 😊

I thought I'd kick off a series of "2024 Planning" posts by giving you a peek at my lesson planning system. I've been using this particular system since September of 2022, and it's really working well for me!

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As you can see in the above picture, I am using two notebooks for my '23-'24 lesson planning: a 5x8 quad-ruled bullet journal and an 9x12 (or thereabouts) discbound notebook.

I chose a sunny golden yellow this year and I really love it so much. (Yellow just happens to be my favorite color!) And the super cute apple stickers were from this Happy Planner "Seasonal Whimsy" sticker set. That link goes to Amazon where it appears it might be sold out - but I wanted to give you a good look. I think there will be a 2024 version of this set at some point, but in the meantime, if you happen to have a Joann Fabrics near you, you could check their planning aisle. That is where I purchased my set (on sale!) and I'm pretty sure they still had it in stock last time I was there. Oh, and also - I replaced the plastic discs that came with the notebook covers with a set of slightly larger, red aluminum disks. I liked how the color looked, but more importantly I find metal discs enable the pages to turn much more smoothly. The larger size also allowed me to keep more papers in my notebook. I also purchased these at Joann Fabrics!

Allrighty, moving on ... 

So let's look first at the discbound notebook. I use this large and flexible notebook for holding my weekly lesson materials. I like to photocopy my Oak Meadow teacher's guide pages and then highlight information of note. I have several sections in this notebook, simply made with colorful card stock and adhesive tabs.

1. Nature/Seasonal Activities

2. Oak Meadow English & History 

3. Oak Meadow Science

4. Saxon Math 

5. Other Subjects

6. Weekly Reviews

(I also use small binder clips to hold loose papers inside the front cover. These include spelling worksheets, writing projects and mapwork, etc.) 

In the first section I keep seasonal activity ideas and nature-education information. For example, the January Almanac published by Mass Audubon ...

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... as well as an animal tracks field guide:

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After that first section I have the academic sections as well as some pockets in the back for math recording papers and tests.

Every weekend I go through this notebook and take out what's been used (file it in a monthly folder shown in top pic) and then photocopy and add in next week's materials. I've found it so helpful keeping all the papers we need for the week together in one place like this!

Now, for the bullet journal ...

If you follow me on Instagram then you might know that I've shared a lot of pictures of my lesson planning journal (this year's and last's). In September 2022 I did a post about the general setup, and for the most part this year's journal is structured in the same way.

What I'd like to share in today's post is a peek at my most recent pages, created for the mid-year, as well as the current season of Deep Winter.

I have three spreads like the one shown below: Deep Winter through Early Spring (1/1-3/24), Early Spring through High Summer (3/25-6/16) and High Summer through End of Term (6/17-7/28).

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I try to look ahead and plan out the remaining lessons in our curriculum, lining them up alongside seasonal themes and weekly activities. This spread I filled in only through the end of Winter term, so I can adjust as needed before going on to plan out the spring.

Next, I have a Deep Winter Overview ...

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On the lefthand page, activities and academic topics. On the righthand page ...

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... all the weekly seasonal themes for the season and some events and potential activities.

Next we have the current month's vision board and title page:

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And following that, the January calendar spread: 

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I actually haven't finished this spread! I might add some more poetry or monthly correspondences like flower/gem/tree/bird of the month, etc.

Next, each week of the year gets its own spread with one page for photos and one for a breakdown of the seasonal theme: poem or quote, activities, books and a tea.

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This week we are exploring the concept of wintertime comforts and joys. When it's cold and dark (and the holidays are over) how can we create an atmosphere that is happy and cozy and content? What are our needs in the winter? Physically and psychologically? And the same goes for the wildlife that call our yard home - what would make their lives easier at this time of year?

We also happen to be reading a wonderfully illustrated version of The Hobbit and of course, nobody knows "comfort" like a hobbit! I'm sure we'll be trying out some new recipes for "elevenses" this month - using this lovely cookbook, a gift from my brother-in-law, Greg.

And because we usually have our seasonal teatime on Fridays and this Friday just happens to be my birthday, I'm planning on making a cake I've long wanted to try - a London Fog Tea Cake

(Our seasonal teas are pretty low-key - a fun beverage, a yummy snack and a craft that coordinates with the seasonal theme. It's a really nice way to wrap up the "work week!")

Note: the photo page is only half filled in because we're only halfway through the week! We had a big Sunday snowstorm so Little Bear and I enjoyed two days in a row sledding with friends! The rest of our week will be fairly quiet - catching up on schoolwork and ending with a long-anticipated, and oft-postponed, family brunch on Sunday.

And finally - at last! - we have our lesson plan proper -

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It's a pretty basic lesson plan grid - blocks for the days of the week and each of the subjects. I used to have a separate planner for this kind of planning, but then I decided to keep it all in this one journal. Yes, it takes a little time to set up, though really, not very much. And I'm showing you last week's grid because truth be told I haven't yet finished setting up this week's! (And here it is Wednesday already!)

I keep all of the lesson planning tools at my desk in a handy wooden organizer. This is the left side of my computer desk and off-camera to the left, not shown, is Little Bear's desk. It's in this cozy corner where we do much of our homeschooling.

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And that my friends, is a wrap! I hope you've enjoyed this little lengthy tour of my lesson planning system. The journal in particular is something I absolutely treasure and find very satisfying to create and then later look over. I love how it tracks, not just Little Bear's academic progress, but so many nuances of our homeschool journey. To my mind that's the perfect kind of planning tool - something that works well AND makes you happy.

So for now I will say goodbye and wish you all well - and I will plan to see you here again very soon!


~ Dawn