A “true blue” friend is someone who is loyal and supportive and Monday should be a “true blue” supportive type of day! So with that in mind, let’s think about some subjects we want our children to learn which are fun and easy for us to begin our week with “easy-peasy” stuff but also worthwhile skills and knowledge for them to build on as they grow!
(Full Disclosure: This post contains links to products which we sell in our online shop.)
This post has a lot of pictures to show you one of my favourite schedules and how it can work for Monday! Let’s get started! 🙂
Part A: The free printable can help you to layout what subjects or activities you want to do in 4-5 periods on Monday. It consists of 3 pages – an example page showing what I put down one year and really liked, a blank chart for you to jot down your ideas for the boxes (whether they are the same or different from my subjects/units/age groups), and a page with tips for doing so (which I’m not necessarily repeating in these posts). The link for this free printable is towards the bottom of this post so please keep reading. 🙂
Part B: “Mommy’s List for Monday” – I show you a couple of examples and explain why this is a handy thing to do with any schedule – to have one just for YOU, the mom – and not only making a “general-everybody” schedule. A “to-do” list for “just Mom” makes the day go more smoothly. (And it also provides ideas for what your “supply teacher” might want to do that day if you wake up with laryngitis some morning! 😉 )
Part C: The detailed list of topics for the year – I go into some detail of how to put that together and use it. I think it is well worth the efforts put into making it but yes, that one does take time. I really like how it works though and that it is reusable for other years.
Here are the Part B and Part C pages pictured together:
Part B Explained: One of the ideas I did years ago that I really like repeating is to make a list of “where” I need to be and “what” I need to be doing that day. I call it “Mommy’s List”. You see, on “Mommy’s List”, I don’t put down what everyone else is doing – just what I should be trying to do and it helps to keep me more on task. I like to post this list (one day at a time) by my computer desk area (because that’s where I tend to be if I have a few moments to write curriculum or manage other stuff). I use symbols and stickers to make it pretty, colour-code it, use short-forms and write big without a lot of detail so I can read it in a quick glance. Again, I don’t put on everything for “school” – only the stuff where I might need to be doing something about it. (Example: I don’t put down when my grade 4 kid is to pull out her spelling lesson – that is her responsibility, not mine, and rarely are there any questions on what to do with those lessons.) I would make this poster up for myself AFTER I’ve determined what the general schedule is for Monday for that year.
Here is another example of a Monday poster of mine from several years ago:
Yellow was the colour I used to indicate breaks (recess) and lunch. I used one colour for each general period of time. (Did you also have 4 periods back in high school days? I did when I was on the semestered system. So this works if you are also homeschooling high schoolers who have 4 periods. But it groups a few (often related) activities/topics together because younger students don’t often have an attention space the size of a high schooler.)
On the right side are listed my main household tasks for the day. Where the sticker is (on the top of that box) indicated “who” was my “kitchen helper” for that day so I could easily call know who to call that day if I needed an extra hand for lunch prep. My kids love working in the kitchen!
Like the traditional poem says, “Wash on Monday…”, we generally had Monday as our “laundry day”. I think we had about 5-6 kids at the time. Now with a larger family including teens, laundry day is almost every day (LOL) but I still try to put more loads through on Monday.
I like to prepare meals in batches to save on dishes and to cook sort of in bulk. Again, that idea of making lots of meals “all at once” worked better when our family wasn’t as large. I rarely make several meals “all in a day” these days but I might prepare parts of things in order to make it easier to put together when the time comes to actually eat it. I figure if we can peel 2 days worth of veggies at a time (e.g. store them in cool water in a bowl) or cook a few meals worth of the meat part, that is good. So I put that down as a goal on my list. When I was in university, my landlady would buy lots of hamburger, cook it all in an afternoon, then freeze it in buckets for later making it into lasagna, stir fries, chili, etc.. When I was a very young mom, I remember another mom at church who would cook one kind of roast (pork or beef) plus one kind of poultry (chicken or turkey), and I think whatever hamburger (either formed or fried) on a Saturday and then chop it up for her family of 4’s use for all meals using meat for during that week. So I sort of try to do a variation of that to make meals easier. I just tend to spread out those meal-related tasks over the weekdays. Thus my “meal chore” reminder in that box on the page.
I think the yellow star on the list reminded me to do something special with my preschooler who was getting up from his nap around that time – it’s nice to have some one-on-one attention then too.
I don’t think I taught all those subjects in the last period but the curriculum we use is fine for independent learning so I likely just was involved in varying amounts of those units, depending on the lesson/sub-topic or project level of need. I do remember that “Mondays” and the “Mommy’s List” was definitely something that our family liked/likes. 🙂
How did I get to the point of just doing a handful of things per day? One was a continuation of what worked for a preschool schedule for what “Mommy” might like to do on those days. And here are a few photos of some other schedules which were working well for us:
This one (left) I think was for when our oldest reached grade 9 and was taking those subjects for the February to June term at home. By that time I had learned that keeping everyone on the same subject in the same period was a smart thing to do.
I remember at some point since we began doing high school at home for most semesters, the high schooler(s) thought it might be fun to rotate the 4 subjects weekly so that she wasn’t always beginning Monday mornings with English followed by Math. While fun for a bit, I can’t remember that working out as well since the rest of the kids I think were also trying to rotate things and that was harder to coordinate with afternoon naps for the littles. But it might work for some families to do that sort of rotation each week.
This plan (left, 2 posters) was also a favourite forerunner! Now for Monday, you can’t tell there was much of a difference between the schedule I had posted for the primary grades versus the one I had posted for the junior/upper grades. But as the week goes on, you will be able to tell that there were slight differences. These were used when our oldest kid was around grades 6-7. By the time she was grade 8, there was a third Monday page made just for grade 8 which varied at times from any of my other groups so that she could have extra subjects of interest such as “career studies”.
On those plans, a wiggly line meant “lunch” and a dotted one meant “break or recess or clean up so we can get to the next thing”. The subjects here are the same between the groups but the “expected time that it should take you” written in pen is different. That means that the primary group had more “free-time” (exploring, colouring, playing, building) throughout the day while waiting on the older group to complete their lessons. Around this time, I also learned that it was less discouraging to think in terms of “how long” to work on a subject rather than the time on the clock. (Example: Think 15 minutes rather than “From 10:00 to 10:15 we will do spelling.” After all, in real life, you might have a mess to clean up or a person knocking at the door to talk so it could be 10:13 before a spelling book gets opened. A clock shouldn’t be a cause of stress!) And I was learning to leave enough margin for the subjects to be studied and enjoyed and have flexibility for the real life of “interruptions, slower days, and “rabbit trails”.
Part C: The Detailed Poster: I took 2 pieces of pastel blue paper, taping them together on the long edge (so that I wrote on it in “landscape orientation”). I used a ruler, a few colours of pen, and the table of contents/course outlines/sub-topics I wanted to cover in each subject for the entire year. This step is similar to my “Year-At-A-Glance” Planning Chart Method (click here for that post) but arranges it on a smaller, reusable, colour-co-ordinated page, in order of one day of the week. The order of the lesson topics still remains flexible so I don’t have to check (or dot or highlight) the boxes off in sequence. But the topics to learn are still readily available for me to glance at each time we’re learning that unit or subject. Having it on a sheet like this eliminates the unneeded information of subjects that are for other days too so it makes it easier to read.
To make it more sturdy and reinforce the hole to hang it on a nail (on the end of a free-standing upper kitchen cupboard I have), I glued a 1″ strip of cardboard at the top of the poster on the back. (The poster remains lightweight.) One of my kids (or I) changes the poster each weekday. When we have visitors, I have the choice to keep it up or simply remove it from the nail, fold easily, and slide into a drawer. Yet it is easily read when it is posted like this at eye-level (and thus, not in a binder for me to have to dig out and open and flip to).
Since I have 4 basic years of topics to schedule on my “Four Year Rotation” plan (click here for that), I should be able to either make up 4 sets of detailed charts like this and reuse them OR reuse the yearly parts and add flaps of paper (hinged with clear tape) with new unit sub-topics and paper clip those into place. (For this year, I’m trying the flaps of paper with tape and paperclips idea and reusing my previous one.) If I want to indicate that a sub-topic has now been completed, I can put an erasable pencil dot or see-thru-yellow marker dot in each little box. It is very easy to see where we are and where we want to be with this type of schedule! 🙂
Below is what a previous year looked like. (Note: Topics might not exactly follow the Four Year Rotation Plan in my examples for this series of posts but they are at least roughly close to that plan.)
Now, some of my readers will be thinking – That looks really nice and sensible. But I also KNOW what some others of you are thinking – WOW. GASP. REALLY, ALL THAT?! That’s the part that I think looks “scary” to some moms. Catch your breath. When you realize that this is it for Mondays for an entire year and for all levels, it actually can look doable. Take another look at it. Some of the boxes (e.g. geography topics) definitely take more than one Monday each to cover and that’s OK. I aim to have school for about 33 Mondays each year, give or take so if you need to do so, count the boxes and you’ll find plenty of room for days when something might not get finished. And if I finish one subject early (e.g. printing), I can go onto other topics on Mondays which might need more time for them.
And, if I miss any of the boxes, I can easily go back to those, next school year, or over the summer. (And yes, I have skipped some things so I can keep those things on my list of topics to cover by using the flap/paperclip/tape idea and not rewriting those words from a previous year over again. It will save me time.)
(The arrows on the poster just tell me which direction to read (down or across) for the order I might want to do them in. And the note for me saying that March or April Saturdays might be thought of as a Monday comes from the fact that Rob is an accountant and often has to treat those days as ordinary weekdays during those months. That means the rest of our family has a choice to have a break or if kids are begging for something to do, I might have a plan handy. Some years we simply do longer writing or independent “science fair type” projects during those months instead.)
Here are the main resources we personally would use for Monday’s plan on this poster:
The 4 major subjects I think of covering (for this Monday example schedule) are: Geography/Civics, Short Writing, Math, and Tidbits (the so-called “extras” in homeschooling – art/music, phys. ed, and home skills).
Art Skills: Art for Grades 1 to 8 (renamed and updated as Multi-grade Art Projects), Lessons in Perspective Drawing by Lester E. Showalter (not sold by us; you can find it at Rod and Staff Publishers), FreeSchool YouTube channel for Famous Artists for Kids plus some “how to draw” lessons of mine (unpublished) that we did together using a blackboard, cardboard and markers, and sketchbooks. One year, we really enjoyed taking art projects outdoors on a plastic folding table in our yard or in a large tent for the fall. Occasionally, art skills might be done in our family in an evening after supper when Daddy snowplows. 🙂 For some years, I have also simply let the kids explore the art lessons within the Nature Friend magazine or Barry Stebbing’s “I Can Do All Things” (neither resource is sold by us) or skipped over “art” during the school year; it is a subject that is easy to include in a quiet summer. (“Art” sometimes is an activity within other curriculum subjects in our project-based homeschooling style.)
Geography (Year 3): We already had gone through a study of Canadian Communities recently so that wasn’t part of the poster but normally might be. (I can pair it with Making Maps of Canada if there are older siblings needing a higher level of map skills during the same time as the younger children are going through Canadian Communities.) We also like using Apple Press Map Skills reproducible books. I have looked a bit into Mapping the World Through Art (Ellen McHenry, not sold by us) and might do that DVD-based curriculum some year (instead of art or regular map skills). We use a variety of resources for the older levels of world geography topics. For the younger grades, we like most of Beginning Geography, Grades K-2 by Evan-Moor for map skills (not sold by us) and Our Big World and People. Of course there are also items such as atlases, a globe (we use a beach ball version) or fold-out world map, etc.. On the chart, I listed for my 2 age groups for the unit studies. (There was no geography for high school level that year but even if there had been, high school geography is an independent study in our home so the topics don’t need to be listed on the poster.) I would possibly put any of the other social studies units on a Monday morning but personally, I’d rather put history in an afternoon. But I try to have only one – history OR geography OR government studies/socials per year, not all of these. (Exception – I do like some sort of map skills each year.)
I’d like to add here too that while “everyone might be included sort of” in studying the geography topics for the year, a geography unit would generally not be all year in my household. (That’s way too long for one main topic in my opinion.) So the emphasis might change from a world geography unit for the younger age for a couple of months and then a North American in-depth geography topic for the junior age for a couple of months, and then perhaps going through the Canadian Communities once we’re finished those months. Just ONE main topic (not several).
History or Government/Socials: This subject is not really included on the pictured charts because when I made those, we were in a year of geography instead. However, I aim to do a post in 2020 about the resources our family uses for HISTORY and GOVERNMENT/SOCIAL STUDIES. Then I’ll try to remember to put a link here on this page for that.
Printing/Penmanship: Depending on the level of the student, we use the following (but I don’t mention all of the lessons on my poster because I didn’t feel I needed to do so):
Beginner Printing (I also personally add a page or so of supplementary pre-handwriting and/or maze books for meaningful busywork, either from my childhood days or from a book or so that I have around here. Examples: Pre-Handwriting Practice published by Key Education (not sold by us), Fun Farm Animal Mazes published by Dover (sometimes available through us.) I also like including items such as large beads, sewing cards, clothespins, and homemade playdough.
Handwriting Designed for Grade 3 (I have also occasionally added a supplementary extra practice book that came from an old schoolteacher. The book is entitled: First Lessons in Written Language for Second or Third Grade by Claire Roberts, Hayes School Publishing Co., Pennsylvania. It has vintage-style drawings for some pages so that children can colour and cursive write answers.)
Penmanship copywork with poetry/songs which I put together a number of years ago but is unpublished.
Keyboarding lessons (typing on a computer): The resource (book) our family uses is Writing Skills Keyboarding Skills by Diana Hanbury King, published by Educators Publishing Service. (We do not sell this title.)
Mastery in Writing Fluency Unit Level Eight of A Basic Writing Course by C.E. Stothers and J.W. Trusler, published by W.J. Gage & Co., Limited, Toronto and used in public schools many years ago. (out of print)
“Quick Creative Writing”: This is mentioned in the same period as the Printing/Penmanship. If time permits, I might do something with the “Tell Me” Cards section of Tell Me Cards: Modelled Writing for the Very Young or a brief lesson from my Songs, Riddles, and Poetry Board. I didn’t put those topics down because they are easily seen on the board (or container) when we pull it out and it is an extremely easy resource to “open and go”.
Music: We sometimes learned something about music over the lunch hour together. It is a listening type of subject which can be done with our mouths chewing. I heard about the idea of learning music over lunch from another mom in a homeschool group who used listening to “singing songs” which teach things like counting, etc. while her littles were eating. I thought that was a great idea! Resources for music studies are various in our home but one of the ones that teaches music history is Meet the Great Composers by June Montgomery, Maurice Hinson published by Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. (not sold by us at the moment).
Math: On Mondays, our emphasis is to make sure the grades 4-8 kids know how to do their lesson topics for the week. Even though the K-3 and Grades 9+ are also doing their math on Monday, they wait for another day to have more direction with new skills if needed. Monday is the day for me to double-check that things are going OK for the junior/senior elementary levels and to focus on those skills, teaching as necessary. They might be just fine and not need me but then, they might want a bit of a reminder on something. To find out what we like to do for math for the JUNIOR/SENIOR ELEMENTARY, you can read the following posts:
(The math curriculum we use for younger levels will be listed on the post for “Tuesday”. Notice, that level is not mentioned on Monday’s poster, even though those kids are working in their math books on Monday too.)
Some years (not every year) we might use a set of drills for a brief period of time (e.g. maybe 7 weeks). There is room for us to remember to check that off on this poster. Our favourite drills are Mad Minute: Mastering Number Facts (reproducible drills for grades 1-8 are all in the same book) published by Dale Seymour Publications (we have sold this book and might have one or so left in clearance). Note: I usually allow 2 or 3 minutes to complete the page, rather than 1 minute. My reason for using drills is not speed but rather review of facts.
Homesteading Skills, Family/Agricultural Science: (a.k.a. “Family and Home Studies” on the printable)
I like to use a variety of resources to demonstrate some important life topics and skills. Sometimes it might be a DVD or a virtual or actual farm tour, example – https://www.farmfood360.ca/ , sometimes it could be a few odds and ends I’ve gathered from various sources over the years. Other examples – Melissa K. Norris websites (she teaches about organic gardening, grinding flour, etc.), Homesteading for Beginners video series (Erin and Mark Harrison and family) (about small farm life, etc.) – there are several places one can learn various skills of interest; these are just examples. This part of the “schedule” is also where I might take the time to have most kids watch a video about a topic but be able to have a one-on-one conversation with one of them regarding animal care or a skilled project, etc.. I can also use this time to teach appropriate sex ed. to girls versus guys or science-related topics in our backyard, in the garden or in the coop. (Examples of Christian resources which you might find helpful: The Wonderful Way Babies Are Made by Larry Christenson, Bethany Publishers; How You Are Changing (one title is for Boys 10-12, one title is for Girls 10-12), Concordia Publishing House. Full Disclosure – We have offered these in the past in our product-line but do not currently however, you might be able to find these elsewhere.)
You might notice that the topics I wrote on my poster don’t emphasize cooking in the kitchen. This is on purpose because I wanted to do more than teach them how to cook, bake, and do canning and those lessons are often already part of our lives, especially in the summer or breaks. Other topics for other years might include things like survival skills, orienteering, and weather science. Some topics can be for all ages, other ones can have separate groups.
My kids each have a “long-term binder” for handouts or notes about some of the topics listed – a “long-term binder” means that they can add to it year after year and it becomes a reference guide for them by the time they graduate. Can you imagine how nice it is to end the first schoolday of the week with this “class”? 🙂 And look back at all that was enjoyed and accomplished on a MONDAY!
MONDAY (blue) – Think: “What is easy, fun, worthwhile, and encouraging to MY family?”
Start the week with a smile! 🙂