Tremendous Tuesdays! Yes, tremendous means terrific but also think of GROWTH – go a bit deeper beyond just introducing something and think of subjects that, well, need more tremendous effort to complete perhaps.
On my example of Mondays, the four main school subjects were Geography/Civics (or Socials), Short Writing, Math, and “Tidbits” (the extras such as arts, phys.ed, home skills).
On my example of Tuesdays, the four main school subjects are Science, Math, Writing (short and/or technical), and Reading (or Electives).
Because Tuesdays can be quite tremendous (you would be getting a lot done in the below schedule), it could also include a “Teacher’s Break Time” – during a lunch hour or after school for some P.D. (“professional development”) if the situation allows it. Tuesday or Thursday might be the most challenging days for academics in a sense. But see how this example is laid out and take ideas from it if you think it might work for you. 🙂
Here are a couple of example years for “Mommy’s List for Tuesday”:
You can see on the left, a note to remind me what breakfast can be to be kept simple for a schoolday. The “old example” (photo on right) tells me that I should likely check on my younger child with phonics but that I should try to do that, if possible, AFTER I’ve spent a bit of time with my young teen guiding her through a textbook study on “Clothing” (design elements, kinds of fabrics, sewing techniques, structures, and hygiene matters). The “Mommy’s List” gives me a lot of sensible guidance – my younger child can read enough to begin phonics but likely needs me more towards the middle of the period rather than at the beginning. (However, you might notice that there is a wide range of unrelated subjects that 2nd period which I address later in this post.)
You can see again, the little visual symbols/drawings and colour-coding to separate larger chunks of time so that I can easily read things at a glance. And again, the “Mommy’s List” idea would be posted near where I am most of the day (e.g. not in my bedroom) and ONLY refer to main things that I should be checking or guiding or doing throughout the schoolday. It tells me which age group or grade that might need me at that time, reminds me of main household tasks to aim to do in the midst of schooltime but does NOT tell me every little thing that I might end up doing that day. (In other words, it does NOT tell me that I might want to sweep the floor, do the dishes, or check e-mail – those types of habitual or will-be-very-obvious-if-I don’t-do-it sorts of things, I fit in “whenever” and don’t write on my list.) You want a plan that guides you but you don’t want one that has too much detail to read and absorb.
That last statement is also important for making schedules in general. For a number of years, I would start off the year with some super-duper, detailed schedule that would itemize too much, plan too many subjects, attach a small time frame to them such as 5 minutes for this and 15 minutes for that, and have so many words of explanation on them that it was too much to read and absorb during a busy and noisy day. It HAS to be kept simple. And the number of main subjects you try to cover? Well, I don’t advise 8 subjects if you have a large family! You know, high schools on a semestered system only have 4 a day to think about – I don’t think it’s wise to try to fit in every subject for every day. You can learn to group related subjects into larger chunks of time, save some wording on your schedule, and reduce how much time you spend in reading your plan, especially if you also write bold and big (handwritten marker works much nicer than typed fonts in my experience).
This photo shows a couple of my older schedules as I was developing the idea of how to schedule larger chunks of time, fewer subjects, and having 2-3 groups for some subjects. You can notice that the younger group did not have French but they did have specific “lessons” for them to learn during the time I was needed to check how French was going for the older ones (in other words, not just “go play”). The language arts lessons were together in the same time period but separate at their own desks and I could be available as needed. (My children know how to find me as I work around the home, cleaning a sink or potty training or switching a load of laundry or picking up clutter. I don’t just “teach” all day. I’m around on our property and I guide them as needed but they learn independent study skills from kindergarten onwards, little by little, so that I can balance the other tasks that I have beyond “school”.) Most of the time when the primary versus junior/upper elementary schedules differ from each other, the topics are related to each other (e.g. mapping skills/social studies versus a history or geography topic). (I tried juggling non-related academic subjects for a while and it didn’t work as well for me – e.g. reading comprehension for one group during math for the other group – those are not related academic subjects and trying the unrelated juggling was/is a lot harder.)
OK, now for the detailed list for the Tuesday example. Remember, what is on THIS poster (below) are the topics for the ENTIRE YEAR. Dot or highlight the boxes as they are completed or just remember it in your head. This chart is written in ORDER of the plan to make it easier to read (the plan that you can see on the free printable sheets for today, below) but the CONTENT (what is studied) is far more important than the order of it. The order can be switched very readily during a particular day but this page is focused on the “what” to study.
As I tell you which resources we have tended to use for the various subjects, many of the items are ones that we’ve either produced and offer for sale or distribut(ed) and offer(ed) for sale. (That’s my “full disclosure” statement.) We stand behind our products as very useful for homeschooling families!
Just one more note about the poster idea before I list resources… I wanted to reuse this poster for a different year where some of the topics remain the same (e.g. reading, math) yet other topics are different (e.g. science) BUT I DIDN’T WANT TO RE-WRITE THE STUFF THAT WOULD BE THE SAME! So I can use tape and bits of paper to flip over and will paperclip it into place instead. It saves me time and energy for making a schedule. (The photo on right shows the “health” section with boxes for a human biology (body systems) unit topics instead of the “health topics” or “cells and genetics” from a previous year that is seen above. The poster is the same but that section is a small bit of green paper that flips over for a new year of studies.)
Also, you will notice that I didn’t end up filling in all the topics in the science units at the bottom of the green page – but you also know from the pattern what YOU would do if you’re doing this – simply take the table of contents or your list of skills/sub-topics you want to cover in that area and write them in. And in clarification, I listed each possible unit for the year but we would only be doing ONE of those units at a time. (You can see that I put in a unit from Year 2 that we needed to catch up on as well. Again, this shows the flexibility and ease of this sort of schedule.)
(Full Disclosure: This post contains some links to products which we sell in our online shop.)
Resources we like to use:
Health: We use quite a variety of resources, including many past notes from my schooldays (including notebooks I made in elementary school, high school, and university courses). I like to also supplement these studies with online articles, visuals and multi-media presentations such as these as examples, suitable for K-8+ (but not sold by us):
- Essential Atlas of Anatomy, Barron’s Educational Series Inc., 2001.
- The Human Body charts, TREND Enterprises Inc., 2001
- Videos by Dr. David Menton (e.g. The Hearing Ear and The Seeing Eye, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (human reproduction) – more titles are being produced); Where Did the Races Come From? (genetics and skin melanin) by Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis-USA; Human Life by Moody Science, Chicago, Illinois; YouTube videos such as Human Immune System for kids – Body Defense Mechanism (Biology) by www.makemegenius.com and Digestion by Bill Nye the Science Guy, Buena Vista Television, 1993.
- A family favourite series for review or reinforcement of human biology lessons is the body systems series of videos from “Once Upon a Life”, found on YouTube.
- First Aid book from the Canadian Red Cross
We used to sell a superb thin reproducible curriculum book for K-3 levels where the child traces his/her body on large paper and then has simple summary notes and parts of the body to colour, cut, and paste onto the body shape. It is called “My Body” (TCR0211 – Teacher Created Resources) and has been in and out of print.
One (interactive/visually-appealing) website that we appreciated for understanding some of the cells and genetics topics for a couple of rounds through that unit over these years has been: https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/
I mention in the printable a bit about the “Surprise Unit” which could be planned for in this period (instead of health). Sometimes it is simply nice to have a bit of a “surprise” to start the day or be in the middle of one. When our children were all very young, I sometimes began the day with a “surprise” feature, sort of like occasional morning exercises (resembling public schools years ago) or perhaps similar to what homeschool moms might know of as “morning basket”. It wasn’t for every day to my recollection – only occasionally. (And it was more interesting than just reading a poem or story and much more fun than discussing Shakespeare or some famous painting.) We had a crate-style coffee table we named our “tickle trunk” (but it didn’t have costumes in it like Mr. Dress-up, the famous Canadian children’s entertainer/educator). (I grew up without a T.V. in my house but the 2 programs I remember watching at my grandparents’ house were Mr. Dress-up and Billy Graham Specials. :-)) Into our “tickle trunk coffee table”, I put puppets I could tell a story with, I think objects for object lessons, sewing cards to keep little hands occupied, other interesting and sometimes surprising things that I could pull out for a really simple and surprising lesson about something – a lesson that had a point to it beyond just being fun and creative.
Some other ideas for “Surprise Units”:
- have a series of studies in survival skills/orienteering/shelter building – outdoors in the back yard
- learn about foods on the farm (harvesting the garden, canning, drying apples) – one type of food each Tuesday
- pick one style of music to hear various pieces (e.g. YouTube) and sing along with it – for example, a unit on Southern Gospel music, a unit on classical hymns (e.g. “The Lord is My Light, The Lord is My Salvation”), a unit on Canadian Folk Songs)
- pick one song that has something different about it to hear and discuss and perhaps sing along with it when you hear it again a second time, for example, songs with quite apparent imagery or storylines to them – “All Rise” (has a courtroom theme), “Champion of Love” (has a sports theme), “Cornerstone” (lyrics by Lari Goss: “Jesus is my Cornerstone” – discuss what a cornerstone is), “Fingertips and Noses” (NewSong).
- pick one type of musical instrument or similar to hear/observe it for a different song each week and discuss and draw/paint in rhythm to the music when you hear it for the second time.(example: piano duets, piano solos, an orchestra, a saxophone, a trumpet, harmonicas). Then learn about the history of the instrument, how it is made…
- Pick a current event topic and explore this in more detail. It might be a local issue, national, or global.
- learn about and practice special manners (with video, acting out, posters, or using toys such as teddy bears)
- pick a little theme with a broad interest level to learn about in a few minutes together such as Birds in Our Backyard or Cool Inventions or Autumn Leaves – put together your own mini unit or purchase one that sounds interesting or get a book that tells you about a particular theme and adds a wee activity (that doesn’t require much prep) to each section in a manner that is already easily outlined for you to follow.
Math: Here are the main resources we like for math from kindergarten to the end of primary grades:
Various resources are used for grade 3 including Prism Math (red level) and a combination of a couple of older, vintage math textbooks. We continue to include manipulatives as desired since playing with these or having the grade 3 student show the grade 1 student how to work with math manipulatives is both fun and reinforcing for concepts. To see what manipulatives we like in our family, see Our Twist on Math for a free printable list.
I might have a few supplemental reproducible-type math books that I use for various grades “here and there” when someone needs or would like an extra worksheet to review or have some meaningful busywork to do while waiting on siblings to finish math. I might print off a page or so from “A Kids’ Heart” math worksheet generator, but these supplemental resources would not be used on a regular basis now that the Math Sticks series is completed to my satisfaction.
To see my comments about the older grades, please see Monday’s post and printable.
Printing/Penmanship: Students would do the next day of their lessons. To see the resources we use and specifically what the lesson focuses on, please see Monday’s post and printable.
Grammar: I made some additional comments in today’s printable pdf (link is below). To be honest, our family doesn’t study grammar every year. I aim for it every other year instead. The resources I use for most grades are generally my own and most are yet unpublished and incomplete. I do like incorporating hands-on resources and over the years have purchased, been given by retired teachers in my extended family, or made a few of those that we use (e.g. matching compound words or contractions, posters for a particular grammar skill or theme, etc.) In general, grammar is not overly emphasized in our home but it is put into practice and taught as an important writing skill. I’ve often found typical grammar curriculum too drill-like, too boring of worksheets, or too over-emphasized in homeschooling so that is why I began to write it myself.
Grammar Unit 1: Capitalization and Presentation is available in our shop.
For high school levels, you can read my comments in my Four Year Rotation planner in the chart about the resources we like for English.
This is the time period where I might teach from the grammar or more general lessons of my Beginner Creative Writing which was updated into the e-book now called “Tell Me Cards – Modelled Writing for the Very Young”
or there might be opportunity for free-reading time from a list of suggested books for the year or “Paint with Water” books might be available (under minor supervision of the high school students also doing art perhaps).
This year for high school English, we are also trying out a new-to-us writing curriculum that looks like it might compliment my Writing Stories, Letters, Reports, Essays, and Speeches e-book. (If the new high school level curriculum becomes a recommended one, I will try to remember to update this page to give you that title.) When my high schoolers finish their English lesson for Tuesday, they have an option for Art, Digital Art, or an elective. We have liked parts of the Artistic Pursuits books for the high school levels and two courses on photography -one of which is an online adult-level stock photography one that is being redesigned I think by a lady in Europe so I won’t give you that link and the other curriculum that we use as part of our family’s main high school art course is listed below:
Artistic Pursuits Senior High Book One: The Elements of Art and Composition by Brenda Ellis (not sold by us)
Artistic Pursuits Senior High Book Two: Color and Composition by Brenda Ellis (not sold by us)
The Eye, the Shutter, the Light, the Color: An Introduction to Photography by Chloe Lee, Oak Meadow Inc. (not sold by us)
Lessons in Perspective Drawing – drawing lesson tips by Lester E. Showalter , Rod and Staff Publishing (not sold by us) – this resource is arranged into lessons but could also be used as a reference guide. It is very inexpensive.
2020 addition to comments: One additional place which you might look at if interested in a homeschool teen (or adult) study of photography is James Staddon at https://www.lenspiration.com/ . I heard him speak at a Christian online homeschool conference this spring and had a bit of contact with him at that time. I would definitely recommend his website. (Full disclosure: This is not an affiliate link.)
We have distributed high school organization books produced by the North Atlantic Regional High School (Maine, Washington) and might have a few of their out-of-print books left for sale (for around $20 each – contact us and we can check to see if anymore are left here). We can personally recommend them for both their evaluation services and their variety of flexible ideas for English, Art, etc.. In their list of “what” could be considered “an art course” for high school levels, they list such titles as a course in woodworking or jewellery-making or photography, and so on. In the teen years, an art course could be general (like traditional education) and/or specific to a student’s career or hobby interests.
Reading: (Tuesday’s schedule shows just the “Literacy – How to Read Well” part of reading skills; not the analytical comprehension activities part of reading which I like to put on Thursdays)
We sold out of the original main material within Step 2 and 3 and I’m still working on updating it into new e-books. (Note: If you already own a copy of the original paper book format of our Beginner Reading Program, feel free to contact us via e-mail if you want that same thing in pdf for additional children you’ve had since. We have a list of who this offer applies to.) April 2020 update: I am hoping that both Step 2 and 3 are published and available very soon. 🙂
Readiness: Our family likes to do more hands-on stuff for preschool readiness (use math manipulatives, outdoor play, etc.), compared to “book-work” however, I’ll mention here that we like using cute preschool maze books and this book here, which is reusable over and over: Does It Belong? Getting Ready for Math and Reading
Phonics: It might not surprise you that I also am writing Phonics Units (not fully complete yet but a good chunk of the work is done). These lessons are what we tend to use in our family.
In the past, we have also liked and used to sell Level A of Sadlier Phonics for grade 1. It is good but American-based (and very American-based in themes for grade 2 and up so we just kept to the grade 1 level) and we did discontinue it because we desired to have a good Canadian series instead. There are 2 other phonics reproducible books which our family uses when we are studying “consonant blends and digraphs”. These are: Little Books of Blends and Digraphs by Sherrill B. Flora, Key Education Publishing Company LLC, and Investigating Phonics: Blends by Kevin Rigg, World Teachers Press. (The “Little Books” one is particularly a family favourite and have very cute stories! We circle the letter combos as we read the story together, colour and cut, and sometimes (but not always) do an extension activity. I also like to teach about 3 booklets per lesson, in other words, getting through all of the l-blends within one week. I might have one left in my discontinued stock because we did have this title in our product-line years ago.) The other resource I like to use (because my family loves visual learning) are poster sets illustrating the blends and digraphs with example words – the “Bulletin Board” set(s) I use are from Teacher’s Friend Publications and very cute and colourful. Sorry, I do not sell these and I’m not even sure if they are available anywhere anymore. They are quite large though, one poster per sound.)
I have begun to publish phonics unit books. Most of them are still in draft-mode but I use them for our own children. The phonics worksheets and hands-on activities within that curriculum are presented for multi-grade learning in topical/skill chunks, for example, everyone in phonics would be learning “consonant digraphs” at the same time. Here is the list, as they get finalized and published:
Printable Poster Set: includes the sound alphabet and vowel sounds including combinations
Phonics is Fun! Unit 1: Consonants (multi-grade – all levels in one resource; includes soft and hard, silent consonants, etc.)
Phonics is Fun! Unit 2: Vowels (multi-grade – all levels in one resource; includes short, long, y, diphthongs, etc. plus some skills pages for literacy in general related to phonics)
To see what readers, literature bundles, and supplemental materials we use in our family, the best way is simply to go to our Online Shop and please browse through the listings in our Reading section. 🙂
Spelling: We like to have spelling most years for grades 1-8. The upper levels generally just have word lists but I do have my dad’s old teacher’s editions of spelling curriculum for grades 5-6 that I have occasionally used (e.g. 1960s-70s). So I will put the titles we have really liked to use for grades 1-4 here:
Grade 2: 2A (Denim) and 2B (still draft mode, unpublished)
Note: For spelling in grades 1-2, I recommend using a chunky letter manipulative set such as Unifix cubes which have vowels in one colour and consonants in another colour. They are not currently sold by us but we did use to sell the Reading Rod letters until they went out of production. The chunkiness of the cubes makes it easy and fun for little hands to put together to make words, rather than the flat paper kind of letters.
Grade 3: an old Canadian school speller from the 1980s, published by Nelson – I think it’s called “Spelling in Language Arts” – it’s the same title I used in school and I liked it back then too. 🙂 I’ve also used my own list of thematic-based words for grade 3 instead, depending on my student or circumstances. (not sold by us)
Grade 4: Scrapbook Spelling (out of print) – originally we printed just a few copies on legal paper. It had too much cut-and-paste features in it for our liking so we’re currently making some sizing and simplifying changes to that one to be included in one of our upcoming resources for that level. Look for it as part of Reading Sticks Step 6.
Some of our kids also liked to use Target Spelling (Steck-Vaughn) for junior levels and we used to sell those but they are quite pricey and not reproducible.
Science: You can read about how our K-3 science curriculum is being rearranged in this post here. I now personally use it in its rearranged stage by printing out the below books and assembling them into binders as that post describes.
You can read about science resources for the older grades in this post here. Some weeks, topics can be taught together. Other months (or weeks), I gear the lessons from a primary-level resource such as below and might have the older kids involved only a bit or simply doing their science on their own. Other months, I use the older-level resources to direct the lessons and the younger ones might listen in or just continue in their science studies on their own since these resources are delightful enough to be used independently or with a sibling who can read the simple instructions. (This is similar to teaching a split-grade class – some units for the year would be one grade and some units another grade but everyone can be together or separate working on their own.)
Otherwise, these are the titles we like for the kindergarten and primary levels (K-3):
Science, Health, and Technology LEVEL B (2nd edition only is available)
If a particular topic has a project in it from any of the science-related sessions that week or month, my kids might simply just work on their project for the remainder of Tuesday. Example: Life cycles are listed as a sub-topic under the “Family and Home Studies” (Monday) and right now, we’re doing a Flight and Air unit (physics) for science since this first month, I’m focusing on a study for the junior/senior levels. However, each student also has a project to complete about butterflies by Thanksgiving (October) for “Flight and Air”. So while we still have lessons continuing within the Flight and Air unit (e.g. flight patterns, aerodynamics, structure of feathers, etc.) I try to give them time in some days to work on their butterfly projects. Tuesday is good for that because it already is a busier day for me.
For Tuesday planning, think about “growth”. What could be taught which is a bit deeper than just an introduction?
Consider that, on Tuesdays, you could get a lot done! It might include tougher schoolwork, more details, but it can be terrific and tremendous!