Preparing for the Term Ahead

07 Apr

The holidays are my time for preparing for the term ahead.  I do basic yearly planning but more specific plans are made at the beginning of each term (and even more detailed plans every weekend).

So how do I capture these ideas and get them on paper?  Well it’s not a real fancy way but it’s working for me at present –  I’ve been using index cards.

As I went through making my Term 1 summary I kept index cards labelled one per subject or key subject area (Language has several important component so it has several cards). While working through my summary, things sprung to mind so I made a note of them.  Then I put the cards in a convenient location where I knew I’d see them often and would be encouraged (guilted) to work further on them.  For me, that location, was right beside the computer I most often use.

What kinds of things have I noted on my cards?

– the names of books I want to read this term (audio stories also)

– concepts we are going to study or what I really need to finish up

– concerts, performances or excursions that have been planned or need to be planned

– ideas for reporting and topics to write about

– art and technology activities we might try

– simple thoughts about things to change, add or improve

I don’t want to block out whole days to plan for the upcoming term (this is the HOLIDAYS afteral!), so it’s easier and much more pleasant to work on the task in nibble sized spurts, which is what I have been doing.

Here’s some examples of my cards and the planning I’ve done so far:

Music card:  studying Tchaikovsky; find book titles; purchase; download Opal Wheeler audio books and Ann Rachlin Russian Ballet audios; check what the library has; find out about ballet dvds; locate our Nutcracker dvd.

For my Music card I’ve already checked my bookmarks for the books I want to buy and read.  I also checked my bookshelves as you can’t even begin to imagine how many times I’ve bought doubles!!  (Susan, stop snickering!!).  I discovered that I had indeed bought the three main titles I want to use so I noted those titles on my card and that they were already on the shelves.  I also found and purchased one more great title.  I haven’t purchased any of the audio I want to use yet as hubby will do that for me as we need it, but I made a note of the titles and where to find them.  I also did a quick search of the library and discovered that they have all sorts of dvds about Tchaikovsky and also his famous ballets – the Nutrcracker and Swan Lake.  Not sure the boys will like these at all but it won’t hurt them, too much, to watch them.  Aim high I say!  So I made a note of these but have not borrowed them yet.  I also put our Nutcracker dvd in front of the tv to remind us to watch it.  The central component of our Tchaikovsky study is the audio story, “Tchaikovsky Discovers America”, which I already own, so I found it and placed it near hubby’s computer so I’ll remember to ask him to put it on our ipod.  Music – tick – done.

Geography Card:  finish off Israel and start Egypt in “A Child’s Geography”; focus on California in preparation for our trip; find and purchase books for Israel, Egypt and the California; find more audio stories; check library for more documentaries

Hunting down book titles is my favourite thing to do.  Some women love clothes shopping, for me it’s books.  🙂  So the real challenge here is not finding the books, it’s culling the list back to the very best choices.  Since we’re already reading so many books I also need to make sure I keep the list of books to a manageable amount, looking for audio books where I can to help out.  With my Kindle I also have to consider whether I should purchase the real thing or just a virtual copy.  Decisions, decisions.  I love it though.  So I’ve got a lovely list of books to devour this term and they are now purchased and on their way.  I also added to my card the need to print out an enlarged map of California (and the South American map I should have done last term!).  I’ll check the library for documentaries on a week by week basis, otherwise we end up with a pile we just can’t work through before they are ready to be returned.

Science Card:  organise a trip to the Science Centre to see the new Light exhibition; finish up the last two lessons in last term’s unit from Dr Jay Wile’s Science text (we need a fully sunny day…not many of those around at present); try to cram the last two units into one term (miracle required); ponder a Science Fair project; buy book about Science Fairs and the Scientific Process; pull out the book “How to think like a Scientist”

Well our excursion to the Science Centre is planned and just waiting on a final date.  Tick.  We haven’t had any fully sunny days so we STILL haven’t finished off last term’s Science unit.  No tick.  We’ll just skip these and come back to them when eventually the skies clear.  It has to happen eventually!  No planning really needed for the next units as I’ve already made a list of resources that we need to have on hand for the experiments and they are written into my planner so I can check them week by week.  Whether we’ll get the two units done in one term is anyone’s guess.  We’ll see.  I’ve already investigated Science Fair project books and bought one for inspiration and found the Scientific Process book we already owned and put it into the ‘To Read’ basket on my desk.

History Card:  research Anzac Day Dawn Services; memorise “Lest We Forget’ poem; review/memorise national anthem; check to see if novels I’ve lined up to read have audio book versions; review novel order; check library for documentaries and borrow immediately; organise materials for Brayden’s ‘trench’ he wants to make; scan more Anzac comic pictures for writing prompts; load audio from current library books; brainstorm list of projects that could be used for reporting

I’ve Googled around and found the times and details for the Dawn Service we’ll attend.  4am!!  But we are studying the wars so it’s all part and parcel of it.  I need my head read.  I’m yet to print out the words we need for our memorisation or organise the materials Brayden needs for the trench he wants to recreate or scanned in those Anzac writing prompts.  Bit slack getting the History ball rolling.  I still have a week.  I have checked our novels though and whether there are audio book versions we can use.  No such luck, so I’ll have to step up the reading pace this term.  Hubby is at this very moment putting our library audio onto the ipod.  Tick.  And I’ll check the library for Anzac documentaries tonight.  You need to put a hold on this things early, especially with Anzac Day coming up.  I’ve also brainstormed a list of war-focused projects that the boys might find inspiring and choose to do.  Here’s my list so far.  Feel free to offer suggestions.

– Recreate a miniature trench and no man’s land scene (okay, so that’s Brayden’s idea)

– A stop animation of a war scene using the trench (okay, also the boys’ idea)

– collect all of our war tasks and create a Powerpoint

– maps of the countries involved and how they changed after the wars

– write a postcard or diary entry as a soldier

– write a dialogue – between characters in a book; soldiers; families members etc

– write war inspired poetry – perhaps diamante (best find out what that is first!)

– look at propaganda posters, discuss, write about, create our own, compare, look at different countries

– create radio news broadcast and tape

– create comic

– make History book for young children

– create a board game to teach about the war

– make a Powerpoint quiz

I’m not going to set these tasks in stone or do all of them (no where near all!), as I find that the best ideas are the ones that creep into your consciousness at the time.  Something spiffy and wonderful always comes to mind when we need it.  These are just starting points from which we could jump.  As you can tell I’m not ‘into’ all that notebooking and worksheety stuff.  There was once a time when we did all that but the boys didn’t derive any value from it at all.  So now we either do projects or writing tasks inspired by the topic.  Well, at least, that’s where we’re at on our journey at present.

Rest assured, I have not worked through the planning on all of my cards, in fact I still have cards that are empty.  I just drew a blank.  “Literature” for example, or “Writing”.  Ahhhh!!  Nothing.  Truly.  Okay, well today I did buy a book called “Figuratively Speaking” that should spur me on to do something more in Literature.  Well to be fair a lot of our Literature studies is impromptu.  We discuss books as they come along.  Sometimes I plan books out to discuss but for the moment we are focused on other areas so are just enjoying books as they present themselves.  But I would like to explore more of the literary devices with the boys.  One or two a term isn’t too much to ask.  We did this last year but just haven’t got back to it this year.  There are actually two things I can put on my Literature Card right now.  I want to finish reading “Deconstructing Penguins” and relisten to “Teaching the Classic” just as a review for my brain and to prompt me to keep using these skills.

As for Writing, well I had a bit of a change of plans at the end of Term 1.  I had planned to finish up the picture prompt IEW unit we had been doing.  But then I struck on a picture type that really spurred Ethan’s interest and he’s asked to do more using the same kind of pictures.  He wants to do a series.  These pictures come from an Anzac inspired comic book.  I took the pictures, removed the dialogue, and gave them to Ethan to bounce his writing from.  He loved them.  So it seems we are going to continue this unit until Ethan is ready to move on.  Hey, it’s the whole reason we homeschool.  🙂  So basically all I have to do for writing is to prepare more of these pictures (which I should write on my card) and then have an idea of where we are heading next (which means I better pull out the IEW discs and preview the journey).  Of course much of our writing will also come from our World War projects.  So I actually do have things I could/should note on my card.  (Rightio, who took my pen?!!)

That’s how I’ve been planning out the coming term – nibble by nibble…the best way to eat a whole elephant.  Once I’ve got all these things prepared and organised I’ll sit with my planner the weekend before we start back and schedule in what goes when.  This will make my weekly planning sessions a whole lot easier and ensure that I already have all the resources I need.

Like I said, it’s nothing flash and probably incredibly boring to read through.  But it’s what’s working for me at present and I often find these seemingly simple ideas are the ones that other people find the most helpful.

How do you do your term planning?



1 Comment

Posted by on April 7, 2013 in Planning and Registration


One response to “Preparing for the Term Ahead

  1. Jen in NSW

    April 11, 2013 at 8:43 am

    I am not having to plan for anyone right now with 2 in school and the eldest using 2 prepackaged curricula for History and Science, but I am certainly inspired to start my list of things I want to do with the boys when we return to homeschooling.

    I like your way of organising your thoughts. A folder or a file in my tablet will probably work better for me though considering I have to wait 10 months before I can implement anything. And I lose paper!

    Best wishes
    Jen in NSW


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