Planning Homeschool Lessons using School Subjects as a Framework
© Beverley Paine
A really popular way of home educating is using unit studies, or project-based learning. When I was a kid at school we simply called them projects. Here's an example of one my kids did many years ago. The plan was mine, cobbled together halfway through the project, after interest had been sparked in the topic following a conversation with the children's grandfather. While staying with us he had told them about watching Spitfires and Messerschmitts battling it out in the sky overhead as a young lad.
I used traditional school subjects as an outline as it is the way we usually think about education when starting out on the homeschool path. It is a very easy way to plan.
You can do this with any topic or theme. Underneath traditional school subject headings, list all the possible activities related to the theme or topic you can think of - in effect, brainstorm using the subject headings as a guide. As well as mathematics, science and English, remember health, personal development, physical education, music, visual arts, performance arts, other languages, technology studies, media studies, geography, history, study of other cultures, etc.
AEROPLANES June 1996
English: Research and reading magazines and books for information about specific topics to do with aeroplanes; recording and presenting information as a project; creative writing; writing letters.
LOTE: Indonesian Learning phrases useful for air travel.
Mathematics: Working out air speeds- comparisons to other transport vehicles; calculating quantities of materials needed for models; comparison of sizes of aeroplanes; reasons for shapes; working out how long to get to different destinations and times of arrival.
Science: Aerodynamic experiments. Simple paper plane and helicopter experiments. Making hot air balloons.
Technology: Designing and drawing plans for balsa wood and paper models. Following instructions to build commercial model. Looking at how propellers and wings work and designing and building working models. Radio controlled aeroplanes.
Humanities and Social Sciences: Different uses of aeroplanes - transport, military, medical, space shuttle, sport... Geography: Air travel routes; which countries build planes and why. History: The development of aeroplanes and other air vehicles.
Health & Safety: How do they keep people safe in the air, emergencies, accident prevention and investigations, occupations.
Art and Crafts: Painting and drawing planes, illustrating project, finishing models.
Drama: Playing aeroplanes, both role playing game and using miniature toys (matchbox planes, Lego, models).
Physical: Model aeroplane flying.
Music: Using the synthesizer on the computer to simulate aeroplane noises (and crashes!), researching songs about planes, maybe learning to play a tune, or sing.
You can also list your objectives, resources and evaluation indicators on your plan. Highlight the learning in skills and understandings for each curriculum area, in addition to knowledge. And outline of a learning plan can be developed for any topic.
And remember, go with the flow. The children may or may not be interested to follow through all the ideas you originally brainstorm. You may find they steer off course for a while or completely. Record what they covered and move on to the next area of interest. A project like this can last a day, a week or a month, for a child passionate about the topic, several years!
If you are writing a learning plan for a whole year, simply select up to a dozen different topics that are likely to be of high interest to your children. Add a few that are important to you. It is easy to cover learning across the whole curriculum with this approach to learning.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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