I L-O-V-E creating new planners! Once a year I get to play around with a new theme for my school planner. I redesign my weekly lesson plan sheets, tweak here and there and generally let my creative juices flow. My planners are usually in hard cover notebooks, it seems to keep everything together in a nice compact and orderly way. For the last school year I traded in my hard cover for a binder. I thought that this would be a better option as I could add pages with ease, however, I found in rather unwieldy to use. My school planner is next to me throughout the day, so if we move from the sitting room after reading to the dining room for seat work, my planner comes along and each planned activity is ticked off as we go along. My binder option proved to be a chore rather than a pleasure! So it was with great gusto that I tackled the the task of creating a new planner for the 2011/2012 academic year!
I usually create a theme for my annual planner. I’ve had a nature inspired planner in which all the sheets had pictures related to nature, the cover was decorated with nature inspired scrapbook paper and the fonts used were all swirly like vines. Other themes have been ‘Family’ where pictures taken from our learning experiences were scattered throughout and I had one based on my favourite characters from Beatrix Potter and Wind in the Willows. I enjoy adding poetry, inspirational quotes and always a bit of Charlotte Mason wisdom to my planners. So in essence, what is a very functional tool becomes a bit of a work of art scrap booking style :o) This years theme is ‘Victorian/Vintage’ in honor of Miss Charlotte Mason.

Vintage image with a Charlotte Mason quote underneath

Let me walk you through my planner. I have used a Pukka Project Pad, it comes with 5 plastic movable dividers. This is a great feature! I removed One of the dividers and split the book up as follows: ‘The Nitty Gritty’, ‘Homeschool Hub’, ‘Booklist’ and ‘Seasonal Planning’

The Nitty Gritty

Kicking off with a fun ‘intro’ page

Behind the first divider I have created a fun page summing up what our first term holds. I have found clip art depicting the season we will be moving into and some fun ‘happenings’ planned. For example, we are taking a trip up to Scotland for a week in September, so that has been listed, we are also moving into a new season, so that has been listed too. Each new ‘block’ of weeks following a mid-term break or holiday will have a new page decorated according to the season and with a summary of seasonal/national holidays etc.

Turning over the page I have pasted a month to view calender printed on colored paper. I will note any activities related to our living and learning. For example I will note our monthly home school support gathering, I have blocked off the week we are in Scotland, perhaps a field trip that means a ‘normal’ school day wont happen, bank holidays etc. This calender is basically used as a quick reminder of how many academic days/weeks I have in the month. This allows me to plan our lessons with as little disruption as possible.

As we are using Sonlight this year, most of the planning is done for me in the history, bible, geography and literature departments – which is great! However, as we use a Charlotte Mason approach, we include things such as nature study, art appreciation, handwork etc… I also like to note which math and language lessons we are going to be doing over the coming week so the Sonlight IG sheets become a cog in my overall control system.

I’ve designed 4 different control lesson plan sheets (coz they are pretty and add variety :o) Each sheet has a section for each child’s independent subjects such as maths, language, one has a reading practice focus and the other is doing an in depth art course. There are boxes for me to note specific lessons which I will tick off as we complete them. Next there is a large table in which I have noted the following:
Sonlight – although all the planning is laid out in the IG (instructors guide) I have designed notebooking pages for each weeks readings for narration. So I will note in each days block of my control sheet if there is a notebooking page to be completed along with the {Sonlight timeline, read alouds and map work assignments} – these individual assignments are marked off on the IG. I have decided to use the 4 day programme and reserve Friday for our art and natures studies, so there are blocks for me to note what we will cover in each of those areas.
** A quick note on lesson plans for art and nature study. I will file any art/craft idea I have downloaded or any nature hour challenge, into my Sonlight binder behind the relevant weeks tab. This way I am not left with bits of paper flying about all over the place and all ‘curriculum’ ideas are in one place. I note the art/craft or nature challenge idea on my control planning sheets.

On each control planning sheet are two other boxes headed: ‘Seasonal Notes’ and ‘Days of Note’. Here I would note things pertinent to that specific week.  In Seasonal Notes I will note things that are related to our nature studies for example ‘blueberries picking time’ or ‘change notice board theme -Autumn’ or ‘change book basket’ or ‘daffodiles blooming’ etc I will note specific activities for the observance for example – the reminder that blueberries are usually ripe and ready for picking during the first two weeks of July, I would be specific and say – Tuesday, trip to woodlands to pick berries.

 Under Days of Note I would write ‘Guy Fawkes’ or ‘Trooping of the Color’ etc… and then next to the note I would note the planned activity for example:- Trooping of the color – make bunting, watch the Trooping while enjoying a High Tea we have prepared. Again, if I have any printed off ideas related to any of our observances they will be popped into my Sonlight binder behind the relevant week’s tab.

Homeschool Hub

This section in my planner is like a teachers toolbox. This section kicks off with year to view calender page. I will block off (highlight) all the national bank holidays and our holidays. I have decided to forgo long holidays as it really does not work for us. Instead we are going to try to work on a 4 week on 1 week off schedule. So I will block off these weeks. Next I will block off our liturgical Holy weeks over Christmas and Easter. During these weeks I like to focus on faith based activities that are fun a creative – no ‘regular’ school there.

Behind the yearly overview calender, I have copies of Clay and Sally Clarksons overview (Discretionary, Discovery Disciplined, Discussion and Discipleship Studies) pictogram and detailed notes of each. I am able to make my own notes on how these areas play out in our home.

Next I have a page where I note any good ideas I have gleaned from Sonlight Forums or other people blogs that I would like to implement at some point. Bit of a ‘bank of ideas’ for me.

Following that I have a mind map that I created as I worked through things that can get clouded as school begins to take over. I have stated clearly why we home educate, my role, areas which in the past have led me off track (so that I can avoid making the same mistakes) as well as my strengths and natural bents. Often when we read other peoples blogs or chat to other moms and home school get togethers, we can find ourselves either trying to do things their way, putting aside who we are or trying to measure up and falling short in our own eyes. By clearly laying out who I am, how I teach, what we stand for etc.. I am able to go back and read these things I noted when I was in a clear frame of mind :o)

Book list

Here I note any books that have been recommended to me or that I have seen and want on my book shelf. I will tick them off as I buy them.

Seasonal Planning

This section is still under construction. I think I am going to arrange it by Dawns method from By Sun and Candlelight. 6 Categories, 12 months.

Deep Winter – Jan/Feb
Early Spring – Mar/Apr
Late Spring – May/Jun
High Summer – July/Aug
Autumn – Sept/Oct
Holiday Season – Nov/Dec

Each Category will have a ‘cover’ page and two month calender, behind which I will have set aside planning pages to note ideas and plans. Again, any downloads or pull-outs will go into the relevant week in my Sonlight binder. Dawn uses an awesome File Crate System which I aspire to – but have not quite worked out how it would work on a practical level in my home. So for now, this is my way ;o)

An so the walk through my planner has come to its end. I hope you have enjoyed the tour ;0)


  1. Gae

    Dear Shirley Ann,
    I love this planning post as and I lov ethe way you have put this together. I love visual reminders and am thinking I would like to try this.
    Looking forward to seeing more from you

  2. Oh I just love looking at your planning so pretty and comprehensive at the same time! I am not in major planning mode yet at our year will not start until 2012 but I will have to look at Term planning sometime soon! This will inspire me "O))) Thanks, Shirely!

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