Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book and Planning Resources

From the Preparation Checklist:

Choose Books and Syllabi to Use in the Coming Year

I will post my tentative plans for my 3 boys some other time. Here I just wanted to list some resources that I have found helpful over the years.

First of all, where I start off to choose books and syllabi:

I don't end here, but these are some of the places I start because they have influenced me a lot.


I suppose I browse through these as others browse through catalogs (which I used to, but generally don't anymore).

  • I also look at my own bookshelves and at what we've used in past years. 
  •  This year I have started making a K12 Overview of Resources (it is still under construction) so I could get the birds-eye look at key resources available for different grade/developmental levels.  Most of the resources listed there are online and free.   The form is somewhat modeled after the Curriculum Chart at Old Fashioned Education.  It gives me a place to start.   I hope to add to it as time goes on. 

Now, where I look for planning worksheets and forms:

When I first started homeschooling, the Catholic curriculum program I used provided me with a teacher lesson plan book (and all the lesson plans, so I didn't have to make my own).

But when I went to designing my own courses in the late 90's I didn't have a clue how to plan.  I bought a homeschooling organization book -- it was called How to Homeschool:  A Practical Approach by Gayle Graham.   It was geared towards the unit study approach and the best part was that it had lots of reproducible forms in the back.   I printed these out but did not use them much because I couldn't make my brain fit into the little spaces.   The book did teach me a lot about how to plan, though.

Later on I discovered how to make tables in MS Word and so then I could make my own forms!  I usually make new forms every year.   It is a way of ordering my mind and envisioning what I want things to look like that particular year.  But of course, you don't have to make your own forms.  The internet allows you to find almost anything you ask for in the right words. 

My favorite go-to places for homeschool forms are:

and recently,

Donna Young has a list of essential forms on her site if you want to just build a homeschool notebook.  If you are a newbie, or need a refresher course, she has laid out the Four Steps of Homeschool Planning.   The first two are the ones I am focusing on here. 

  1. List the Subjects and Goals
  2. Choose Books 

I like her Marble Collection particularly.  If you go there you can find a Course of Study page, and several other forms that are helpful for planning. 

Also, I like Nadene's tutorial on planning at Practical Pages,

Jen's Big Picture Overview pages are wonderful.  They let you keep track of the resources you are using for your particular child over the whole K12 sequence.

 Highland Heritage has a simple 2-page version of the Curriculum Scope

Finally, I have a book called Evaluating for Excellence which has some nice and unusual forms centered around a literature-based education.


Now that I have recommended all these places to find forms, I will add that I have hardly used any of them this year.    I felt like I wanted a system that was more organic for this year.   When I use forms, I have a tendency to plan out the whole year, and while that may work for some people, I end up never using more than a couple of months' worth of the planning.  As I mentioned earlier I decided to go to a 7 weeks on, 2 weeks off type schedule which will allow me to plan between terms. 

For planning this out I went back to a method I used to use several years ago and started writing things down on large index cards.   As the stack grew I started color-coding them so I could distinguish them better.

This is working for me well this year.    I write down lesson notes, lists of books I want to use, and notes for things I want to add as time goes on.   It's easy to shuffle and re-order them. 

How are you planning this year?  I hope you are finding it a joyful, not stressful, experience! 


  1. All in one place Resources.. perfect! Thank you for sharing!

  2. This is great. Thank you, Willa!

  3. Still listing goals, pulling books off the shelf and bookmarking ideas here. I've never used index cards in planning-what a great idea.

  4. Willa, can you explain what you write on the index cards? What you hope to cover per month, in each subject, etc? Thanks for these posts. I'm hoping to read them more thoroughly soon.

  5. Willa, I love to plan. I can plan all day, all year, my whole life. The problem is implementation and follow-through, especially after Christmas. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to follow through, maybe in another blog post. Thanks

  6. Hey, Could you please bring that Evaluating for Exceelence with you when you come t visit me? I would like to peruse.....

    Thanks! Only 3 days!


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