Homeschool Planning and Schedules: From the Big Picture down to the Daily Schedule

A week or so ago,  a reader asked me if I had any other tips about homeschool planning. She had read the posts I had put together on short term and long term goals and planning, but wondered if I had any other thoughts.   She wondered how I make sure we keep tabs on the resources and books and planning things out in general.

I spent a lot of the summer thinking hard about how are homeschool is organized and how to create a schedule and routine that works for us.  I’ve been trying to put all that I’ve read & learned down in a post.  Well, of course it’s nearly impossible for me to write just a little bit on one topic… so I’ve broken it down into several posts!   Today I’m going to talk about the Big Picture.  Then tomorrow I’ll share more about some of the changes we’ve made to our Daily Homeschool Procedures and Routine. And finally the third post will talk about The Learning Environment: eliminating the squabbles, pokes, taps, random noises and all that.

One thing I love about homeschooling is that I know what the kids have studied and what holes they have in their studies. I know whether they truly know and understand ocean tides or how our government works. I know if they’re making progress in math or writing or grammar. Hopefully I’m not repeating too much of what I wrote in the series on Starting to Homeschool that I wrote this summer, but I thought I’d share a printable checklist of the science and history units that I hope my kids have covered once or twice by the time they’re 12 or 13.

This list is, of course, always growing (and growing!), but at least I made a start in planning out what I want to cover.  As for our resources: I organize our materials by subject matter on the shelves, subdivided into units.  I also have (lots of !) notebooks where I try to keep track of the resources we’ll use with each unit. Those planning notebooks come with me practically everywhere and I am constantly jotting down ideas I have for hands-on projects, books we should read and more.

It seems that there are well organized math resources out there that progress logically… and our writing workshop is a huge topic unto itself.  So I will just share the checklists I made for science and history below:

Science in the Elementary Years:

We’ve been homeschooling from the very beginning, so our studies of science started in the preschool years. I did a very comprehensive posts about the various science topics you can cover in the preschool years.  As my kids were older we continued our science units, but began going into considerable more depth.  We spend as much time as needed (and while interest lasts). Usually, we do 3 or 4 units a year.  I keep mental tabs on what we’ve studied and what we haven’t. Eventually, we circle around to the same units again because I have three kids. Invariably I need to cover topics my youngest hasn’t gotten to and that my oldest needs to cover in more depth.

And here’s the second part of my science checklist. These are all in one pdf, but I wanted to show you here on the blog what units we’ve covered (or hope to cover) over time.

History in the Elementary Years:


When we first started homeschooling, I read The Well Trained Mind. The thought of covering history in four year cycles sounded like a wonderful way to approach history. After all, the kids would build on their former knowledge… learning about the ancient world several times, but going into more depth each time round.  History was broken into  these four year cycles:

  1. Ancients
  2. Middle Ages and Early Renaissance
  3. Late Renaissance/Early Modern
  4. Modern Times

That was the path we set out on, but it didn’t work out that way for us. For one thing, we went much slower… taking our time and exploring different topics in different depths. And by the time we were “ready” to explore and read about Modern Times I had a preschooler and I didn’t feel like it was appropriate to talk about the World Wars and so forth since history is one of the subjects we cover together.

So our family’s history journey has looked more like this. Each dot is roughly one year:

  • Ancients – pre-history, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece
  • Ancient Rome, Middle Ages, Age of Exploration
  • American Geography, American Landmarks (We moved back to the USA this year), Age of Exploration, Frontier history, Early American History, the American West
  • A year-long study Africa (plus a unit on slave trade/triangular trade and slavery in the New World)
  • A history of India (and after studying Gandhi… the Civil Rights Movement) and a semester on China
  • This year we’ll be doing a large unit on Native Americans. We’re also doing a civics/government unit and will probably cover some economics as well. We’ve been doing a lot of trips and always read books and explore American History topics as they come up. (We recently visited Yorktown, for example, and read a couple of books about the American Revolution.)   I also plan to have us study the Middle Ages which wasn’t as in depth the last time around as I felt it should be.
  •  Next year we’ll probably continue on with European history and do a large unit on Russia and Russian history. We’ll probably also do another unit on American History as well.

But the amazing thing about homeschooling? I know what we’ve covered… and I know what holes are there for the kids. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be flexible… and it’s okay to follow rabbit trails through history.

Tomorrow’s post goes into detail about our New Homeschool Routine… the index card system that helps keep us (ME!) on track… and more.

You might be interested in these related posts:

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Minecraft Themed Multiplication & Division Pages

It probably won’t come as a big surprise that I made a few multiplication & division practice pages with the same Minecraft theme I shared earlier in the week!!  I had DD and LD fill out one of these pages (along with their other math work) last week. There are 6 pages (though I only took screen shots of two of them).

These are free to download if anyone else has a Minecraft fan in their household!

Minecraft Themed Multiplication and Division Pages(6 pages total)



You might be interested in some of the other math worksheets I’ve made for the kids.  For example, I made this Equivalent Fractions Pack I made for LD last year:

And I also made a geometry review pack:

Geometry Review Pack

But this post here as a LONG list of our free math worksheets: Math Worksheets, Game Boards, Lapbooks and More (all free).

Oh and also, here is the post with the Minecraft Addition and Subtraction pages I made for ED!

See you again soon here or at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page.

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Free Civics Materials

This fall, the kids are learning some of the basics about Civics… What is the Constitution? What are the Bill of Rights? What is an amendment and how many are there?  I found a series of flashcards put together by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services that suits our purposes perfectly. They put together a series of 100 questions for those seeking US citizenship.  I printed out the flashcard series and we’ve been going over that information little by little.  The first week, we went over the first 5 questions and I use that as a jumping off point to go over the material in more depth:

1. What is the supreme law of the land? ▪ the Constitution
2. What does the Constitution do? ▪ sets up the government ▪ defines the government ▪ protects basic rights of Americans
3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words? ▪ We the People
4. What is an amendment? ▪ a change (to the Constitution) ▪ an addition (to the Constitution)
5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution? ▪ the Bill of Rights

The following week, we went over the next 10 questions. I think these questions are great as a starting point, though for younger kids definitely need more explanation and discussion. 

Civics Flashcards-in RED 

If you use the flashcard series as we are… it takes a LOT of red ink to use the cards above, but then I noticed that  they also have the same questions written out on with a white background. Some of the questions go over US basics of US history.

US History Knowledge Questions: White Flashcards


There are also questions on US geography, holidays and more

If the flashcard approach doesn’t appeal, they have the questions listed out in a series:

Civics, History and Government Questions

There is also a 12-minute film for immigrants that is a useful overiew for kids about the important rights and responsibilities of US Citizenship:

A Promise of Freedom

And on a related note, you might be interested in the US Constitution pages that I made for the kids some time back.  They are free to download and print out as well:

Free US Constitution Pages:

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Simple Machine Packet (Free) – About 25 Pages

Last year, the kids were 5, 8 and 10. We all did this simple machines unit together. It was perfect for my younger two — quite easy for my oldest, but from here we’re going to go on to more complicated topics… inventions and electricity which are more suited to my older two.  It works best for our family to do these science and history together even if I have to modify it for the kids.

I’ll explain what’s in the packet:

The first three pages are virtually identical with a tracing page, fill-in-the-blank page and matching page:

We went into quite a bit of detail about the three classes of levers. These are some pages that explain what those three classes are and has them identify the fulcrum, load and effort:

These are pretty simple pages to write notes on the types of machines… and then three pages for the picture sort (see the next set of pictures below):

Simple Machines Sorting Activity:

There are four pages of pictures of various simple machines you might encounter in everyday life that the kids had to sort.

I also put answers (so there are four additional pages)… although some things could be categorized in more than one place. The wheel barrow, for example, could be classified as a lever — or it could be classified as a wheel and axle. If you have younger kids you may not want to use all of these.

In the next section, I jotted down some of the activities I could do with the kids. We wound up doing a lot of them and you’ll find them in other posts about this unit. (I’ll link to those hands-on activities at the end of this post.)

I contemplated deleting the last three or four pages because they were just my notes about simple machines… there’s a long list of examples and some other things I considered doing with the kids. Anyway, I decided in the end to keep those notes in. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, maybe not!!:

My kids and I have had a lot of fun with this unit! You can download the packet I made free by clicking on the following link:

Simple Machines Packet: 

If you are from a school, you will probably have to use your private google account to access this file. Most school email systems won’t allow access to google docs and won’t let me add you to the “share” settings.  You can also email me to request the file and I’ll do my best to get it to you. ~Liesl

If you use this in your homeschool or classroom, I’d love to hear from you over at my Homeschool Den Facebook Page!

Other Hands-On Activities from Our Simple Machines Unit:

Other Science Packets and Materials That Might be of Interest:
  • Rocks and Minerals Pack
  • Human Body Systems – This post also has links to a number of different worksheet sets I made on the digestive system, etc.
  • Montessori Science – A post that links to some of the free Montessori 3-part cards I have made for the kids
  • Biomes Pin Map – (Deserts, Grasslands, Savannah, Deciduous Forests, Coniferous Forests, Tundra, etc.)


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Minecraft Themed Addition Pages

My daughter absolutely loves Minecraft so earlier this summer I spent some time doodling on the computer and made a few characters she would enjoy!  I thought I’d share these addition pages with you today. As always, they are free to download, just click on the link or picture below:

Minecraft Addition Pages

If you use these, ED would love to hear from you (over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page)!! She always asks if other kids are using “her” math sheets and stuff! Okay and so I admit it, I also like hear from you! :) ~Liesl

You might be interested in some of the other “themed” math worksheets I’ve made for the kids.  For example, here are some Pokemon Multiplication Pages.

But this post here as a LONG list of our free math worksheets: Math Worksheets, Game Boards, Lapbooks and More (all free).

See you again soon here or at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page!

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