Monday, December 2, 2013

My Ambleside Planning Process: Term by Term

Here is part two of my Ambleside Planning Process, how I plan out the nitty-gritty details of each term.
You can read the other parts here:
Part 2: Term by Term (you are here!)
Part 3: Week by Week (Coming Soon)
Part 4: Day by Day (Coming Soon)
About a month or so before the start of a new term, I will begin tackling the following:
Translate the readings and other assignments I divided into categories into checklists: one for our group readings and activities, one for each student I will be working on one-on-one, and one for what I expect each student to work on independently (only Michelle at the moment). (For what it’s worth, Ambleside now offers chart-type schedules on their website and if you like that format, you can skip this step.  I still prefer to make my own. The link for the chart schedules are at the top of each year's weekly schedule page.  Here is the link for Year 2's)   This is mostly just for readings and things where I don’t want to lose track of what chapters or pages we are to read week by week.  I don’t create detailed assignment sheets for the more skill-based subjects such as math or spelling – we tend to just do the next thing in the book and move on as we are ready.   My checklists look something like this:
Here’s a closer shot:
I also create an assignment sheet for Michelle’s independent work, which looks like this:
You will see that this sheet has four check boxes next to each item – this sheet is designed to last four weeks.  This has worked out for us as a good balance between having to constantly reprint them and yet frequent enough that I can make changes as we go along if necessary.
I also make a supplies checklist for each week for any unusual supplies we may need for science experiments, art, or other projects – this is just so I have something I can reference quickly so I can gather what we need before we need it, if it is something I’m not likely to have handy.
Review our daily and weekly routines and tweak as necessary. (More on these in the next 2 posts).
Choose new memory work – poetry, Scripture memory, catechism and hymns (these things I choose for myself - we just follow the AO rotation for folk songs).  Prepare sheets or notecards to be slipped in the appropriate memory box or binder.
Collect timeline figures related to the term’s history readings. (I have the Homeschool in the Woods Timeline figures CD, and supplement with images from Google or Wikipedia.)
Move any files necessary to the Kindle or Tablet.  (PDF reference guides, music, ebooks that I may not have already downloaded, etc)
Stock up on printer ink and have a big ol’ printing party. J  I like to print everything that I think I may need for the term at once.  I find that when I do this, we can start the term and then just keep going from week-to-week without having to worry about printing.  Occasionally I miss something. But overall this system works well for us, and I’m not constantly scrambling to prepare each week.  In my case, I print:
  • All checklists, schedules, and assignment sheets I have prepared
  • Artist prints for the term (I print these on matte photo paper)
  • Timeline figures
  • Maps
  • Notebooking pages (We mostly use very plain ones with a space to draw and some lines to write.  I also have a biography one we use sometimes as well as a Shakespeare one.  I don’t try to match up things according to specific topics or themes.)
  • Memory work
  • Any MEP math pages we may need to use (MEP is not our primary math curriculum, but I do use parts of it as a supplement to Math U See here and there)
  • Copywork passages (This past year we have used Spelling Wisdom and things take from the AO Copywork Yahoo Group for copywork selections for Michelle)
  • Pages for our family nature notebook.
  • Any preschool worksheets and activities to keep handy for little ones who want to join in.
  • Any other miscellaneous bits and pieces – did you find a neat artist biography you want to share?  Notes for your geography study? 
Once everything is printed, I file it all in the appropriate binders for easy reference.  I have (at the moment) three main binders for storing things:
My master plan binder (the purple one):
  • Copies of all checklists and schedules
  • A Calendar with planned holidays marked off, and where I anticipate we will begin and end each term
  • Plastic sleeves with timeline figures and various styles of notebook pages
  • Master free-reading list
  • Supply list
Our Morning Tea Time binder (the white one):
  • The Morning Tea-Time Schedule for the term
  • The term’s group work checklist
  • Bible reading schedule and related resources
  • Memory work (poetry and folk songs anyway…Scripture, catechism and hymns we do at the breakfast table.  We use index cards and SCM’s Scripture Memory System for this.)
  • French activities for the term (although I am horrible about keeping up with these…French has been kind of a disaster here.  Sigh.  But it is all in there, in case we do get to it.)
  • Artist Study resources (paintings, notes, artist bio if we have one)
  • Geography related resources (maps for reference, etc.)
  • Composer Study resources, if any (background info about our composer or the pieces we are studying, if I’ve found anything interesting)
Michelle’s Independent work folder (the red one):
  • Her daily checklist
  • Her reading lists (assigned and free-read choices)
  • Copywork selections
  • MEP pages go into a separate MEP folder
I also keep folders for any preschool pages we might use, and nature notebook sheets go into the family nature notebook, obviously.
I usually take this opportunity to tidy up and reorganize our bookshelves as well, and toss or store papers from the previous term as necessary.  (We have to submit a portfolio, and I also keep a sampling for our own personal record as well.)
This may seem like a lot of work up front, but I find it is worth it to take a couple of afternoons or a weekend for intensive preparation, because then we can just move from week to week throughout the term without a whole lot of thought.  Then I don’t have to worry about this planning process again for several months.
Next time I’ll show you what I do to prepare week by week.  (Trust me, it’s not this long!  We’ve done the bulk of the work already!)


  1. Love this! Lots of great ideas here! :)

  2. HA! So, I was just reading this and thinking how nice it is, but I see I've already told you that! :D I think I'm going to switch over to a Circle Time binder too. It seems like that might help us to do less shuffling around in the morning.