Lesson Plan Ladies (LPL) has created detailed lesson plans for many popular homeschooling resources, integrating lessons and supplementing with good literature so that subjects relate to one another as much as possible. At this point, lesson plans are available as digital downloads for pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. The classical approach to education dominates LPL lesson plans. LPL follows the Trivium, concentrating on the grammar stage of learning in these early grades.
Many resources used are those recommended by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise in The Well-Trained Mind, especially for history, geography, and language arts. The curriculum is heavily weighted with work in language arts and the use of literature. For example, the sample schedule for first grade shows the first hour and a half of each day dedicated to phonics, spelling, reading, English, and writing. Fifty minutes are suggested for math, and 25 minutes for history and geography. A half hour twice a week is dedicated to science. Art takes up 45 minutes one day per week while music takes an hour and a half over two days per week.
For first grade, Wanda Sanseri’s Spell to Write and Read and The Wise Guide for Spelling are used for phonics and spelling. English uses The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease Workbook, Level 1 and First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 1. For reading, students will use McGuffeys’ Eclectic Primer, Revised Edition along with a few beginning storybooks. Penmanship teaches D’Nealian style handwriting.
History and geography are the backbone of the curriculum for grades one and above, with other subjects tied into the historical chronology whenever possible. (Recitation and art lessons are the most obvious subjects that are tied to the history.)
Introductory geography is included in kindergarten, but first grade starts with The Story of the World, Volume I. Subsequent years up through fourth grade continue with the other three volumes of The Story of the World (SOTW). Each year you will use the companion activity book for each SOTW volume along with either or both the Usborne Book of World History and The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. Selected activity and craft projects are taken from the SOTW activity books by LPL.
For each grade level of history and geography lesson plans, LPL adds literature that corresponds with lessons from SOTW. For example, you will be reading aloud from Magic Tree House: Mummy in the Morning during Week 3 when you are studying ancient Egypt. All of this is scheduled in your history and geography lesson plans.
There are separate lesson plans for each area so that you can select one or more sets of lesson plans without being obligated to use all LPL subject areas. For example, the entire bundle for first grade includes lesson plans for history and geography, phonics and spelling, reading (which correlates with phonics and spelling but is presented in separate lesson plans), English, penmanship, math, music, recitation, and science. This list points out what seems to me that the challenging aspect of the LPL approach. With so many separate lesson plans, I think it might be cumbersome working through them all. Of course, you will not be doing each subject each day, but it’s still a lot of lesson plans to work through each week!
When you purchase a bundle, you also receive a booklet of Schedule Templates. Here you will find a sample schedule showing how you might schedule all subjects. There are blank forms for you to print out so that you can create your own schedules. All lesson plans schedule four days per week for instruction, leaving the fifth day for field trips, co-op days, or other activities.
LPL tries to stick with the same curriculum as much as possible from year to year as they do with SOTW. For example, they use both Saxon Math and Spell to Write and Read from pre-kindergarten up.
However, it is important to note that LPL uses Saxon Math K through 3 in pre-kindergarten through second grade rather than for kindergarten through third grade. At third grade level, LPL uses Saxon Math 5/4. Spell to Write and Read, likewise, begins in pre-kindergarten and continues up through fourth grade. This reflects the advanced nature of the LPL curriculum. I expect that many parents will need to choose a level below their child’s actual grade level for lesson plans for math and phonics. You can do this easily for math and phonics since those subjects are not integrated with SOTW. Then you can stick with the actual grade level for other subjects if that works for you.
While the curriculum is strongly academic, it also includes read-alouds and hands-on activity. In addition, multi-sensory activities are used across the curriculum. To some extent, you can adjust writing requirements to suit the capabilities of your students, although Spell to Write and Read generally requires handwriting skill.
The history and geography lesson plans in particular, sometimes include a few resources written from a Christian perspective. Among the scheduled history literature books for first grade, for example, you find The Coat of Many Colors, the story of Joseph from the Old Testament. In second grade, some parents might not wish to read Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi or Child’s Guide to the Mass. You can just skip any books that you wish to. For the most part, the LPL lesson plan resources are secular and can readily be used by those with different perspectives. For example, LPL has created a Pre-Kindergarten through Fourth Grade Literature Read-Aloud List that includes questions that you might use along with lists of recommended books suitable for a broad audience. They also have a Pre-Kindergarten through Fourth Grade Christian Literature List for those who want to add some specifically Christian literature.
You can use only selected subjects from LPL or you can purchase a grade level bundle. Lesson plans might be used within your family or for teaching a co-op group. (Special co-op bundles are available.) LPL recommends combining children who are only one grade level apart for history, science, art, music, and recitation. The curriculum is challenging as I mentioned previously, so you should generally choose the level of the younger student rather than the older when combining students. If you do this, you can add assignments or complexity for the older student to challenge them appropriately.
The Lesson Plan Ladies simplify the process of putting together a classical curriculum that is rich in literature. They also remove most of the guesswork with scheduling. On the other hand, this is an ambitious curriculum. You might consider starting with the history and geography lesson plans (assuming you have a child in first grade or beyond), then selectively add subjects. Because of the modular design of the curriculum, if you want to use a different reading or math program, you can easily do so.