Layers of Learning is best if you do some planning, but we all have days or periods in our lives when planning in any degree is just not going to happen. So I’m going to walk you through how to use Layers of Learning as a grab and go curriculum, a method where you can just pick up the current unit, sit down with your child, and learn.
If you’re new to Layers of Learning visit the Curriculum Guide first!
The first thing you need is a new mindset. If you approach learning as something you do with your child instead of thinking of yourself as the expert and your child the learner, you’ll be most of the way there.
Choosing Explorations Together
Here’s what I do. We’ve finished math and writing and spelling and we’re ready for Layers of Learning. I open the unit we are on, find the section we want to use that day (history, geography, science, or arts) and sit on the couch with my sons, flipping through the possible explorations (hands-on projects).
We agree on an exploration with the rule that the exploration must use only materials I have on hand. If the boys want to do a project that I will have to gather supplies for I put the supplies on my shopping list for the next time I’m at the store and we plan to do that project next week. But today, right now, we find something that doesn’t take any special supplies.
Reading to Learn
Once we have our project picked out, we open our encyclopedia and read up on the topic. Layers of Learning recommends encyclopedias, one for each Layers of Learning subject, to buy and keep at home. This way you always have extra information and resources for learning. Here are the recommended encyclopedias (there are more recommendations in the Curriculum Guide):
Karen made correlation charts for those encyclopedias that you can download and print so you can see which pages go with which chapters. (She’s a correlation chart ninja . . . you can get lots more for lots of curriculum choices in our Facebook Group . . . just ask to join.)
We read the encyclopedia all together as a group and talk about what we’re reading. We can compare it to other things we’ve read. Or talk about experiences we have had that relate.
If we are pressed for time, or I’m just running out of steam, sometimes I read to them while they work on their exploration.
Hands-on to Learn
Next the kids help me gather the supplies we need and they work on the exploration they picked out. Sometimes I do the project with them. This is an excellent way to model learning and, not incidentally, to really connect with your child. You are learning by their side and sharing the exact same experience.
Learning with the Sidebars
Other times while they work I use the sidebars from the unit to help us all learn more. I read Fabulous Facts, Famous Folks, and Deep Thoughts to them and we discuss. If a particular interest pops up from one of my children I make a mental note to get a library book on the interesting topic or assign a report to learn more.
I also utilize the web links, especially the YouTube playlists for each unit. I find a video to play while they work, or as a finisher to the subject for the day (or as an intro). The easiest way to find videos is through the catalog. Each unit has its own page full of features to use the unit better (go look at Unit 1-1’s page to see what all those resources look like) and the YouTube list for each unit is linked under the “Links & Videos” tab. I access all of this from my tablet and then use the tablet as a screen for the kids to watch while sitting at the table working on projects.
Things You’re Skipping
If you’re going to do grab-and-go planning (lack of planning) you are going to sacrifice a few things. Here they are.
- Library trips. Library books are the best way to get interesting information from many different viewpoints at your child’s reading level. The library also allows you to have books for browsing on hand.
- The really fun explorations. The best explorations, from the point of view of most kids, are the crafts and the things that go boom. These generally require a few fancier supplies like maybe clay or iron filings, things you probably don’t keep in your cupboards. Although . . . my college age son recently had a conversation in which a co-worker wondered why his family had a science cupboard. “Doesn’t everyone have a science cupboard?” he deadpanned.
- Your yearly schedule. If you use a grab-and-go method all of the time, you will have a tough time getting through a year of Layers of Learning in a year, because you won’t have a clear picture in your mind of how much time you have to spend on each unit. But if you want to just go your own pace and not worry about timing, then that’s one problem solved!
More From Layers of Learning
If you’ve always thought having a hands-on project based homeschool sounded great for high achieving super moms, but not so much for you, take a look at Layers of Learning.
More planning fun!
Podcast for your car trips
Did you know there’s a Layers of Learning podcast? Here are the first few listens.
We have lots and lots of free lessons in all sorts of subjects on this site, so you can try our style in spades. Here are a few: