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Homeschool Crew Review: Lesson Planet


Lesson Planet,  ‘The Search Engine for Teachers’ is a site that ‘makes it easy for teachers and parents to search over 225,000 online lesson plans and worksheets that have been reviewed and rated by teachers.’ 


If you are a teacher, you use lesson plans.  You spend time making lesson plans and you follow them.  They guide what you do.  If you are a homeschooling mom, however, you most likely do not use lesson plans in the same way, if at all.  In fact, many successful teachers-turned-homeschoolers have dropped their old lesson plans.   The two kinds of teaching are too different.


I’m one of those moms who doesn’t use lesson plans.  I plan my years, my terms, and even my weeks, but since I don’t have lessons, I have no use for lesson plans.


If we want to discuss the Hubble Space Telescope, for example, we do not look for a lesson plan.  No, we check out relevant websites and go to the library.  If we need to learn about bugs, we go out and look at bugs, or we look at books or internet sites about them.  When we use textbooks, we just use the books, ignoring the lesson plans in the teacher’s manual, because when you’re a homeschooling mom, you don’t have 30 kids to keep interested, organized, on topic, and in line.


About Lesson Planet

All that being said, I can see that this resource could be helpful for some homeschooling families. 


Lesson Planet is a search engine that links to many outside sources.  To find what you want, you choose the topic and grade level you’re interested in, as shown in this short video.  There are various ways of refining your search, including a very  thorough advanced search feature.  


Lesson Planet also has guides who are specialists in various subjects, such as technology, writing, math, and homeschooling.  The homeschooling guide, Kristen Kindoll, has contributed articles about pi (you know, the funny Greek symbol you need to find the area of a circle), Inca civilizations, reading aloud, and choosing curriculum, among others.  In each of her articles, she discusses the topic and then links to some top Lesson Planet pages on that topic.


There is also a calendar linking significant events of the past with lesson plans.  For example, the Titanic hit the iceberg on April 14, Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, and Wilbur Wright was born on the 16th.   


My Searches and Comments

Here are a few of the things I looked at using Lesson Planet.  Obviously, I did not check out all 225,000 offerings on the site, but I did surf around a good deal, searching especially upper level courses. 


Among the lesson plans for high school literature, I’ll comment on these three:

  • In a 45 minute class to study Hamlet’s character, the lesson plan tells the teacher to say, “It is not important that you understand the story but that you can describe the character….” Then the students go on to analyze Hamlet’s character without necessarily understanding the story!  When our family studies Shakespeare, we concentrate on the story first of all.  Then we notice character and more.  I suppose that our Charlotte Mason way of learning does not mesh well the one-concept-per-class method  of lesson planning. 
  • On the other hand, this discussion of Macbeth is superb and could easily be used in a homeschool setting.
  • An excellent AP level study of Pride and Prejudice included a detailed explanation of ‘entailment’ (inheritance laws) upon which Mrs. Bennett based her anxious desire to have her girls ‘married well.’  We will use this.   


Among various topics in advanced mathematics, a surprising number of the links were unavailable.

  • I was surprised to find topics such as ‘The Gods of Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome’ and ‘Make a Book into a Movie’  when I searched for higher education math lesson plans. 
  • The search results for calculus made more sense, and even included a lesson plan on the history of calculus and why it was developed.  The idea is fascinating, but there wasn’t much information in the lesson plan.  If my children wanted to do this, we’d still be searching the internet, but the lesson plan would give us a helpful starting point.


One thing to notice is that each of the lesson plans comes from a different site.  Lesson Planet is a search engine, not a site with its own lesson plans.  Therefore the quality and usability of the lesson plans vary widely.  That is why the rating system is handy; when you search for a lesson plan, you can decide which ratings you wish to search. 


Another thing I noticed is that the search engine can be quirky.  I could not always duplicate my searches and occasionally I got an ‘oops’ message, stating that there was an error.  Also, as mentioned above, sometimes the results did not match the search at all.


Our Opinions

Lesson Planet does not really meet a need in our family, although it did suggest some interesting projects.  I think many homeschooling families would not benefit from it, but some would.  Of course, many classroom teachers would probably enjoy it. This is a product that is definitely better suited to traditional teachers than to most homeschoolers.  What’s more, I could find the same information using Google, although that would take a fair bit longer and wouldn’t have the ratings.  For the opinions of other homeschooling parents, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog. 


To find out if Lesson Planet would benefit your family, you can sign up for the free 10-day trial.  If you do, be sure to watch the video about searching, and check out the subject guides and the calendar.    



To Purchase

Lesson Planet has a 10 day free trial to allow teachers and parents to try the site with no obligation. After the free trial, membership costs $39.95 US a year.   



Disclosure Policy:   As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a free subscription to Lesson Planet for several months in exchange for our family’s honest opinions.


One Comment

  1. proverbsmama says:

    You have been VERY busy at reviewing things! Lots of good information!

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