Monday, April 26, 2010

TOS Review: Lesson Planet

I don't have any subscriptions to lesson websites. I just don't. Why? Because google provides me access to an almost endless array of worksheets, lesson plans, you name it. There's free content everywhere. Do you have to muddle through it? Yes. Does it take a selective eye? Of course. But, well ... I kind of enjoy the hunt. And, truth be known, I'm pretty sure that fitting someone else's ready-made plan around my homeschool wouldn't be much fun. All the more exciting to customize, tweak, and find the best of the best, right?

But not everyone is as confident as I am in this area--and goodness knows, I surely didn't think I'd be this way back when I started. The thought of a safe, professional lesson laid out for me was reassuring. It gave me a sense of comfort. And, eventually, it gave me wings to fly.

Too, there are homeschoolers who just prefer to glean from others. They like the convenience of a solid plan, of something pre-tested, and of following along on a written guide sheet.

For all of those folks, Lesson Planet is a good resource. For $39.95 per year, you get access to a searchable database of lessons, as well as web-based tools like a lesson maker and newsletter maker. Lessons are searchable by grade, topic, user ratings, and more. The site boasts more than 150,000 worksheets and lesson plans. Every topic I threw out ("bears," "fractions," "King Arthur," etc.) came back with at least 75 results. Since this is an advertising-free site, there was no wading through flashy ads trying to convince me to buy this or that. Lessons were easily accessible, thorough, and polished. By "polished," I mean any public school teacher could pull from this site and know exactly what standards were being met, what objectives were being pursued, what areas of content were being developed. In other words, it's a site mostly directed at public schoolers.

A general search for "Christianity" turned up 1,622 results, mostly written from a secular, Western Civilization point of view. This leads me to believe that the content, in general, is largely secular. I did find, however, a lesson for 11th graders and higher titled, "Why is evolution controversial?" that addressed some Christian concerns, so perhaps there's room for faith in the plans presented here.

Lesson Planet offers a free, 10 day trial. If you're a new homeschooler or someone who is looking to add another searchable database to your bookmarks, this may be for you. If you're an established homeschooler not afraid of surfing the web on your own, I'd recommend keeping your money.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

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