Lesson Planning: Digital vs. Paper

Author’s Note: I am an independent contractor who does work for Well Planned Gal. I was not hired to or asked to write a blog post about planning with their products on my blog, nor am I receiving any kind of compensation in exchange for doing so. I have been using their paper planners for the past 9 years, and talk about them in this post because that’s what I still use today for my own homeschool planning.

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in lesson planning this month. New Book Day for us is on September 2nd, so after finishing up final grades and sending off reports back in July, I jumped right into making sure that I was ready for the upcoming academic year. Well, as ready as I can be!

I’ve been using the Well Planned Day paper planners since Munchkin was in first grade. I still am too attached to my paper planners to give them up completely! A few years ago though, I added the My Well Planned Day online planner to my planner line-up. While having a nice paper planner on my desk for day-to day reference is still my preference, I’ve been surprised by just how helpful the online planner has been, and can’t imagine not using it at this point.

My Well Planned Day does require some extra time and effort to set up before the beginning of the school year. There are some lesson plan add-on options that will let you “plug in” pre-planned assignments so that you don’t have to type in anything. These are wonderful, but they aren’t an option for every course that I use. For the ones that don’t have an add-on option, I create the course and then add assignments myself. This does take a fair amount of time for a full year of assignments. In the past, I’d avoided planning out a whole year at a time on paper because inevitably, something happens that requires shifting things around. If you’ve written out a year at a time, then it really is a headache to try and update the paper planner. With the online planner though, I can move things around with just a click or two of my mouse! I can also see when our projected finish date is for every course we’re working on. That’s a huge help for staying on track through the year. I can enter grades for assignments right in the online planner, and things like grade reports, attendance reports, and even a high school transcript are generated for me. This is a wonderful feature when I’m getting semester reports put together. The student log in option has been perfect for one of my boys. He much prefers digital planners, so being able to log into the website on his mobile device and check off his assignments is perfect for him. (He can only see his assignments and check them off as completed though. He can’t add grades or delete assignments from the student log in!)

So, why do I still use the Well Planned Day paper planner if the online planner has all those helpful features? There’s something about me that still loves paper, pen, and beautiful planners. Since we do a year-round school schedule, we take every seventh week off. I transfer lesson plans to my paper planner in six week blocks. That way I’m set for the block of classes between breaks, but if something changes our schedule, there’s not too much to shift around. I personally prefer having a paper plan to refer to throughout the day, rather than needing to log into my planner account. You can print assignment lists and teacher lists from the online planner, but the paper planners are spiral bound and truly beautiful.

If I had to pick just one, I’d probably switch to the online My Well Planned Day. For now, I’ll keep using both! But what if you don’t want to use both? How do you decide which is a better fit for you?

Pick the paper Well Planned Day if:

  • You would rather plan with paper and pen
  • You want to record what you’re doing as you go along instead of planning everything out ahead of time
  • A physical planner that’s beautifully designed helps you stick with planning and record keeping better than a digital planner
  • You don’t mind calculating semester grades yourself as long as you have pages to keep track of the grades and attendance for each semester
  • You’ve tried digtial planners and calendars and they just aren’t a good fit for you
  • You don’t want to enter a year’s worth of assignments up front

Pick the My Well Planned Day online planner if:

  • You are comfortable using digital calendar and planner tools
  • You want to plan your whole year ahead of time, but still maintain the flexibility of updating and changing plans as needed
  • You want a planner that will calculate attendance, grades, and even generate a high school transcript for you
  • You want your students to be able to log in and check their own assignment list
  • You want a paper sheet to refer to each week, but you don’t mind printing off a weekly assignment list to hang up or put in a 3-ring binder
  • You don’t mind investing the time to enter a year’s worth of assignments at the start if it means saving time while still being able to be flexible later on

If you still aren’t sure which planner is a better fit for you, head on over to Well Planned Gal and check out the options. There’s a Peek Inside button under the description for all of the paper planners that shows you an online preview that you can “flip through” to get a good idea of the page layouts. You can also sign up for a free 30-day trial of the online planner. You don’t have to enter a credit card, so there’s no sneaky auto-renewal at the end of the trial!

If you have a question about how I use either of the planners, leave a comment, or use the contact form to send me a message. I’ve been using these planners for years, and I’m always happy to answer questions about them!

What about you? Do you prefer paper planners and calendars, or are you a digital planner?

Review: Family Christian Stores

Note: Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for regular people, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a $25 coupon from Family Christian Stores in exchange for my honest review of my shopping experience with them. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

Bookstores are my favorite places to shop! (OK, yarn stores and tea shops are right up there too.) That’s why I was excited about this promotion. Family Christian sent me a $25 coupon to use either shopping at a physical location, or through their website. Since I live in the sticks, there were no physical stores anywhere close by. No problem, I’m used to shopping online when I need books!

Family Christian’s website had a wide selection of books, music, Bibles, and DVDs to choose from. They have a number of the new, popular journaling Bibles too! I finally settled on ordering a copy of Where Hope Prevails by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan, and Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie C. Martin. I placed my order on August 8th, but as of August 18th, I have not yet received it. Now, Give Your Child the World is a special order item, so I knew that it would take longer to ship out before I placed my order. Special order items are clearly marked as such on the product information page, and keep in mind that ordering one will slow down the shipment of your order. I received a shipping confirmation for my order on August 12th, but there is no tracking information available for my shipment.

I was happy with the selection offered on Family Christian’s site, and they offer free shipping for orders that are $50 or more. I do wish that their website had the option to filter out products that are listed as only available in stores, or are special order items. I looked at a number of items that turned out to be product that were only sold at the physical stores. It was a bit frustrating not to know that until clicking on a product and checking the description.

Currently, Family Christian is offering a buy one, get one 50% off sale on their website. This is a great sale, particularly if you have an order that qualifies for free shipping. Shipping isn’t as fast as the Amazon Prime that has completely spoiled us, so you’ll have to decide how important shipping speed is to you.

Buy One Get One 50% off Mix and Match

Overall, shopping at the Family Christian website was a fairly good experience. If you’re not willing to wait a bit for your order to arrive though, you might be happier shopping at a physical location. They do have a nice rewards program for repeat shoppers that you might want to look into, and it applies to both in-store and online purchases!

Review of Dive into Shapes

My stash of math manipulatives is pretty sparse. I’m never quite sure what’s worth buying and what’s not. That’s why I was excited to review Dive into Shapes from Learning Resources. When Dive into Shapes arrived, it didn’t take my kids long to ask, “Can we play with it?” – You can read the rest of my review over at the HEDUA Review Site!


Review of Unseen

“Jake Paris is just an average guy with a regular life until he gets a weird visit from an elderly woman. She hands him a flower, tells him to be nice to the children, and not let the flower die. It gets even crazier from there as Jake finds himself in the midst of not one, but two mysteries. Who kidnapped his nephew? Who are all of the children that no one but Jake can see? You’ll have to read Unseen to find the answers!”

That’s an excerpt from my most recent review on the Home Educating Family review site. Click here to read the rest!


He Has Come…

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.” –Luke 1:68

There was a time when my Christmas trees were perfectly decorated. All of the ornaments adhered to a color scheme, and only white lights were allowed on my tree! Tinsel was most definitely not allowed.

This year, a mis-mash of ornaments hang on our tree. A paper chain decorates only the top half of the tree because the toddler ripped the bottom part of the chain. The lights are colorful, the bottom branches slightly mangled from the slight chaos that four children seem to create. It’s the type of tree that I shuddered at once upon a time. Now, it looks more beautiful to me than any Better Homes and Gardens cover shot ever could. (There’s still no tinsel. I have to draw the line somewhere!)

When I opened up the box from Dayspring and lifted out the beautiful Christmas pillow, I knew that I wanted to find the perfect place for it. I tried out several spots in the living room before finally settling on the corner of the loveseat by the tree. I stood back and smiled at how nice it looked there. Then Little Guy got up from his nap. He spied the new pillow right away and promptly plopped it on the floor and put his head on it. It was then that I remembered why I don’t have decorative pillows on the couches!

But every time I pick that pillow up off the floor and read the words of Luke 1:68 I’m reminded of what Christmas is about. It’s not about picture perfect decorations, exquisitely detailed sugar cookies, or lavish gifts. It’s about our LORD, coming here… in the middle of our sin-filled, messed-up lives, and redeeming us! The price was paid, our liberation from sin made possible by the sacrifice of the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. That’s why Christmas is a time of hope. Our Redeemer has come!

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” –Luke 21:28

And now, a special Christmas gift for one of my readers! The folks over at Dayspring are gifting a beautiful Christmas pillow to one of you! To enter, simply leave a comment and let me know what verse is particularly meaningful to you this time of the year. I’ll choose a random winner on Saturday, December 29th, so be sure you have your comment posted before then.

Note: Dayspring provided me with a pillow in exchange for my blog post. I received no monetary compensation, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Christmas Stories from Grandma’s Attic

This book that I recently reviewed is no longer in print, but check out used book stores and websites. It’s a gem!

“I so enjoy hearing all of the stories at family gatherings, especially Christmas stories! Reading Christmas Stories from Grandma’s Attic reminds me of sitting around Gram and Gramp’s kitchen and listening to all of the funny and touching stories that were told over and over….”

Read the rest of my review over at Home Educating Family’s review site. While you’re there, be sure to check out other reviews and enter this week’s giveaways!

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table

Math has never been my strong suit. Words are my language, not numbers! Would you be surprised to know that there are storybooks out there that can help your word-loving child understand math concepts? Take a look at a little excerpt from my review of one of those books:

“Sure, you can find plenty of counting books for toddlers out there, but what about math storybooks for kids a little older? That’s where Sir Cumference and the First Round Table comes in!”

Read the rest of my review over at the Home Educating Family website!

Simply Grammar Review

“Whether you are looking for a grammar curriculum or just a supplement, Simply Grammar may be just what you need. Simply Grammar is a revised and expanded edition of First Grammar Lessons by Charlotte Mason. Striving to maintain the integrity of the original book, Karen Andreola has updated some words that may not be familiar to modern readers, as well as some of the grammatical terms….”

You can read the rest of my review at Home Educating Family’s website. While you’re there, enter to win your own copy of Simply Grammar!

Washington’s Lady Review (and a Winner!)

Congratulations to Erin! She won a copy of the Well Planned Day planner from Home Educating Family!

I’ve had such a fun time participating in the blog hop, and I’d like to thank Home Educating Family for hosting it and offering our readers all the really wonderful prizes!

“The history of the American Revolution is full of fascinating people whose contributions are remembered to this day. Names such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams definitely top the list. But how much do you know about some of the brave women of the time? Nancy Moser’s book Washington’s Lady gives us a better look at one of those remarkable ladies….”

You can read the rest of my review over at the Home Educating Family website. While you’re there, be sure to take a look at the blog, and consider signing up for e-mail updates so that you don’t miss anything! You can subscribe to the daily posts, or just get a weekly e-mail with all the highlights. You’ll definitely want to sign up to be notified of all of the fantastic giveaways though!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!