Ask any teacher and they’ll tell you how important it is to have a solid lesson plan for your students. Not only does it provide structure, it also helps guide you along so you can explain concepts more easily. Some teachers create their own lesson plans, while others purchase premade plans that they can customize to fit their teaching goals. Whether you’re a teacher who needs help crafting a lesson plan or a parent who’s starting to homeschool, finding lesson plans that are focused, appropriate for your students’ developmental stages and designed to encourage natural, progressive learning is crucial for success.
With our buying guide, you’ll find plenty of suggestions to help you choose the best lesson plan for your teaching needs. At the end, we’ve included reviews of a few of our favorites, like our top pick, 7-Subject Science Portfolio: Minecraft and the Real World, which uses fun Minecraft concepts to help explain botany, chemistry, and physics topics and features a font that's suitable for dyslexic students.
Curriculum refers to a comprehensive course of academic content that helps kids hit specific learning milestones. It’s usually set by a school district or state educational agency, so many schools purchase curriculum materials for their teachers.
A lesson plan, on the other hand, is a portion of that larger curriculum. In most cases, a group of lesson plans is part of a broader curriculum, so you may need to purchase multiple lesson plans to fill out the entire curriculum. For example, a lesson plan on fractions might be part of a broader mathematics curriculum.
When you’re homeschooling, it’s better to opt for a set of lesson plans that adhere to a specific curriculum — it ensures that you hit all the key points to help your child progress to the next level. You can still purchase other lesson plans that might interest your child; a child who’s interested in botany, for example, might enjoy and benefit from a lesson plan that focuses on plants, even if it’s not part of the curriculum you’re following.
In the United States, many states rely on Common Core to help keep students on track with learning standards. It isn’t a curriculum itself, but a set of standards that schools in certain states follow to ensure that specific learning targets are met.
Some lesson plans focus on Common Core and can be especially helpful for children preparing to take standardized tests. These books typically brand themselves as following Common Core right on the cover.
With any lesson plan, it’s important to make sure it fits a student’s grade level, as well as the specific subjects you’re teaching. Most lesson plans cover a somewhat wide age or grade range, such as “middle school,” sixth to ninth-grade level, or kindergarten or second-grade level.
However, you shouldn’t go just by age — some children are advanced for their age and may be more interested in lesson plans for a higher grade level than their peers. On the other hand, a child who’s having trouble with a certain subject might benefit from a lesson plan geared toward children in the grade level below.
When it comes to subjects, most lesson plans beyond the kindergarten level focus on specific subjects, not an entire curriculum of math, science, social studies, and language arts. You can find some lesson plans that focus on more general academic skills, such as critical thinking, which combine skills from multiple subjects.
While most people use hard copy lesson plans from books, you can also find some digital products you can use on a tablet or e-reader. Others are available as a download for your laptop or computer.
You can spend from $10-$20 on lesson plans. Digital plans generally cost about $10, but you pay $10-$20 for more comprehensive digital lesson plans and paperback hardcopy books. If you’re willing to pay $20 or more, you can find hardcover lesson plans with worksheets and illustrations.
A. You can find some good lesson plans online for free, but it can take hours to track down options that match your specific needs. If you pay for lesson plans, you have everything you need in one product without much research needed on your part.
A. If you’re new to homeschooling, it can be pretty overwhelming and confusing. You can usually find homeschooling curriculum and guidelines online, which can be helpful. It’s also a good idea to look for a homeschooling support group in your area. Other parents and guardians share their ideas and tips and can help you become more confident.
Our take: An excellent option to help teach science concepts to students who are fans of Minecraft.
What we like: Covers multiple science subjects, including chemistry, botany, and physics. Includes worksheets. Appropriate for upper elementary through high school levels. The font is easier for dyslexic students to read.
What we dislike: Additional materials are required for some assignments.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Our take: Effective lesson plans that help teach middle school math concepts with fun puzzles and games.
What we like: Designed for upper elementary and middle school students. Includes a helpful CD, as well as printable materials.
What we dislike: Not all the games interest all students.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Our take: A piece of a larger curriculum series devoted to comprehensive academic progress and teaching basic learning skills while still being fun for children.
What we like: Plans encourage the development of verbal skills, reasoning skills, spatial relations, and logic. Workbook is laid out to allow each lesson to build on the previous. Enjoyable for most kids.
What we dislike: Some lessons may not be advanced enough for all grade levels.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.