Homeschool Lesson Planning Tips: Start with an Outline

16 Feb


I thought I’d share a few tips for how I plan lessons for content areas such as social studies or Islamic Studies.


1.      Start with an Outline.


I have found that planning  is much easier when I first make an outline. Sometimes when I  don’t make one I have found that its much harder to come up with a cohesive, structured lesson.


I tell my kids when they are writing a paper that after they write a good outline, the paper basically writes itself. I’ve found the same to be true when using an outline to write lessons.


2.      Building Your Main Points


Next, I use the good ‘ol 5Ws and H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.


Based upon the topic, I generate questions starting with these words. For example, I recently put together an outline for a class on prayer.


            So, I came up with the following questions:


            Who must pray?

            What is prayer?

            When do we pray?

            Where do we pray?

            Why do we pray?

            How do we pray?


In the SQ3R method of studying, they suggest turning chapter headings in books  questions as a form of note taking. This way, the student is reading to find the answers to the questions. When you make your outline for a lesson, having questions, seems to give more of a purpose to the lesson; to find out the answers. So I think it helps to keep these questions in the context of your lessons. (For example, if you make up a student text, keep the topics in the form of questions)


Another  note: Some topics won’t play so easily into the 5Ws and H. For some there might not be a who, or a how, for instance. But I think that using the 5Ws is still a good idea to get you started.



3.      Sequencing your Topics


Next, rearrange the questions into a logical order. It makes sense to define prayer first before you talk about who must pray.


What is prayer?

Why do we pray?

Who must pray?

Where do we pray?

When do we pray?

How do we pray?


The purpose of making these lessons was to teach the kids how to pray, so I saved that for last, plus it’s the most detailed section for me.


4.      Adding the Details


At this point, I start my outline and with these questions, I’ve got the skeleton of my outline. I suggest putting your outline in a table in your word processing program (or just write it out in table form). Add a column for resources (e.g. powerpoints, audio, books, etc). As you are creating your outline, all kinds of ideas will probably pop into  your head so with this column you’ll want a handy place to record that stuff so you won’t forget, insha Allah. You may even want to add another column for activity ideas. Sometimes a great writing assignment will pop into your head or an idea for a mini book for a lapbook and its best to write it down at that precise moment.


Now start adding the details…I’ve added just a few below, but my final outline is more detailed.





Activity Ideas

I.         What  is prayer?



II.       Why do we pray?



III.      Who must pray?




IV.    Where do we pray?

a.      At the masjid

b.      musalla          



V.      When do we pray?

a.      Names of the five daily prayers

b.      The prayers and their timings

                                                               i.      Salatul fajr

                                                             ii.      Salatul Dhuhr

                                                            iii.      Salatul Asr

                                                           iv.      Salataul Maghrib

                                                             v.      Salatul Isha



VI.    How do we pray?

a.      Before we pray

                                                               i.      wudhu

                                                             ii.      conditions of prayer

                                                            iii.      etc

b.      Making the prayer

                                                               i.      Outline the steps

c.      After we pray

                                                               i.      Make dhikr




5.      The Actual Lessons


After you have your outline, you can either write detailed, step by step lesson plans (I sometimes make a little textbook up that we follow in class) or just do more natural ad-lib lessons following your outline.


Whichever method you choose, after having made an outline, you should now have a solid plan or map to help guide you through, insha Allah.





Below you can download an outline template. I have left it in Word so it can be edited. (Well, I am having problems uploading it, so its not available. Will try again, but its not earth shattering, so………..

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