03-07-2015

How I Organize All About Reading

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Audrey is learning to read! Yey!

For her we choose to use All About Reading, it has a ton of fun games and does an awesome job teaching phonics. All things I’m a huge fan of.

My only issue I had was I had no idea how to store this curriculum! It felt like a waste of space to put all the lessons in file folders, so I was at a loss.

To begin with, my wonderful hubby colored the entire curriculum for me. Personally, I despise coloring. I seriously am awful at coloring, how absurd is that? Jordan, on the other hand, is not only good at coloring but he actually enjoys it!

So we made a deal, he’d do the coloring and I’d teach the kid to read. Sweet, DONE.

Anyhow, the wonderful husband colored the pages and then I laminated them and cut them out. Put them all into individual baggies according to which lesson they corresponded to.

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I also put together the Word Flipper/Sliders and laminated the Fluency Practice. Then I trimmed down the lamination on the Fluency Practice so that they would fit into a page protector.

Each lesson has it’s own page protector, which holds it’s Fluency Practice and any game pieces that are needed. When I finish a lesson I take the page protector out and move it to the back.

Why did I have Jordan color the pages, and then spend the time laminating it?

Because I didn’t think that Zachary would want to play a game that Audrey colored. Plus, it probably wouldn’t survive Audrey and I like to make our curriculum last.

But, it’s in a pink binder.

Yup, and that’s Audrey’s color. After she passes off AAR Level 1 I’ll move the page protectors to a blue blinder and keep it in storage until Zachary is ready for it. And then I’ll get AAR Level 2 all put together in Audrey’s pink binder.

Anything else that might be helpful?

The front cover holds her Progress Chart, so that every day she can see the progress she’s making! The star stickers that we use are in the pocket on the inside cover, along with some lined paper. Sometimes Audrey doesn’t like the tiles, on those days we write the words on lined paper instead. Audrey is very visual and quickly notices word ending patterns (“All the words end in -an!”) and during the “switch the letters” game this is REALLY helpful for her!

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11-20-2014

The Binders System

When I first started homeschooling I researched several different organizational methods for keeping everything running smoothly. I really loved the workbox station, but I’ve never been able to figure out how to make that work for us. It requires a lot of space, and I could never find drawers that I really liked. It just wasn’t for me. Last year I bought a ton of $1 binders in various colors and each of Sydney’s subjects was in a different binder. This worked better for us (you know, better than the imaginary workbox station that I knew wouldn’t work) but it still drove me crazy because I had PILES of binders everywhere, and Zachary loved to knock them down, there wasn’t enough room for them all, and for some subjects this just didn’t work. So I condensed and merged the two ideas into one that works amazingly for our family.

After my post on how I organize our homeschool paraphernalia (I love that word!), I decided to go a little deeper into our binders.

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Because really, without them everything would fall to pieces.

Sydney has five binders. All the binders are purple, because since they were born I’ve color coded my children. Sydney is purple, Audrey is pink, Zachary is blue, baby Ruby will be yellow. If we have too many children we will have to start thinking in shades instead of colors.

The most important binder is The Sydney Binder. The cover is just a quick thing I made that says “2nd Grade” and I let Sydney color all around it. The back cover holds the maps for the reader’s instructor guide for quick and easy reference. The inside pocket holds her All About Spelling progress chart with stickers. Then there are dividors with pockets. Because I like pockets.

First divider is Reading. This holds the schedule for the book she is currently reading.
Second divider is Writing. It holds the Writing With Ease worksheets for the week.
Third divider is Science, holding the Sonlight Science C schedule for the week.
Fourth divider is Handwriting. It actually holds all the A Reason For Handwriting assignments for the entire year.
Fifth pocket is Math. Holding all the math assignments for the week.
Sixth divider is History. IN the pocket (see, I do use them!) it has the whole year’s schedule for Story of the World Volume 2: Medieval. Behind the tab it has the 6 week rotation of coloring pages. (We do 6 weeks om, 1 week off.) When it’s time to color (usually Friday) I take the coloring page out and put it on the clipboard.
Seventh divider holds all of the notebook paper. I take this out when we do spelling tests or have other needs for lined paper.
There is nothing behind the Eighth divider.

Then I move the daily assignments onto her clipboard when it’s time to do them. So at the beginning of each day she has a stack of papers that we will be working through. Her science worksheet and handwriting worksheet just stay on the clipboard for the entire week, they are never actually behind the dividers.

The first binder is Readers. This is probably the least organized of all of the binders. While I do have Sonlight’s schedule, I rarely use it with Sydney. She is an amazing reader and she doesn’t need the schedule (yet.) I have a box of the books she will be reading this school year, I let her pick which one she wants to read. We don’t go in order of the schedule. I also don’t assign her chapters per day, because she’s a great tiny human. Some days she wants to read a ton, and other days she doesn’t want to read at all. She’s human. But she always finishes the books and she is usually ahead of schedule. Occasionally she falls behind the schedule and I tell her to finish her book by a certain amount of days and she’ll get on it. Right now She’s read 7 of the 20 books assigned for the school year and we are on week 10, she’s about 3 weeks ahead. So what’s the point of the instructor’s guide then? Well, I use the questions. When she reads she tells me where she is and I ask the questions out of the IG. It also helps me to keep informed on what the books is about because I don’t always have time to preread the entire book before she gets to it. She’s a better reader than I am right now.

To keep this binder less hectic the first page lists the book list and schedule. I always put the guide back in it’s proper place. But the book she is currently working on’s guide is in the Sydney binder, ready for questions to be asked!

The second binder is Math. Currently we are using Math-U-See Beta with Sydney. I removed everything from the student packet and the test packet and put it in the binder. There is a divider separating the tests from the regular worksheets. We don’t actually use EVERY worksheet, but I keep them all in place because sometimes we need extra help and rather than preemptively throwing away worksheets we keep them all in one place. Each week I put that week’s worth of assignments in her “Sydney binders.” Worksheets that won’t be used go in the pocket, just in case they will be needed, after she has passed off the test we toss the unused worksheets.

Third binder is the Writing binder. This holds all of the Writing With Ease Level 2 worksheets. This one is not complicated, I just grab each week’s worth and put them in the Sydney binder.

Fourth binder is Science. This has a set of Sonlight’s 36 week dividers. Behind each divider is the schedule and worksheet. The week we will be working on next is always in front. The week we are currently working on is moved to the Sydney binder. The schedule goes behind the “Science” tab, the worksheet goes on the clipboard. When we are finished with the week we move the schedule and the divider with the corresponding number to the back of the binder.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea on how we implement binders to help keep our homeschool running smoothly and keep all the worksheets and curriculum organized. I definitely think that this will be a huge help to us next year as Audrey adds more binders to her shelf. Currently she has only two pink binders, the first being her Letter of the Week curriculum lesson plan (which is pretty much ignored as I remember the order of how it went) and her All About Reading Level 1 Binder. There will be a post just on the organization of All About Reading soon!

09-07-2014

School for Two

I have to admit I was really nervous about adding Audrey to our school, I had previously been able to devote all my time to Sydney’s education and was worried about how it would change with Audrey in the mix.

I often compare it to adding another baby to the family. The emotions are exactly the same.

Audrey has surprised me a lot! We’ve only completed two weeks of school but she’s doing really well! I think it’s the only time I’ve seen her sit still, and she’s listening so well!

What’s surprising me as well this year is how I’ve changed things a bit. I thought I knew what I was doing, as this is our fourth year. I should probably just realize that like all parenting related things; I know VERY little. Last year we implemented a binder system. A binder for every subject. This worked okay, but I didn’t really have space to put all the binders while they were being used. I like everything needed for the day on the table, ready to be used.

To start with I bought a planner. This probably isn’t necessary but it helps keep my disorganized brain organized. I can see everything that both Sydney and Audrey are suppose to be doing at a glance. Key words; at a glance. This is NOT a detailed lesson plan. Just the gist of what needs to be accomplished. As we go through our subjects for the day I check each thing off. I really like checking things off!

I bought The Well Planned Day planner and am pretty happy with it. It’s the only one I’ve ever tried. I found another that I think I’ll use next year, but for now this will work great.

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I am also using a box shelf that I got from Target to hold all of our homeschool books and supplies that are needed for both girls.  The self below their blue bin holds their parent manuals that I need as well as their textbooks. The black bins hold Audrey’s file folder games and Sydney’s books that she will be reading this school year.

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My mother bought each of the children a Washington State license plate with their name on it. As soon as I figure out how to attach it to the bin, that’s where it’s going!

As I said, each box has their needed supplies. In Sydney’s I have her Math-U-See manipulatives, her DVDs for science, math, and art. Her clipboard stays in the box when it’s all ready to go, along with her book she’s currently reading, her super cool bookmark, All About Spelling box, and her purple sticky notes.

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I also have an Ikea bookshelf that holds our miscellaneous homeschooling supplies. Calendar parts, history books, yearbooks, Sydney’s kindergarten hand print, pens, ect. But it also holds 4 binders containing Sydney’s detailed lesson plans for science and reading (as well as the worksheets for science), and her math and writing worksheets. Science experiment supplies are also on that shelf.

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I got a small binder to put all of this weeks work in. I already owned the binder so this was not an extra expense. On Friday (or Sunday) I pull out the math, handwriting, writing, history, reading and science binders and take out the things that are needed for the week. Then I put the larger binders back on the shelf. At the end of each day I pull out the next days work and have it ready.

The final thing I added this year were clipboards. Both girls have their own, and when I take the work from the weekly binder I put them on the clipboard. I add sticky notes that say things like “Come Get Me” and “Stop” where they are needed. The science worksheet is for the whole week, but you only do a few problems a day, so I show her where to stop. Work like math and handwriting (sometimes writing) can be done independently. Sydney knows that if I’m not at a place where I can come help her (because I’m teaching Audrey or fighting with Zachary) she can move on to the next independent worksheet or read her reading assignment for the day. She’s really good at this.

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I had always planned on “color coding” my children to help me easily identify whose books/papers/school stuff is theirs. But this is the first year I’ve implemented it! All of Sydney’s binders are purple, along with her sticky notes. Audrey’s binders are (mostly) pink with a pink sticky notes. I might have to buy colored high lighters too, just for fun.

I always wanted a workbox station for my kids, but the method never seemed like it would work in our space. I love this method I seem to have made for us, it helps keep everything organized and ready to go!

02-27-2013

How to Organize Letter of the Week Curriculum

Last year I did Confessions of a Homeschooler‘s Letter of the Week curriculum.

Sydney and I had a lot of fun doing it! But I had to figure out how to organize it all so that it was easy to get what I needed.

On her website she shows how she organized it by using binders and page protectors, this didn’t work for us. My laminated pages didn’t fit in the page protectors very easily, and I just didn’t have the room (or the budget) to go out and buy 36 binders (I added 10 themed lessons to our curriculum.)

Originally I used an extremely old green crate that I had. I put all the stuff from school in file folders and Ziploc baggies, that were labeled. The crate can be seen on the left side of the picture below.

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And then about six months later I decided I wanted something that was easily stored. I didn’t want to risk anything getting the file folders wet or dirty. So I bought a plastic tub for file folders.

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To make puzzles easier to do I added magnet circles to the backs of each piece. Well, adding 500 magnet circles to the backs of many puzzles made the already tight tub overflow. So I bought a second tub.

The nice thing about this was that I could also fit in my binders into the tubs, along with all the Bob Books.

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This form of organization has worked very well for us. I would just pull out a file folder per week, and fill her bucket for each day. Everything has a spot, and it was easy to keep up with, and easy to store.

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The last thing I had to store were all the books. We currently have 9 book shelves in this house, but they are all overflowing. I loved the books we used for this curriculum, so when it was time to pack away all the stuff I packed up most of the books, a few got to stay out. This tub is WAY heavy. I tried to pick it up and it almost knocked me over. I ended up putting the tub in the garage, and then packed it, so that we wouldn’t have to lift it. This tub also houses our beloved cocoanut tree.

There is still some room in our file boxes to add some of our manipulative, so as I think of it and find them I’ll probably add them to the boxes.

12-14-2011

Organization

First off, I am not an organized person. I could pretend, but then my husband would have to make his first (and last) blog comment making fun of my lie.

So, I thought I would share with you all something that helps me stay organized with Sydney’s schooling.

Keep in mind that this may or may not work for everyone, I am currently only homeschooling 1 child, at a preschool level. :)

I have this super awesome purple binder.dsc_2202

Yes, I even made a cover for it! Well, actually what happened was that I was annoyed that I had a binder that was blank on all sides. So I printed off the binder cover that Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler made. But then the piece of paper kept sliding all willy-nilly, so I glued it down the card stock and made a fun cover. Ahem.

This binder started off just having my lesson plans in it, but I’ve kind of added to it as the school year has gone on. So, I took the dividers out of my coupon binder (since I haven’t couponed in over a year) and put them in this binder.

First, we have the Lesson Plans section:dsc_2203

I made my own lesson plan template on Excel, and printed them all off at the begining of the year. They are all colorful and fun. The blue divider (the Lesson Plan divider, and also the first divider of the book) also has 2 parts of the curriculum that are used over and over again, and to save on printing I printed it once, and put in the Binder, they are the Color Mat and the How Many Are There Numbers. It also has a CD that I made with the Letter of the Week Curriculum on it. I need to make a new CD since I added 10 lessons since I burnt the CD.

The pink tab coming out of the top? That’s my place marker. It’s attached to the page protector, and each week I move it along so I can easily find my place. The lesson plans tell me exactly what Sydney is working on for that day, and what book to read to her. They are also numbered for activities, which will come in handy when I get workboxes!

Divider Number Two has My Book List.dsc_2205

I’m honestly not entirely sure what compelled me to think I need a printed off list of all the books I use with this curriculum…but apparently I needed it. So it’s there.

Divider Number Three has the School Year Calenders.dsc_2206

Shortly after I started homeschooling I discovered that I wanted to teach 6 weeks on, 1 week off. This kind of screwed with all the dates on my lesson plans. So I printed off monthly calendars to help with this. They are actually very helpful, although, I should have written on them in pencil, but I’ll know for next time.

And my last divider is for notes.dsc_2207

These are notes that I have taken during the school year about what I like, what I don’t like, what I should add, what I should take out. And my brainstorming for what 10 lessons I should add to this curriculum to extend it to 36 weeks.

So there you have it, my binder. It honestly makes it so much easier to find everything and keep everything organized. It sits on top of my crate of file folders that hold the curriculum. It use to go inside the crate, but I pull it out everyday, so I stopped cramming it into the crate.dsc_2200

I definitely plan on having a binder for each grade. At the end of this school year, when I pack up all the Preschool stuff, this binder will be packed away with it, to be used in 3 years with Audrey.

I’m thinking the Kindergarten binder will be red. Red is fun :)

Linked up at Raising Arrows.