Thursday, June 21, 2007

Step Five - Your Books and Weekly Schedule

GREAT! You have your materials organized. You are almost ready to jump in and start using Tapestry of Grace. You will need to buy those books you want to have in your personal library and get the rest from the public library, or if you are lucky, from friends. I keep a basket in the living room with the books we'll be using for the next couple of weeks.

Now, if you want to be extremely organized, you might consider "dotting" the spines of the TOG books that you own, and grouping them chronologically on your bookshelf! What is dotting, you ask? It is the practice of using colored stickers, such as Avery 3/4" round color coding labels, to label the spines of books used in a particular TOG Year Plan.
Year 1 - Red
Year 2 - Yellow
Year 3 - Green
Year 4 - Blue
Books used for more than one year would have more than one dot. An extra-fine black Sharpie marker can be used to write unit and/or week numbers on the dot, if desired - ex. U2 W15. Some people cover the dot with a piece of clear packing tape ( as the library uses ) for durability. This way you can easily see which books on your shelf go with which Year Plan, and books can be reshelved more easily.
Of course, this step is entirely optional. I have used TOG for 4 years now without Dots. But I'm tempted...

Now sit down with a piece of paper and write out a weekly schedule. Some people like this to be much more detailed than others. Here are some resources to help in scheduling your day. Choose whichever fits your personal style the best!

You don't have to do every subject every day. Most people schedule their TOG reading for the beginning of the week ( maybe even starting over the weekend) , schedule one day for geography, another day for time lines, spread writing throughout the week, and set aside time late in the week for discussions, hands-on projects, or a Co-op.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Step Four - Student Binders

Each student will need a binder for their completed work and their current week's papers.


  • 1 1/2" binder
  • 4 3-hole-punched slash pocket dividers
  • tabbed dividers

Label the pocket folders:

  1. Assignment Sheets
  2. Maps,
  3. SAPs / worksheets
  4. Time Line figures

Label the tabbed dividers
  1. Unit 1
  2. Unit 2
  3. Unit 3
  4. Unit 4
  5. Maps

Have the student decorate the cover of their binder.

At the start of each week, transfer the student's maps, Student Activity Pages, and Time Line figures from the Weekly folder to the appropriate pocket in the Student Binder. Take a blank Assignment Sheet for each child and write in his reading assignments and other assignments for the week ( or have your older UG, D, and R students do this themselves ) Place this in the Assignments pocket.
Students may want to check off or highlight assignments on their sheet as they complete them - I think everyone likes being able to check things off a list! At the end of the week, file the completed assignment sheet under the Assignments tab in Mom's Working Binder. Completed worksheets, writing assignments, etc. will be filed together behind the Unit tab in the Student Binder. File maps behind the Maps tab. Add Time Line figures to the student's Time Line ( if you are doing one ). You can add any other tabs or pockets as needed to accomodate the portions of TOG that you are using or not using!
A different idea for creating student workbooks for each of your children can be found HERE, at Karen C.'s blog.

Step Three - Mom's Working Binder

There is a lot of information in the Unit Binders and Weekly Folders. To make it manageable to use each week, you are going to create a Working Binder with just the information needed for 3 weeks at a time - the current week and the upcoming 2.

  • 1 1/2 " binder
  • tabbed divider pages
  • 3 pocket pages
You can find printable TOG covers and spines, such as the ones you received with your curriculum, here:
Start off by taking weeks 1-3 out of your large Unit One Binder, and placing them in the smaller Working Binder. Place a pocket page at the front of each Week. Take your Weekly Folder for week 1 and move the Evaluations, field trip info, project planning sheet, and Additional resources sheet to the pocket folder in front of week 1. Do the same for weeks 2 and 3.
Place 5 tabbed divider pages at the back of the binder. Label them Assignments, Evaluations (if using), Projects, Additional Resources / Field Trips, and Co-op ( if you are in a TOG co-op ) This is where you will place the sheets when you have finished a week, and keep any Co-op information.
Make a copy of a blank monthly calendar for each month, and place in the front of the binder. Write in any field trips, Co-op days, Unit Celebrations, assignment deadlines, library days, etc. Blank printable calendars can be found at
Keep a copy of your weekly school schedule in front of the calendars.
This would also be a good place to keep a list of library books that you have checked out.
Two to three weeks before starting school, read through the Reading Assignment Lists . Place a check mark next to the books you already have, and reserve any books you need from the library. Check the TOG website for recommended websites, etc. under the Year and Week you are using, and write them down on your additional resources list. Check to see if recommended videos are available to rent or borrow. Buy the supplies you will need for any hands-on projects. ( or you could do this once for the entire unit )
At the end of Week 1, you will transfer the Week 1 pages back to the Unit Binder and add Week 4 to the Working Binder. Move the past week's lists and papers from the pocket folder to the tabbed sections at the back of the binder. Place your children's finished assignment sheets in the Assignment section, and any completed quizzes in the Evaluations section.

Step Two - Weekly Folders

Okay, your curriculum is in binders. Now you are going to set up 36 weekly folders to organize all the papers you will be using this year. This will require a trip or two to the local copy center or use of your computer and printer.

  • a file box of some kind to hold file folders
  • 36 tabbed file folders

Label the folders 1-36 ~ you can also write the weekly topic on the tab, if you like. You can find the list of weekly topics on The Loom or on the TOG website under each Year.

Year 1:
Year 2:
Year 3:
Year 4:
Place the folders in the file box. You will only be working on Unit 1 at first.

Student Activity Pages: Determine which levels your children will be working in this year, and print off the SAPs ( Student Activity Pages) for each child for the first 9 weeks. This will include any charts, worksheets, Discussion Questions, and instructions for projects. You can either take the pages out of your binder and bring them to the copy center, or use the Loom CD to print them off of your computer. File them in the appropriate week's folder.

Maps: Find the maps needed for the first 9 weeks, either on your Map Aids CD or some other source of outline maps, and print off copies for each of your students. File them in the appropriate week's folder.
* if your student will be making transparency maps this year, you will only need to make copies of the base maps, and place them in paper folders with transparency sheets; the directions for this are found on the Loom
Blank Student Assignment Sheets: Print off 9 blank weekly assignment sheets for each of your students, enough for Unit 1. You can find these on the Loom, or you can create your own. Place one for each student in each week's folder.
Reading Assignment Pages: if you have several children, you may decide to print off a copy of the weekly reading assignment page for each student, and place them in the folders. You can highlight the books you want that child to read, or write in alternate choices. OR you can all read the Reading Assignment Pages in the Unit Binder, and use Post It Sticky Notes or check marks to indicate which selections you want each child to read

Hands-On Project Planning Sheet : You may want to create a planning sheet for hands-on projects. Note the name of the project, where the directions are found, and list any supplies needed. Place this sheet in the appropriate week's folder.

Writing Helps : If you are using the TOG Writing component, make a copy of any graphic organizers, writing supplements, worksheets, or instructions from Writing Aids for each child's writing assignment. File in the week's folder.
Time Line Figures: if you are doing a time line, you could place the figures you are using in the appropriate week's folder. The Loom includes a template and some basic information about time lines, but for more help , go here:

Evaluations: If you are using the TOG Evaluations, make a copy of the quiz or evaluation for each child and place in the week's folder
Additional Resources: make a list of any additional resources you want to use for the week - videos, websites, articles; file in appropriate folder
Field Trip Info : write down information about possible field trips for the week
 and file that as well.

Step One - Out of the Shrink Wrap

Your Tapestry of Grace Year Plan comes separated into 4 Units, each containing 9 weeks of lesson plans. The first step is to unwrap it and put the curriculum into 3-ring binders.

  • four 3" display binders ( the kind with the plastic sheet on the cover that you can slide a piece of paper into )
  • 1000 lightweight top-loading sheet protectors
  • 36 tabbed divider pages ( if you didn't purchase the TOG Tab Set )
  • CD holder page to fit in 3-ring binder


  • four 2" display binders ( if you don't want to use sheet protectors)
  • 36 tabbed divider pages
  • CD holder page to fit in 3-ring binder

You need to make a decision about sheet protectors before you begin. There are dozens of messages on the TOG Loose Threads yahoogroup concerning the pros and cons of using plastic page protectors; those discussions get pretty hilarious!

Basically, it boils down to this.

PROS: Sheet protectors will protect your investment from drips, spills, wrinkles, smudges, and tears. You can write on the plastic sheet protectors with permanent markers and later clean them off with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball, if you desire. This keeps your pages pristine for resale or for later use when you cycle around again in four years. The sheet protectors also keep the pages from tearing out of the binder through use.

CONS: There is added expense and time involved in purchasing the sheet protectors and larger binders, and spending many hours sliding each page into its own individual protector. ( tip ~ some people hire their UG or older children to do this task for them!) Also, some like to write on their pages, keeping notes for future years when they will reuse the Year Plan again.

It's up to you.

Option 1: if you'd like to use the sheet protectors but want to save some money, only place one unit at a time in sheet protectors. Keep the other 3 Units in a storage box or binder. At the end of the Unit, clean off any markings from the plastic and remove the pages of the completed Unit from the sheet protectors and place them in the storage box or binder. Replace with the next Unit.

Option 2: only use sheet protectors in your Working Binder ( see Step 3 ). This is when you'll be handling the pages the most anyway. Write any notes on Post It sticky notes, and keep them with the pages after you take them out of the sheet protectors and place them back in the storage binders.

Okay, you've made your choice. Now place each Unit in a separate binder, either in sheet protectors or not. Separate each week with a Tabbed Divider labeled with the Week #. Slide the Unit Cover sheet under the plastic sheet on the front cover of the binder, and the spine label under the plastic on the spine of the binder. Place the CD holder page in the front of the Unit 1 Binder, and use it to hold your Map Aids CD, Loom CD, and any other CD accessory that you may have purchased with your Year Plan.

TA DA! Sit down and have a cup of tea. Now you're ready for Step 2.


Welcome to TOG Set Up

You have discovered Tapestry of Grace and have decided that it will be a wonderful tool to use in your homeschool. You are excited about the wonderful literature selections, the opportunity to walk through HIS-story with your children, the helpful teacher notes, the integration of writing and geography and fine arts and worldview with your history studies, the fun projects and Unit Celebrations which will captivate your children and create wonderful family memories as they cement the learning that has taken place.

Your curriculum has arrived and you eagerly open the box. Now you are faced with 4 shrink-wrapped bundles, a couple of CDs, and an extensive website full of dozens of pages of information, instructions, and ... choices! How and where do you start???

I feel your pain. I too am easily overwhelmed by large tasks which require a great deal of organization. This just isn't something that comes naturally to me. I am more of a global, big picture kind of person. Lots of detail and choices makes my head hurt. Fortunately, there are many generous people on the TOG Forums and Yahoogroups who gladly share their methods and ideas with us who are organizationally challenged. I have attempted to distill some of that advice to create a one-stop, step-by-step set up plan that you can follow if you just want someone to hold your hand and tell you what to do, so that you can get on to the more enjoyable and satisfying work of actually implementing this wonderful curriculum with your family.

Feel free to follow to the letter or adjust to suit your preferences. This is a work in progress. Your suggestions are welcome.