Saturday, June 18, 2011


I don't love organizing and I am not accomplished at it, but I am trying. But I have been homeschooling for 20 years, and I have to organize just to stay in the game. In my 20 years I started with First Grade Learning at Home, by Ann Ward.  From there I transitioned into KONOS unit studies, still staying very inexpensive, using lots of library books. I kicked around eclectic for awhile, buying yearly whatever publisher I could afford that year. Then I used Tapestry of Grace for eight years as each of my daughter went through four years of high school.

During my Tapestry years I bought books, lots and lots of books. For four years I bought (and borrowed from the library) books and books and books. And then daughter #2 got to high school, and the Tapestry book requirements changed, and again I bought books, lots and lots of books. She graduated, and the year she graduated my 3rd child started kindergarten.

For JD, as he was such a young child, Tapestry didn't work. I knew I would eventually return to Tapestry, but for one year I started (K) with Sonlight, and somewhere along the way transitioned to  Ambleside Online, with more book purchases.  Now I'm finally ready to transition back to Tapestry, but no longer own the editions I started with (known to the TOGlers as "Pre-Publication edition" and "Classic", but have purchased a digital edition (DE) which I believe is also known as "Redesign".  So, once again, the books called for have changed. (Books go out of print; new books are published...)  In addition, being a book lover and a member of Paperbackswap,  I have every intention of keeping track of reading lists from Ambleside Online for the titles they are using that I might plug into TOG, as well as keeping an eye on other publishers' lists, like Sonlight, Beautiful Feet Books, Winter Promise, and eventually probably Veritas Press.

But I digress. This post is about organization. Here is how I organize.

First, Tapestry books:
On my Tapestry bookshelf wall I have two (I wish I had 3 or 4, but not enough room) bookshelves that are 72" high, 18" deep and 36" wide.  The shelves on each unit are set at the same level so it looks like one continuous shelf at each level from left of left unit to right of right unit.

Top shelf contains my TOG Y1 binders and all the books for Year 1. I currently have only an 11 year old, so all the rhetoric books are actually at the back, as are the dialectic, with the LG and UG at the front.  Shelf 2 contains Year 2, same thing. Shelf 3 on the left contains biographies; on the right always ends up containing non-TOG items -- family photo albums, sewing books, old year books, Time/Life books, National Geographic books -- heavy stuff -- cause those shelfs are the heavy-duty, can-hold-a-lot-of-weight shelves. shelf 4 holds my Year 3 binders and books, and shelf 5  holds all my Year 4 binders and books. Now remember, these are two rows deep! I have all four levels. Notice -- no hard copy of TOG on the Year 3 (4th) shelf...

I will be teaching Year 3 in the fall, so I have begun to go through my Year 3 books that have, predictably, gotten into no particular order as the years have gone by since I used them last for TOG.  I sit at the bookshelves with my reading list ready and go back and forth from booklist to books, putting the books in order from Week 1 to Week 36. I have orange dots on Year 3 books, and I have tried to mark "Week 1" or whatever on the dot in sharpie pen before I taped it to the book to keep it there.  I am scurrying right now because my books for UG/D are the books called for in "Classic" or "Original" or "Guinnea Pig" TOG, and they don't match my copy of "DE", and I really need to plug in, substitute, and remark the dots on the spines and such. (We originally did "Old Yeller" in Week 3-4, when the story actually took place around 1860, so it should definitely be more around Week 20 or just before the Civil War books.) I also am making notations on my reading list printout of books I am reading instead of what is on the DE, cause I just can't see buying new books for a new edition when I already went through this once for the guinea pig co-op of TOG, a second time for the Classic design of TOG, and am now using the Redesign when I already had the books for that level for that year plan for two previous versions... Can't do it...

Out in my less-than-organized family room (a room away from the bookshelves), I have another set of two bookshelves that are beside where I sit when we do school. They are also 72" high, 14" or so deep, and 36" wide. On this set of shelves I keep the current school books (for Math, Science, Handwriting, Spelling, Health, Art, etc., blah, blah, blah).  There is space on these shelves for current reading books to be stored when they are not being used (weekends, end of day, etc.). Those shelves currently need to be sorted, but the contain books we've been using in the school year we just ended (were using Ambleside Online), and books we are in the process of reading (summer reading).  I have actually nailed nails into these bookshelves (old shelves, prefab wood), and I have a white board hanging over the top shelves of the left unit that I use when explaining math, phonics, etc. I can easily take it down when I need to get to stuff behind it, but that is where I store used college texts that I have listed on Amazon (daughter is in college).

Beside these two bookshelves is another unit, narrow (18") wide by 72" high, and same depth as the other unit (I'm thinking 14").  In it I store a hamper full of lincoln logs, plastic snap-shut storage containers for things like markers, crayons, colored pencils, ...educational games and things like Math Mouse, Cuisineaire rods, etc., and I actually am using a flower pot as a pen holder there as well.

In another spot in the family room  I have a 36" high narrow bookshelf that has some of my AO read-aloud books that I might integrate into my various TOG years, as well as other misc. books that are not TOG but we can't live without. Atop this unit is an electric pencil sharpener, an plastic storage bin (11" x 5" x 4") that holds sharpened pencils, and between the bin and the sharpener are pencils waiting to be sharpened.

My stored books are in a doored cabinet in a corner of the utility room until they are needed. My son is entering 6th, and he's my last, so that cabinet contains 7th grade and up materials for math, science, ...that type of thing, stuff I used with my daughters that I will use again when his turn comes around.

Just so you know, in case you were wondering, here is a picture of less than half of the books stored in my family room:

My friends who know me are nodding their heads, "Yeah, that's right!"  The other wing of my family room is too messy to photograph right now, but suffice it to say the only places without book cases in my "L" shaped family room are the door, the fireplace, and the stairs, plus one wall that has the sewing machine and the treadmill. To the left of the sewing machine is a bookcase, then the sewing machine, then the treadmill, then a bookcase!

A major goal of my life for the next ten years is to reduce, reduce, reduce the amount of books in my life. I do this by listing on

Well, I'm having trouble getting some of my pictures to download from my phone, so I'll go ahead and post this now with the photos that I've gotten downloaded. Maybe I'll get the other photos loaded eventually...

Blessings, y'all!


  1. I am new to TOG this year and also starting Year 3. This is our 4th year homeschooling, my son is going into 3rd grade, and my daughter is just pre-k age. We have never taken the Unit Study approach, but are very excited about this upcoming year and using the Classical method as well! I am a new follower of your blog and look forward to getting to you know throughout your homeschool journey as well =) I also have a blog, although I just don't have the time right now to post on it, my husband is currently deployed with the US Army, and time is definitely not something we have a lot of ;) But, the link to my blog is: Happy Sunday to you =)

  2. Kelli,
    I'm sorry I never replied to this! Believe it or not, I just stumbled across it! Wondering how TOG is going for you. I'll be trying to track you down, since you might not see this here.