Monday, July 4, 2011

Putting Together our Sonlight Instructor's Guide Binders

First off, Sonlight does such a great job of putting together their IGs that you really don't have to do anything with them.  You can use them exactly as they come, like I did our first year.  Being the obsessive control freak that I am, I just had to tweak them.  I do think I've learned from last year's mistakes, though.  I'm not sure what possessed me to move all the study guide notes from the appendices last year up to each week where they would first be used.  Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones.  Maybe it was my crazy friend (you know who you are).  Unfortunately, I only kept up with moving the notes back to the following week for the first few weeks, which means I basically quit using the study guide notes a month into our school year.  Not good.  Another unnecessary effort last year was writing in the kids' science assignments to their Core schedules.  The kids didn't use them, but rather found natural breaks as they worked along.  Monk finished up Apologia's General Science about two weeks after the rest of his subjects, but did quite well and preferred working at his own pace.  So that's what I haven't done this year.  Here's what I have done. 

We have three separate binders this year.  The first is for our Science F IG and activity sheets.  Monk (12), Twinkle Toes (10), Measle (8), and I will all do science together this year (this is a change from last year).  It made sense to me to have a separate Science binder for our IG and student activity sheets.   The activity sheets are at the end of each week's schedule.  Hopefully we'll be able to keep up with them this way.  As you saw in our schoolroom, the Science binder goes in the Science cubby with our other Science resources. 

We also have separate binders for the two Cores we're studying this year.  Measle's pink binder contains her Core B, Language Arts B, and 3rd grade reader IGs.  Monk and Twinkle Toes will be using the red binder, which contains their Core F and LA F IGs. 

Here's how I organized the Core and LA binders.

I used 3 sets of colorful 12 tab index dividers to separate each week's schedule and assignments.  (They come in packages of 6 sets so one package should work for two binders.)  I also bought these handy-dandy paper clip page markers and I'll explain their use in a second.  First, I want to show you how I arranged the weekly schedules.

Behind week one's tab in this order is our Core schedule (Bible, History, Read-aloud, Reader), Language Arts schedule and notes, LA student activity sheets, and Core schedule notes, if any.  The kids should be able to easily find what they're supposed to read and do, without my help.  I've gone over the guides several times with Measle and I think she's got it!

Remember, I decided NOT to move up all the study guide notes this year.  That would work fine if we read each book in a week, but that's not the way it works, so we need some of the note pages for several weeks in a row.  It was even more complicated last year (Core 3 and 4) when some books were used off and on for months on end.  I completely lost track of the study guide notes!  I think what I've done this year will work great and be MUCH easier to maintain.

I used the page markers to mark the first book in each section (History notes, Reader notes, and Read-aloud notes).  All of the study guide notes arrived in alphabetical order, so I took a few minutes to rearrange the notes according to the 4-day weekly schedule we'll be following.  For example, Torches of Joy, seen in the picture above, is the first History book we'll be reading, so it's first.  Then as we finish Torches of Joy and move on to the next book, I'll simply move back our page marker clip to the study guide for the next book.  No hunting for the next guide required!  (I moved the notes for the books in the 5-day schedule, that we won't be reading, to the very back of the binder.)  I put the LA appendix, with info like how to do a research paper, after the Core study guides. 

I arranged Measle's binder the same way.  After her History and Read-aloud study guides, is a tab that marks her Diamond Notes for help with LAs.

I'm really excited about our binders this year.  My goal for the kids is as much independence as possible.  I'll go over our homeschool 2011-2012 plan of action, course of study, and tentative schedule in future posts.

What do your binders look like?  Tweaking last year's system?


  1. WOW! You are o.r.g.a.n.i.z.e.d.! Lovely blog. We enjoyed meeting your family and worshipping with y'all on Sunday! Hope to meet again!

  2. This is our first year using Sonlight, so we aren't tweaking from last year. I am tweaking it based on how they suggested to set up the binders. Hopefully it all works ok; right now it seems a little confusing. I'm using file jackets for each quarter & a file folder for each week in the quarters. I've placed the week guides in each one & then the study notes I'm just moving to following weeks as needed when we finish each week. We've only done 1 week, but so far so good.

    I've enjoyed your blog & it's great to connect with other Sonlighters.

    Danae@Believing Unbeliever



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.