73

Real Moms, Real Kids: Organizing All About Reading

Real Moms, Real Kids: Organizing AAR with Lexi Henegar

Looking for tips to help keep your All About Reading materials organized? When Lexi Henegar, a homeschool mom, offered to show us her methods of organizing AAR teaching materials, I jumped at the chance. Organizing is one of my favorite topics, but even more importantly, I was curious to see how Lexi adapted the program for her family’s needs.

Curriculum is not always a one-size-fits-all endeavor. What works well for one family may not work well for another.

But as Lexi shows us in this post, curriculum doesn’t have to “fit like a glove” in order for it to work for your family. Curriculum can be tweaked to fit the specific needs of your children and your family’s life and budget. Instead of hunting for the perfect curriculum, it may be more advantageous to find a good curriculum and figure out how to make it perfect for you.

Lexi is a homeschool mom to five children, aged 8, 6, 5, 3, and 1. She describes her homeschool life as “somewhat classical, slightly eclectic, and mostly crazy!”

Real Moms, Real Kids: Organizing AAR with Lexi Henegar

Somehow, with five kids aged 8 and under, the “mostly crazy” part doesn’t surprise me!

Lexi has been using All About Reading with her older children for several years, and has seen them make tremendous progress with the curriculum. So when she struggled to juggle AAR with her children, she didn’t jump ship; instead, she figured out how to make the program work for her. I’m excited that Lexi agreed to share her story here on our blog.

Here’s Lexi:

Here are my steps for organizing AAR:

The All About Reading program has a number of pieces to juggle. There are Word Cards, Phonogram Cards, Letter Tiles, Fluency Sheets, readers, and games with small paper pieces. Each summer I take a few hours and organize the program so that it can be completely open-and-go for our school year. This means that I cut out all the game pieces, tear apart all the Phonogram and Word Cards, and prep the letter tiles with magnets. I’ve found that I’m most likely to consistently use a program if it requires minimal planning or prep work during the school year.

Real Moms, Real Kids: Organizing AAR with Lexi Henegar

To help me stay organized, I’ve separated all the cards according to level in their own recipe box—this helps because I have two kids in the program who are working at different levels. Our school table has a set of drawers for each child, so I keep a separate recipe box in the drawers for each child.

Real Moms, Real Kids: Organizing AAR with Lexi Henegar

This allows me to quickly grab the box with only the cards for the level that I’m using with that child. I saved a little bit of time and money by using the recipe boxes I already had on hand.

Real Moms, Real Kids: Organizing AAR with Lexi Henegar

I spent some time during the summer cutting out all the game pieces in advance. Then I placed the pieces for each game in its own zip-top bag and I place each game with all the various pieces in its own page protector and store them all in a large notebook.

Real Moms, Real Kids: Organizing AAR with Lexi Henegar

I store the fluency Practice Sheets the same way. Each sheet is placed in a page protector and stored in the same notebook as the games. I can easily flip through and find the games or fluency pages for each lesson when I need them, with all the necessary pieces in one place.

Real Moms, Real Kids: Organizing AAR with Lexi Henegar

Organizing AAR Letter Tiles

I keep the letter tiles on a cookie sheet on our homeschool table. It keeps all the tiles together in a small area so I don’t have to use lots of wall space for a giant magnetic board. Storing my tiles flat on their little sheet pan keeps them from sliding off or being knocked to the floor. I don’t think I’ve lost a letter tile yet! Also, I enjoy having the letter tiles on top of the table out of reach of toddler hands, but accessible to me as I teach. I simply grab the cookie sheet and move it to each child’s seat as we begin our lessons.

Because my tiles are portable, we can also work on lessons on the floor or even on our patio! My kids like to hold the cookie sheet in their laps as they work and I appreciate being able to put it away when we are done. It cuts down on clutter, and the tiles don’t tempt my toddlers.

Real Moms, Real Kids: Organizing AAR with Lexi Henegar

No curriculum will ever be perfectly perfect, but this one comes very close for us. With a few adjustments, we’ve found our “sweet spot” and I have two emerging readers.

Lexi shared some great ideas for organizing AAR supplies. These points really stood out to me:

  • I love how Lexi stored the activity sheets in a binder, with each activity in its own page protector. This will allow her to re-use the activities with her younger kids and use them for extra review.
  • Lexi spent a few hours during the summer to make her upcoming school year go more smoothly.
  • She reduced the transition time between lessons by doing the prep work ahead of schedule. When it’s time to teach a child, she can just grab the materials and go!

Products Lexi uses with her children:

Read more on Lexi’s blog:

Did you enjoy Lexi’s story? Read more stories in our Real Moms, Real Kids series.

How do you organize your All About Reading or All About Spelling materials? Please share in the comments and I’ll add it to the box below!

Organizing AAR: Tips Recommended by Our Readers

  • A bin! Inexpensive and easy to grab. (Recommended by Merry M. via Facebook)
  • We use a “Thirty-One” bag (yes, it makes buying them fun!), and it goes from home to tutor to piano lessons. Only the specific set goes in the bag. A homework folder goes with the child with their sheets/cards to practice on non-lesson days. (Recommended by Kathy M. via Facebook)
  • We use a large bin. The box fits in the front with books behind, or I can put the box on its end and fit other schoolbooks next to it, too. (Recommended by Stefani M. via Facebook)
  • I place each manual in plastic pages in separate binders. (Recommended by Nancy B. via Facebook)
  • Use a tri-fold project board for easy use and easy storage! (Recommended by Mary via blog post)
  • I laminate all of our review cards. This will give them a long life (have a few more children to teach yet). I was able to buy a set of library card catalog drawers–one for AAR and one for AAS–for all the word cards. (Recommended by Erin via blog post)
< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Comment

Erin

says:

Smiling to find another family who also uses a biscuit tray (cookie sheet).
I keep meaning to get as well organised as Lexi, so I’m inspired.
Re, what we do have organised, I laminate all of our review cards, this will give them a long life (have a few more children to teach yet).
And I’ve been blessed to buy a set of file drawers, one for AAR and the other for AAS. for all the word cards.
Pic here
http://sevenlittleaustralians.com/all-about-reading-level-1/

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Erin,
I have spelling cards that are on their 4th student, and still going strong and could do 4 more students. None of them are laminated.

I like your drawers, but for me they wouldn’t solve the biggest problem we have with the review boxes. I need something that can be dropped without the lid popping off (or drawer opening) and all the cards spilling. One of my kids has had three master reviews in the last two months, because he has spilled his cards three times. Sigh.

Thank you for sharing your system. Great ideas.

Kate

says:

Thanks for posting this! After starting AAS last year, and seeing the tremendous benefits from the program in a short time period, I was eager to start AAR this year. Fast forward to September, and the start of a new school year, I found I was overwhelmed with trying to organize all of the materials needed for this program. I remembered seeing this blog several months ago, and passing over it at the time. Needless to say, I was glad that it was still there and it really helped me to be able to develop a system of organizing these materials that is simple and easy to use. The combination of the two programs together is absolutely fantastic and using them together is helping to reinforce the concepts learned in both programs in a fun way that they are retaining and carrying over into other subject areas.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kate,
I’m glad you found this when you needed it, and I’m glad that AAS and AAR are working out for you!

Cheantelle

says:

The baking tray is great idea!! Magnetic, portable, inexpensive, easy to store vertically or horizontally, and the raised edges keep the tiles from falling off. Thanks! :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Cheantelle,
It’s a clever idea, isn’t it? Some people also use oil drip pans, sold for catching dripped oil for oil changes for cars. These tend to be a bit bigger than baking trays.

Erin Rodriguez

says:

These suggestions have been so useful as we’ve just started the program! My 5 year old doesn’t like to color, so having the games ready to go has kept her interested in the reading part. Thank you!

Carrie

says:

Thank you for these wonderful suggestions! I spent a few evenings cutting and storing all of the activities as suggested and am so thankful that I did. I know that it would have felt tedious to me if I did it week after week, throughout the year. Using the page protectors in a binder is such a great idea and is going to make our school days easier! Thank you!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Carrie,
Another benefit of the binder method I have found is that it makes it easy to repeat activities just for fun, or for review. Some days my daughter and I just don’t feel up to knew information, and having the old activities allows us an “easy” day while still practicing her read.

I hope you have a great year!

Kristen

says:

Hi
I was wondering if you could help lead me to the spot where I can have my son and daughter take the test?

Thank you!

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Kristen,

Sure! For reading, if you go to this link in our resource center, you will find the links to our reading placement tests, and also information/links on reading sample stories as a further confirmation: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/reading-resource-center#ChoosingAllAboutReading

For spelling, check out the article Which Spelling Level Should We Start With? and other articles here: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/spelling-resource-center#ChoosingAllAboutSpelling

If you have any questions about placement, you can email me at support@allaboutlearningpress.com. I’d be glad to help!

Tammy J

says:

Thanks for this. Organization is my area of weakness so this is very useful for me.

Catherine

says:

Thanks! This is good information. I hope to use it this next year.

Kristin

says:

Thanks for the organizing tips. I am considering using AAR so I will keep these in mind if I decide to go this route!

Rachael

says:

Love any organizational tips I can get! Thanks!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Rachael!

Mandy

says:

Thanks for the example of how to organize. This will be my first year homeschooling, and I’m excited to use AAS/AAR!

Allison Johnson

says:

I love these ideas! Will definitely implement for AAR2. :)

Stacy

says:

Thanks for ideas!

Staci

says:

I will definitely be using this at home! Great tips.

Niki P

says:

What a great tip to help get organized! I’ve noticed that when I take the time during our summer break to prepare, our school year goes much smoother!

Merry at AALP

says:

I agree, the same is true for me! Happy planning and organizing this summer :-)

Amanda O'Neal

says:

I think I’ve commented on this before, but this is a bit of an update. I already organized mine in a very similar way. I also keep the cards separated by level. Last year I cut out all of the activities and put them in sheet protectors in a binder, but I would just pull out the fluency practice pages as needed. This year I decided to follow your lead and put all of the activity and fluency page in the binder. There’s only one problem…I’m going to need a bigger binder!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Thanks for sharing your update, Amanda! :)

Shelley flannery

says:

Thank you for the suggestions in how to organize. This will be our 1st year homeschooling so all suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Stacy

says:

I’m excited to try some of these ideas as I will soon have 2 in AAR at the same time. Thanks for sharing!

Andrea

says:

I hadn’t thought of prepping it all ahead of time. That would make it so much easier to get into the lesson!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m glad that this post helped you, Andrea!

Jenny

says:

I second the effectiveness of this method. Storing the pre-cut activities in a binder w/ page protectors saves a TON of time, so you can focus on the actual lessons (some of which had to be spread over 2 days at various times) and keep kids engaged for an appropriate length of time. It makes this program open and go once you get the hang of it!!

We finished AAR4 and with all the added tiles, ended up needing to use a (roughly) 2’x3′ magnetic white board, and it still feels a bit full.

Amy

says:

Helpful information for this beginning homeschooling mom!

Mary Nease

says:

I love the cookie sheets! Our big magnetic whiteboard is cumbersome to move and we rarely sit down at the school table for our lesson, so we often end up skipping the tiles…the very reason I wanted to use this program! Any advice on where to find magnetic cookie sheets??

Tawny Messina

says:

I actually found that an oil pan is a lot cheaper and larger. If you go to your local automotive store, you can find one. I would just put it behind the desk when we’re done with the lesson ☺

Georgette H

says:

Thank you for the organizing ideas! I am discovering how much easier it is for me to use binders (rather than hanging file folders, for example) for organizing/storage. I may have to try this with my All About Reading/Spelling stuff! I have been using small boxes (similar to the Workboxes system) where I keep upcoming lesson supplies that I pull from the books on a bookshelf the day before.

Kim chance

says:

Thank you for this post! I’m excited to get more organized ;)

Jenna S

says:

I am very excited to try Lexi’s ideas once I receive the curriculum. I love preplanning!

Charity

says:

I’m unfamiliar with this curriculum but after reading your post and seeing your pics I wish I had used it for my now almost 8yr old. I have 3 more children after him so maybe I’ll get a chance to use something like this.

Lisa S

says:

this looks great…I hope to win it for my grandson staring homeschool kindergarten next fall! :)

Shannon D

says:

Love these Ideas, especially the cookie sheet idea!

Anastasia

says:

Thank you for all the tips! We are about to start homeschooling for the first time, so I am soaking up as many tips as possible!

Merry at AALP

says:

You’re welcome! If any questions come up along the way, please let us know. We’re here to help!

Carrie

says:

We are currently using AAR level 1 and my daughter loves it. Using a cookie sheet for the letter tiles is a great idea! I’ve been putting the tiles away after each use so we don’t misplace them. This will save me a lot of time setting up each day.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m glad that you found a good tip, Carrie!

Christina

says:

I’m excited to start All About Reading level 1 with my child in the fall! Thank you for all the helpful tips.

Andi

says:

WoW! Very impressive and very helpful! I have a K and 2nd grader this year so was a wondering how to not get overwhelmed. Organization and planning don’t come naturally to me. Thank you for sharing!

Andi,
Organization and planning don’t come naturally to me either. I’m more of a plan and prep for a couple of weeks or a month at a time kind of gal. And that’s okay.

If the idea of trying to plan out your whole year seems daunting, start with just the first month. If that seem too much, start with just the first week.

Anyway, I’m glad you found this post helpful. Have a great summer!

Carmen

says:

Isn’t the cutting apart of the games a significant activity for the child to do for themselves? Although it takes more time, it adds to the hands-on, kinesthetic side of learning. And for most kids, cutting is a skill that needs regular practice and produces benefits beyond the ability to cut precisely.

Merry at AALP

says:

Yes, this can be a great way to work on additional skills with your child!

Wendy Massey

says:

Oh, how I’d love to try this program out and put my love of organizing to work! So many ideas bubble up… This could be so FUN!

Kaly

says:

Great Ideas!

Rachel

says:

I use 2 cookie sheets! One for all the alphabet letters, and one for all the 2-letter+ phonograms and syllable tiles. I stack to 2 cookie sheets together, and only use the special phonograms that apply for the lesson and put them on the top sheet with the rest of the alphabet.

I love the notebook idea with page protectors! I will be using that with my pre-reader this fall for sure!

Monica

says:

Thank you! I know what I will be doing this summer! Not that I am cutting pieces out the last minute or anything… :o/

Holly B.

says:

I like the cookie sheet idea! I will be storing my tiles this way now!

Coco

says:

This is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

Becca

says:

My oldest is almost 11 and I’ve been organizing my AAR stuff this same way for years. I use a sticky note as a bookmark in my binder and teacher manual so I and just grab and open to the current lesson in seconds :D

Patsy

says:

I love these organization ideas! Thanks for sharing.

Brenda

says:

I love the organization ideas. Thanks for he tips.

Bridget

says:

This is exactly how I organize my All About Reading games and fluency sheets as well, except that they are together by lesson in my binder and not in a separate section. I also use a small envelope for game pieces instead of a plastic bag. I also use this method for our pre level AAR.

Jessica Tomlin

says:

These are great ideas. We will be using AAR 1 this fall!! Can’t wait!

Tawny

says:

These tips are super helpful! I am always looking for ways to streamline our daily lessons and cut down on our down time between topics as I will typically lose the attention of my little ones if I’m not ready with the next thing. I also like the idea of prepping over the summer. I love to be prepared with a lesson plan each week and it makes it much easier to have the lessons already prepared and ready to go, just one less thing for me to think through, and any homeschooler knows that having one less thing to think through is a good thing! Thanks also for the idea for use in review and siblings! I just purchased my second copy of the level 1 activity book and was kicking myself for having not preserved the first!

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Tawny,

I’m so glad these ideas were helpful! I’ve been there/done that with losing the attention of little ones while I try to figure out something. A little prep in summer can go a long way. Hope you have a great year next year!

LoryAnn P

says:

These ideas are great. I especially like the ziploc bag and page protector to keep all the pieces of the games together.

Nicole

says:

Lots of great information here. Thank you for sharing. We are beginning our homeschool journey this year with my oldest who just turned 6 (We are taking her out of public school). I have three children and have been unsure of myself – not knowing if I can handle this even though my husband and I both know this is the best path for our children. It will take me some time to get organized with everything. I am hoping to be able to purchase the All About Reading and Spelling for her this year.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Nicole,

I hope you have a great first year with homeschooling! Any time we start something new (a job, a move…) it can be a little intimidating. Since your oldest has just turned 6, though, you have lots of time to learn what works well for you and your children. If you ever have questions, we are always glad to help–although my oldest graduated from our homeschool this year, I still remember the questions and concerns I had when I was starting out. It’s a wonderful journey to be able to spend this time with your children, and you will learn a lot together. You don’t have to know everything to get started. Enjoy!

Kathy

says:

Congratulations on your decision, Nicole! As one who has been through the journey, I would just like to encourage you to enjoy the time with your kids and let love of learning be a goal to strive for. Your influence and example are their best resource! Keeping a long view helps when you have storms to pass through.You won’t be alone in any event! The homeschool community is always growing and AALP is a super resource to draw strength from! As Merry said, we are always glad to help!

Kathy, AALP Customer Support Team

Rebekah

says:

Thank you for sharing. Lexi did a great job.
Right now I am still trying to convenience my other half that homeschooling will be the best thing for our children.
I am just doing PK at the moment, if I can put everything together in a binder, makes lessons so much easier. As of right now all my lesson stuff is all over. I will work on it this summer.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Rebekah,

I hope your summer organizing goes well! Hopefully your husband can see some of the benefits of homeschooling through your efforts. I have a friend whose husband was skeptical, and they decided at first they would look at things each year–and then eventually just kept going! Enjoy this time with your kids :-).

Amy

says:

I’m new to homeschooling and am nervous but excited to try implementing your organizing ways;) thank you for sharing!

Sarah Cates

says:

I do something similar as far preparing ahead & using a binder, but I also color and laminate the game pieces. This makes them last longer to use over again with the next child, and less prep for the next time through.

Christina

says:

I like the cookie sheet idea! I am going to use one to hold the tiles, and one to create words on. They will nest together and be so much easier to use than our giant white board. Thanks for the idea!

Christina,
I’m glad you found something useful in this post! The cookie sheet idea seems especially helpful to families that need to keep the tiles away from little fingers, to those that have a shortage of wall space, and to those that like to do their lessons in different locations from day to day.

I hope you have a lovely week.

Robin W.

says:

I Love the idea of having an extra cookie sheet!! I was thinking as I finished the post how I could implement that for portability and my extra set of letter tiles that I acquired without them getting knocked off if it were banged around or whatnot. Plus, I was concerned about the space issue for building words (my daughter would get flustered over that) Thank you for pointing out the obvious! ;)

Joyce Bearden

says:

This is exactly how I organized my AAR and AAS last summer, too! I tried using a file tonite first, but that took up too much space on our shelves. A larger binder fits a couple of levels and stores neatly on the shelf :) Love the cookie sheet idea, but wonder how it will do with the upper levels. I think there may be too many tiles at that point. Think I may give it a try, though and see:) Thanks for the tips!

Lexi

says:

I actually have 3 jelly roll pans that are stacked on top of each other. I have two sets of the tiles so they are divided between the 3 pans. One of the pans has the upper level blends that I use with my son in Level 2. One of the other pans has the basic tiles for use with my girl in Level 1.
I’ve found it easier to have multiple pans that are stacked on top of each other rather than a large board on the wall. So, for right now the system is working with more than one pan. We start Level 3 in the fall so I’ll see how we do then.

Leave a comment