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!”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!