First Steps to Set Up Tapestry

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?

Fortunately, there are many generous people on the Together Forums and Yahoogroups who gladly share their methods and ideas with those of us who are organizationally challenged. We have here attempted to distill some of that advice to create a one-stop, step-by-step set up plan that you can follow to the letter (or adjust to suit your preferences) 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 Tapestry with your family.

Step 1: 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.

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: to page-protect or not to page-protect?

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.

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.

If this is your choice, buy:
  • (4) 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)
  • a CD holder page to fit in 3-ring binder

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.

If this is your choice, buy:

  • (4) 2" display binders (if you don't want to use sheet protectors)
  • (36) tabbed divider pages (if you didn't purchase the TOG Tab Set)
  • a CD holder page to fit in 3-ring binder

Okay, you've made your choice. Now place your units in binders, 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.

Step 2: 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 the use of your computer and printer.

You will need to buy:

  • a file box of some kind to hold file folders (unless you are already using a file cabinet)
  • (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 home page for each year-plan: Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4.)

Place the folders in the file box (or cabinet). You will only be working on Unit 1 at first.

Student Activity Pages: Determine which levels your children will be working in this year, identifying and following the color code associated with each level.* You can either take the pages out of your TOG binder and bring them to the copy center, or use the Loom CD to print them off of your computer. 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. File them in the appropriate week's folder.

* Red: Lower Grammar; Gold: Upper Grammar; Green: Dialectic; Blue: Rhetoric

Maps: Find the maps needed for the first 9 weeks, either on your MapAids 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 photocopy the weekly reading assignment pages 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 on photocopies.
  • Alternately, you can all use the Reading Assignment Pages in the unit binder, and use sticky notes or check marks to indicate which selections you want each child to read. If you're using page protectors, permanent sharpies will work, too.

Hands-On Projects: As you are browsing each week plan, you may want to make a list of projects you'd like to assign and a list of materials for each one. Place finished materials list in appropriate folders.

Optionally: 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, determine the writing levels of your children. A set of charts called "Writing Levels" is on the Loom to help you. Browse your week-plan writing assignments and print (from the Writing Aids CD) a copy of any graphic organizers, writing supplements, worksheets, or instructions for each child's writing assignments. File these in the week's folder.

Evaluations: If you are using the TOG Evaluations, read the introduction on the disc before you print copies of the quizzes or evaluations for each child and place them in the week's folder.

Additional Resources: Make a list of any additional resources you want to use for each week — videos, websites, articles; file in appropriate folder

Field Trip Info : Write down information about possible field trips for each week

Step 3: Mom's Working Binder

There is a lot of information in the unit binders and weekly folders. For many moms it's convenient to work directly from these. However, one method some moms have found helpful in managing their homeschool is to create a Working Binder with just the information needed for 3 weeks at a time — the current week and the upcoming 2.

If you would like to make a Working Binder, buy:
  • (1) 1/2 " binder
  • tabbed divider pages
  • (3) pocket pages

Start by taking weeks 1-3 out of your large Unit 1 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 the 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.

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.

A month before starting school, you will want to:

  • Re-read the Reading Assignment charts.
  • Place a check mark next to the books you already have, and make plans to reserve any books you need from the library using your calendar.
  • Use your Bookshelf Planning List to purchase any needed books. Products shipped via free media-mail can take up to a month to arrive.

2–3 weeks before starting school, you will want to:

  • Check the TOG website for recommended websites, etc. under the year and week you are using, and write them down on your weekly additional resources lists.
  • Check to see if recommended videos are available to rent or borrow from your library, online video store.
  • Buy the supplies you will need for any hands-on projects. (You can do this once for the entire unit.)

When you have completed Week 1, you will transfer the Week 1 pages back to the Unit Binder and add Week 4 to the Working Binder. Each week, 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 4: Student binders

Each student will need a General binder for their completed work and their current week's papers, as well as a binder for their Grammar & Composition Notebook.

We suggest that you buy:
  • (2) 1 1/2" binders
  • (4) 3-hole-punched slash pocket dividers
  • tabbed dividers
Label the pocket folders in the General binder:
  1. Assignment Sheets
  2. Maps
  3. SAPs / worksheets
  4. Time Line figures

Label the tabbed dividers in the General binder:

  1. Unit 1
  2. Unit 2
  3. Unit 3
  4. Unit 4
  5. Maps

Follow the directions in Writing Aids to label appropriate tabs in Grammar & Composition Notebooks.

Have the students decorate the covers of their binders.

At the start of each week, you will transfer the students' maps, Student Activity Pages, and time line figures from the weekly folder to the appropriate pocket in the General binder. They will use a blank Assignment Sheet to write in their reading assignments and other assignments for the week (except for your youngest students, whom you will need to help). Place these sheets in the Assignments pocket.

Students may want to check off or highlight assignments on their sheet as they complete them — 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. Have students add time line figures to the their time lines (if they are doing them).

You can add any other tabs or pockets as needed to accommodate the portions of TOG that you are using or not using!

Step 5: Your books and weekly schedule

GREAT! You have your materials organized. You are almost ready to jump in and start using Tapestry of Grace.

Organize your books

All families develop unique ways to organize their books. Take time to consider how your children will find, keep track of, and return books quickly and faithfully in your home!

  • One approach is to have a basket where all the books for a given week are kept.
  • Another idea is to assign a bookshelf for the week's resources. You can even assign one shelf per child.
  • 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.

    Here are the colors that Lampstand Press associates with specific year-plans:

    • Year 1 - Red
    • Year 2 - Gold
    • 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 — for example, 2-15. 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.

Plan your schedule

While no moms that we know can stick like glue to a printed schedule, the exercise of writing one out can be extremely helpful. It forces you to think through the details of your week, finding a place for everything, even if everything doesn't always go in its place! Some people like this to be much more detailed than others. Below are some resources that may be helpful (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.

Many thanks to Beth Herbert
for originally compiling and
publishing these instructions