How I Avoided the TOG fog

We are part way through our 2nd year with TOG (Tapestry of Grace)…and I never felt the fog! Many people become overwhelmed with all Tapestry has to offer, and this sensation is referred to as “the tog fog”.

I was so overwhelmed by the size of my giant TOG binders that I did a TON of
planning in advance…and I think that is what kept the fog away.
Perhaps some of you will benefit from my experience….

Before the school year started, I made a binder for each of my TOG students. I put tab dividers into each notebook, one per week, with a label (week one, Pharaohs, for example) so they can put all of that week’s work (be it history, literature, geography, etc.) behind that week’s tab. Each binder has 36 dividers in it, dividing the school year into 36 TOG weeks. In each binder I put the copies of maps that were needed for that week, the checklist of what those children would be reading that week, any blue SAPs that I wanted to use, coloring pages from my Dover books that went with the lesson, etc. Everything was hole punched, and slipped into the binder behind the appropriate week.

When it is time for school, the children can get out their TOG notebook, take out that week’s maps or coloring pages, and put them back into the notebook when they are done. The pre-printed timeline figures can be kept in the TOG notebook, too, inside a page protector.

If it can be printed or copied and we need it in a given week, it
is in the binder. That does make for some extra copies, but I don’t
like to let my kids touch my big binders…I don’t want little hands
tearing pages, so it is worth it to me to photocopy their reading
list for the week, etc.

I do NOT copy teacher notes, and if I needed to go over those with my D student, I did use the big binder…these binders are for THEM, not for me.

I had my D student sit down before the year started with the TOG
binders and look at the timeline sections. He used our Homeschool in
the Woods Timeline figures CD Rom to print out every single timeline figure we thought we would need for the year…if we couldn’t find it on our disc, we
usually didn’t bother with it.

He made a small dot on our timeline planner page in the TOG overview to show which ones he was able to find, so that when I copied that page for his folder,
he would know exactly which figures he would be using. He cut out the
figures and put those into the folders, too, so the timeline prep was
already done before we started our year.

I went to Debra’s Notebooking pages
and copied many free pages, including TOG templates for our timelines, and put those into notebooking folders. When it was time for timeline or notebooking, the kids could just grab whichever pages they wanted to use.

We use lots of Debra’s pages for our writing, as well, for the LG
boys…I put whatever graphic organizer would be needed for that week into their folder (printed from the writing section on the TOG year plan site), and a nice notebooking page…we do the graphic organizer
one day, then another day they use that to dictate their
report/writing to me and I write it on the nice notebook page.
The pages have a spot at the top for a picture, which they either draw or get from our timeline CD (I had oldest ds copy some extra timeline figures in a larger size for these littler boys).

I DO put dots on all my books (lots of TOGGERS do it!). In a nutshell (believe me, volumes have been written on this topic!) you put a colored coding dot on the spine of the book (red for year 1, for example) and write a number on the dot which corresponds to which week that book is used. Some choose to use an additional dot (lavendar?!) if the book is used in more than one year plan. Many choose to write D or LG, etc. on the dot, as well, below the week number, to show who is to be reading this book. It may sound crazy, but when you have literally thousands of books as I do by now, after many years of homeschooling, it is really helpful to label my TOG books in this way. Put a piece of tape over the dot if you plan to do this, as the dots will fall off.

It is also helpful to get all the books together on one shelf. I have two shelves designated for the books for the unit we are currently working on, one for D level and one for LG/UG level.

To set up my teacher manual, I slip my reading lists for each week into page protectors. Many people page protect every page, but I don’t bother with that. Since my kids aren’t touching my binder it seems to stay nice enough. I only page protect the reading list pages. Then, I can write with a sharpie on the page if I am using an alternate resource from my own shelves, or if I need to order something from the library, if I need to purchase something or who I want to borrow that item from. If I add an alternate resource, I put a check box beside it. At the end of the week, I check off everything we read that week. At the end of the year, when it is time to do evaluations, it will be easy to see what we read. Four years from now, it will be a good reminder of what resources we did (or did not) use in a given week.

Last year I included everything in the TOG notebook. This year, I have decided to separate out our language arts pages. I found it a bit distracting to include the language arts materials in the same binder as the TOG materials. We often do language arts in a different part of the house, and we were always looking for that TOG binder! With that in mind, I set up a separate binder for language arts. This is where my children put their Spell to Write and Read phonogram and spelling quizzes, their grammar exercises, graphic organizers for writing and completed papers. At the end of the semester, if we want to put the completed writing assignments (or copies of them) back into the TOG notebook, we can. But in the meantime, all language arts papers are together in one neat, handy location.

If the children don’t do a page or two, I don’t sweat it. We move on at the end of the week, regardless of whether they have colored every picture or filled out every SAP. We can remove those pages later, or go back and do them another time during a lighter week. Many people cull their notebooks at the end of the year and make one final portfolio from the best work.

It takes a significant amount of time over the summer to get all these materials
ready…but it is SO worth it.

There was NO TOG fog, no skipping work because we didn’t have time to
get our materials together…there were certainly times that we
adjusted our plan, and didn’t use a blue Student Activity Page or didn’t do our
geography work or whatever….but it was because I decided to change
the plan that week based on whatever was going on or what books had
come in from the library, etc. It was NOT because we weren’t prepared
and couldn’t get our timeline figures together, etc. For more help on getting organized for the school year, check out my other articles, including the post about science and history boxes.