How to Organize ABeka Curriculum for Elementary Grades

Have you ever wondered how to manage all the paper the ABeka full-grade elementary curriculum creates AND stay current with grading?  I have used the ABeka full-grade elementary video home school program with 5 of my children and until this past year have always struggled to tame that paper monster, while staying current with grading!  As a home school mom of many, the need to be available to all the different ages, can sometimes cause delay in handling the paper end of all the book learning after it takes place.

For our family, we have chosen to use the full-grade video curriculum for K-2 due to the solid foundation in the core subjects that ABeka offers.  The phonics program provides a concrete method of teaching children to read well and the arithmetic really nails the basics of math, at an accelerated level.  The Bible lessons are filled with memorization work and the remaining subjects are equally challenging, engaging and provide a thorough framework of lessons.  The video curriculum has worked well for our family, as it provides CONSISTENCY, the teachers are forward moving with an enthusiasm for each subject and the accompanied workbooks and readers are vividly illustrated, keeping the younger children engaged.

My personal challenge has been to keep all those workbooks from becoming ever so tattered by the end of our year, managing the mass amount of paper from them and keeping up with the corrections on each child's work.  This year has been a winner!  Here's why...

BEFORE the curriculum arrived, I purchased a plastic file box with snap-on lid, hanging file pockets, manila file folders and Avery file folder labels.  I printed labels from 1 to 170 (one label for each lesson) and then attached them to each file folder on the tab.  I placed 3 file folders per hanging pocket.  {***Note:  If you are setting up this system for only one child, you can probably put 4-5 file folders per hanging pocket.}  There are so many options out there for free printable file folder templates, like thesethese cute owl ones or these simple line border ones.

Printed labels on manila files in numerical order; 3 files per hanging file.

Once the files were all labeled, divided into each hanging pocket in numerical order, the video manual along with the teacher's keys and test books were placed inside the front of the file box.  Next, I created a monthly calendar, assigning the lessons to each day of school.  I tried to map out our year based on when I knew we would take breaks during the year, as well as any known field trips, activities and out-of-the home commitments.  I created these monthly calendars on

Schedule I created for Graham and Kailynn's lessons, taking into account days off, co-op classes and other events, to help keep us on track for the year.  I printed one month per page from September through June and slipped each page into a sheet protector, then placed in the front of the lesson file box.

When the books arrived at the beginning of the school year I sorted them by subject {I combined the teaching of two children since they are so close in age and abilities}, set of two workbooks and readers per subject.  This process took my entire dining table, so you know that's a lot of books!  One by one, I tore out every workbook page {EXCEPT for Bible Friends; Health, Safety and Manners; My America and My World; Community Helpers and Discovering God's World}.  Then taking them by lesson number, I filed the copies into the corresponding file folder.  When two days {front and back} were on one page, I filed the worksheet in the earlier lesson number folder.  Once the worksheet was completed by the child, I graded and then placed in the next lesson number folder.

The sorted workbooks, file box and the page tearing process.  All Teacher's Keys were placed to the side (you see them in the back left of this picture) until all pages were filed.

Manila files filled with worksheet pages and ready to go.

Lesson Calendars, Video Manual, and Teacher's Keys located in front of the hanging files.

Completed file lesson box

I tried to grade daily, hole punch and file BUT realistically it was more like every two - three days.  Even so, this was VERY manageable and their portfolios are current.  {More on how to compile a portfolio in another post.}  The contents pages of each workbook {or the overview page found in the front} is placed in behind the index divider with samples behind that for each subject.

The two children using ABeka video curriculum's portfolio notebooks.  I make a  cover page each year for the front of each child's portfolios that represent who they are or an interest, type out pertinent information for that year and include a scripture verse then slip in the front sleeve of their 3" three-ring notebook.

Inside their portfolio is their daily schedule, index dividers with each subject labeled on the divider, then their work filed behind the appropriate subject.  In the inside pockets, I place booklets they do, art work, etc. as well as their co-op class folders of work completed.

I have another lidded clear plastic tote which I keep all their readers and the workbooks which I did not separate.  When those are needed, they are easily accessible for them to pull out, use and return.

Front view of their clear tote containing the year's readers and workbooks not torn apart.  {See above for that list.}

Inside look at their curriculum book tote.

So, that's it in a nut shell.  Please don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have questions or if I can help in any way.  This is all about making the curriculum of choice work for you and NOT the other way around.  The effort put into preparing, pays off with an easier school year.

Blessings ~

Shared at:

Wise Woman Linkup!


JES said...

We don't use Abeka but I DO appreciate your organization system. It is beautiful!! Doesn't it make homeschooling that much more enjoyable :) Thanks for sharing at the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

Wow, that looks like a ton of work! You have a beautiful family. I found your blog from the linkup. We've used a few bits of A Beka, but never a whole grade at a shot.

Jarnette Smith said...

@JES & Shecki Grtlyblesd ~ Thank you for visiting. It was some initial time investment, however the reaping has been a smoother and 'current' year. I am glad you both stopped by and look forward to reading your future posts, too.

Blessings ~

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions on how to organize all of abekas charts and flashcards? i have a daughter starting k5 and theres so many different cards/charts that im overwhelmed with what to do with it all

Jarnette Smith said...

@ Anonymous In all honesty, because the ABeka I use for the younger grades are done with the video instruction, I don't really use the charts and flashcards. The large cursive formation charts, I sell {IF I had a designated 'classroom' in our home, I would definitely put them up above a white board or at the top of the room as a border. The flash cards for arithmetic, I also did not use but sold. The Scripture cards and the Alphabet cards we did use. My children liked the illustrations and it was an added motivator. I kept them in their 'school supply boxes' within their lidded book bin. They would pull them out during video time when the video instructor {Miss Wheeler or Mrs. Baer} used theirs. When they learned the letter or verse, we would put them on the refrigerator until the next one was learned.

Because I have two of them doing the same grade, during math drills, I would sometimes pause the video and use a set of flash cards I own to have them progress around the area rug as I tested them in speed of number combinations.

I hope my lengthy answer has helped, however if you have more specific questions, feel free to email me at mesjlls @ gmail dot com and I'd be happy to help.

Blessings this coming year in your learning at home. ENJOY it!

By His Grace ~ Jarnette

P.S. Thanks so much for your comment and for stopping by!

alesha said...

I also use full course videos. I tried the folder method you use but in all honesty it was way more of a hassle for me. I did however find a happy median for organization. I have a shelf with compartments that I got from an office store. Each compartment holds a subject. It includes all manuals and student books for that subject. Each child has enough shelves for their subjects. All things come out when the child does that subject. All things go up when done. Training everyone where these things go is essential in the beginning. When grading needs to be done, I roam from child to child grading and making sure everyone is on task. I record as I go too. It can be overwhelming but this has been the best system for me. I have 3 in the program. This way may not work forever but for now it is working great!

Happy Abeka Homeschooler

Anonymous said...

So you need 170 hanging pockets and 510 folders total for one years worth of curriculum for one child, correct?

Jarnette Smith said...

@Anonymous 7/29/2015 - No. There are 170 total lessons with ABeka curriculum, so you will need 170 manilla file folders and I would say, if you are doing one student for a grade, then 34 hanging files should be fine. Place five manilla folders per hanging file. If you have two children doing the same grade (as I did), then place 3 manilla files per hanging file (57 hanging files in that case). This is based on elementary levels. I did not set up this system for my highschoolers, as they are more able to care for their books. :)



Anonymous said...

How do you present the copywork? Do you put it on a whiteboard for them to copy? I found this part very time consuming and I was always running around in the morning trying to get all that information written somehwere that he could copy. I love the way you organized the days, we were always drowning in papers and looking for the previous days paper to finish the back!

Jarnette Smith said...

@Anonymous - We use video, so as far as presenting the material, the video teacher does that. I will then follow-up with watching them form their letters/words and correct as needed. Each of my young children have their own small white boards that are used for practice, too, before they will write the new letters on their penmanship sheets.

As for the mass of papers, I agree that before doing this method, I also found that the paper would and couldb1uickly become a mound. I find that when different lessons are printed on the same sheet, it is easiest to grade the current day, then re-file that sheet into the lesson folder that corresponds with the reverse side of sheet. If, I don't then having the "to-be-graded" desk top letter tray, at least keeps me from having to search aimlessly. Hope that helps. 😀. Thanks for your comment.

Heather B. said...

I'd love to find the post about compiling a portfolio!

Kate said...

Hi there!
We are just starting the Abeka program for the first time with our 4th grader. We start tomorrow! I hopped onto Pinterest hoping to find a way to organize and get my mind wrapped around how this will work. I found this blog post and its been incredibly helpful to me!! I believe it will surely help us have a organized & productive year. Thank you!! :)

gen said...

This post is so helpful! Where did you create the monthly calendars?

Mrs. Swanky said...

Very helpful I actually came up with the system as well but a tad bit differently. You gave me a sigh of relief I was worried I wasn't making sense. I'm still stumped. This is our 4th year with Abeka. How do you make sure that daily as in the grade video Manul that each day is getting completed all the work that is required such as copying spelling Words, math problems exc..

Jarnette Smith said...

Hi, {gen}! I actually used the calendar template and typed the lesson numbers on each date according to our school year. I am sure you could do this a myriad of ways, as it fits your personal recordkeeping style. Blessings and thanks for commenting!

Jarnette Smith said...

Greetings, {Mrs. Swanky}! Thank you for visiting and leaving your comment! For our family, I have chosen what portions of the video lessons to do according to the education plan I create for them...basically, I utilize ABeka to work for us not to work us. ;) In order to allow for other studies in our education plan, some work has be eliminated or reduced {i.e. additional writing practice, math facts, spelling and tests for History and Science.} ABeka is wonderful Chirst-centered curriculum, designed with the classroom student in mind, that can easily be used by the homeschool student. As a homeschool parent, I still desire to incorporate studies that fit the education plan created for each of my children according to their needs, interest, skills and God's gifting.

We participate in a cooperative, love to do lapbooking, ingest lots of reading and participate in living history and hands-on science opportunities, so I do eliminate and adjust the ABeka Video Manual to suite our learning plan. I hope that makes sense...the beauty of home education and the joy of instilling a life-long, love for learning!

Blessings to you!

Mary Serrato said...

Would you recommend the program for a tk 4 year old? Is it really a video/teacher explaining the lesson to the child? I'm new to abeka. I want a curriculum that covers all subjects including phonics.

Jarnette Smith said...

Hi, Mary. I never used K4, until last year with my #7 child (she's a late September birthday). My goal with using it was to provide her a basic foundation that provided consistency and quality lessons, in between working with my other children. Her then 3 yr old sister would "watch & participate" with her during the BIble lesson. I was not rigid with using the K4 program, as again, my goal was to provide basic foundational work without requiring EVERYTHING to be done. Typically, each day she would complete Bible, penmanship, Phonics and Arithmetic. She would also have creative play time, join my older children for portions of their hands-on or thematic studies and then the afternoons were reserved for outdoor play and naptime.

You can view video samples for each grade at . ABeka is very thorough and for those looking for a complete video curriculum, yes, they provide that. I prefer to utilize it to fit our family's needs and goals, based on each child and our season of life. ;) The video curriculum doesn't eliminate your participation and oversight as a parent, but it does provide a solid explanation of each new concept, worksheet, lesson, etc. A video manual is provided with the video curriculum, laying out each day and providing details on things you may need to provide and have ready (such as play dough or the ABC scripture cards or other manipulatives that the lesson may involve - paper plate, pipecleaner, etc. for art activity).

I would pause the video during recitations and have my children recite to me the letter sounds, scripture verse or whatever the video teacher wanted them to say. I also would do the reading with them (as the year progressed) or alternate math work me drilling vs the video teacher. My desire was to utilize the program to our advantage, without replacing me. ;)

At the time we utilized the K4 program, there were two teachers: one teacher taught Bible (about an hour each day) and the other teacher taught the remaining subjects. Personally, the Bible lesson was a bit long for my children and in my opinion for that age in general. The way the video program is designed, there is a pause between each subject allowing you to "click" or "select" each subject you want your child to view the lesson for on that day (in other words, it is not a continuous play dvd). So, whether you want to do the complete video curriculum or just selected subjects, you have that ability. :)



Anonymous said...

Posting in case relevant for current reader: (since original post in 2015!)
We tear out the seat work pages from the teacher manual appendix and put them in a 3-prong folder w pockets. Then my son just looks at the printout instead of a whiteboard. Saves a TON of time! Worked for 1st grade & now again in 2nd grade.

It's Adriana's World said...

Thank you so much for this post! We are starting Abeka soon and this is going to help us out tremendously!

Jarnette Smith said...

Glad this was helpful to you. Have a blessed, and Lord willing, smooth homeschooling year with ABeka.

Anonymous said...

Do you keep all the work they do for that year in the binders?.I just started 3 on DVD's been a little tough keeping track if papers and grading but it's getting better.

Jarnette Smith said...

RE: Anonymous 3/23/18
Yes, once I have graded their work, it is placed in the corresponding subject section of their notebook. With several on ABeka, you will find a lot of paper to keep up with, so I found that if possible to grade as they finished the work was best, but a minimum of once a week, then you can still stay on top of it.

Since we do annual portfolio reviews in our state with an FL state certified teacher, then all of their work would be pared down before evaluations to provide samples from each quarter, plus any "special" writings or creative work they completed. I keep all the worksheets that I removed from the portfolio, just in case the evaluator request to see more work from any area (not usually needed, though) and once their evaluation was complete, I discarded the removed work...their portfolios with all the samples is by law to be preserved in our state for 2 years...although I have kept all my children's portfolios since beginning our home education journey 21+ years ago. :)