How to Use Binders (and Individualize Lesson Plans for BiblioPlan or Preprinted Plans)

by GfG on August 8, 2013 · 18 comments

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A few years ago, I made the switch to binders for each kiddo and it has been a huge help to our homeschool.  Let me show you how they work.  Specifically, the lesson plan binders.

Each child has binders for different areas of our homeschool and they are color coded (this is another terrific time saver and organization tip I highly recommend).

The contents of the binders change every year or so, but they always have the lesson plans.  Last year and this year, the binders are also for memorization work, Latin, science, grammar, and writing (the high schoolers don’t have the grammar and writing binders, but ones that match specific courses).

Binders WEB

Today, I want to show you how the lesson plan binders are set up and share why they work so well for us.

Each binder contains the following:

  • Set of 1-36 tabs (to correspond to the week of the school year)… behind each appropriate number:
  • Printed copy of the BiblioPlan  lesson plan sheet for the week 
  • Printed copy of the BiblioPlan Cool History question paper for the week
  • Printed copy of the quiz or test for the week (yes, I put them in the binder)
  • Printed copy of the BiblioPlan Hands On Maps (usually only junior high and up)
  • Printed copy of my homemade lesson plan chart for all remaining subjects

I print all (except the homemade lesson plan papers) of these in the summer and place them in the binders before our school year starts.

Next, to individualize the printed BiblioPlan (or My Father’s World or some other curriculum) lesson plans:

  • I highlight the work the child is to do for that week (I use “their color”, which helps keep me focus on the right kiddo)

Highlights WEB



  • I write in book titles for books I’m substituting or adding and highlight that too

Highlight add ons WEB

  • I scribble any notes or extra activities I want the child to do, yes highlighted 

The homemade lesson plan chart:

I make this on the computer each year, so that it matches the child’s subjects for the year.  It’s a very basic chart.  I do not print out all 36 weeks’ worth because sometimes I add or delete subjects mid year.  I usually only print a few weeks at a time of these and fill them out every couple of weeks.

Other than the history and reading, most of our curriculum is just “do the next lesson” so I don’t always fill in these completely, but offer a check box so the child can check off that they have done their work.  The often fills these in themselves.

Lesson Plans WEB

This system creates an open and go lesson plan binder for each of my kiddos.

Sure, I can get that with Sonlight or WinterPromise, but I can’t get it for each of my kids and still study the same time period (read why I switched from Sonlight here).

No, it isn’t every subject preprinted, but it’s as close as one can get and still move at an independent pace.

Yes, it takes me some effort and time to make, but I only spend a week (NOT non stop) making these, deciding which books to order or substitute, and ordering.  That really isn’t bad.

The end result is individualized and requires no prep work for me for the rest of the school year.  If I get sick or something unexpected happens, the children all know what they are to do.  It is not dependent upon me (except for the really young kiddos, but that is always the case).  Very much worth the time.

This system works especially well for BiblioPlan (and I’m sure there are others I’m unaware of that could use this).

It seriously works wonderfully for us.

Could this system work for your family? 

ETA:  Link to a post on my homemade lesson plan papers, since so many have asked.  :)


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan August 8, 2013 at 7:22 am

Excellent and oh so helpful. Thanks for sharing. Happy school year!


jan August 8, 2013 at 7:23 am

P.S. When I officially start (in a mere 4 years), I will need ALL of your notes…remind me, you’ve done all the think work for me!


Tristan August 8, 2013 at 8:07 am

Personally I love the idea but practically I know it isn’t a good fit for my family. We have many medical interruptions that alter the schedule and it would drive me bonkers to have things not done on the day they were pre-planned for because we suddenly had another appointment crop up. (We already have 12 planned medical appointments this month and usually have some unplanned ones for Mason.) Still adore the idea!


Amy K August 8, 2013 at 10:35 am

This is so interesting to me. I never thought about giving them a copy of the Biblioplan planning page! Hmmmmm. Would you share the Homemade Lesson Plan Chart? I do something similar but liked yours so much better!


GfG August 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I will do a post on this and include a few options! How’s that? :)


Maellen August 8, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Do you not do school on Mondays? It looks like you don’t have Monday on the schedule…. I love your binder ideas! Thanks for sharing!!


GfG August 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm

We have a four day school week. The fifth day is for hospitality, serving, and housework. It has usually meant Fridays off but the couple we minister to needs us to come on Mondays.


Brooke August 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm



Faith August 10, 2013 at 9:25 am

OBVIOUSLY, I’m paying veeeeerrryyyy close attention. 😉

I will admit right now to being slightly overwhelmed looking at BP’s weekly guide. I’m a type A person and normal fully schedules make me giddy happy, but this one is making me a wee bit stressed out and wondering if a couple of my kids are going o writhe on the floor with all that writing. 😉

We’ve done highlighting in the past and it seems to help a tad but still…LOTS of words on the page that a couple of them just.can’

Would it work to ‘cut and paste each level’s work??? Or would that just be a humongous mess?

I’m thinking…..and trying ever so hard to do well this year in getting a set up that works. 😉


Shelly August 15, 2013 at 9:23 am

Dear Mindy,
You are so organized! I’m loving reading about your system. I have used notebooks from the beginning (9 yrs ago), but I used them as WTM suggests–to keep work completed (and graded).

I did do something similar last year for JB for history. Using a metal, standing, divided file holder, I made 36 folders labeled “week 1”, “week 2”, etc. Into those I put the BP lesson for the week w/ her work highlighted. Now that I’ve got a 3rd grader (KM), I think she might be ready for this system, too. BUT, I’m thinking that using the color-coded notebooks is even better! Thank you so much for sharing this idea and how you use it.

Here’s my other “problem”: I’ve always had all of us sit around the table to listen to the history readings (spines) together and discuss/narrate. But, now that JB is an 8th grader, she needs to be reading lots more/higher level (which she was just doing on her own time anyway); and, I’m not sure how beneficial it is for her to sit and listen to the simpler sources. I’ll miss her, but it would probably be good for me to concentrate on the littles then. I remember reading that you do a history ______ (synopsis?–forgot the word you used) to discuss or review or something w/ all the kids…? I’d love to hear more about that!

As for lesson plans, I decided to do something different this year. I used Excel to make a big spreadsheet for each kid w/ all subjects listed and checkboxes by each lesson/page. So, some subjects are really long, like math (a lesson/day). I was going to give these to each of the kids, but at least one of them would feel completely overwhelmed just looking at this sheet! So, it will be my master check-off list, and I’ll print the kids’ ones out a quarter at a time.

Sorry this is so long, but it’s good to get it all out of my head and into written form! More to say, but I’ll save it for later….


Jackie B. November 16, 2013 at 9:50 pm

This is a great post, thank you for sharing your plans with us! I am stuck with deciding which to use: Biblioplan Year 2 or Illuminations Year 3. We love The Mystery of History, which is why I looked into both of these in the first place. If I may ask, do you prefer using BP in an eBook version to print at your leisure, or the printed book? I love having printed books/lesson plans, but do like your idea of having a binder with your weekly BP plans highlighted and such.


GfG November 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Hi, Jackie!
I like the PDF versiosn, so I can print when I want, the number I want, and save it digitally.
I have never heard of Illuminations.



Jackie B. November 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Thanks Mindy! Illuminations is actually by Bright Ideas Press and was created exclusively to be used with MoH.


Jackie B. January 16, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Hi Mindy, I’m back and re-read this wonderful post… thanks! We are now using BP Year 2 and love it! Would you be willing to share your created lesson plan chart? If not, could you share how you created the template?


GfG January 19, 2014 at 1:54 am

Your wish is my command! Check out this coming Monday’s post. 😉


Jackie B. January 20, 2014 at 10:42 am

Thanks again, Mindy! You’ve been such a blessing!


GfG January 20, 2014 at 10:47 am

I’m glad, Jackie. Thank you for commenting/interacting!


Donna April 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Wonderful! We are heading in to Year One Ancients and this system will allow my high schooler to be very independent! Thanks!


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