Thursday, September 1, 2011

Seeing Dots: Homeschool Book and DVD Organization

Over the years, I have used various methods of organizing our homeschool books and movies. Since I am a bookworm and my husband enjoys movies a lot (so do the rest of us), I employ them in our lessons. In fact, we study history and literature with a plethora of books. Therefore I began organizing them in chronological order by date, according to the historical eras we study. That way I can speedily find it when lesson planning or looking up information. I used to be able to look at a book and just *know* which era it went with and kept everything in order accordingly. I did the same with our movies, which my family could not keep up with. They'd pull out movies to watch and I got to put them away, because I knew where they belonged in chronological order.

As the book and movie collection continued to grow and my kids got older and we studied more historical eras, mentally keeping track of dates became a juggling act with too many balls. The recent shipment of history books for the upcoming school year finally did me in. I tried putting the new books away, inserting them where they belonged with the others, but it became too much. I have finally succombing to becoming a dotter!

I. Am. A. Chronological. Dotter.

After days of dotting, all of my books are now in chronological order by date according to the years covered in the biographies or the eras contained with the books. I purchased white dots and a nice black fine tip gel pen.

Below are the beautiful results! What would Thomas Jefferson think of me? He was so proud of his own book collections, so I call this part of the house the Thomas Jefferson room. My family is thrilled that I did this project. At long last they will know where to return a book or movie, without fear of messing up "the Laurie/Mom mental system", not that I ever got after anyone if things were returned to the wrong place. However they always knew how much work went into the organization and now they are in the know!



Here are close-ups of my favorite era. Early 1700's are above, when Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were born. Below are the mid 1700's, when Lafayette and Napoleon were born. One neat thing about storing the books this way is we can have more of an ah-ha moment, seeing how lives closely intertwined, people and events being close in time. Isn't that Napoleon book huge? It was a great book that I finally read in June. The Lafayette book I haven't gotten to since I have another one in my nightstand. I haven't labeled learning levels. Those are all relative, as I tend to mix and match when assignment time comes, according to our purposes. The kids and I always use these books as reference at one time or another.


Here are the movies from the late 18th century. Books I shelve according to the beginning year of a person's life or event, because that is when we start reading it, reading a few chapters a week as we progress through history. Movies, though, we watch at the ending date (if there are a range of years) since they are difficult to start and stop. Besides they can provide a great review and bring life, seeing everything in action. For the earliest eras, there are no dates. The ancient ancients had no dating system so it's all a guess open to wide debate. I categorize them by basic sequence and by era.



  1. This is amazing! I seriously love it. I have some of our books organized in chronological order, but only the ones we've already used. We are just on the second year of our first cycle, so we have much more to go (and hopefully many more books to acquire =) Thank you for linking this great idea up to Trivium Tuesdays!

  2. Wow, that must have taken some serious time to organize!! Does it stay organized pretty well though? I've tried a couple of different "systems" but my kids have a hard time getting the books put back in order. They're little though, so maybe this makes a difference.

    1. Yes, it works perfectly! Two years later my bookcase still looks like this! =)

      For little ones, give them each a special color coded ruler. When they take out a book, have them place the ruler in the space where the book came from, with the ruler sticking out, horizontally, long side out. Then they can easily replace the book when done.


  3. Great idea. We've always used take-offs on the Dewey Decimal system, but your method is like a time-line on a shelf.