Essentials Student Notebook

I wear many hats.   As I have mentioned before, I am the director and Essentials tutor for my local Classical Conversations Community.   Currently, we are counting down the days until our first class.   Let the preparations begin………


Today I am going to show you how I have setup the student notebook for my Essentials class.  If you are unfamiliar with the Essentials program,   read an overview and watch a video on the Classical Conversations website. Obviously, due to copyright laws, I cannot show you pictures of the insides of the student notebook.  But, I have listed the page numbers and titles of the photocopies I have used.  Please note:  I have the 4th edition EEL guide.  If you own a previous edition, then the page numbers won’t match. 


Essentials Student Notebook


Supplies Needed

  • 1 ½ inch three-ring binder
  • Trivium Tables (English Grammar and Quid et Quo)
  • One copy of the Verbals Chart (Chart Q; EEL page 431)
  • One copy of the Weekly Practice Sentences (EEL page 433 &434)
  • Approximately 20 page protectors
  • Dry erase markers
  • Pencils, sharpened
  • Notebook paper
  • Pencil pouch with holes to put in front of binder
  • Dividers with pockets (5)
  • photocopies from the EEL guide and the IEW Ancient History Student Book
  • Optional:  Mad Libs


Tab #1: Charts
Tab #2: Sentences
Tab #3: Editing
Tab #4: Writing
Tab #5: Vocab.


  How to Assemble the Student Notebook

  • Front pocket of binder:  Trivium tables
  • Front of binder:  Pencil pouch with pencils, dry-erase markers, and tickets
  • Before First Divider:     
    • Essentials Study Sheet (I make these and hand them out each week.  They are not in the guide.) 
    • In a page protector:  EEL pg. 22 (Week at a Glance)
  • First divider:     Label divider:  Charts
    • In the pocket of the divider:  EEL pg. 18 (EEL Scope and Sequence)
    • On the rings, behind the divider:  blank paper for copying charts
    • In a page protector:  Verbals Chart Q; place it behind the paper, but in front of the next divider.
  • Second divider:  Label divider:  Sentences
    • In the pocket of the divider:  EEL page 394 (Glossary of Abbreviations)
    • In a page protector:  weekly practice sentences (EEL pg. 433-434) 
    • On the rings, behind the divider: 75 copies (3-hole punched) of EEL pg. 435-436 (Analytical Task Sheet)
  • Third Divider:  Label divider:  Editing 
    • On the rings:  Copies of editing sheets (2 copies of each week)
  • Fourth Divider:  Label divider:  Writing
    • In the pocket of the divider:  Ancient History Writing Schedule 
    • On the rings, behind the divider:  blank notebook paper
  • Fifth Divider:  Label divider: Vocab.
    • In the pocket of the divider:  current vocabulary flashcards
    • In page protectors:  one set of vocabulary tests (practice with dry erase markers)
    • On the rings, behind the divider:    2nd set of vocab.  tests w/o page protectors (final test in pencil)
  • Back Pocket: 


How We Use the Notebook

  • Trivium Tables
    • Grammar Chart:  Used as a reference in class, at home, and when copying grammar charts
    • Quid et Quo: Used when analyzing sentences in class and at home
  • Pencil Pouch
    • Stores pencils, dry-erase markers, and tickets
  • Study Sheet and Week at a Glance
    • Advises the student and parent as to what they could do at home
  •  Charts
    • Provides a list of the charts used each week and blank paper for copying
  • Sentences
    • A place for the student to analyze sentences  with the Quid et Quo table and the Analytical Task sheet
  • Editing
    • Students have 2 copies of each editing sheet.
  • Writing
    • Reminds the student of the writing assignments and provides paper for brainstorming and rough drafts.
  • Vocabulary
    • Reminds the student of the vocabulary words for each week.  It provides a place for the child to practice the vocabulary tests with dry-erase markers and photocopies of the vocabulary tests for the final test.  
  • MadLibs
    • It started out that we just did these for fun, but the kids learned a lot from them!  They are optional.  


A Few More Pictures……


In case you don’t know what a page divider with a pocket looks like…….here you go! It is a plastic page divider, but it has a pouch to store a few pieces of paper.

This is copy of one of my study sheets from last year. I adapted it from a version that I found on CC Connected.

31 Responses to Essentials Student Notebook

  1. Michelle August 6, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Love your website….mom of 5 boys. I laughed a lot looking through your ideas. Very helpful. On the folder, do you provide these folders for your families or do you just send a list out and have the parents put them together? Thank you for this info!!! -New Essentials tutor in OK.

    • Jennifer August 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm #


      Thanks for visiting me! I laugh at myself somedays as well…’s better than crying…… :)

      I make all of the photocopies for my families as part of their supply fee. But, they bring in all of the school supplies (binder, page dividers, pencil pouch, etc.) They bring everything to the parent meeting and we assemble them together.

      Hope that helps! Have fun tutoring!

  2. Debbie August 6, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    Essentials was hard but oh so worth it!
    Where did you get the madlibs and which ones were they?

    • Jennifer August 7, 2012 at 2:38 am #


      I agree! Essentials is worth it!

      The Mad Libs are from classroomjr. com. I just sorted throught them and found ones I liked.


  3. Amy Barnaby August 16, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Great post. I am a new Essentials tutor in CT. We are having our parent meeting next week and I am feeling a bit nervous about helping them organize the student binder when I haven’t been through it yet. Finding your post has given me encouragement. Do you mind if I share it?

    If you have time could you describe what you include on the Essentials study sheet…is it what you will cover that day/week or review of previous concepts?

    What are the editing sheets?

    I am now a subscriber:) Have a great year.

    • Jennifer August 17, 2012 at 10:57 am #


      Thanks! I would love if you would share my post! Thank you!

      As far as the Study Sheet…..I include the items that they “could” work on for the upcoming week. In the end, the parent decides the child’s assignments, but I give them ideas as to what they could do. Here is the list of what is listed for each week: Charts (the charts they could copy/memorize), Sentences with Mom (the analytical tasks they will use to analyze sentences), Editing Exercises (found on the last page of each lesson…proofreading the book of John), Flashcards (I made flashcards for the grammar, divided by week…they are available on CC Connected under username wearejenandkev…On the study sheet, I just list the week we are on), Mad Lib (I found Mad Libs on, I list the number we are on…), Writing Assignment (I list the lesson and assignement for the upcoming week), Vocabulary words (I remind them of the words for that week’s IEW lesson), and Operation (I tell them the math operation that we will be focusing on during the following week’s math game so that they can practice that operation at home) If you send me an email….I will send you a copy of one of my study sheets. The base of my sheet is available on CC Connected as well. It isn’t mine…I adapted someone else’s sheet.

      Hope that helps! Nice to meet you!


      • Amy Barnaby August 17, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

        Anything you can share with me is greatly appreciated. I am unable to access the CC Portal for tutors so your site really helped me figure out how to assemble a student notebook. Many of our parents are new to CC and all are new to Essentials so we decided to provide the hand-outs you listed and assemble the books at our parent meeting.

        I would love to see your study sheet. Do you happen to have the OMT-EEl corresponding lessons? Or the updated IEW schedule? It was assumed during my tutor training that we would all have access to the CC portal so we could access the various downloads.

        Thank you for your guidance.
        Southbury, CT CC Community

        • Jennifer August 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm #


          I just emailed you some docs….I was the Essentials tutor trainer in my area. These are the documents that I sent out to the tutors. You will find my IEW schedule (I made my own), my study sheet, a sample of my lesson plans, the EEL flashcards that I created, my parent handbook, and a few other random things. I do not have the OMT lessons. Sorry.


          • Samantha Phifer September 22, 2012 at 2:41 am #

            Hey Jennifer,

            This is our first year with CC. We love it but I feel so rushed, unorganized, etc. Can you please email me as much as possible to help simplify my lesson planning? I have a son in Essentials as well as Challenge B. I can’t afford the online CC connect so any advice is greatly appreciated!

            In Him,
            S. Phifer

  4. nikki adams August 18, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    Can u please forward me those as well? Is this notebook mainly used at home? How do u use the gear and SRN in class… in same notebook or separate?
    Thank u!

    • Jennifer August 18, 2012 at 4:29 am #


      I just sent them to you! The notebook is used in class and at home. We don’t use the gear in class, we use the trivium tables. They get out their trivium tables and we read the definitions using funny voices or actions. (see my post on memorization techniques) Sometimes we do “Race the Teacher.” (The kids try to copy the chart before I get done. They can look at their charts, but looking slows them down.) This year I might try “Race Your Mom.” Plus, we just use them for reference. When I am tutoring, I am constantly showing them where the info is located on the charts….and how the charts relate to one another. Is that what you are asking? The trivium tables are located in the front pocket of their notebooks. As far as the SRN, it is a different book.

      Not sure if I answered your question or not….. :)


  5. Brandy August 22, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    I am a new Essentials tutor for our Alabama group. Would you send me the study sheet you use? I love alyips your fun and organized ideas!

    • Jennifer August 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm #


      I just emailed you the documents. Enjoy!


      • Chris August 22, 2012 at 9:21 pm #


        We just started Essentials yesterday, my 8 year old is doing Pre-Essentials and my 10 year old is doing Essentials. We are also new to homeschooling. How do you go about having the kids memorize the charts. One is supposed to memorize chart A and the other Chart’s A and B. It seems a bit overwhelming to me right now.

        • Jennifer August 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm #


          It is okay to feel a little overwhelmed on your first day! Just remember…..this is a three year course!! You won’t master everything the first time around…and that is okay! Just memorize as much of the chart as possible. Do your best and leave the rest! I had someone else ask about memorizing charts… was my answer:

          Here is what I do for my boys (in class and at home):

          1. They get out the Trivium Tables and turn to the chart we are memorizing.

          2. I tell them all of the important info on the chart. As I say it, they are circling it with a dry erase marker. (It keeps them engaged while I talk.) Example: I am telling them the four purposes of a sentence. As I say, “declarative”, they circle declarative on their chart. As I say “exclamatory”, they circle “exclamatory” on their chart. As they circle, I am giving them my elevator speech on what they are circling. “Declarative….one of the four purposes of a sentence….it makes a statement….ends with a period….declarative… “Jesus wept.”….it tells me what he did…just some information….in case you were wondering…..declarative… of the four purposes…”

          3. After I have explained the chart, I ask them questions about it. First, they answer me in their “regular voice.” Next, they answer me while doing a funny voice or silly action. They have the choice to say it by themselves or with the entire class. Example: I look at one child and say, “Tell me the four purposes of a sentence.” First, he answers in his regular voice. (He can look at the chart if he needs to.) Next, he chooses a popsicle stick that has funny voices or actions written on it. I ask him “Would you like to do it by yourself or with the class?” He chooses. He tells me the four purposes using the funny voice or action. Then , I ask another student the same question….he chooses a funny voice…..we repeat it…etc. This gets the kids saying the memory work multiple times, yet it makes it fun. Also, it gives them the option to have others join them in case they are shy.

          4. If we have time, I will ask the kids to get out a blank piece of paper. After we have said the four purposes of a sentence several times, I will say…”write the four purposes down on a piece of paper.” They can look at their chart if they need to, but I ask them to try to do it by memory. The beauty of this is that I am asking them to practice writing it down, but I am only having them do one small part of the chart instead of the entire thing. I have done this with dry-erase boards instead of paper, also.

          If you want to see my list of funny voices and actions, you can see them here:

          Also, here is a picture of how I made the popsicle sticks that they use to choose their voice:


  6. Viviana August 23, 2012 at 5:02 am #

    Hi Jennifer!

    I am a new Essentials tutor in CA. I would love to get the documents you e-mailed Ammy, specially the study sheet! Love all the ideas you post!


    • Jennifer August 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm #


      I just emailed them to you!


  7. Carline Dally August 26, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    I am also a new Essentials tutor. Could you send me an email with the same documents that you have been referencing above. Thank you!

    Carline Dally

    • Jennifer August 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

      I just sent them to you. Thanks for visiting me!

  8. Lark September 1, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    Hi Jennifer,

    Would you mind sending me the documents too? It’s my first year tutoring Essentials and would love to be able to use some of your ideas. I’ve already gleaned a ton just reading your post here. It makes me excited to get started!

    Thanks so much!


    • Jennifer September 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm #


      I just sent it to you!

      Thanks for stopping by!


  9. Kami September 6, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    I would love to view your lesson plan and the documents you emailed the others. I am also a first year tutor and would like other examples!

    • Jennifer September 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm #


      I just sent them to you!


  10. Jennifer February 18, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    Jennifer, would you mind emailing me the documents as well? I will be starting my journey as an Essentials sub this year. I am excited but a bit scared. Thanks!

    • Jennifer May 5, 2013 at 11:18 pm #


      I will be training all of the Essentials tutors in my area in a few weeks and I will be updating everything for Cycle 2. I am not ignoring your request. But, I am going to wait to email you until I have all of my updated documents. If I forget, bug me again. Our training is at the end of May. So, if you haven’t heard from me by the beginning of June, send me a reminder! :)


  11. Katie April 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Could you email me the essentials tutor documents as well? Thanks so much!

    • Jennifer May 5, 2013 at 11:13 pm #


      I will be training all of the Essentials tutors in my area in a few weeks and I will be updating everything for Cycle 2. I am not ignoring your request. But, I am going to wait to email you until I have all of my updated documents. If I forget, bug me again. Our training is at the end of May. So, if you haven’t heard from me by the beginning of June, send me a reminder! :)


  12. Melanie Johnson April 11, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Hi, Jennifer. I just agreed to tutor Essentials next year and would love to have a copy of the materials you’ve referenced in this post. I actually just downloaded everything from CC Connected so I may have some of your “inspiration” docs, but I’d love to see how you pulled it all together since you are obviously UBER-ORGANIZED! :) I love that you provide parents with the notebooks at your initial meeting. I think that would have been a big help to me during my son’s first year. I’m very excited to take this on! Thanks in advance!

    • Jennifer May 5, 2013 at 11:13 pm #


      I will be training all of the Essentials tutors in my area in a few weeks and I will be updating everything for Cycle 2. I am not ignoring your request. But, I am going to wait to email you until I have all of my updated documents. If I forget, bug me again. Our training is at the end of May. So, if you haven’t heard from me by the beginning of June, send me a reminder! :)


  13. Traci July 1, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    I’m so glad you are back online. Your site was so helpful last year. I’ve signed up to tutor challenge A next year. I’m looking for ways to organize my younger children better so I can focus on learning challenges. Would you mind sending me a copy of your study sheets? I think this my help me keep them focused and on track. Thank you.

    • Jennifer July 9, 2013 at 1:30 am #


      Are you looking for the study sheets for Essentials only? Or are you looking for the checklists that I give my kids? (that one includes all subjects)


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