Tapestry of Grace Review – My New Favorite Curriculum!

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It was with a little trepidation that I contacted Tapestry of Grace and told them that I would love to try out one of their yearly lesson plans. I was hesitant to try yet another program, but this looked so much like how I was homeschooled (minus all the work that my mom did to create the lesson plans herself) that I just had to try it.

Tapestry of Grace is a literature, classical curriculum that works with all grades! Perfect for a small or large family, it's quickly become my new favorite curriculum!

When I first received Tapestry of Grace and looked at it, I was a little overwhelmed. There is just so much text everywhere! This one program covers 1-12th grade, but obviously there are different assignments, so there is a lot of material offered. I’m getting ahead of myself though…

What is Tapestry of Grace?

In my own words, it’s a unit study type program with a classical emphasis. On the website they say it is a classical curriculum, but I have easily tweaked it to not be the traditional classical curriculum that you might think of.

What type of Family Is Tapestry of Grace best for?

If you love textbooks and want to simply sit down at the table and check off your work each day, this isn’t for you. However, if you’re a family that loves to read and learn together, this is an amazing curriculum.

What ages can use Tapestry of Grace?

The nice thing is that all ages can use it! Yes, the whole family studies the same topic, but it’s broken up into 4 different levels – Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialect, and Rhetoric. This covers 1st through 12th grade. They even have a Primer curriculum for K-1st grade for children that are the oldest in the family.

So, why did I want to try Tapestry of Grace? 

I love reading to my children. When the days are crazy busy and I might have a mommy meltdown, reading together draws us back together and helps us to focus. I’ve tried to go without reading aloud to them each day, but we all miss it and I’ve recognized how important it is. I’ve looked and looked for a curriculum that would include all my children learning together, but I never found one that suited our family.

That is until Tapestry of Grace. My friend Amy has written several times about it, and I finally decided to click through to the website and watch the video explaining what Tapestry of Grace really is. After exploring it online I decided to try yet another curriculum (yes, I love curriculum).

I’m totally in love. Completely. And the best part?

My children adore it as well. 

Tapestry of Grace covers grades 1st-12th, and is fantastic for large family homeschooling!

How does Tapestry of Grace Work?

There are 4 years that cover history in chronological order. It starts in the Ancient World and goes through the Present Time. Each year is meant to be covered in 1 year, but I can already tell we might take 1 ½ years to go through it. A child can go through each year 3 different times through their school life, each time covering more and more as they advance in grade levels.

When the curriculum arrives it is broken up into 4 separate packages. There are 4 binders worth of material total (the binders are not included), and I’m so grateful they didn’t try to put it all into one! Because this curriculum covers 1st-12th grade, at first glance it can look totally overwhelming. That is, until you learn the system and how it works.

This is the weekly layout for Tapestry of Grace. It covers 1st through 12th grade, and gives you so many options, and you pick!

I’m using Lower Grammar and Upper Grammar for the ages of children we have. Lower Grammar covers 1st-3rd grade, and Upper Grammar covers      4th-6th. There are 4 different colors that show what level your child needs to be in, and you simply look at the bottom of the page to see the color you need for the level your child is in. Once you get to know the layout it get’s to be much easier.

There is a lot of paper each week. I kept turning the pages, wondering how in the world I was going to cover all of this, until I discovered that most of the paper is for the Dialectic and Rhetoric levels where you have a lot of discussions with your student. The picture below shows what one week looks like!

This is for one week of Tapestry of Grace! Don't let it overwhelm you though, this covers 1st through 12th grade, and you pick and choose what you would like to do!

You can do as little or as much as you want. You need to feel confident going into this curriculum that you truly are the teacher and you own the curriculum, it does not own you. Right now with a baby under 1 who is still a high needs baby, we are not doing everything. I consider what we are doing the basics, but I’m not stressing about it because I know we will come back around and cover this time period again!

What subjects does Tapestry of Grace cover? 

The subjects offered are literature, history, arts/actives, worldview, vocabulary, geography, and writing. You have to add math, science, grammar, phonics, and foreign language.

There is a big emphasis on literature books (“living books” as Charlotte Mason calls them!), and you can purchase them through Bookshelf Central, but I use my local library as much as I can. If I know we are going to be in a book for a month or more and the library does not have it, I’ll go ahead and purchase it.

Besides the main curriculum they offer some other helpful items, some of which we are using. Here are a few items.

Map Aids – I recently went ahead and purchased these and it’s a huge help! You can just print off the weekly map that you need and it includes a basic black and white map for your children to draw on, plus the finished map in color. You can see the pictures in this post of my children working on it.

Writing Aids – This is a helpful instructional book for all levels to help teach writing. It does not include grammar. I have this book, but so far we just haven’t dove into it yet. I’m hoping to read through it this summer and implement it when we start back up again this fall.

Lap books – If you are a hands on type family, this is a great option for you! These are geared towards the Grammar age children (1st-6th).

Pop Quiz – I think this is an incredibly wonderful idea! If the dad would like to be involved in what the children are learning, he can put this CD in and listen to it on the way home from work and have questions to ask them at the dinner table and interact with them! I’ve also heard some mom’s prefer using this to learn what is coming in the next chapter.

Planning Aids – I’m so excited about this! While I haven’t had trouble scheduling out the week, life is busy and this planning aid offers weekly lessons already made for the grammar levels!

I love knowing that we can all learn together, yet be on different grade levels. This week we did map work and my 6th grader really enjoyed getting to color in his map after learning about Charlemagne.

Map work with Tapestry of Grace.

While I know our Kindergarten age child did not comprehend nearly as much about Charlemagne as the 6th grader, she also sat in on the history read aloud time and wanted to be included in the map work as well. I was thrilled with how long she sat and worked on her own map!

Map work with Tapestry of Grace with a Kindergarten age child! The beauty of homeschooling a large family is you can do subjects together!

If you would like to learn more about Tapestry of Grace, they are throwing a Facebook party for my readers! They will be offering some prizes, and helping explain more about Tapestry of Grace. Just click here to RSVP.

You can also download some free samples of the curriculum, and look at the scope and sequence of each year (just click on each year and scroll down to see it).

Expect to see more on the blog about Tapestry of Grace. I’m hoping to use this for a very long time!

*I received Year 2 for free to review, but I was not paid for this review. All thoughts are my own! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections On The Past Year And Hopes For the New!

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Reflections on the past year and hopes for the new year!

I could sugar coat this post and tell you the year has been fantastic. I could tell you that I have an amazing family with perfectly behaved children, a house that is always clean and a homeschool schedule that works for us. I might even say I’m ending this year perfectly content and happy.

But that would be far from the truth. It’s been a really rough year for me personally. I’m not sure if I should say it’s been a hard year for our whole family, but I know I’ve struggled a lot and so has my husband. I read the post from Raising Arrows on her hopes for the new year, and could relate to so many things she said.

So here goes. A look at the old year and what I hope to change for this coming year.

I should start by saying I’ve picked my one word for 2016. I have chosen the word Focus for the coming year.  If you are not familiar with the one word concept, you basically pick a work you’d like to build your entire year around.

This year I need to focus on one thing at a time, instead of trying to do 50 thousand things in one day. I’m picking different days to focus on certain things. 3 days of the week I will focus on business (I’ll listen to business podcasts, take training courses, work on creating new products, etc). 2 days of the week will be devoted to my home.

My Walk With God

This has not been a good year for spending quiet time with God. How can I stay a peaceful, rested wife and mother if I’m not constantly at the feet of my Maker? I started doing my first ever Good Morning Girls Challenge, and we are going through the book of Job! I bought the study guide book to use, and it’s so cheery and inviting.

Good Morning Girls Book of Job

Marriage

The first year of having a baby is always rough on our marriage. I’m so distracted with trying to keep up on nursing the baby, and exhausted from being up in the middle of the night with the baby that it leaves little time or energy for nurturing my marriage the way I would like to. This year has been particularly difficult because we were given a very fussy, needy baby in March and it’s only been the last few weeks that I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. If I am in the room, she screams non stop until I hold her.

All.Day.Long.

And did I mention that she’s up at least 3-4 times a night?

Every. Single. Night.

It’s been draining, mentally and physically and has definitely led to me being an irritated and grumpy wife at times.

Juggling businesses, homeschooling, Sean being the Pastor at our church, six children, and living in a small rental house is a lot for us to keep up with. We are now house hunting, which is another (hopeful) adventure!

I’m going to work on having better communication with Sean, and plan on reading more marriage books this year. Whenever I read something on marriage I get super recharged to be a romantic, incredibly wonderful wife. :)

Mothering

I have a 12 year old. Where did the last 12 years go? It’s going so fast and my goal this year is to soak up more time with my children. They constantly ask me to play a game with them and more often then not my answer is “not now.” I’m hoping to turn this the year into saying Yes! Within reason of course. :)

We also have several areas of child training to focus hard on this year, more specifically character traits, like humility, preferring one another…the kind of traits that adults need to work on as well!

Sean and I have been talking about the consequence chart we use with our Character Badges system and have come up with some more consistent punishments that should be good to use. We decided a long time ago that being consistent is far better then being harsh, and that if stricter correction needs to take place it will be above and beyond the consequence chart. This will help things be, well, consistent! :)

Character Badges is a creative child training program

 

Homeschool

The children are not excited to dive back into school after our Christmas break, but I’m hoping that getting back into Tapestry of Grace will excite them more than the math lessons! They love read aloud time, and we are working on making our morning time happen every single morning. Right now our morning time consists of:

Prayer – Every child rotates getting a day to pray for devotions and meal time.

Devotions – We read a Bible Story book together

Literature – We just got done with the last Little House book. We are going to start a fun book like Mr. Poppers Penguins for a change!.

History – This is the time we do our Tapestry of Grace together, and I read the main history book that fits all the ages.

I’d like to include hymn singing (we used to do this every morning but got out of the habit), Scripture memorization, poetry, classical music appreciation, and art appreciation in this time, just using a loop schedule.

Homemaking

I was convicted of something recently. I spend money on business courses, take the time to go through them, read business books, but I haven’t spent much time in the last few years really diving in deep on any homemaking training.

Is there such a thing? Sure there is! It might be books, courses, asking an older woman to mentor you, or simply making a homemaking schedule and sticking with it.

After thinking about getting this course for a year now, I finally just did it during a sale. The Simplified Organization course looks amazing, and after listening to the first module I’m really glad I got it. It’s like she is talking to me personally! I didn’t realize that I should have gotten Work the Plan first, so I’ll probably go through that as well.
Learn to love what must be done

I’m convinced that homemaking is one of those things you are either a natural at or it feels incredibly overwhelming to do. It really doesn’t matter where you fall in that category though, it must be done. I work best when the children are asleep, just because I can think through how I’m going to clean the room. Yes, it requires a lot of brain power to get in and clean a room. I’m not sure why, maybe because we live in a small house and I’m constantly asking myself where I should put something or if I could just get rid of it?

Health

I went grocery shopping last night and didn’t buy one single thing that was bad. Hurray! Now if I can follow through with that the rest of the year. 😉 I love chocolate, and it loves me! I didn’t stress about trying to lose weight last year as I have learned my baby weight doesn’t come off easily (or at all) when I’m nursing. I am going to get back to exercising though, as I feel horribly weak and flabby.

My goals this year with health are to simply eat less sugar, eat more vegetables and fruit, and take all the Plexus products and see my health be strengthened by all the above. :)

My Short List

If you want just a very short, specific list of my goals, here they are!

Buy a house and move in 2016 (Yippee! Thankfully this is a goal our whole family has and not just me!)

Go through the Homemaking Course

Be extremely consistent in the consequences that come with Character Badges

Stay focused on the important things in homeschooling, and to keep the lessons in mind that I learned from Homeschool Made Simple DVD’s.

Eat healthy (less sugar!), exercise and take Plexus for energy and health.

I would love to hear what your goals for the year are! If you still need to write out your goals, don’t forget about our free goal planning journal

 

 

 

 

 

A Math U See Review!

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Gamma Math U See program has been an amazing resource for teaching multiplication!

It happened again. We were doing great with math until multiplication came along. As much as I had this child do drills we were just limping along. I never rush them through multiplication because it just sets them up for failure if they don’t have a strong grasp on their times tables.

We were doing Teaching Textbooks, which I normally like, but I have found it goes through multiplication quickly, at least for my children. They don’t learn all the tricks that can help multiplication be so much easier.

Math U See is a mastery based math program that can be a huge help for children struggling in a particular math skill! Spend a book working on just one subject alone.

Enter Math U See. This math curriculum features a mastery approach, meaning you throughly learn one new math concept before moving on. Each book features a different concept. We started working through Gamma and Israel is already doing so much better!

What I love about Math U See is the DVD’s that come with the workbooks. They watch the short lesson first on the DVD, and Steve Demme teaches them all the little tips on how to easily learn the times tables. I had tried teaching him some of these tips, but it wasn’t until he watched Steve Demme explain it did he truly understand.

Math U See has been a wonderful resource for helping my son learn multiplication!

I also really love the concept of the blocks that go with this set. Different color blocks in sizes of 1 through 10 can be used together to build math problems. For some children with a certain learning style, this can be a crucial turning point that makes math click for them. So far Israel has not used them much, but we pull them out whenever we get stuck on a problem. Every child has a different way of learning, and for children who learn hands on then the blocks are an amazing asset.

We have also used the Primer book for several of our children and it’s a fantastic way to start children out. If your child is struggling with handwriting but strong in math skills, Primer is the best book I’ve seen to start them out with. They do a lot of coloring in the math problems to start out, and I’ve helped them write in the numbers while they are still learning.

We are over halfway through the Gamma book and I plan on getting Delta to cover division. It’s such a blessing to have so many different options out there, and get the very best one for your child!

*I was sent the Gamma math set for free, but all thoughts are strictly my own and I was not paid for this review.

 

 

 

A Middle of the Homeschool Semester Update

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A middle of the homeschool semester update!

We are in the middle of the first homeschool semester, and I realized I haven’t given an update to how our year is going.

Like most families, we started out strong and have been struggling to keep the momentum up lately. I’m already looking forward to a holiday break! However we recently switched a few things up so I’m eager to see if it helps our days more.

What Is Working

Reading ~ We started the year using Level 2 of All About Reading. We should be done with Level 2 by January, and I’ve been so pleased with how well it has helped our 7 year old improve her reading. I’ll definitely get the next level and continue to use it with her.

Our Kindergarten age child is using Level 1 (slowly, but honestly that is more my fault than hers!). She really likes it and once again it’s proving to be the best reading program for our family!

History ~ Notgrass history is a huge hit with my 6th grader, just like it was last year! He is using the Uncle Sam and You set and has started the second book!

Science ~ Our 6th and 4th grader have used Apologia books again this year. I would say it’s been a big success for our 6th grader and a moderate success for our 4th grader. :)

Morning Read aloud Time ~ I feel like I’ve been pretty consistent with our morning time. Well, as consistent as a mom with a nursing baby who is up a lot at night can be. :) We definitely have our mornings where we start school super late, or we have a shortened version of our morning time, but I’m pleased with the books we are reading through together.

Character Badges ~ This continues to be a help for training our children in good character traits, even in school! You can write in one area yourself that you want the child to work on each month. I often write in good student, and if they had a good attitude during their school day they get a check at the end of the day in that category.

(The pre-order special of saving 10% with the code LAUNCH ends November 14th! We can’t wait to ship these sets out the first of December to everyone who has been ordering. We’re getting very close and the day we hold a complete set in our hands will be super exciting!).

Character Badge complete set

What Is Not Working

Grammar ~ I shared in the curriculum post for this year that we were going to try a new grammar program. Growing With Grammar came highly recommended by several people online, and then a homeschooling mom who used to be a grammar teacher raved about it at a local homeschool book sale.

It was the worst curriculum (for us!) that I picked for this school year. My boys were constantly telling me they didn’t understand it, and we were all in tears. I finally ditched it. When a curriculum makes a mom want to yell or cry, it’s time to move on! We went back to the original grammar curriculum I had purchased, which is First Language Lessons. That has been fantastic! I have both boys in level 4 together, and our 2nd grader is slowly making her way through level 2.

First Language Lessons has been an excellent grammar program for 4th and 6th grade!

Teaching Textbooks ~ I hesitate to put this in the not working category, because the main problem is that our PC computer the boys use for school has not been faithfully working! It’s been beyond frustrating to me. I send them downstairs to do math and they come up saying the computer is not working ~ I’ve heard it over and over and over.  Sean fixed it over the weekend *again* so I’m hoping we are good to go.

Israel (4th grade) has had trouble remembering his upper multiplication facts, which is making division tricky. We are actually adding Math U See, the Gamma level to our day now so he can just focus on getting his multiplication facts learned. I also bought the Xtra math app for the iPad and all three of the children are using it daily for drills.

History ~ Did you notice that I only shared the success of our oldest child when it came to history? We are trying to use Beautiful Feet guides for our 4th and 2nd grader. I love the curriculum, the problem is just with us! My 4th grader has lost his history reading books more times than I can count this year. My patience has definitely been tested over this! As for our 2nd grader, it’s just more of getting it all done, and fitting in reading the history books just to her.

So…we are going to actually do a huge switch in the middle of our school year and go to Tapestry of Grace, Year 2! I’m one of those crazy homeschooling moms that will actually switch curriculums. :) I almost bought this curriculum to use, and after reading Amy’s post from Raising Arrows on how she uses Tapestry of Grace with a Large Family, I am excited to give it a try. My goal is to start it this coming Monday, I’m getting everything set up right now.

Tapestry of Grace is a homeschooling curriculum that can work for a large family!

What Has Been Encouraging Me

Homeschool Made Simple ~ This DVD set has helped me keep focused on what my true goals are. I’ve been so inspired by watching this, and plan on watching it again this school year. I crave mentorship by older homeschooling moms, ladies who battled in the trenches during the early years and successfully made it through. I think I so desperately want this partly because my mom is not here to give me advice like I always thought she would be.

Homeschool Made Simple DVD Set

Sally Clarkson Podcasts ~ Once again, an older mom who has been there, done it, and can give sound advice. Sally recently started these podcasts and I’ve enjoyed listening to them while I fall asleep at night or cook dinner.

Joining a Homeschool Group – This is a brand new thing, but I’m going to join a local homeschool group. It’s actually not for my children, just for me! I’ve written before on how I can’t fit in field trips and be gone from home a lot, but I went to an evening meeting that was just for moms and it was so encouraging! My sister and I are both going to join and attend the monthly meetings together, I’m really looking forward to it!

I’d love to hear how your homeschool year is going! What are your successes or struggles?