When my oldest was in kindergarten and I was teaching him how to read, I was planning ahead for the future. I knew I wanted a literature based curriculum rather than just a pile of textbooks. I knew I wanted something that was both classical and Christian. As I looked at a few programs that fit this description, I kept coming back to Tapestry of Grace. I thought about it for a year, visited the website every once in awhile, and asked my friend who was already using it a few questions. Then I took the plunge and bought my classic Tapestry which I have since upgraded to the new and improved re-designed.
what I love about Tapestry now that I’ve been using it for 3 years
- I like that for each week, the book lists for different levels are side by side so I can easily choose a literature book from a higher learning level for my son to read.
- Elementary is divided into two stages–lower and upper.
- The books have been ones that I would choose. The staff at Tapestry has done all the footwork for me in tracking down wonderful resources so I don’t have to weed through a bunch of lesser quality books. Tapestry chooses living books instead of twaddle.
- The student activity pages (SAPs) vary in format so my children get practice in different skills like multiple choice, matching, crossword puzzles, word searches, and short answers. Plus, SAPs are quick and easy to print from my computer using the CD or to photocopy from my year plan. I can put everything for one week (or the whole unit) into a folder for my kids to use.
- Writing Aids is a wonderful reference book with CD which my children and I will use now through high school. The pre-writing worksheets help in the writing process and the teaching tips are helpful. Even my husband–who is a professional journalist/editor–was impressed with Writing Aids.
- There is a wonderful online community of other users in the forums and yahoo support groups. I can’t tell you how many great ideas I get from the ladies on the loose threads list (one of the yahoo groups) including planning ideas, sample schedules, making notebooks for each child, and lively discussion about page protectors, plus plenty of fun off-topic things like sharing prayer requests and recipes.
- I am so thankful for the map aids. All the maps for each year are on one CD so I don’t have to go searching for them online or in various atlases. The menu on the CD shows the maps for different levels for each week. All I have to do is click on the maps I want and then print them out and put them in the folder with the activity pages. Very handy!
- The teacher’s notes contain a “heads-up” of content in certain books that some parents may find inappropriate for their children.
reasons I chose Tapestry for my homeschool
First and most importantly, Tapestry of Grace is a Christian curriculum where the teacher’s notes show the hand of God throughout history.
Secondly, it is based on the classical model of learning, so my children will study the same period of history three times–just at different learning levels. For example, we started with the ancients in 1st grade, then we’ll roll back around to the ancients in 5th and then again in the 9th grade.
Another reason I chose Tapestry is because my children will all be at the same period in history. That appealed to me with my growing family. It makes planning and teaching simpler and more efficient. As the years pass and I’m teaching four or more children, it will definitely be great to have everyone studying the same thing.
I find the design of the curriculum very handy. There are 4 year plans. Each year plan has 4 units. Each unit has 9 weeks which simplifies the 180 day school year. If the year weren’t broken down into units, we wouldn’t have the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing something nearly as often.
benefits of using TOG with lower elementary
A thought bouncing around on various homeschooling forums is that Tapestry is not suited for lower grammar aged kids. I disagree. It is true that the first few years of school, the emphasis in teaching will be in character development and learning to read, print, and do arithmetic.
By using Tapestry with my young children, I am learning how to use this curriculum and I’ll know it better by the time my kids reach middle school and high school– or to use the classical ed terms, the dialectic and rhetoric levels of learning. Plus, the books my kids read from Tapestry’s book lists are delightful and informative.
Story of the World, a very popular homeschooling resource for elementary age children is listed as one of the alternative resources. In other words, SOTW has been broken down week by week with the pages corresponding with the TOG plan.
A lot of moms describe Tapestry as the dessert for younger kids, and the main course for older kids. Because I’m partial to dessert, TOG is just right for me. I’m just trying to get all my dessert in before we’re loaded down with the meat and potatoes and lasagna which I also love, by the way.
Tapestry is not curriculum in a box
Tapestry is a plan. It is a buffet with lots to pick and choose from. I don’t get everything I need in a little box and it doesn’t tell me every move to make. There are no checklists. I like this, probably because I don’t like to be told what to do. (I can just hear my husband and dad nodding in agreement with this comment) Even Marcia Somerville, author of the curriculum, says that she doesn’t do everything.
Because Tapestry is a plan, more resources–mainly books–are needed to use Tapestry. Books can be purchased through TOG or elsewhere, borrowed from the library or from friends, and sometimes I even discover a needed book already on my shelves.
I have found it’s best to buy the year plan first–and I like the bundle package with the “extras.” I look it over for awhile and then decide what additional books I will need to purchase after checking to see what my library has available.
Tapestry of Grace saves me money over other curriculum
Instead of having to buy 12 separate years of curriculum, I will only need to buy four with Tapestry. The year plan is everything I need to teach all my children from kindergarten through high school. And it’s so much more than just history. By using the chronological study of history as a guide, Tapestry integrates church history, literature, writing, fine arts, and geography, all with a biblical worldview. Plus, Tapestry offers government for high school.
Where else can I get everything I need to teach all my children these five core subject for such a low price? A year plan costs $225. And I’ll be coming back to it again and again. I don’t think I’ll ever sell my Tapestry, but for those who do, it has a great resale value.
Plus, Tapestry sells so much more than their year plans at the bookshelf. One of the main differences in the redesigned curriculum and the “old” classic is in the book lists. There are fewer book choices in the re-design. All of the “primary” resources are on one page and so it is so easy. These are all books that are in print and they can be purchased directly from Tapestry. On the opposite page is a chart of books called alternative resources. These are great books, some of them are out of print and they are not sold at Tapestry’s bookshelf.
Tapestry’s website is growing and improving
In the four years that I’ve been using TOG’s website, it keeps getting better and better. A new design was just launched and it has made finding things easier. My absolute favorite section of the website is the power search tool at the bookshelf. This is a search engine that allows me to pull up all the books used for each level in each unit or I can narrow the search by subject if desired. I print the list of books so I can have it for easy reference. Plus, I can save the books that I want to buy to a planning list at the bookshelf.
looking ahead to the future
Although I am enjoying the grammar years, I do look forward to the dialectic stage that is coming soon with my oldest son when he will start making connections and we will have discussions, guided by the teacher’s notes. The worksheets for him will be deeper and require a lot of thought. I don’t even want to think about the rhetoric stage and high school yet! It seems so far away, but it will be here before I know it and Tapestry will serve us well as my children prepare for life after high school.
try Tapestry of Grace for free
You can download a 3 week sample of TOG or request a CD. You can choose between Ancient Egypt or Colonial America or if you can’t decide, try them both! These sample mini units contain everything that Tapestry has to offer.
Don’t be overwhelmed if you print off all these pages from your computer. Remember this is absolutely everything that Tapestry has to offer for all grades. Unless you have children in all 4 learning levels, you won’t need all the information.
The samples include all the “extras” as well as the weekly plans contained in a unit. You’ll be able to see the map aids, pop quiz, evaluations, writing aids and lap books.
So try it, ask questions on the forum or in the yahoo groups.