Sunday, July 7, 2013

Making the Decision to be a TOG Family

Choosing Tapestry of Grace (TOG)  is a big decision.  Our family had  4 children when we made the switch to TOG. There are six now.  We had decided on a classical education before our oldest began school.  As we added more children I could not see how I could follow the classical path.  There simply were not enough hours in the day.  We prayed and I researched.  Of all the curriculum available I narrowed our choices to three.  Still uncertain I asked my husband exactly what he wanted for our children's education.  His respond (he had not read anything from TOG):  "I want them to see God's hand through out history."  It was decided.  A TOG family we would become. 

 Making the decision on curriculum is a big one.  A couple of things to consider  are:

  1. What kind of education have you and your husband with prayer settled on?  If classical then TOG could be your answer.  Or if unit studies are your preferred method TOG may be a good fit.

  1. Are you willing to customize the material to fit each of your children.  Tapestry is like a buffet, and the author never expected one student to complete all the material listed.

  1. Are you willing to participate in your child's education--discussions and directions

  1. Willing to learn along with your student? The teacher notes are a wonderful blessing for those of us who did not receive a classical education or for those who did but need a refresher!

  1. Do you have a large family?  For large families TOG is perfect.  All family members are on the same page.  Even dad can listen to the pop quizzes /Dad cd's.  For a large family you purchase the books once then your done!  Several years we have had 2 students on 1 level.  Scheduling what day each student has each book took care of who has what when.  No buying two books!  Sounds complicated but its not!  There are several classical programs available which look wonderful.  They are simply not conducive to large families.  Tapestry of Grace is the perfect fit for a large family.  It is designed to be customizable!

TOG is more than a curriculum choice.  It is more like a monster.  A beloved, benign monster, but a monster none the less!    TOG takes over the dinner time discussion. Oh! And lunch and breakfast as well!  Then there is the read alouds and movie times. Crafts, discussions, music, missions and maps TOG is still there-- bringing the family together in a shared experience. 

 So what is your decision going to be?  Will you join us?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tapestry of Grace ~ Ancient India Resources

TOG India Resources

 I am collecting resources and ideas to go along with our studies in Tapestry of Grace. We have already covered Ancient Egypt, and as much as I would love to start from the beginning, I don't think the boys will enjoy it. So we are starting with Ancient India for which I have gathered a ton of resources on my Pinterest board.  I am going to narrow them down to a few that we might actually use.

Tapestry of Grace Ancient India Resources

Use comic strip "Big squares with story line" to illustrate each of the Vedas
Use a ladder or up-flowing sheet to show the Caste system
Use 5th comic strip in second set to draw or paste a picture of Buddha, then write a description and describe the 4 nobel truths in the 4 surrounding boxes
Use comic strip #9 in second set to paste pictures & write a description of the Hindu Trinity
 Do you have any resources to add to the list? Leave a comment!
This post was written by Janeen from


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tales of a Homeschool Nothing ~ 2013 - 2014 Curriculum

Hello out there in blogger world! Are you soaking up the sun every chance you get just as I am?

With all of this glorious hot weather & these lazy pool days, I really don't want to start thinking about school. But C'est la vie. Think, I do & plan, I must soon.

So let's talk about what curriculum choices we will be using for the upcoming year.

 Let's start with the obvious here. This will be our 4th year with Tapestry of Grace & Story of the World. Do you KNOW what that means? (come on history cycle users, help me out here...) I DON'T HAVE TO BUY HISTORY ANYMORE!!! **happy dance**

That's right TOG is on a 4 year cycle. So next year I start back with teaching year 2 (which I have already purchased!) Oh, don't worry, I'm sure I will find something to use that , um, extra money on.

We love using TOG. I even found the Pop Quiz CDs at The Homeschool Gathering Place while we were in Raleigh last week. WE have also been blessed to be able to get copies of SOTW on CD. This is a great alternative to me having to read everything!

We will continue memorizing important events in history with the timeline cards by Veritas Press. This is a fun way for the kids (& myself) to remember those events. And you WILL be amazed at how much they learn!

Since we are studying Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, & Bible Times, I picked up a few art books to go along with it. Draw and Write Through History is filled with art lessons, information, & copywork. They have 6 different books that cover the different eras through out history.

The next easy choice was science. We LOVE Apologia Science. It is one of the few Creationist curriculums out there. I let the kids choose between swimming creatures & land animals this year. They were both good choices, but swimming had my vote as well.

I don't personally use the notebooks. Austin hated it the first year & Makenzie really isn't old enough for it yet.

Hold up! Before you ask. Yes, this is the same Latin that we used last year. Unfortunately Latin wasn't a priority for us last year, so we didn't learn much. Oh well. Let's try it again.

Austin will continue using Teaching Textbooks this year. He still has some of 6 to complete, then he will start on 7. Makenzie will work on Horizons 2. We have never used Horizons before, so we will see how this goes.

We will go back to Easy Grammar with Austin. Learning Language Arts Through Literature just wasn't working for us. He will finish Daily Grams 5 because I didn't enough difference in the 5 & 6 books. Besides he still had plenty of lessons left in 5 to complete.

He will also complete the second half of Jump In by Apologia. This is meant to last over 2 years. I am sort of on the fence with this one. I haven't seen much improvement in his writing this year, but I hate to just give up. I am still praying about Institute for Excellence in Writing's Bible Based Lessons. We tried IEW a few years ago, but he resisted so much. It was our first year homeschooling & I was really trying to pick my battles. IEW was not one I chose to fight over, so we dropped it. I wonder now if he really disliked it, disliked writing in general, or was just pushing my buttons. I don't have a clear answer yet, but I can't get it out of my head, so don't be surprised if we switch to that.

He is also using Wordly Wise 300 again this year. Last year was the first time we used it and he didn't fight it much, so that's a good thing!

Makenzie will be using All About Spelling & All About Reading this year. These are both BRAND NEW to her & me too! (I'm scared! They look so intimidating!) She is still struggling to read, so pray for us both!!

Austin has used Explode the Code before & enjoyed it so I thought I would try it with her this year. They even have an online version that I need to look into.

I have a generic 2nd grade work book for her. She seems to like those. I also found an easy writing curriculum to introduce her to the concept.

So, there you have it in a nutshell.

Planning for Tapestry of Grace Year 1

This is our first year using TOG and I am super excited to have found this program. It is so thorough and engaging for the entire family. The book selections are fantastic! They are colorful and entertaining and hold my boys attention longer than 5 minutes. I have one boy in Upper Grammar, one in Dialectic and one in preschool that will listen along with us.

As a new user of TOG, I feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of papers involved. I am one of those people that reads everything and then writes notes and reads again. Good thing I love history or I would drive myself insane. I made myself a Key Discussion Outline so that I can take notes as I read. I keep this in front of my Master Binder so that I can glance at it as needed.

key discussion outline
TOG Key Discussion Outline


 Tapestry of Grace Master Binder

This is my working binder and where I keep all of the papers I need for the weekly lessons.
Tapestry of Grace Y1 Planning

1) I take the entire weeks section from my big binder and transfer it to my working binder.

2) Book list.

3) This section contains the weeks vocabulary words and our review cards. I type all of the vocab words into Quizlet then print out and stick a copy in my binder and each of the boys binders. For our review work, I select 4-5 things that I want them to remember and we paste the info onto index cards. The boys review these each week and we use them for review games.

4) Reading List - I highlight each boys reading selections in different colors and make notes about any corresponding notebook pages to complete.

5) Writing List - I highlight the weeks writing assignment for my UG son.

6) This is the glossary that I printed from the Loom CD. It has all of the vocabulary definitions and gives descriptions about the important people.

7) Notebooking Pages - this section holds my Table of Contents for my notebooking pages from History Scribe and so that I can quickly scan for narrations.

8) Evaluations and Tests - I place copies of these for the entire unit and pull out as needed.

9) Maps - this section holds all of the maps, both blank and answers, for the entire unit. I pull them out at the beginning of each week and add to the boys binders.

That is my TOG Master Binder and for now, it is working great. But this is our first year, so I am sure it will be tweaked as we go along!



Organizing the Boys Tapestry of Grace Binders

We have always used binders for our history work and as much as I love the bound notebooks that a lot of others are making, I feel the boys will do better if I keep it consistent and stick with what has been working for us. So here is a look at how I organize our Tapestry notebooks.
TOG Boys Binders

I place their student assignment page at the front of the binder.
TOG Boys Binders SAP
The next tab contains the notebooking pages that they use for narrations. I place these in there as needed for the lesson.
TOG Boys Binders narrations
The maps are next. I place the student geography sheet opposite the map so they can see them side by side.
TOG Boys Binders maps
The vocabulary section comes next. I print the vocab from Quizlet and then we review these orally every day.
TOG Boys Binders vocab
This section contains their projects. I add a copy of the activity sheet and highlight their choice. If the finished project isn't on paper, then we take a picture of it and put it here.
TOG Boys Binders projects
This tab is for the Review Cards. After I pick the things we will memorize and review, I print out pictures for them to paste on an index card and they write a short summary.
TOG Boys Binders review cards
The last section is for the timeline. They have a binder timeline for them to use individually and be creative with. I also print timeline figures for them to cut and paste to our wall timeline or their binder timeline.
TOG Boys Binders Timeline

And that concludes this weeks lesson on the TOG binders :)

My goal is to plan one unit at a time. I will use my discussion outline to plan out the week in detail and then make all of my needed copies at once. I put the current week into the binders and file the other copies in my crate, which holds my folders that are labeled from weeks 1 - 32.

This post is written by Janeen from

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Unit Celebrations

One of my favorite things about Tapestry of Grace is participating in the Unit Celebrations.  My children always look forward to preparing for these celebrations and they have become a memory maker for the whole family.

I have to say, I haven’t always been faithful in getting them done each unit but those that I have gone the extra effort to make happen have been well worth it.

Now that we are part of a Tapestry of Grace Co-Op, getting unit celebrations done require a lot of planning and scheduling so that all families can participate in them.  We have discovered that this gives the dads of our Co-Op an opportunity to see all the hard work the kiddos put into the year.  This year, we accomplished one big unit celebration following Year 4 Units 1, 2 & 3. 

This unit celebration was in May.  We set up tables in my living room, one per family.  Each family brought their favorite projects and books from throughout the year and displayed them proudly on the tables.  This gave the dads  (and other family members) the opportunity to browse through all the kid’s work.

We always start our co-op off with the Pledge of Allegiance and Prayer time.  So, we start our unit celebration out the same way.  

Then we have opening time.  While not part of Tapestry of Grace, in our co-op we have an opening ceremony time each Friday before co-op.  The last unit, our opening teacher focused on teaching the children to use an Evangecube.  To show the family, each of our kids was assigned a portion of the Evangecube and shared it with those at our celebration.

Next, each of the kids picked their favorite project or paper from the year and shared it or read it aloud to everyone attending.  My oldest, who is a dialectic student, chose her World War 1 display board and U-Boat clay project.  My son, who is an upper grammar student, read his state paper from Writing Aids.  His state was California.  My youngest, a lower grammar student, also chose her state paper from Writing Aids.  She wrote about Georgia.  She was proud to show off her picture posing with Mark Hall from Casting Crowns – a famous person from Georgia!

In Co-Op, we had an hour just for “art” – using Atelier Art.  In my patio, we set up an art gallery showcasing this year’s art projects.  The dads and other siblings enjoyed browsing through the various art projects.  

Finally, we topped off the unit celebration with cake and a pool party.

When co-op resumes in August, we still have Unit 4 of Year 4 to finish.  My co-leader and I planned out the whole year and built in the unit celebrations.  Here is what we have lined up for next year:

Year 4 Unit 4 – Trip to the Kennedy Space Center in September.  The kids will bring a few things to share once at the KSC but most of the day will focus on the attractions at KSC.

Year 1 Unit 1 – In December, before Christmas, we will have a Seder Meal.  This will probably be at one of our homes and will allow the kids an opportunity to bring projects to share after the meal is over.

Year 1 Unit 2 – We will have dinner at a local Greek restaurant and then meet at one of our homes for some desserts and a time to share projects.

Year 1 Unit 3 – This will be a fun afternoon.  We plan to complete the Greek Play assigned and perform for everyone attending.  In addition, we will design and present an Olympic Games for the co-op children.

Unit Celebrations are really a great way to cap off what was learned in a unit.  They are so worth the effort!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Whole New World....for us!

    Nearly three years ago I attended my first homeschool convention and I learned about Tapestry of Grace.  I had a four year old at home.  My little Katie was ahead, but I knew she wasn't ready for a massive curriculum like Tapestry.  The more I read online about it the more I fell in love with it.  I hated history as a kid.  It was not relevant or interesting.  I found it boring and dull.  As an adult I have a completely different view of history.  Teaching my child history and paralleling it with the Bible is exactly what I want.  It gives history purpose and value.  It gives the Bible validity in this lost world.  Tapestry of Grace is a beautiful way to introduce history to my daughter.  I'm so excited to learn right along side her.  One day my son will join us too!

Last year my son was born.

Now having a new baby may not slow you down, but it slowed me down.  As I looked towards the fall of 2012 I just wasn't confident I could do a whole lot more than language arts, math, light social studies and science readers, and a foreign language.  Although busy, the year was successful and I started dreaming of what was next.  I started researching.  Type in homeschool curriculum in your internet search bar.... Yeah you will be looking at curriculum for hours and be even more confused by the time you finish.  Homeschool conventions are similar.  Lost in a sea of oooh's and ahhhh's.  It is truly exhausting.

    So, how do you choose curriculum? Well, think about your style, your philosophy of education for your home, and your kids.  What are their ages? How much time DO you have? If you have several kids and very little time I bet TOG would work for you!  If you have a few kids and plenty of time I think it would work for you too!  I know there are folks out there just couldn't use the program and maybe it's my newbieness (Ha, a new word!)  BUT, come on!  This curriculum is so rich and deep.  I realize that I will have to read the teacher's notes and plan out my weeks, but no matter what I use I have to plan.  Right? Right!  Why not plan an amazing year? I look at Tapestry of Grace and see the big picture.  Lord willing, my kids will go through the program 2 or 3 full rotations.  In the end, I hope to  have kids with a solid foundation in history, geography, literature and the Bible.  They will know how to accurately and competently communicate historical facts and biblical truth after going this curriculum. Will this come easy? No.  It will not be easy for them and it won't be easy for me.  My heart longs for them to be successful.  I'm fully committed.  This is a season.  A short season, where I have the honor of setting the stage and building a firm foundation for my kids.

    A friend of mine just can't get past the scary planning part of Tapestry.  I'm grateful that she has found curriculum that will work great for her family.  We've struggled with this next step in our homeschool journey as friends.  We enjoy our girls doing similar things, but at some point you really have to do what speaks to you.  There are SO many programs out there I really don't see how you could go wrong.  Unless you pick what your friend is doing and that curriculum doesn't work for you and your family.  We need to trust God to lead us as we make these choices.  Then trust that He has a plan and will accomplish it this year in your family.

    Let me assume you are on the fence about TOG and you need a push one way or the other.  I can't tell you what will work or guarantee that TOG is your perfect fit.  However, let me ease your mind.  You will get teacher's notes each week that tells you all the wonderful things you "could" do.  There are books, maps, writing assignments, lapbooks, and projects.  You get to customize what you do.  This is where the planning part comes into play.  You can't just open a book and go.  You must thoughtfully choose what you want to do and can do each week.  There is just not enough time to do it all.  Cycling through the years should ease your mind a bit too.  Your child will see this information again!

    My planning has been so exciting.  I'd like to explain what I have done so far and I pray that it will help you....

    First things first, I purchased and printed from my DE version of TOG.  I printed only the pages I needed for my teacher notes.  I started with the first 9 week unit.  I also printed the quick guides and any other helpful documents.  I put all these pages in a binder for quick reference.  When I have time I pull it out and read a few pages.  Learning along with my daughter looks like so much fun!  Seriously, you'd think I was about to start school!

    Next, I skimmed over the books for unit one at Bookshelf Central.  There are a lot of fabulous and intriguing books.  I checked the library to find out which books they did NOT have.  Then I compared online prices and bought some books.  I decided to purchase books we would use for more than 2 weeks.  I think about half of the books should be available at our library.

Recently, I printed the maps we will use.  I just purchased a ProClick Binder and soon I will be able to make a TOG notebook for my daughter and a planning book for myself.  That is my next step.

   Starting Tapestry next month has consumed me.  I am just SO excited!  Join me on this journey.  I intend to share authentically about our first year.  Perhaps like me you want to start this in a year or two.  I hope you can learn from my experiences.

Planning Your Student Notebooks

Although this is my second post, let me introduce myself!   I'm Kristi, and I have 6 children, age 12, 10, 6, 3, 3, and 2.  This is our second go-round with Tapestry of Grace Year 1.  We did it a couple of years ago, but circumstances forced us to leave TOG, sadly.  Things have settled somewhat for us, though, and my daughter begged me to return to Tapestry this year.  When a kid BEGS you for a certain curriculum, I would suggest sitting up and taking notice!  So I did, and here we are!  Since she particularly wanted to study Ancients, we just started the cycle over again with Year 1, and we're so excited about the upcoming year!  Today, I'm going to show you how I put together our Student Notebooks for this year.  This year, we'll have students in Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, and Dialectic.

Now, there are a few ways to do your student notebooks.  In the past, I used three ring binders, and basically followed the instructions laid out at Tapestry of Grace and in the Teacher Training DVDs (HIGHLY recommended, by the way!!).  They worked, and worked well.  But, now we have many more little ones to contend with, and that just wasn't going to work for us.  Besides, I got my super cool new binding tool, so I wanted to play with that. :D

((NOTE:  Some of these pictures uploaded upside down for some strange reason.  I'm working on getting them fixed, but in the meantime, this still gives you a pretty good overview of how we're appproaching our Notebooks this year.))

This works much better for us, because there's no paperwork to get lost all over the house.  Everything is bound together, in one place, and all they have to do is switch to the next thing.

Upper Grammar Notebook
Grammar Binder, Maps and SAPs.  That's all these binders have in them. 

For my Lower and Upper Grammar books, the process was pretty simple.  I just downloaded the Student Activity Pages (blue pages, located in your curriculum, or on the Loom), and the maps.  I love Map Aids, so that's what we use.  Then, I printed them off, week by week.  Being Type A, I tried not to waste paper or space, so everything's duplex printed.  It was very easy to do.  Then, I added a cover and back, and binded them.  My binding tool is a Pro Click Binding tool, and you can get them on Amazon, or at most office supply stores that I've seen.  I haven't put together their planning notebooks yet, but they'll both just sit with me and plan off of my DE, since they're not ready to start being that independent yet, anyway.  Their Student Planners also work for our family for keeping track of reading lists, activities, and many different things, which is one reason I keep them separate.

My Dialectic Student's binder is a little more involved.  She IS ready to be more independent in her planning, so I printed off the Threads (purple pages), the Reading Schedule (yellow sheets), her SAP's (blue pages), and her maps.  She will be doing a transparency project, but it's going to be it's own separate notebook, and isn't included with this one.

Dialectic Binder, with Threads and Reading pages
Dialectic Binder--Threads and Reading pages

Dialectic Binder with Reading Pages and SAP
Reading pages and SAPs

Dialectic Binder with SAPs and Maps
SAPs and Maps

I put the threads first, then the reading pages.  This is so she can open up and get a good overview for what's going on every week.  Then, I put in her SAPs, and finally the maps.  Afterwards, I added the cover and backing, and binded them up.  Again, she'll have her own separate Student Planner.

Kaitlyn will also have a binder for her Transparency Project, and I'll be adding a post showing how we do that in the near future.  In the meantime, we hope you enjoyed this peek at our system!

Kristi is the homeschooling mom of 6, from 12 down to 2.  Currently, she's using Year 1, and has a Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, and Dialectic student.  You can see her blog about the rest of their school days at The Potter's Hand Academy.  You can find Kristi on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and Instagram.