Hands down, one of the best choices we made was using Tapestry of Grace.
I don’t think Tapestry is necessarily the best choice for every family. I chose it for the following reasons:
- I think history is important. I want our children to be well grounded in both world history and church / biblical history.
- I wanted a cross-curriculum that would allow me to educate my children together for many subjects. Actually, the only subject we didn’t cover together was math.
- I wanted a curriculum that emphasized living books rather than textbooks and workbooks.
- I wanted structure – with a lot of flexibility – I’m kind of a control freak with absolutely no previous education regarding history (unless you count the odd high school literature book like Return to Manzanar).
- I wanted our geography, literature, biographies, church history, worldview, Bible, writing and art to coordinate with the history we were covering that week.
- I wanted a heavy emphasis on worldview / philosophy at the high school level.
- I like the four year cycle of history, but I also like the idea of unit studies.
- I wanted our curriculum to be academic. I want whatever I teach our children to prepare them for the future that God choose for them. I don’t want to limit that with the education I choose for them. I decided Classical education fits our ideals best. My husband and I spent a lot of time researching and deciding on Classical.
- I wanted the freedom to move our children up or down a level. In first and second grade, they did Upper Grammar work, but occassionally we pulled from the Dialectic level in Bible, and we often read the Lower Grammar books to supplement.
- I enjoy hunting for materials. I love planning. I like to supplement and add in my own touches. (However, if you just want to start the year with the necessary books already purchased, Tapestry’s Bookshelf Central has the primary books available for easy purchase.)
- I wanted to choose my own math, science and language arts programs. (Tapestry does cover writing, literature and some of the history of science and math).
I found Tapestry of Grace fit the bill on every item I was looking for. The boys and I thoroughly enjoyed our first year of study together. Because I moved them to Upper Grammar a few years early, I read most of the books aloud. They read the literature books either to me or silently to themselves. We loved cuddling on the couch together and reading. During our readings on the great men of Rome, they had mock battles in the front yard while I read.
This year, I didn’t do much planning in advance, save reserving the necessary books from the library interloan system and purchasing the few that I wanted to own. I mapped out about six weeks in advance, gathered our art supplies and went forward. I did find that some weeks were a little uneven. Some of the ancient history is not well represented at the Upper Grammar (grade 3-5) level in history or literature. For those weeks (such as our study of Mesopotamia), Tapestry used primarily the Bible. Because Upper Grammar uses a children’s Bible, we bounced up to Dialectic on those weeks and listened to a dramatized audio Old Testament. Some weeks, the history and literature were bountiful, but Bible, worldview and Church history were lacking. I decided that with advance planning, I could smooth out some of those issues for myself. Also, I didn’t read many of the teacher’s pages. Instead, I just spent time reading the books with the kids.
For Year 2, I planned the entire year in advance. I am excited about all the resources available to study the Middle Ages, Reformation / Renaissance, Exploration / Colonization and Revolutions. Next year, I plan to read the teacher pages in advance each week. I think they are full of incredible information and will give me the ability to converse intelligently about the subject we’re studying.
For literature this year, I had the boys alternate between the literature selection and a free-read book (so we could share one lit book). For next year, I chose two lit books each week for them to share. I had a lot of fun choosing! My friend introduced me to Christine Miller’s All Through The Ages. What a marvelous book! It has lists of books separated by history periods, grade levels and type of book (ie. Specific Events, Biographies, Historical Literature). I’ve been using All Through the Ages to shop for books (I love searching for treasures at the $.25 and $.50 books stores). Tapestry of Grace also lists supplementary literature selections, so sometimes I used those as well.
For Church history next year, I added Mindy and Brandon Withrow’s History Lives Church history series. What a wonderful set of books! We used the first book, Peril and Peace in Year 1. I’m in love. I’ll review them in a separate post later. I think Tapestry’s Church history for UG Year 2 was sufficient, but I’m much happier with our plan with the addition of the Withrow’s series.
For Bible, I decided to have the kids read the New Testament. We covered 19 books of the Old Testament in Year 1, but Year 2 focuses primarily on Church history. We’ll be reading 2 chapters together, 4 days a week. That will take us from Matthew through Revelation in about 34 weeks.
For everything else, I’m going with Tapestry’s curriculum as laid out. As we get closer, I’ll choose the specific art projects we want to do.
At this point, I’m sold on Tapestry of Grace. We plan to use the curriculum all the way through high school (0nly two more to buy… yea!). If my list of ‘wants’ looks a lot like yours, I’d encourage you to check out this wonderful teaching aid.
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, Clubhouse Jr. and Thriving Family; Upper Room Ministries’ Pockets and Devozine; CBH Ministries’ Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey. Her work also appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.