The Curriculum Choice

April 25, 2009

Review of Tapestry of Grace

Filed under: classical, Curriculum choices, history, Literature, Written by Kristen — Kristen @ 6:12 pm

What is Tapestry of Grace?

Tapestry of Grace is a Christian, classical, history-focused, multi-disciplinary, unit-study curriculum for the entire family.

Christian

Christ is the central focus of this curriculum. Tapestry of Grace presents the history of the world showing that history truly is His Story. Christ, His coming, and His sovereignty are woven throughout the threads of this comprehensive curriculum. I should mention however, that the curriculum makes use of many secular resources.

Classical

Tapestry of Grace uses the classical model of the Trivium for instruction.The assignments are divided into Grammar (Lower and Upper), Dialectic, and Rhetoric levels. In the dialectic and rhetoric levels there is an emphasis on reading many of the “classic”  works.

History-Focused

Tapestry studies the history of the world chronologically and all the other subjects are studied within their historical context.

Multi-Disciplinary

Tapestry of Grace includes assignments in history, literature, Bible, worldview, geography, government, philosophy, art appreciation, hands-on activities, and composition.

Unit-Study

Each year of Tapestry of Grace (there are 4 total) is broken down into 4 units. These units are history related and within each unit are assignments in the before-mentioned disciplines.

For All Ages

Tapestry of Grace can be used for all your school-aged children at once. Not only that, but there are extensive teacher’s notes for mom to learn as well. They even have a special summary CD for dads called the Pop Quiz.(not included in the year plans) The unit celebrations are intended to be shared with the entire family, or even extended family and friends.

How does Tapestry of Grace work?

There are four different year plans in Tapestry of Grace.

Year 1: The History of Redemption: From Creation to the Fall of Rome

Year 2: Between Ancient and Modern: From Byzantium to the United States Constitution

Year 3: The 19th Century: From Napoleon to Teddy Roosevelt

Year 4: The 20th Century: From Teddy Roosevelt to September 11th (Coming soon)

The program is designed so that a student completes each year plan and then begins the rotation again, studying the same topics again at a higher level.  It is not necessary to begin at Year 1.

Each year plan has four units with nine weeks per unit. The introduction of each unit begins with a summary of the history included in the unit, and an explanation of how the unit fits in with previous history studies. It outlines the scope of the unit and provides some general information about the topics that will be studied. Also included are ideas for a unit celebration. These unit celebrations provide an opportunity for a compilation of everything studied in the unit to be displayed and presented. Unit 1 of each year plan also contains a guide to help users get started with Tapestry.

Following the unit introduction are the week plans. There are nine weeks in each unit, for a total of 36 weeks of study in each year plan. Each week’s plan is divided into several sections.

  1. Threads – These are the weekly learning objectives for each of the subjects studied in Tapestry of Grace. The objectives are divided by subject and level. (1 – 2 pages)
  2. Reading Assignments – These sheets give the assigned readings for all the threads and levels for the entire week. The scheduling of the reading is flexible, and will vary between families and from week to week within a family. There is one page of primary resources and one page for alternate and extra resources. The alternate resources provide additional flexibility to the program. (2 pages)
  3. Weekly Overview – These pages include vocabulary words, people to know, time-line dates, activities, and geography activities for the week. (2 pages)
  4. Writing Assignments – There are 12 different levels of composition assignments. These assignments are usually related to the history lessons that week. (3 pages)
  5. Student Activity Pages – These pages are designed to be used by the student. They contain questions about the history and Bible reading for the week, as well as geography assignments and suggested activities. There are often separate literature assignment sheets. These are usually about 2-3 pages for both the lower grammar and upper grammar sections, and longer for the dialectic and rhetoric levels. These pages are conveniently color-coded in the corners by level for easy identification.(Length varies – Year 3 Unit 1 Week 1 has 14 pages)
  6. Teacher’s Notes – This section is usually the longest section of the week. It contains articles with background information for the topics studied in the week. In addition, it contains the answers to the literature worksheets and the discussion questions. One of the most impressive portions of this section, and perhaps of the entire curriculum, are the discussion outlines to be used with dialectic and rhetoric students. (Length varies – Y3U1Wk1 -14 pages)
  7. Glance into next week –  This handy page lists things the parent should be aware of in the upcoming reading assignments. It sometimes includes budget-stretching suggestions for combining students of different levels into one text. (1 page)

What do I like the most about Tapestry of Grace?

  • Multi-level teaching – I love being able to teach all my children at once. Right now, it is not as hard to do, because my youngest is only 2-1/2 and not in school. But as I look ahead, I see the value in being able to have the entire family studying the same history topics when my children are in, for example, 9th, 7th, 5th, and 1st grades,
  • Non-consumable and reusable – Tapestry of Grace is more than the typical non-consumable curriculum that can be passed down to younger siblings. It can be reused by the same students, as well as being passed down to younger siblings. I can conceivably use each of the Tapestry of Grace year plans four times!
  • Unit-study approach – I love how so many subjects are covered in Tapestry of Grace. I love to add in projects and writing assignments that go with our history studies. Also, understanding the Bible in its historical context is invaluable.
  • Flexibility – There are so many ideas and resources listed each week, that it would be impossible to do them all, so I can pick which ones are best for my family. I have the ability to schedule the reading as well. Many of the suggested books are available from the library and often there are easy substitutions for those that are not.
  • Product Support – The customer support at Tapestry of Grace is excellent. They have promptly answered questions and provided help. There is a user’s forum at the Tapestry website, as well as very active Yahoo groups for general and year specific support.

What are some specific topics?

I received Year 3 Unit 1 Digital Edition to review. In addition I received the corresponding Map Aids. The unit is entitled Napoleon’s World. The 9 weeks are:

  1. When John Adams was President
  2. Napoleon: The Man and His Career
  3. Early Industrial Revolution
  4. Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase
  5. Jefferson and the Supreme Court
  6. Madison and the War of 1812
  7. Reshaping Europe and South America
  8. South America in Transition
  9. Monroe and the American Hemisphere

I love the literature selections for this unit. One of my very favorite books, Pride and Prejudice is studied for four weeks of the unit by the rhetoric students. One of the dialectic books is Frankenstein and the Swiss Family Robinson is included for upper grammar. You can search and see the recommended books for any of the units or the entire year plan at www.bookshelfcentral.com. The searches are quick and easy. You can even copy the results to a spreadsheet so you can sort them by level or subject.

There are some great activity suggestions for this unit. Lower Grammar Students can write with a quill pen, make a water wheel out of Legos, make a silhouette, and practice counting money. Upper Grammar students spend much of the unit on an invention product and learning about the branches of American government, including preparing a Supreme Court scrapbook. Dialectic and Rhetoric students make a display board with major Napoleonic figures and an inventor project, as well as building models of the Supreme Court Building and the Arc de Triumph. All levels listen to violin music, learn how to cook food from South America, study the Star Spangled Banner, and learn proper etiquette concerning the American flag.

The Map Aids are a tremendous time saver. They include black-line maps specific for each week. You don’t have to worry about finding maps, just print them out and go.

What about the Digital Edition?

I have been using a print copy of Tapestry for this school year. The unit that I received to review was the digital edition (DE). The download was easy. I find the DE easy to navigate and it has a very convenient search feature that allows you to use your computer to search instead of flipping through hundreds of pages trying to find something you know is in there. I like the fact that the DE saves space. Each unit of Tapestry of Grace fills up a 2″ binder. Storing 16 total binders for all the year plans might have been a problem. One important thing to note is that the digital license does NOT allow the DE version to be resold. I personally find the DE a very convenient format for Tapestry of Grace. I would not print out very many of the pages so I don’t think that increased printing costs will be an issue for us.

How much does Tapestry of Grace Cost?

There are several different ways to purchase Tapestry of Grace. All purchases are made directly from the Tapestry of Grace Store.

  • One year plan – printed = $225 + shipping
  • One year plan – digital =  $170
  • One year plan – digital + print = $270 + shipping
  • One year bonus bundle – digital = $250
  • One year bonus bundle – print only = $295 + shipping

* Bonus bundles include entire unit, the Loom, and Map Aids, plus your choice of a bonus option (Writing Aids, Complete year lapbook kits, complete year evaluations,  or complete year Pop Quiz) and a bonus item (one level of evaluations, one unit lapbook kit, or one unit Pop Quiz.)

The units are also available individually.

  • One unit digital = $45
  • One unit digital + printed = $76.40 + shipping
  • One unit printed = $60 + shipping

The stand-alone printed versions are not currently available for all the year plans. Be sure to check the store for the unit you are interested in to see what is available.

Bookshelf Central provides the resource books for Tapestry of Grace plus suggested grammar and spelling curricula. The books are also available from major book retailers. In addition, many of the books are available through the library or can purchased used.

Conclusion

I love Tapestry of Grace for my family and plan to use it for a very long time! I think it provides the framework to provide my children with an excellent understanding of history and God’s sovereign hand in history. If Tapestry of Grace sounds like something your family would like, be sure to go to their website to download their free samples. You can see the layout of the program and try out the digital version for yourself.

Written by Kristen

The Curriculum Choice

April 24, 2009

Meet Me At The Corner & Robert Sabuda Pop Up Books: A Review

Filed under: Literature, Written by Kari — snailstrail @ 3:17 am


We got an amazing pop-up book for Christmas from Big Sister Snail (we are known as the snail family at The Snail’s Trail). who is in college. It is called The Chronicles of Narnia Pop Up Book by Robert Sabuda. It is absolutely the best pop-up book I have ever seen. It is so amazing that it stays high up on a shelf and can only be read with Mommy or Daddy Snail. It has become very special to us. Just look at the amazing detail and how big some of the pop-ups are:

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Little Snail loves the ship in the book.
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The pop ups are giant and very detailed. We have spent hours just oohing and ahhing over them.
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Just look at that giant lion! He just leaps off the page!

I was very happy when my friend, Donna Guthrie, told me that there is an interview with Robert Sabuda on her website, Meet Me At The Corner. Check it out (just click here).

The host of this virtual field trip is a little girl. She does an excellent job at interviewing Robert and showing kids how he makes his pop-up books. Our favorite part of this virtual field trip is learning how to make a pop-up card. It has really inspired us! After we watched the virtual field trip, we visited Meet Me At The Corner’s Learning Corner to extend our learning on pop-up books and Robert Sabuda. The site even directed us to Robert Sabuda’s website with directions on how to make more pop-ups (Aslan the lion is on page 2).

We have completely fallen in love with Meet Me At The Corner. This website needs to be added to every homeschoolers list of favorite, most useful, websites.


Meet Me At The Corner, Virtual Field Trips for Kids, is more than just a collection of videos for kids to watch. It is a dynamic, interactive site that allows kids to submit their own individually created videos! Meet Me At The Corner is becoming a community where children can be creative and expressive. As a homeschooling mom, I know that to get my kids to really learn something, I have to make it interactive, hands on, and fun. But most importantly, if I want my kids to really learn something, they have to produce something. With Meet Me At the Corner, The Snails can write, direct, and produce their own educational movies about what they are learning. They even get to use the old video camera! It has really been amazing to see their storytelling come alive. I especially like that the kids can use this as a medium to re-enact the stories that we read and recap the units we have been learning. Of course our videos aren’t near ready to upload to Meet Me At The Corner, but they will be when The Snails get a little older.

The virtual field trips that we “just have to watch over and over again” are:

Meet Me At The Corner makes planning your units, themes, or projects easy because with each video you can get recommended books, websites, activities, downloadable files, and lessons to extend your learning.

I am so happy that my friend, Donna, has created such an amazing resource for kids. Please, visit Meet Me At The Corner for your next field trip. I hope that it inspires the storyteller that is in your child!

Written by Kari

The Curriculum Choice

April 4, 2009

My Father’s World

My Favorite Curriculum

by Korey

When I began homeschooling 3 years ago, I was looking for the perfect curriculum for every subject. In my first year I was so full of new ideas and excitement. I wanted to try everything and boy, did I. I had a separate program for Bible, geography, history, art, art history, music, science,  math, grammar, spelling and and and……….. 

world_view_b2You get the point. I had a lot to cover in one year. It was a perfect recipe for disaster. Did I get it all covered? No way! I had visions of nature studies, studying historical art pieces, reading classic novels and beautifully written pieces of writing but instead I was frustrated that I couldn’t meet up to the standards I had set for myself.

So when the first year of homeschooling was under my belt, I had to rethink my way of homeschooling. As a homeschooling mom, you know what that means. It means hours of looking at catalogs, searching the web, talking to other homeschool moms and even calling many curriculum companies. I was trying to figure a way to get perfect curriculum in all subjects! As I was searching I remembered someone mentioning “My Fathers World”. I had looked at it before but it was one of those pre-package curriculums and that was not what I wanted. I wanted to put together my perfect plan of curriculum on my own BUT I kept going back to “My Fathers World”.  After hours and even weeks of deciding, I purchased this pre-package curriculum. Why would I do what I said I wouldn’t.  I discovered that My Father’s World was the closest thing I could find to my perfect curriculum all in one package. So let me explain why I love it.

First, I love the philosophy of this program and how they put the heart of child first.  That is what drew me to the program first. So let me go through the program and explain how it works. It combines the methods of Charlotte Mason and classical education.

My Father’s World has many one year unit study type programs starting with kindergarten and all way up to the high school years. We started with the Exploring Countries and Cultures program. This program is designed for 2nd-8th graders.

It is a multi-age unit study: The program is designed to be used with more than one child at a time. This is a big time saver! I teach all the subjects together except language arts and math.

Strong international focus: In Exploring Cultures and Countries you visit a country every two weeks. You learn about the country’s geography, ecology, and cultures. You spend time learning about the common religions in each of the countries you study.

Integrated Bible content: In Exploring Countries and Cultures you spend the year reading the book of Matthew and memorizing many verses from Matthew. You read about missionaries from the past and present. You learn what God is doing in other countries and you are shown how you can pray for each country specifically.  It teaches a wonderful biblical worldview.

Geography: You do plenty of map work each week and with that you learn plenty of mapskills. Older students can do research projects as they study each of the continents. You play games to learn the names of all the countries, oceans, capitols, and continents.  You make a passport and you place a flag sticker in your passport as you “travel” to each country. There are hands on activities such as cooking and flag making. You learn new geography terms every week which the student keeps in a journal.

Science : You spend the year studying habitats from all over the world. You spend time taking nature walks and keeping a nature journal.

Reading: There is plenty of living books provided with this program! My Father’s World does something called a reading basket. Everyday the children read books you have selected from the library or have purchased. The books are all related to what you are currently studying such as rain forests. You may have many subjects to chose from some fiction and non-fiction. There is a read alouds included in the program. The read alouds coincide with the country you are studying.  In ECC the read alouds are true stories of missionaries.

Art and Music The program has plenty of art projects based on the countries you are studying. There is also a CD with ethnic music from around the world.

Language Arts, Math and Foreign language : They suggest certain LA and Math programs but you can add whatever you choose.

Now let me tell you the pros of this program: I love how it combines the methods of Charlotte Mason and classical education. It is a perfect mix of both of these philosophies. I love the journaling and the nature studies. The teacher manual is a huge plus. It so well laid out. Each week is laid out on a grid and then additional informational is given for the planned activities. The TM tells you what needs to be photocopied for the week and what extra supplies are needed. The supplies are easy to find items. The TM gives a list of books you can check out at the library or purchase for your reading basket. The TM is so easy to use, generally this program is an open and go. The bible is my favorite portion of the program. I love the memory verses. Easy to do but challenging. I love how it tells you to pray specifically for each country. You learn what challenges missionaries face in the field. I love how you can combine your kids for so many subjects. It turns learning into a family time together.  I love the biblical worldview that is taught throughout the program. The crafts are easy to do and fun. I love how you can chose you own math and LA. The program is designed to be done 5 days a week and Friday is a light day. It can easily be turned into a 4 day week by combining Friday’s plans into other days of the week.

Now let me tell you the cons of this program: I felt the science to be a bit light for my taste. We did add more science to the program. My Father’s World is coming out with an updated version for ECC and it looks like they have added more to the science. You have to be okay with having everything all laid out for you. For me this was a plus since it is done so well. The music was not my favorite, a bit too kiddy for us. In the other programs of MFW the music is done more to my taste with classical music. We felt the read alouds to be a bit dry. We did add some of our own read alouds. If you don’t live near a library with a decent selection of books it would be hard to incorporate the reading basket idea.

My Father’s World is coming out with a new edition of Exploring Countries and Cultures. The science looks improved.  There is less photocopying, and there is a nice supplement you can order for 7-8th graders. 

We are in our second year of My Father’s World. We are presently using the Rome To Reformation program. We are loving this program just as much!  We plan to stay with My Father’s World for the long road maybe even all the way through!

The Curriculum Choice

 

Korey, is our, no twaddle (great books), Charlotte Mason devotee and she homeschools two precious children. Her first-born has already flown the nest, and is away at college. She is also a part-time nurse.  She loves science, spending time with her family and the splendor of the Lord.

March 27, 2009

living books

Filed under: Curriculum choices, Literature, Living books, Written by Brenda — Brenda @ 8:12 pm

Living Books

We use living books for many subjects of our homeschool. I have found, over the years, that literature guides come in handy for me to be able to get the most out of a well-written book (especially if I haven’t read it yet). First of all, let me say that I do not use literature guides all year. Our history curriculum (Tapestry of Grace) keeps us reading a lot of great “living” books every week. I have been blessed to find literature guides for several of our recommended history books, so I save them for when it’s time. When I pick up these guides, I keep them on the shelf in hopes of using about 3 a year. Also, I have found that with having 5 children, and 3 that can read, it keeps them paying attention when we read round-robin style (taking turns). Of course the 7 yr. old doesn’t read as much as the 12 yr. old, but he pays attention waiting diligently for his turn. These books that I am recommending, we have at least 2 copies, sometimes 4, of the book. When we are studying a book together, I like to schedule in an hour of reading time several days a week for 3 weeks. We are often home on the weekends, so weekends are an option, if our school week is packed with other activities.

My favorite study guides are from the following places:

My favorite books, that we have used literature guides for, are here:

Click here to view books.

The Curriculum Choice

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