Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tapestry of Grace....our "main curriculum"

Right....*cracks knuckles, and limbers up for a major ramble*.

Let's get to it.  The main curriculum we use.


So, how did I find it?  We used to use ACE.  I will not go into the why's and wherefore's of why we stopped using that.  We decided it wasn't for us, but I had noooooooo idea where to turn next!!!  I had ALWAYS used ACE, but as much as it was patently NOT suiting us, I didn't know where to start looking for an alternative.  So, I thought about the way the children enjoyed learning.  I thought about the fact that I had 5, going on 6 children at the time.  I considered that cost was an issue.  And, I started looking.

I figured that, having heard about them before, unit studies may be a way for us to go.  I first of all looked into the Weaver curriculum, produced by AOP.  However, I just couldn't find enough detail about it, or examples of it online. (This may have changed now, but when I researched it, just over 2 year ago, this was the case)

I then went onto Cathy Duffy's Review Website, to look at other Unit Study type curricula.  It flagged up Tapestry of Grace.

I clicked on the link.....

And I was thrown into THE most amazing website for a curriculum, that I had found to date!  It was SO transparent. They were happy for you to see and understand EVERYTHING. It allowed me to download 3 weeks of the curriculum, to see what it was like, and get a feel for it.

 There were support forums.  There were people online who answered queries really quickly.  It was bright.   It was interesting.  And, when I downloaded Marcia Sommerville's Philosophy of Education (she wrote the curriculum) it made so much sense.  I cannot seem to easily find this online.  I must ask some fellow users if it available to read!

It is a 4 year, cyclical, multi-level curriculum!  In other words...it runs for 4 years.  Any level and stage of child can be doing it AT THE SAME TIME.  Once you have done the 4 years, you go  back to the beginning, but the child will be at a more advanced learning level, and will use different books, and study it all at a more advanced level.  History is a major backbone, and it runs chronologically.  Being a "Christian" curriculum, it begins in Egypt (as Moses wrote the first 5 books of  the Bible, and HIS life began in Egypt!), and carries on through the Bible times, and then into post-Bible history.  It has LOADS of different fantastic books that they use.  *POINT OF NOTE* - if you don't like to use any non-fiction, and certainly not any myths, legends or "fairy stories", then this is NOT for you! You could try and cut them out, but there are quite a few of them in there!  They DO teach, right at the beginning, what myths, legends and fairy stories ARE, and how you can use them to your benefit.  That aside, I LOVE the choices they use!

It is a "classical approach" to home schooling.  What IS that anyway?...

What is Classical Education?

The core of Classical Education is the trivium, which simply put is a teaching model that seeks to tailor the curriculum subject matter to a child’s cognitive development. The triviumemphasizes concrete thinking and memorization of the facts of the subjects in grade school;analytical thinking and understanding of the subjects in middle school; and abstract thinking and articulation of the subjects in high school. Subjects unique to Classical Education which help accomplish the goals of the trivium are Grammar, the science of language usage; Logic, the science of right thinking; and Rhetoric, the science of verbal and written expression. Classical Christian Education is further characterized by a rich exposure to the history, art, and culture of Western Civilization, including its languages (Latin and Greek), its philosophy and literature (the Great Books of Western Civilization and the Christian tradition), and the development of a Biblical worldview with Theology in its proper place as the Queen of the Sciences.

(from http://www.classical-homeschooling.org )

So, to me, with many children, this approach made sense!  Having seen that different children have a different rate, and way, of learning, I decided this seemed a good way to educate.

Another winning factor for me...was that it is downloadable!  So, no expensive international shipping costs!  A few items DO need to be shipped, but the folks at Lampstand Press were quick and efficient, and overall the cost worked out so well, especially with the exchange rate! *grins, in a frugal, kind of Scottish, way*.  Since originally writing this post, there are more things that are now downloadable, including being able to access the curriculum from your iPad. (You have to get an extra license for that, which only costs an admin fee of $5).

The books that you need to use, are mostly available in the UK.  Many of them I COULD have got in the library, but as I LOVE books, and was still saving so much money, compared to the cost of ACE, I decided just to start buying them for myself.  Most of them have come from www.amazon.co.uk or from the Book Depository (the latter being the cheapest, the last time I bought!).  A few have been unavailable here, but I have just worked around it easily enough, so far!

The other thing to bear in mind...is that is IT American! So, year 2 covers a LOT that is VERY American.  I just supplemented with plenty of British History, whilst still covering the events in the curriculum.  On the whole it has a very broad world-view approach, and recognises that a lot of what has shaped history happened OUTSIDE of the US! ;-)

One of my favourite supplemental books, is....

Is is a great resource, and I love reading it myself!

I also used....

Being a faithful Scot, I didn't want them to miss out, despite them being half Sassenach! (and if you don't know what that is.....google it!)

The main structure is that for every year there are 4 units - each unit has 9 weeks. (For those wanting a longer school year than that, I added in review weeks...)  Your child will study at one of the 4 levels - lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic or Rhetoric. (I now have experience with using the first 3, and by God's grace, and the amazingly supportive community out there, it's slowly working out fine!...).  There is a plan given for each week, with all the possible activities listed and suggested.  YOU then pick and choose what you want to do and what you will leave.  Maybe your child is more of a writer (WHAT is THAT like?!?!), and you will want to do fewer of the "hands on" activities.  Maybe you child learns by doing the "hands on" and you will have less writing.  Maybe your child struggles with reading - read aloud to them!!!  (Mine LOVE being read aloud to, even though the older ones love reading anyway!) WHATEVER YOU DO - do NOT try and do everything!!!!!!  YOU will become worn out - burned out - struggle to keep up.  Certainly, if you try and do it all when you start out.  Then you will want to give up.  But, that is not how it is designed to be used, so just do what suits your family.

I especially found the first year a lot of fun, and very interesting. It was very Bible based, and it tied in so much of the general world history, with what was happening in Bible times and eras.  Fascinating!

Undoubtedly, this is a parent-involved curriculum...and I don't just mean you set the work and mark it.  You need to be more involved than that.  If you don't want to be involved in learning with your child, again, this is not for you!  If, like me, you love to learn TOO, then it will be perfect!!!  I am sure I have learnt more in the last 2 years, than I did in a whole lot of my Primary Years at school!!!

There are just so many ways to learn, with Tapestry of Grace.  You are constantly reading and finding out answers for yourself (well, *I* do, too....but, I meant your child/children!).  There are assignments to go with literature - geography assignments (with maps available to use) - things to make and do - lots of writing suggestions (they have a whole writing program, called Writing Aids ) - discussions - spelling and vocabulary - a whole wealth of resources and links to tie in - and lapbooks, which are a lot of fun!

I have also written a post about the workbooks we now use, which I print and bind.  It makes everything far more organised here, and lets us easily see what the week has in store for each child.

I don't know if I have described it very well! I am sure I have missed things!! But, the best thing for you to do, is see for yourself!!!

If you go to this page, on their website, you can explore the curriculum, and see how it works.

There is also a forum you can go on, to ask questions, which you can find here.

So, there we have it!  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  Better still, look on the site...it will probably answer your question better than I can!

Whatever you use to homeschool, may the Lord bless you today and every day, as you seek to raise your children for His kingdom.


  1. I looked at this briefly and feel I may one day return to it. We are following the classical method of education also which really makes sense to me, but we are only currently teaching one child. When that gets to three I think I mat need something like this!

  2. If there is someone here in the UK that would like to try it....I have a YEAR 1 redesign with loom and map aids that I am willing to sell VERY INEXPENSIVELY (I ended up with 2 copies, plus a classic because of a move!).....I am in the UK so can either ship direct or even deliver if you happen to live close:) Just a thought as it is sitting spare on my shelf.

    Just ask Caroline to contact me direct.

    1. Hi Caroline,

      Has Tami's curriculum gone, do you know? I know it was many years ago, but I was just wondering if she still has it?

      Many thanks,

  3. This would definitely be the way I'd go if I was starting at this stage. When I began, I knew almost nothing - and went with Abeka because it was the only homeschool material I'd heard of. Once I'd bought the materials for our older three, I couldn't justify changing the curriculum when other children has so many 'cast-offs'. Abeka isn't 'bad' , btw, but I *love* the philosophy of the Trivium method of learning.

    Happy Days... :)

  4. Is it more classical? I had heard it was a combination of classical, unit studies, and Charlotte Mason.... Does it have a strong focus on Scripture like Weaver does?

  5. Great post on TOG!!! Thanks for linking up!