Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tapestry of Grace

Tapestry of Grace is a Christian multi-level curriculum designed for your whole family to be able to use together. It is Classical in nature and follows the four year history rotation. This chronological study of history is the basis for the unit study approach used by Tapestry.

Tapestry includes lesson plans and discussion outlines for Grades K-12. Your entire family would study the same historical time period, with books and activities applicable to their grade level. The lesson plans are divided by week, rather than by day, and begin with the "Threads" page. These pages list teaching objectives for the week. This is followed by Reading Assignments, which are divided across the page by level. These are then in divisions down the page. Sections include History:Core, History: In-depth, Literature, Fine Arts and Activities, Worldview, Textbooks, History Supplement, and General Enrichment and Reference. They also state for you which books are considered to be Primary Resources and which are Alternate or Extra Resources. This is a nice addition if you are unable to find a certain book or you simply have a student who can't get enough of a particular topic.

The lesson plans continue with an Overview section, which suggests vocabulary words, geography, timeline activities, Fine Arts and other hands on or group activities. This is followed by Writing Assignments, again divided by level. General Information pages and Activity Instructions follow. There are also Student Worksheets and Discussion Questions. Teacher's Notes conclude the week, along with a glimpse into what's coming next week. As you can probably tell, this is a full curriculum.

As it follows a Classical approach, the grade levels follow "stages not ages". There are four learning levels; Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric. Lower Grammar would be your non-fluent reader, could be Kindergarten through Third Grade. Your independent readers who are more concrete thinkers would be considered Upper Grammar. Typically this would be about grades three through six. Dialectic learners now read to learn and are usually middle school age, grades six through nine. Once they hit High School they would be considered Rhetoric learners and are ready to analyze and dig deeper into ideas and philosophies. This curriculum follows these four levels, with all assignments divided by their learning level.

The Classical method also often includes a four year rotation of history. Tapestry embraces this and, if you used Tapestry all the way through, your students would rotate through history three times. Obviously, each time would bring more and more understanding and depth to their studies. I know I learn more as a homeschool mom, even though I may studied these same subjects in school.

The four years of Tapestry bring you from Creation through September 11th. Year One of Tapestry covers "The History of Redemption", Creation to the Fall of Rome. Year Two continues with "Between Ancient and Modern", Byzantium to the United States Constitution. Year Three is "The 19th Century" and covers from Napoleon to Teddy Roosevelt. And Year Four concludes with "The 20th Century", from Teddy Roosevelt to September 11th.

Tapestry is a unit study program based on a chronological study of history. It covers history, church history, literature, geography, fine arts, government, philosophy, writing, and composition. As with most unit study programs, it does not include phonics, math, grammar/spelling, science or foreign language.

This is a rich curriculum. It is academically heavy but still full of great discussion materials and yummy books. I had heard of Tapestry before but not checked it out for myself. The opinions I'd heard in the past were mixed; some friends absolutely adore Tapestry and others found it too overwhelming. After looking at it myself I can understand both points of view. There is a lot of information provided for you. It is large and somewhat overwhelming at first glance but I was surprised that I found it rather easy to use once I sat down and spent a little time.

The discussion guide was what I found most exciting. If you enjoy getting into deep philosophical discussions with your children, this program is for you. I also liked the way it was scheduled by week. This seemed like it would be helpful in training your children to organize their time. I can see how this would be an answer to prayer for large families (like mine) who desire to teach everyone together. I don't think I would recommend this curriculum to those with only Lower Grammar children, but think it worth checking into if you have older children or older and younger.

I received the Digital Edition, Unit One of Year One. This was just too difficult for me to maneuver. I couldn't wrap my brain around while it sat as pages in my computer. Thankfully, I have a friend currently using Year One of Tapestry and she was finished with Unit One. She loaned me her print version and suddenly the clouds broke and the sun was shining and all was right with the world. I would NOT recommend the Digital Edition for those who are new to Tapestry unless you plan to print it. However, it may be a great option for those who are familiar with Tapestry, as you can just print off what you need. I'm sure those who already use the program would be more qualified to make that call.

Tapestry of Grace is available in print and digital. The print version is $225 for the full year or $60 each if you purchase the units separately. The digital edition is $170 for the year or $45 per unit. It seemed expensive to me at first but once I realized that this is for all grades and is meant to be reused every four years, the cost didn't seem as significant.

If Tapestry sounds like it may be a fit for your family, you can try a three week sample for free. They'll let you download the first three weeks of Year One Unit One. This would be a great way to discover if this will work for you. I love free samples! I would also suggest reading through the web site, especially their Exploring TOG page. It's very helpful in grasping the depth of this curriculum.


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