The Hidden Treasures of Tapestry of Grace

hidden treasures of tog

Well, moms, it happened to us… we reached a dry place in homeschool.  Has that ever happened to you?  You slowly begin to realize that the sweet moments of enjoying learning together are becoming few and far between.  That family on the couch reading together– that wasn’t us.  Those kids working on projects together–  just in my head.  Those children excited about learning– not my kids.  School was becoming stale and something we just checked off each day.  “Did you do your handwriting?”  Check.  “Is your math paper done?”  Check.  “Let’s read this history lesson.”  Check.  “How many lessons do we have left?”  Check.

c at desk

Of course, I love our checklists.  I love getting things done.  But when it came to school, I was “checking” so much, that we weren’t savoring anything, just trying to finish.  Because, you know, homeschooling is hard.  Juggling four little people and life and lunch and laundry and errands and school, and finding great books to read, and thinking of fun projects, and including all the kids in the learning together, and making it enjoyable, and making it relevant, and showing them Jesus–  it isn’t easy.  (Cold winters don’t help, either!)  Some days, it seems the only way to make it all work is to just check it off.  Make it simple.  Get it done.  But there’s something missing in that.

I want to enjoy the journey.

laughing in leaves

So, mid-year, I decided to try Tapestry of Grace.  Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  I am so thankful.

My job of making learning enjoyable and exciting just got easier.  Check!  My job of finding great books and fun projects– check!  My job of including everyone in the family– check!  My job of spreading an amazing feast before my children and really engaging them– easy!  My job of showing my children the hand of our awesome Lord in everything– done!   Tapestry of Grace makes all of those things that were so hard for me easy.

purim4

Changing our history curriculum mid-year sounded scary to me.  And, let me tell you friends, I am PICKY about history.  My husband and I spread about five different programs out in our living room floor at the end of last summer.  We were making checklists, and charts, comparing pros and cons, trying to decide how to teach our children history this school year.  It turns out, even after all of the work, what we picked just wasn’t working for our family.  Then, I stumbled upon TOG.   I found that I could start off in Tapestry right where we were in our study of history by purchasing just one unit, just to give it a try.  I am SO GLAD THAT I DID!

The following information is from a review at Curriculum Choice:

“Tapestry of Grace is a classical approach, Biblically-based, unit study curriculum for the whole family. Tapestry covers eight subjects. Everyone learning together – each child on their own learning and skill level. Here are the subjects Tapestry covers:

  • History
  • Writing
  • Literature
  • Geography
  • Fine Arts
  • Church History
  • Philosophy
  • Government

So you need to add: Math, Grammar and Science”  and Bible study 🙂

If you’d like to find more about Tapestry of Grace, their website has great videos and helpful pages that you can explore.  You can even download sample week plans to read through and try with your family.  You will realize Tapestry includes some great things…

  • weekly goals and ‘threads’ for the student and teacher (I need this!  With so much you could learn, it’s so nice to have a focus!)
  • books, assignments, and art activities for all ages– elementary through high school
  • weekly teacher notes– so that Mom doesn’t have to read everything the children read but still knows what ‘s going on! 🙂
  • weekly vocabulary and people to know for elementary students
  • writing assignments
  • weekly geography places to know along with maps
  • government and philosophy for older students

I’ve heard Tapestry of Grace compared to a buffet.  A buffet is filled with wonderful things, but you can’t and shouldn’t eat everything!  With Tapestry, each family chooses the activities that interest them.  You can’t and shouldn’t try doing them all!

I found this review from Curriculum Choice very helpful.  You might like to read this review from Cathy Duffy.

The Hidden Treasures of Tapestry of Grace

Are you a mom considering TOG?  Have you somehow stumbled upon this post in your search for TOG information?

What I’d like to tell you about are the hidden treasures of Tapestry of Grace, the wonderful jewels that you might not see when you read reviews or might miss when you visit the website.  These are things that you don’t even realize are there until you use Tapestry of Grace with your family.

1.  Literature, Writing, and More!

This may seem simple or silly, but remember, I am still a new homeschooler.  We are nearing the end of our second year.  When I see “unit study” approach, I think “Ok, this company has added in some books about history, and that’s our literature. They ask students to write a paragraph about Greek pottery, and that ‘counts’ as writing.  We look at a map.  That’s geography.”

That is not the case with Tapestry.  For literature, my children are picking out story elements in their fiction books.  They are comparing story characters with Biblical characters.  They are finding the climax of stories from the Bible.  They are learning literature, the characteristics and features that make up a story.

My children will try several different styles of writing this year and are now working together to write a play.  If you choose to purchase “Writing Aids” TOG includes writing instruction and helps Moms teach writing.  (Tapestry of Grace works really well with notebooking, too!)

As geography study, my children are finding cities and mountains on maps and learning how the land has influenced history.  Mountains can stop empires from expanding. Land features affect war tactics. Soil and resources influence architecture and art.  As Tapestry’s author, Marcia Somerville said (something like) if history is God’s story, HIS story, then geography and the land are the stage on which the story takes place.

2.  Independence

TOG fosters independence.  While we are all learning about the same things and talking about the same things and even doing some projects together, my children are learning a lot independently.  Isn’t that one of our core goals in raising future adults?  This is not a mom-reads-everything unit study.  My 3rd graders are assigned independent reading, and they do it.  And they enjoy it!  🙂  Of course, I am reading aloud some and reading to the littles, but most of the children’s learning is done on their own.

When I put out books for the week, I usually find the children reading more than I’ve assigned.  They want to dig in all own their own!  Then they want to come tell me about the neat things they’ve discovered about history!

Marcia Somerville, Tapestry’s author, even suggests letting children fill out their own checklists for the week with Mom’s guidance.  We haven’t gotten there yet, but doesn’t that sound great?!

3.  Deep Thinking / Biblical World View

I think this closely relates to independence.  I want my children to be THINKERS!  Have you ever tried to picture your young children as teenagers?  I have.  I picture these polite, well-spoken, intelligent young adults who are able to communicate well with others and defend their faith.  They are able to think about issues and form opinions and make connections based upon God’s Word—  BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET FROM HERE TO THERE!  🙂  Tapestry of Grace is the map.  Tapestry includes questions all written out for Mom to lead a discussion.  There are accountability for questions for the kids.  There are questions that make the kids think, questions that I don’t have to come up with on my own.  😉  Of course, the Lord gives us parents opportunities daily for these types of discussions.  Issues arise or questions are asked that lead to great conversations, but I like making them a part of our history study.  I am shaping minds, and that doesn’t happen too well when I’m in “check things off” mode.

4.  Confidence

Do you ever wonder if you’re doing a good job?  Do you wonder if your kids are learning enough?  Tapestry of Grace gives me confidence as a teacher.  Just read numbers 1-3 above!  Knowing I am really teaching more than history alone, fostering independence, and helping my children become thinking adults– that gives me confidence.  That makes this whole homeschooling thing a really wonderful experience for me.

5.  Support

You certainly wouldn’t realize the importance of this one unless you use TOG!  The Lampstand Press/ Tapestry of Grace website has an amazing help center.  You are able to get any questions you have answered thoroughly and quickly!  In the short time we’ve used Tapestry, I’ve had to “open a support ticket” about four times.  I’ve had questions about how to download something, questions about lesson plans, questions about why I couldn’t view files.  Each time I needed help, I got answers very quickly!

books

So, are there things we just check off the list at my house?  You bet!  I am not all that concerned about grammar being interesting or fun.  We just do it.  Math?  It doesn’t have to be all that engaging.   Are there times at my house when homeschool doesn’t look like that pleasant family in my head?  Sure.  Tapestry of Grace, however, has made so many things enjoyable things.  History and the story of God’s hand throughout time should make my kids excited!  It should be something we are all eager to discover together!   It should be something we dig in and spend time in and get our hands dirty in!  Tapestry of Grace has done that for us.

…………….

I know that Tapestry of Grace may not be a good fit for every family, especially if many of your children are very young.   And I hope yours is a homeschooling family that is already enjoying the journey of learning with something that works well for you!  However, if you are still searching for a way to make homeschooling the delightful, satisfying experience we all want it to be, you should check out Tapestry of Grace.  I am very thankful that I did!

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30 thoughts on “The Hidden Treasures of Tapestry of Grace

  1. livingmyportion

    Thank you so much for this post. I often feel like we are just checking things off and not really enjoying, or really learning. Not sure if TOG would work for us but I want to use some of the benefits you listed to begin really praying for my kids.. I pray for them know but just recently I have been convicted that I should be praying differently. Thanks again for sharing your heart. I absolutely LOVE your blog. Have a blessed weekend!

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      It is so easy to slip into “check off” mode, isn’t it? I sometimes think teaching is just about getting through a grammar book! 😦 Thanks so much for reading. I’m glad you found some things to take away from this, and I hope other non-TOG users can benefit, as well. Have a great weekend, too! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Especially Made

    Thank you for your honesty! We’ve been in a dry, list-checking state in our homeschool as well. That just-get-it-done mentality has squeezed out any enjoyment that we would get from learning and being together. Thank you for this reminder and the resource recommendation!

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      I think winter does that to you! Spring and sunshine could certainly lift some spirits around here some days! I know just how you feel, and we can do it! We can make it memorable and enjoyable, right?! 🙂 I hope you find time to look at TOG! 🙂

      Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      Oh, thank YOU! TOG has been such a blessing to us! There are so many reasons that this has truly been an answer to prayer. I cannot imagine the years of dedication and sacrifice that must have been required to produce such an amazing resource. TOG has all of the components we have been searching for for so long. Most importantly, we enjoy school and are overwhelmed to see our Father’s work in history! “How great are Your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep!” Forever indebted to you, Shannon 🙂

      Reply
  3. godmadeknown

    Okay, I think you may have sold me. I’ve looked at the curriculum before and thought it was fantastic but not a good fit for us at the time. I still think it’s not the right time and we won’t be ready next year either but after that we will be moving away from our science-centered structure and more into the humanities and that should be about perfect. I want to start history studies right at the beginning, as in the Genesis 1 beginning and I think TOG would work with that framework. So glad you’re experiencing a time of renewal in your studies. We could all use a pick-me-up from time to time and it’s great when something new can be that mid-morning cup of coffee to energize our homeschool.

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      That sounds like a great plan. Then, (almost) 😉 all of your boys will begin history from Genesis. We started at the beginning, the Genesis 1 beginning, when the twins were almost 4, so when they really join in, they will not start from Genesis. It has been a wonderful learning experience for me! We have just finished the first 2 empires of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, exile and return, and will spend about 4 weeks on the third– Greece. So, we have finished the Old Testament and heading into the New! Next we are moving to the legs of iron and feet of iron and clay! Rome! So, we will spend the last 9 weeks of school on the New Testament. I have really enjoyed learning so much with the children. My littles join in, but they don’t have the in-depth understanding that big kids do. Year 2 of TOG looks like a lot fun! Can’t wait.

      Reply
  4. Heather

    Interesting read! Glad you found something that is working for your family . . . it’s so hard to find the right fit sometimes! Was there anything in particular that wasn’t working with Mystery of History? We have moved from Veritas to MOH this year, and it still isn’t “just right.” Perhaps I’m too picky? 🙂 Thanks for your transparency . . . it’s much appreciated!

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      I liked the ease of MOH. It was a ‘pick up and go’ type program for me. I love the Biblical chronology and the timeline! However, I felt like we were jumping all over the place. One day we’d be in India, the next day in Israel, etc. I didn’t think we were learning anything in-depth because we weren’t spending enough time on it. It was becoming a “check it off” type thing, and I wanted history to be more than that. TOG is like Veritas in that you spend a whole week on one topic so there is time for books, projects, activities. However, there are teacher plans, specific books for different grades, project ideas, and there are NOT those worksheets! 😉 I know I could have spent more time in MOH on any topic of my choosing, but I need more structure, you know?

      Reply
      1. Heather

        Exactly! Even though we discuss the readings each day and have the timeline, I don’t think my older two are retaining much with MOH. I would love to do a lot more of the projects listed, but in reality, I can only tackle one big project a week with all the littles. Also, I’ve missed reading the “real” history books which I suppose I could supplement from the resources in the back, but it never seems like we have enough time. 🙂 Anyway, you’ve given me food for thought! Thanks! Blessings to you! 🙂

        Reply
        1. i have no greater joy Post author

          I hate that I didn’t realize that about MOH before starting it, but I guess sometimes you just have to use something to know how it will work for you. If you are doing a project a week, you’re doing great! We couldn’t even seem to get that much done! 😛 🙂

          Reply
  5. Tricia

    What a fabulous sharing about Tapestry!! And I am so glad to hear that you found my review at Curriculum Choice helpful and that Tapestry is fitting you and all your ages so nicely. Thankful to find another Tapestry family and I am sharing this on my Tapestry Pinterest board 🙂

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      Your review was very helpful as is everything you post! I know it takes time to share your ideas and experiences with us, but your blog has really been a blessing to me and our homeschool. Your ideas are so useful and practical and you share them in such a sweet, sincere way! Also, I just began using Alpha-Phonics with one of my little ones and already see great results! Thank you!

      Reply
  6. Alma Mater

    We use Tapestry of Grace, too, and I think it is a remarkable curriculum. Joy-filled and as academically challenging as you want it to be!

    Reply
  7. prairiepaisley.jodi

    Ohh I feel better now that I’m not the only one who up and changes everything in mid stream! You just know when things aren’t working, don’t you? I hope I didn’t steer you to MOH I can’t remember what we talked about but I felt the exact same way, I felt like we were all over the place. I did like that it covered a lot but the girls weren’t remembering it all. We are much more unit study stick with one thing for a while do a fun activity with it and of course some art😍
    I have looked at TOG before but it overwhelmed me some too I am really simple but I will look at it again, you have such a great review!
    It is definately this time of the year. We just got back from vacation and getting back in the swing of it but we needed a break, we were major checklisting school!!!!!

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      We never talked about MOH, so no worries! 🙂 i have heard many people say the same thing about TOG. There is SO much to choose from and so much to read. It does look pretty overwhelming. It is a good fit for us, but may not be for everyone! Hope you had a great vacation!

      Reply
  8. Tamara

    Do you believe TOG would be as enjoyable with only a couple of children that are close in age? Our first 2 are 8 and 9. The next one is only 1. I’ve often read that TOG just wouldn’t be the same with a couple of kiddos. We are currently using something that we are happy with (HOD) but I still find myself looking. Perhaps I feel too boxed in? I never wanted to be a curriculum hopper. We started the kids school years with MFW and it was wonderful for the first couple of years. And then it wasn’t. Oh the hours I spent pouring over options. We made the switch to HOD and I have no regrets yet I still wonder if there is something “more” out there. At moments I definitely feel like a box checker…

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      Oh, hi there! I am so very sorry that I haven’t responded to this yet! I saw that I had a couple of comments and then completely forgot all about them! So sorry! Actually, my two oldest children are 8 and 9! 🙂 They enjoy TOG all by themselves for now! My littles are 5. I understand your struggle to find just the right fit for your family! I’ve been there! I have heard nothing but good things about HOD! I like TOG though because my kiddos can all study the same time period through high school if we so choose! This is one of the first things we’ve used that I haven’t even thought about looking around for something else! 🙂

      Reply
  9. Deborah

    Thank you for this review! I’m not ready for TOG just yet–my daughter will be doing preK this year, beginning in the summer to make sure we’re done with the academic year before a probable international move next spring–but I’ve been bouncing back and forth in my head between being in love with Sonlight (which we used for preschool and are about to start for PreK) and being in love with TOG (which is more classical and in many ways more flexible, and I love the idea of studying world-wide history chronologically). I’m not making any firm decisions yet, but as I’m budgeting for the next curriculum we’ll buy (K–we save throughout the year for curriculum, so I start looking at K right after I purchase PreK, so that I can figure out and save for the most expensive option we may choose–clear as mud?), I’m going back and forth between doing Sonlight K and deciding later if we want to move to TOG for 1st, or switching to TOG for K and extending Year 1 over K and 1st grades. Part of my problem is that I can’t just try out TOG; because we’re overseas, the books aren’t available unless we buy them and have them shipped from the States. What do you think about TOG as Kindergarten for a child who will have turned 5 the summer before she starts? I think she’ll be reading by then, but of course don’t know for certain.

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      Hmmm… I really think I’d wait. Of course you know your little one like no one else! Did you know that TOG has just put out a Primer for kids who are 5-6 years? You may like to look into that option! It is for families whose oldest child is 5ish, and it does a gentle overview of all 4 of the TOG years just for them! I think 1st or even 2nd would be a great time to really start TOG, but that’s just ME! 🙂 I am so sorry for this late reply! I haven’t been on top of the blog lately! 😦

      Reply
      1. Deborah

        Thanks for the feedback! No worries about it taking a little while to respond–I’m almost never on top of my blog, I’ve totally missed comments for a couple of months before, and I have a whole year to decide 🙂 I did take a look at Primer, and it’s one of four options I’m considering for K (the others being Sonlight Core A, TOG1 drawn out over 2 years, and the first grade curriculum from Peace Hill Press–all have good and bad things about them, so I’m really up in the air). I noticed that the books are all the same as they use for LG, so I wonder if it’s really written at an easier level than LG–and if it isn’t, I may as well get started on the real thing and spread it out (makes it cost half as much per year to do it that way, and it’s expensive to buy the books for an entire year). But I do like the idea of trying Primer as a way to experience the curriculum and see how well it fits us without investing as much money as a full, regular Year-Plan would require. Still lots of thinking, praying, and discussing with my husband to do. Luckily–still lots of time in which to do it!

        Reply
  10. Charee Kinser

    Hmmm, great post! I love your blog. I came from SL for 1st, HOD for 2nd and 3rd and would like to use a curriculum that combines my children now. I have been debating going back to SL, and have again come across TOG. I am not sure if at this point in my life it might be too much planning (expecting baby 5 in august). I have only 2 of school age right now. How much prep and planning time does this take you? I am confused slightly by the TOG ordering… not even sure what to order!

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      I think the planning video on the TOG website would really help you decide! It goes through a typical planning session with a week of TOG. To be honest, it does take some time! However, I justify my time spent on that by remembering that I do NO planning for my math, language arts, latin, etc. Most of our other subjects are really pick-up-and-go workbook type learning. Also, I ordered almost everything when I decided to purchase our first unit. It was a mistake. I didn’t need any extra student sheets or map packs because copying one map or student sheet from my notes was really no big deal. I have found that I really like to have both the print and digital versions though. I like to have the paper and notes right in front of me rather than on the computer, but the computer is SO convenient for printing out Loom documents, checklist, salt dough recipes, and for searching the week’s curriculum. It is also easy for printing maps and writing aids. I like the Pop Quiz as well, for MYSELF! Ha! I listen to the coming week’s summary sometimes while I fold clothes or cook! Sometimes the children listen, too! Congrats on baby 5!!!

      Reply
    2. i have no greater joy Post author

      Also, if you decide to go with TOG, you might want to look at the curriculum and see just how much you are using a particular book before you order it. I have found that I don’t read everything suggested, and I wouldn’t buy a book you only use for one week!

      Reply
  11. Stacey

    Thank you sok much for your post! I’m a new homeschooler and from day one I’ve been drawn to Tapestry. My oldest is in kindergarten and I was planning to start with Y1 and just do it lightly when they released the Primer. I actually own Y1 and have also bought the Primer. I used the primer for a few weeks but was having a hard time getting our groove that I put it down and purchased a boxed curriculum. It has helped me gain confidence and now I’m feeling like I could tackle TOG. I’ve just been so scared. I really feel like the Lord has brought me to TOG but I’ve been paralyzed with fear. I’m currently trying to decide if I should dump the boxed curriculum and wrap up the year with Primer, complete this year with the boxed curriculum and do Primer for 1st grade or do Y1 for 1st grade. I’m sure in the big picture it doesn’t matter and I my mostly just thinking out loud, but was wondering what insight you may be able to provide? This is such a well written article and really provides me encouragement. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      Hi, Stacey! I’m so glad you stopped by for a visit! Homeschooling can be so overwhelming! There are so many good choices! You have to choose between great and great, not bad and good. I will send you an email later with my thoughts… 🙂

      Reply

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