How I Do Tapestry of Grace {Large Family, Loose Schedule}

I feel it’s important I begin this post with a disclaimer:  I use Tapestry of Grace as a GUIDE with other things thrown in.  I do not follow it to the letter.  I’ve never followed it to the letter.  I’ve never been able to make it work for our family “As Is”, but of all the curricula I’ve tried, it is Tapestry of Grace I come back to time and again.

I probably won’t win any Tapestry of Grace Awards (if there were such a thing) for being a great TOG mom, but I am a fan of the curriculum…the way I use it.

So, if I haven’t scared you off, read on…

You don't have to follow the entire schedule to a T to use Tapestry of Grace - this post shows how one family does TOG (planning, teaching, and tweaks) |

Tapestry of Grace is divided into 4 age/reasoning levels – Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.  Think of these as Early Elementary, Older Elementary, Jr. High, and High School…ish.

I focus most of my attention on the 8 & up crowd, letting the 7 & under crew float in and out of the lessons.  In fact, of late, I’ve instituted a Rest Time for those ages during our Tapestry Time.  The 3 littlest boys are more distracting than anything and I figure their time will come when they are more mature.  So, in Tapestry terms, that means I have 2 Upper Grammar students, 1 Dialectic (who will soon be moving up), and 1 Rhetoric (who will graduate this year).

So, now that you know WHO in our family does TOG, I can start at the beginning of an actual lesson plan and give you an idea of what that looks like and how I implement it.

Lesson Planning for Tapestry of Grace

Tapestry of Grace comes in 2 forms – Print Edition and DE (Digital Edition). I prefer having the hard copy of TOG, but DE automatically updates.  This would be especially helpful for Year 4 (Modern Times).

Toward the end of each week, or over the weekend, I open my Tapestry notebook to the next lesson.  Marcia Sommerville (author of TOG) has graciously given things to look out for the next week at the end of every chapter, so I glance over those and make a mental note as I begin my planning.

I use a notepad and pen as my main tools, and I keep an internet capable device nearby because I find there are several things I want to look up as I work.

How we do Tapestry of Grace homeschool curriculum |

To lesson plan, I go through the Threads for the week and the Weekly Overview (shown above – the colors represent the different learning levels) and jot down everything I want to cover.  I look over ALL levels because often there are projects or topics I want to use from other levels, or I have a child more or less advanced and would appreciate the assignments from a different level.  If need be, I write the child’s name next to the assignment on my list, but that is usually only in the case of reading assignments.

Note:  Most of the things we do in TOG, we do together.  I’ve seen a tremendous benefit from having everyone in the same room, no matter the learning level of the material being covered.  Information gone over once gives a child a taste and may be enough to pass a test.  Information gone over multiple times in multiple ways gives them understanding and mastery.  For instance, my oldest daughter has been reading in Victorian Internet about the telegraph.  The younger kids are studying Samuel Morse this week at their level.  Megan was able to add information to their study as I read to them.  Doing so solidifies her understanding of the material.  This kind of education is priceless.

How We Do Tapestry of Grace {large family, loose schedule} - this post shows how one family uses TOG as a guide from lesson planning to actual teaching |

As you can see from my notes in the above photo, I’ve put names next to specific books – some of those are carry-overs from the previous week and some are new ones I found in the Reading Assignment pages of Tapestry.

NOTE:  At the beginning of the year, I use Tapestry’s website to PRE-plan books I will need, so I’m not scrambling for resources.  (click here to learn more about finding the books used in each year plan)

After I have all my “plans” on paper, I will reorder them if necessary, but most of the time I know where I want to start and what the general order should be, so I simply cross off as I go throughout my week.

It is also at this time that I make notes on any items I need to shop for (pinata and candy in this case – I just don’t feel like making a pinata this time).  I also research any internet links I may want to use and either put them on my TOG Pinterest boards (shown below) or drop the links into Evernote.  (Truth be told, there are many days that I research as I teach, pulling up maps and photos as I go.)

Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Tips & Resources on Pinterest. Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Year 1 on Pinterest.
Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Year 2 on Pinterest. Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Year 3 on Pinterest.
Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Year 4 on Pinterest.
Note: You can see we are currently in Year 3 by how many more links there are on that board.

Where Does Tapestry of Grace Fit Into Our Day

Tapestry is an afternoon thing here.  Our morning hours are spent mostly in workbooks.  Tapestry of Grace is a sort of “slow-down” to our day.  It usually consists of read-alouds, projects, and discussions.  It never takes more than 2 hours.

Note:  The reading assignments from TOG are to be accomplished during morning school time.  They are not factored into this Tapestry Time.  So, for instance, Megan read in Victorian Internet during the morning time, and we discussed Samuel Morse during the afternoon hours.

What a Tapestry of Grace Week Looks Like

I always start by reading the General Information page from the chapter aloud to the children.  This gives them an overview of what the week will be about.  Then, I read from the History Core and In-Depth sources I’ve chosen.  In this section’s case, the resource is Abraham Lincoln’s World.  I usually choose a resource from Upper Grammar or Dialectic to read to the group.  We all learn something without it being over anyone’s head.  Lastly, I hand them their Reading Assignments for the week.  They are welcome to start reading or put it away in their box, knowing that the reading has been added to their morning school time for the rest of the week, and I will be checking in on their progress during the week.

Tuesday is usually spent discussing the main history threads and people focused on for the section.  And here’s where I lose my Tapestry of Grace Mom Award – I read directly from the World Book notes in the Teacher’s Notes. *gasp*

How I Do Tapestry of Grace homeschool curriculum - from lesson planning to actual teaching |

As I stated earlier, I firmly believe that information should be digested several different ways, so even if the children are reading about a topic in their Reading Assignments, I still want them to hear it read aloud during our Tapestry Time.

For some people, the idea of reading from an encyclopedia sounds super boring, but I learned a knack for reading aloud with passion from my mom (THANKS, MOM!).  I read with fervor, I interject questions and tidbits of my own, and many discussions ensue.  I am not a teacher who refuses to stop for questions and comments (and diaper changes 😉 )

Another reason I am perfectly comfortable doing this is because Marcia has notes on the pages to keep me from being sucked into World Book’s worldview (yes, World Book has a worldview).

This also allows me to avoid a lot of pre-planning.  The World Book sections are included so mom can pre-read and know what the children are learning about.  I don’t do that. (another *gasp*)  I digest the information alongside my children.  It works for us.

The last thing I do on Tuesdays is hand out any relevant notebooking pages (I have a membership to NotebookingPages), and I help the children remember and write down pertinent information for Presidents, countries, etc.  I file those away in a collective TOG Notebook I keep for the children’s Tapestry of Grace pages.

Wednesday is usually the day we go over Tapestry of Grace Geography.  This day is spent at the table with tea and cookies because our maps are on the dining room wall.  We live in a smallish house and this was the best place for the maps.  (We print our maps from this site.)

This is also the day we start any weekly projects I’ve decided to tackle.  I usually go for the easy projects – something that can easily be accomplished in 2 days.

Tapestry of Grace project |

This is the day we tie up loose ends.  We work through the remainder of the list, and we finish projects.  This is also the time I would have any discussions from Rhetoric that need to happen.  I do not do all the major Rhetoric discussions since they are more for a classroom setting, and we can accomplish just about the same amount in a family discussion over the World Book material. (see Tuesday)

We do not school on Friday because of Home Blessing.  If we are doing a Unit Celebration or other related party, it occurs on Friday or Saturday.  You might have noticed in my notes, we are having a Mexican-themed party this weekend!

Now, let me give you a little broader picture, so you can see what I’m NOT doing…

What I Leave Out of Tapestry of Grace

1.  Writing – I have my own standards here, so I assign essays and research papers as needed.  ALL of my children write creatively on their own.  They got that bug from their mama.

2.  Philosophy – We do an overview of philosophy, but I’ve never been a fan of the “dialogues” included in TOG.

3.  Most worksheets – I don’t like busy work, and while the worksheets in TOG are well done, I can tell if my child is retaining information without the aid of worksheets, so we skip these.

4.  Anything I feel is unnecessary for my child – This could be just about anything.  Perhaps I know they have already studied a topic extensively or I don’t think they are old enough to understand myths or I don’t want to go as in-depth as TOG has them go on a subject.  This is MY homeschool, I can use Tapestry the way I want/need to use it and still be a good mom. 😉

I Don’t Do All of Tapestry, but I Still Think it is Worth It.

So, perhaps you are wondering why I still like Tapestry of Grace if I don’t do it 100%.  Why not just use another curriculum that doesn’t have the extras?  Why not piece together my own?

Well, I tried piecing together my own.  It was a disaster.  Tapestry of Grace keeps me on track, and as I said before, it is the curriculum I return to time and again.  Here are a few of the reasons why…

1.  The hard work is done for me.  I cannot imagine the countless hours Scott and Marcia Sommerville put in to make TOG what it is.  It is massive, and everything I need is right at my fingertips without me needing to do all the hard work of gathering the information.

2.  If I needed the extras, they’re already there.  If sometime in the future, I decide to teach TOG a different way than I am now, I don’t have to scrap my old curriculum.  Everything is there and next time I teach this unit, I can choose to do more (or less) without needing to go back to the drawing board, so to speak.

3.  Our worldviews match.  I am a Protestant Creationist Christian who believes God touches our lives every day in everything we do.  This curriculum is decidedly from the same worldview.  Yes, you can use it if you are not all of these things (and Marcia does a good job of letting you know where there might be a worldview clash), but I don’t need to filter a lot of stuff from this curriculum.  For a busy mom of many, this is a huge time savings.

4.  The answers are provided.  There are other curricula out there that do not help mom formulate answers.  They offer questions and discussions, but no answers to those questions.  I can’t manage that kind of curriculum.  There are days when I am sick with morning sickness, have newborn brain, or just don’t have the energy to wrap my brain around difficult concepts.  I need someone to chew the information for me.  I may not fully agree (but, I did say our worldviews match, so that helps), but at least I have something to go on.  Thank you, TOG!

5.  The chronology and interwoven topics suit my style.   I like to study history chronologically.  I like to know the whole story.   I like to see God’s hand in history.  I like to have my school subjects weave in and out of each other.  I have never found another curriculum that does this as well as TOG.  Yes, I add in my own stuff, but like I said before, Tapestry of Grace is an indispensable guide for me to work from.  It is what ties our entire homeschool together.

So, now you know how Tapestry of Grace can work for a family that wants to use TOG as a guide rather than a full-tilt Classical curriculum.  (Note:  You will need to add in Math and Science no matter how you choose to use Tapestry.)

Let me finish by saying that I believe history should be the basis of every homeschool education.  It is so rich and deep, that an understanding of it is the gateway to a well-rounded education.

“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”
~Theodore Roosevelt

A Day of Raising Arrows {Episode #2}

You may have noticed Raising Arrows has slowed down a bit.  It’s been very peaceful here in my neck of the woods, and part of that is a slower attitude all around.  (See my post on what I’m doing about all the stress this world causes.)

{affiliate links included}

I’ve started getting up earlier (Thank you, Make Over Your Mornings!), and enjoying about an hour of time before the children start straggling into the kitchen.  The children get their own breakfasts (with help, of course), but my breafkast of choice these days is oatmeal with 1 tsp coconut sugar and a sprinkle of chocolate chips because I’m doing Trim Healthy Mama without stevia.  The oatmeal really keeps me going throughout the morning hours when school is in full swing.

Morning is spent on workbooks and “every day” school subjects.  Today, I managed to sneak in a chapter from Pocketful of Pinecones.  It inspires both me and the children!  I’ve decided when we head out to do our Back to Homeschool shopping (even though we school year round), I will purchase Nature Notebooks and clipboards for my 4, 6, 9, and 10 year olds.  Even the simple reading of this book has made them more aware of the nature around them.  I think I will also buy a copy of Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Sudy from Amazon.  I own the free e-version, but at heart, I’m still a real, live bibliophile (plus, I said I was going to spend LESS time on the computer. 😉 )

About 11 am, Aspen wants to nurse and take a nap, so I head to my room and curl up in my ugly gold chair and put on a mom movie – something like Miss Potter – that I’ve downloaded to my Kindle or stream from Amazon Prime (Miss Potter is available right now for Prime members).  Not many people in the house want to watch mom movies, so this is my time to catch a few minutes of a movie that is more my speed.

A Day of Raising Arrows {episode 2}

Aspen now sleeps in a playpen in our room, having outgrown the Snugabunny.  I lay her down, and quietly sneak out of the room to return to school with the others.

I spend my time on the floor with my little boys while my olders work on their own.  Blake has finished his Economics course, and is working through Chemistry.  He will follow it up with David Copperfield – his first ever Dickens novel, outside of A Christmas Carol.

Megan is racing through her school work in order to get back to crocheting a black hoodie – a pattern she found on Pinterest.  I’m anxious to see the finished product.  I’m amazed by all the things that girl can do – she is truly a Creative.  She’s been spending most of her free time this week doing “quiet” crafts because last week was a busy week for her as she worked as a Counselor in Training at a Deaf Camp.  Her dreams of becoming an interpreter seem nearer and nearer.

In between working with the middles and littles, I switch laundry loads and fold the clean clothes on the couch.  My older girl’s and my toddler boy’s clothes are piled together – the girls will sort them out and get them put away since his clothes go in their dresser.  My two oldest boys are piled together as well, and then there is a pile for my clothes along with my husband’s and baby girl.  The little guys (age 4 & 6) are sorted according to the drawers in their heavy-duty plastic “dresser” so they can easily put things away where they belong –
Micah – daytime clothes
Garin – daytime clothes
Jammies (mixed)
Socks/Undies (mixed)

They are so close in age that most of their clothing is interchangeable.  In fact, I find when it’s not me doing the laundry, their things get mixed up.  I also secretly culled a few long-sleeve shirts my 4 year old has been hanging on to – and yes, wearing, despite the 100 degree temps!  After lunch, I will call them all to put their clothes away as part of Tidy-Up Time.

Around noon, I call my 17 year old son in to start lunch.  Today, he chose a frozen pizza we had hanging around in the freezer and the myriad of leftovers lurking in the fridge.  I had a salad with diced chicken and spicy ranch dressing.  We didn’t bother to clean the toys from the table before eating – some days it just makes sense to eat with knights and Army men.

By this time, Aspen was awake and wanted some “real” food too.  I’ve been buying organic baby food from the store.  I know I could be making food for her, but this is one place I’m willing to “cut corners” and save myself some time and energy.

As the older kids work through their Table Chores, I send the little boys (ages 2, 4, 6) to the bathroom and then to Rest Time.  This is a fairly new “revival” of our old Rest Time.  The first day was a test of my patience, but the second day didn’t even require me to stand guard outside the door.  The 4 and 2 year old are in one room.  The 2 year old goes to sleep and the 4 year old is allowed up after an hour.  The same goes for the 6 year old in the other room.  I could put the two of them together, but I’ve found they don’t really “rest” when they are together.

While they are resting, I do Tapestry of Grace with my olders (ages 9 and up).  Today, however, was a project just for my middles – moccasins made from brown felt.  I traced around their feet, added a top and back sewn on with embroidery floss, we cut fringe, and my 10 year old daughter added beads.  This was a 2 day project studying the Plains Indians.  I read about the various tribes and how they lived while they hand-sewed their moccasins.  The children were so pleased with the lessons, they ended up playing “Indians” with their brothers when they got up from Rest Time.

Tapestry of Grace project |

During the rest of the afternoon hours, my oldest son worked on a website he is building for his airsoft team, and my daughter crocheted.  Eventually, Aspen was ready for her long nap of the day, so we went back into my room to snuggle and nurse.  The computer I am currently using was in my room, so after she fell asleep, I took a bit to type up a few of my thoughts and answer a couple of emails.  My MacBook is in the repair shop, so I’m using a computer I’m not used to.  Funny how using an unfamiliar laptop can make typing a chore.  I ended up spending more time gazing out my window at the sunlight in the trees than actually writing anything coherent.  But, nature is a better break than a computer screen can ever be.

A Day of Raising Arrows {episode 2}

Upon leaving my room, I packed away into storage the Bumbo.  Aspen can sit on her own now, and I’m never one to leave baby paraphernalia out any longer than necessary.  But, I will be honest, it’s difficult watching her grow up. Baby Aspen is 7 months old now.  It seems so surreal.  She is near the age Emily was when she passed away.  She is so like Emmy, yet so different.  It is still strange to me to have a little girl after all these years.

A Day of Raising Arrows {episode 2}

Because it is Aspen’s 7 month old “birthday”, once she awakens, Megan and I head out to do a quick photo shoot in the front yard.  Since she is sitting up, I put her in a flat-bottomed basket near a tree.  She wears an outfit that reminds me of Emmy.  Megan used to call Emily her little strawberry, so I put Aspen in a “little strawberry” outfit with a bright pink headband, and Megan spends a good hour shooting photos with her new portrait lens.

DSC_1772 FB

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I’m thankful supper is already simmering. We are having roast in the electric skillet.  It’s best this way.  Sear it on both sides and then add some water and spices, and let it simmer.  Pair it with broccoli and you have a wonderful meal to end your day.

At the end of the meal, we tidied the house to ready it for the evening.  A friend recently called it “putting the house to bed.”  I like that.

Once the house was finished, I cut boys’ hair and got them showered and jammied.  We ended the evening by reading in Heidi and discussing the upcoming weekend.

Since Ty was gone for the evening, I did a little redecorating in the kitchen, turning my hideously bare pot rack into something that makes me smile.

Decorating the pot rack {A Day of Raising Arrows}

The grater was my grandmother’s.  The other things are items I have collected and decorated with over the years.  I once had a landlord who laughed at my love of foliage inside my house.  Perhaps I am a tree hugger at heart – in the Creationist sense of the word, that is.

It felt good to crawl into bed and pull the covers up to my chin.  The sheets are cool and the quilt is just the right weight.  I set the alarm on my phone and place it on the windowsill.  When I awake, I know my little daughter will be in my arms – the thought of this makes me smile myself to sleep.

What is your day like?  Have questions for me about my day?  Leave a comment!

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