Tapestry of Grace

Have you found a curriculum you and your children absolutely love? One that is a perfect fit for everyone’s learning style? A nice match for the age range of your household? That, my friends, is how I feel about Tapestry of Grace.

I am fresh from representing Tapestry in a booth at my local homeschool convention. The three of us booth hostesses were not selling Tapestry that weekend. We were simply there to help, to answer questions and to share how we use the curriculum in our homes. Three days worth of talking Tapestry with fellow homeschoolers! So, what I am sharing here is not only my family’s years of experience with Tapestry but also what I learned were the biggest questions for newcomers to this curriculum.

Those that walked up to the booth, brand new to Tapestry or those who had never heard of it before asked this most often: What is it? Will you explain it?

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

Tapestry of Grace is a unit study approach. Four eras or year plans of history. Four units each year. Everyone studying the same topics. The history cycle (from the Tapestry site):

  • Year 1 covers the Ancient World.
  • Year 2 covers the Medieval World through the American Revolution.
  • Year 3 covers the 1800′s
  • Year 4 begins in 1900 and ends with current events.

Weekly plans: Kristen does a wonderful job of describing how the weekly plans are presented in her Review of Tapestry of Grace. She describes each section: the threads, reading assignments, weekly overview, writing assignments, student activity pages, teacher notes and glance into next week.

Here’s a peek at how Tapestry works in our home: When we first started with Tapestry of Grace I had a 5th, 4th and 1st grader. Plus a three-year-old and an infant. We spread one year of learning over two years. I love this pace. Especially with little ones under foot and older ones needing to concentrate on independent work. Tapestry gave us “a map for the journey.” The following words are from Marcia’s Somerville’s blog, Love the Journey, several years ago.

  • This was us before Tapestry: “…using traditional homeschooling curricula, instead of preserving family unity, each child is put into his own little car and travels each day his individual roads. Mom becomes more of a traffic cop trying to keep all the bumper cars on their tracks than the driver of the family van.
  • After: Using Tapestry, everyone travels together and explores the landscape of Classical Education from a Christian perspective in one family van that mom and dad really do drive.

Everyone learning together. Really? Yes. This year, I had a 7th, 6th and 3rd grader. Plus, of course the preschoolers learning as well. One week the older two had a shared writing assignment. They were to write a radio show. Set in the early 1900s, they worked together on a story of the Wright brothers. They recruited their two younger sisters as additional characters and sound effects technicians. Sixth grader used the radio equipment that was his great-grandfather’s. (Do you see?)

Tapestry addresses all our different learning styles:

  • Hands on projects: I have one child that particularly flourishes when she gets to do a book report on a display board. Woven throughout Tapestry assignments are art and activity projects for individual students as well as for the whole family. The lapbook supplements are wonderful for those that enjoy hands on learning as well.

  • Auditory learners – can listen to audio books for literature and history studies. Many of these we borrow from the library.
  • Independent learning – My eldest likes to load up her books and tuck herself off in a corner. There are plenty of opportunities for those that work best on their own – which is the aim for the transition from dialectic (roughly middle school) to rhetoric (high school).

Even learning for mom and dad! Marcia Somerville explains Tapestry this way: Picture your family getting in the family van and heading out on a cross-country trek. There is something on the journey for everyone. For mom, extensive, weekly teacher notes give you all you would ever need for grades K-12 all the years of your homeschooling journey. For dad, a Pop Quiz. This CD is easy to listen to on a work commute, giving an overview and highlights of the learning going on at home.

If you are new to Tapestry, their website is a wonderful place to start:

  • Download a free, three-week trial of Tapestry. Explore Egypt with your family and explore Tapestry of Grace at the same time. This is what we did when considering Tapestry. It helped me, as the teacher, see how the curriculum works. And it got the children all excited!
  • Marcia Somerville’s video explanation of the map of humanities. Hear directly from Tapestry creator and author about the journey of Tapestry of Grace. She regularly posts on her blog specific Tapestry information as well as general homeschool encouragement.
  • Also on the Tapestry of Grace site, under the Explore Tapestry tab, you can view explanations of the cyclical plans, weekly plans. learning levels, the three big ideas. Pull up a chair and spend some time here.

Learn from fellow Tapestry users:

But I feel overwhelmed by Tapestry of Grace. How do I make it work? Never have we ever done all of the subjects each week. Tapestry is truly a smorgasbord. When I open that week plan, I zone in on the learning levels for my children and ignore the rest. Even then, depending on the week, we may choose to only tackle the core history assignment. Other weeks, as we are wrapping up a unit, we may concentrate more on the arts and activities, doing assignments and larger projects together as a family.

We never finish up each and every assignment for the week. This curriculum serves you and your needs, matching the season of your life. There is so much to choose from! You don’t have to check it all off. Yet, that is also one of the beautiful benefits of Tapestry. You can tailor it by topic for your family, changing it to your children’s needs, matching the books you already have on your shelf. Dig deep or skim the surface. Rich learning either way.

Cost: One time investment. When you buy a year or even a unit of Tapestry of Grace you have it to use over and over again. Cycling through with each child. Your youngest ones have the chance to learn at the different levels up to four times.

How do you like your curriculum? Tapestry is available in print or digital form. Or, you can purchase both for each unit. I made the transition from print to digital last year. I found it easy to have everything on my computer to click on and reach – all in one spot. However, my two new Tapestry hostess friends both preferred having the digital version on their computers AND the print version to hold and flip through.

What about all those books? Oh the books we read! Each unit is rich with living books. Buying all the books for each unit is an option. However, I can purchase the ‘spine’ resource we will be using that year or that unit and reserve the rest at the library. Most of the books are available there. If not the first resource listed, then I usually already have the books listed on the alternate resource page in each week’s reading. Or can find them at the library. For years 3 and 4, Story of the World was listed as an alternate resource. Already had that on my shelf!

Bookshelf Central is the spot to load your cart up on books. You can select the books you need for all learning levels the entire year. Or you can fill your cart with just the books you will need for your grammar students for unit one. The online cartoon character, Grace, leads you through the Buying Guide step by step.

Optional Supplements:

  • Lapbooks: available for each unit, either on disc for you to print. Or pre-printed on colored paper for you and your child to assemble. Some families purchase a lapbook for each child. In our family, we use the lapbook as a review at the end of the unit. Each child picks several topics to work on and research. Click here.

  • Pop Quiz: Dad can listen on his commute to work. Supper time discussion can be about all the learning going on at home. The children and I have also used Pop Quiz CDs ourselves as an overview – in the car – going from place to place during the week. Click here for more information.
  • Map Aids: all the maps you need to print for one year in one place. Available in disc form or as an add on to Tapestry DE. Click here.

  • Writing Aids: A resource for all ages. One time purchase to be used as a supplement to Tapestry writing assignments or as an independent writing handbook. We turn to this guide to see what is expected in an assignment. What is a book report? How do you organize a display board? All types of writing graphs, wheels, diagrams and more to print to aid in the writing process. Click here.
  • Evaluations: Tests and quizzes to see how much your children are absorbing. The Tapestry site says, “Evaluations are unique because they test in keeping with the Tapestry style–integrated and multi-sensory!” Click here.
  • Government Elective: Available for rhetoric students. Key documents for further study. Click here.
  • Online Classes: for dialectic and rhetoric students. Click here.

Unit Celebrations: a celebration brings closure to a unit of study. These can be extensive or simple. Children can dress as a character from the time period they’ve studied and put on a play. Invite grandparents, friends and neighbors to view display boards, reports and school work. Celebrate all you’ve learned. Here’s an example of a unit study from our Year 4 studies and our Year 2 studies.

Continuing Education: I feel that continuing education and encouragement for mom is important. I look forward to the sessions at homeschool convention each year. As well as just seeing the sheer number of homeschoolers that fill that convention hall! With Tapestry of Grace, I’m learning right along with my children. All the resources I need to teach them at my fingertips. Extensive teacher notes from K all the way through high school.

As one heading into our fourth year (now seventh year in 2014) of Tapestry, let me suggest: Take a summer or holiday break to get to know Tapestry. Take your time navigating their website. Download the free, three-week trial and have fun trying it out with your children. Trying it on is how we all find out if it fits.

In summary: Tapestry brings us all together for learning. As a family we are learning history – HIS Story – beginning with creation and leading to present times. And, when we are all learning together that means less work for mom. I’m not teaching those eight subjects times my five children. I’m teaching them once. Tapestry reaches the needs of all my children and gradually builds independent learners. All it takes is a few steps into the buffet of options available each unit, and the children are off and running on their own.

This year, as I officially start one more of my children on the Tapestry road and transition another into high school, I have the confidence and tools I need. I’m looking forward to teaching my kindergartener, 4th, 7th and 8th graders all together. And I’m sure the three-year-old will be joining in often. So, yes, I’d agree with the Tapestry of Grace slogan, Love the Journey.

And, once more I strongly suggest you download a free, three-week trial of Tapestry. See how it works for your family by actually using it. Print it out and hold it in your hand. We did it that one summer and then knew it was for us.
What-Ive-Learned-Homeschooling-With-Tapestry-of-Grace-580x386

Need even more information on Tapestry of Grace? Since writing this review, we are now into the high school years! I’ve learned How to Plan Tapestry of Grace for Multiple Ages and Levels. I invite you to visit Tapestry of Grace at Hodgepodge.

Follow Tricia’s board Tapestry of Grace on Pinterest.

How about you? Have you already attended or do you plan to attend a homeschool convention? What questions do you have about Tapestry of Grace?

~Homeschooling for over a dozen years now, Tricia faces a daily dose of chaos with five children from preschool to high school. She loves curricula that meets the needs of multiple ages. She is author of art curriculum for all ages and a series of cookbooks at Hodgepodge. She and her husband, Steve (who writes app and technology reviews), are co-owners of Curriculum Choice.

Tricia (82 Posts)

Homeschooling for over a dozen years now, Tricia faces a daily dose of chaos with five children. She is author of art curriculum for all ages, a cookbook series and helpful homeschool habits at Hodgepodge. She and her husband, Steve, are owners of The Curriculum Choice.


{ 37 comments… add one }

  • Heidi June 13, 2011, 8:37 am

    OK, you sold me. We are going to try the 3 weeks and see if we like it. Of couse, it is nice to know I have a TOG veteran to turn to with questions! :)

    Reply
  • Tricia June 13, 2011, 9:06 am

    Oh, I am so excited Heidi! That’s truly the way to ‘try it on’ and see if it fits for your family. And, I always welcome questions!

    Reply
  • LoraLynn June 13, 2011, 9:22 pm

    hands down the BEST summary/review of TOG I’ve seen. Am bookmarking it to show other folks when they ask me to explain it. Well done! (we’re doing Y2 this time at the LG level with a heap of preschoolers behind. it’s our second year and we love it.)

    Reply
  • angie June 14, 2011, 7:52 am

    I will try the download, I am looking to increase focused learning times in our day with a prescribed plan.

    Reply
  • Annie Kate June 14, 2011, 11:08 am

    Oh, now I may want to try it again! We did once and couldn’t get it to work, but perhaps on the second time around it might work. Excellent review!

    Thanks.

    Annie Kate

    Reply
  • Tricia June 14, 2011, 8:10 pm

    Thanks LoraLynn, felllow TOGer! Angie – let me know what you think. There’s so much we love about this curriculum. Annie Kate! I am finding that we have several curricula in common :)

    Reply
  • Cindy June 15, 2011, 10:57 am

    Fantastic review, Tricia!

    Reply
  • Marcia June 17, 2011, 3:36 pm

    GREAT review! Wow, I feel honored to serve such ladies as you!

    Reply
  • Jimmie June 17, 2011, 5:06 pm

    Wow. A most thorough review! Impressive. TOG overwhelms me, but I know this review will be a valuable resource for parents choosing curriculum.

    Reply
  • Tricia June 17, 2011, 9:01 pm

    Marcia – that means so much coming from Tapestry of Grace author! Tapestry brings joy to our homeschool in so many ways – just as I shared above. So grateful! Cindy and Jimmie – thank you for your kind words. You both are encouragement to me in so many ways.

    Reply
  • Christin @ Joyful Homeschool June 17, 2011, 9:50 pm

    Wow, that was an amazing review! I don’t know that I can do as good a job on my blog as I share — oh but I will try! Several folks are curious and have lots of questions still, so I want to “open the floor” so to speak. :)

    I’ll be sure to send people here in the future!! :)

    Reply
  • Joelle July 6, 2011, 10:19 am

    What a great review of Tapestry! We certainly love our tapestry here although I still finding my groove. I have been wanting to write a review but feel I need to get a better handle of it first. For now I will direct people here.

    Reply
  • Rachel March 29, 2012, 1:42 pm

    Thanks so much for this wonderfully thorough review. I just came across this post (nearly a year after you wrote it!), and I’m so glad I did. We are switching to TOG next year, and I can hardly wait to begin. I think this is going to be the approach I’ve been looking for. Thank you for helping reaffirm our decision!

    Reply
    • Tricia March 29, 2012, 1:58 pm

      Rachel – I am so glad you found this review helpful. Blessings on your first TOG year!

      Reply
  • Christine May 16, 2012, 4:56 pm

    Thank you for such a thorough review. I have two children, going into 4th and 1st grades in the fall. How do I choose the level of TOG with which to start? We’ve done Sonlight, Creation to the Fall of Rome. Any suggestions on where to go from here?

    Reply
    • Tricia May 16, 2012, 6:10 pm

      Hi Christine. We also moved to TOG from Sonlight. You can do it several different ways: 1. whichever era of history appeals to you and your children 2. chose the next, logical year following your Fall of Rome – which would be Year 2 with TOG, I believe. 3. Count ahead to your eldest’s high school senior year and decide where you what you would like to be studying that year. Is it Year 4? Count back and decide where that would put you for the upcoming year.

      Now, let me suggest that as you start out, you can spread one year of Tapestry learning over two years. We did that and it was a nice learning pace. We are even doing it now with Year 2 – spreading it out over two years. Here is a link to the Explore Tapestry tab: http://www.tapestryofgrace.com/explore/
      Hope that helps! ~Tricia

      Reply
      • Christine May 17, 2012, 8:52 am

        Thank you for the suggestions. I’m off to check out my options now! :)

        Reply
  • Christina June 29, 2012, 6:50 pm

    Hi Tricia, I have spent 5 hrs, researching the TOG site and printed out the 3 weeks trial. I have children 4,6,8, and 11. I spent a whole day going over the 3 weeks to try and understand. I keep reading about the smorgasbord of choosing what to do, and I think I understand it, but need a little clarification please. When I look at the box that says All… Does the smorgasbord option mean we just choose one or two from that box and then from the lower level, one or two again. And, If I have an upper level student, do they do those All, lower level choices and the choices from their level? This is how I’m understanding it, but need a veterans expert advice. Thanks for your very helpful advice so far by sharing this blog with everyone…. I do believe I have fallen in love with TOG.

    Sincerely,
    Christina

    Reply
    • Tricia June 29, 2012, 9:15 pm

      Christina – sounds like you are doing just what you should – go for the 3 week trial and see how it works for your family. That is the very best way to get acquainted. I am a little unsure about what you mean by ‘the box that says All.’ When I look at my student threads, weekly overviews, etc. it is broken down by lower grammar, upper grammar, dialectic and rhetoric. What I do is look at each of the columns that apply (which will be all for me this year!) and chose what will not only be best for each child but also a read aloud that we can enjoy all together.

      With your ages and stages of children, I would concentrate on your eldest child as far as assignments. Choose a book for him/her to read independently. Then choose one for your 8yo. A read aloud for the whole family. An arts and activities project you could all do together.

      We do so many of the Tapestry assignments together. It works best for all of us and I think that is one of the very best benefits of TOG. Most learning we can enjoy together and independent learning is tailored for the older levels. I encourage you to keep on keeping on. Get your feet wet, enjoy, take the summer to really figure it out and see what works best for your family. Glad to meet another who shares my love of Tapestry. And I hope this has helped some. ~ Tricia

      Reply
  • Jeanette November 21, 2012, 11:37 am

    Okay…I am considering TOG for next year for my dialectic level students. I have one question…how do you know which ‘spine’ to use for history? We have been through the whole SOTW series, but what would you suggest for a spine for the older years?

    Reply
  • Kristine Schempp February 13, 2013, 12:20 pm

    I’ve been really interested in using TOG next year, (5 children, ages 11, 9, 6, 4, and 1 next fall), and I only printed out the sample for 1 wk. since it cost $10 to print that at the library. I LOVE this blog. You’ve done an excellent job getting me to calm down and quit trying to imagine how I’d ever get “ALL THAT” done! I actually do have a question though, I’m really used to beginning our history with creation, and I see that TOG starts in Egypt. I’m not sure I really understand this, and I wonder when and if we cover creation, and what’s the perspective (old/young earth) that TOG takes. We’ve used resources around here from all kinds of perspectives (with great discussion as the sanctifier), but I still would like to know what to expect. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Tricia February 27, 2013, 6:53 pm

      Hi Kristine! Well, year one is the only year we have not done yet! So, I can’t answer specifically about that. I would think that there is at least some mention of creation and Genesis. But TOG definitely takes a young earth perspective. It’s all about HIS story history. I hope that helps.
      Tricia´s last blog post ..How to Savor Parenting: Three Steps

      Reply
    • Tricia March 15, 2013, 6:04 am

      Kristine – Dianne has an answer for you on Y1, below…
      Tricia´s last blog post ..Spring Nature Study with Multiple Ages

      Reply
  • Dianne March 15, 2013, 1:55 am

    Your reviews are always SO helpful, Tricia! THANK YOU!! I am seriously thinking about going back to TOG next year and working on plans for that…

    (We started with Year 1- btw for those wondering about why it starts with Egypt… you have the option to start Unit 1/week 1 and go straight through, or start on week 4 which covers Genesis and circles back around to Egypt, then when you get to Egypt go back & do week 1, finish it & skip to back week 5 to make your study chronological… the reason they start w/ Egypt is to go w/ the dates believed each book was written… Moses wrote Genesis to explain to the Israelites where they came from, to tell them the story of how & why they ended up in Egypt (God’s provision for famine thru Joseph). So they start w/ Moses and circle back to the beginning then back to Egypt… not my explanation, theirs in the cover of Y1U1 ;) We learned A TON!!

    But since we left off on year 1 unit 2… I was wondering if as we go along, does TOG include Latin in it’s plans or do you add that yourself?

    Reply
    • Dianne March 15, 2013, 2:00 am

      To do it chronologically, I mean you would begin w/ week 4 (Genesis), then do weeks 1, 2, 3 (Egypt) and skip back to 5 ;)

      Reply
    • Tricia March 15, 2013, 6:02 am

      Oh thank you Dianne! Since we haven’t studied Y1, I did not know that detail. Appreciate it! And TOG does not include Latin in it’s plans – you will need to do that. We enjoy Visual Latin very much (and I have a review for that!) :) http://www.thecurriculumchoice.com/2011/10/visual-latin/

      Reply
  • Kris April 19, 2013, 12:00 pm

    We used Tapestry the first year it was available. In fact I bought it and Marcia had to send me the units as they were finished and published. :) We really enjoyed using it. My kids thought it was the best curriculum we ever used. We all gave it a thumbs up.

    Reply
  • Leanne October 18, 2013, 8:53 pm

    Hi! Your posts are super helpful and appreciated! Our family of elementary aged children are studying with Classical Conversations. Just curious how you would compare/contrast them, if you are familiar with the CC curriculum at all.

    Reply
  • Samantha January 29, 2014, 10:15 am

    Ok tapestry of grace sounds wonderful and I’m almost decided on getting it for my family but what do you do about math and science?

    Reply
    • Tricia January 29, 2014, 10:25 am

      Samantha – Tapestry is such a wonderful fit for our family. We use Saxon Math for K through 3rd. Then Teaching Textbooks for upper grades. Science – we love Apologia (are currently doing a family study of marine biology) and also love Answers in Genesis’ God’s Design for… series. Many more details on what we use for all our ages here! http://www.hodgepodge.me/tag/curriculum-2013-2014/

      Reply
  • Beth February 28, 2014, 11:51 pm

    I am new and looking into TOG… I also feel overwhelmed by it but very interested at the same time! It looks great and your review was so very helpful at explaining it! I will have a Kindergartener and 1st Grader next year (and a 3 year old). For some reason I feel like they may be a bit young for this? Am I right? Should I wait a few years before starting TOG? Also, are their daily plans (I’m used to the daily plans, as we have Heart of Dakota this year)? Looks as tho it’s weekly? I have the catalogue and disk with the sample that I plan on watching this weekend. Thanks again!!!!

    Reply
    • Tricia March 1, 2014, 12:04 am

      Beth – Tapestry has been such a continued blessing for our family! To answer your question about using it for the ages you mentioned, I have a post where I share my opinion: http://www.hodgepodge.me/2012/05/would-you-recommend-tapestry-of-grace-for-kindergarten/ The TOG plans are weekly so there is some learning curve adapting it to daily use and making it your own. I think you are wise to take the time to research it – and definitely to try out the free sample. I found that in using the free sample weeks gave me the best look at how it could work for our family. Blessings on your journey!

      Reply
      • Beth March 1, 2014, 12:37 am

        Tricia, awesome, thanks so much! I was just reading on your blog but did not see that article. Looking forward to reading it now!!!

        Reply
        • Kristine June 16, 2014, 6:41 pm

          They just published a Tapestry Primer for parents starting out young children. It goes over the entire sweep of history in one (or two years–your choice). There’s information at http://www.tapestryofgrace.com/primer/
          It looks really well done, and is where I’d start if they’d had it out before. : )

          Reply
  • sarah March 3, 2014, 8:41 pm

    I am looking at using TOG next year for my three kids (pre-k, 1, 3rd) and was wondering what you guys would use for supplementing grammar, and science with? I know what I am using for math already but am coming from using Sonlight where I had everything included and this one I have heard I need to get these separate?

    Reply

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