By Kristi Kerr
(Ellsworth, KS, USA)
I’m Kristi, and we live in Ellsworth, Kansas. I have 2 children in school currently, and they’re in 2nd and 4th grades. This is our first year with Tapestry of Grace.
Tapestry is a classical four year cycle of history that incorporates history, geography, writing, literature, and arts and crafts. Within the four year cycle are for levels, Lower Grammar (K-3), Upper Grammar (3-6), Dialectic (6-9), and Rhetoric (9-12) which basically correspond to the levels of the Trivium, with the Grammar level being broken up into more or less fluent readers and non-fluent readers.
We adore Tapestry! Although I’m only schooling 2 this year, I do have 4 more coming up behind them. The idea of having 5 or 6 different timelines going on in history frankly gave this Mama an anxiety attack. There’s just no way I would be able to keep up. With Tapestry, although everyone might be on different levels, we’re all studying the same thing, which helps me keep everything in balance.
I love that Tapestry uses real, living books as opposed to textbooks. I think kids get so much more out of using real books as their core. They do have textbooks listed in their alternate resources (such as Story of the World for Upper Grammar), but they’re not strictly necessary to teach.
In each week plan, Tapestry incorporates all learning styles. For my visual learner, there is tons of reading and the Loom (a resource available only for Tapestry users that has tons of supporting links for each week plan) has suggestions for videos and documentaries, many of which are available on NetFlix. My hands-on learner adores the plethora of activities to pick and choose from in the Tapestry week plan. Both of my students enjoy looking up the supporting links from The Loom and exploring them. The Loom also has suggestions for field trips and the like. It’s priceless!
Tapestry of Grace doesn’t leave the teacher out, either! I find out each week how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know! With the teacher’s notes, along with Tapestry Teacher’s Training (HIGHLY recommended!), I’m educating myself as well!!
Tapestry also provides a lot of supplemental supplies, from lapbooks to a new Student Activity Pages set, so you don’t even have to pull out and print off each week. Our favorites, though, are MapAids, blackline maps to assist us with our geography lessons each week, and Evaluations, to help me ensure that the kids are actually retaining what we learn. We also enjoy Pop Quiz, a program designed specifically to keep Dad in the loop! That I think was so very thoughtful of Tapestry to offer!
The only thing I haven’t been impressed with as far as Tapestry goes is Writing Aids. It just didn’t work for us, and I need something much more scripted to help me teach. We’re going to another writing program this year.
There is definitely a bit of a learning curve involved when you first start to teach Tapestry. My recommendation is to get Tapestry at the beginning of the summer (or whenever you end your school year), along with the Teacher Training DVDs and use the summer to learn the program and set up your own organizational system. Once you set yourself up and are used to it, it’s really easy to use. But, that first unit or so can be rather overwhelming, and many people drop Tapestry after only one unit.
Tapestry is well worth the price. You only have to buy each year plan once for all grades, K-12. If you have a large family like I do, that’s very much worth it! The initial investment might seem like a lot at first, but after you buy the cycle, the only thing you have to get is any resources you feel the need to buy. (If you have a good library nearby, many, if not most of them, you can find there. It is recommended that you buy a few of the books, as they’re used in multiple weeks and/or units.)
Overall, we love Tapestry of Grace. It’s one thing that I can’t imagine ever changing throughout our homeschooling journey, and I highly recommend it to others looking for a thorough classically based curriculum.