Archive for March, 2012

The “Why” Stage

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Three lovely dialectic friends


… This is a question we often think of toddlers asking. However, believe it or not, it is more typically asked by students in 6th-9th grades. Yes, junior high, or the dialectic stage, is a season full of questions. Even compliant upper-grammar children often turn into questioning, reactive, argumentative dialectics. And guess what?…

That’s normal!

This is because young teens are in the “logic” stage of development. It’s a season characterized by questioning E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!

When I say dialectics are argumentative, I don’t mean they are necessarily disrespectful. They’ve simply learned to use reasoning skills and ask questions. They want to know why.

My dialectic daughter still loves those "hands-on" activities. Here, she is an Egyptian.

Dialectics are a mixed group. I have two dialectic-aged students who are twins! My son loves philosophy and geography while my daughter’s favorite subject is writing. My daughter organizes her schoolwork. Her notebook is impeccable. She writes her own lists and pays close attention to detail. My son… not so much, but he is a math whiz. However, as different as they are, they both ask “why” on a daily basis.

Even today, I heard this question coming from my son – “Mom, why do atheists say they aren’t religious? Isn’t atheism a kind of a religion in itself?” When studying the Greeks, this same child observed, “We tend to think of the Greeks as unintelligent, or at least I do because they really believed in all these crazy gods and goddesses. However, they weren’t dumb… They actually had to have been quite smart to have made up reasons for all they questioned.” Such comments are examples of “connections” being made through their studies. Dialectics have moved beyond reporting “facts” to reasoning and questioning material they’ve studied.

For moms, this new season of questioning can be exhausting. We miss the “just-give-the-facts” grammar stage! However,  it is our job to answer the dialectic “whys.” It’s time to teach more than just the facts.

Our curriculum, Tapestry of Grace (ToG), understands dialectic-aged students. Tapestry’s well-written thinking questions in the curriculum encourage dialectics to make connections and reason. Taking students back in history, the literature brings history to life, also promoting reasoning, analytical thought of the time period being studied.

In addition to the outstanding thinking questions and excellent literature selections, I appreciate the versatility of the ToG plans. Mom can truly customize ToG to the ability level of each child. At the beginning of this year, my 9th grader transitioned to rhetoric-level work by participating in rhetoric literature and dialectic history. My 7th grade son enjoys philosophy. Because

My son is a "just-the-facts" dialectic.

I wanted him to participate in Tapestry’s Padgeant of Philosophy readings and discussions from year 1, I let him join the rhetorics for this one class. At times, I’ve moved my upper grammars up to dialectic literature and kept them reading easier history texts until they matured. ToG reading selections are truly customizable, and for the dialectic-aged student, I find this extremely beneficial.

Not only is the reading customizable, but the writing assignments are too. I’ve found writing abilities to vary quite a bit with dialectic students. Some are ready to write research papers. Others need to keep working on tight paragraph construction. Again, I appreciate the versatility of the ToG curriculum. There are twelve levels of writing and mom, the teacher, can pick a level and move up or down as needed to meet individual needs.

Dialectics are definitely a fun group to teach. They’re silly and they’re serious. They are children one moment and adults the next. They giggle and they philosophize. They come  extra-small and extra-tall. They like “hands-on” and they prefer “just the facts.” Yet they all ask “why?” a hundred times a day.

Thankfully, Tapestry of Grace helps me answer some of the whys… at least the ones related to their history and literature studies!

Let’s Celebrate Year 1 Unit 2!

Friday, March 9th, 2012

My son, as Gideon

Year 1 Unit 2… For these nine weeks of our Tapestry of Grace studies, we traveled around the globe studying ancient civilizations including the Indians of the Indus Valley, the Chinese of the Hwang Ho River, the Native Americans and the early South Americans, particularly the Mayans. We studied the rise of the ancient Greek civilizations and Greek mythology. We read Joshua and Judges and discussed the Israelites and their taking of the promised land. We studied the Philistine civilization and the Phoenicians and the rise of the Israelite monarchy. We covered a lot, and had much to celebrate when we reached the end of this unit.

The children planned the program for this gathering. After our Unit 1 celebration, they couldn’t wait to take the stage! Our dialectic class wrote and performed a play about Gideon.

the dialectic Gideon cast

I teach our upper grammars writing, and we spent a great deal of time working on reports in first person about the Greek gods and goddesses. For our end-of-unit party, this class dressed as their favorite character. Many students memorized their speeches. They were very proud of themselves as they should have been!

Greek gods and goddesses

Lower grammars shared some facts they learned.

The highlight of our celebration came from our rhetoric literature class. These six students met weekly, wrote dialogue from various scenes of the Iliad, filmed and produced an outstanding short video. This is a small excerpt. The complete production lasted about fifteen minutes and included many various scenes. From the writing of the scenes to the filming, our rhetorics did it all.

Iliad Shorts | Oenone’s and Paris’ Scene from Joshua Ezzell on Vimeo.

The entire audience loved the drama! And yes, the entire fifteen minutes of Iliad Shorts were just as dramatic as this one.

Our twelve Tapestry of Grace families involved in our co-op belong to a Yahoo group. We’ve found it to be the best way to communicate with one another. Our entire celebration was planned replying to “threads” of conversation – from paper-product volunteering to sequencing the official program. Our Unit 2 Celebration fell on the Monday before Christmas; yes, 6 days before Christmas Day! To say the least, each mom in our co-op had Christmas plates overflowing and “to-do” lists a mile long. However, due to circumstances out of our control, we either celebrated December 19th or we couldn’t celebrate at all. Our children simply worked too hard not to set aside time to reflect and share our unit 2 accomplishments. Yet, because of the timing of this event, we kept the food as simple as possible and ordered pizza.

Enjoying our pizza party

We could have done more. We didn’t display our art. An international meal would have been nice. However, we met to celebrate the mid-point of our Year 1 studies only six days before Christmas! The children experienced closure to their school work. And after the celebration, we moms quickly disposed of the pizza boxes, gathered Gideon, god and goddess and Iliad costuming, and checked “Tapestry party” off the list. We still had shopping to do!

Why Rhetoric?

Friday, March 9th, 2012

High school literature discussion

What is “rhetoric?” The Miriam Webster Dictionary defines this term “The art of speaking or writing effectively.

I desire my teens to develop excellent communication skills. I am thankful for Tapestry of Grace (ToG) because this curriculum shares my goals. Emphasizing the development of mature rhetoric skills, ToG excels at high-school instruction. The literature is challenging and full of themes to examine. I’m thankful that church history and world history exists together. As we discuss “his story,” morality, God’s law, sin, redemption, and grace are intermingled with wars, rulers, power, and people groups. We compare and contrast. Sometimes we debate; yet, we respect one another. Opposing sides in a debate often reveal unexplored themes. This leads to more discussion and more communication. All the while, rhetorical skills are strengthened.

Is the material challenging? Absolutely! Students at the rhetoric level read college-level material. They write weekly essays as well as several research papers their junior and senior years.

Is Tapestry of Grace fun for high schoolers? We think so. Here, my oldest daughter delivers the last of a seven-minute humorous speech. She is Hera from the Iliad.

To take a classic piece of literature and write from a character’s point of view clearly portrays understanding of story. It’s true that the Iliad requires concentration and discussion. Yet Tapestry’s well-laid-out plans aid discussion leaders. The teacher’s notes are thorough. This results in high-school students who can read, analyze and understand the great works… and even write snarky speeches about them 🙂

My 9th grader's first research paper

Not only do rhetoric students learn to articulate their ideas through the spoken word, but they do so in written form as well. Weekly, the writing instruction aids them in assimilating material read and putting ideas to paper. The Tapestry model of “read, discuss, write” is beneficial at every stage of development. For rhetoric students, however,  such practice prepares them for college-level writing. We often implement the essays on the evaluations for timed-SAT practice. Doing so has helped my students grow accustomed to writing while the timer ticks. They are learning to write from their literature experiences which I have no doubt will improve this timed-essay-SAT skill. My high school students are becoming excellent writers, and I thank Tapestry of Grace for its emphasis on this component in their curriculum.

Why learn to express ideas through speaking and writing? Why is this even important? Is it to do well on the SAT essay? To get into college? To make friends laugh at a humorous speech? To win an argument? I think not.

My children may or may not attend college, but whatever God has for their future will require persuasive, articulate speaking and writing skills. Competence in these areas is necessary, be they a doctor or homemaker, carpenter or missionary. No doubt, communication is a life skill. Ultimately, however, my goal for my children is for them to possess the ability to articulate the love of Christ to others.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” -1Peter 3:15

I’m thankful that I see my rhetoric students developing excellent communication skills, and I’m thankful for the academic role Tapestry of Grace plays in their lives. I know God has a beautiful plan for their future, and it is a blessing to daily watch them develop. As they learn to communicate well, I am overcome with joy. I have no doubt God is preparing them not only for their future professions but also “to be ready to give an answer..”

My lovely rhetoric daughters and some Tapestry essays

Poetry in Motion

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Posting this one because I’m so proud Joshua, the producer…

This was taken by one of my dearest friend’s son. My girls enjoyed an afternoon at their house last weekend. This video captures a few moments of life and makes it beautiful… something we should have eyes to see always. Our days and moments are gifts. As another friend of mine posted, this is “poetry in motion.”

Ice Cream, Please?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

This little girls likes treats!

A funny…

Yesterday, Esther accompanied Anna and me to town for one of Anna’s dance classes. Shortly after dropping Anna off, we approached McDonald’s. Esther asked sweetly, “Mommy, how about if you and I get a little treat.”  I responded, “Not today Esther, we need to get home.”

A few stoplights later, Esther tried again with a “good for us” tactic. “Mommy, mommy… Sweet Frog! Frozen yogurt is healthy. We should do that instead!” Again, I denied her request.

One stoplight later, as we approached the last “treat spot” before the stretch of highway leading home, Esther says, “Chick-fil-A! It’s my favorite. Chick-fil-A ice cream isn’t expensive. Please, Mommy?” I responded just a little more firmly, “Esther, we are not getting ice cream. We need to get home.”

Esther, a little exasperated but as persistant as ever and with a “let’s-end-this-now” tone responded, “Mommy. I do NOT want to fight with you about this, OK???? I just want some ice cream.”

It was the tone I use and the exact words I use when requesting my children do something they don’t want to do. I know she has heard, “Esther, I do not want to fight with you. Pick up your toys and put them away (and then there is usually a warning of consequence.) I need you to obey.”

Now, for the record Esther did not get her ice cream. She also was reprimanded for her tone and given a little “respect” talk.

But I am still chuckling. You can’t blame her for trying 🙂

Building Our Shelves

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

"I am Poseidon"

Not long ago, my son made a comment that I’m still chuckling over. He astutely stated, “Mom, I read some articles on homeschooling in a magazine and I’ve come to the conclusion that before we started Tapestry of Grace, we were unschoolers.”

Now, I know some wonderful, successful unschoolers, but that is not a term that I ever would choose to describe our schooling methods. However, when my oldest child began school,  I was way too busy with three preschoolers to attempt a real curriculum. Instead, we focused on the basics and enjoyed good books. I bought some art supplies that we used once a week. We talked about everything and enjoyed learning all the time… not just during our “official” school hours. Curriculums scared me so I tended to avoid massive amounts of lesson plans.

Enter Tapestry of Grace (ToG)

A dear friend of mine introduced me to ToG when my oldest was nearing junior high. I purchased the dialectic books only and it was a perfect fit! Her siblings, however, became jealous. “How come she gets all the new books?!” they’d complain Gradually, much to my little people’s delight, I added lower and upper-grammar books, to “be fair.”

Back in the early days, I was afraid of curriculum, but if I could go back, I’d have invested in ToG from the beginning.

ToG is a Classical curriculum that follows the Trivium, or three stages of development and learning. These three stages are grammar, dialectic and rhetoric. During the grammar stage, or until a child is about twelve, children readily memorize facts. In the junior high years, young teens enter the logic stage and begin to reason and ask questions. Finally, during the rhetoric stage, which occurs in high school, students  reason and make judgments about information. Tapestry’s curriculum challenges children at each of these stages to first acquire a base of knowledge (grammar), then learn to ask questions and analyze the information (logic) and finally, persuade and communicate effectively their opinions about the information (rhetoric).

My grammar-aged children love Tapestry! The beauty of homeschooling with ToG, is mom remains in control of that stress-o-meter. Mom can choose to accomplish as much or little as she chooses.

A lap book my upper-grammar made with two of her friends. What a fantastic way to incorporate writing with history studies!

I’ve heard it explained that ToG is like a buffet. Mom has the privilege of deciding how much school is accomplished from a plethora of options. The first year plan I bought took us two years to complete and we still skipped a lot. However, it was delightful and we learned so much!

Our upper-grammars at co-op working on their newspaper articles

My grammar Tapestry students do not memorize dates. They don’t do the timelines. We don’t attempt defining all the vocabulary words. Yes, we do some memory work but my children are not stressed. They LOVE learning and feel included in a common homeschooling purpose. After all, they are studying the same history as their high school siblings! This makes them feel that their academics are just as important.

When asked what she likes most about school, my 9-year old exclaimed, “I love all the history I learn and the art. I also like how everything always goes together… like my literature books are about the history and the art is too.”

I agree, wholeheartedly! While she didn’t mention the writing as part of that “going together,” it is one of my very favorite aspects of Tapestry’s grammar instruction. ToG follows a model of “read, think, and then write.” Thus, grammar students know the subject material they are asked to write about. Often, when teaching writing, student lack of information is the most difficult hurdle. Young children just don’t know what to put on the page. The Tapestry model takes care of that. Furthermore, the writing reinforces their history studies.

ToG gives my grammar students confidence. I’ve heard the knowledge “base” that grammar students acquire through Classical education described as a “shelf.” Later, the shelf will be full, but for the grammar years, a shelf is all that’s needed. My children are exposed to rich literature, history and vocabulary though the excellent Tapestry book selections. On a weekly, if not daily basis, they are given little trinkets to put on their shelves:

  • A Sunday School teacher speaks of the Nile River and my 4th grader exclaims, “Hey! I studied that. It flows south to north!”
  • Our neighbor has a Honda Odyssey van and the connection is made… “Is that word “Odyssey” like the book?”
  • An expression is heard, “We don’t want to open Pandora’s Box!” and the Greek myth immediately comes to my young one’s mind.

In addition to giving them confidence, Tapestry encourages creativity in my younger children. Yes, the art activities are wonderful, but even in their spare time, my grammar students create. Often their creative endeavors are history-based.

“Look,  Mom, It’s a Ba-Gyptian house! (my almost kindergartener)

A "Ba-gyptian house" and a sphinx

My little Aphrodite made her own costume, wrote her biography and recited it at our end-of-unit celebration.

Aphrodite - Goddess of beauty

In some ways, our early days of homeschooling were much like they are today. Then, we enjoyed learning and tried to incorporate art into our lives when we could. We discussed great books. We learned all day long, not just during school hours. We still do all those things. However, I now have a buffet to choose from whereas I once felt I had to “cook from scratch” in order to eat. We love our non-stressful, fun, confidence-building, creativity-encouraging curriculum. My grammar students are building their shelves and those shelves are getting bigger by the day!

Hands-On Homeschooling for the Hands-Off Mom

Monday, March 5th, 2012

I have a confession.

I’m a “hands-off” mom.

I do not like unnecessary messes. I do not like clutter. I do not like half-completed projects all over my house, markers without lids or dried play-doh in my carpet.

I definitely do not like papier-mache’.

And yes, I homeschool. Furthermore, my curriculum, Tapestry of Grace (ToG), excels at fantastic art projects and “hands-on” activities. I’ve never seen more beautiful art books and exciting activity suggestions. Many more-creative moms are drawn to Tapestry’s “hands-on” qualities. I, on the other hand, once perused the pages of the art books and felt overcome by guilt and gloom. “Why am I purchasing these books when I dislike art?” I asked myself.

My 9th grader with her display of the Hebrew alphabet.

I’m here to liberate any ToG moms who, like me, do not fit the homeschool-moms-must-like-art stereotype. You don’t have to like art to be a homeschooling mother. I’ve noticed, however, that quite often moms such as I are blessed with children who are as “hands-on” as we are “off!” My children THRIVE on art activities, clutter, half-completed projects, markers, play-doh and anything messy. Creative and artistic, they learn best through kinesthetic activity.

What’s a mom, particularly a hands-off-Tapestry-of-Grace mom, to do? My children need creative activities. This need, for eleven years and counting of homeschooling, has stretched me and put me a little out of my “hands-off” comfort zone. I still am not naturally a “hands-on” mom, but I’ve learned a few art-implementing coping strategies over the years that I am delighted to share:

  1. Buy the Tapestry of Grace art books anyway. Trust me, you will be glad you own them.

    Scratchboard pharaoh - no mess involved!

  2. Consider outsourcing. There is no law anywhere that states, “Homeschooling mothers must do everything themselves.” Would an older teen be interested in leading a weekly/monthly art time? Is there an artistically gifted mother with whom you could barter services?
  3. Join forces with another family. This truly can make all the difference. What may be considered drudgery alone is delightful with friends, both for children and moms. If two families alternate hosting art day, that is half the mess and twice the fun! I once met weekly with a mom just to do the lap books. This set-aside time became a highlight of my upper-grammar’s week.
  4. Purchase some simple art supplies – “How to Draw” books, Sculpey clay, oversized paper, Prisma-color pencils, scratch board, and markers. Often our children can be satisfied with a not-so-messy activity and, with the right supplies, they can create their own art projects.

    Salt map of Egypt.

  5. Shop Goodwill. My children LOVE historical costumes. I’ve found 50’s skirts, colonial mob-caps, lace- up vests, Renaissance dresses and many other gems at used clothing stores. Often, this satisfies that need for creativity. My children have written many costume-inspired plays.
  6. Start small. Really, the blogosphere is full of amazing, hands-on Tapestry projects. They are impressive. However, every week there are many projects to choose from. Avoid the messiest or most difficult if it stresses you. Many of Tapestry’s activities are quite simple and make little mess. We’ve strung beads, painted rocks, etched designs on scratchboard and drawn pictures with colored pencils. Easy (even for me!)
  7. Plan. Pick a day with little on the calendar for art projects. They do take time. I don’t want to come home from swimming practice and have to clear the table of toilet-paper tubes and hot glue before dinner.

    A ziggurat my daughter made in her spare time with paint, scissors and a cardboard box.

  8. Resist sentimentality at the expense of clutter. Once a project is complete, display it, take a picture and then throw it away. Yes, I am serious. If I didn’t do this, I’d have to rent a storage building to hold everything as I don’t have room for salt maps, clay figures, and cardboard box ziggurats (x 6 children) in my house! Of course, I may resist pitching projects until after they’re displayed at our end-of-unit celebrations.
  9. Use art time to motivate. My children view art like “dessert for school.” It is a reward for work well done.
  10. Do the art. It doesn’t have to be every week, but pick some projects, plan a day, and smile as you watch your child learn by doing.

Lap book time with friends... A highly-anticipated weekly event.

Only my dearest friends know that “hands-on” isn’t my forte’. This is because we’ve produced some stunning creative projects at the Jobe Academy. My children are blessed with a creativity gene. My older girls decorate cakes and sew. They knit. They search the internet and assemble projects for children they babysit. They paint, draw and cartoon. My oldest daughter choreographs beautiful dances. My son manifests his creativity in building. He loves robotics and legos. I smile as I see their God-given gifts developing, and I am thankful. I am thankful that a “hands-off” mom like me is blessed with creative “hands-on” children.

And I am encouraged to keep getting out the art for my grammar children…

…Well, except the papier mache’ 🙂

Those Wonderful, Tapestry Books (and Where to Get Them)

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

My youngest with one of her favorite lower grammar books

“Mommy, please read to me.”

This is a request that I can not resist. I know how quickly my little book lovers become big book lovers, and I know how quickly they grow out of my lap! Some of my most cherished homeschooling moments include snuggling and read-aloud time.

While I love many things about our curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, the reading selections are my favorite. My younger children gravitate toward the beautifully illustrated lower-grammar books. Challenging and engaging, the upper- grammar books serve as an enjoyable bridge from grammar to dialectic-stage skills. Text increases, yet illustrations hold attention. Dialectic-level books encourage understanding of story. While some are high-school level, they hold attention and challenge developing critical thinking skills. My rhetoric students are  no doubt becoming prepared for college through their Tapestry literature and history studies. Tapestry of Grace books fill our home. They’ve provided my children with rich experiences, adventures, and knowledge. They adorn every room of my house, and if we didn’t own them, I’d miss them terribly.

Each year, when it’s time to “pass down” books, it is like giving away a favorite comfortable article of clothing. “Oh mom, I LOVED that book! Do I really have hand it down?” I hear.  Of course, once the older book-passer-downer is given her new stash, all is well. From my almost-lower-grammar preschooler to my rising junior in high school, my children are blessed with Tapestry’s carefully chosen, rich, engaging books. They are truly the best of the best.

One of the biggest challenges for Tapestry users is acquiring the books needed. I know because I have spent a great deal of several summers pricing and piecing together our book list… quite a task with children in every level! I’ve discovered over the years, three ways to get the books I need:

  1. Borrow from the library: This is free, but time consuming and unpredictable. The library has been the cause of Tapestry abandonment and the death of our schedule more weeks than I care to remember. While I have good intentions, I just can’t seem to get to there, so I give my children a pass for “just one more day..”
  2. Purchase Used: If I find a Tapestry book I need at a yard sale, Goodwill or a used book sale, I grab it, pay for it, and thank the Lord for bringing such a deal my way! However, online bookstores are not always the best bargain. By the time shipping is added to the cost, the book price often is little less, if not more, than it is new. Also, keeping up with multiple transactions is confusing. I’ve ordered books that never did arrive and discovered the problem the night before I needed them.
  3. Purchase New: Of course, there are a plethora of options. Bookstores abound. But my favorite store and one I am delighted to patronize is Bookshelf Central.

Bookshelf Central and Tapestry of Grace have partnered with one another, and the result is a friendly, convenient, informative bookstore that caters to unique needs of of Tapestry users. What are those needs?

  1. One place that carries all Tapestry titles. I personally have never found Bookshelf Central to be out of anything I need. Unlike other stores, there is no need to shop each title. If it’s a Tapestry book, it’s in their inventory.
  2. The ability to sort book lists by the year plan, unit, level or subject. This is immensely helpful when I am planning my purchases. This year, for example, we didn’t purchase the dialectic art books because our co-op owns them. Sometimes I just want to buy one unit at a time. These lists can be printed which is another helpful feature. I can truly complete even a large order in just a few minutes.
  3. Full descriptions of each and every book. Tapestry implements many books in their curriculum that other websites don’t describe, at least not in detail. I love to read Bookshelf Central’s descriptions. One thing I appreciate immensely is their suggestions. Periodically, they will mention, “If you can only buy one book for all levels on this subject, buy this one.” I nearly always follow their purchasing suggestions for saving money.
  4. Information on how long each book is used: This also saves me money. If a lower grammar book is only used one week and I have a book that I can substitute, I do. Bookshelf Central provides the information that helps me make those kinds of cost-effective decisions.
  5. Pictures of Books: I must admit that I have so many books that a picture of the cover is helpful. There have been times I’ve ordered a book that I already owned because I didn’t recognize the title. I almost never forget a visual image.
  6. A used bookstore: Tapestry users can list their used books and make a little money. If I am going to buy a book used, I’d much rather support another Tapestry family than buy randomly from a large used bookstore with zillions of sellers.
  7. Very fair, comparable prices: I have found Bookshelf Central to be as cheap as Amazon, if not cheaper on most of their inventory.
  8. An opportunity to give: Donated used Tapestry books are given to missionaries who need them. I really like this 🙂
  9. Excellent Customer Service: I’ve spoken with them on several occasions and they are always very helpful.
  10. Free shipping on orders of $175 or more: With six children in four Tapestry levels, this is easy for me. However, I have split my order with a friend a few times to meet this minimum.

Year 1 books... all together in one place.

Last summer, for the first time ever, I took inventory and ordered every book I needed from Bookshelf Central. In the past, I’ve acquired my books through the library or piece-mealing. Never again. My books arrived quickly and in perfect condition. The children and I delighted in organizing them by level and having them ready for each new week. Supporting a store that puts effort toward saving me time and making my book shopping as stress-free as possible, is something I feel good about.  I did not miss my previous experience of waiting for individually wrapped used books to arrive from various sellers. I didn’t miss e-mailing to inquire when books were shipped, and I don’t miss weekly trips to the library. My books are organized and ready for each new week which means I have more time to do what I love – enjoy reading Tapestry books with my children!

Let’s Celebrate Year 1 Unit 1!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Fall means new beginnings… New notebooks. New literature and history books! New grades… new everything! The air is naturally filled with excitement in September with so much “new-ness.” As the year drones on and the excitement tends to wane, it can be easy to lose the enthusiasm. We’ve found end-of-unit celebrations to be just what the doctor ordered to give our studies a celebratory feeling all year long. Who doesn’t like a party?

Certainly not these children…

Or these adults!

While we’ve enjoyed Tapestry of Grace (ToG), a literature-rich, Classical curriculum, for five years, this is the first year we’ve joined other families in our studies. The saying, “Many hands make work light” has never been more true! Planning was easy for this event. We just asked each family to bring some food and come prepared to share highlights of our first nine weeks of learning. While historically significant food, like a Seder meal, would have been fun, we opted for simplicity and enjoyed a traditional potluck.

While the Tapestry teacher’s notes as well as several Yahoo support groups contain endless ideas for planning a celebration, we truly did little planning for this event. We simply set aside an afternoon for the children to demonstrate their new knowledge and accomplishments. Here are some highlights of our first celebration this past fall…

After our shared meal, we had a time for presentations and my living room was packed!

Talented musicians opened our time with the national anthem of Israel. This piano and violin duet beautifully set the stage, taking us back to the ancient cultures and preparing us to hear all about our nine weeks of learning.
Three of our upper-grammars met weekly to work on their lap books. They loved the weekly additions they added to their project. What a wonderful way to reinforce history concepts!
The lower grammars got the giggles as they performed a little skit…
A  display of beautiful Creation posters

One family brought in a Seder plate and explained the symbolism of each item. This was especially meaningful after our study of the Hebrew people.

Our art demonstrations were fantastic!

Some dialectics shared posters illustrating the Hebrew alphabet and Abraham’s family tree…

Two Egyptian princesses hosted a question and answer session about their culture. The quote I remember is, “This blond bun has no historical cultural relevance whatsoever. Chloe has a more authentic hairstyle, most definitely.” Both girls knew their history and shared numerous interesting facts. The adults could not stump them with any amount of questions!

A performance that will not soon be forgotten is this one… An Egyptian rap about Queen Hatshepsut – who really did build a “pink sphinx.” The inspiration for this musical masterpiece occurred during a rhetoric discussion. These girls met on a Sunday afternoon to put their thoughts to music and this is the result…

It’s unbelievable how much we covered in just 9 short weeks! Creation. Noah. The passover. The tabernacle. Abraham. Moses. Slavery in Egypt. Deliverance. The Ten Commandments. Ancient Egyptian culture. Mesopotamia. Geography. Jewish holidays and so much more!

Our first end-of-unit gathering filled my home with energy and enthusiasm… enough to inspire us to persevere. Our goal of this gathering, to enjoy an afternoon sharing our nine weeks of learning, no doubt was accomplished. Because the children selected what they desired to share, they felt ownership of their studies and proud of their achievements. As our afternoon drew to an end, I heard chatter full of ideas for “next time.” Learning is fun, and this gang looks forward to all that’s in store, especially three more fun-filled end-of-unit celebrations!