Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

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

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!

I’m a ToG Booth Hostess!

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

I was just informed yesterday that I’ve been selected to represent Tapestry of Grace as the lead booth hostess at the Southeast Great Homeschool Convention.

I’m excited. I know I’ll be on my feet. I know it will be work. I know it will be a tiring endeavor. However, I truly love our curriculum and I’m excited to share it with others. Encouraging other homeschooling mothers is a passion of mine. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a salesperson. However, when a product has blessed my life, I can’t help but share my enthusiasm. I wonder how many Bosch mixers, IEW products or Tapestry year plans I’ve “sold” (without commission:) over the years! So while I know my time as a booth hostess will be tiring, I am very much looking forward to it.

I also am delighted that Marcia and Scott Somerville will be at this conference as speakers. Marcia wrote this curriculum after coming close to quitting homeschooling. She’d been at it for ten years and felt pulled in too many directions (something that resonates with me as I am ending my 11th year and busier than ever with our children’s education.) The Lord led Marcia to write Tapestry of Grace for her own six children and for a co-op where she taught history. As she taught her classes, the plans she created developed into this rich, Classical curriculum. Now thousands of families, my own included, are blessed by her wonderful product. Marcia also is a gifted, encouraging speaker. Of all the conference speakers I’ve ever heard, she and Sally Clarkson are my favorites. Both of these mentors of mine possess a gift of encouragement. Every time I’ve heard Marcia, I’m not only inspired to better my teaching skills, but I’m encouraged; just encouraged – that I’m a child of God, a wife, and a mom to six wonderful children and that the Lord will equip me in every way. That I can work in her booth and represent her company is an honor.

If you are planning to be at the Southeast Great Homeschool Convention March 22nd-24th, please stop by the Tapestry of Grace booth. I’d love to see you and say hello!

If you’re in need of teaching inspiration or encouragement in general check out Marcia’s blog, Love the Journey. I’m on a blog fast right now, but hers is one I frequent, normally.

Give Me Jesus

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

It has, without a doubt, been an incredible first 9 weeks of school. We’ve been studying Tapestry of Grace Year 1 in our co-op, and I’m shocked with how much we’ve covered in just 9 weeks. We’ve studied ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and the history of the Hebrew people. The children have read about and studied the Jewish holidays, the tabernacle, passover and focused on creation, Moses, Abraham and Noah. They’ve read through the first three books of the Bible. I must say, studying these books within their historical context has been eye-opening. I wonder how many times I’ve read about the exodus of the Hebrew people out of Egypt. This time I felt as if I was there. I struggled with their rebellious nature. I identified with it. I thanked the Lord for their history and wrestled with it being mine. (more on this later)

The very week we  read about the passover and tabernacle, we were able to participate in a tabernacle exhibit/presentation as well as attend the ballet “Deliver Us” by our favorite dance company, Ballet Magnificat! – all in one day. Pictures speak louder than words about the awesomeness of these two events…

Pictured above is a small scale model of the tabernacle, the high priest, our group in front of the holy of holies, table of showbread, incense, and the Ten Commandments. God was very specific in his instructions for the tabernacle. In the past, I skimmed as I read all the many details of its construction and use, dimensions, purpose, etc. However, this setup informed the Israelites that they could only come to Him in the way he commanded.  I don’t think any of us will soon forget the smell of incense that burned as we listened to tabernacle presentation. As we sang and the smells surrounded me, I tried to picture the altar of sacrifice… and the blood and ceremony that would entail.

And then later that night, our group travelled an hour away to watch the story of Israelites’ freedom from oppression. While slaves in Egypt, they were given a powerful leader, Moses, who was chosen by God to lead them out of their captivity.

He spoke to Pharoah, but Pharoah refused to release God’s people… until the plaque of death took the life of his son.

The plaque of death passed over the homes of the Israelites. They were instructed to paint their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificed lamb… and that blood spared the lives of their sons.

After the powerful passover scene of the ballet, I expected to see the deliverance… the exodus… the march through the Red Sea. However, Ballet Magnificat! instead portrayed the crucifixion of our Lord. I fought the tears and held my breath as I watched.

And then a company member spoke. “You may wonder why we went from the passover to the crucifixion of Christ. God commanded blood for the forgiveness of sins. The Israelites were in bondage and they received deliverance from Egypt. The spirit of death passed over their households because of the blood of the sacrificed lamb. Jesus Christ is our passover lamb. He is our deliverer from the bondage we have to sin. The story of the Israelites is also our story. Christ is our deliverer.

And as he spoke, I thought about the tabernacle. God was specific with the way in which He was to be worshipped then, and he is specific now. The Israelites could only come to Him in the way He prescribed, and we can only come to Him one way now – through Jesus Christ.

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. …By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. …And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” (Hebrews 10:10, 14, 18)

Our group with Kathy Thibodeaux, founder of Ballet Magnificat!

On the way home from the ballet, I listened to a van full of girls sing “Give me Jesus.” Many of them take choir together so they beautifully sang in harmony. I thanked God for the way He orchestrated our day. I prayed it meant half as much to the children as it did to me and a question interrupted my thoughts. “Mrs Jobe,” asked one of the girls. “Do you think God possibly put together this field trip just for us? I mean what would the chances really be of seeing a Tabernacle display and then a ballet on Exodus just as we’ve finished studying this?

I answered truthfully, “Yes. I have no doubt God put this day together for us!”

And then the girls continued in their song:

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

I listened and wept tears of thankfulness. Because I have Jesus, I can enter the holy of holies. The animal sacrifices of the Israelites were temporary. When new sins were committed, new animals were killed. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came as the ultimate and last sacrifice for humanity when He offered up His life.

Thank you, Jesus, for a powerful visual reminder of what you came to earth to do!

Off to a Great Start!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

For the past several years we’ve attempted studying a Classical curriculum called Tapestry of Grace. Regretfully, this very rich and thorough material has been little more than a reading list for our family. Good intentions are there, but I simply don’t have time to engage my high schoolers in Socratic discussions in literature, history and philosophy and simultaneously teach my younger children to read, spell and perform basic math operations. Thus, we’ve read some Tapestry recommended books while many books, those that demand explanation and discussion, have collected dust on my overflowing bookshelves.

Last year I knew something had to change with our homeschooling. Four out of six of my children had moved beyond the early years where I felt comfortable “sticking with the basics” and “dropping the extras.” The problem was, they simply lacked the motivation to study the more difficult subjects. Don’t get me wrong. My children are excellent students, but tackling high-school-level courses was just plain hard for them. No longer did my bragging on them to dad and grandma provide extrinsic motivation and the intrinsic motivation for Algebra and Literature Analysis just wasn’t there.

In our small town, we do have a high school learning co-op that is excellent. However, I could not justify spending two days a week driving around town during school hours for two children. While my high schoolers would benefit for sure, the other four would be stuck in the van. Not good.

So, my husband I began praying. Should we put our three grade-school/jr. high – aged children at our local Classical private school so I could have more time for my older children? Should we investigate the many online high-school options? Could we possibly find ways to help our older children “own” their education and become intrinsically motivated, even with those harder courses? None of these options were bad ones, but the expense of private school or multiple online classes seemed prohibitive. My high schoolers love home schooling but they admitted that they struggled to memorize vocabulary and study history when their musical instruments, hobbies or even their little sister continually called their name.

Over several months, the Lord put together a new adventure for our family. Several friends of mine were experiencing the same homeschooling frustrations. Out of that, a new idea was born… a Tapestry of Grace co-op! Two of my friends had used the curriculum with more success than I, but they both agreed discussing the material in a group would be extremely beneficial. For me, having ALL my children engaged in age-appropriate classes was important. So, this year, once a week, all of our children head to our church for a 5-hour co-op. Esther loves her new preschool classes. Sarah is delighted to not only discuss history and literature, but to have art, science and Latin. My twins are dialectics (junior high) and they now have motivation to finish the history and literature selections as well as memorize their Geography. After all, they will discuss everything in class! Anna and Christina are writing essays and participating in excellent Socratic discussions. Knowing they must come prepared on Mondays is making a huge difference!

The other day, I found this on our coffee table in the den:

I consider pyramid sketchings during free time a good thing 🙂 And there is more…

Last weekend,I requested the children watch an ancient history documentary during our family movie time. Yes, they groaned. But… after turning it off because it was getting late, Nathan requested to wake up early so he could finish it 🙂

Our geography teachers have been using wipe on/wipe off maps of ancient Africa. My non-geography (in the past) girls asked if it would be too expensive for me to purchase a set of these maps so they can practice at home. (I said yes, of course!)

Bethany met two friends at the library today so she could work on a bonus history assignment.

The only down side so far is that my natural self is a bit lazy. With all this accountability comes work at home. Yes, we are having to get up a little earlier so we can get this work done! However, this is exactly the change I felt was needed last year.

I am excited about this new learning adventure with some very special people. There is much, much to learn, and we’re off to a great start!

Tapestry of Grace Notebooks

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

5 ToG notebooks... ready for co-op~

Other than a few ballet posts, I’ve been pretty quiet this summer. That is not because we’ve not been living life 🙂 What a wonderful summer this has been! One of the most exciting “time consumers” of this season has been a new Tapestry of Grace co-op I’ve helped organize. Tapestry of Grace (ToG) is a Classical curriculum that I’ve used sporadically over the past few years. I love it! However, a good Classical curriculum must utilize Socratic discussion, and that is where I’ve failed. Our new co-op will change all that. I’m so excited. There are 13 families participating and I know it is going to be a fantastic year! All ages (preschool through high school) are included. The enrollment is closed for this year because the structure demands a planning weekend to organize. While the tuition is free, all participating parents must teach and assist the classes. Yet, it has all come together and I am so excited about our new academic learning adventure.

These pictures are primarily for those trying to get their notebooks organized for our co-op. I stayed up until 3 am last night putting 5 of these together (only because I was determined they’d be done before Daniel and I leave for a conference.) Some of the structure I adapted from Marcia Somerville’s training talks. Keep in mind this is not THE only way to do this, but if it helps – go for it!

Notebook is about 2" size. This is Anna's (rhetoric level)

Next I have weekly assignments. You could use any sheets you like. I took these from a planning book I purchased.

These are the assignment sheets opened up. Each double spread is one week. I include all subjects here - math, latin, science and ToG. My kids need a checklist.

Behind the assignment sheets, I have tabs numbered 1-9. I will only put 9 weeks of ToG in the notebooks at a time. Next unit, I'll cover these with #s 10-18.

The first sheet behind each numbered tab is the reading assignment sheet for the week. I'll highlight the books each child needs to read and then they can break the reading assignments down into pages/chapters per day on their weekly assignment sheets (in front of notebooks.)

Behind the reading assignment sheets, I have the SAP's (Student activity pages) for that particular week. Here, my children will find the overview of material, history/church history discussion questions, literature worksheets, geography and philosophy assignments. Behind the SAP's (AND NOT PICTURED) are the week's evaluations for each week.

Next I have subject dividers. For Anna's this includes, history/church history, literature, geography, SAT prep, writing and philosophy. She has separate notebooks for Science and Math.

Behind the Geography tab, I have all the maps for the unit. I put them behind sheet protectors so my children can label them daily with fine tipped dry-erase to test their knowledge.

So, I basically divided the SAP’s into the 9 weeks and printed all the geography and evaluations for the first unit. I put them behind the 1-9 tabs. In the past, I’ve found if don’t assemble all the papers the children need, I end up skipping them. It seems it should only take 5 minutes to make a copy… but those 5 minuts have been the end of our school day at times. The geography maps could go behind the #1-9 as well, but I separated them because I liked the way the sleeves looked in their own section. I did clearly label on each sleeve what week each map would be used. Also, the #1-9 is new for me this year. In the past, I’d file each sheet behind subjects. The problem I found was that my children misfiled them. I like the idea of all the sheets for each week being in one place.

I may put a zippered plastic sleeve in the front with pencils, erasers, a small ruler, dry erase marker, etc.

Hope this helps some of you ToG moms! Happy planning!

What’s up?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Yes, that's Anna... Watch out!

I’m just three days shy of one month with no blogging updates. I don’t have writer’s block. Everything is ok. I am just ending the month of madness – and I’m not talking about basketball.

Since Easter we have:

Christina turned 14!

Visited family in Greensboro

Danced in a ballet recital

Celebrated Christina’s 14th birthday at Carowinds

Continued with church activities including youth, worship practice (Daniel), MOPS mentoring (me) and babysitting (girls) and hosting small group

Endured end-of-grade testing

Played in the end-of-year band concert

Celebrated Mother’s Day

Wrapped up co-op classes, including the two classes I taught

Secured a braces date for Nathan

Continued private music lessons and ballet

Delivered a few meals to friends recovering from illness

Continued with swim practice for Nathan

Cheered Anna on as she got her learner’s permit

Exercise myself with some consistency

Gone to Carowinds again!

Met with a planning team for some educational classes for next school year several times.

Cleaned out our attic (a huge undertaking for a busy month! But yeah! So glad it’s done before it’s too hot to work up there!)

Celebrated the graduates of our homeschool group

Rejoiced in the marriage of two dear friends

May events still to come:

A piano recital for Christina

A tonsillectomy for Nathan 🙁

A huge dance recital for Bethany and Anna

A birthday for Daniel’s

And then, finally, summer 🙂

For the past several years, May has been exceptionally busy. Every class has an end-of-the-year recital or party. We must test the children. Folks graduate. We celebrate. And I end the month a little tired but so thankful; thankful for the academic and spiritual growth of my children; thankful for our church family; thankful for teachers investing in my children’s lives; thankful for dear ones graduating; thankful for the blessings of homeschooling; thankful for God’s grace throughout another school year and thankful for the summer weeks ahead.

Grandall and Esther on Easter day