Archive for the ‘Tapestry of Grace’ Category

Year 4, Unit 2 Celebration

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

We love unit celebrations.

They are a fabulous way to bring closure to a period of history. Tapestry of Grace is a very comprehensive curriculum, but there is always more that can be done. Weeks may go by with no crafts accomplished. Perhaps we didn’t get to all of the discussions. We may have omitted an excellent read-aloud,  one we’d like to eventually enjoy. Maybe we skipped geography a few weeks or didn’t have that enrichment movie night. Several reports are still on the to-do list. We moms are so good at focusing on what we don’t do. “Analysis paralysis” may strike; an ailment causing us to get stuck, and we fail to move ahead in the curriculum.

Unit celebrations are fun for our children, but they are profitable for moms because they give us opportunity to focus on what we have accomplished. Our children will not remember every book they read or project they make or report they write. However, they will remember dressing up like their favorite character, spending a day in the kitchen with mom or playing a fun game with families. They’ll remember the field trips. They’ll remember the parties. Unit celebrations are a time when we moms, with our children, can smile and say, “Hey! We did a lot and we learned a lot… and we will celebrate our accomplishments and move on.” And the great thing about Tapestry is we will visit the time period again. There is time for the read-aloud that sat unopened or the map transparency project. At unit celebrations, however, we can be thankful for what we accomplished, celebrate, and make memories with our children.

Our local co-op does not meet for classes in December. We finish up unit 2 the week before Thanksgiving so that our families can have a long break between semesters. The holiday season is busy, but we’ve found a covered dish dinner and group game lends itself well to a celebratory December event. Families have little to prepare – just some food to contribute to the dinner. This December celebration consisted of an Axis dinner and Jeopardy game. I’ll highlight some fun tips for any who’d like to recreate our time of celebrating Year 4, Unit 2.


My cake decorators... they spent several hours creating the perfect battle scene

My cake decorators… they spent several hours creating the perfect battle scene










The Cake:

I have five daughters and we have made many cakes, but this one is probably the most boy-friendly one we have ever attempted. We used a very large round pan (14 X 3) for the base of the cake as well as a jumbo muffin pan. We simply made a one-layer cake (huge!) and then placed the 12 jumbo cake muffins around the large circle and on top to vary the “landscape.”

I had army men, but I purchased these pullback tanks from Amazon. The grammar students spent the last half hour of our celebration racing their little tanks, and they later happily took them home for their souvenirs. The flags were downloaded and printed from Enchanted Learning and taped onto toothpicks.

A cake this large took three cake mixes, but making my homemade chocolate- mocha icing made it seem “from scratch” through and through.

Chocolate-Mocha Icing:

1 stick Butter (minus 1 tablespoon) 
1 tablespoon Oil 
4 tablespoons Cocoa 
1/2 cup Decaf. coffee or 1 t. instant coffee mixed in 1/2 c. water
4 cups Powdered sugar (maybe a little more or less… till desired consistency)
2 tablespoons Flour 
pinch Salt 
1 teaspoon Vanilla 

Combine sugar, salt, cocoa and flour. Cream butter with oil. Alternate adding the sugar mixture with the coffee. Add vanilla.

When icing this cake, keep in mind that the goal is to create texture. This is one cake that does not need to be smooth, and yes, my girls enjoyed creating “mud” out of icing with their fingers. They cut off some of the tops of the muffins so that the hills had flat surfaces. Some they left rounded. There were no pictures to meticulously follow; this cake evolved creatively!

You can make dirt/mud using crushed Oreos or crumbled chocolate cake. We also used crumbled Vanilla Wafers for light colored rock and sand. This cake was very fun to make, de-militarize, and eat!

The Food:

Families brought in food from Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. We discussed having US, French and British food as well. However, we felt we were more familiar with these foods and our kids like to try new things. So, we enjoyed lasagna (Italy), sushi (Japan), stroganoff (Russia) and potatoes and sauerkraut (Germany). We had a variety of breads as well as Russian tea cookies. The food was delicious!

 The Fellowship:

For most of the evening, our only agenda was enjoying one another’s company. We are blessed with a wonderful group of homeschooling families!


 And finally, The Game:

We played a very fun game of Jeopardy. So that all students, no matter their age, could play, we prepared questions for each level: lower grammar, upper grammar, dialectic, rhetoric and parent. Questions were written on index cards and placed inside colorful library pockets mounted on the game board. We divided into two teams, the Axis and Allies, of course! Points were determined by rolling a dice. The team that rolled decided what level question and what category they wanted, and only students of the level selected could answer. If the team could not answer, the other team received a chance to do so and win the points. If that team couldn’t answer, the turn returned to the original team and at that point, they could ask another level of students to help them. We asked that the children of each level take turns being the spokesperson for their team because all of the children wanted a chance to answer the questions. Some questions received double points. We did not allow a team to keep answering questions if they got the correct answer. This was a game of luck (rolling dice and double point questions ensured the “luck” part), but it was fun because it moved fairly quickly, and both teams and all levels experienced success in getting correct answers and stealing points.

Here is a picture of the game board –


The library pockets were purchased here and attached to a tri-fold styrofoam board with rubber cement. As you can see, each level (parent, rhetoric, dialectic, upper grammar and lower grammar) is color-coded. The questions came from the homework thinking questions and evaluations.


Hubby kept score. He also timed each team once the question was asked. They only had 30 seconds to consult with their team mates and answer the question. I think the Axis powers won, but to the Allies defense, they received no “double-score” bonus points. Speaking of the double points, if we play this game again, I will make the double-point cards a different color. I marked them with a little star, but I’m afraid that as I led the game, I may have missed a few.

I had fun being Vanna White

I had fun being Vanna White

This was a fun evening! It was encouraging for the students to realize that they could answer questions designated for the parents. Nothing was more precious than seeing the little lower grammars jumping up and down in anticipation of answering their special questions.

Again, there is always more to learn and always more to do, but at the end of the night, we walked away feeling pretty smart! What a fun way to end the second unit of Year 4!

Esther helps me prepare Russian stroganoff

Esther helps me prepare Russian stroganoff, and yes, this was a homeschool pajama day.

De-militarizing the cake!

De-militarizing the cake!


Finally, Year 4!

Monday, August 18th, 2014

It is so hard to believe that this year our  Tapestry of Grace co-op that began three years ago will complete Year 4, the final year of the curriculum. When we began our co-op, my friends and I were on different years of the four year cycle. We collectively decided that Year 1 was a very good place for a co-op to start. Thus, our family, after finishing Year 3, skipped Year 4 and went back to the Ancients. All that to say that in my eight years of homeschooling with Tapestry, I have never completed Year 4. Yes, I spent two years in Years 1 and 2 the fist time around and then did Years  3, 1, 2, and 3 again. Finally, the Jobe family will study the 20th century! Thankfully, my oldest daughter completed Year 4 through the Lampstand Learning Center her senior year. I would not have wanted her to graduate from high school without completing all four years of Tapestry. However, as she studied Year 4, the rest of us continued learning alongside our co-op with Year 3.

I AM SO EXCITED!!! Our co-op is such a blessing. We have record attendance this year – a preschool, lower grammar, upper grammar, two dialectic and a rhetoric class. Our classes are full and students and teachers alike are ready for this new year!

Here are some pictures of our first day –

Upper boys work on lapbooks

Upper boys work on lapbooks



The boys' gliders had a super-hero theme.

The boys’ gliders had a super-hero theme.

Liz talks about the Wright brothers before instructing the art project.

Liz talks about the Wright brothers before instructing the art project.



Lower grammars are writing this year

Lower grammars are writing this year

The first memory sentence

The first memory sentence

Rhetoric history

Rhetoric history



Letter of the week

Letter of the week

Learning about the Wright brothers

Learning about the Wright brothers

Upper grammar literature

Dialectic literature

This is impressive.

The Call of the Wild – literature class

Upper grammar girls work on lapbooks

Upper grammar girls work on lapbooks

Upper grammar literature

All the dialectics combined for church history


Dialectic history class


Upper grammars work on lapbooks

The girls made preppy gliders.

The girls made preppy gliders.

Inventors, Inventions and Missionaries

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Inventors, inventions and missionaries… an eclectic mix of information but a perfect way to celebrate the end of Year 3 Unit 2. Yes, before Thanksgiving our co-op has completed half a year of Tapestry of Grace!

We began our celebration with brunch.


We then moved to the gym where all the student display boards and grammar-level art projects were set up.


Next on the agenda.. a scavenger hunt! Our youngest co-op members colored sheets of various missionaries and inventors. After coloring, they were instructed to find a board that featured their character.


All the “readers” of the group were given a scavenger hunt sheet that featured one question per board. Before our celebration, students sent in three questions of varying levels of difficulty that could be answered by reading their boards. Thus the 3rd-4th graders had a fairly simple question sheet, the 5th-6th graders had a “medium-difficulty” sheet, and the 7th-12th graders had a challenging one. Students had about 30 minutes to complete the scavenger hunt.


I love this project-based format for end-of-units because all students learn from one another. In the past we’ve done more teacher-directed end-of-units such as skits, songs, recitations, etc. These are fun and meaningful as well, but the organization falls on the adults. Students are truly proud of their display-board projects and enjoy mingling and answering and asking questions of one another. I like that the unit focuses on their projects and accomplishments!



It’s also just plain impressive to see 30+ boards – all missionaries and inventors of the 19th century – displayed at once! What a century this was!

I love the art the grammar students displayed. Shown here are pinatas, boomerangs, yarn art, spinning tops and log cabins.




Some particularly fun displays included some “radium” punch served by two Marie Curie models –


Tea cookies that Lottie Moon served to earn the trust of the Chinese chilren –


And cotton –


This end-of-unit began as an “invention fair” only. However, Year 3 church history is full of inspiring missionary stories. Unfortunately, we are unable to devote a whole class period this year at co-op to the discussion of these heroes of our faith. Thus we decided to incorporate their stories at our end-of-unit gatherings. Many of our students chose to focus their research on missionaries. This was perhaps one of my favorites –


I’ll tell you why… Billy Graham does not enter the “Tapestry scene” until Year 4. However, the young student who made this board wanted to study Billy Graham because his daddy works for Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham’s ministry. This Daddy is currently traveling the United States visiting churches and telling others about Operation Christmas Child, the shoe-box ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. We are not legalistic at the Boone ToG Co-op. If a student wants to study the missionary who has reached more people with the gospel than any other, he may!

I enjoyed all the boards, but particularly loved reading about two female missionaries. One of the questions on the scavenger hunt was, “What missionary had a physical attribute that helped her relate to the people she ministered to? What was that attribute?” The answer – both Lottie Moon and Amy Carmichael. I found it quite interesting that Lottie Moon, who grew to only be 4’3″, was called to minister to the petite Chinese people. Darked-eyed Amy Carmichael ministered to the brown-eyed people of India. As a young girl, Amy longed for blue eyes, but God had plans for her, and those plans included her brown eyes. They helped the Indian people trust her!



I love how His Story is told in his-tory! Just like God had a plan for Amy and Lottie, he has a plan for all of us. Will I allow Him to use me even in my weaknesses or areas I’d like to change? These are things I ponder as we wrap up our history studies and change our focus to the holidays ahead. And with Thanksgiving approaching next week, I can’t help but thank the Lord for our curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, and all the students and parents in our co-op. Our first half-year of studies has been rich and I am grateful.










Monday, March 4th, 2013

Today our Tapestry of Grace co-op celebrated the end of Year 2 Unit 3 with a History Fair. By far, this was my favorite end-of-unit we’ve done. Our students worked incredibly hard for nine weeks on display boards of their choosing. From K/1 lower grammars to rhetoric students, the diligence of these students showed!

We began by setting up the boards.

P1200881 P1200882


Then the children stood by their boards while parents walked around and asked questions. Please click on each picture. While I couldn’t capture each board and participant, I captured many and they are all worth seeing in full size! (You have to click and then once the slightly larger image appears, click again.)

Next, our students participated in a scavenger hunt. They had to visit one another’s boards to answer questions. I was so proud of the youngest students for trying. Esther knew that William Penn was on her sister’s board, and she was determined to fill in that blank all by herself!

The scavenger hunt was fun for all and a great way to make sure students read their friends’ boards. Again, click on the thumbnail pictures. They are worth seeing in full view!

The crafts in front added so much the displays. Here are a few:

Check out some of our indians and colonial folks. Are they darling or what??

Our K/1’s demonstrated a waltz and one of our dialectics played a violin piece by Handel:

As I walked around and looked at the boards, I heard much excitement and chatter. Several times I was asked, “Are we going to get to do this again?!!”

YES! I think so.

We ended the day with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I didn’t capture this with pictures, but I think they also are a definite “do-over!”

Q and A: Starting a Tapestry of Grace Co-op

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

This is a post for my Tapestry of Grace (ToG) friends all over the country who are interested in starting a co-op using this rich curriculum. When my friends and I began our co-op it was difficult to find information on how to start. I googled Tapestry of Grace co-ops and wrote every leader I could with questions. Thankfully, I found a couple of sweet souls willing to correspond by e-mail. I asked one leader if I and our core-team could come visit. We desperately wanted to see a co-op in action! Unfortunately for us, we were unable to do so. Though we lacked the information we desired, our team “got to planning” and two years later, we are so blessed by our thriving group. I hope this post (and subsequent posts, if needed) may make the process a little easier for some of you. Grab a cup of tea and feel free to peek at what we do through my Tapestry posts (in sidebar.) Leave your questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Be sure to visit Marcia Somerville’s co-op information. This is a great starting point. Our first year schedule and rules and regulations are uploaded there as well as documents from other Tapestry groups.

Without further ado, here are the first 10 questions I’ve been asked about our co-op:

1. Why did you begin a Tapestry of Grace co-op?

I love ToG and, before starting our co-op, had used it at home for five years. For basic information about Tapestry, please read my posts about its benefits for various levels. It is, in my opinion, the most family-friendly, comprehensive, flexible curriculum on the market. Foundational to its use are Socratic discussions. Students learn by reading. However, discussing themes, ideas, and worldview takes learning to a much higher level. Until my children were in high school, I held most discussions through read-aloud time or casually over our lunch break. I desired more for the high school years. However, because I also had a four children in the dialectic and grammar stages, I knew I could not set aside the 4+ hours a week for these discussions.

Two of my friends, also ToG users, were in the same predicament. We did not want to abandon our curriculum in favor of paid high school classes at another co-op for several reasons. The classes, while reasonable, were about $500/year per class. Also, none of us had drivers which meant the twice-a-week commitment for our older children would take us away from homeschooling our younger ones. We felt strongly that if we pooled our resources (time and talent), we could put together a dynamic discussion group for our rhetoric students using the curriculum we owned.

2. How did the idea transpire to a co-op?

First of all, we prayed about it for several months. There were four of us. Three of us used Tapestry already. We decided to start with just a Dialectic/Rhetoric-level group in a home if that is what the Lord wanted for us. However, as we talked and prayed, we felt strongly that we all preferred our weekly meeting time to benefit all of our children. So, we brainstormed a few other families that might want to join and contacted them personally. We targeted rhetoric and dialectic-level families who also had younger children. Without advertising, we pretty quickly acquired twelve interested families. With these twelve families, we had 36 children which gave us 5-8 in each level – preschool, lower grammar, upper grammar, dialectic and rhetoric.

3. When, where and how often do you meet? 

Once we knew we had enough families to begin a co-op, we prayerfully approached our church staff and graciously were given permission to meet on Mondays from 8:30-1:30. This was the only day available, so we took it!

4. How did you decide what year plan to use?

Three out of four of our “core team” ladies had used Tapestry for several years. Two of them were beginning Year 1. So, the beginning seemed like a very good place to start. 🙂

5. How are your age groups broken down?

The first year, we had 4, 5 and some 6 year olds in a pre-k/k group; 1st-3rd graders in lower grammar; 4th-6th in upper grammar; 7th-8th in dialectic and 9th-12th in rhetoric. This year, we do not have a preschool. We have a K-1 (lower grammar), 2-3 (lower grammar), 4-5 (upper grammar), 6 (dialectic), 7-8 (dialectic) and 9-12(rhetoric). Next year we will have a preschool. We also plan to separate 9th grade for a hybrid class (rhetoric lit and dialectic history).

6. How do you decide who teaches each class and how are the teachers compensated?

Teachers are not compensated. Each participant must stay the whole day, lead-teach at least one class, assist at least one class and, if needed, additional classes. We determine who teaches each class via Surveymonkey. So far, each teacher has been able to teach where she/he feels most interested/competent. Each class has at least one assistant. If a teacher can’t be at co-op, she makes arrangements with her assistant.

7. Do you only use ToG or do you use other curriculum as well?

At the rhetoric level, we only use ToG. Rhetorics discuss literature (1.5 hours) History/Church History/Geography (2 hours), Philosophy (45 min) and Government (45 minutes). That is all they have time to do in our 5-hour day. Dialectics have a little more time, so they have a science class. Upper Grammars have ToG art and science as well as literature, history, geography and lapbooks. Lower grammars listen to Story of the World, take turns reading ToG literature aloud, have a PE time and do lapbooks and science. K/1’s have a music class, science, art, story time, phonics time and Story of the World time. We have used both Apologia and Elemental Science. Elemental Science has been a huge hit for our lower grammar students and we are considering using it for all classes 8th grade and under next year.

Basically, the younger the class, the more time there is in our co-op day for additional classes.

8. Do you use ToG writing?


Last year I worked two conferences in the ToG booth, and was frequently asked this question. Moms particularly wanted my opinion about Tapestry writing compared to theme-based IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing). I am a certified IEW instructor, and I like IEW products. However, I am a huge proponent of ToG writing assignments. We ask all our members to purchase Writing Aids.  Part of the beauty of Tapestry is the multi-faceted learning of which writing is a vital part. Writing about the history and literature solidifies many themes for students. I recommend that moms watch Teaching Writing With Structure and Style videos (an IEW resource) to help them learn key elements of the writing process and gain confidence in teaching. However, it is not necessary nor do I recommend that ToG’s writing assignments be abandoned for another program. Writing Aides contains excellent notes for the teacher, graphic organizers, and grading rubriks. The writing assignments help solidify key concepts of the curriculum. You will want to study grammar. You may want to spend a good semester teaching essay components or supplementing where you see areas of weakness with your student. However, Writing Aids and ToG assignments are excellent. We’ve had great success using them.

9.  How many members of your co-op used Tapestry before joining?

Of our 12 families the first year, 5 used it previously. Only two of the families were on the same year plan. However, those not on Year 1 were willing to adjust for the sake of the co-op.  The second year 11 families returned and 13 families joined. To my knowledge, all our new families had never used ToG. I am very excited about next year because we will have 22 out of 30-ish families with at least one year of Tapestry use under their belts! Exciting!

10. How do you teach moms to use the curriculum?

This is an ongoing process. We begin by requiring interested families to download the free three-week plan from Tapestry, study the website and watch the introductory videos. They then meet with a core-team member. We show them a week’s plan. We show them student notebooks. We answer their questions. The beauty of our co-op is each member contributes something. Thus no one has to do it all. “Many hands make work light” is very true of what we do. Moms are motivated to invest time in learning the curriculum but they do not have to “have it all together” to get started. We require SAPacks (and soon the Map and EvalPacks.) We share ideas during “free” periods at our co-op day. We have a Yahoo forum where we encourage one another as well. There is still a little ToG fog. However, because we meet on a weekly basis, there is regular opportunity for encouragement and mentoring.

… And there you have it. If you have further questions, please ask away in the comments and I’ll happily answer them in another post.



Year 2 Unit 2 Celebration

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Our co-op had a Reformation focus for our Year 2 Unit 2 celebration. The 4th-8th graders replicated the door of St. Mary’s Cathedral where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses. It was interesting to copy them on sentence strips and see exactly what the theses were, and it was impressive to tape all 95 on our big paper, red door!

95 Theses

95 Theses

All but the rhetorics in front of the 95 theses.

After working on our door, we met for presentations. The 6th grade class presented a skit that introduced everyone to Martin Luther.  4th-5th graders recited Psalm 46, the inspiration behind A Mighty Fortress Is Our God  which is known as “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.”

Psalm 46

Psalm 46

And then Daniel led us in singing  “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. “

Several of the children said they’d never heard this famous hymn! It was a joy to sing it and so meaningful for them to see the connection of Psalm 46 to this great song.

Another special highlight of our presentations came from the 7th/8th graders who worked hard for several weeks on a literature quilt. Each square of their quilt represented a key date, figure, literary term or character from their Unit 2 literature studies. This was certainly an impressive project!

Other presentations included a Reformation Rap, reports and a K/1 science question and answer time.

After our presentations, we gathered for lunch. While our meal was a not “Reformation themed,” our dessert was. After our subs, the children enjoyed their “Diet of Worms.”

We hope our students don’t quickly forget that at the “Diet of Worms” Luther defended his 95 theses!

After we ate, we enjoyed looking at some projects completed this unit including our Coats of Arms, a Castle, a display board of South America and many lap books.

It’s hard to believe we are already half-way done with Year 2! We’ve learned so much and have had a great time doing so. While we’re all looking forward to our Christmas break, we look forward to Unit 3.

A Week of Tapestry Geography

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Before I begin… a little disclaimer. Geography has not traditionally been a huge priority in our homeschool. While my son, Nathan, excels at this subject, his sisters and his mother do not. About two years ago, Bethany begged me to teach her geography and I felt like a terrible failure. “Mom, it’s embarrassing how little I know. Nathan knows the whole world and I can’t even find Texas!” she wailed in exasperation. After looking up where Texas was, I showed her. (Just kidding but I am about that bad.) That was a wake up call. Jobe Academy needed to take geography a little more seriously.

Our curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, integrates geography with history, Bible and literature, government and philosophy studies. It is wonderful. Each week there are maps to print and a list of geography terms and countries, rivers, mountain ranges, etc for students to find. It made sense to start with our own curriculum. (Yes, I ignored that little section of our curriculum for several years just because I wanted to get to the “good” stuff… the writing, history and lit!)

Tapestry has an impressive geography project recommended in the curriculum that involves base maps and transparencies. For several years I’ve dreamed of doing it. I probably will some day. However, for lack of time and organization, I have not as of yet. Instead, I simply asked the children to label their maps using a globe, the terms, their printed maps from our Map Aids CD-Rom, and their mother who was armed with the answer key. This technique was a step ahead of where we’d been. However, the children really didn’t retain much. Also, for my youngest school-aged child, the writing was tiresome.

Over this past summer, I came across a fantastic resource – the Tapestry of Grace Yahoo groups. In each year’s files, someone kindly donated documents containing all the geography terms for each week of the curriculum. They are designed to be printed on clear mailing labels so that grammar students can peel and stick instead of write, write, write. I’ve adapted the use of these documents and now have a geography plan that my children are really enjoying.

At the start of each unit, I print on white card stock, laminate, cut out, and then magnetize (with magnetic tape) the geography terms.

On the first day of our Tapestry studies, I have the children locate the geography terms using our globe and several Atlases I’ve accumulated. The Atlas of World History is a resource on my wish-list, but usually, the books I own suffice. My older children write on their printed maps. My 5th grader uses the labels. We use magnets to adhere her weekly map to a magnetic board and then she puts each magnetized label where it belongs. I am still armed with the answer key but I have found that it is very worthwhile to have a few good history Atlases. You never know, the children may actually read all the facts about the maps they are studying!

Printed map from the Map-Aids Cd-Rom. The children keep these in their notebooks for easy reference.

After the first day of “work, (finding and labeling,)” geography gets fun. I set up all the terms for the week on my giant magnetic whiteboard along with the a large map from Geography Matters. I can not recommend their “Whole Kit and Kaboodle” maps enough – 26 large, laminated maps for $50. This, of course, is not a mandatory Tapestry of Grace resource. However, I like the fact that it gives my children another perspective of the places they are studying. If you don’t have these maps, you can certainly continue to use the printed maps from Map Aids. A neat place to label these smaller maps would be your refrigerator. Just hang it eye-level for your child and ask for several labels to be placed on the map before each meal or snack 🙂

The children enjoy this activity. After putting the labels on the big map a few times, they like to “see who’s fastest!” They are challenged to go to the answer keys if they can’t figure out where one of the labels goes. Here is our completed map for Year 2, Week 2. (You may click any picture to see it enlarged.)

If the children need help, I just let them look at my laptop with the answer key for the week. After a time or two, they usually can label the map from memory.

Actually, not the same week’s plan… but an answer key for another week.

I store the labels in envelopes labeled for each week and put them in a small accordion file.

And that is it! You could test at the end of the week by just asking them to point to the locations. Of course, you could print another map from Map Aids and require pencil labeling, if you like. Or you can skip the test and ask them to do the magnetic “puzzle” one more time without looking at the key.

Today Sarah, who is now about the age Bethany was when we had our geography lesson on Texas, excitedly exclaimed, “My history book just mentioned Italy, Corsica and Sicily, and I know EXACTLY where those places are!” After this fun discovery, she ran to the map just to confirm her new knowledge and yes, she was right! (For a 5th grader, that is all the “test” I need!)

And Bethany, by the way, no longer complains that she can’t find Texas. I think that today she beat her siblings on the speed test 🙂


To access the geography labels, go to the Tapestry Yahoo year plan group (whatever year you are studying.) Each year has a sidebar called “files.” Click in the files and then click on “geography.” You will need to join the group first.

Year 1     Year 2     Year 3     Year 4





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