I read on many blogs and in many different places that there is a definite learning curve with Tapestry of Grace. Many even named it “the four-week fog.” I’d say my first four weeks were great; my fog came a little later in the process.
Tapestry provides resources for a week’s worth of history, geography, Bible, literature, and art. Especially in Unit 2, we cover a civilization a week! (My head is still spinning.) But as if that weren’t difficult enough to coordinate, I think I’m still trying to combine two different teaching approaches. I’m traditional when it comes to reading, math, and phonics, and classical with everything else.
How does that work? You ask. I’m not sure it does to be honest. And I think that’s why I’m in the TOG fog. For example, for literature/reading I’m trying to keep up with the Tapestry suggestions while still going through the A Beka 1st grade readers. See what I mean? traditional and classical. We’re trying to notebook our history every now and then while doing separate copywork and cursive writing practice. Hmmm. Are you getting a clear picture?
As a result of all of this, I’m not really satisfied with anything right now. Tapestry is an extra and not weaving in as beautifully as I’d wanted. (not to mention all the work to be done) We aren’t learning the “grammar” of these civilizations in the classical fashion, though the kids are still absorbing a lot (is that the Charlotte Mason method or just my own invention?). “Tapestry is the dessert at the lower level” is the advice I’ve often read. We’ve definitely enjoyed what we’ve done, but I guess I was hoping for a little more.
So what am I doing about it? Ah! That’s the question.
Believe it or not, I went back to the drawing board and looked at other curriculums, everything from Veritas Press to Classical Conversations, only to come right back to Tapestry. I do still love this curriculum. I love that all the humanities are combined. I love the book choices. I love the Biblical emphasis. But there are other things I like about other programs.
- I like the idea of the Veritas Press timeline cards and required memory work in Classical Conversations. Tapestry has the children experiencing history and culture, and I’m thrilled with that but I don’t want it to be at the expense of memorization. Tapestry provides suggested terms and “threads” as well as some evaluation questions, but there isn’t a suggested method for teaching those facts. I’m on my own to figure out what I want them to know and how I want them to learn it.
- I like the central storyline offered in Mystery of History and Story of the World. Though the TOG book choices for history are wonderful and engaging, it feels far from fluid; and right now, the provided teacher notes are WAY over my kids’ heads. So I need to find someway of connecting all the elements of Tapestry so that we don’t feel as random and sporadic as I do right now. Transitioning from one civilization to another has also been troublesome. It feels a little like a hop-scotch game right now: I’ve got one foot in India, then one foot in China, and next I’m jumping with both feet into Greece.
So what am I going to do about it? Back to that question again. Well, in my search through other curriculums over the Christmas break, I found some solutions that I’m starting to adapt.
For memory work, I’m experimenting with a two-prong approach. First, I scoured youtube videos for presentations of the Veritas Press timeline (here’s the one I chose). There are quite a few videos, actually, of teachers and students performing the very impressive history of the world from Creation to present day. I’m memorizing the timeline and gestures from these performances and in turn teaching the kids. No flashcards, just the hand movements and facts chant.
Second, I had purchased the Tapestry evaluations but decided not to use them because it would have been impossible to require knowledge of that information from the reading we have done, especially as young as my kids are. But, those evaluations have made a good source for finding flashcard information. I went through the entire year’s worth of evaluations and made 3×5 flashcards of the facts I want them to know. Then, I filed them in a 3×5 card holder under each unit. These flashcards will be the source of the trivia questions for our unit celebrations. The kids are pumped and very motivated to memorize the facts.
For the final solution, finding that common thread through our study, I’ve decided to switch from notebooking to lapbooking (you’re laughing, aren’t you?). In spite of my hesitation to do lapbooks, I have definitely seen the value of them with my kids right now. The lapbook allows all of those seemingly miscellaneous facts to come together into one project to tell a story. It does provide a completed picture that notebooking was currently accomplishing. The timeline, too, will help with this, allowing all the countries and all the stories to fit together into one history. And I found a tremendous resource of free lapbooking ideas that follow the Tapestry outline.
I’m definitely open to other ideas, and I’d love to know what others have done to encourage memorization at the Lower Grammar level. In the meantime, I’d appreciate your prayers for wisdom and discernment as we attempt to make this curriculum our own.