Preparing Tapestry: our Fourth Year

We are headed into our fourth year of our Tapestry of Grace curriculum, which means we will have completed the cycle at the end of this year. (It also means this is my last year of all grammar level.) Last year, I felt like we really made Tapestry our own and found our rhythm, our stride. It felt good, like a fitted glove. Of course, when you end a year like that, it makes planning the next year exciting. I love the aspect of homeschooling where I trouble-shoot and research and find our answers, but the Lord knew I would be doing that in several other areas of our life; so homeschooling was off the hook. No massive revamping this year. With that said, preparing Tapestry for this year went really smoothly.

In summary, I love manilla folders. I keep 36 folders for our weekly “must-do” assignments like language and math and Latin. Then I keep a second set of folders for Tapestry that are labeled by Term (we do three 12 week terms) and by topic (I don’t cover everything; instead, I select the events and topics that will best suit my learners). All of our reading lists, media lists, and project papers are printed off and filed in these topic folders.

So here’s what it looks like. At the beginning of a week, I pull out two folders: the week we are in and the topic we are studying. Within the weekly folder, I pull out assignment pages and file into the kids’ daily pockets inside their binders (we use case-it binders with the accordion file inside). Within the topic folder, I look at my list all of the books and projects assigned for that topic and the number of weeks that I’ve guessed it will take us to complete (i.e. Titanic, 2 weeks). I then allocate those assignments that will fit with our week’s schedule. Last year, this method cut my weekly prep to about 30 to 45 minutes total! Both kids filed and ready to go in around a half hour. It was beautiful.

Reading Lists

Tapestry’s reading lists are copyrighted, so I can’t share the specific book titles that we are using. However, I will list a couple of other resources I use to compare and substitute book titles. has a book finder feature that I love. Just type in the event or person you are studying, the reading level of your students, and a great list of engaging living books is listed for you. My second resource is my local library online catalogue search feature. Again, I type in the event or person, narrow it to children’s resources, and voila! I love my local library. It has an enormous selection.

I also use SimplyCharlotteMason’s Story of America and Story of the Nations ebooks as my core. These are not Tapestry titles, but the table of contents make it very easy to assign chapters that fit what we are covering. And the books are very engaging. We love them.

I select my favorites. Depending on how long we intend to study a topic, for each week I will select one to two read-aloud titles, one to two independent reading titles per child (depending on the length of the book), and the rest will be assigned merely as reference, as in “let’s look at more pictures.”

Media List

I love audios. Awhile back I scored Diana Waring’s history audio from Answers in Genesis‘ history program. We love listening to these on the way back and forth to karate and co-op. So, on the days we don’t get to our reading, we are still getting to our history. And this is another very engaging resource.

Netflix is also a resource where I search for related films to what we are studying. We don’t always get to this, but it is great for those off-days or sick days to already have this list compiled.


Homeschool in the Woods is not a Tapestry resource either, but we LOVE these projects. I use the Time Traveler activities. We make notebooking pages using both the notebooking and lapbooking project ideas. Especially since my kids are finally old enough to do their own cutting and pasting, these have been really fun activities to assign. They work on these while I read-aloud. It keeps their fingers busy but doesn’t distract them from the reading.

I generally choose the projects that fit what we are studying, our time-frame, and my kids’ interests. I spend one long afternoon printing all of my chosen activities and filing into my topic folders. This saves me so much time during the school year.

I also have the Draw Through History titles. My son loves to draw; my daughter loves to trace. And it gives them some ideas for drawing and enhancing their notebook with images of what we are studying.

Our Rhythm

I mentioned that I note about how many weeks I think a topic will take us. Last year, this was very fluid. We moved on when our books were read and our projects were done. And I found that in the end, things balanced out. Some topics took longer than I estimated, and some topics didn’t take as long. If we read everything in a week, we moved on. If it took us five weeks, because of interest or illness, we took our time and enjoyed it all. Sometimes, it was just a dud, and rather than struggle through 3 more weeks of something we were not enjoying, we covered the basics and moved on.

I’m also sensitive to my kids’ reading interests. There were some books that my son just hated, and while I realize that not all learning can be interest-driven, I think at the younger levels, reading should be. Occasionally, I’d make a call that he just needed to get through a book. But if I made that call, I ensured that I had a very tantalizing book as a reward when he finished. There were books we didn’t read cover-to-cover. (Pause for you to gasp in horror.) We survived, and were no worse for that decision.

In spite of all that flexibility, I was amazed by how much my kids retained and learned. A little went a really long way.

What about discipline and teaching kids to push through the difficult stuff? I split my subjects into two categories: our discipline subjects like math, grammar, spelling; and our inspiration subjects like history, science, and reading. This helped me define my objectives. My discipline subjects were challenging but in short spurts (no more than 15-20 min. per lesson/subject). My inspiration subjects were kept inspiring and interesting and often took closer to an hour or hour and a half (hands-on projects take awhile). But again, I watched my kiddos. If they were engaged, we took our time. If their eyes were glossing over, it was time for lunch.

Want to know more specifics? I’ve listed our specific curriculum choices here. Feel free to browse those links. Not sure what your homeschool style is? Be encouraged with my post about losing the labels.

I’m looking forward to another really great homeschool adventure, and I hope you tag along on our journey.

“A Poetry Tea”~ Littles-style

I’ve seen the idea spiraling around Pinterest, and I just had to get in on the action. I mean, poetry and a party was absolutely too much of a temptation for this poetic party animal.

So we had a “Poetry Tea,” littles-style.

Sharing Poetry with little ones

I found a few super fun poetry books at my local library (hint: illustrated poetry is a definite plus if you have little ones).

Poetry for little ones


And I gave in to all those years of “Ovaltine” commercials I heard growing up. I saw it in the tea aisle and figured it was as kid friendly as I could get, and nutritious as a bonus. To stick with the truly English tradition of tea, I made scones (a simple pre-packaged, pull-apart, throw on a baking sheet kind of scone—don’t be overly impressed, folks).

The kids were absolutely stoked. They pestered me for days about having our poetry tea. I had Middlest pick a bouquet for our table, and the party began.

Even Littlest decided to wake up from his nap in time to join us.

Poetry for Little Ones

All around an absolute blast. It’s definitely something we will do again, just not so sure I can pull it off as a weekly thing. Whenever we get to do it again, these littles will be super hungry for more!

Poetry for Little Ones
“More Ovaltine, please!”

Read-Aloud Raves: Sylvester and Magic Pebble

I was first introduced to the author William Steig with Dr. Desoto books (which I’ll probably rave about at some point I’m sure). I like his wit and humor and his sneaky way of teaching valuable lessons. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is just such a book.

Read-alouds for children

Sylvester the donkey finds a magic pebble that grants his wishes. On the way to tell his parents about his find, he encounters a lion and, frightened and flustered by the encounter, quickly wishes that he were a rock. Only once he became a rock, he realized there was no way to pick up the pebble and wish to be himself again. His mom and dad miss him terribly, and no one can figure out what happened to him. When spring comes around once more, his parents decide to go on a picnic in an attempt to cheer up, but even on the picnic, all they can think about is poor Sylvester—how much he would have liked the picnic, how much he would have liked a particular pebble. His mom sets the pebble on top of the rock they are using for a picnic table. Sylvester, unaware that the pebble is his magic pebble, wishes (as he has many times before) to be himself. Only this time, his wish is granted! As the family joyfully hugs and listens to Sylvester’s tale of his magic pebble, they all realize there is absolutely nothing more they could wish for.

It’s a lesson I am continually working on with my children: to be happy with what they have, to not continually wish for what they do not have.

What books have you used to reinforce your character lessons?

Read-Aloud Raves: The Flea’s Sneeze

Talk about a fun book to read aloud to your kids! The Flea’s Sneeze has everything I love in a read-aloud: rhythm and rhyme, humor, and a good storyline.

I could tell from the very first page that this book was a favorite. We read it three times in a row in the first sitting, and I woke up the next morning to the sound of my son reading it to his sister, complete with the nasally last line: “I dink I godda sdeeze!” I giggled even after reading it 20 jillion times. To see my kids so tickled with certain lines in the book, to hear them quoting it through the house—it made my book-loving heart flutter every time. This book was a treasure, so much so that we renewed it just so we could read and giggle a few trillion times more.

What book has had you giggling with your kids lately?

Read-Aloud Raves: Leo the Lightning Bug

Remember the old audio books we grew up with? You plugged in your cassette tape and heard the chimes to turn the page in your storybook? I loved those books! And my kids have eagerly taken on the addiction.

To be honest, though, I didn’t realize this was an audio book until I got it home. I noticed it had an award sticker on it (always a heads-up that it’s probably a really good book), and I quickly read the jacket flap to get the gist of the story. Then, I threw it in my library bag and moved along.

Leo the Lightning Bug is perhaps the cutest audio story I’ve heard in awhile, performed by several voice talents. A particularly adorable lightning bug is discouraged that he is the only one among his friends whose light won’t light up. His mother gives him the age-old advice of “time and practice,” which little Leo takes to heart. He tries and tries and tries, even through a thunder storm. Then, after crack of thunder, a brilliant flash of light streaks across the sky and Leo thinks he’s done it! That boost of confidence is just what he needs to really do it the next time. Time and practice, and little Leo doesn’t feel so little anymore.

It’s a story I didn’t mind hearing over and over again. Because, as with any good library book, we did hear it over and over and over again.

What story did you hear repeated this week?

Read-Aloud Raves: The Turn-Around Upside-Down Alphabet Book

The other day, I actually had the rare privilege of a library trip all by myself (well, sort of all by myself; the littlest tagged along, of course.) Naturally, I planned on picking up a few books for the kids. Once I got there, however, I had this overwhelming sense of—being overwhelmed! Where was I going to start? How on earth was I going to choose?

In the end, I stumbled upon some really cool finds, and I wanted to share my treasures with each of you, then let you comment with a few suggestions for me!

My first book to rave about is The Turn-Around Upside Down Alphabet Book that I picked up for Middle-est. It totally appealed to her artistic, kinesthetic learning style. Each letter of the alphabet is captioned on all four sides, describing a different picture that the letter makes. Hard to describe, which is why I took pictures.



This book is an absolute blast! It won’t be replacing her all time favorite (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom), but it was a fun alternative for our preschool learning.