Disclosure: Tapestry of Grace sponsored this post. The content is based on my own experiences with Tapestry, and the opinions are 100% my own. It also includes affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
If there is one thing I’ve learned as a homeschooling mama over the past 6 years, it is that I must be prepared to teach my children.
If there are no lesson plans, there’s not a great deal of meaningful school for my kiddos.
Sure, I can wing it a day (or maybe even two), but I can’t sustain that type of teaching and feel confident about our homeschool.
This coming school year, my children will be 6th grade, 4th grade, 2nd grade, and Kindergarten. As my olders delve into more advanced work, the need to be prepared is magnified even more.
Some subjects, simply because of their nature, require more of my time and attention when it comes to planning. We choose to use Tapestry of Grace for our history and literature studies, and it requires quite a bit of my planning time.
Yes, there are many history curricula that are open-and-go style formats. They give the homeschool mom a day-by-day guide for tasks that must be completed.
While that is very appealing sometimes, one of the aspects of Tapestry that I love is the “buffet of learning” that is available to us each week.
However, sorting through that buffet can be a bit time-consuming. It takes intentional thought and effort to determine which activities I want my children to complete, which ones are of less importance, which books we will read, and more.
Because Tapestry offers all of these choices on various grade levels (I have 3 different learning stages this year), it requires advanced planning for me as the teacher.
Is it worth it?
Through the years, I’ve figured out a few ways that help me plan for Tapestry in advance. Instead of spending hours each week, I spend a bulk of my planning time before the beginning of each semester. And the majority of that time is in the summer before our new school year starts.
So come take a peek at how I prepare for Tapestry of Grace over the summer. If you use Tapestry with your own children, make sure you leave a comment with your best planning tips. I’d love to read them!
Print Each Unit
I choose to use the DE version of Tapestry so I can have the updates for each Year. However, I absorb information much better if I have a hard copy.
So even though it seems a bit counter-intuitive, I print each unit in our current year.
I go through each week’s plan and print only the pages that we need. For example, I never print anything related to Rhetoric or Philosophy since those aren’t sections that I use. Since I’ll have children in Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, and Dialectic, I’ll print information related to those sections only.
I also print each unit because I want easy accessibility to our weekly Tapestry information. I don’t want to look at my laptop for yet another thing, and I love being able to easily pull the Unit from my bookshelf each day. It makes it so simple for me and really streamlines our day.
If you are a mom that doesn’t mind looking at an iPad or computer for your planning information each week, then by all means, do not print the Unit! I’m only sharing what works for me.
Determine What Stage My Children Will Be During the Next Two Units
It is so tempting to assume that my child will be at the same learning level during our entire Year cycle of Tapestry. However, my older children have proven this wrong several times over now!
Part of the beauty of Tapestry of Grace is that I can tailor it to my children’s needs, whether my child is 5 or 17. I found out the hard way that my children don’t make strides towards the next learning stage on my time table. It might happen in the middle of a unit, so I need to be prepared for that.
Because I don’t want to have a lot of materials printed and books ordered that are at the wrong learning level, I only plan for two Units’ worth of Tapestry at the time.
During the summer months, I have a pretty good feel for the stages in which my children will fall for the next two Units, and I plan accordingly.
I leave myself open to reevaluate their learning stages when I do my semester planning again at the end of December, in preparation for our 2nd semester.
Determine How Each Child Learns Best
My children are such different little learners, so I need to consider them individually when planning for our year.
Who learns best with hands-on activities?
Who needs more practice with writing?
Who needs to be challenged more this year with harder reading assignments?
Who enjoys mapwork?
Who devours biographies?
I consider each of my children’s needs as I ponder our coming year with Tapestry. Because it’s such a treasure trove of learning ideas, I can easily assign activities based on my children’s learning needs and also their desires.
My 9 year old discovered map work this year and can’t get enough. So the geography assignments? They’ll be on her to-do list every week!
My 5 and 7-year olds love hands-on activities, so I’ll make sure to include those types of learning opportunities for them.
My 11 year old is an avid reader, so he often has the majority of the reading on his assignment list – which he loves!
In summary, I ponder the way each of my children learns the best, and tailor the overall plan to accommodate that learning style.
Print Needed Items from the Loom
Last school year, I had the bright idea to print each child’s Tapestry work and place it in a weekly folder. When gathering materials during my weekly Sunday planning time, I just pull the Tapestry folder for the week, and I have everything I need already printed.
All Weekly papers – Lover Grammar, Upper Grammar, and Dialectic – all go into that one Weekly folder. I can quickly assign them during my planning time on Sunday.
The files are labeled Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc.
I created 36 Weekly file folders, for each of the 36 weeks of the Tapestry Year Plan. I can easily reuse the same folders from year to year.
Because I don’t want to print papers we won’t use, I only print two Units’ worth of materials needed from The Loom.
Find All of the Books!
Researching and finding the books we will use for each Unit is by far my favorite part of Tapestry. I love books, and I adore reading with my children, so this is always the part I want to do first!
But I have to restrain myself and push the book selection to last during my summer planning time. I need to have a firm picture of the amount of reading I think is possible, along with a good understanding of my childrens’ stages.
I do a combination of checking out books from our library and ordering from Amazon.
For any books that we will use more than a couple of weeks, I go ahead and order from Amazon. I look for supplemental books at our local library.
→ Another choice for buying books: Make sure you check out Bookshelf Central. Their prices are competitive with Amazon and they also offer “free book counseling” which is just dyn-o-mite if you’re new to Tapestry.
Plus, you can sort by Year, Unit, and Week for even easier ordering.
Here’s my step-by-step process for finding books for each Unit:
— Have my printed copy of the Unit beside me. Pull up our library’s website and Amazon.
— I analyze each week’s reading assignments. Are there reading levels that can be combined? Can the LG girls just sit in while reading the UG books aloud? How much of the reading can we realistically get through?
— After determining which books I need to order based on the above questions, I see what is available at our local library. I make myself a note of putting those books on reserve two weeks before I’ll need them. I write myself that note right at the top of the weekly assignment.
— For the books I need from Amazon, I create a specific wish list for the Unit and then order them when our finances allow. I would love to order them all at the beginning of the Unit, but that’s a big price tag all at one time. I stagger purchasing them in 2-3 week sets. We do have an Amazon Prime subscription that offsets the shipping costs.
Whew! That sounds like a lot of planning, doesn’t it?
It is a bit of work on my part, but I’ve gotten into a routine with it over the years and it works beautifully for me. It feels so good going into the new school year ahead of the planning curve.
If you use Tapestry of Grace, I’d highly encourage you spend several hours planning over the summer. That dedicated, intentional time will be returned to you in spades!
Do you have questions about planning Tapestry over the summer? Ask away in the comments!
Interested in more Tapestry of Grace posts?
Oh! And if you’re on Facebook, make sure you join Tapestry of Grace for their Facebook party on Tuesday, July 6th at 8pm Eastern Time! Here are a few details:
“At this event we will explain Tapestry and Primer, answer questions about them, and offer free three-week samples, as well as free copies of the Map of the Humanities and one free giveaway copy each of the Big Story Game and Love the Journey!”