We are in our second year of Tapestry of Grace – Year 2, Unit 3 to be exact. The flexibility that Tapestry offers is one of its perks…however it’s also been one of the hardest parts for this Mama who needs to check things off of a list.
Tapestry of Grace offers an abundance of learning options each week, and I’ll admit that it’s been very difficult for me to find my groove with it.
I keep on keeping on because the thoughts of teaching 4 different time periods of history makes me break out in hives. While all of my kiddos aren’t school age yet, they will be at some point.
This past fall semester, I finally figured out what works for us…for now. One of the joys (challenges?) of homeschooling is that once you find the “perfect” way to do something, children grow older and enter different stages of life which require we re-adjust all over again.
I will warn you: Tapestry of Grace takes a lot of planning and a lot of work. It is not for the faint of heart. Or at least that has been the case in my experience. But is it worth it?
So here’s the breakdown in chunks of how I plan Tapestry of Grace for my Lower Grammar Stage children.
Note: I only have Lower Grammar stage children right now. I have a feeling my planning process will look different when I have children in Upper Grammar and Dialectic!
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Before the Semester Begins
I divide our homeschool year into 2 semesters – fall and spring. I know some mothers can successfully plan for the whole year, but I have yet to find a way to make that work for me. As a result, I plan by the semester.
My goal is to get through 2 units of TOG each semester. I have found that I am most successful with Tapestry when I am as prepared as possible prior to the semester starting. This translates into a lot of time prepping and planning.
The first thing I do is prep my Teacher’s Guides for the semester’s two units. I always buy the DE version of Tapestry, so I have no hard copies upon purchase. Even though it’s highly time consuming, I go through each week of each unit and pull out the notes that I am going to need.
After printing, I then bind them into one notebook that is just for me. I use it when I plan for each week.
I’m sure it will make some of you cringe, but I also buy the books for each semester.
I go through each week of the unit and determine which books we’ll read. We have Amazon Prime, so I order as many as I can from there and the rest at Lampstand. I order books all at one time so I’m not stuck waiting on books, or having to skip vital reads because I didn’t bother to order them on time.
I also loosely map out which projects we’ll do: salt maps, making a papier mache knight’s helmet, project boards, lapbooks, etc. We usually do don’t more than a handful of crafts or big projects, but I like to have it settled in my mind what we’ll work on.
I print, print, and print everything I can before the semester starts. I print everything from vocabulary definitions to geography worksheets I put together to maps to lapbook pieces. If they aren’t printed and filed at the beginning of the semester, I tend to drown.
Lastly, I loosely mark when we will complete each week on the calendar. These aren’t set in stone, as life happens and I want to be flexible.
Planning Tapestry of Grace for the Week
If I complete the prepping steps before the semester begins, my weeks run with considerably less chaos. With those pre-semester items checked off of my list, I can now focus on each week as it comes.
Our weeks are almost always laid out the same, in that we do the same tasks on specific days of the week:
- Monday: history definitions and core reading
- Tuesday: geography/map work and literature reading; start project/craft if there’s one planned
- Wednesday: leftover day – complete any unfinished core reading or geography work
- Thursday: no school (our co-op day)
- Friday: lapbook pieces/complete project
Each Sunday night, I sit down with my Teacher’s Guide I prepared before the semester started. I start by reading the topics covered for the week and determine if we need to cover all of them. Typically we do cover all of them, but there’s the rare instance that we don’t.
I then flip to see what books we’ll need for the week and pull them from the shelf. I go ahead and plug into my calendar what we’ll read each day. The books stay on my school desk for the week so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. And so we’ll remember to read them. (haha)
Next, I prepare my 7-year-old’s folders for the week. Geography definitions go in Monday’s folder. Geography assignment and map work goes in Tuesday’s folder. Any leftover work goes in Wednesday’s. Lastly, I place lapbook pieces (if we’re doing one) in Friday’s folder. My 7yo completes all of these assignments during his Seat Work time each morning.
I then move on to determine if we’re doing a project of any type that week. I try to do one craft or project each week, as those are the things my children remember the most. If it’s a heavy reading week (or a heavy life week), we might only do lapbook pieces or a notebooking page and consider those to be our “projects”.
If we are doing a project, I gather all of the materials in one spot. I read through the task to make sure I understand how it will go (I don’t need to read art projects on the fly. It never ends well.) I make sure it’s all ready to go for Tuesday afternoon (or whenever we get to it).
Lastly, I read through the Teacher’s Notes. I have a very poor grasp of history, as I had a history education that was very lacking. So I am a person that must read the Teacher’s Notes if I want to have any idea of what we’re discussing. But honestly, I love it. Sure, it requires a lot of time, but I have really enjoyed learning right alongside my children.
How Much Time Does it Take to Plan?
I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much time I spend planning. (Is it normal to spend so much time?? I have no idea.) When I plan before each semester, I spend anywhere from 15-20 hours. It takes a lot of time to print out the Teacher’s Guide and order books. I also make quickie little geography sheets and definition papers that my son uses each week, and it’s best if I complete those all in one sitting. I like to read through the Unit and make sure I understand the big picture before we get to work.
In the weekly planning/prepping time, I spend about an hour gathering materials, re-reading notes, and putting that information in my school calendar.
Why do I spend so much time prepping and planning? Good question. That’s probably another blog post, but the short answer is that my older children and I love history. We love to learn about different time periods and how and why those people did the things they did. Also, I want them to have a foundation in history that I never had.
Possibly the better answer is: facilitating a life of learning takes work. That brings to mind the famous Benjamin Franklin quote: “A job worth doing is a job worth doing well.”
Do you use Tapestry of Grace in your homeschool? What are your best planning tips for the lower grammar stage?
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Mrs. Mom of 6
I love Tapestry! We are going to be starting our second run through this fall, I will have a Dialectic level and two LG’s. I’m really excited, but think I better do more planning in advance, which is what drew me to your site. Nice post! Hope you enjoyed the rest of your year (after you posted this!)
Hey Mrs. Mom – Thanks for stopping by! We’ve had a great year with Tapestry, now that I’ve found my groove with it. 😉
I have found that if I don’t plan in advance, I’m miserable! My planning session for Year 3 (next school year) will be in July. Can’t wait!
I agree, it takes a while to do the planning, but the education my children are getting is worth it! I love TOG and blog about it from time to time. I will be blogging about our notebooks soon. I will be following your blog now. 🙂
Great post fantastic tips! I think we will be using TOG yr4 next year.
Yay for TOG 4! Thanks for stopping by today! 🙂
Question about your before the semester planning. How long does this take you? I am wondering if I need to start purchasing materials now for our next school year beginning in July of if I need to wait.
Hmmm. I’ve never kept track of the hours it takes, but my best guess would be 12-15 hours total. That includes everything though – printing my manuals, finding the books and ordering them, determining which projects we’ll do, etc.
Do you print the Teachers notes to include in your bound notebook or do you just read from the computer screen?
Tiffany, I usually print the Teacher’s Notes because I read easier from a hard copy than the computer screen. Even though I print in draft and back-to-back copies, I still feel like it’s a waste of paper and ink. 🙁 I’m getting ready to print the next unit and I’m going to try it without the Teacher’s Notes and read from my laptop when i have time. We’ll see how it goes!