Highlighting Supplements: Map Aids

How to use Map Aids to learn geography in a simple wayTeaching Geography intimidated me. I assumed there is some magical formula to make sure kids learned land forms and countries, but since I wasn’t privy to those secrets I was going to ruin my kids’ education.

Then I began to do Tapestry’s Map Aids. I was amazed at how simple it was to include geography as my kids were studying history. And it made so much sense to me that they would learn their geography by seeing where historical events were taking place. I also enjoy that my little one can do a coloring project, but my older students will be doing more in depth studies on the geography of a particular area.

Map Aids comes as a download with a set of student maps, for the student to draw locations and land forms, and a teacher’s map that gives you the answers. If you want more in depth studies, the Student Activity Pages also includes other places to note in their reading and things to look for on an atlas.

In our home, we use Map Aids to keep our geography very simple. After looking at the location that we are learning about on a globe, we pull out the Map Aids student maps and have fun with it.

  • I keep a stock of glitter glue to trace the boundaries of the countries and land forms. An older student could also use it to show the location of capitals or the continents.Using Tapestry's Map Aids, trace a map using glitter glue
  • I make sure we have fun markers to color in countries, rivers or deserts.Using Tapestry's Map Aids, color in the countries to learn their locations
  • Some days we use tracing paper to trace each country or continent. Kids love tracing things!Using Tapestry's Map Aids, the kids love using tracing paper to learn the boundaries of Africa
  • Using a cork board, we use pins to show a place, mark a city, or just outline the country and rivers. The kids love outlining a country and rivers using pins!

Map Aids has made our geography so simple, but has helped our children make great connections as they are studying history. If you want to get a sample of one of our maps, download a world and continents map!

Get a coupon for 20% off Map Aids or Evaluations until October 31st!

5 Ways to Create a Reading Culture in your family

Here are five ways to create a culture of reading and learning in your familyAs parents, we are constantly hearing about how we want to create a culture of reading in our families. Someone talks about the magical time he has reading to his children while snuggled into bed, or the two hours she spend reading to her little one. I think, “I would love to have that culture, but I would fall asleep reading in bed, and there is no way my little one is going to sit still longer than 30 minutes!”

A culture of reading can feel like a vague notion that seems too hard to achieve. But, then I started to realize what everyone truly means when they talk about a culture of reading. A culture of reading means that learning is valued by parents. It also means that we fill our home with learning materials, including lots of wonderful books. If we as parents value learning and provide the materials that make learning possible, then we will be able to create that culture, no matter how well anyone sits still!

Here are some of the things that we done used to incorporate a culture of reading in our home.

Choose Good Books

I interacted with a wonderful mom one convention who wanted to buy Primer because although her daughter was still young, she wanted to use Primer as a book list. She said that since she was going to read aloud anyway, she wanted to be able to have excellent recommendations on hand that would be well-written and beautiful read alouds. I admired that foresight and wished I had thought of that idea when my girls were little! It would have saved me a lot of worry about finding high quality books at the library when they were little, and I may have escaped the hundreds of times I had to read Llama Llama Red Pajama!

Tapestry provides so many wonderful book choices. If you are looking for a simple booklist, we have a curated list for you! These books include many classics and have also introduced our family to some new favorites. We suggest read alouds to go along with your week of study, but I have also heard of many families who take one of the literature selections and use that for a read aloud.

On top of high quality classics that we enjoy as a family, we also have some family favorites. Most will never reach great intellectual heights, but we delight in the humor of Jeeves and Wooster, and the silliness of the comics of Asterix and Obelix. We have giggled at the antics of Bruno and Boots in This Can’t be happening at Macdonald Hall, and enjoyed the adventures of Curious George. All of these books have helped to bring our family together.

Make time to read to yourself

Your kids will imitate what you do. I realized this one day when my daughter asked me to help her find Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen on an audiobook. I love Jane Austen, and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite of her books. I have a habit of reading short parts of favorite books during lunch, and I tend to re-read that book over and over again. I never thought much about it but it made an impression on my daughter. She decided that if I liked it that much then she wanted to listen to it too. When I model reading it not only helps me develop more interests, it also encourages my kids to read books as well.

Read aloud as a family

My husband excels at including reading in our family time. He will pick up a book that he thinks the girls will like and starts to read a chapter aloud. Soon they are immersed in the book and beg for more chapters every night. But, even when they are fascinated by the story, there are still interruptions. So, we set our expectations low and know that we will need to stop reading to answer a question. A common statement is, “Daddy, pause it!” when the four year old needs to make a rapid dash to the bathroom, but doesn’t want to miss any of the story. We also encourage quiet hands-on activities, like coloring or Legos, during this time. Somehow, when the girls are doing something with their hands, they focus on the story better.

Along with our evening chapter books, I have also tried to read picture books regularly to my four year old during the day. I started to do this because one day I realized that I had not been reading to her all the wonderful picture books that I had read to her older sisters, because my older girls now wanted chapter books or I was reading our history books aloud instead. I set up a simple plan where I would lay out three picture books that I wanted to read to my littlest one. It never failed that she would come and start to look at the books by herself, then quickly turn to me and ask me to read them to her. Somehow this little trick worked and I read aloud books at her level much more.

Audiobooks are amazing!

I am not an auditory person. I get distracted by a lot of noise and barely think to put music on in our house. But, my eight year old loves to listen to audiobooks. She has a story constantly running as she colors, does her math, or cleans her room. She delights in listening to books that are still a bit too hard for her to read to herself, and audiobooks keep up with her insatiable appetite for read alouds! We try to find a few at the library when we get books, but loyalbooks.com has lots of free options as well.

Stop reading boring books

When my oldest daughter first started to read chapter books on her own, she would either reject the book by looking at its front cover, or start it and think she had to finish it even if it bored her. I taught her that she should try books that might not grab her at first, but if the book does not interest her, there is nothing wrong with putting it away and going onto a different book.  As an adult, I don’t force myself to read a boring book “for pleasure” when there are so many other fun options. I want to teach her the delight of finding new favorites. Books you read on your own time should be fun!

I follow the same rule when I pick a book to read aloud to the girls. I try to pick one that I am excited about reading. I will make time for a book that interests me too, rather than one I think I should read because someone added it to a list called, “educated people must read.”

A reading culture has helped our children to love to learn and to see value in reading. It has also encouraged close family relationships. Each child has different academic gifts and passions, but the love of a good story or read-aloud time is strong in all of them. I am confident that by continuing in these five things, we will continue to create a home filled with a love of reading and learning.

If you want to get some wonderful read aloud suggestions, see the books Tapestry recommends here!

Year 1 Read-alouds

Year 2 Read-alouds

Year 3 Read-alouds

Year 4 Read-alouds

Highlighting Supplements: Planning Aids

Planning Aids is such a wonderful convenience product that gives you a daily schedule for your Tapestry of Grace studies.Planning Aids is a wonderful convenience product that helps Grammar-level teachers use Tapestry of Grace. In Tapestry, all the information you need is in the Reading Assignment charts. But, Planning Aids breaks down the Grammar-level assignments into a day-by-day checklist so you don’t have to. It is so convenient!

I love this, and it allows me to assign my Upper Grammar student her daily tasks (without having to write it out for her each week). I simply pull out the 4-day Planning Aids schedule and highlight her assignments. Done! I know I could do it myself, but it saves me so much time!

For my Lower Grammar students, I use it to get a quick overview of everything that I need to do with them for that week. Planning Aids allows me to look at all the assignments quickly. Then, if I need more information, I look at the specific pages in the curriculum.

Here’s another time-saver. On the first page of the materials for each week, Planning Aids lists out what you can easily skip, as well as all of the books that you will need AND the key ingredients that you will need for the suggested hands-on activity for that week. It’s all in one place on one page! The first page of Planning Aids tells you what supplies you need and what you can skip.

Then, Planning Aids gives you four planning options: a standard 5-day-a-week schedule, a 4-day-a-week schedule, a 2 week schedule, and a custom template that you can fill in exactly the way you want! Here are four different schedules to use with Planning Aids.

In case you were wondering, we made a careful decision NOT to make planning aids for the Dialectic and Rhetoric levels. We felt that it is so important for students to grow in independence and in taking ownership of their work. We felt that they should be learning to plan their own days at that level. They have time that you (as busy moms of Grammar-aged kids) don’t. This does not mean that they have to do it all on their own. They will probably need training and oversight from you. But, teaching them the skill of planning their work is worth the oversight time that you will need to invest.

Want to know more? You can download a full week of Planning Aids with the assignments filled in for you at our samples page. If you want to see the layout we use, here is a blank Upper Grammar and Lower Grammar worksheet that you can fill in for yourself!

A Delightful Combination

The fabulous combination of Classical Education and Charlotte Mason that makes up Tapestry of Grace.When I first started researching curriculum for my family, I knew I wanted one that both used quality books in the way that Charlotte Mason encourages, and gave us the depth and worldview training that a Classical education promises. I was thrilled to realize that I could get all of that by using Tapestry of Grace! Using this curriculum, I knew that I would be able to give my kids a rich education in the humanities. This made me very excited!

But, I had three young children and a very busy life. Among other things, we had just moved to a new city. I knew that my good planning intentions would quickly fall apart as things began to get busy. So, I added my voice to others who had been asking for a chart that would break Tapestry’s weekly assignments into daily, bite-sized pieces. The danger of making such requests when you are involved in the family business is that you get pulled into the project! I was drafted to help! But, since I love planning and making schedules, I was happy to jump into it.

As I dove into the Planning Aids project and started looking through all the books, I learned some interesting things about the curriculum that I want to share with you.

First, the book selection is amazing! The quality of the books and the fabulous illustrations distracted me! I would catch myself getting caught up in some of the assignments when I was just supposed to be assigning daily readings by page number. As I looked through all the books, I became even more convinced that Tapestry of Grace is amazing! If you are looking for a curriculum that embraces a Charlotte Mason approach for younger students, this is a fabulous choice. Glancing ahead, I saw that Tapestry would grow with my students, providing a high-quality, classical approach to learning at the Dialectic (Jr. High) and Rhetoric (High School) levels. Tapestry gives us all the tools for that, too!

Second, I love the amount of “non-western” history that Tapestry covers in both the book list and the weekly topics. Here I found the kind of integration that I want in my children’s humanities curriculum. I want my children to know that there is more to the world than Europe and North America. Tapestry includes information about Africa, China, India, the Middle East, South America, and Canada, fitting it into appropriate places for Western students. Tapestry of Grace covers subjects, countries and histories all over the world.

Third, I learned that Year 2 (the Fall of Rome through the American Colonial period) is my favorite year of Tapestry! I know I am biased (because it includes my favorite time period in history), but between the amazing books and the wonderful hands on activities that can be integrated with the learning, I decided that if I needed to spread any one Tapestry year over two years, I would pick Year 2.

It’s worth saying again. As I have worked with the curriculum over the past several years, I have been so delighted to see that at the Grammar levels, Tapestry is strongly committed to Charlotte Mason’s principles, while embracing a richly classical approach, as well. Tapestry has delightful living books for you to read aloud.  It encourages discussion and narration rather than worksheets. Yet, in what I think is a perfect blend, Tapestry flows into a more traditionally classical approach as it encourages Socratic discussion and the reading of as many original works as is feasible for the age of the student at the Dialectic and Rhetoric levels. I am so excited for the humanities education that I will be able to give my children using Tapestry of Grace for their homeschool!

If you want to see all the books we use in Tapestry of Grace, check out our sister company, Bookshelf Central! If you want to see firsthand how we integrate all the subjects while keeping your whole family on the same time period, check out our three week sample!

Making a Model of the Nile River

Here is how we made a model diorama of the Nile River for our Tapestry of Grace history homeschool studies.As I shared in this blog post, I am not a craft person, but I value the learning that happens through hands-on activities. So, I want to share what we do so you can be inspired to do more hands-on “imperfect” activities with your kids!

In our Tapestry of Grace studies, we have been learning about ancient Egypt and the daily life of the Egyptians. I have been enjoying the book selections and delighting in seeing my kids come to love what they are learning. From our readings, the kids have come to realize that you can’t understand Egypt until you understand the Nile River.

We read aloud these books and enjoyed the descriptions of life near the Nile.

  • Kingfisher Atlas of World History: This is my favorite atlas for younger students. The maps and illustrations are superb and help tell the story about the geographical area.
  • The Nile River: This is a fun, simple book that explains details about the Nile.
  • The Great Pyramid: This book talks about building a Pyramid, but the importance of the Nile flows through the whole story. The illustrations are beautiful!

After reading these books, I realized that the best way to help solidify all that the kids have learned about Egypt would be to allow each child to recreate a Nile River as a model.


  • Disposable baking pans, found at any local grocery store
  • A bag of dirt or sand (we couldn’t find sand, so we used some leftover gravel we had.)
  • Tin foil
  • Sticks and weeds from around the yard
  • Left over seedling cups (the kids found them in the garage and thought they looked like pyramids.)
  • Water color tablets (this is not necessary, but I had them on hand and turning the water blue was fun. We could also use the red tablets to turn the Nile to blood during our reenactment of the plagues of Egypt!)

Although initially I thought we would do this project in the house, I quickly realized that we should set up in the garage. It is a messy process when you let the kids build it themselves!

We started by putting down a layer of dirt and gravel, and then made the tin foil into a river basin. We made one side of the river higher than the other to show how the river would flood down the mountains of Ethiopia and bring all the nutrient rich dirt with it.Here is how we made a model of the Nile river for our Tapestry of Grace history homeschool studies.

Then, I sent the kids out to the yard to gather leaves and grass to add some interest to their river banks. I think their favorite part was finding things that they thought would fit into their diorama and make it look more like the Nile. Here is how we made a model of the Nile river for our Tapestry of Grace history homeschool studies

They each got to add the water to demonstrate the flooding of the banks.

Here were their different finished products!Here is how we made a model of the Nile river for our Tapestry of Grace history homeschool studies

The kids loved the project, and flooding the diorama helped them better understand how the Nile would flood every year to help crops grow.

If you want to see a few other ideas of how to do this project, see the links below: