Tag Archives: Classical Education

Do You Want to Win a Historical Minifigure?

As you know, we love history and anything that helps bring history to life. We also love Minifigures and all those little plastic blocks, so we wanted to find a way to combine the two!

After showing them off at conferences all year, we know how much kids and adults enjoy these sets. So we wanted to do a giveaway to help enrich your homeschool in the beginning of October.

There will be four winners, each winner getting one of these sets*:

We love history and fun activities that will enrich your child's schooling.

  1. Greece and Roman minifigure accessories*
  2. Vikings and Knights minifigure accessories*
  3. Patriot and Medic minifigure accessories*
  4. World War II American and German soldier minifigure accessories*

(*Note: these are only the accessories, no mini figures are included)

Also, the viking helmet historically did not have horns. When we put the set together, we debated whether or not we should include the horns. We decided to keep them since children tend to associate horns with vikings. But, if your children have studied the vikings and know that they should not have horns, the horns are removable.

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment telling us which is your favorite accessory pack, then enter your name and email into the Rafflecopter giveaway. We will be contacting the winners on October 9th, as well as posting the announcements on social media.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pin It! Maps Review

Have you ever discovered a product that answers a need SO perfectly, you just can’t help raving about it? I have wanted to enrich our geography a little more, and I am thrilled to have discovered Pin It! Maps. These maps have added so much fun to our geography, and they are both beautiful and fun to use! My kids and I love combining our Tapestry geography with Pin It! Maps!Using pins to label beautiful maps makes geography so much fun! Read all about Pin It! Maps!

I enjoy geography, and I delight in teaching it to my kids through our Tapestry studies. It enriches their history, and gives them a wonderful understanding of the world. But over the past school year, I have wanted something to enrich Map Aids. My kids benefit from the focus that Map Aids gives during their history studies. But as I have gotten more comfortable as a teacher, I started to look for something that would broaden their understanding of geography without distracting from the focus of our Tapestry geography.

I kept my eyes on different geography supplements over the school year, in case something stood out. Then I heard about Pin It! Maps. Pin It! Maps are large, glossy maps with flag pins that allows your child to label countries, capitals, landforms, or putting country flags on the respective countries. Each category of flags are color coded so you can easily focus on one topic or another.We love using these pin maps to make geography fun!

I received a review copy when we were beginning to study Ancient Greece and Rome in our Tapestry studies. I pulled out the Pin It! Map that focused on Europe, and separated the flags that I wanted my girls to know. Then I tried to have them pin the map weekly, so not only would they know the places they were studying in that particular week, but also they would have a feel for the Mediterranean area. For example, while we were studying Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius for one week, and used Map Aids to focus on those places, the kids had also been spending the whole unit labeling a map of the Mediterranean. My kids now have a better understanding of what happened in Pompeii because they have consistently seen the geography of Greece and Rome.My girls love doing Pin It! maps!

This has been the perfect fit with our Tapestry studies. It allows me to keep our geography studies focused on what we are studying in history, but it also enlarges the scope of the map. It will give them a good understanding of world geography as we move through our Tapestry studies, because although history continues to move on, geography mostly stays the same!

Pin It! Maps has a number of wonderful maps to choose from, but one of my favorites is their Early America’s maps. They are their historical maps, and would have been so much fun to use when we studied the American Civil War last year! I am glad we will cycle through that time period again and I can put those maps to good use.

The Tactile nature of using Pin It! Maps delights all three of my children. It gave them something unique to do, that was unlike any of our other subjects. As a teacher, I liked that I could simply add or remove pins if I wanted to make it more challenging or easier for each of my students. Using these maps could be used for all grades of school, and even I like labeling those maps with the fun pin flags!These Pin it! Maps are so beautiful and fun to use!

I cannot stop raving about the quality of Pin It! Maps. They are so beautiful I want to fill them in!  You will be able to use it for all your homeschool career, and then share it with your grandchildren! The maps are beautiful, large and glossy. They feel thick in your hand. This is not something you can create at home using your printer and laminator. I was honestly surprised how inexpensive they are given the quality of the product! All my homeschooling friends and family will tell you that I pull out the maps when they come over because I have to tell them how amazing these maps are!

I find geography fascinating and I want to pass that love along to my children. I want my children to not just look at a past time in history and judge it according to their worldview. I want them to understand what factors influenced people’s decisions. Geography often plays a much bigger part than we give it credit. Pin It! Maps gives you those tools to understand geography, while having fun learning it!

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy for my use. All comments and thoughts are my own.

The Geography Guessing Game

Here in our home, we love simple games that you can play while everyone finishes dinner. It allows us to linger together around the table and our girls love any challenge where they might be able to stump Daddy! We have developed different guessing games that are wonderful to play on long car trips or while waiting at the dentist office. It makes learning fun, rather than seat work.
We love playing games as a family, and simple guessing games are one of our favorites!

When they were little we played a game with our girls that we coined, “The Animal Guessing Game”. One person would think of an animal and everyone would have to figure out which one it was. The girls learned basic animal categories, like mammal and reptile, and loved the challenge of coming up with something that would take a long time to guess.

We have enjoyed this game so much, so we have expanded it as the girls have gotten older and have started them on the “Geography Guessing Game”. As you would expect, this game is much more challenging for everyone, including the adults! The other day at dinner, I asked that we please allow the globe at the table. I needed help figuring out some of these places!

We start by allowing one person to pick a place that they want everyone to guess. It can be any land-form, city, country or body of water. We allow them to pick anything they can think of that is a place on the globe. So far we have not narrowed the field any closer than that, but over time it would be fun to focus on the areas that we are learning about in our Tapestry studies. Mike almost stumped me last time when he picked a place that he said was connected to a large body of water. I forgot the Nile River dumps into the Mediterranean Sea!

We help our girls to narrow down the possible places to guess by teaching them to start by asking the broad questions. This also allows us to teach them basic geography categories.

Here is a graphic that will help explain how we narrow down the place on the map: We love playing games as a family, and simple guessing games are one of our favorites!

It is a wonderfully simple game that promotes learning about places and having fun as a family!

These are some other questions we have helped the kids come up with as they are trying to solve the place a person is thinking about:

  • Is it on a continent?
  • Is it an island?
  • Is it man made or God made? (i.e. city or land-form)
  • Is it a mountain?
  • Does it border an ocean?
  • Does it have four seasons?
  • Is it hot and sandy?
  • Is it mostly ice?
  • Did explorers travel to it or around it?
  • Does it have mountains around it?
  • Have we ever been there?
  • Would we have to fly on an airplane to get there?
  • Is it something we learned about recently in history?

Not only do these questions help the game, but they help the kids think about all the details of the place they are guessing. Instead of geography being purely about looking at a map, it becomes a fun framework to play with as kids have to evaluate a globe and guess what someone else is thinking. For the person who has the place in their head, they have to know enough to answer any question posed to them! It allows them to show their knowledge about a place on a map, which still keeping the family stumped.

We are enjoying playing this game together. I am learning so much myself by having to remember all the countries, and water ways. We hope you enjoy playing this game with your family!

Check out how we include geography with our history studies in our three week sample here!

One Family’s Story: using a curriculum as flexible as your homeschool

Read how one family homeschools while doing competitive sports!I first “met” the Caffey family on Instagram, where Jacquelin posts pictures of their homeschool day, as well as all the competitive gymnastic meets they attend. I was intrigued by how they homeschooled using a whole book curriculum like Tapestry of Grace, while keeping up with all their competitive sports. So I asked Jacquelin if she would mind sharing with me how they shape their homeschool to fit their family. I love how their story shows how they make homeschooling work for them!

Tell me about your family. How old are your kids?

Hi! We are a NAVY family of eight currently residing in the Hampton Roads area of VA. My husband and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage in July and we have six kids, 5 daughters and a little boy, 19, 16, 14, 10, 7, and 2. We are an active sports family who loves watching and cheering for our favorite football teams the SF 49ers and Denver Broncos. Our children are also actively involved in sports as child athletes. Currently we have two competitive gymnasts competing at levels 3 and 9 (Junior Olympic levels go to Level 10), a daughter who plays Varsity softball and runs track, and a daughter who is a Pop Warner cheerleader. Our son is busy trying to keep up with his sisters but he loves to run and play baseball and ride his bike.Meet a family who blends a wonderful academic curriculum with competitive sports!

Why did you start homeschooling?

We started homeschooling eight years ago when we made the move to Virginia. After seeing the price of private schools in the area and the state of the local public schools we knew that it was time to bring our three oldest girls home. My oldest was just going into 7th grade and we didn’t want to throw her to the wolves so to speak by putting her into the local public school. She is our first homeschool graduate and currently attends Liberty University.

How long have you been using Tapestry of Grace?

I have been using Tapestry of Grace with my younger three daughters for the past year and a half. I tried valiantly to switch the whole family years ago when my oldest was entering 9th grade but we all got immediately overwhelmed because I was trying to do too much. As we homeschooled, the other history program we used was too literature rich for my current 8th grader so we slowly made the transition back to Tapestry with great success now.

Why did you choose Tapestry?

I really needed to be on one history time period instead of 4 different time periods. My sanity couldn’t take it anymore and I was getting burned out. Tapestry was a God send for me at the time because I was really down on myself because history was not being done. Now, I know how to better pick and choose what works for each child plus we still get the quality literature I was looking for in a history program.

My favorite subject is the History Core followed by the Arts/Activities. My children learn and retain so much more when we have fun activities to complete. Plus I like to get crafty with them.

The literature selections are also fantastic! I enjoy the buffet now that I know how to make it work for our family. I especially like that I can glance ahead and make the program work for us during our busy travel months for gymnastics. My older daughter competes Level 9 gymnastics. She trains 28 hours a week, 5 days a week. We are able to plan her readings around that schedule. As long as I do my part ahead of time, we can still do history on the go as we travel.

I love how they have made homeschooling work for their families and goals. They have found a way to both encourage their children’s gifts while ensuring that they are getting a great academic education. If you want to know more about how Tapestry can work for your family, check out a sample here.

8 Simple Ways to Make History Come Alive

History is a perfect subject to help take school from something your child has to do every day, to showing him the delights of learning. Because it is a subject based on stories, it is a easy subject to help bring fun to learning and schoolwork. Here are some wonderful ways to make History come alive for your students

  1. Read great books. Don’t just settle for any work based on history, aim for quality. Read wonderful biographies, beautiful picture books, and well written historical fiction. A wonderful story brings characters and settings to life. A well-written history book should do that as well. our family loves books like the “choose your own adventure” type book, or the beautifully illustrated stories by the D’Aulaire’s. We love well written biographies, and classics like Laura Ingalls Wilder. There are so many wonderful choices!
  1. Study people who intrigue your child. Encourage your child to learn more about a character who interests them, even if it does not follow your school schedule. My oldest has fallen in love with the stories about Florence Nightingale. She will read any book about her she can find. Although for school time I have assigned history reading that helps her learn history chronologically, I also encourage her to pursue people that interest her to help make history even more exciting.
  1. Allow them to pursue aspects of history that excite them most. Does your child get super excited about fashion or machinery? Help him look at the history of those things while they study events and places. Boys often get excited about history when they reach the battles or weapons of each time period.  Looking at history through a specific lens can help students develop a deep love of learning. That love will naturally lead to learning other subjects, like science, engineering, or math. All this leads from being drawn into a true story.
  1. Combine your history study with geography. Understanding where things happen, and how the geography plays a part helps bring to life the time period you are studying. I have learned about the battle of Gettysburg for most of my life, but when I went there and got to see the actual lay of the land, so many details that I had learned made so much more sense to me.  Which leads to number 5….
  1. Visit historical places. I think every homeschool parent knows the value of field trips. But I think that we can make it more complicated than it needs to be. Kids learn so much just from a simple field trip. Last year at our county fair, we watched a local blacksmith work with metal. This was a wonderful teaching moment to talk about colonial life. When we visit a farm, we talk to them about how people used to grow their food for hundreds of years. National Parks have a wonderful Junior Rangers program that you can sign up for at the welcome desk that gives your kids questions to answer and things to look for. This helps them learn more from the displays at a national park. If you think creatively, you will be amazed at what you can come up with for good field trips!
  1. Watch documentaries or historically based movies. For the older students, there are so many high quality documentaries that expand the things they have read. A well done movie set in a particular time period (think a movie like Pride and Prejudice), typically hires a historian to make sure the setting and costumes are accurate to the time period. Ask your kids about what they notice. For younger kids, cartoon stories like Liberty Kids can teach them a lot about a time period. In addition to a well told story, movie time is usually a treat and a great option on a sick day!
  1. Reenact scenes from history. Kids love pretend play. They love to inject themselves into a story and act out the characters. The fun of telling the story forces the students to think about what they are reenacting. They will notice details or ask different questions than they will when they are just reading from a book. For an older student, have them write a play or fiction story based in that time period. Using different learning styles helps implant those stories in their heads.
  1. Make crafts that show different parts of life from history. Some of our favorite crafts have shown the differences between the time period we are studying and modern day. To ensure we actually do them, another mom and I get together once a week to do a co-op. One week, the kids made a model of the Nile river and then flooded it to show how crops would grow. Another time, they made quill pens and the kids had to try to write with them using ink. They discovered how difficult it was to write with a feather and not smudge the paper! Another time, the kids “panned for gold” in a large tub of water to show what the Gold Rush of California really meant. Sometimes the activities don’t work though. One week we made hard tack to show how tasteless the food was for the Civil War soldiers…The kids loved it and requested it for a snack!

Helping your kids love to learn is about finding that thing that will spark their interest. When they have that interest it is so exciting to see them pursue learning on their own! I personally love Tapestry of Grace because it weaves all these elements together. If you want to see how Tapestry of Grace works, see our samples here.

Color Your Way Through History!

Do you ever feel frustrated during reading aloud time? For me, once I have finally gotten everyone together to listen to our wonderful history or literature book…the squirming starts!

Allow your young student to color while you read about history! See samples at the bottom of the post.

There are so many wonderful options for those times, like Lego’s or Play-Doh. But sometimes I want something that directly connects with the topics we are studying. I love to be able to pull out these activities books. My girls pick a picture that we are studying, and start coloring. Allow your young student to color while you read about history! See samples at the bottom of the post.

The activity books were originally written to go along with the Tapestry Primer curriculum, but since they are chronological, they go well with the full Tapestry program, or any chronological history program. The pages include a number of different activities, including map work, mazes, matching, simple writing, and famous people.

Allow your young student to color while you read about history! See samples at the bottom of the post.

My kids love to color, and they learn so much by having something to do while I read to them. To buy a set of these pages, visit here. To Download a large sample of the pictures, visit here!

Critical Thinking: the Most Important Skill to Teach in High school

Thinking critically matters. We are bombarded daily with ideas that we may or may not believe, and often don’t stop to examine closely. Training our children to think, and in the process, challenging their thought processes can be difficult, but the benefits are enormous.Thinking critically matters. We are bombarded daily with ideas that we may or may not believe, and often don’t stop to examine closely. Training our children to think, and in the process, challenging their thought processes can be difficult, but the benefits are enormous.

Learning to look at the world with a critical eye helps your student to develop what they believe for themselves, and often helps them to not be swayed by the many deceptions they will face as adults. Giving our kids the tools to think carefully will also help them learn empathy for others’ decisions. Tapestry provides all the resources you need to train your child to think deeply about what they read and gives you, the teacher, the tools to that you need to have these discussions.

Most of us care deeply that our children learn not only the academics of a subject, but how to think about things and process decisions logically. I believe that a study of the humanities, done rightly, trains that processing ability, and that following a good decision-making process is just as important as reaching right conclusions, especially since most decisions we make have many right conclusions. The details of our families, our communities and our lives can differentiate what is right for individuals. One decision may be right for one person, but wrong for another. So, rightly determining what is best within a set of valid choices is very important.

How we get to the answer matters. And, the process influences later decisions.

I have seen this exemplified in the medicine vs. herbal medicine debate that has been raging for the past 10 years. (Please note that I am not trying to enter this debate, but I find that how people handle the different viewpoints is telling.) I have seen two types of thinking typified in two friends:

When one friend had children and started looking into whether she wanted to use modern or herbal medicine, she researched the articles, and evaluated the validity of the arguments both for and against modern medicine. She considered the credentials of those writing the articles, but also looked at what she valued for her family and their specific needs. Ultimately, she has chosen not to use modern medicine on a regular basis, but delves deeply into quality nutrition and working with a certified naturopathic doctor as her family’s regular doctor.

When the other friend had children, she also started researching natural medicine. Unfortunately, her research consisted of Internet searches. She tended to latch onto the most inflammatory articles without questioning the credentials of the person writing the article. She began to believe each extreme idea she saw, and her decisions were based more on emotional reactions than reasoned decisions. This has an overall negative effect on her family, for emotions are powerful drivers, and logic cannot always persuade towards rational actions when they are heavily in play.

This difference in these two friends provides an excellent example of why critical thinking matters. They both did research and came to the same decision to not use traditional modern medicine. But, sometimes the end result doesn’t matter all that much. Rather, how you consider a subject matters and when done well enables you to live life wisely.

We want to raise our children to think wisely about the world around them. They should be able to follow logical progressions in their thought processes. They’ll need to evaluate facts and arguments being thrown at them, sifting them for both truth and value to themselves in their unique circumstances. Every generation faces issues that are confusing. We want to help our children make good choices in life by teaching them to think critically about what they hear and read, and employ a biblical worldview when making decisions.

As your children grow, they may well come to different conclusions than you have about some things. But if they have been trained to think well and critically about a topic, you can trust that they will typically come to decisions that are right for them.

This is one of the biggest benefits of a high quality humanities education. As we read the Great Books, we present our children with many different viewpoints to evaluate. We allow them to wrestle with questions that humans have been asking for thousands of years. And, we help them think about them. We ask them hard questions that don’t have easy answers in order to train their minds to think. This training gives them the tools they’ll need to face their own tough questions in the future and to think carefully about what they meet in the world around them.

At younger ages, when you ask your children difficult questions, they will have no idea how to think about something. They eagerly accept what you tell them to believe. They don’t see a grey scale on any decision: it is all black and white.

But as children reach the dialectic and rhetoric levels, they start to question what they believe and why they believe something. They begin to see that sometimes there is no one right answer. Through Socratic discussions, you help them think logically about the issues at hand and to apply a biblical worldview to what they conclude. You also help them look at hard questions in light of their historical context. Those things all help train their minds to think deeply. You are developing their worldview and thinking skills simultaneously, and it’s the process that you’re developing that will help them make good decisions for the rest of their lives.

If you want help to have Socratic, logic-building discussions with your students, check out our teacher training video that teaches you how to do it.

Supplement Highlight: Evaluations

Tapestry of Grace offers a wonderful Evaluations packet for those who want to use tests and quizzes with their students.When you use a whole book based program that emphasizes discussion, your kids get a wonderful, rich education. But sometimes it helps them to have a way to show what they have learned. This is where we offer Evaluations for each level. This set of tests, quizzes, and exams are custom designed for each learning level of Tapestry students. These tests help you to see how much content of each lesson your children are absorbing, and can also help solidify the things they have already learned.

At the Grammar levels, the evaluations are cumulative, usually covering a few weeks at a time, where the topics have been focused on the same theme. For instance, the first three weeks of year 1 covers Egypt. So the cumulative quiz asks questions about the Pyramids, Mummies and Pharaoh, all of which were covered in those three weeks.

Evaluations at the grammar levels consist of True\False quizzes, oral quizzes, and for the Upper Grammar students, the occasional short answer questions. For all the quizzes, there are answers keys and grading guides for the teacher.

Tapestry of Grace offers a wonderful Evaluations packet for those who want to use tests and quizzes with their students.

If you want to adapt them for multiple uses, other families have also used the quiz questions to create history sentences for memory work, or they use the questions and answers to have simple copy work for their younger students.

At the Dialectic and Rhetoric Levels, Evaluations are weekly. They include short answer questions and essay questions for your student to answer. In addition to the weekly questions, there is also a review guide for the unit and a unit exam. Not only is History covered, but there is also a unit Literature test, so you can be sure your student is learning the important literature terms.

At the upper levels, we provide you, the teacher, with the tools to figure out how to best determine a grade for your student when you review their short answers or essays.

Evaluations is a fabulous tool to provide you with another way to help your student get all the benefits from the learning tools Tapestry provides!

We have a coupon for 20% off Evaluations through October 31st!

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!