Tag Archives: Fun!

Supplement Highlight: Big Story Game

The Big Story Game is a wonderful card game that reviews history in a fun, colorful way!

The Big Story Game is a wonderful card game that reviews history in a fun, colorful way!We developed the Big Story Game for the Primer student to add some additional fun to their history studies. But it is a wonderful card game that any child might delight in!

The Big Story Game is a set of cards that covers famous people from history that the kids learn about in Tapestry Primer or over the four years of Tapestry. These cards provide a fun, memorable way to review history and bring the whole family together in their studies.The Big Story Game is a wonderful card game that reviews history in a fun, colorful way!

There are instructions for four different ways to play games with the cards to help solidify the things they are learning. In one game, the student can line all their cards up in chronological order. This helps solidify in your child’s mind the order of historical people. Another option is to play a game where the players have to pair the cards with the other cards that are in the same era. There are some fun options that can be as easy or as hard as your kids need.The Big Story Game is a wonderful card game that reviews history in a fun, colorful way!

The illustrations on these cards are beautiful and my kids enjoy just looking through them and even my youngest loves holding up a card and asking me who someone is. I love how this kind of game promotes learning even out of school time!The Big Story Game is a wonderful card game that reviews history in a fun, colorful way!

If you are looking for a game for your children for Christmas, this is a fun one.Buy it here!

TW old

Keeping Learning Fun

We all get stale. We teachers fall into comfortable teaching ruts and don’t feel the need to put a lot of creative energy into finding new approaches, like we did in the fall. If things are good, by now our family has found a schedule that works, for which we moms are grateful! But our kids start to get tired of the same old, same old. What’s most comfortable for us moms is not always what’s most stimulating to them. So, the reality is that we periodically have to re-up our efforts if we’re going to keep learning enticing, and not test our kids beyond what they can bear.

I’m writing this in that most dreaded of months, February. Really, for me, February has to be the low point of the year. The sense of a “fresh start” that fall brings has long ago worn off. School books are no longer new; workbooks are only half done. Christmas has come and gone; tax return money is not yet here. The days (here in the northeast anyways) are gray and cold, and yet longer.  Spring teases me on some days, but it doesn’t really come. I can surf for next year’s curriculum, but when I add it up, I figure out that, really, I’m not a whole lot more than halfway through this school year. The end of May is a long ways off!

Enter hands-on activities. I don’t love crafts, and cooking makes a mess, and workbooks sure are easier than display boards or mounting plays, but all of these are also some of the easiest way that I know of to beat the February dulls. And, they come in a bunch of forms. Let me envision you with some easy ways to add some zing into your February days, ending with a lead up to the one bright spot in the month: Valentine’s Day.

  1. Sweeten up your days with FOOD! In Tapestry plans, we often recommend that students make salt maps. How about doing one this week, but using cookie dough instead of salt dough, icing instead of Tempera paints to indicate regions, and candies like chocolate chips and licorice to indicate mountains, rivers, or political boundaries? For Tapestry users, you’ll find a recipe and detailed instructions for such maps on your Loom. For you non-Tapestry users, I saw another great edible pick-me-up recently on Pinterest: sugar cookie solar systems! See more here: http://almostunschoolers.blogspot.com/2011/08/giant-solar-system-sugar-cookie.html
  2. Play with DOUGH! Playdough (bought or home made) makes a great, easy, fun medium to use in switching up lesson for younger students. With it, you can model so many things! Kids can model historic scenes, fashions, hair styles, or historic buildings (like pyramids). Here’s a great idea from http://thecraftyclassroom.com/blog/2011/03/26/geology-crafts, for instance, on using playdough to model the formation of the earth, for instance:
  3. Display it! For somewhat older kids (independent readers and writers) you can almost always liven things up by turning whatever you’re studying into a display board. These boards are dirt cheap, and challenge your student to present what he’s learning in a whole new way. These can be about inventions, events, scientific theories, literary personalities, or anything else that you are studying!
  4. Don’t forget the ham! Most kids thrive on drama. Whether they write and act out their own skit, or work together to record a radio play with all the sound effects, or decide to do scenes from Shakespeare, almost all kids like to ham it up (for dads, neighbors, friends, or other relations) if you give them the chance. There’s fodder for the dramatic everywhere you look: stories of famous lives and events abound no matter what your curriculum. Work with your kids to dramatize what you’re learning about, using stuff you have around the house for costumes, and your own supplies for makeup! Below is an old picture from our co-op’s Year 1 production of Trojan Women.
  5. Spring into spring! OK, so, technically, it’s not spring yet. But it can be in your home! You can sprout seeds, grow Narcissus bulbs, sprout carrots, sweet potatoes, or white potatoes, or clear the decks and get started planing seeds that will become next year’s food for your family in your outside garden. Growing things always liven up our homes, and starting a few plants going gives children a reason to get up each day and look to see how big things have gotten!

These are just a few ideas. Do you have more? Come share! Use the comment button above and be sure to link to your blog if there’s inspiration to be found there! And, if you Pinterest, look me up and go to my “Homeschooling” board. I am constantly surfing for more ideas to add there!


Let’s focus on lap books for a few minutes!

Maybe you’re a new homeschooler, and aren’t familiar with the concept of lap books. Or maybe you’re a veteran homeschooling mom, and lapbooks have always looked like a lot of work, or mess, and you’re not sure what good they are, anyways.There are several reasons that we include lap books as key (but optional) supplements to the Tapestry curriculum, and I love how Bonnie captured some of them in her post during a discussion on the Loose Threads Yahoogroup recently. She was kind enough to let me reproduce her post.

I wanted to put in a plug for lapbooking for those of you who may be “on the fence.”

My kids have done lapbooks through our six years so far with TOG, although we’ve never used the kits. We’ve just used lapbook techniques (mainly gleaned from Dinah Zike’s book, and some directly from the suggestions in TOG Classic) to summarize some of the information we were learning.

What I’ve noticed is that as a result, some of my kids have really improved in their summarizing skills, in a way that they found fun and a “break” from regular school stuff. For the younger ones, this was often “bullets” of information done on mini match books, or tri-fold shaped books, cut-outs, or as a caption for pictures. As they got older and more familiar with some of the “foldables,” they would get pretty creative on their own, and often would do more full sentences and/or paragraphs as the written part.

The result either way was very fulfilling for them – a creation all their own that they liked the look of (they liked to decorate with colored papers, borders with markers, etc.), an easy-to-store project that recapped a lot of what they’d learned about the topic, and – a thrill for me – they had to learn to summarize what they thought was important (with more prompts from me when they were younger and more decisions from them as they got older).

I don’t know whether the lap book kits have this same benefit since they are more directive about what to include (they may be – I just don’t have experience with them), and I realize that making a lap book from scratch could be a very overwhelming thing for some kids and moms. Just know that, as long as the expectations are kept very low at the beginning, it can be basically glorified draw-and-caption, and it can be done at a very simple level by the youngest who are interested in making a project. If they can use scissors and glue stick (tape runner is even better), and dictate bullets to you, they can do a simple lap book.Again – I’m NOT saying everyone should do lap books :o) But for those who are looking for reasons to do it, I would encourage you to give it a try!

In His Grace,



Lap books are, as Bonnie mentioned, for any children who can handle scissors and glue sticks. They can dictate written portions that are too hard for spelling, or when spaces for handwriting are too small for their fine motor movement to handle. The learning is in the doing, not the writing! Lap books function in many of the following ways for kids using Tapestry:

  1. They are a tactile approach to solidifying what the student has recently learned.
  2. You can also use lap books to evaluate how much your child remembers from his learning, especially if you are using the templates or kits that Lampstand Press offers. These are custom designed to work exactly with lesson contents as assigned in Tapestry year-plans.
  3. As Bonnie mentioned, they help littles to summarize, or to select, important ideas from the week’s lessons.
  4. Kids enjoy having a keepsake of their unit’s work. You can use these as a fun way to review the year’s work, or go back a unit or two to remind students of related lesson contents, such as using Reformation Age lap books to relate to the study of the Pilgrims.
  5. Lap books can be done independently by Upper Grammar students once they are trained. This is wholesome, educational fun for such students!
  6. Kids enjoy the bright colors: these stimulate the learning and can add to memory retention.
  7. For moms who are not “crafty” lap books offer a nice alternative. They are, on the scale of crafting possibilities, contained, neat, and simple. One needs very few materials and they keep kids interested and engaged for weeks on end. As Bonnie mentioned, they’re also easy to store!

We offer the lap books that we sell as either kits (the components are printed on sheets of colorful paper, and your children cut them out and assemble them onto the included stiff paper backings according to detailed directions, and then fill them out from their lesson contents) or as digital templates (all components are assembled into easily printed sheets, but you find/choose the colored papers and stiff backing papers). We recommend one kit per student, but the templates will serve all of your students for your whole school career.