Tag Archives: Grammar Students

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!

The Simple Task of Planning for the Grammar Levels

simple-planning for the grammar levels
     I enjoy back-to-school planning. I feel like I have the whole year ahead of me to watch my kids learn and a chance to re-set anything that didn’t work well from the year before. I have found that planning for the Grammar level student is a simple task. When I prepare the year goes much more smoothly!

I make my planning session a date with myself.

Before the new school year begins, my husband takes the children for a Saturday afternoon while I head off to a favorite coffee shop. I bring all my planning supplies, Tapestry DE, school books that I want to look through, and my calendar. I order my favorite coffee and enjoy the quiet. If seasons are busy and I can’t get out, I simply make coffee at home, put on a movie for the children and I get down to it!

I begin by writing down my homeschool goals for the year.

If I don’t have my priorities clearly in mind, I will be more likely to attempt too much or get discouraged when it seems we are accomplishing too little. Because my husband and I spend time casually over the summer discussing our goals for each child, I have a pretty good idea in my head of what I hope for each of them over the school year. Writing it down helps solidify it and allows me to look back when I need a reminder. Here is one worksheet that might help you plan goals for your year.

I have one child in Upper Grammar, one in Lower Grammar, and one who is a preschooler. My Upper Grammar student is a strong reader and loves stories.  She loves to read to learn, but still needs help going back to her books to research an answer. My Lower Grammar student is a kinesthetic learner. I am still reading aloud all her books to her, with my preschooler listening along with us.

At this stage in our schooling I have chosen to cover history, literature, some church history, and geography from the Tapestry subjects. I have also added writing for my Upper Grammar student this year.

For Lower Grammar, my goal is to introduce my daughter to a historical time period. I want her to appreciate the daily life of those living during that time and to understand the geography of the places we are studying in relation to the rest of the world. I want her to realize that these were real people and for her to enjoy the similarities and differences between her life and theirs. I delight when I see her eyes light up with interest about the size of the pyramids and how she listens eagerly to a story about a little boy living in ancient Egypt.

I want my Upper Grammar student to go on reading to learn and to improve her reading comprehension. I want to choose books that will fire her imagination and allow her to re-enact new stories. At the same time, my goal is that the things she reads make her think outside her own little world and ponder why people do what they do.

I have to remember that repetitive learning frees me to leave things out.

I can relax and enjoy the grammar-level learning process because Tapestry is a cyclical program. I will come back to these topics when they are older, so I don’t have to overload my schedule on our first pass through history.

After having considered my goals for each child, I determine which history and literature books at the Upper Grammar level to include, and which I plan to skip. I take into account my Upper Grammar daughter’s interests, or if I think a specific book will overwhelm her. For instance, because of my daughter’s love for princesses, last year I replaced a pioneer boy literature selection with the Lower Grammar literature choice of a story of Rapunzel. She was thrilled with that decision!

After choosing books, I highlight the assignments in Planning Aids and print out whichever literature worksheets go with the books I have chosen for the unit.

Because I will read aloud to my Lower Grammar student I know I will get a good understanding of the things my students are learning without having to do much extra reading. I will also be positioned to engage with my children as they share exciting tidbits that are brand-new to them!


Now that I am adding writing with my Upper Grammar student, I also look through those assignments. During my coffee date I looked through the whole year of writing and realized that at her fourth grade level she is simply working on good paragraph construction for the whole year. Knowing that, I decided that if I didn’t think a writing prompt on a particular week would spark her interest, I could look at the assignments one level up and one level down from her grade without losing anything she should be learning.


For geography I keep my children’s work very simple. We look at the places listed in that week’s geography on a globe and in an atlas so that they start to understand where things were happening in the world. I have the MAPpacks so I don’t have to print up any maps and I give my girls a fun “drawing” project on the maps. They color, trace, paint, or outline their map which is sufficient right now for them to learn basic landmarks.

I have been surprised how simple Tapestry planning can be. Once I know my goals and desires, the planning naturally flows from that. Adding in the coffee date definitely adds to the fun of school planning! And I love to see how my children are getting a wonderful, rich learning experience because I am prepared at the beginning of their year.

Myth Busters: Is Tapestry really only good for older kids?

mom_computer_normalThis post resulted from a real-time conversation that recently appeared on Facebook. I have only deleted or changed names, expanded abbreviations, and deleted a few posts that got onto sidetracks. Otherwise the thread appears as it did on Facebook. I thought it belonged in this series because it so clearly displays the “telephone game” of disinformation on the Internet, and how things can get garbled when you don’t go to the source!

Amy started it. She wrote: “I will be using Tapestry Primer in the spring, God willing. But someone today told me that Tapestry was excellent in the high school, [and] maybe even middle school years, but not good in the first grades. My sons are very young, [ages] 4 and 6, and it does worry me a bit that this might be true. Anyone using this with young children? I know there are many moms with kids who already graduated but don’t see many young mothers using Tapestry.” [Editor’s note: follow this link to see blog posts and reviews from many young moms using Tapestry!]

Below are the responses she got, bulleted, with names omitted.

  • I do LOVE it for my older kiddo, but I sure wish I’d started it sooner. My friend said it well: “It shines in the upper grades, but it is unbeatable no matter the age.”

Amy responded: “That’s what I keep hearing, and it worries me that I could be making the wrong choice for my young children.”

  • I have found that my choices are best made between the Lord and me. I value the opinions of others, but if the Lord calls you to use it, you’ll sure be blessed by it. My youngest is 10, he was 9 when we started using Tapestry, and I really wish we’d started sooner. I am sad that my oldest only gets to go through the 4 years one time.
  • The Primer is written for the early grades, I plan to buy it for my granddaughter (she’s only 9 months now). Her uncles are in their second go thru of Tapestry, I wish I had started them sooner.
  • We started Tapestry when my youngest was in the 2nd grade. He LOVED it. We are in our 4th year and it’s still just the right fit for us. He’s exposed to so much and it’s all presented in real book format or hands-on projects so he’s just absorbed so much. I took him out to lunch at the end of our first year, just the two of us, and the kid blew me away when he reviewed the entire year chronologically. We had used a blown up copy of the world map that year and I had circled and labeled the location of each people group we covered. Every time we added a new group we reviewed the ones already on the map. That day at lunch he spontaneously walked me through the whole map from memory and told me details about all the groups. He was able to do it because what he learned and how he learned it was interesting to him. He’s thriving in it still 3-4 years later. I have zero regrets on making the Tapestry of Grace choice and sticking with it.
  • Since Primer is new, I haven’t even looked at it. I have only used the full blown Tapestry, but I started when my oldest was in 2nd grade and I loved it for him. I truly think as long as you don’t try to do too much, it is marvelous at all ages.
  • I may actually start Tapestry earlier with my little than originally planned. She’s 4 so not now, but in a couple of years maybe.
  • We are in our first year of Tapestry and our daughter is in 2nd grade. She LOVES it! I am so glad that God directed my heart toward this curriculum in spite of my fears!

Amy responded:

We are finishing up another 1st grade curriculum, even though it’s technically Kindergarten for him (oldest turns 6 in January) but he’s flying through it. I didn’t like it that much except all the Bible stories.

He loves geography and missions. Does Tapestry cover missions? Since someone mentioned people groups? It is one of the reasons the other curriculum drew me, because of their third grade, countries and cultures year. I will be doing that Kindergarten program with my 4 year old and Primer along with him and my oldest, not sure which Language Arts or math yet.

  • Amy: I feel that way, very pulled to Tapestry but fearful because of what I hear about the fog and how it’s too much, etc. I love the easiness of the other curriculum and the schedule, but I don’t know…
  • I started Tapestry in ’08 with all lower- and upper-grammar students. Now I have someone in every stage. I bought the Primer thinking it would be perfect for my younger children….and it was!! It was not perfect for the mom trying to do Tapestry with everyone else and keep up with the Primer. Honestly, I think you could go either way. If you want to get a good feel for Tapestry and build the foundation, using it with lower grammar might be worth starting there. But if you just want something fun and relaxing to give your children and not feel like you have to do much picking for activities and such, then Primer is the way to go. I don’t think you will go wrong with the Primer. Of all the things I’ve learned over the years of homeschooling, it’s “don’t second guess yourself and go with the original plan.” It’s usually turned out that the naysayers were wrong. I’ve also learned that if you’re praying and seeking the Lord, He’ll give you a check in your spirit when you’re headed the wrong way. I took a break from Tapestry and was considering a different curriculum last year. I got my shopping cart online filled up and was ready to order when I just heard that still small voice telling that Tapestry was where we needed to stay. That’s one of the best decisions I’ve made regarding our school. My kids are thriving on it this year.
  • I understand reading the negative comments and getting “cold feet.” We actually only bought Year 1, Unit 1, on DE to begin with because I was so fearful I couldn’t do it. Just remember that you don’t have to do everything! Pick the activities that work for you and your family. For instance, I started out wanting to do geography. I quickly discovered we didn’t have time for that this year. So, I chucked it! And guess what? The Tapestry police didn’t come banging on my door! We will try again next year when I don’t have an overly needy toddler and my teenager can drive himself home from football practice!
  • The “fog” leaves quickly. There are so many helps online and so much support, now planning is a breeze. It’s like anything that you have to learn from scratch. It soon becomes your own.
  • I have been using Tapestry for almost 10 years. I bought it knowing I would get to teach my children each year three times before graduation. I have been thrilled with it. It is as bookish or as hands on as you need it to be. I tailor it to fit our needs each year. For example, I don’t love the worksheets that go with the books in the lower-grammar level, so I don’t use them! For my younger ones, I supplement the hands on stuff–I look for appropriate crafts on Pinterest, and I make a huge binder with weekly dividers for a craft activity for every week of Tapestry. I read them the literature books and we do the time line. As they get older I add in more–vocabulary, writing, geography, worldview, etc. It really is a wonderful buffet of a curriculum. My children are now 23 (graduated), 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 1. I will be happily using Tapestry for many more years!
  • Amy, my oldest 5 children began Tapestry in upper grammar or dialectic stages, and I am so sad that they did not reap benefits of the lower grammar years. My youngest daughter has done Tapestry lower *light* since she was 4. She is 7 now. I am absolutely blown away at how much she knows and loves school. Our Tapestry days are the highlight of her week. Just yesterday she asked me, “Mommy, remember Florence Nightingale from last year? Was she a nurse in World War 1 or 2… I don’t’ remember hearing about her lately but I know she was a nurse in a war.” What a fun opportunity to remind her a little about the Crimean War and Florence Nightingale’s time! After a brief refresher she said, “Wow – Just think how much worse the big wars would have been if she didn’t show people how to take care of wounded soldiers. It’s too bad she died before she could help in more wars.” … I realize this is simplistic, but such “AHA” moments happen weekly for this little 7 year old. She is learning so much and it is a JOY to be her teacher. Another fun story from this week: My father-in-law read her Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot, a sweet story about a relief pilot in Berlin after World War 2. My father-in-law grinned huge and delighted in that story because he was stationed in Germany and remembers living it! PRECIOUS times! Thankful for these lower grammar years with #6… wish I’d discovered Tapestry when my oldest was younger!
  • Unfortunately, I heard those same explanations of Tapestry when my girls were in the Grammar stage. I really didn’t grasp how Tapestry defines the grammar stage versus other Classical programs. I ended up only using Tapestry one year, but knew I would come back to it as my girls got older. That is something I really regret. I wish I had paid more attention to how Tapestry defined itself. Tapestry’s goal for the early years is to cultivate a love of learning. – hat in the buffet of choices they offer you focus on the ice cream and instead of oodles of memory work that you focus on building up a familiarity with a variety of areas. Definitely check out the Myth Buster series that Marcia has been posting. Also, Tapestry offers Advisors who can help you walk through how Tapestry works – explain the philosophy and mechanics.
  • We’ve used Tapestry of Grace since my oldest was in 1st grade. Even my preschoolers have loved it. I plan to implement the lower grammar content with my 3 year-old daughter  in the fall. She’s currently doing some projects related to our topics and loves them! I’m planning to add in the reading. We’ve used Tapestry for 10 years and have a rhetoric, dialectic, and upper-grammar student now. It just looks very different now than it did then. I would not change a thing were I to go back! Love it!
  • We started Tapestry when my kids were 5, 7, 9 & 11. I can’t tell you how many times my youngest – now 16 years old – has fondly remembered those days of “little-kid Tapestry” (and – I must admit – sometimes calls that the time “when I liked history.”) They are her favorite school memories. I don’t know whether I would have chosen to buy it when my oldest child was in first grade, but now that it’s digital, it will never become outdated!! There’s plenty of Tapestry fun for littles, just make sure you major on the basic 3-R’s and use Tapestry as the icing on the cake. So you may be getting a little less use out of it at this age than you possibly can, but you’ll be ramping up and getting used to it so you can effectively use it later as more of a main stage part of your curriculum.

Amy responded to all of these messages this way, “Thank you all, this is encouraging.”

A related post (Marcia herself says, “Don’t start until they’re older!”) was the first in this Myth Busters series! You may be interested to read it as well.

Would you like to add your experiences with Tapestry to this post? Feel encouraged to hit the “comment” button in order to do so! We’d love to hear from you.

Which Level to Choose? Upper Grammar or Lower Grammar?

We have wonderful moms using Tapestry who ask great questions on our popular yahoogroups. Recently, Amy asked this great question:

Is there a specific grade level or age that determines whether a child is early or late grammar? Or is it determined by the development of the child? I’m trying to figure out which level of books I should find. My daughter is in the 2nd grade, but has interests and reading levels of an older child (she is reading the Chronicles of Narnia for fun).




We also have veteran moms who give super answers. I loved this one:

I have followed many threads on this topic, having a dd that is an advanced reader. The information that has been most pertinent to me is to understand how the books are chosen [by Tapestry authors] for those levels. I understand that the LG books are chosen with the assumption that they will be read to the child by the parent/adult. On the other hand, the UG books are chosen with the intention that the child will be reading them independently. The result is that the LG books are often at a higher reading level and have more complicated plots and language. Personally, I have decided that I want to keep reading to my dd as long and as often as possible, regardless of her reading level. So I have opted to keep her in LG through at least 3rd grade. If she asks to read TOG books on her own, then I will start sooner.



Tracy is exactly right. We do choose books for the LG list to be read aloud to younger, non-fluent children. The choices for the parent are many, and different children will need different answers at times within the same families. Possibly, your child is a reluctant reader, and therefore pushing him or her towards the UG books as his/her reading skills sharpen will be best. Possibly, like Tracy, you want the snuggly closeness of reading aloud to continue, so you’ll use those LG books for as long as you can. Others might do this, but then add the assignment of reading UG books independently to their growing students.

As is always the case with Tapestry studies, we provide you a buffet of educational options, and you choose the best one(s) for your individual children, one by one!