Friday, October 24, 2014

Tapestry of Grace: Year One, Unit One

When I first decided to homeschool the boys I researched and researched curriculum. I had my eye on Tapestry of Grace, I loved the idea of it, I loved the cycle through history, I loved that I could teach more than one grade level at a time....but I was scared of TOG. It seemed overwhelming and I was already overwhelmed by the thought of homeschooling. So I decided not to do TOG for our first year of homeschooling. But as I ended our first year, I knew that TOG was going to be my choice this time around. I have loved it. Absolutely loved it.

One year of TOG is broken into 4 units, 9 weeks each. We just wrapped up our first unit and I had to share some of our highlights. This curriculum has blessed me so much that I had to post about it. The curriculum starts at the beginning of human history (with Creation) and covers the Ancient World. We spent a lot of time on Ancient Egypt which was absolutely fascinating.

I tried to do several of the hands-on activities so that both boys could do things together. They loved the projects.

They built a Ziggurat; an ancient temple of Mesopotamia. 

A sugar cube pyramid.

We learned a lot about embalming and mummification. We even mummified an apple!

The boys thought this was really cool. Natron was a special salt/preservative the Egyptians used to drain all the fluid from the body. For our Natron, we used a mix of salt and baking soda. The peeled apple sat covered in Natron for a week.

Priestly turbans and breastplates.

Towards the end of the unit, we began to learn about a few Jewish holidays.
We made Challah bread, It was pretty, and yummy.

The boys also made a Shofar which is an ancient musical instrument still used today as part of Jewish traditions and holidays. The boys liked these because they were quite noisy. 

One thing that I liked, that I didn't expect to like, was the lapbook.
Lapbooks are optional in TOG and I was hesitant to do it but I'm so glad we did. At the end of our 9 week unit we had this huge completed lapbook with information about all the things we learned. It serves as a great review for the unit and it was a way for dad to see everything we learned as well. 

Obviously TOG isn't all hands-on activities and lapbooks. We read a lot of history focused books as well as literature. Caleb loves to read so this is a good fit for him. TOG also fosters independent learning which is something that Caleb needs more of. 

Benjamin's primary curriculum isn't TOG. I went with My Father's World for his Kinder curriculum but I pull him into as much of Caleb's studies as I can. TOG is so rich that there are plenty of activities the boys can do together. Benjamin is always in the room with us so he hears a lot of what Caleb and I read together. He is definitely learning alongside his brother. 

Here he is working on some Kinder activities. 

All-in-all our school year is off to a great start. Homeschooling has definitely been a blessing. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to do it. 

I know some folks like to know what curriculum other homeschoolers here ya go. You can learn more about each curriculum by clicking the link. 

A very rich curriculum that cycles through history. It's a bit intimidating at first but once you get the hang of it and realize that you don't have to do everything, it is a liberating curriculum. I love it. 

This is Benjamin's primary curriculum. It is very open and go. It doesn't require a ton of planning. There are a lot of books and hands on activities as well. 

I love this program. It is mastery based and hands on when using the base 10 blocks. 

This is our first year to use this science curriculum. So far I like it. It has a very simple approach with reading and then notebooking what you learn. Plus there are experiments throughout. 

TOG has a writing curriculum (optional) that does cover some grammar to an extent. I still use First Language Lessons as a supplement. I used this with Caleb last year and I really like the simplicity of it.

Now that we have wrapped up our first unit, we are taking next week off! The beauty of homeschool people, you can take a break whenever you want!

Just minutes after I published this post, I received the following questions from Tristan. I figured I would just answer them here just in case anyone else is curious.

- Did you buy a lot of books or are you focusing mostly on using the library? Or a mix? 
Honestly, for this first Unit, I did purchase a lot of books, only because I didn't have the confidence to steer away from the recommended books. I used as much as I could from the library but there were so many books that the library didn't have and couldn't get. So yes, I spend more money on books than I would have liked. BUT, after doing one unit, I feel more comfortable with finding similar books to the ones recommended. I don't plan to purchase any books for Unit 2 unless they are books that are needed for several weeks and I can't get them from the library. I think it would be easy to supplement books from the library even if you can't find the exact book recommended. 

- Did you get "Writing Aids"? If so, what do you think of it?
I did get Writing Aids. I like that the writing assignments tie into what we are studying. I'm not sure writing aids is necessary though. It's a little too early for me to say "yay" or "nay" on this one. I need a bit more time using it before I can give a good answer. I'll get back to you :)

- Did you go with Print, Digital, or both? 
Oh, I struggled with this too. I did get both. I knew I wanted the print because I like paper. I didn't want to have to learn how to navigate TOG using only the DE version. I think someone that is a confident TOG user would handle DE better than I would. I wanted physical paper that I could hold in my hands. I went ahead and got both just because adding digital to print wasn't much more money and I liked that I could print directly from DE and search through DE easily. I rely mostly on the printed version but the DE is nice to have. Just using DE is way cheaper though.

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