It’s done. The battle has been fought, the victor declared.
Drum roll please.
Tapestry of Grace has won.
In the end, it didn’t come down to price. I’ll fully admit Tapestry’s price tag was a huge holdout for me. Finances have to be considered in a family this size on rare occasion. ;)
We decided that Tapestry’s Classic version, a.k.a. the “old” version was good enough for us for this year. If nothing else, it would allow us to make a small investment to see if Tapestry would fit our lifestyle. I wanted to get my hands ON the curriculum, to dig into it, to see what it was all about. I’ll be the first to admit I do NOT like Tapestry’s website. Truth be told, I honestly don’t know how they could improve it. The fact of the matter is there is just TOO much meat to this curriculum for it to be properly displayed. Until you have it in your hands and you start planning it out, you just truly don’t realize how much work Marcia has actually done. I’m still finding things four weeks into it that has me going, “Oh my goodness! That’s awesome!”
We figured Classic Tapestry won awards. Classic Tapestry is what Marcia originally began with. Classic Tapestry is what first got everyone excited about TOG. If it was good enough for the other TOG users (and lovers) for the last five years, it would be good enough for our first year! I was so blessed to find Year 3 for $80ppd. which included the matching MapAids, the Writing Component, the Reproducible CD, the Base Unit, and the four single units. It was all printed and in binders, and might I add, very good condition. I did not buy ANY books yet.
I want to add in here that I really think you should NOT buy the books until you’ve had time to understand how the curriculum works. Some of the books are very necessary to the program. These books are either utilized through multiple weeks or sometimes, multiple years. Other books have worksheets that entirely based on the selection. But MANY of the books are simply in there because those were the titles readily available at her library, or that she had on hand, or that she can eagerly recommend. Those titles are only utilized for one subject, and often only one week, and so are very easily replaced with an alternative from your library for that one week. We were able to find approximately 50% of the titles she recommended at our library system. Another (approximately) 20% were the type of books I mentioned previously…. Easily replaced with an alternative – such as childrens’ biographies on presidents, or the constitution, or the Louisiana Purchase. I used ratings and recommendations on Amazon to narrow down selections that were not recommended.
It’s at this point I should mention our library system is entirely online. I can tell you that yes, it was time consuming. But it was so incredibly worth it. I went through one entire unit, deciding on titles and made an Excel spreadsheet of what books they had, which we’d use as replacements, and which were necessary for purchase. I did purchase a few “spines” like Hakim’s Story of US books 4 & 5, and Genevieve Foster’s Abraham Lincoln’s World. I also decided to utilize Story of the World 3 (which I owned) within Tapestry. It was easy enough to find a corresponding chapter to whatever we were studying. I’d like to add that I was very eager to substitute the Mystery of History as a spine in Tapestry. Unfortunately the volume we’d need to use for Year 3 isn’t yet available. The next time we come around to Year 3, I expect to purchase it.
Now, why Year 3? I actually had a very good reason for choosing Year 3. I wanted to give Tapestry the most honest chance of success. I knew I probably would be most biased if we did Year 1. I haven’t yet enjoyed studying the Ancients. I had a very difficult time choosing between Year 2 and Year 3, but I also had read reviews that stated that Year 2 is the most “packed” year available… That it can easily be overwhelming for a beginning Togger. So we made the choice to go with Year 3 and next year will begin the cycle afresh with Year 1 in Ana’s freshman year which will allow her to complete four years within the Rhetoric level while allowing her to lolly-gag in Dialectic for this year.
So…. Why Tapestry? Now that I’ve had the opportunity to have my hands on Tapestry, and having used Sonlight previously I think I can better put it into words. I want to make sure I’m clear on this point though… There are those who will find flaws in whatever they’ve used and sometimes use that as an excuse to travel into uncharted waters and try something new. I am that person. There are precious few things I’ve found to be a perfect fit. I love (LOVE) First Language Lessons. My itsy bitsy discontenments over Rod & Staff’s grammar program for early years were minute. I actually REALLY liked the program, but I was searching for an excuse to try FLL. And I’ve stuck with it now for five years. I bought one of the first copies that came out and I’m on my second book of the 1/2 Level. I had tried (and liked) 100 Easy Lessons, after not liking Alpha-Phonics. 100 Easy Lessons didn’t leave me completely in love, but it worked, and worked well. I can honestly say after excusing myself to try An Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, I want no other. So you can see that I AM one of those mamas who does enjoy the hunt for the “perfect” curriculum. I am eclectic by nature and want to put things together for myself for a great fit. That said, I am NOT the person who is constantly unhappy with what I try. I have found that as I try each curriculum I get to know myself (and my kids) and my teaching style a bit more. If you don’t love literature, Tapestry is NOT for you. Neither is Sonlight for that matter. If you really want to check that box, know you’ve covered everything in a generic scope and sequence, I highly suggest you try other great programs that are a better fit for you.
There is no one perfect curriculum. There are only curriculums that inspire you to be consistent and enthusiastic in your day to day teaching.
And now that that has been said, I can go forward, knowing I’ll not lead you astray with my enthusiasm. Tapestry is NOT the perfect curriculum. It is a great fit for OUR family. No matter how good a curriculum is, no matter how many awards it has won, it will never work for you if it isn’t a good fit.
Tapestry – Why it fits us
1. It’s literature based.
2. It lets you delve into a subject, fill it out with appropriate books for each level.
3. Each child is studying the same thing, at a different level, at the same time. We felt this was important. For one reason – it allows and encourages conversation and play between siblings.
4. Mom can read aloud to all. Yes, it might be a bit above the 6yo, but they still get the rhythm of good literature. Beyond that, your lower grammar will have age appropriate read-alouds. But this was VITAL to me as I could reasonably read aloud to my dialectic, upper grammar, and eventually, my rhetoric students all at one time.
5. As combined as it is, it is still VERY individualized with discussion questions, writing assignments, mapwork, book of the presidents (lower grammar), timelines (dialectic), geography (upper grammar), and worksheets… For those who have dreamed of truly combining their students without a MASSIVE amount of “tweaking” Tapestry does it.
I cannot IMAGINE the amount of work that went into Tapestry. I understand the attraction of “open and go” curriculum. It’s what most sold me on Sonlight. That I don’t have to sit down and print off weekly plans and teach my older children to break them down into daily assignments, I get that. I really think if you can be content with Sonlight’s daily programs, or if you don’t have multiple levels, Sonlight could be the perfect fit for YOUR family. I tried. It wasn’t happening. The amount of work I’d have to do to honestly make it combineable would not have been worth it to me. If you’re fine with your children studying different things, I’d probably go with Sonlight, honestly. There is SO much appeal to handing a child an IG and having those daily plans made. But I’ve been wanting to combine all my levels for a good long time and this is IT.
The only other comparison I have to make is what someone else verbalized for me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I read her statement. She likened the two this way: Essentially she views Sonlight as a literature based program supplemented with history. Her viewpoint of Tapestry is a history program supplemented with with literature. I think this is an excellent way to compare the two.
In Sonlight you’ll be reading excerpts of history based on a literature core. With much of the readings in Tapestry being rooted in your spines and in other non-fiction works, the fictional works are really only a supplement to that base. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. This is a much better fit for what I wanted to be teaching as a teacher.
I’m sure at some future date I’ll go into the vast amount of “cheats” that Marcia has so generously supplied to educated the teachers so they can have an intelligent conversation on each topic, but right now I wanted to finish up this epic war between Sonlight and Tapestry and having reread my previous posts, I felt it hadn’t yet been completed.