I’ve shared before some of the frequently asked questions we get here at Hodgepodge. We even have a menu tab for FAQs which categorizes The Six Most FAQ Homeschool Resource Questions and questions on teaching multiple ages. But in the last couple of months during this homeschool planning season, fellow families have found the posts I shared on the how tos of Tapestry of Grace (TOG).
Today’s questions I share are mostly TOG questions. But there are also some art related and learning style questions mixed in for good measure to make sure we keep it a Hodgepodge. Plus, I think, even if you don’t use Tapestry of Grace as your unit study resource, my answers just may give you some tips for teaching your multiple ages.
1) Q: Marlene said, “I have been looking at your lists for school for this fall and I have a question for you. Do you count the readings for TOG to be “reading” for your 1st graders and up or do you have a separate “reading curriculum” that you use? Thanks”
A: Hi Marlene – We do use Alphaphonics for preschool and first grade. In fact I have an Alphaphonics and More Learning to Read resources post. From there ours get plenty of practice with TOG and our English Rod and Staff grammar book. My best advice is simply to go to the library often and let them pick out books they enjoy. Now, if one of mine seems to need more practice then I will pick out certain books for that child and we will work together during afternoon quiet time or bedtime readings. But so far, with the solid base in Alphaphonics, they want to read. And with the great offerings of TOG, they are challenged and it holds their interest. I hope that helps some?
2) Q: Shannon says, “Tricia, I have been following your blog for about a year now and my little family is about to start homeschooling preschool. I have a 4 1/2 year old, a 2 year old and baby #3 is due in September. I’ve got my preschool stuff pretty much taken care of, but I’m looking at Tapestry of Grace starting next year and I’m wondering what you budget each year for your curriculum needs and with TOG, what do you find essential and what do you find truly optional? Any wisdom would be appreciated Blessings!”
A: Hi Shannon, How exciting and busy!! Honestly we did not start Tapestry of Grace until my children were older. With a new baby on the way my best advice would be to concentrate on the basic 3 Rs. Have you read this post entitled Would You Recommend Tapestry of Grace for Kindergarten?
However, you are very wise to be researching and planning. As far as budgeting, I do plan for the TOG digital version of each year plan. The beauty of that is – once you buy it once – you have it to cycle through for years to come. We are going to open up year 3 again very soon which is what we started with. Looking forward to that. We used the year plan for two years before we added anything else! We just made sure we reserved every possible book at the library.
One note on books – if the resource we will use for most of one unit or for the entire year is not available at the library – I usually try to buy that one. That’s a consideration for those books you may end up using over and over like a book on the presidents.
I also like to get one lapbook for the family to use together as review – for each unit. We made the one time purchase of Writing Aids once we had been using Tapestry for a couple of years. And I also really like to have the Pop Quiz on hand to listen to in the car or as an intro to the week.
In summary, in order of necessity:
- Digital year plan
- lapbooks (if your children enjoy hands on activities – though this can be lots of cutting for you!)
- When they are older – Writing Aids one time purchase and Pop Quiz – if you/your husband think it would be a good fit for your family.
I hope I have helped somewhat in my rambling sort of way Blessings on your homeschool year and growing family, Tricia
A round up sort of post: What I’ve Learning Homeschooling With Tapestry of Grace
3) Q: “Hi, my name is Dee and I just purchased Tapestry year one. I have five children and will be schooling 4 of them with Tapestry. I purchased the print copy and the DE. At this time we do not have a home computer due to finances but regularly use our library computers. Our librarian will work with us on getting books through library loans. I would really appreciate any advice on how to stay on top of things. I have to two elementary, one junior high and one freshman. Thanks so much” ~ Dee Corey
A: Dee, My very best advice is to do just as you said – get books! and get as many as you can. Those books on the resource list and the alternate list as well. That has been the very best way for us to enjoy the learning throughout the day. Also, please know that you won’t ever be able to do it all. Zero in on the columns for your aged children. Pick one read aloud that they all would enjoy.
It also really helped me when we first started to just do one portion of Tapestry at day. History on Monday, Geography on Tuesday, Writing on Wednesday, Literature on Thursday, Arts and Activities on Fridays.
Be easy on yourself and give yourself time to see how Tapestry works best for your family. It’s a try it out sort of curriculum. You have to use it to see how it works best in your home. Hope that helps! Blessings on your first year!
4) Q: Mandy asked on the Hodgepodge Facebook page: “Hey there. I am giving serious consideration to using TOG. I have read several of your blog posts and several reviews and like what I see. I do have one question though. How much time do you spend on TOG each day. I ask because I see that I will need other resources for phonics, English grammar, math, science, and foreign language. I am concerned about fitting it all in without spending ALL day doing school. Thanks for your help.”
A: Mandy – we do all the regular 3 Rs in the morning every day. Tapestry is for the afternoon – maybe one of the ‘subjects’ a day after lunch. (One More Thing After Lunch and How to Fit in All the Homeschool Extras). Reading the books during quiet time or together before bed. There are ‘those’ weeks we only spend Friday on Tapestry – sort of a catch up day.
Tapestry gives you everything you could possibly need for each and every grade. That is the biggest challenge. You often have to put on ‘blinders’ and focusing only on what your family will use. For example – often I pick one read aloud I know will span our age range. This post might help you see the ebb and flow: Tapestry of Grace: How Does it Flow? I hope that helps some! The biggest learning curve is tailoring it to fit your family. Use it as a tool for you!
5. Q: Rachel says, “We will begin using TOG for the first time in a month. I’m excited and am trying to plan everything out. The one thing I’m not sure how to work in is the vocabulary. Short of having them just write the definitions out for the words, I’m at a loss for ideas. How do you work the TOG vocab into your kids studies? Do you have any fun ways to help them retain the definitions? I’ve loved your reviews and helps for TOG on your website. Thanks for it all.”
A: Rachel, I’m so glad the TOG posts have been helpful! Hmmm. What we do with vocabulary is not too glamorous. I open up the week plans, read the vocabulary word. We see if anyone knows the definition. Then I read the definition from the dictionary and we discuss how it fits into what we are learning that week. We also do some flash cards with English from the Roots Up after lunch a couple of days a week. I just might make some TOG flash cards to add to our stack. See, you are inspiring me. Thanks for your email and blessings on your TOG journey!
6. Q: Shannon said, “I found you via Google search for Organizing with TOG, and I am SOOOOO glad I did! Thank you for taking the time to share what you have learned. I am new to TOG and to Homeschooling this year. I have the Print and DE edition of Year 1 and I am in the planning phase now. (Hoping to start the first week in Aug.) I only have one LG son this year (the other two boys are not old enough to start yet), and my biggest challenge has been how to start with the organization. I have read on the TOG site as well as watched webinars and purchased “Out of the Shrink Wrap”, and I am still not clear on Mom’s working binder, binders for the kids (or kid in my case), and a file box. For one LG, do you need binders and file boxes? If you already have a post on this, sorry I missed it, can you just send me in that direction? Thanks!”
A: Thanks Shannon – excited for you to start TOG! What a wonderful journey you are beginning homeschooling. Here’s what I suggest: Step right on out there and use Tapestry. See how it works for you. I do think a mom’s working binder is a help. But really the biggest help is actually using the curriculum – getting a feel for it, trying it on. Go from there and trust your instincts, mixing with the advice of seasoned moms and suggestions from Tapestry users. Once you use the curriculum for two weeks to a month you will gain confidence and know just what you need to do!
10 Great Things About Teaching Multiple Ages (written this time last year – they’ve grown so much!)
7) Q: Darcy says, “Hi Tricia! I just found your site today! I love it! You mentioned several times your children’s learning styles. Is there a specific test for that, or do you just decide based on your observations! Thank you!”
A: Hey Darcy, Honestly for me, I have discovered my children’s learning styles by observing them. My son struggled with learning to read. But when he had audio books, the doors opened wide! My daughter will read anything and would rather read her math lesson than listen to the Teaching Textbooks lecture. Then my middle daughter makes and creates and shows me what she knows about history by creating a display board. So I learned that style is kinesthetic.
Amazing how I got one of each in my first three children! Still determining what style the younger two are. They are ages 7 and 5.
- But, there are ways to discover learning styles. Here is a link to HSLDA that explains it better than I do: Learning Styles at HSLDA
- Here is another resource. A review at Curriculum Choice: Discovering Your Child’s Learning Style
I sure hope this helps some. Blessings, Tricia
8) Q: “Are these chalks nontoxic? Where do I find effective chalks that are safe for children, especially young children who tend to stick their hands in their mouth. Plus, I am curious about this since we will be doing this on the kitchen table where we eat. Can you tell that I have no experiences with art? I really have never done any art in my life other than scissors and glue. I am excited about this. In the past, I have enrolled my boys in sketching classes but we’ve never done anything like this before. I think the whole family will love this. Oh, and does this stuff stain carpet, clothes, and so on? Thanks again, Christina”
A: Christina, Good questions! I know that the chalks we use are non-toxic. I’m fairly certain that all children’s art supplies are required to be that way. I think of the chalk pastels we use as glorified sticks of regular chalk. If you look at (my affiliate link) chalk pastels on Amazon, you will see that they list them as non-toxic.
You could look on the side of the package that you are considering purchasing. You can look at a local craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Also, we wipe our table down with regular wipes after we use the pastels. But you could always use an inexpensive, plastic tablecloth to cover your table if you are concerned.
Yes, chalk pastels are what we call ‘blessedly messy’ – meaning that the colors blend very easily, making it both fun for children and adults alike. We do keep the baby wipes right on the table :) We also use smocks (some of dad’s old shirts) or wear something we didn’t mind getting stained. Chalk pastels can stain clothing. Now that we are practiced in this art medium, we don’t wear smocks any more. I just wouldn’t suggest your children wear their Sunday best. And yes, pastels can stain carpet. Our kitchen table is over easy to clean linoleum.
I think that you will find, with practice, that this is so very easy to do and to enjoy. I understand the mother concern of mess. Really I do. (See my article on Art for the Homeschool at HSLDA). But, of course I think seeing the sheer joy on my children’s faces is all worth it! Chalk pastels really opened the door to all kinds of art for the children and me. We saw that we really could do this. And now regularly include all kinds of art in our days. I hope that helps! Tricia
9) Q: Stef asked, “Do you mind if I ask where you get your art supplies?”
A: Stef, I don’t mind at all! We get them at Michaels Craft Stores, Dick Blick and Walmart. The post, Pastels Plus Links to Tutorials is full of links to student grade starter chalk pastel sets – most are less than $10. I love that families can grow a love of art for all ages with such simple supplies. (Our Ultimate List of Art Resources in our You Can Be an Artist series).
10) Q: Heidi asked, “Will there be a print version of the chalk pastels ebook? Chalk pastels get on my computer.”
A: There is a fellow homeschooling family, the Southerlands, who printed A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels and bound the copy so they could flip through and follow the tutorials. They have a color laser printer which made it inexpensive to do. But another answer would be to print the couple of pages of the individual lesson before you use it so that it is easy to flip through with chalky hands.
However, you can sit your computer at a slight distance from the chalks and paper, using baby wipes to wipe your fingers before scrolling through the lesson. That’s definitely something we do often!
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