Monday, June 4, 2012

Tapestry of Grace: Weeks 32-36 and Year-End Curriculum Review

I was really determined to stay committed to taking photos and documenting our school year.  I did really well until this adoption overtook my life the last two months.  Plus, we had a sweet friend come and volunteer to help us through the transition, which has been a total blessing.  Since she's been doing school with the kids, I've been able to focus more on our handicraft business, and see some neat projects get done with that.  I'm so thankful for the time she's given us out of her life.  It has been a huge blessing to me for sure!

Since Hannah has been doing school since week 32, I don't have any pictures or really even know what they've done!  But I know she's done a great job, and they finished out the school year well!

As a reward, this weekend we had a "School's Out!" Party and celebrated their graduation from first grade and kindergarten!  We've been inspired lately by the Junior Masterchef Australia show, and so the kids wanted to bake their own cookies. I went in the kitchen and got some dessert cookbooks and told them to pick a recipe.  After they had chosen which cookies to make, I walked them through the whole thing, but didn't touch a thing! Just coached and guided, had them read the recipe and find everything in the kitchen.  They did a great job, and made some really tasty cookies!  We rounded out the night with a dinner at the restaurant of their choice.  I'll give you one guess.  It starts with a Mc and ends with a Donald.  Dad and I were so thrilled! : )

We had a great day celebrating their hard work this school year, and we're really looking forward to getting into Year 2 of Tapestry, as well as some new programs.

Since we're now finished with this year, I feel like I can fairly review the programs we used....

1. Tapestry of Grace:  I love it.  I'm sticking with it.
Things I love:
-The Teacher's Manual and digital interface are incredibly well done and easy to use.
-The Teacher's notes are thorough and really interesting, and each week I look forward to reading them.  -I like that they have all the assignments listed, but not scheduled, so we can do it at our own pace without feeling like we're falling off track.
-There are a range of activities and hands on way to learn each week... from easy coloring pages to full blown two week mapping projects.  You pick and choose how involved you want to be, what kind of projects you want to take on.  I like this flexibility, and no-guilt if I can't do everything on the list. It's a buffet.  Pick and choose and know that you'll come back to it in four years and can do something different next time. : )
-I love how redemptive history is woven in with secular history.  The best example I have of this is in the unit on Alexander the Great. I didn't know much about him at all.  Shame, I know.  But one of the key points in the Tapestry readings was that God used the work of Alexander, a secular world leader, to prepare the world for the coming of Christ.  Through Alexander, much of the world at that time was united in government and language, roadways were built connecting the far east to the west in present day Europe.  This all set the world up very well for the spread of the Good News of Jesus who was soon to come.  This type of theme was common throughout Tapestry, and I love it.
-We have really loved most of the books that Tapestry uses and have gone back to many of them again and again to read more.  Some with great art, some with clever writing.

2. First Language Lessons (Peace Hill Press/Well-Trained Mind):  This is an easy to use beginning grammar program.  It's scripted so mom can just open and go.  However, for my son, this was torturous. : )  It was all oral.  There was very little writing involved, and he is a highly visual learner.  We struggled to finish the lessons this year, and won't be using it again next year, because Level 2 is the same song, second verse.  Also, in Level 1, pretty much all that was covered was nouns and some verbs.  I felt it could have moved a lot faster...

3.  Writing With Ease:  This is a basic beginners writing program from Peace Hill Press/Well-Trained Mind as well.  It works well with First Language Lessons.  But again, it was highly oral, and thus incredibly frustrating for my strongly visual son.  I also found it difficult to enjoy, and quite repetitive.  Day one is copy work.  Day two is narration.  Day three is copy work.  Day four is narration.  And next year for Level 2 is again more of the same.  We're ready for a change.

4. Math-U-See: We are still loving this program.  Luke completed Alpha this year.  What I like:
-Single type of manipulatives (rods) are used to teach the basic math facts.  They learn to do it one way, not a dozen different ways.  This has concreted the math facts in my son's mind very quickly.
-I love that I don't have to teach math.  At least for the most part.  The kids love the video with Mr. Steve introducing the concept of the week. : )
-Quick, and easy, and effective.  Math doesn't take an hour each day.  They complete their worksheets in 15-20 minutes and we're done.  But they're learning a lot and enjoying it. It's fun.

5.  Well-Trained Mind science: For science, this year I just bought a lot of the recommended resources for life science from the Well Trained Mind.  We just casually read through these books, and that was all.  The books were great, and it was the right pace and speed for KG/1st grade.

6.  Sing, Spell, Read, Write: This year, Kiryn did the Raceway book and did well with it, like Luke last year.  Luke did the Grand Tour 1 and 2.  I wasn't as pleased with these books.  I didn't realize it was basically a spelling workbook with some proofreading thrown in, a little bit of writing and grammar as well.  And cursive writing pages?  Anyway.  It was okay, and he enjoyed working through it, but it didn't really teach him how to spell.  It just drilled words.  Also, the accompanying readers didn't  have anything really to do with the workbook.  It was completely separate, and he was just not into those readers (after I spent $145 on them!).  He loves to read, but those books were like pulling teeth, so we finally just put them away after book 3, and I think maybe we'll try them again this year.  We'll see!  : )  But with Kiryn, we're not doing the Grand Tour next year...

I think that's it... Oh, we love Artistic Pursuits and will definitely be using the second level next year.  Overall, it was a great year, and I'm happy with where we're at, because next year, Luke and Kiryn will be on the same level in every subject except for math.  I'll explain that when in my next years picks post! : )

1 comment:

  1. Glad tapestry worked so well for you! And congrats on getting your girl home!