I choose to give this product 3 1/2 out of 5 Gold Teacher’s Stars!!
When I was given the opportunity to review a unit of the new Digital Edition of Tapestry of Grace (TOG) by Lamptstead Press, I was very excited. I had heard so many wonderful things about this curriculum, and I was overjoyed to be able to delve into it headfirst and find out what all of the fuss was about. I went into this experience really, really, really wanting to love this curriculum too. After spending a couple of months with this product, I can honestly say that while I don’t absolutely LOVE it, I do like and appreciate it and I believe I have a solid understanding of what they are trying to accomplish.
TOG was created by Marcia Somerville, a homeschooling mom of many, as an attempt to get all of her kids on the same page with one curriculum, despite their age differences. Her desire to unify their studies has blessed not only her own family, but also the lives of many homeschooling families through her development of the Tapestry of Grace curriculum.
TOG is a literature based study that is is founded on the classical style of education. The study is based on history with strong Biblical principles weaved into the tapestry of learning. The multi-age (K-12) curriculum is devised so that all learning levels study the same period of history, while reading age appropriate books and completing age appropriate lessons. All learning levels study out of the same year plan, streamlining the teaching process for mom.
TOG is divided into 4 separate year plans, that each cover a different period of world history. The lesson plans are set up in such a way that you are able to cover several different subjects, other than just history. The curriculum covers history, church history, geography, literature, fine arts, government, philosophy and writing. Each year of TOG contains 4 different units that can be purchased separately or you can purchase the entire year plan. Each unit lasts approximately 9 weeks. TOG does not cover the subjects of phonics, science, math, grammar, spelling or foreign languages. These are subjects that you will have to supplement in order to cover them in your homeschool.
The curriculum plan contains “teacher’s notes” that are based on the World Book Encyclopedia. These notes are a summary of what the kids will be learning each week through the many literature books and various worksheets that are provided. The book suggestions are broken out in learning levels, making it easy for mom or dad to choose which books they will need to acquire to complete the week’s lessons. In the various lesson plans, you will also find lots of discussion questions, hands-on learning activities, writing assignments and worksheets that are designed to go with the recommended reading selections. TOG does not include the many books that are necessary to complete the study, but these can be acquired through a good library system or purchased for use in your home.
So what do I think about TOG?
I am generally a huge fan of digital products. I love having instant access to whatever I am purchasing. However, I found it to be quite cumbersome in a product of this size. With each unit being approximately 450 pages of material, it was difficult to decipher what I was supposed to be gleaning from the product. With that said, after many, many hours of wrapping my brain around it, I felt I was able to find a groove that would work for us in our homeschool. There is a “TOG Fog” that is usually experienced for the first 4 weeks. I really only dealt with it for about 3, but then I spent hours and hours preparing prior to implementing the curriculum in our homeschool. Perhaps this would not have been as bad, had I been able to implement the product in the fall, instead of the spring. I will admit that trying to juggle our current studies and figure this one out at the same time was a tad overwhelming.
Another aggravation was the fact that I do not have a good library system in my area. It is a very small library. The inter-library loan program does exist, but I found that the amount of money I would need to spend in order to be able to only get a few of the required books was almost as much as just out-right purchasing them in the first place. And my library couldn’t guarantee when I would be able to actually receive the books over a six month period of time. That wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, so I purchased the books that I would need to teach the unit we chose: Year 1, Unit 1-The Books of Moses (Creation/Egypt/Exodus).
However, I did find the content to be solid and I enjoyed watching my son light up as he learned from his Tapestry studies. He has really enjoyed the many lessons and even the worksheets and activities that have been included. We also received the lapbook supplement for this unit and he has enjoyed putting it together. It has been a great reinforcement for the lessons he has learned.
Tapestry of Grace has generously made two 3 week samples available for you to download so that you can see if the curriculum will work for you. I highly recommend that you do this as once you have purchased this curriculum, you cannot re-sell it if it doesn’t work for you. The Digital Edition provides you with a limited use license that is only for your family. You are allowed to print off all that you need, but it cannot be shared outside of your immediate family. So make sure that you try before you buy.
The Tapestry of Grace website is full of many helpful links and resources. There you will find such treasures as The Loom, discussion forums and my favorite, their Map of the Humanities, which is a wonderful visual of how TOG weaves the different time periods and subjects together.
So how much will this cost?
I’m glad you asked! Although TOG can be expensive in the short-term, I would like to point out that the curriculum is set up to be used again and again. Once you have completed one 4-year cycle, you can start again, only delving deeper into the studies at the levels that your children need. This is a great way to make a one time investment on the core of the curriculum, with only the new level books needing to be purchased if you haven’t already. I also think that it is more economical in the long run if you DO have several children that will be using this for their curriculum. It is perhaps a tad on the expensive side if you only have one child. Also, if you don’t have a good library in your area, the price goes up because you will need to purchase so many books. If you decide that you will just be using it as a guide for the time period, and use other books instead, you may want to look for another curriculum. I would consider this to be too expensive for just a learning guide,and the worksheets that depend on certain books become null and void. I also think if you were to utilize all of the great supplements that Lampstead Press has created for the TOG curriculum, that you will find it to be a little on the pricey side, as the price definitely goes up. With all of that being said, here is the breakdown:
The Digital Edition plans are available to purchase by year or by unit:
DE Unit price–$45 each
DE Full Year Plan–$170
DE Full Year Plan with Printed copy–$280
DE Bonus Bundle (comes with additional support products for the year plan)–$250
Writing Aids–$50 (one time purchase–can be used all 4 years)
Evaluations–$15 (One year plan)
Map Aids–$24.95 (One year plan)
Pop Quiz–$50 (One year plan) or $15 per unit
Lapbook Templates–$75 (One year plan) or $20 per unit
Lapbook Kits (enough to do 1 lapbook)–$55 (One year plan) or $15 per unit
Overall, I think that Tapestry of Grace will work best for those who are wanting a literature-based history program and have a large family with various age levels. If you would like to read other reviews of this curriculum, then please be sure to visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog to see what others had to say about TOG.