The Land of Boys

Learning to live in a house full of testosterone

Archive for the category “Tapestry of Grace”

Benjamin’s Report

Benjamin turned in his first rough draft of the year. Let me just say, boy was it EVER rough.

This is a report on Benedictine Monks. Benedictine Monks wrote by hand! They were so good at that, that you could barely their handwriting apart! And, they were not allowed to talk. And the weirdest thing of all, they could not go outside of the monistary.

Hmm… where to begin? The odd use of italics for no apparent reason? Leaving out words?  Misspelling? Awkwardly strung together sentences???? So, I replied with this:

Your sentences do not flow smoothly. This report is very choppy! And, you need to check your spelling. And, most important of all, never start a sentence with and.

(okay, maybe that is not the MOST important thing. It just seemed funny at the time) So then I went through with the dreaded red pen and marked what need correcting. I love my crazy kiddos!

**** On a totally unrelated note, yesterday I was feeling bad so Mark stepped in to teach. Like any good class, they took advantage of their kind substitute teacher’s lack of knowing what gets done. They conveniently “forgot” to tell him that after the devotion that goes with the catechism lesson  they are supposed to write the question and answer.  Little sneaks!!!


The First Week and A Surprise For Mom

We made it through our first week of the 2010/2011 school year. One down, thirty-five to go!! Things are going marvelously well, for now. Samuel wore real clothes the first day, not a costume. I was thinking there might be hope he would grow up not to be a costume-wearing geek at some comic book convention in the future.  Uhm, actually, he informed me his knight costume was dirty and needed to be washed.  So it got washed. And he wore it.

We have really had a lot of fun this week. This week is a bit of a review of the fall of Rome, which we learned about last year. We also reviewed all the geography terms that we learned about. One way that we studied them was to play a matching game with the cards I printed from here.

The boys also used those term to create maps of imaginary places. The places could be any way they wanted, as long as they had features like mountains, islands, plateaus, etc.

Benjamin created what he called “Whale Island”. It has the world’s largest gold mine and a gigantic chasm called “the big smelly crack” . He makes his mother so proud.

The finished maps

For math this week we played a game that I printed off here called Storm the Castle. It was loads of fun!!

The boys each had a paper knight that they had to get across a field and over a moat. The enemy in the castle (that would be me) hurled huge rocks (or coins, actually) over the castle walls. Each time a brave knight got hit he had to answer a math problem. (problems good for grades 1-3 came with the game, I just had to make up some for the older boys) If our hero answered correctly, he was allowed to proceed. A wrong answer cost him dearly. He had to move five spaces BACKWARDS on the board.

Closer view of the game. When they finally made it across the moat, they discovered that their enemy had a stash of M&Ms that they raided.  Following a true knightly code of chivalry they divided their spoils equally.

For our Bible reading we read from Proverbs, because we could use all the wisdom we can get. 🙂 Sorry there was no picture to go along with that. Or their catechism study. We reviewed the questions about the first two commandments.  Our hymn of the week was Alleluia Sing To Jesus.

The boys drew timeline characters to match some of the people we are studying.

From the left- Augustine, bought a few years ago in  a set; Celts by Nathaniel; Attila the Hun by Benjamin; King Arthur (in his golden armor) by Samuel.

To make the first day special, Mark stopped by Chick Fil A and got the boys some biscuits.  Mmmm. He was a little surprised when he came in from work with the biscuits and found out HE was being given an assignment!! Don’t worry- I took it easy on him. All he had to do was was color a king. Each member of our family colored a person to go on our bulletin board.

Samuel loved this game.

It is about the Celts in the Iron Age. Some of the stuff on there was just for fun, but it was very informative.

Nathaniel is enjoying reading some of his books online. Here he is reading Our Island Story FREE (!!) courtesy of the Baldwin Project.

On a sad note, our dog has disappeared. We have no idea what happened to our precious Hank. So our school mascot can no longer be the Cowdogs. So we have to settle for the Psycho Cats. (We would use Wildcats, but there is a local school that is the Wildcats. We have to be original.)

Don’t let her fool you into thinking she is all sweet and precious. She’s not always so cuddly-looking.

Now on to MY surprise. A few nights ago I was checking my Facebook page just before going to bed. John MacArthur sends out offers for free books or CDs every month. This month’s offer was hot off the press. Guess what it is?  A FREE HARDCOVER MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE IN ESV!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you tell I am a bit excited??? I have been waiting on this ever since I first heard it was coming out. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Reformation Study Bible. Mark has been hounding me and saying that reading Sproul’s notes are turning me into a Presbyterian.   Personally, I don’t see a problem with that. But, what Baptist church can trust a youth pastor with a non-Baptist wife? (I hope  no one is getting offended here. It is an on going joke between Mark and me) Seriously, I dropped my Bible. You would think that a fall of 3- 3 1/2 feet on a carpeted floor would not do much damage.  (I’m 5’2″, it was under my arm) But, it obviously CAN do damage.

I broke my sword. Now I am getting a brand new one and it is FREE!!! Jehovah Jireh!!

Almost Ready

Just a few days to go. School. 2 out my 3 children are not happy. Of course, they would be happy never having school and having unlimited video game time. So, it looks like they will just have to stay unhappy. I am very excited about the new year. Nerd that I am I always enjoy learning new things. We are sticking pretty close to the same routines that we were doing last year. While I do like to try new things occasionally, there is just comfort in familiar things. So here is what our day will look like:

Mornings- Bible reading. Not really following any certain plan. I think we will stick mostly with New Testament and Proverbs.

Catechism- Still using Training Hearts Teaching Minds. I love this book! I cannot say enough good things about it. Amazon has a “Look in this book” for it. If you are even thinking of teaching the Shorter Catechism to your kids, read the intro to this book. Even if your not thinking about it, go ahead and read it, anyway. It might make you WANT to teach your children the Shorter Catechism.

Math- Still sticking with Math U See. I know that there are people who think it is too “simple”. Going through it with my kids I beg to differ. No, my kids do not usually spend 2-3 hours a day on math. No, they do not cry about math being “hard”. That, to me is part of the beauty of the program. My kids are understanding math to the point where  it doesn’t “feel” hard.  They really *get it. They do worksheets every single day that drill it into their heads, but do not kill the love of learning.  It is awesome.

English- Some changes are being made here. Benjamin and Samuel are still doing Shurley. We are doing it not right by the book, though. As a matter of fact, we are not using student books. I really am not too wild about the vocabulary and the writing assignments. We are using Writing Aids for writing and just using vocabulary from out TOG assignments. I still like having the jingles from Shurley. I still like having them classify sentences. I have not seen anything that cements parts of speech like Shurley.  Nathaniel is doing Learning Language Arts Through Literature. That is totally new to us.  It is taking some creativity to schedule it around Writing Aids. It is do-able, though. I love that he will learn to diagram sentences.   (told you I am a nerd)

History- Tapestry of Grace Year 2. Wow. We are studying from the Middle Ages to the American Revolution. That is so much to cover. There are some awesome reading assignments. I think my new favorite book-other than A Tale of Two Cities- is Men of Iron. I have discovered that I really like “boy books” better than “girl books” . Action, adventure, danger, chivalry, bravery- those are the things that to me make a great book.  We are going to be studying a lot of church history this year. To prepare, over the summer I have been reading Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley. I love this book, too. I really love that I got it at the Bible Outlet for 40 % off retail. I think I made the sales woman’s day when Mark held up the book and I literally gasped out loud with excitement.  I am also very excited about the art that we will be studying. During our second quarter of school, especially, we will be doing several art assignments.


Science- Thank goodness Botany is over! If you read my post from several months ago, you might be wondering where all the pictures from our plants are. Well, guess what? Almost every one of them died when we transplanted them. The few that didn’t got dug up or “watered” by our dog. So we are moving on to Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  Nathaniel is going to be doing Apologia Physical Science. He loved his science course last year. I assume the trend will continue.

Latin- Loved Latin for Children A last year. I really thought Samuel would need a year between Song School Latin and LfC A. His reading skills really took off last year and he is ready to move on to “big kid Latin”. So while he is doing that, the big guys are moving on to LfC B. Benjamin was looking at the new Latin History Reader and saying how it looked so hard. He said, “I’ll never get all this!” So I had to remind him that at this point last year he thought that his Latin looked too hard and he would “never get it”. He made good grades, and did not have too much trouble with translation. The boys absolutely LOVE Headventure Land, Classical Academic Press’s fun way to practice their Latin. (technically you can practice Greek and Spanish too, but all we have done so far is Latin)

Music- I made it from grades 5-12 in the school band and never really learned to read music very well.  I can read notes on the treble staff , IF they are not above or below the staff. I can’t tell you anything on a bass clef. So we are using some stuff we found online to learn to read music. Nathaniel has said he wants a cornet. I would like for him to have some knowledge of reading music to make learning an instrument go more smoothly. We are also going to be focusing on composers. I really like Ambleside Online for their links to composer and art appreciation studies. There are several things that we plan on using, just not necessarily the suggested studies for this year, at the time they are suggested. Still studying hymns from The Center for Church Music.

There is a possibility of adding Greek to the mix. Samuel and Benjamin have asked repeatedly to learn Greek. (Well, now that it is almost time to start, Benjamin thinks maybe he has changed his mind) If we do it, will be added after the rest of the year starts. We will use Song School Greek. Judging by Song School Latin, it should be wonderful.

Another Reason To Love Tapestry of Grace

Wow. This is huge. Five very lucky people are going to win a HUGE prize from Tapestry of Grace. The prize???? All Four year plans of TOG in digital format!!! Not just the units, but the supplements to go along!!! This is amazing! If you are a TOG user or have thought about it this is your chance!! To enter click here. You do have to set up an account with Lampstand Press (which is free and you do not have to accept unwanted e-mails or anything).  To enter you have to “purchase” a free ticket. That is all. They will draw from five categories: 1.)People who have purchased 4 Redesigned Year-Plans; 2.) People who have purchased 3; 3.) People who have purchased 2; 4.) People who have purchased 1; 5.) people who have never purchased anything from them.

This is awesome! Good luck to everyone who enters!!!

Why I LOVE Tapestry of Grace

Spring is here. For some people that means pulling shorts and flip flops out of the dark closet where they have been hiding. For some it means allergies are about to attack. For homeschoolers it means time to evaluate what has worked or not worked in their schooling and plan for next year. I know that every homeschool family has their (*ahem, strong) feelings about what is best. Here’s mine.

Tapestry of Grace is to me the most wonderful homeschool curriculum on the market. It brings our whole family together, studying the same subject at once. It incorporates history, geography, literature, art, worldview, church history,  and philosophy (high school) in one neat package. The teacher’s manuals are huge! Each of the four units needed for one year needs a 2-3 inch binder.  Inside that teacher’s manual is a world of information. Each unit is broken down into weekly segments. Inside each week you can find a reading list, student activity pages, suggested hands-on crafts, vocabulary word lists, teacher’s notes, fine arts lessons, and the Pageant of Philosophy( a skit to help  high schoolers).

You might be saying to yourself “What’s so special about all that?”  Let me tell you- everything! The readings lists for each year are hefty. I printed off next year’s list. It is four pages long! We have a lot of those books already. (whew!) I was showing Mark the list recently. His face went pale, his voice got shaky and he weakly muttered, “You mean we need all those books?!?!?” (what I was showing him was the fact that we already had a lot of them!) One of the beauties of TOG is that you have a book list, but that doesn’t mean you have to read every book on the list. They are divided into history, core (meaning the most important); history, in-depth ( for those who want to get more out of their studies than just the bare minimal facts), some weeks there is a suggested read aloud here; literature; arts and activities; worldview, and writing. You can choose to do or not do any of the suggested reading. We like to go for the whole she-bang because we are kind of nerdy. (As a matter of fact Benjamin likes to read all of his books, plus all of Samuel’s. He’d probably read Nathaniel’s too, if I let him but we need to save something for next go around!)

I love how TOG is divided into different stages, not just grades. There is Lower Grammar (K-3), Upper Grammar (3-6), Dialectic (5-8) and Rhetoric (9-12).  I love how they take into consideration that some kids are more or less advanced than others and plan accordingly. Benjamin and Samuel could have both been in Lower Grammar this year, but Benjamin, being the voracious reader that he is, would have been very bored. Each stage takes into consideration maturity levels and what a child is likely to be able to handle. During our studies of the Assyrians, for example, Benjamin and Samuel learned they were mean. Nathaniel learned about some of the mean things they did.  Benjamin and Samuel are not ready to hear about those things. The people who chose the books for the reading lists take everything into consideration. They even give a warning in the teacher’s manual if illustrations are scary, or if the text on a page has something bad, or nudity is pictured. (do they make any Greek or Roman books without pictures of naked statues?) So far we have not come across anything that we found objectionable, and we (maybe I should say *I*) are (am) kind of prudish.

So, now that I have talked about the mechanics of TOG, let me get to the heart of the matter. What really, really makes me all ga-ga over homeschool curriculum: their way of bringing God’s glory in everything. Every time period we have studied, every culture within that time frame is looked at through the lens of a Christian worldview. We are seeing how God raised up kingdoms and empires only to bring them crashing down for not serving Him. We are seeing how the Israelites were preserved time and time again. We are learning how God put everything in place to make the world ready to receive her Savior. We will learn later in the year how He spread His word throughout the land. Not only are my kids gaining loads of head knowledge, they are gaining heart knowledge. To some people that may not mean much, but to our family that is the more important knowledge. That is one of the main reasons we started homeschooling. Yes, we want them to be prepared to be successful adults when they are out and about in the world. We just feel that it is more important to be successful when they face the next world.

Pharaoh Samuel

Pharaoh Samuel



Benjamin's sandals he made

Nathaniel and his Greek ship made of duct tape

Hamantashen for Purim

Two kings and a Haman (boo!)


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