The Weaver in a paragraph. So I suggest that you grab a cup of tea or some chocolate and put your feet up for a few minutes while I tell you our experience thus far!
When I first started homeschooling my preschooler in 2004, I was drawn to the idea of a Unit Study approach. I loved the idea that I could teach both kids on the same topic but at their own level. I looked over some types of Unit Studies and just didn't feel like God was opening the door for me to use any of them. Either it was clearly not for our family, or it was so overwhelming to me that I couldn't picture how to make it work. I tried various styles of learning, and all of them were wonderful in their own way. But something still seemed to be missing and my longing for unit studies didn't go away.
Unit studies have a base that all other subjects are centered around. For example, many are history based. As the student learns a new part of history, all the other school subjects deal with the same topic. Some are based on science. But still, none of them stood out.
I didn't want to just have 'Bible time' as part of our day. I wanted every part of our education to point our eyes to our Creator. And, it is sad to say, sometimes Bible time would get left out of our day because we ran out of time.
No matter how good my boys are (and I do think they are pretty good kids), they had many days where apathy was the attitude toward their school work. I know that we had the curriculum we had because I prayed and felt so certain in what I bought. And I still feel certain, I believe God had us where He wanted us, using what we were supposed to use.
In the late fall of 2010, I once again found myself asking the Lord if there was something else I had missed. I truly don't recall where The Weaver first popped up. But it was online somewhere. One reference lead to another. I was getting very curious and excited!
I wasn't looking to change things THAT year. I was thinking ahead to next year. But along came a sweet woman (you know who you are!) who happened to have an extra set of Weaver volume 1. I didn't expect to see it come so soon, but the mail moved FAST and it was at my home in a matter of a few days. I tore open the box and started to devour the information inside! It was as if this was written just for us! I would start using Weaver in January!
What is it that makes me love it so? First, this curriculum is based in Scripture. So let's say that today we read about the Tower of Babylon. We'll then start learning about architecture. Then we'll build some sugar cube buildings. With that in mind, you will never run out of time for Bible, because it all STARTS in the Bible! You can't do any other school work without opening in the Word!
Library time is always fun for us. We love it! But now it's a scavenger hunt. We look ahead at the unit we'll study and write down the topics, the books the author suggests, and a few rabbit trail ideas of our own. Then we head to the library with our list in hand ready to attack! We come home with stacks of rich videos and books. This is the ONLY weakness that I see in Weaver, the book list. Some of the books are very hard to find, and may seem dated. I don't feel discouraged by this, though. Instead, we just enjoy our scavenger hunt, both in the library and in our home library! I have found the Apologia elementary books work beautifully with the Weaver Curriculum, as well as several other books and DVDs.
Before going any further, let's go through the binders together...
From there, each page is labeled by the day. So you'll see Chapter 1: Day 1. You won't see Monday, Tuesday... There is no hurry in this. You do each day as you feel you are ready. Under the Chapter and Day is room for you to write in the date, and she has the theme written. Ie- "The city, Creation vs. Evolution." Under that you'll see a "thought for the day" section. These can be read to the student or can just be a pick-me-up for the teacher.
Each subject is in bold print below. So it opens with Bible, listing the reference to read, it tells you which bible lesson you will read from in Volume 1, and any other supplies or information you'll need for the bible study on that day.
Below that comes the Social Studies OR Science section. I say 'or' because you trade off every other day. This keeps it fresh for my boys! They love doing something different every other day. Under Social Studies or Science you'll see a list of grade levels and objectives. We'll come back to that in a bit.
After that is Language Arts OR Health and Safety, again, alternating. Then a list of books and supplies needed, creative writing suggestions, Wisdom Words (if you so chose to use her Language Arts program). And it ends with Math and Reading sections which are left blank. This way you can fill in what you want to use in your home.
A little side note... We have chosen not to use Wisdom Words. However, it is a fabulous program and I wouldn't have a problem using it at all. Instead, we chose the Phonics Road series. We are using Teaching Textbooks for our math program. These two resources keep me consistent and focused in those areas, and Weaver allows me to have freedom in the rest of our studies. I believe this gives my split Type A/ADHD personality a healthy balance.
Now for the BIG binder... Volume 1! Upon opening, you'll notice it has an overview of the entire volume. This is handy to see what you'll be covering at a glance. Mrs. Avery then has several pages of information, introduction, and ideas on scheduling (if you aren't using the Day by Day planner.) Then you'll see those lovely Unit dividers. Open divider Unit 1 and you'll see a Unit and chapter overview outline. "Unit 1, Chapter 1, 10 days" is the first heading, with the outline below. Of course you can make a unit last as long as you like. Remember, you are in charge of the flow, so if you want to follow rabbit trails, go for it! But she suggests how long a unit ought to take for planning purposes and to keep us from taking years to complete one volume. Then comes "For Your Information" where you, the teacher, will learn more about the topics you'll be teaching. So far all these pages have been white in color. The Bible Lessons and suggested reading list will also be in white. After that the colors change and they become quite important.
At the end of each chapter you'll see white pages again. Don't overlook them! There, you will find vocabulary words, health and safety, field trips, observation projects and memory verse suggestions.
So how do these 2 binders work together? Remember, earlier, when I said I'd get back to the grade levels and objectives? Here we go! So when Day by Day Unit 1 Day 1 says to teach your K student Science Objective #1... you'll go to Volume 1 binder, open it up to Unit 1 Chapter 1, turn to the golden rod colored pages labelled Kindergarten, look under the science section and read Objective 1! Day by Day will tell you exactly where to find everything in the Volume that you'll do that day. Simple!
At the very back of the Volume you will find the Resource tab. Mrs. Avery will often refer you to something in that resource section. So don't overlook it, there are several useful pages! Dads can get overlooked in our homeschool day. But in the Resource section you'll find A Father's Devotional Partner for Weaver. It is only a handful of pages, but it explains Weaver to the Dads and it has index card forms that you can copy and give to your husband so he is up to date on what the kids are learning. This way he can have conversations around the dinner table with the kiddos about whatever Bible verses or unit themes you are covering. This isn't a required task, and it isn't to bring guilt into homes where Dads aren't involved in the school. But if you have a husband who is willing and wants to know more about your day, this tool is really priceless. And it's unique! I haven't seen this sort of tool in other curricula.
One quick note: There are 7-12 grade supplements that you can order to make this curriculum go all the way through graduation! I haven't used them yet, personally, so I can't speak to them. Maybe someone will leave a comment here that explains those further. Or, possibly after I use it next year with my oldest I can update this post. But I thought it important to let you know it does go through grade 12. In the same manner, there is a Weaver Interlock binder for Pre-K! So it can be a complete curriculum from beginning to graduation if you wanted.
What about the cost of all those books she suggests? I have found that some of the suggested Milliken books are worth having, however I bought them used on Amazon and other places. And I wouldn't recommned them unless you are dealing with upper ages, possibly 4th grade up. The Usborne books are great. They are generally easy to find in the library, but worth looking for if your library doesn't carry them. Speaking of the library, most of the topics you'll cover can be studied in depth with books found at the library. So you could honestly do most of your studies with the library and the internet. No major book investment needed! I also found that many of my books on my shelf at home have worked just fine.
What does a typical day look like for us? Amazingly smooth compared to before! Remember when I said there was great apathy many days in our schooling? No more! We usually start with our AWANA memory verses. Then we'll move into the bible study and sometimes I'll add an extra book or even bring out a hymn CD to sing together if it fits the lesson. Then we move right into the topics that the Day by Day has laid out. The wonderful thing about a unit study is that both boys are learning the same things together! When we've finished with the work listed, I pull out the Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading for my youngest, and my oldest works quietly on his Teaching Textbooks. Then my youngest moves to his Teaching Textbooks while I work with my oldest on the Latin Road. We do all of this from 9 to noon each day. Any time left over can be spent with my oldest doing a read aloud with his little brother. Last week we studied composers, so he would read a picture book to his brother about any given composer. After lunch we usually have a very free flowing time. The kids may take the afternoon to enjoy the sunshine outdoors. They may play card games. Or they may be found turning their school work into play. And this isn't unusual since we've started The Weaver! They learned about architecture, so in free time they watched DVDs about buildings and bridges and they built them out of Legos.
Gone are the days of complaining about school. Back are the days of awe and wonder over what we're learning! Do we still have bad days? Sure! I think any homeschooler has to question their sanity at times. But I am so grateful for the joy and interest that The Weaver has brought back to our learning!
Feel free to ask questions or post comments. :) God bless you in your journey, no matter what it looks like.