Lampstand Press's Tapestry of Grace (TOG) unit study originally recommended grammar/composition handbooks for use with their curriculum, but they never correlated well, and families needed to purchase books to suit children of different ages and abilities. So Lampstand Press came out with their own resource that really fits the curriculum. While Writing Aids was created specifically for TOG and includes topics for writing assignments that reflect unit themes children are studying, those using other programs can also use Writing Aids for composition instruction by simply supplying their own topics for the various writing assignments.
Writing Aids is a book/CD-ROM combo product. The Writing Aids book serves as a teacher's guide, while the CD has student pages and grading rubrics that you can print from your home computer.
Writing Aids interfaces with ALL TOG volumes, both Classic and Redesign. It is a one-time purchase since it covers all genres and assignments in all four TOG Year-Plans for all levels.
For the sake of efficiency as well as to provide common fodder for discussions, TOG tries to keep all students in the family working on similar themes simultaneously. This applies also to writing assignments to a certain extent. No matter their level, all children are likely to be working on a similar genre of writing at the same time. There are certainly exceptions, especially from the youngest levels and highest levels. Also, parents are free to shift student writing assignments from one level to another during a given school year if it seems helpful.
Writing Aids is not a tool for teaching grammar or spelling. You will need separate resources for those topics. Instead, the focus is on composition skills and writing genres such as analytical essays, biography writing, book reviews/reports, business writing, editorials, essays, fables, finding the main idea, formal outlines, journal writing, literary analysis, paragraph construction, playwriting, reports, and sentence writing.
After an introduction explaining how to use Writing Aids, the book is arranged alphabetically by topics such as those listed above. Each section has teaching instruction. For each section, the CD has up to 3 correlating sets of pages for students and/or parents: talking points, grading strategies, and supplements. Talking points summmarize key points from the instructional material. These should be printed and put into a student notebook. Grading strategies provide rubrics and forms for parents to know how to evalutate student work. Supplements might be graphic organizers, worksheets, lists of terms, or worksheets. Some completed supplement pages are included at the back of the book as examples. Samples of student writing for the various genres are available at Lampstand Press's website.
Each section such as "biography writing" in the book is also labeled showing for which levels it is appropriate. This will be especially helpful for those not using TOG who need to determine when they might use different lessons. TOG users are directed to the appropriate lessons for various levels in the lesson plans.
The Writing Aids book has a unique binding that makes it very easy to work with. It has a hard cover, but the pages are actually bound with a metal comb inside the hard cover. Pages turn easily and lie flat, yet they are protected by the hard cover.
While the price might seem high, it really is a bargain since this one book might well replace yearly purchases of composition texts or workbooks for your entire homeschool lifetime.
Note: A. Cooper wrote to me saying: "If you have a high school student that was slower getting into writing, you can use Writing Aids from TOG in conjunction with Sonlight Creative Expression assignments and still teach writing. We are experiencing great success with this method. Sonlight does not teach writing, but they have a lot of it at the high school level. And, we still needed to work with our son on writing. The two actually work very well together."