Tapestry of Grace Primer (TOGP) is designed for those with younger children who need a gentler, age-appropriate introduction to the Tapestry of Grace (TOG) model of learning that is intended for students in K-5 and first grade. Like TOG, TOGP uses multi-sensory and unit study learning methods that allow you to teach your young children together for all subjects except math, phonics, and spelling. You will need other resources to teach those subjects.
TOGP follows chronological history from creation until modern times. It can be completed in one year or stretched out over two years. It would be awkward to try to teach both TOG and TOGP the same year since TOG spreads chronological history over all four of its volumes. However, TOGP does indicate the units of TOG that treat content from the same time period in case that is helpful to you. If you have mostly older children, you should probably use TOG, keeping the activities to a lower level for young children rather than trying to use both programs. TOGP is intended to be a gentler, simpler program that is easier for parents to use who are new to this type of learning and who do not yet need the more-comprehensive approach of TOG—a sort of "on-ramp" into the full TOG program.
TOGP has four core components: the Primer Guidebook, the Primer Handbook, the student Activity Book, and the book Love the Journey.
Love the Journey was written for the homeschooling parent, and it serves to educate parents as they work with their children. You'll be assigned chapters to read alongside the units of TOPG. This book, written by TOG author Marcia Somerville, offers seasoned advice on parenting and family relationships as well as the fundamentals of homeschooling.
The Primer Handbook is your “teacher guide” that directs what to do with the other resources. It explains how to use the curriculum and presents detailed, weekly lesson plans. TOGP is divided into 12 mini-units with three "topics" per mini-unit. Each topic (or lesson) should take one week to complete, although you might be able to spread out the activities for each lesson for two weeks, taking two years to complete the entire course.
Each mini-unit begins with two-pages that list the required resources for the three lessons in the unit. You will need a number of books to use along with this course, books such as Illustrated Family Bible Stories, The Ancient Egyptians (Shuter), and The Kingfisher Atlas of World History. You can purchase individual books or a bundle of all of the required books, or you can borrow some or all of the books from the library if they are available. Lampstand Press's sister company, Bookshelf Central (www.bookshelfcentral.com), sells book packages to make it easy to find the books that are needed.
For crafts and activities, you will need items like paper plates, grocery bags, acrylic paints, ribbon, oven-bake clay, and a star chart. While many items are already likely to be on hand, you will have to search for a few of them, so advance planning is essential.
The second page of the overview for each mini-unit briefly addresses a “teacher training” topic and assigns chapters to read from Love the Journey.
Each week's lesson plan has a two-page spread that lists the “threads and objectives” on the left and the specific assignments on the right. Threads and objectives remind you that you are working in phonics, math, and spelling using other resources (if these subjects are age-appropriate), and objectives are given only for history, literature, memory work, geography, and arts/activities. This is true as well for the specific assignments. Assignments such as, “Read about words and expressions from daily life in these times in If You Live at the Time of the Civil War, p. 56-57,” are specific about what is to be done, but lesson plans do not dictate what to do on each day. The assignments are to be completed over the week, but you will usually select from the different threads as you complete each lesson rather than doing all of the assignments under history or literature before tackling assignments geography or memory work.
Many of the assignments involve reading books aloud and exploring the illustrations and maps in some of the books. The program includes general literature questions that you are to use with some of the books you will be reading aloud. There are also names and terms for children to memorize. The Activity Book has a number of pages to be used with each lesson. The packet for just the first mini-unit (covering three topics over 3 to 6 weeks) has 24 pages! These include map work, coloring, cut-and-paste, drawing, matching, puzzles, and other similar activity pages that correlate with stories in the assignments. However, there are no directions in the handbook reminding you to use these pages, so you will need to note in advance (probably writing in your handbook) which pages to use with each assignment.
The Primer Guidebook and Love the Journey come as bound books while the Primer Handbook and activity pages are packaged as loose-leaf pages. The Primer Handbook is pre-punched for insertion in a binder, but Activity Book pages are not. You might insert page protectors in your handbook binder for each week's lesson and store the appropriate activity pages right with your lesson plans.
Alternatively, you can purchase digital versions of the four items. However, the Primer Guidebook, Primer Handbook, and Love the Journey are not printable. You can pay extra for printed pages 20-139 from the Primer Handbook, something I would highly recommend if you go digital with everything else.
The Primer Guidebook is not to be read to children; it is written only for adults. It begins with an explanation of seven-main “characters” that the program will teach about in the various lessons. The “characters” of the stories are God, people, good, evil, the Word, God's creation, and man's creation. Literature questions in the handbook raise questions about these “characters.” The Primer Guidebook highlights the main events of the historical period along with these “characters” to provide parents with more complete background than is in the reading assignments themselves. There is an overview of each mini-unit that is typically about five to six pages in length. Then there are overviews of each week's history material that run from about five to ten pages each. Parents should read these sections in advance so they will be better prepared to explain historical events as needed and help their children make connections between the various sources of information they are using. Parents might be getting their own history education in the process!
At the publisher's web site, you can get free samples of the handbook and guide for the first mini-unit as well as some sample pages from the activity book and Love the Journey.
Tapestry of Grace Primer covers more history than most of us would generally tackle with kindergartners and first graders, but it does so in a gentle way that might help children become interested in history. And the amount of content might be sufficient reason to spread the course out over two years. Even though it is not the publisher's intent, I think you can easily use TOGP for students in grades two and three because of the wealth of material it covers and the resources it uses. Whatever you decide, TOGP makes the TOG approach to learning much more accessible to parents with children in the early grades. It's a great way to begin your homeschooling adventure even if you are not certain you will continue with TOG.