I’m excited to share with you today about a great writing curriculum from Tapestry of Grace called Writing Aids.
It has so much in it! Wow. Writing Aids is a comprehensive writing curriculum that can be used for grades 1-12. It can be used alone, as a supplement to any other writing curriculum you are using, or along-side the full Tapestry of Grace curriculum (history and literature).
Writing Aids is available as a digital resource, print book (hole-punched so you can put it in a binder) with CD-Rom for the pages you’ll want to print for your kids, or as a set and get both versions.
Writing Aids has 4 components:
- Teacher’s Manual
- Talking Points
- Grading Strategies
- Graphic Organizers
The first part of the Teacher’s Manual, the Introduction, explains exactly what Writing Aids is and how it’s organized. They tell you where to find sample student submissions of each of the types of writing. They also show you where to find the writing assignments in your regular Tapestry of Grace Year Plans (if you have those).
Writing Aids has assignments for a great variety of genres of writing divided up for each grade level of 1st-12th grades. There is a handy chart in the Introduction showing you what your student will learn each year.
For example, a first grader will do Story About Me, Making Books, Dictation, Parts of Speech, Word Banks, Writing Sentences, Sentence Pockets, Cluster and Describe, Descriptive Writing, Draw and Caption, Friendly Notes, and Letters. A seventh grader will learn about Speech Writing, Newspaper Writing, Transition Words and Sentences, Reports, Book Review/Report, Persuasive Writing, and Expository Writing. And a 12th grader will work on writing Parables, Historical Fiction, Personal Response to Literature, Classical Comparison Paper, Senior Thesis, and Websites.
If you don’t know what some of those are and don’t know how to teach them, don’t worry! The Teacher’s Manual explains it all. Furthermore, you will be giving your students the Talking Points, which are 1-2 page descriptions of what to do. As you explain the lesson to the student from the Teacher’s Manual, they will follow along with the outline on their Talking Points and then place those in their Writing Notebooks.
If you are grading your student’s writing assignments you will love the help you get from the Grading Strategies. They will tell the student exactly what you are looking for–exactly what they need to include. The rubrics are very helpful for grading a high-schooler’s papers for their transcripts.
One of my favorite parts of Writing Aids is the section of Graphic Organizers. These are worksheets, graphic organizers, and guides for leading a student through the pre-writing process. They are extremely useful for helping a student plan out their writing and helping a mom discover whether more research needs to be done before the paper is started.
See below the Grading Strategies for Fables:
The last part of the Introduction in the Teacher’s Manual gives suggestions on scheduling.
After the Introduction, you’ll find the Teacher’s Manual organized in alphabetical order according to the genre of writing to be taught. For example, the first ones are Analytical Essay (for grades 8-12), Biography Writing (for grades 5 and 10), Cause and Effect Essays (for grade 11), and Character Sketch (for grades 3-12). When you get to a genre that is helpful to use a graphic organizer for, it is explained how to use those. The very last part of the Teacher’s Manual has samples (filled-in) Graphic Organizers: 3-Point Diagram, 5 Ws Chart, Advanced Cluster Diagram, Characterization Grid, Describing Wheel, Expository Essay Planning, Ladder Diagram, Line Diagram, Newspaper Article Worksheet, Relationship Diagram, Report Chart, Report Grid, Sensory Chart, Sequencing Chart, Mind Map, Story Map, T-Chart, and Venn Diagram. Some of these have different versions for younger vs. older students.
See below 2 Graphic Organizers and the Talking Points for Fables:
If you use Tapestry of Grace for your History/Literature curriculum, you’ll find that the writing assignments correlate in subject matter to what they are learning about each week. Love this! Let me give you an example:
In Year 2, Week 13 the students are learning about the Age of Exploration. The 2nd grade writing assignment is to begin working on a display board about one of these topics: the explorations of a particular explorer, the southern Renaissance, the northern Renaissance, or the Reformation. The 7th grade writing assignment is to work on a compare/contrast paper about 2 different explorers. And the 10th grade assignment is to practice essay test-taking with the following: ” ‘The famous men of the Age of Exploration seem larger than life, but they were real men with strengths and weaknesses just like ours.’ Choose three famous explorers you’ve studied this week to support or refute this statement.”
Some of the assignments don’t have anything to do with the curriculum, however. During that same week (Year 2, Week 13), the 6th graders will write and mail a letter to a relative and the 8th graders will begin story writing with a theme that could be from their own experiences or something they’ve heard about in the news.
I haven’t used Writing Aids these past two years that I have been using Tapestry of Grace for a couple of reasons. One, writing instruction is my weak point. I seem to always bounce around from this curriculum to that. Second, Writing Aids seemed confusing to me. But now that I have taken the time to study it inside and out, I am going to give it a try next year. I think I will combine some kids together (such as having my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders all doing the same lesson each). I can’t imagine teaching 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 9th graders all different writing assignments each week. But I am excited about them learning new types of writing and me learning better how to teach them!
Head over to Tapestry of Grace to download a sample of Writing Aids (see it in the full curriculum sample called Go to Egypt) and see if it will be a good fit for you and your family!
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(Disclosure: I received Writing Aids and monetary compensation in order to write this completely honest review.)