Tapestry of Grace Primer Review

When it comes to my pre-reading kids and planning homeschool curriculum, I never put geography and church history on my radar as subjects to worry about. At all. My focus: teach them to read, write, and count to 100. If I hadn’t been introduced to the Tapestry of Grace Primer curriculum, that’s exactly what we would have done.

When I got the opportunity to use and review this curriculum, I took some time to learn more about it before committing to it. The more I researched, the more I thought maybe this would be something we were interested in. I began to realize that, even though my children are very young, it might be beneficial and even fun to add these subjects to our planned curriculum. 

Now that we’ve been using TOG for a while, I’m happy to say that my 8-year-old, 6-year-old, and even my 2-year-old have learned about cultures, landscapes, and historical details that have helped the Bible come alive and real in their minds! It’s important to me to teach my children about the Bible and to give them a strong Christian foundation. I just hadn’t realized that I could do that while at the same time meeting their educational needs. Tapestry of Grace is helping me do that very thing!

Here’s how it works:

The Primer, ideal for non-readers, explores Biblical history in chronological order through a handbook of mini-units that includes three weeks of assignments per mini-unit. Within each lesson, the curriculum lists specific pages of Biblical and non-Biblical texts to read aloud to your students each day. Memory work and hands-on activities are also listed as suggestions. This weekly list is meant to give you freedom to read and do what you like and what fits your family each day. (Because this is only my second year homeschooling, I would have been more comfortable having a specific to-do list each day. Those of you who have more years of experience or who enjoy having more freedom to choose what you want to do would likely be more comfortable with making these choices.)

Each day we read from several books during each lesson. This was a bit difficult for me to get used to, but my children didn’t seem to have a problem with it at all. Each day we read from the Bible and a history book, and we looked at our Atlas to remember the area we were studying. This meant switching books and finding pages several times. My children stayed engaged during these transitions, though, since we simply continued discussing the lesson.

HHM Tapestry of Grace Primer Review 2 Edited

Getting started:

Included in this curriculum are:

  • Primer Handbook: These are your lesson plans or assignments–the meat of the curriculum. The assignments are listed here, and details for each assignment (along with teacher notes) are found in the Guidebook (see next). The handbook pages came 3-hole-punched, so I simply put mine in a binder to keep them organized and easy to access.
  • Primer Guidebook: This is a 400-page book of teacher notes that help give you an overview of what you’ll be teaching each week. Here you will find background information you can share with your students or learn from yourself. The only downside to this approach is that it requires a good bit of time. That being said, though, it’s all good information, and I plan to make more of an effort to read the recommended pages as I prepare for each week’s lessons.
  • Primer: Activity Book: This is a set of 12 coloring workbooks that coincide with the reading. The content is made up of pretty basic pictures and activities. They weren’t overly exciting, but they did give the kids something to do to help solidify the lesson. Moving forward, I am going to have the kids color in the books as I’m reading the content. I’d recommend starting that way as well.
  • Love the Journey by Marcia Somerville: This is a book written by the author of this curriculum. It isn’t a Primer curriculum-specific book, but rather it is content that’s meant to encourage homeschool moms, especially those who are just starting out. While it can stand alone, the Primer Handbook does include pages to read each week. I found this helpful because it held me more accountable to actually read it and contemplate it throughout the week. For me it was like having a book club with Marcia each week. She gave me tips from her years of experience and I grew from it.

This kind of curriculum is very different from what I used last year and earlier this year, so it took a little while for me to grasp how it all fit together and how to use it effectively with my children. When I reached out to the helpful folks at Tapestry of Grace, though, they were quick to respond and very helpful! They also directed me to a very beneficial Tapestry of Grace Primer Facebook group which is dedicated to helping TOG Primer users connect and ask/answer questions.

Bottom line:

After using this curriculum for a while and becoming comfortable with how it works, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to a beginning (or veteran!) homeschool mom. As a new homeschool mom myself, I have to honestly say that I wouldn’t have sought this material, but I’m happy that I was given the chance to learn more about it and to use it with my children anyway! It has broadened my children’s perspective on the world around them and has caused all of us to think more deeply about the Bible and its historical context.

Below is a brief description of the Tapestry of Grace Primer curriculum that was taken from the TOG website. It might be helpful to those who are seriously considering using this curriculum or who want to learn more about it as you make your decision about using this with your own family.

“Mike and Jessica Somerville wrote this program and have found it a gentle introduction to (and preparation for) the full Tapestry program. The program is written to be interactive and easy-paced. It offers a simple, conversational, hands-on and game-oriented approach to history. It introduces young parents and children to the joys of story-driven learning, integrated humanities studies, and full family education while taking them through the entire sweep of human history in (the parents� choice of) either one or two school years.”

If you’re interested in reading more information about this curriculum, please click here to find a list of included materials along with descriptions, samples from each resource, mini-unit titles, and more!

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