The Good and the Beautiful History and Literature Review

If you are connected to any groups of Christian homeschoolers on the internet, you have probably heard about The Good and the Beautiful. This newcomer to the homeschool world has taken off as one of the fastest-growing and incredibly popular choices for home education.

One thing that got my attention about The Good and the Beautiful was the mention that they integrate art into their materials.  For anyone that has followed me for awhile, you know that I like to say that Art IS History.  I know that the works of great artists can enhance our understanding and appreciation of other times, cultures, and historical events in a way that words cannot.  So, I had to check it out!

The Good and the Beautiful sponsored this review and giveaway so I could let you know my thoughts on their programs.  I’m excited to share with you today what I’ve learned.

The Good and the Beautiful is a non-denominational Christian program that aims to connect learning to the good and beautiful things in life, such as family, God, high moral character, wholesome literature, nature, and more.

Year 1 History

The first collection I reviewed was their Year 1 History.  All of their history levels are meant to work for grades 1-12, and to be revisited every 3-4 years.  All 4 years of their history cover the same sweep of history, from Ancient times through to Modern history, but each year stops at different spots along the way to dig in and learn more about particular people and events.  The family-style intent of the program allows you to gather all of your children around 2 or 3 times a week for an hour-long lesson that includes a wide variety of activities that will keep your children interested and delighted.  Leveled Student Explorer books enable each child to work at their own ability level, while the whole family learns the same basic content together, taking the guesswork out of trying to figure out what each age child should be doing.  Designed to require very little prep time, I believe homeschool moms will find that a quick glance over the next several lessons will easily allow you to anticipate any extra materials you will need.

The Good and the Beautiful keeps things interesting in their history program by offering a wide variety of activities, which will virtually guarantee that your kids are never bored.  Each lesson includes several different elements, which normally include reading to your children, but then spin off into other areas such as:

  • memorization
  • crafts
  • map activities
  • timeline activities
  • high-quality audio presentations and stories
  • opportunities for oral presentations/public speaking
  • review activities
  • printables
  • food activities to enhance the lesson
  • cutting activities
  • playdough creation
  • Keys of History game
  • art projects
  • writing activities
  • fun and interesting learning activities
  • videos/documentaries
  • copywork/dictation/notebooking elements
  • vocabulary
  • science activities

I was VERY impressed with the range of different activities that are included, and I appreciated it that you are not bombarded with too many to choose from.  In Year 1 History you’ll find that there is a nice balance of interesting variety that will not take too much time or be too overwhelming.

Who is this great for?

  • Families homeschooling multiple children that want to simplify and streamline learning
  • Families that enjoy bringing together elements from Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, and traditional approaches to education.  The Good and the Beautiful combines them all, without burning you (or your kids) out on any one thing.
  • Conservative Christian families that desire Bible-based teaching, completely wholesome literature, and strong instruction about high moral character

Language Arts & Literature

The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts & Literature program has a lot of similarities in the approach to the way the history program is set up:

  • Very little prep time required
  • wide range of activities throughout
  • thoroughly Christian viewpoint
  • wholesome content

This program has several components:

  • a Course book (one needed per child)
  • the course companion (non-consumable and can be shared)
  • the reader for this level (non-consumable and can be shared)
  • Daily Checklists (each child needs their own copy)
  • Geography & Grammar Cards (non-consumable and can be shared)

Lessons are designed to be open-and-go, with little or no prep time required. Children over level 4 are expected/encouraged to work independently through their lessons, and the lessons are written in such a way that they are guided through the steps to actually take ownership of the process.  Having had two dyslexic children and some non-typical learners myself, I know that the goal of total independence in learning is not necessarily realistic for all people at a particular stage, but I do like that each step the student should take is clearly communicated, giving them the tools they need to organize themselves and learn to study and progress through the lessons carefully.

Similar to the history program, the Language Arts offers a wide range of activities and approaches to the lessons, so it’s not the same-old-same-old day after day.  Instead, new surprises and activity types await with each turn of the page!  Included throughout the program are things like:

  • memorization (classical educators will especially appreciate this)
  • maps
  • grammar terms
  • literary terms
  • sentence diagramming
  • drawing
  • art appreciation and art history
  • reading comprehension
  • editing activities
  • Latin and Greek roots
  • Writing activities
  • grammar activities
  • poetry appreciation, response, and analysis
  • and more!

Several times as I read through the lessons I had the thought that this course would be good for someone that was interested in the grammar portion of Classical Conversations’ Essentials program, but wanted a much less expensive alternative.  Classical educators are sure to appreciate the inclusion of sentence diagramming and grammar instruction.  Charlotte Mason-style educators are likely to enjoy the inclusion of art and poetry.  For those of us that appreciate the practical and efficient route to learning, one of my favorite parts of this program is that they use factual, historical, and informational content while teaching other concepts.  So, for instance, instead of a silly made up story used for reading comprehension, your child will be reading about a famous person or event from history, or perhaps about some interesting geographical information.  So, you’re getting more “bang for your buck” simply because The Good and the Beautiful capitalizes on these learning opportunities in a meaningful, valuable way.

This Language Arts program has a lot of different components, and it switches things up frequently.  For some kids this will be an absolutely delight.  For others it may be too unpredictable.  Levels 1-5 are available FREE in PDF format, so I think that’s an excellent opportunity to dig in and see if you think this sort of approach is a good fit for your particular children.  Personally, I would recommend that once you know The Good and the Beautiful is right for your family, go ahead and order the physical versions.  The books are nicely printed, the colored pages are lovely, and it will cost you so much more to try to print it on your own.  I believe that these materials are priced at a very good value, with many non-consumable components.  You’ll be glad to have the printed versions available to you.

I know that a lot of Enrichment Studies families are curious to know about the inclusion of art and drawing in this program.  In the History program, the art was more specifically linked to the content and felt like an enhancement.  In the Language Arts & Literature program, the art and drawing activities seemed independent of the content in most cases.  I would have loved to see more connections throughout, but for families that enjoy a sprinkle of art throughout their day, it may fit that need very well.

 

Who is this great for?

  • Conservative Christian homeschoolers that want a thoroughly Christian perspective presented and completely wholesome content
  • Families that enjoy combining elements of classical, Charlotte Mason, and traditional styles
  • Students that thrive on variety and surprise
  • Students that can manage multiple different books and materials without difficulty
  • Families that enjoy a splash of art and creativity every now and then

 

Wondering about other materials from The Good and the Beautiful?  Check out my review of their Creative Writing Notebook and their Nature Notebook here:



How I Got a Homeschool Helper for Just Pennies Per Hour (and you can too!)

Learn how to get a homeschool helper for just pennies per hour!In almost 20 years of homeschooling, I think it has been an almost constant wish of mine that I could somehow get a clone of myself.  (ok.  Let’s face it–I’d need several clones.)  When the kids were little, it was challenging to keep all the schooling going amidst nursing the babies, potty training the toddlers, and trying to overcome my sleepiness!  When they were in the middle years, I still had some pretty rascally little guys running around, and the small matter of a tiny little business I was trying to breathe life into, in addition to nurturing a love for learning for the school-aged kids.  And now that my homeschooled kids are all teenagers, I STILL feel like I could use more help to multiply my time.  After all–I want my kids to get everything they need, but I need a few things every now and then too.  (the nerve!)

 

We have been longtime fans of audio books in our family.  With two dyslexic kids, and with a whole tribe that also loved to build with Legos while they listened, audio books have provided hours and hours of enriching entertainment and literature exposure without adding one more thing to my To Do list.  (except, of course, wrangling kiddos through the library, keeping track of all the discs, paying for the ones that got broken, and paying all the late fees…..)  I’m so happy with the solution I found.  Affiliate links have been used in this post.

 

Last year I decided to try out Audible.  Audible starts out with a free 30-day trial where you can get two audio books of your choice.  After that you can become a Gold Member (ooh la la!  Sounds so fancy!) and pay $14.95 per month and get one audio book per month.  They also have some great discounts and sales for members that have allowed me to get two books per credit, or add books to our membership for just a couple bucks.

 

Although I had heard about it before, I had never bothered to look into it too deeply.  The books I had seen in the ads didn’t look like books I would want to read, and certainly didn’t make me think Homeschool Tool.

 

But then I saw some other homeschool moms talking about all the great classic literature available on audible and how they loved using it with their kids, and I decided to check it out.

 

Jackpot!!!

 

Audible has TONS of books that coordinate with Sonlight and other literature-based curricula, as well as books that your kids will just enjoy reading.  And not only that–these books are usually read by famous actors and skilled storytellers that do a wonderful job of conveying the storyline, building suspense, adding voices and special effects, etc.  If you aren’t a gifted out-loud reader, you and your kids will LOVE having books read to you in this way!  (and if you’re like me and truly love reading books to your kids, Audible can be perfect for times when you’re not available or need to free up a few hours to do something else.)  Yeah, it might be $14.95 for a book, but when the book takes 10 or 20 hours of your life to read, sister, THAT is a bargain!  So whether you are recovering from having a baby or the flu, want to get ahead in the kitchen, or just take a nap, audible is there for you.

 

Books we have already gotten from Audible:

The Green Ember:  8 hours

The Fellowship of the Ring:  19 hours

The Hobbit:  11 hours

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:  10 hours

(And ohmyword fellow mothers–when your kids love fantasy books and you just hate to read them, or they want to listen to the Redwall series, but you don’t want to struggle through all the accents and such, Audible is a godsend!!!)

 

Other Audible Books that Homeschool Moms will love:

    • A Little Princess
    • Homer Price
    • Harry Potter
    • Swiss Family Robinson
    • The Penderwicks
    • Mary Poppins
    • 50 Famous Stories Retold
    • The Railway Children by Edith Mesbit
    • Robin Hood
    • Parables from Nature
    • Caddie Woodlawn
    • Anne of Green Gables
    • Paddle to the Sea
    • Winnie-the-Pooh
    • Charlotte’s Web
    • The Wind in the Willows
    • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    • The Door in the Wall
    • Aesop’s Fables
    • The Jungle Book
    • Pride and Prejudice
    • Great Expectations
    • Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    • The Count of Monte Cristo
    • The Scarlet Letter
    • To Kill a Mockingbird
    • Robinson Crusoe
    • Oliver Twist
    • The Old Man and the Sea
    • Animal Farm

 

And about a zillion more!  

 

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

 

Audible has several options and benefits for you. You can start with a simple 30-day Free Trial and get 2 free audiobooks so you can see how easy it is. We mostly use the audible app on my phone for listening, but you can also listen through the computer, and share the books between devices if you have certain kids that want to listen during their afternoon rest time or whenever it works for them.

 

Monthly members get 1 new audiobook of your choice each month. And yes, if you don’t make a selection, that credit will just sit in your account til you’re ready for it. 

 

Monthly members also get 30% off other audiobooks, plus access to exclusive sales that are often BOGO or deep discounts. (I get a lot of homeschool books this way! Very economical, and I’ll always be able to find the book when I need it!)

 

If you don’t like a book, you can swap it! So, for classics that have more than one version available, this is great if you find that the one you got isn’t as enjoyable as you expected.  (however, Audible has customer reviews, which makes it really easy to choose a winner)

 

You can also purchase audible books through amazon, straight-up, with no membership. It’ll cost you a little more, but might work for those of you that aren’t interested in the member benefits.

 

Having a helper to keep my kids enjoying great literature even when I can’t personally read to them has been a huge benefit for us!  I hope it’ll be a help to you as well.



We are Having Fun Learning Shakespeare!

Affiliate links are used in this post.

One of the fun things we are doing to enrich our homeschool experience this year is memorizing Shakespeare with the help of Ken Ludwig’s terrific book, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. This book is laid out easily and the coordinating website includes free printables to make your task even easier.

We have managed to use this very simply, without needing a lot of attention from me.  Basically, we have our current printouts up on the wall in our school area.  During breakfast we usually go through the current section that we’re memorizing about 7 times.  This is a trick I learned from my Classical Conversations Foundations tutor training.  7 seems to be a magical number for getting things to stick in our minds when we have short bursts of time to learn them. The 7 times are usually varied.  For instance, we all say it together 2-3 times, then maybe each of us goes around the room and tries to say it without looking, or maybe we do teams of two and two.  It just takes a couple minutes and can be done while munching on breakfast or lunch, and if we forget to do it then, often someone will bring it up while we are driving or transitioning from one subject to another.  It’s easy and takes up almost no time.

Once we get the basic words down, we work on expression.  (Because who wants to hear monotone Shakespeare recitation?  Nobody.  That’s who.  lol)  It is very helpful that Ken includes helpful tips and information in each chapter that helps us understand the storylines, the characters, and what the words mean when they are different from what we would know in modern-day English.  By the time we’ve read through the section and memorized the passage, we have a pretty good idea of what it’s all about.

And then, for fun, sometimes my guys like to jazz it up with chants and raps.  They play with the rhythm and pronunciations and such.  We have had costumed performances and dancing, too!  And now all of my guys think that learning Shakespeare is pretty stinkin fun.  🙂

I shared about this book (and a few others) on periscope, and two of my boys were kind enough to do a rap(ish) version of some of their Shakespeare.  It was too fun not to share.  🙂



Listen to Neil Gaiman read The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

 

I first learned about The Graveyard Book from a friend of mine who enjoyed sharing the book with his children.  I read it for myself and thought it was so interesting and captivating.  You can read the reviews and more info on it here to determine appropriateness for your children.  (amazon affiliate link)  Recommended for children in grades 5-8, though I know for a fact that older folks will enjoy it as well.

Now you can listen to the author himself, reading this book to you!  It’ll only take about 8 hours, but who’s counting?  🙂










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