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Reading Lesson in the Life: The Good and the Beautiful
Written by Amber Marie | May 29, 2018
If you have chosen to homeschool your children, and they are under the age of six, I’m sure you may have experienced the same anxiety I have on a particular issue. How do I teach my child to read? This question popped into my brain multiple times as I wrestled with the decision to start homeschooling. Even though I am a former elementary school teacher, this concept was foreign to me. I taught upper elementary students and never really had to teach a child to read from the beginning. Needless to say it was making me a bit fearful.
However, that fear subsided when I searched the web and found all the wonderful curriculums out there for homeschoolers. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I did a lot of research and even tried a curriculum out before using the curriculum I’m using now. Enter the Good and the Beautiful by Jenny Phillips. I found this curriculum while browsing my Facebook feed one day. So many homeschoolers where talking about it, which peaked my interest. I checked out the website and was impressed. The sample page downloads were loaded with amazing lessons and I was loving the price.
Before I jumped in, I ventured on to YouTube. I love watching videos of curriculum walk-throughs and hearing how homeschoolers use a specific curriculum. I found two homeschoolers on YouTube that sealed the deal for me. Monica over at Monson Schoolhouse was the first mom I watched and I loved her lesson walk-through videos she did with each of her children. It gave me a glimpse into what I could expect to do with my son. Then I found Ashlee over at Grace and Grit and enjoyed watching her curriculum flip-throughs along with her day in the life videos. Both of these women played an important role in my decision to purchase and use this curriculum for teaching reading to my son. Be sure to check out their channels on YouTube by clicking their names above.
After testing my son using the placement tests on the Good and the Beautiful website, I found that my son would do best with the Level K Primer. One thing to note about the curriculum is the levels do not coincide with grade levels. The Level K is a little more difficult than kindergarten and, in my professional opinion, is closer to a first grade level if comparing with a public school reading program. I knew my son would struggle with the Level K so I went for the Level K Primer. This level is appropriate for children who know their letter names and some of their letter sounds (which my son did). After receiving it in the mail and looking through the curriculum further, I knew I had made the right decision. I couldn’t wait to start, but before I did, I accumulated a few other things to help along the way. Read on to find out more about how I use the good and the beautiful, along with magnet letters and homemade phonics cards, to teach my son to read.
The Good and the Beautiful:
Level K Primer Curriculum
The Good and the Beautiful curriculum was created by Jenny Phillips, a former Christian songwriter and music producer. When her children began attending school, she changed her focus from music toward education. She started homeschooling her children and couldn’t find a language arts curriculum that had everything she wanted. So she, along with many other experts in different educational topics, created the curriculum known as “The Good and the Beautiful”. Learn more about why the curriculum was created on Jenny’s website.
The Language Arts curriculum is split into levels ranging from Pre-K to Level 7, Level 8, and High School editions. As I mentioned above, it is important to note the curriculum levels do not correspond with grade levels. Each child should be tested using the placement tests to see which level would best fit his or her abilities. Each level comes with a course book and a reader. The higher you go in levels the more that comes with the curriculum, such as phonics cards, course companions, and more. The Level K Primer (the one I chose for my son) comes with a coursebook and reader. The coursebook lessons cover mastering letters and their sounds along with other important reading skills such as phonemic awareness, sight words, rhyming, and more. It also has math, handwriting, and fine motor skills sprinkled throughout. The reader isn’t used until lesson 21 and begins with stories that have two to three words on a page.
In a typical homeschool day with my son, we will complete one lesson in the coursebook each day. Each lesson is about two to three pages long. There have been times when I have split a lesson and have completed it over the course of two days instead of one. I normally spend about eight to ten minutes per lesson. If the first page is taking my son a while to complete, I will take that as a cue to split the lesson up into two days. The wonderful thing about the Good and the Beautiful curriculum is it allows for this type of flexibility with the lessons.
I love that each lesson has the parent instructions built right into the coursebook so there is no need to go back and forth between a student book and teacher manual. Each lesson lists the items needed to complete the tasks given. You can find a full list of the items required throughout the coursebook listed in the front. I’ve taken time to collect these items and have them nearby in a container. It has been helpful having everything within arms reach. Although, the curriculum comes with everything needed to teach the reading lessons, I have added a few items to help with teaching my son.
Pixel Premium’s Mega Magnet Letter Bundle
If you have read any of my earlier posts, you know I am a HUGE advocate for hands-on learning. My son thrives off of manipulating objects to enhance his learning experience. One way I incorporate this with the Good and the Beautiful curriculum is by using magnet letters. I love how magnet letters allow my son to manipulate letters to create words and sentences. I did a lot of research when trying to find the right magnet letter bundle and found it in Pixel Premium’s Mega Magnet Letter Bundle.
I love the amount of letters that come in this kit. There are five sets of letters, two of which are capital and three that are lowercase. This is important to me because when my son gets further along in his reading, the large number of letters will allow for him to make longer words and sentences without running out of letters. The letters are soft foam and easy to handle. The kit comes with a magnet board, but you can use any magnetic whiteboard with these magnets.
I use these magnet letters with every lesson. Anytime a new letter or letter sound is introduced, we will pull out the letters and use them. I also use them when we learn new blends and make new words. These letters have come in handy with making my sons reading more hands-on. However, when there are a lot of words to review, I use another add-on that I created to help teach my son reading.
Homemade Phonics Cards
I noticed that starting at Level K, the Good and the Beautiful includes phonics flash cards. According to Jenny, “Our flashcards are unique in that they include not only phonograms, but also words that incorporate the phonograms being learned, helping children connect phonograms to actual words.” (Approach to Phonics). I loved the idea of reviewing phonics cards with my son, however the Level K Primer did not include a set. So I made my own.
Each time a new letter is introduced in the coursebook, I use index cards and sharpies to make a phonics card. I use three different colored sharpies to help with color coding. Each consonant is blue and each vowel is red. I use a black sharpie to label the cards with “letter”, “vowel”, or “word”. I keep the cards in ziploc bags. I began with just one bag for letters then added another bag when words were introduced. By lesson seven in the coursebook, words with short vowel sounds are introduced so I made a new bag for just those words. I don’t review those words everyday as the Level K Primer mentions the fact that short vowel sounds do not need to be mastered.
These phonics cards have been a great review for my son. We will review some at the beginning of a lesson, or throughout the day at dinner or in the car. I don’t review all of them each time but instead select a few out of the bag and review those. As we collect more letters and words, I will most likely follow the phonics card instructions for the higher levels of the curriculum. They suggest having a bag for mastered, learning, and not learned. For more information, check out the image below borrowed from page seven of the Level K Coursebook Sample, which can be found here.
So far I am loving the Good and the Beautiful curriculum. It has everything I am looking for when it comes to teaching my son not only reading, but grammar, rhyming, and much more. As mentioned before, you do not need the magnet letters or the phonics cards with the curriculum. However, I have found they enhance the curriculum in a positive way and have helped my son pick up reading so much quicker than I ever expected him to. Whether you use just the curriculum, or add the magnet letters and phonics cards to your lessons, I would highly recommend the Good and the Beautiful for teaching reading to your children. Learn more about the curriculum by visiting Jenny Phillips website and be sure to check out Ashlee and Monica’s videos on YouTube.
I am also excited to share my first video on my YouTube channel. This video is a curriculum walkthrough of the Good and the Beautiful Level K Primer. Check it out by clicking the image below. Also, subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss out on other curriculum walkthroughs, school-days in the life, planning tips and more.
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Have you used the Good and the Beautiful curriculum? Do you have any questions about it? Share in the comments below.