The Good and the Beautiful Preschool course can be used with children ages three to five. It is written at an advanced preschool or average kindergarten level, but it’s not heavily academic (with lots of worksheets and writing). Instead it takes a playful, interactive approach.
The course primarily teaches recognition of the letters of the alphabet and the most common sound of each letter. It also teaches rhyming, sequencing, colors, shapes, counting, numbers, beginning handwriting, and other fine motor skills. The course is listed under Language Arts on the publisher's website, but it covers all subjects for preschool.
There are a number of components. The 185-page course book, the heart of the course, is available either as a spiral-bound book or as a PDF. Two other components—Preschool Practice Sheets and Preschool Folder Activities—are also available either in print or as PDFs. These are all created with lovely full-color illustrations and graphics, many of which appear to have been created with watercolors.
Seven folder activities are created from the Preschool Folder Activities. These need to be prepared in advance. For the folder activities, you will need to poke out pieces (small figures of houses, boats, animals, etc.) from the punch pages that come with the Folder Activities. (These pieces are to be stored in the file folders and used for the activities.) There are also alphabet flashcards to punch out and two folders—one for storing those the child has learned and one for those yet to be learned. I recommend purchasing the printed course materials, primarily because it will be so much easier to have items that you can punch out quickly rather than having to cut them out.
Songs and videos add to the multisensory learning in this course. The songs used are available as free downloads, and the videos can be viewed online for free.
You will also need basic supplies that are used frequently, such as crayons, pencils, scissors, tape, school glue, a glue stick, paint, play dough, mini pom-poms, pipe cleaners, uncooked spaghetti noodles, glitter, and cut-up colored paper. In addition, you will need to gather some supplies that are used occasionally, such as cotton swabs, craft sticks, seeds, and pennies. Page iv of the course book shows which of the special items are needed for which lessons. With the folder activities prepared and supplies on hand, the lessons can be used in an open-and-go fashion.
The Good and the Beautiful publishes the optional Doodles & Pre-Writing for Littles (Part 1 and Part 2) books that can be used to help develop small motor skills, although some prewriting activities are already included in the course.
The Good and the Beautiful courses are all designed to teach positive character traits and virtues, and they generally have minimal Christian content. In this course, character traits are only alluded to indirectly in a few instances, such as a mention of a “kind queen” and an image of children happily playing together. Christian content in the course is minimal. I found five references to God, all praising God as the Creator. For instance, on page nine it says, “God gave us many colors to make the world beautiful and interesting.” Also, a girl in a kimono is reading from a Bible on page 35.
How it Works
The program is presented in 90 lessons that are divided into seven units. You might complete one lesson per day, but there’s no need to. You can determine the pacing for your child, stopping to repeat activities they particularly enjoy or stopping before it’s too much for one day. Children who complete this course should be ready to move on to The Good and the Beautiful Level K Primer course.
The course is very much hands-on, interactive, and multisensory. Parents need to present the lessons by following the detailed instructions. The course book has one to three pages per lesson. Black text on these pages is to be read aloud to the child, while blue text provides instructions for the parent. The course book tells exactly when to use each of the course components.
Both the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet are introduced in groups in alphabetical order. The first unit teaches A, B, C, and D, the numbers 1 through 5, and six colors. The second unit teaches E, F, G, and H, the number 6, and the color orange, while also reviewing what was taught in the first unit. The remaining units continue in this fashion, adding new material while incorporating what has already been taught.
The Preschool Practice Sheets devote the first 26 pages to each letter of the alphabet. Each of these pages has large models of both the uppercase and lowercase versions of the featured letter. As children learn each letter, they can decorate the letters on the practice sheet with dry cereal, colored paper, pieces of dry spaghetti noodles, etc.
After the pages with the letters, Preschool Practice Sheets have activity pages to be used at the parent’s discretion. Each unit has ten practice sheets, and since the practice sheets only review all concepts taught in the prior units, you will not use the first set until students begin work in the second unit. (At the beginning of Unit 2 and all subsequent units, there are reminders to use them.)
Beginning with the second unit, the course book shows “Optional Activities” at the beginning of every lesson. These suggest activities such as using flashcards, listening to songs, reviewing numbers, and watching videos. The course instructions tell us that these activities should be utilized—they are really not optional.
The songs and videos are all available on a password-protected page, although some of them can be accessed directly on The Good and the Beautiful Kids YouTube® channel. The songs include a very gentle version of the traditional ABC song plus songs that teach the sounds of the letters. These songs are available in audio versions as well as on animated, colorful videos. Audio-only versions of the songs can be streamed or downloaded. Another, entirely different set of videos teaches a movement for each letter. Some children will benefit from all of the audio and video input, while others might need only a limited amount of it. So parents need to decide how many of the songs and videos to use.
An assessment at the end of each unit in the course book helps parents evaluate the child’s mastery of the lesson material, and an assessment for the entire course is at the end of the course book.
The entire preschool course is attractive and hands on—it feels more like play than school. The variety of activities within the lessons should keep children interested. And it’s easy to teach, even for parents new to homeschooling.