This review contains my honest opinions. I wasn’t compensated for this review and didn’t receive free copies of the curriculum.
When I first started homeschooling my kids—then in 7th, 5th, and 2nd grades—I relied heavily on my sister’s library of used homeschool curriculum, which was mostly made up of Memoria Press workbooks and teacher’s guides. It worked really well for me, and my kids have learned a lot about plants, insects, birds, and mammals.
But this year we finished our Insects curriculum early, so we decided to finish out the year with the free download of The Good and the Beautiful’s Marine Biology study. It was icing on the cake of our science year, so I didn’t set high expectations. And with this being my first year using TGTB curriculum, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a company who’s name is so…fluffy?
But you guys, this curriculum was great.
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As with all her curriculum, it’s a beautifully designed, four-color book available in PDF or print format. In TGTB’s trademark style, you’ll see classic works of art mingled among adorable photos of sea creatures, short pieces of poetry, and educational maps and diagrams.
From a faith perspective, it gives a lovely picture of God’s creativity and design without the preachy tone you get with Apologia curriculum. As a progressive Christian mom, it was a great fit for me.
It’s a multi-age curriculum, written for kids Pre-K to 8th grade. This makes it really easy if you’re a parent who is trying to teach multiple ages around the table together. Older kids can help teach the younger the basic concepts, and you can purchase the middle school extension pack to take the lessons deeper for your 7-8th graders.
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My fourth grader went through it quickly, with 1-2 lessons per week because he was really motivated. But the standards were met and he learned a lot that he’s retained about oceans and ocean life. If you wanted to go slower, you could also choose to spend an entire week on each of the 14 lessons by using all the extra recommended readings and hands-on projects Jenny recommends.
My son is accelerated for his grade, but he found the assignments to be truly interesting and a fun level of challenging. Examples are: to correctly group photos of invertebrates by their class, to identify the ocean zones and animals that live in them, and to map his own section of ocean floor. Our favorite activity may have been going outside and measuring the lengths of different species of whales, to see how large they actually are.
Each lesson is completely open-and-go, and for the most part, every experiment or hands-on activity in the book could be completed with my pretty limited supply of craft materials. Even the reading sections have guided activities for the kids to do while the parent reads the lesson. However, there were no formal assessments, so if you’re a parent who feels more confident when you have objective quizzes and grades, you might struggle with this part of the curriculum.
Oh, and one tip: I printed the PDF 2-sided and had it spiral bound, which wasn’t ideal. Because the curriculum includes so many print-and-go activities, I ended up making copies of many pages so we could use both sides. Next time, I’ll print one one-side and stick them in a 3-ring binder instead.
After several years of classical style science with lots of reading, this was a very fun, very hands-on curriculum that challenged him without making it seem like work. And at the end of this school year, we sat down together and purchased 4 more units to complete together next year.