There are times when you purchase curriculum that does its job, and you’re happy with it. There are other times that the ‘fantastic, new, curriculum’ is an absolute flop, and ends up sitting on the shelf or re-sold. And then, there are times when you purchase something that is an absolute hit – just perfect for your children, for you, and your homeschool.
Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings, for us, is one such curriculum. I purchased it several years ago, and I was always a little nervous about it; the student and teacher volumes are huge, as is, of course, the Lord of the Rings itself. And yet, it remained on my ‘to do’ list – one day – in the future.
Earlier this year, I was busy planning our curriculum, and I needed to choose something for either literature or essay writing. We’d completed several of the IEW courses, and I knew my teens were quite proficient with essays, so I decided to go with literature. But what to use? As always, there was a stack of choices, and then I spied LOTR, sitting on the shelf, waiting. Maybe, I thought, now was the time to use it. And I’m glad I did!
So much more than a fill-in-the-blanks curriculum, LiteraryLessons from Lord of the Rings offers comprehensive chapter summaries, vocabulary words, challenge questions, essay suggestions, and at the end of each book, unit studies. The unit studies cover things such as the author’s life, other great works of literature, map work, and more. Currently, we are working through Unit Study Five, which covers the timeless works of Homer and Vergil – The Odyssey, the Iliad, and the Aeneid. Having studied Homer’s works a couple of years ago, it is refreshing to do a re-cap of these marvellous, epic tales. The essay assignments are also wonderful (at least from my point of view!), and there are many ‘optional writing assignments’, some of which we tackle, and others that we freely leave out and move on.
All the elements of literature are covered as well. One lesson may concentrate on theme, the next on conflict, another on character or setting, and so forth. In this way, literary terms are learned, and with the writing assignments, they are also put into practice. Recently, we were asked to write a paragraph, vividly describing our favourite location, which could have been imaginary or real. The programme also encourages the use of strong verbs and quality adjectives, meaning it dovetails with the IEW programme perfectly! So I can rest assured that my young writers are also receiving some fantastic instruction that has helped them in their own writing endeavours.
Even my ten-year-old loves it. Although she is not reading the novels or completing the essays, she enjoys sitting down with us as we discuss each chapter and work through the exercises. She is in charge of the answer book, and as we shout out our answers, young Aimee excitedly informs us whether or not our answers are correct!
Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings is certainly a keeper. The chapter summaries help with putting the story together and keeping everything fresh in one’s mind, and the vocabulary word studies give a greater understanding of the author and the text. Sometimes, comprehension questions and literature studies can dull the story, but that is not so in this case. This curriculum helps to bring to life the timeless story of Frodo and his companions, and the studies of other great classics, the challenging essays, and the literacy lessons make this a complete high-school Literature course. This is one resource that undoubtedly receives the ‘thumbs up’, and I look forward to using it again in the future.