We have been spending a lot of time on the go lately. What with hockey season in full bloom (travel, no less) it seems we are always on our way to a rink. Somewhere. Sometimes, somewhere far away. So we have been investing in lots of great stories. Audio books, movies and documentaries that are worthy of their viewing and my listening. Some of those classics are coming out – what a great way to enjoy these stories – Progeny Press is a great way to expand on the learning that is within so many great stories! For the purpose of this review we received the following two literature guides: Hound of the Baskervilles Study Guide (recommended for grades 9-12) and Shadow Spinner Study Guide (recommended for grades 5-8). I received these as PDF files for download. I love when all I have to do is click and go. Doesn’t that sound great? 🙂
We have had the pleasure of reviewing a number of materials from Progeny Press in the past. There is absolutely nothing not to not love about a company whose desire is,”To teach children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scriptures for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!” Certainly in the years we have been using various literature guides from them, we have not been disappointed. There is so much to learn and they do a great job of putting it all together for us to easily enjoy. Plus, with there being so many of us, it is nice that there is such a wide variety to of stories choose from! Certainly there are many we enjoy exploring together both old and new.
My oldest son is fourteen and not at all a reader. It can be frustrating because he has an amazing ability but chooses not to read unless he absolutely has to. He is the one who always wants to know if there is a movie he can watch in place of the book. For whatever reason he just has not caught the bug (so frustrating for this momma who cannot get enough of books). So we do a lot of reading aloud. I read and the kids all listen and maybe draw or build quietly. Yet I want to be sure that my oldest son really gets it; that he is attending to the story I am sharing with them. This is the best way to do that (I think) and it only requires a couple things: a Bible, dictionary, thesaurus and a concordance now and then can help too. Working through one section per week, these can easily be completed in about eight to ten weeks. As you work through the pages of these guides, you can see the story coming to life all the more as kids connect the dots and see even more of the art of story telling and those themes and ideas within.
These are so easy to use! Each of the study guides begins with a synopsis of the story. Following that is an introduction to the author, and then background information for the story being studied. Each guide also has an amazing number of ideas for pre-reading activities that can include geography, vocabulary, timeline development, perhaps researching certain topics related to the story about to be read. As we worked through The Hound of the Baskervilles we began to research various breeds of dog. Since this story was inspired by a folk tale we also looked to see if there were any folk tales related to the area we lived in. We certainly found quite a few related to not just the state we live in but also the Upper Peninsula of Michigan were our family resides. Who knows if we ever would have looked into folk tales or urban legends if it hadn’t for the direction given within this study guide. Aside from the ideas in the study guide they also have lots more on their Pinterest page.
Once we began to read the book, we really dug into the study guide. Each section covers about three chapters so its really not that difficult to work through. One day we would complete the vocabulary words – the study guide is interactive so you can complete the questions with a click of the mouse – there is an answer key that comes with the study guide. I kept that for myself and would use it to review as needed once the activity was completed. In some activities it was multiple choice, in others you needed to type out the definition, as you understand the word.
There are also comprehension questions – sometimes my son would write the out, more often than not we would use them to engage everyone in a conversation about their thoughts related to what we were reading. Even the younger ones can get involved and share what they think.
With my oldest son I really appreciated the analysis portion of the study guide – a great way to ponder what characterization means, dig deeper and delve into how the scriptures can be used to interpret and better understand the story. Many of the activities in this area really encouraged by lately very reluctant and restless older boy to consider not just what the scriptures say but what they mean for him and his life. Being observant, or diligent, the worshipful act of study. There are so many things like this that we can find when we slow down and look more closely at the story and the characters within.
Each study guide is so involved, so comprehensive. It would be so easy to spend months, maybe even years working through the pages of each one. In one of the activities we were to design a map; in another there was research to be done. I have always loved writing and researching – my kids? Not so much. But many of these activities really introduced it in such a way that it was not overwhelming at all.
An example of one my oldest worked on for some time was this: what does the Bible have to say about prayer, how we do it and what it means. Since it has been a real struggle to get him really praying, searching the scriptures, I was rather excited to find some paper that he was writing on related to prayer. Sometimes it takes something like this. Really, I always remind my kids, it doesn’t matter what someone else has to say, if you don’t understand it for yourself. We need to know what we believe, not just following along on someone else’s path. Our greatest learning experiences often come from our own desire to search for ourselves, making something personal.
There is so much more I could share within the pages of these study guides too; always so much more than I expect. In one of the study guide activities we researched pigeons; what are they and how/why do people raise them?
For the brief time we were in a local 4H group my kids loved learning about different sorts of animals; what they are used for and how they are cared for.
Sometimes I think we forget how much can be learned about one thing – math, history, geography, science, reading and writing. I have to remind myself to get out of the box sometimes and not worry as much about the academic books but look deeper myself and see all the opportunities and adventures we are involved in, along with those academics that are sometimes hidden within. I cannot say enough how much of a blessing I always find these to be. I admit we do not keep to a strict schedule when it comes to completing each portion of the guide but we definitely, in ur own time, do enjoy and learn so much more than I often could have imagined, from these.
There are so many more to choose from than the two that our family had the chance to explore. Be sure to click the image below to read reviews from oter members of the Crew who dug into lots of other great literature guides from Progeny Press.,