Monday, April 22, 2013

Progeny Press Literature Study Guides (Treasure Island and The Hobbit)

After our time spent with Progeny Press Literature guides last year, I was pleased to have been chosen to review two more titles this year, Treasure Island for my Middlest (Middle school student) and The Hobbit for my Eldest (High School). 

I would encourage you to take a peek at my review last year  for the Pride and Prejudice and The Bronze Bow study guides for some of my general opinions about these guides (To get a sense of how they work, and as I said, my general opinion), as I don't want to repeat everything here, but I also don't want you to miss anything. :) I honestly can't say enough GOOD about these study guides. They are such high quality, promote REAL vocabulary learning, comprehension and critical thinking, as well as World View through Literature.

I have an addition to that review, that I might as well include here... ;) 
This past summer/fall, months after she had finished reading and analyzing Pride and Prejudice, as Eldest was reading The Giver, she jumped up and ran downstairs to tell me something that was exciting and encouraging to her. She informed me that as she was reading the book, she realized she was asking herself questions very similar to those that were found in the Pride and Prejudice Study Guide. She was analyzing literature without any prompting from me or from a guide or class. To me this is one of the greatest recommendations I could give~ going through one guide of such high caliber prepared her to evaluate her own reading choices independent from an assignment.  Well done Progeny Press!

A couple of details about how we used the guides this time around: 

  • We didn't use the interactive feature on the computer this time around (with another more regular computer user added to the mix [youngest] I just didn't create enough time to spare my computer) ~ both kids used their iTouch to access the guide, and wrote their answers down in a notebook.
  • I didn't read either book aloud (Hard to coordinate the group/ages even though I only have three), but assigned the chapters to be read independently. We were also able to find a free podcast version of Treasure Island (Lit 2 Go) , so my Middlest varied between reading himself, and listening to the podcast. 
  • I assigned the lessons to be done independently as well this time. Works well for Eldest, not as well for Middlest (motivation...).

Thoughts for what I'd like to remember when using future guides: 

  • I have decided that I would prefer (at least Middlest) to use the study guide on the computer whenever possible, because we still have the molting problem referenced in my March 2012 review... but it can't get TOO lost on the computer... right??? :) I also think that he does better that way.
  • If reasonable, I would like to turn these books into Read-alouds as we go through them. Loved it with our review of Bronze Bow, missed doing it this time around.

Borrowing some of the elements from my previous review~ The Basic Format: 

  • Vocabulary~ Both of my students still appreciated the variety of ways that the Vocabulary was presented~ sometimes it was matching, define the word yourself and then compare with the dictionary, crossword puzzle, list antonyms and synonyms~ basically, mixing it up. This made it much more interesting for them.
  • Questions~ Basic comprehension questions
  • Think About the Story~ While in The Bronze Bow these tended to be more comprehension questions or "Why do you think______?"  Treasure Island joined Pride and Prejudice  and The Hobbit, where this section tended to deal more with Literary Devices~ hyperbole, analogy, parallelism, etc.... This section tends to be the most time-consuming as it requires... thinking!
  • Dig Deeper~ This section is where the Christian worldview comes in to play~ relating Scripture to what is happening in the story. This section is one that takes a bit of time a "digging" in the Bible, and it is one of MY favorite elements of the Progeny Press study guides.
  • Sometimes Various Literature Elements are covered as a separate section(Characterization, Setting, Conflict, Parallelism, Riddles & Proverbs, etc... ) at some guides (I noted that they were found in both  The Bronze Bow and The Hobbit)

A few more specifics about the two studies we used this time around: 

Treasure Island
  • Middlest said "It made you think about the story more instead of just reading it. " 
  • He also, once again, appreciated the format of the study guide (Easy to access, and easy to understand what was required). Even though  he only used it via his iTouch, and wasn't able to make use of the interactive forms (If we had more computers in the house, he'd love THAT aspect as well!) he really likes the electronic format. 
The Hobbit
  • Eldest felt that The Hobbit was a little more difficult to absorb than our previous study of Pride and Prejudice
  • There was more "foreign story" (Fantasy-ish land) to wrap her head around, and it seemed that both the story as well as the Study Guide were much more complex.
  • The chapters were much more "Dense" (ie, very long and packed with a huge amount of action and information), which meant that it often took her more than a week to go through each section. 
  • I believe the "Dig Deeper" selections were also more meaty (Or at least there were more questions) this time around.

Summing it all up~ 

I am still highly impressed with the Progeny Press Literature Guides. I love the Christian Worldview Dig Deeper sections. I am especially interested, then, to see how books like The Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451, and eventually... The Hunger Games are approached. I trust the studies will far exceed any that I was involved in during my high school career.

Teaching our children to see these works through the "Big Picture" Lens, and to learn how these stories relate to the us as well as the Word is a "Good Thing!"

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. The following titles were included in the reviews: 
Eagle of the Ninth Study Guide
Golden Goblet Study Guide
Treasure Island Study Guide

Beowulf Study Guide
The Hobbit Study Guide
Things Fall Apart Study Guide

As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.


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