Now that my daughter is well past the skill level of working on phonics, we’ve moved to doing more literature-based language arts. Progeny Press sent me a review copy of their Sarah, Plain and Tall E-Guide to use with her. It is meant for upper elementary students (about 4th-6th grade level), so I knew it would work well for her as she is an eager 5th grade reader.
I had my daughter use this guide a few times a week over the course of 2 weeks. She is a fast reader, so that was as much as I could get her to slow down to complete the activities. She would complete one section of questions/puzzles per day.
I would assign her to read certain chapters, and then have her complete the associated assignments. It made her stop and work on comprehension and learning instead of just plowing through this piece of literature.
I liked that the Study Guide broke down coursework as follows:
- Before-You-Read Activities
- As-You-Read Assignment
- Chapters 1-3
- Chapters 4-6
- Chapters 7-9
- After-You-Read Activities
There were also sections with background information about the time period, a comprehensive list of additional resources, and an answer key as well. Overall, there were over 40 pages to this E-Guide, which was available as a PDF download. Check out these sample pages for a better idea of what the activities and questions look like.
My daughter’s favorite parts were the wordsearch and the crossword puzzles. I liked those, too, because they weren’t easy! She had to go back and re-read parts of the book to find the correct answers. For a kid that’s used to just remembering all of the answers, I loved this. It was nice to make her look up more information so she could more thoroughly look at this piece of literature.
In one of the assignments, its instructions had my daughter getting out her Bible to compare characters in the book to people in a story in the Bible. This was a fairly new concept for Grace, so I liked that it stretched her thinking in this way. It also gave her an opportunity to practice using her Bible. Sometimes I just let her look Scripture up online, but I made her use the real book for this one!
There are also other subjects and studies highlighted in the E-Guide. One of the science activities had my daughter getting out her seashell collection from our recent beach vacation. There are also cooking, history, map work, creative writing, and note taking activities within the activities.
It would be really easy for a parent to pick and choose specific questions, puzzles, and activities for their student. You could do as many, or as few, as desired. It would also be simple to combine students for many of the activities. For example, having one student answer even questions and another answer odds. Alternatively, they could help each other answer every question and do the activities (like baking) together!
Progeny Press has a lot of literature study guides available for many classic titles. You can purchase them on CD-Rom, or as instant download E-Guides as PDFs. They have guides available for lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school. A few of the titles they cover include Frog and Toad Together, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Anne of Green Gables, and Hamlet.
I recommend these guides! For $17.99, you can be sure that your student digs deeply into rich, classic literature and retains that information. They will also take it further and apply it to other areas of their academics and real life as well.
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