Monday, October 7, 2019

Progeny Press (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Progeny Press is a company that we have become very familiar with in our household over the last few years, as they are known for providing high quality literature guides for a wide variety of classical literature for all grade levels.  Recently, we were given the opportunity to review two more study guides in our classroom - Little House on the Prairie Study Guide  and Shadow Spinner Study Guide .  

Our review will mostly focused on the study guide for Little House on the Prairie because that was the guide that we worked with first and was able to complete the entire study from start to finish.  However, we began working on the Shadow Spinner study guide after completion of the first guide and have gotten a few weeks into it at this point as well. 

Both of these guides were given to us as digital download PDF files.  Each study guide consisted of two files - the interactive study guide itself as well as a separate answer key.  A physical copy of the guide as well as a physical CD of the file is also available for purchase from the Progeny Press website.

About Progeny Press

Progeny Press is a publishing company who offers E-guides for literature with a Christian perspective. Offering guides for reading levels from early elementary through high school, each of the Progeny Press guides are designed to help students to better understand the story they are reading as well as to recognize the themes presented by the author. The units contain study questions as well as recommended map work, research ideas, vocabulary lessons, and even Biblical verses that tie into the story.

However, what makes Progeny Press different from other literature study guides is that Progeny Press uses Biblical teachings, backed with scripture, to tie the story into practical lessons. While many books contain content or beliefs that do not align with Christian beliefs, Progeny Press guides direct students to instead study what God says about such things so they will be better prepared and strong in their faith when they face such behavior, language, and philosophy in life. 

Using Progeny Press in our Homeschool

We were offered two different literature study guides to use in our school.  We selected Little House on the Prairie Study Guide and Shadow Spinner Study Guide.  Both of these guides are listed as being "Interactive" files, which means that they can be opened using Adobe Reader on a computer and the student has the ability to enter their answers directly into the file and save their work to the computer, or the teacher can choose to instead print out the study guide as a handout for the student to write out their work.  For this review, we decided to try both methods - we printed out the study guide for Little House on the Prairie and for Shadow Spinner, I decided to allow Garrett to type out his answers and print out a hard copy of his work once he finished each section.

Ashleigh's Notebook with copies of both of her study guides inside

We immediately started with the Little House on the Prairie Study Guide.  This is a 62 page PDF guide to be used while reading the book of the same name by Laura Ingalls Wilder and is designed to be used with grades 4th-6th.

Each week, the guide would recommend a set amount of reading for the students to complete.  We read the book selections aloud for our morning time each morning.  What typically worked best for us during this particular guide was to read 2 chapters a day for three days (the reading for Little House on the Prairie typically required 5-6 chapters a week) and then for the last two days of the week we would work on the questions together during our discussion time.  Suggested activities were then scattered throughout the lessons  where they would fit in best  - for example, listening to the songs Pa would sing at night worked well while reading that portion of the chapter.

Luckily Picket doesn't understand English and our reading about stewed Jack Rabbit with dumplings and gravy.

Following the suggested reading, the study guide followed a pretty general format.  The first activity included some sort of vocabulary exercise, such as determining a word's meaning based on the context it was used in or looking up the actual definition.   Vocabulary exercises were followed by a series of questions that progressively require more from the student as they completed them.  The first set are simple comprehension questions that could be answered straight from the reading.  A second set of questions then asked students to use deductive reasoning skills to answer questions that weren't as straight forward as the comprehension questions - such as what they think a character might have meant in saying something in particular or comparing their own lives to that of the characters. A final third set of questions - the "Dig Deeper" section of questions - uses situations found in the book and asks the student to read a passage of scripture and find a correlation between the two.

In addition to vocabulary and questions, there are also suggested projects and activities that can be done to help with enrichment.   This section offers a wide variety of activities that fall into a large array of categories.  One activity gave a recipe to make cornbread from scratch (something we do often in our home) while another activity had the children make a list of Charities that they can make a gift to this holiday season.  A few activities that we included with our reading was using Lincoln Logs to build a log cabin, listening to recordings of wolves howling at night, and listening to recordings of fiddle music of some of the songs mentioned in the reading. 

Garrett's Log Cabin out of Lincoln Logs

Listening to some of the fiddle selections that Pa played in the book. 

Working on questions following a chapter in the book

After finishing The Little House on the Prairie, we then began reading the book Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher.  The PDF study guide for this selection is written for grades 5th-8th and is 103 pages in length (89 pages for the guide and the 14 page answer key).

As this study guide is for middle school students and requires more writing then the previous study guide,  I opted for Ashleigh to use a printed version that she could write on while I allowed Garrett to work on the computer to type his answers.   The PDF allows for Garrett to fill in the answers using a reader program, save his work and then we can print out his work and put it in his binder.  

Garrett gets rather frustrated with writing, especially with longer writing, so being able to type has been a blessing for him.  Granted, I do catch him using shortcuts in order to do his definitions, but he's happily completing the work. 

This particular study goes deeper into studying literary tools that are used by the writer throughout the book, such as foreshadowing, juxtaposition, alliterations and such.  Where as the Little House on the Prairie study had various activities, because this study is for older grades, it focuses more on learning these literary tools in addition to vocabulary and comprehension questions.

We have always enjoyed using Progeny Press study guides in the past and the older the kids get, the more they seem to appreciate these guides.  I especially enjoy the large selection of guides that are offered, especially for older grades, as well as the Christian perspective the guides give (the Dig Deeper section really provides an opportunity for students to see how scripture gives an understanding for our lives beyond the pages of the Bible).  

#hsreviews #literature #homeschool #unitstudies #reading #english #criticalthinking #ilovebooks #progenypress

For more information about Progeny Press and their various literary guide offerings in addition to the two guides that we reviewed, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites:

Members of the Review Crew were given their choices of four study guides, one for each level of schooling (Early Elementary, Late Elementary, Middle School and High School).  Be sure to click on the banner below for the opportunity to read their reviews today.

Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews}

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