Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review of Progeny Press' Sarah Plain and Tall

Progeny Press Review

Progeny Press study guides are the gold standard in literature guides that have a Christian worldview. We have been blessed to review Progeny Press before. We have reviewed Beowulf, The Last of the Mohicans and The Giver, and Pride and Prejudice. Needless to say, this is a product line with which we are familiar and which we really enjoy. For this review, Mary-Catherine used the study guide for Sarah, Plain and Tall (recommended for Upper Elementary, 3rd-6th Grade).

Progeny Press Review
Like all Progeny Press study guides, Sarah, Plain and Tall is composed of multiple parts. In this case:
  • Synopsis
  • About the Author
  • Background Information
  • Before-You-Read Activities
  • As You Read Assignment
  • Chapter Assignments
    • Vocabulary
    • Short answer questions of various types (could include straight up short answer, compare and contrast, figures of speech, and more
  • After-You-Read Activities
  • Additional Resources
There is enough consistency in this literature guide that it will remind you of other Progeny Press guides you may have seen or done, but enough originality that you don't feel that it is just more of the same. For this guide, there are three chapter groupings (that is the nine chapters of the book, Sarah, Plain and Tall, are broken into three groupings for the purpose of the literature guide), and that is perfect for the book and for the age.

Mary-Catherine (10) and the Guide

Mary-Catherine has read Sarah, Plain and Tall before, but she has never done any kind of study guide, so I thought that this was a good way to introduce her to the concept. The book is way below her actual reading level (even though it is right in line with her grade level), but because she is not used to the idea of "doing" literature, the study guide is just right for her ability level. 

First I had to decide whether to print the study guide and have her do it the traditional (pen and paper) way or have her do it on the computer (since Progeny Press guides are writable PDFs). I opted to let her do it on the computer. The novelty approach always helps when you're having your kids do something they're not too sure about.

Because Mary-Catherine reads so fast, and because this is a book she first read many years ago, there was no way that I was going to be able to confine her to, for example, Chapters 1-3, so I just let her re-read the book all at once and then let her work on the guide at her own pace. The vocabulary exercises, while a new idea to her, didn't present any kind of challenge; however, they were exactly the kind of exercise she should be doing. For example, the directions for the following asked her to find two synonyms for the underlined word:

It's completely age and level appropriate. It gets her using outside resources (dictionary and thesaurus) and has her examine words and sentences more in-depth.

The short answer questions are similarly right on target. A kid like Mary-Catherine who reads voraciously doesn't necessarily take time to dissect things like setting (who among us does at that age, really, unless forced to). This study guide led her to do so in a gentle and age-appropriate way. It ended up being the perfect way to begin talking about literature-esque terms like "setting." 

Further, because she could type in her answers, she didn't have to be worried about things like handwriting, having enough room on the page, etc. The typing is really freeing for some kids (especially those who write really big!). 

There are a nice assortment of before you read and after you read activities, too, for people who like that kind of thing. As for me, I really embrace these guides for the pure literature aspect. They are solid scholarship in that regard. For the more creative homeschooler, though, you'll find everything you could desire. All of your hands-on goodness is here! The guides cater to every type of learner.

Once again, I wholeheartedly endorse Progeny Press literature guides. Their range is impressive and they are perfect for those who want their kids to delve more fully into the literature they read. Mary-Catherine enjoyed hers, and I know we'll be back for more! Be sure to click the banner below to read about all of the other guides that Crew members got to use in their homes!

Progeny Press Review

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