Friday, May 30, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Progeny Press

Reading is certainly Gess' strong point. In fact we are at the point in our schooling where she is starting to learn about the literature itself instead of just focusing on did she remember what she read. While that is still very important to me, we are also trying to discover what we can learn from it. With Gess having Down syndrome that is sometimes a bit tricky, but products like Progeny Press make it easier for me.

We had our first experience with Progeny Press last year when we reviewed their Hall of Door's Book and Study Guide. This year we reviewed The Courage of Sarah Noble E-Guide.

What I love about the Progeny Press study guides is that they help you look at what you read with a biblical perspective. Taking a look at literature, whether Christian or secular, they examine the values and lessons in accordance with biblical teachings. It helps your child not only learn to examine what they read to gain a better understanding of it, but truly think and reason about whether that lesson is compatible with God's Word.

To properly go through the study you will need to have a dictionary, thesaurus, a bible, and a few other tools handy. For the guide they quote the NIV version of the bible but you may use whatever version you choose. The student then begins by reading through the entire book in the first week or so. They do have some pre-reading activities you can do before or as they start.

The Courage of Sarah Noble E-Guide is for grades K-3 but I would put the reading skill level closer to 3. I did have Gess read the book on her own first but I also had her read the chapter sections again before doing the questions. While reading through material twice isn't required, with Gess' special needs it helps her to read it more than once. Students are allowed to use their book while they answer the questions, in fact sometimes it is necessary.

The guide was divided up into segments which ranged from covering 2 to 3 chapters at time.  They always began with vocabulary words which is where the dictionary comes in handy. They were good about changing up how you studied the words each time. Sometimes you looked up and wrote the definition while other times you might have multiple choice options. Each week it was done differently which was nice. My favorite was where it had you try define it in your own words based upon the context in the story. Then you looked it up in the dictionary to see how you did. I was impressed that Gess guessed solemn fairly accurately as that was a new word to her. She must have liked it because she uses that word a lot now. Just the other day she told her dad he looked solemn.  Here are examples of how some of the vocabulary pages looked.

After the vocabulary section you answer questions in regard to the story. Some are trying to get the student to think about why the characters are reacting the way they do. You ponder what made them say a certain thing or think about how they might actually feel. Then you examine some of their thoughts and actions based upon Scripture.

For example in the book Sarah noble wants to go visit the Indian houses. Her father takes awhile to answer and finally says she can go to one house only. They point out how Sarah waited patiently for an answer and then ask what you think her reaction would have been if her father had said no. They use Scripture that tells us to honor our parents and ask in what ways Sarah had honored her father in this situation.

Due to Gess' special needs we would discuss these types of questions verbally. She still struggles with why questions. She thinks concretely and always wants to answer the question in that way. If the question was about what happened in the story, she could tell you.  Why it happened she did not know. Thats why I think these study guides are good for her, they are helping her to learn to start thinking about it.

The Courage of Sarah Noble E-Guide was not interactive like the unit I reviewed last time. I really thought the interactive guides were great, but both seem to have their benefits. Gess prefers typing her answers as you can do in the interactive one but it was easier doing the vocabulary sections without the computer.

At the end of the study there are extra activities to do and other suggested reading. In the story The Courage of Sarah Noble her father is building a log cabin for her family so one of the activities was making one out of pretzels and graham crackers. This was lots of fun. They recommended using icing or cheese spread to hold the pretzels in place. I chose a honey nut cream cheese spread for this. It turns out to have become a favorite snack around here. You will find both Gess and her daddy spreading this on a graham cracker and then top it with pretzels, not to make anything, but just to eat it! Here is the actual log cabin that Gess made.

The Courage of Sarah Noble E-Guide sells for $11.99 and since it is electronically delivered you have no shipping costs. They offer study guides for many books in all grades including high school. To learn more about this and their other great selections visit the Progeny Press website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by visiting on the banner below.

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