Saturday, March 17, 2012

Progeny Press

Progeny Press
Literature Study Guides
Grades: K-High School
Price varies from $11.99 for Lower Elementary to $21.99 for High School for paper copies. CDs and email attachment options are available as well.

Progeny Press has over 100 study guides for literature, covering kindergarten through high school. Progeny Press study guides concentrate on critical thinking, comprehension, literary analysis, and Christian application. Our goal is to teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!

We were generously given two study guides to review...Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt. I am vaguely familiar with both books, but have never read them cover to cover. I would not be able to TEACH these to my children at this point in my life...but Progeny Press made the "teaching" so much easier for me with their Literature Guides. So, I will talk about them individually below...please note that some elements in the guides may be similar and talked about more in the first guide.

For those of you not familiar with The Screwtape Letters, Progeny Press gives a brief synposis of the book:
Screwtape, an undersecretary in the Lowerarchy of Hell, has undertaken the guidance and tutelage of his nephew Wormwood, who has been assigned a human patient to secure for eternity. In a series of letters, Screwtape guides the young demon through the finer points of temptation, the weaknesses and foibles of human beings, and the disaster of his patient becoming a Christian. Though this certainly complicates things, the two infernal beings won't let it stop them

Progeny Press suggests that you read the book in its entirety the first week and then use an additional 7-9 weeks to completely the guide (about one page per day). The guide is broken down into 2-4 chapter (letter) sections and includes sections such as Note to Instructor, Synopsis, About the Novel's Author and Background Information. I really appreciated those extras that gave a glimpse of the world C.S. Lewis was writing in and condensing the book to a much smaller chunk for busy Mommas.

Each Chapter in the Literature Guide has four elements:
1)Vocabulary-Sometimes multiple choice, sometimes matching, sometimes using context clues in the book to get a feel for what the word means and comparing that to the dictionary.
2)Questions- These can be answered directly from the book.
3)Analysis-This is where they really need to think critically and pull out information not directly spelled out in the book. This is a tough skill that my children will need all their lives.
4)Dig Deeper-This is the section where you look at the writing through the lens of the Bible, the ultimate source of Truth. I love that this step is a teaching not just accept things as true...go to the source of Truth and find out if it is true...This teaches them to be Bereans (Acts 17:11- Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true).

After these four elements, there are optional activities that encourage discussion and essay writing type assignments as well as activities such as finding a godly mentor, design a brief service of thanksgiving, critique a popular sitcom, make a point to experience simple pleasures, and much more. My oldest really enjoyed this book, but does not love to write...I liked that some of the activities were things to do, rather than sit and write.

Finally, there is an overview section that can be used as a final test, or it can be completed in the same way the chapter sections were completed.

Times are uneasy for the Matthew Creighton family, tensions rising between the north and the south as war between the states approaches. When war finally does break out, two of the grown Creighton sons, and the town's young school teacher and friend of the family, join the fight. They are expecting an easy victory for the Union, but it quickly becomes clear that victory will neither come easy nor soon. Then the last grown son, Bill, also leaves; but he does not join the Union. When word gets out that he has joined the south, the Creighton family finds the war in their own home, and division and strife rise between them and their neighbors. Nine-year-old Jethro is now the only son still at home. Soon after, his father suffers a heart attack, and it is now up to Jethro - as the only remaining 'working man' in the family - to do the work of five or six grown men.

Times are hard, and the work is endless, but the family's thoughts are ever with their three boys in the war. They live from letter to letter, and for each newspaper with accounts of the fighting.

As time goes on, young Jethro continues to care for his family the best that he can, and he discovers that a man's good character can be stronger than a gun, and last longer than a war.

The elements in the Literature Guide for Middle School Students are:
1) Vocabulary
3)Thinking about the Story
4) Dig Deeper

Thrown in to keep things interesting are sections on Idioms, Connections to History, and Optional Writing Activities.

I personally LOVE having printed copies of I printed off the PDF files and put them into a notebook. I did not realize until we were about halfway into this that there is an interactive aspect to the file where you can enter your answers right on the computer and save them. In this techy age we live in, I wish I would have noticed that. I think the boys would have preferred that format.

I also LOVE the list of titles that Progeny Press has created Literature Guides for. It is a wide range of great books. Since I picked these books for my older boys, I think I will let them each pick the next one. I like the idea of giving them some choices in what they study, but also stretching them to try new things.

I thought that the age ranges were pretty appropriate for the work given. Younger students in each range may need to have some assignments modified, but I thought it looked age appropriate.


See what my fellow crew mates have to say about Progeny Press here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

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