Inside: Looking for literature guides for elementary that go along with great books and make your job easier? See the great resource I discovered!
I love doing read alouds in my homeschool, but sometimes a book has so much to teach it’s nice to have a guide with all the lesson plans prepared for us to go with it. I reviewed The Drinking Gourd Study Guide for Grades 1-3 by Progeny Press and found it to be a great teacher resource.
Who Is Progeny Press?
Progeny Press is a company that creates study guides to use with literature books. They want children to enjoy reading while helping them understand the themes, ideas, and elements an author weaves into his story.
What Materials Are Needed with a Progeny Press Guide?
You can purchase Progeny Press guides as either a download or on CD. Other than the cover, they are black and white, making them inexpensive to print. They allow copying for families or co-ops, which is nice.
Starting in the upper elementary grades, the e-book pdf guides are interactive and can be filled in on the computer instead of being printed if your child would prefer that method.
The only recommended materials needed are a dictionary, thesaurus, Bible (they use the NIV translation but you can easily substitute this with the version of your choice), and occasionally the internet for research.
Progeny Press has Pinterest boards for every guide they sell where you will find tons of other creative ways to make this hands-on for students who need a more tactile or kinesthetic approach. I checked several of them out and there are some fun ideas to include!
How Long Does a Guide Take to Complete?
These studies use shorter books or the “I Can Read Series” (Level 3), so there aren’t a lot of chapters to read. The lower elementary guides should only take you two to three weeks to complete, but could easily extend to a month.
There are a lot of activities included and if your child gets excited about something he learns, you could spend some extra time on that topic. A lot will also depend on whether you do it every day or a few days a week.
How Does a Progeny Press Guide Work?
The literature guide I used was broken into the following parts:
Synopsis of the book
They give a short synopsis of the book at the beginning to help the parent or teacher understand what the text is about. Think of it as the Cliff Notes.
It’s impossible for us as homeschool parents to know everything we teach our children ahead of time. In fact, many of us are relearning things alongside our children. I appreciate the background information Progeny Press provides to refresh my memory about the historical dates and events associated with the book. This is a time saver because I don’t have to research information before we begin.
Before You Read Activities
There are activities you can do with your student which gives him a foundation and a better understanding of what he is about to read. Students comprehend more when they have this background information.
After You Read Activities
Either during the reading, or when the student finishes the book, there are more activities you can have your child do. Some of these include creative writing and others are fun ideas related to something from the work. You could use the writing assignments for a grade if you wanted.
Book List for Further Reading
They provide a book list for further reading if you want to continue learning about a particular subject in the book. Each one lists the grade level to make it easy to select an appropriate one.
An answer key is provided for all the questions in the guide. This makes it easy to check over the work without having to go through the book looking for answers if your child did some of the work independently.
This particular guide covered the following areas:
- Mapping skills
- Critical thinking
- Creative writing
All the guides can be used as a full literature program or as a supplement to other curricula.
My daughter is not a huge fan of reading, and especially not having to do extra work with it. However, The Drinking Gourd was very interesting and the guide and activities that went along with it kept her attention and she didn’t mind doing them.
The critical thinking questions helped her better understand the Biblical and historical concepts being taught in the book. While she knows about slavery, we haven’t covered the underground railroad yet so this was new to her. It opened up the opportunity to discuss right from wrong, freedom, and other important topics.
As a homeschooler, I appreciated the fact that they incorporate several subjects in their literature study guides for elementary and we could cover so much at one time.
I have been looking for an easy way to teach literature in a unit study format without having to add another subject to my daughter’s day. This was perfect. These could also be used in a morning basket. We’ll use more of these in the future.
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