Saturday, October 10, 2015

Crew Review: Sarah, Plain and Tall Progeny Press E-Guide

Progeny Press Review

We've been using Progeny Press Literature Study Guides with our high school students for several years now. We love how thorough this Christian Literature Curriculum is - covering spelling, vocabulary, writing, comprehension, and deeper literary analysis. We enjoy allowing each student to pick their guides for the upcoming year, knowing they're tailoring their own high school English course to suit their interests, that it will be challenging and comprehensive, and that it will have a Christian worldview.

So, of course, I jumped on board when Progeny Press was added to the Schoolhouse Review Crew schedule. I decided to request an elementary level E-Guide instead of an upper level one, since we've never used it with our younger students. We received the Progeny Press EGuide for Sarah, Plain and Tall. We already had the book in our home library, so all we needed to do was download the E-Guide, print it, and go!

Progeny Press Review
Since my daughter hasn't used a literary study guide before, I decided to work through the unit orally with her, just as I did with her older sisters when they used unit studies. She has enough workbooks to fill in already, so we kept the study informal and relaxed. I always prefer a discussion method of teaching, so this worked well for us.

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

The Progeny Press E-guide for Sarah, Plain and Tall begins with a note to the teacher to explain how best to use the study guide. It also contains some background information on the author and the book itself. These can be used to introduce the story to your students, or it can be simply used for your own information.

Every Progeny Press guide includes Before You Read activities. We used the simplest ones, which included map work, and a discussion of mail order brides. I wish I'd taken the time to find the book Dakota Dugout to help introduce the book, but I didn't plan ahead enough.

Sarah Plain and Tall E-Guide includes an As You Read assignment, to take note of certain things in each chapter. If my daughter had been doing this on her own, we would have used that. Instead, I just asked her to be watching for them. We then talked about things she noticed in the chapters, after we read each one.

This particular Progeny Press Literature Guide broke the chapters into groups of three. Since there are only 9 chapters, there were 3 sections of questions, vocabulary, and other assignments. As I already stated, we did these orally, looking up the vocabulary together, discussing the questions aloud, and reading the Bible passages together.

The Sarah, Plain and Tall e-guide introduced story setting, similes and metaphors, comparing and contrasting, and paraphrasing passages. These were all age appropriate lessons for its targeted 3rd - 6th grade range. Though my daughter wasn't ready for the 4-6 page paper suggested as a Before You Read activity. We need to work on our writing skills more.

The study guide ends with a word search, summary questions, and a crossword puzzle. These are optional, but my daughter enjoyed the two puzzles. We covered the summary questions orally, again. In the future, I'd challenge her to do some portion of these study guides on paper, but cover some of it orally - slowly working her up to more written work and independence.

The After You Read activities were more hands-on and creative in nature. They included art projects, cooking, comparing the movie to the book, studying sea shells, and creative writing. We used the discussion questions, the sea shell idea, and viewed the movie. I kind of fizzled out and didn't follow through on the cooking portion or the creative writing assignment.

The Sarah, Plain and Tall guide didn't include a test. Some of the Progeny Press guides have overview questions that can serve as a test. The summary questions at the end of this one didn't seem to work well for a test, so we didn't use them that way. You could piece together a test of your own using vocabulary, but I didn't. I'm not particularly keen on testing for literature in these grades anyway. The writing assignments and hands-on materials work well enough.


ElCloud Thoughts

I have been impressed with every Progeny Press guide we've purchased. They've made teaching literature (especially in junior high and high school) so much easier for all of us. The discussion questions are already chosen, the pace of the book is already set, and there are writing assignments to choose from. We usually choose 4 or 5 guides per year, per student. (Actually, I let them choose what interests them.) For younger ages, you would need to supplement with additional grammar, spelling, and writing lessons. If you use the youngest guides, you'd also need to add in reading lessons. In the high school years, we supplement with grammar, spelling, and writing for 9th grade, then we only supplement with additional writing instruction in the last three years of high school.

One of the great things about Progeny Press guides is that you CAN re-use them with future children. Even if you buy a physical copy, permission is granted to photocopy it for use within your own family. We usually purchase the CD-rom so we can print new ones for each student, rather than photocopying a physical book, page by page. The digital files would work the same way, save it to your hard drive (and to a thumb drive for a back-up) and print a new copy for each new student. Even if you're buying 4 new guides a year, it's still affordable, especially if you factor in that you can use them again and again.

ElCloud Homeschool gives Progeny Press' Sarah, Plain and Tall Literature E-Guide a big thumbs-up! My daughter enjoyed the one-on-one study and it helped her understand the book at a deeper level. We especially appreciate the Christian worldview that the e-guide contained.

You can follow Progeny Press on facebook, youtube, or twitter.

Happy reading!
April E.


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