Progeny Press is the publisher of a huge assortment of literature study guides for students of all ages, from young readers all the way through high school. These study guides fill a unique niche in that they approach literature study from a Biblical worldview, so parents rest assured that the content of these study guides will align with their Christian values. The guides are conveniently organized according to grade level, making it easy to find the right story for each child. For the past several weeks, my boys have had the pleasure of using a couple of the Progeny Press study guides: The Door in the Wall (upper elementary level) and The Giver (middle school level). Today, we are happy to share our experiences and review.
About the Guides
Progeny Press interactive study guides are an easy, flexible way to incorporate literature study into any curriculum. They all come in PDF form, available either on CD or as a digital download. The PDFs can be opened and printed out as needed. The best part is that they are also interactive PDFs, meaning students can also type their answers directly into the form, and then save their file or print it out for their records. This feature is wonderful for those who might not be good at, or enjoy, a lot of written work, or for those who need extra practice with their keyboarding skills.
The guides begin with a note to the instructor, explaining how to use the study guide. This is followed by other helpful information, including a story synopsis, a brief author biography, background information concerning the time period or setting of the story, and suggested pre-writing activities. The next several sections include chapter-by-chapter review questions, followed by a listing of additional resources (suggested books or videos) to round out the study. The answer key is also included at the end of the guide.
The Door in the Wall ($16.99)
My younger son worked through the study guide for The Door in The Wall by Marguerite de Angeli. This study guide is intended for students in upper elementary level, approximately grades 4-6.
The study guide is broken down in order to review 2 chapters at a time. These sections all include vocabulary work,which may include using a dictionary to define words, multiple choice questions, or matching exercises. The guide then presents a series of questions, including those based on the events of the story, some that are based on elements of a story, and then some that call for personal reflection by the student. “Dig Deeper” questions often include Scripture references, and ask students how they might relate that to the story. Some chapters also include additional questions for discussion, as well as extra activities on topics such as fact vs. opinion, and similes and metaphors. The conclusion section of the guide then asks questions regarding the overall plot and theme of the story.
The Giver ($18.99)
My older son used the study guide to accompany The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is from Progeny Press’s middle school offerings, and intended for students in grades 7-9.
This guide has many of the same features as the upper elementary level guide, plus some additional activities. Because this book is longer, the guide is broken down into sections of 2 or 3 chapters at a time. Each section begins with vocabulary, which can include writing definitions, matching, fill-in, finding synonyms and antonyms, and understanding connotative meaning. The questions are also much like those in the upper elementary, but in greater number and depth. This guide also includes a summary section that includes several question regarding elements of a story. Following the summary, this guide includes a number of writing prompts for student essays, which are expected to be 1-2 pages long.
How We Used the Guides
For both boys, I thought that completing one section per week would be a good, steady pace for us. Because we try not too do much of our schoolwork on the computer, I decided that printing out the week’s section would be the most sensible option. For the first day or 2 of each week, at our typical reading time, they read the chapters for the current section, and then the remainder of the week was devoted to completing the study guide questions. The boys loved the flexibility this offered them. They could complete the questions in any order they liked, as long as the section was completed by the end of the week. They also liked the idea that they did not have a set daily schedule with it. If they wanted to work faster, they were free to do so. Or if we had to skip a day here and there due to an activity or event, we knew it was no problem, as there was no danger of messing up a strict schedule. They also
Our Final Opinion
We really enjoyed working through these study guides. We love the idea that we can pick and choose the guides we want to use, rather than being locked into a series of books found in a structured literature course, which may or may not include stories that appeal to us. We also love the flexibility they have offered us, both with regards to scheduling, as well as format options of either computer or print. I personally like the variety of activities offered in the guides, especially the extensive vocabulary sections, and the questions requiring personal reflection. These guides have been a great help to us for improving reading comprehension, expanding vocabulary, and studying elements of a story. They are simply the best study guides we have ever used, and we highly recommend them!