Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sam the Minuteman Study Guide from Progeny Press (Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I'll be honest about my use of study guides for literature.  I had never used them in our homeschool up to this point.  My first goal was to encourage a love of reading, to teach the children that reading is something that we should do for pleasure, and then we could begin implementing study guides to further discuss, explore and analyze the books we enjoy.  Our core curriculum takes a gentle approach to discussing literature, but now that Elliott is in the 3rd grade, I feel more comfortable introducing full study guides as a learning tool.  So, given the opportunity to review a study guide from Progeny Press, we chose Sam the Minuteman.

What is Progeny Press?
Progeny Press produces literature study guides for K-12th grade.  They have chosen quality books, most are notable award winners, that are used frequently by classroom teachers.  They are a Christian-based company, but they do not shy away from books that deal with or mention "controversial" subject matter.  Instead they use this as a teaching point and direct readers to the Bible to discern how to handle complicated subjects and Biblical truths.

Sam the Minuteman
The Sam the Minuteman literature guide was written for the book Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley.  The book is a historical fiction, I Can Read Level 3 book and is about a young boy named Sam who lives on a farm in Massachusetts.  The story is about the beginning of the American Revolution, the morning after Paul Revere's ride.

Progeny Press Review

I chose this book and study guide because it is intended for K-3rd grade students and my boys are 1st and 3rd grade.  My 3rd grader would be the one primarily using the study guide, but I needed a book that would still appeal to my younger son as well.  I found the book great for both, but the material in the guide much more suited to my 3rd grader's level.

There are different versions of the guides available.  They offer physical books, a CD guide, or a PDF download.  We received the download version for the purpose of this review.  We already owned this book, but you can buy the books from the website (or borrow from your library) in order to do the study guides if you don't own it.  The guide is 42 pages and includes several sections.  There is a note to the teacher, a synopsis of the book, background and author information, and before you read activities.  Then the bulk of the study guide includes several types of activities.  We found basic comprehension questions and vocabulary activities, a crossword puzzle, cause and effect, T/F, similes and metaphors, lessons on courage, the liberty bell and so much more.  Then the guide finishes with after-you-read activities (neat hands-on activities!) additional resources and an answer key.



My Thoughts
I found the study guide to be very thorough.  I was thrilled to see even more quality literature selections recommended.  We paired this book and study guide with Paul Revere's Ride as recommended in the Before You Read section, and they complimented each other well.

There were quite a bit of language arts and Bible lessons extracted from a picture book.  It was much more detailed and longer than I expected.  It's recommended to do one page a day, and with the layout of the study guide, you're looking at a good three weeks or more on this one picture book.  I find that a little long for the interest level of my boys, but you can always go at your own pace.  If you work this as pat of a history unit study and do some of the more general lessons (Timeline, Declaration of Independence, Liberty Bell) as part of your history lessons, do the Biblical aspect as your Bible lessons, and of course the language arts subjects, you can do more each day and move through the guide much faster.  Otherwise I think my kids would get bored spending weeks on a single picture book.  I think 3+ weeks on a longer book or for older students is certainly appropriate, but for a simple picture book, we need it wrapped up in two weeks tops.

Overall, I can see why these study guides are popular.  The amount of information and quality of the lessons is very impressive, and I would certainly recommend Progeny Press literature study guides to other homeschool families.  For more information, be sure to check out the Progeny Press website, and read more crew reviews.  The crew reviewed a total of 8 literature guides from all K-12th grade levels, so you can see a larger variety of what they have to offer.

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