Monday, June 2, 2014

Progeny Press- TOS Crew Review

You may remember a while back that I had the opportunity to review two Progeny Press Literature Guides.  We loved them at that time and were so excited to be able to review two more this year.  I might as well just say that they did not disappoint once again.  

Progeny Press ReviewProgeny Press, a company that specializes in study guides for Literature, allowed us to review The Giver ($18.99), an interactive E-Guide recommended for grades 7-9 and Frog and Toad Together ($11.99) E-Guide, recommended for grades K-2.  While there are 100s of titles to choose from, conveniently broken up into age groups, these two caught my eye immediately as both were on our reading list for the upcoming school year.  You can buy the books separately from the Progeny Press bookstore if you need them.  The guides can be downloaded as an E Book,  or purchased on a disk or as a printed workbook.  Many are now offered in an interactive downloadable style that allows your child to type the answers right onto the pages on the computer and then save them.  Each guide has a summary of events as well as notes about the author and several pre-reading activities.

Progeny Press Review
We used Frog and Toad Together for our "new" second grader.  This book is a collection of 5 short stories of two friends, Frog and Toad.  From adventures in the Garden, to making cookies and fighting dragons, each chapter is filled with laughter and fun.  For this particular guide, each chapter is covered separately.  Progeny Press recommends that you read the whole book first, but we found it easier to read a chapter and then do the corresponding pages in the guide.  The E book is a simple file to download and then we printed it off to use.  We added additional blank pages for projects that we did, making a fun little 3 ring binder for the final project.

Questions covered the who, what and whens of the story, as well as some open ended questions to get your child  to think outside the box.  My favorite part of the Progeny Press guides however, is that they are written from a Christian perspective!  (You can find their statement of faith on their website.) Each chapter introduces a related scripture or two and provides them to read.  They then take those scriptures and tie them to the story asking the child several questions pertaining to the subject.  For example- "How can a person know the right steps to take?"

In addition, each of the question sections are followed by a projects section- my son's favorite part by far!

In Chapter two, Frog and Toad grew a garden, and so the project was to plant a Phonics garden and to conduct an experiment to see if seeds that were sung to would grow faster than those that were not.

In another chapter we got to make cookies just like Frog and Toad, with the recipe provided.

In another chapter we talked about dreams and he loved drawing a picture of a dream he had and pretending he was asleep!  We also talked about fears and he drew pictures of things that scared him.

Additional activities included a Venn diagram and word search.  An Answer Key is provided at the end of the 30 page guide as well as a suggested reading list.

Since quite a bit of writing was involved I did have my son dictate to me his answers and I wrote them on the guide that we had printed out.  This freed him to make his answers any length, instead of settling for short so he did not have to write as much, and allowed him to just enjoy the process.  At CJ's request, we have already ordered an additional guide to begin in August and at that time I will have him write his own answers!

Progeny Press Review

For our 6th grader, we chose to read  The Giver, by Lois Lowry.  We had this book set aside for his 11th grade year actually, but when we saw it recommended for middle school ages, we thought we would give it a try.  If you are not familiar with this book, be forewarned, it is rather odd and pretty deep, but we would recommend it.  The story is about a young boy named Jonas who lives in a perfect world where everything is under the control of the "committee".  No choices!  Yes, this one will have you talking.  And talking!  Unlike Frog and Toad, The Giver comes in an interactive format.  We chose that because like many boys, my son is not thrilled with writing.  I felt that if he could type his answers into the computer directly it would save him some heartache.  The guide is broken down into sections of several chapters a piece.  Again, Progeny Press recommends you read the whole book first and then proceed.  I think as deep as this particular book is, that would be a mistake.  It worked well for my son to read the assigned chapters one day and then spend the next day or two completing the questions.

Each section, covering 3 chapters, began with a vocabulary review.  Those were followed by several sections of questions including the Dig Deeper section.   This section introduces scripture and really gets your child to think outside the box.  Surprisingly, this is the section my son enjoyed the most.  Afterwards there were often discussion questions or an extra writing assignment.  At the end of the guide is a section with suggested essay topics as well as an additional resource list.  A separate answer key is provided.

So does the 12 year old love the guide?  Not really.  But he did it and I think was pleased at what he learned.  We also enjoyed a few very good conversations about this book because of questions that he had to answer.  One of the great things about Progeny Press Literature guides is not only do they test reader comprehension, but they take them even further into the story, asking deep questions and teaching some truths about faith and scripture!  Because of that, we will continue to use them and hope the 12 year old eventually drags his heels a little less! ;)

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