Most recently, we've been using The Courage of Sarah Noble Study Guide and The Giver Study Guide, and I continue to be impressed.
Both of our studies were e-guides and were accessed by downloading a pdf file. The Courage of Sarah Noble Study Guide was 38 pages long (including an answer key), and I printed it out to use with Lauren. The Giver Study Guide was 60 pages long, and the answer key came as a separate 9 page file.
The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh was perfectly suited for Lauren's reading level in terms of difficulty, and she was able to read one chapter per day to me during our regular reading time. She read through the entire book the first week, and then we started working through the study guide questions. Unfortunately, when we started working through the study guide questions, she struggled to remember details from the beginning of the book. We eventually settled on a pattern where I reread a chapter of the book to her, and then we would work together to complete the activity.
This study is the first time time that Lauren and I have really dug into a piece of literature, especially something that she has read on her own. Lauren liked the way that the vocabulary activities changed slightly for each section. Sometimes she looked the words up in a dictionary, sometimes she named a synonym for the vocabulary word, and sometimes she completed matching or multiple choice questions. She's a big fan of changing up the activities so that they aren't the same every day.
My favorite part of the study was helping Lauren make connections between different parts of the study. For instance, she became excited every time that Sarah Noble held her cloak because that meant that we could make another entry into our growing list of references to her cloak in the book. She surprised me several times during our discussions either by remembering specific details from the story or by making insightful applications when we discussed Bible verses in light of the story.
Lauren liked the way that the vocabulary activities changed slightly for each section. Sometimes she looked the words up in a dictionary, sometimes she named a synonym for the vocabulary word, and sometimes she completed matching or multiple choice questions.
The Courage of Sarah Noble Study Guide greatly enhanced our study of the book by guiding our discussions, helping Lauren find connections within the story, and relating scriptures to the topics at hand.
Our review period for The Giver Study Guide coincided with Brennan's two trips to visit his grandparents this spring. I sent him with a copy of The Giver and a printed copy of The Giver Study Guide. My instructions were to read through the book first and then to work through the study guide questions. He could either write down the answers or he could discuss them with one of his grandparents. The study guide included several essay topics throughout the study and additional essays to be written at the conclusion of the study, but I chose not to assign those while Brennan was away.
This product worked well in many ways for Brennan to complete while he was away from home, but he told me that he sometimes struggled to remember details from the book. (And since he's a junior high aged student that isn't a big reader, he was appalled at the idea of rereading the chapter to refresh his memory.)
The study guide follows the same general pattern as the study guide I used with Lauren. Each section of the guide covers approximately three to five chapters in the book. The vocabulary assignments vary slightly from section to section -- fill in the blank sentences, dictionary definitions, synonyms/antonyms, matching, etc. The remainder of each section includes a group of fact-based Questions and a group of Dig Deeper questions. I noticed several literary analysis terms being taught throughout the materials. For instance, the first section of work discussed the setting, later the term foreshadowing is introduced, and recurring themes are identified as they become evident. In the summary section of the study, the questions focus on identifying the theme, protagonist, and antagonist. Throughout the entire study, the Dig Deeper sections ask the student to read scripture and compare it to Biblical truths. For instance, after learning about many of the rules in the community, the student reads Old Testament passages and compares the rules in The Giver with the rules God gave the Israelites.
I will likely use more Progeny Press Study Guides with Brennan, but I will spread the reading assignments out throughout the study instead of assigning it all at the beginning. I was impressed with his thoughtful answers when he came home and I could see his work in the study guide. I think he would've made even more insightful conclusions if he hadn't struggled with the details.
Progeny Press remains one of my most-recommended literature products for homeschoolers. Their study guides take wonderful books and turn them into rich studies that encourage students to dig into the story and make lasting connections.
Progeny Press offers literature study guides for all ages (kindergarten through high school). Prices range from $11.99 to $21.99, depending on the level of the materials. The Courage of Sarah Noble Study Guide costs $11.99 and is intended for lower elementary study (grades 1-3). The Giver Study Guide costs $18.99 and is intended for middle schoolers (grades 7-9). Progeny Press offers a discount on their materials for military families.