Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Progeny Press Study Guides: Miss Rumphius {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

There are some companies that I keep coming back to again and again. Progeny Press makes fabulous literature study guides that have been part of our school days for many years. In the past, we've used their guides for The Courage of Sarah Noble, The Giver, Treasure Island, The Bronze Bow, and Pride and Prejudice. (Note: all those links will take you to my previous reviews if you'd like to see more about those specific books and guides.)

This year Lauren and I have been using the Miss Rumphius Study Guide which is geared for first through third grade students. I intentionally picked a study that was appropriate for a younger audience with the intention of having Lauren work through it independently.

I've read many children's picture books over the years, but somehow I never found Miss Rumphius. This book is a real jewel. (I almost wish I had purchased a copy for ourselves instead of borrowing from the library.) It tells the story of a little girl who follows her grandfather's lead and sets three goals for her life. She easily accomplishes the first two goals, and then struggles to figure out her third goal.

If it hadn't been for our study guide, we would've have simply read the book a time or two, discussed it briefly, and then moved on to something else. The Progeny Press study guide helped us stretch the book out so that we could enjoy it for a few weeks, working on it a few times per week.

The thing I loved most about using this Progeny Press study guide with Lauren is that it forced her to truly think about the book. I wasn't able to use the materials as independent work for her as I had anticipated because the questions and activities required her to use higher level thinking skills that she cannot yet do on her own. For instance, the "Before-You-Read" questions listed three short Bible verses for her to read. Then she was asked to tell what those verses tell us about planning and whether planning is a good thing. We had good discussions about all of the questions in this section, discussions that would not have happened if I had just handed her the materials to work through on her own.

The study guide divides the activities about the book itself into three separate sections, each with about five or six pages worth of materials. For section two, there were three vocabulary questions where Lauren had to figure out a word's meaning based on the context, seven questions relating to the story line, six questions about the artwork in the book, and six "Dig Deeper" questions that related the story to three passages from scripture. We generally split these activities over the course of two days, rereading the book each day. As we read the story multiple times, Lauren began to notice new details. For instance, as we started to work on the last section of the book, she realized that Miss Rumphius's hair turned grayer as she grew older in the book. I also realized new little details with each additional reading and recently noticed that the narrator was named after Miss Rumphius.

The study guide concludes with After-You-Read Activities and a list of related books that we plan to look for at the library soon.

Progeny Press's Study Guide for Miss Rumphius didn't meet my original goal of giving Lauren an independent reading activity. Instead it gave us a rich learning experience worth every minute of our time spent together. These materials helped her learn to think more deeply about the book we shared and helped her build more mature thinking skills in general. I will definitely add more Progeny Press study guides to Lauren's school schedule in the future -- the part of the schedule where we work together, that is.

The Miss Rumphius Study Guide from Progeny Press costs $11.99 to download and is also available in either a printed version or on CD (price for those vary slightly and will incur a shipping charge). Our particular study was suitable for lower elementary ages, but Progeny Press offers study guides for books at all grade levels.

Progeny Press Review

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