Friday, June 14, 2019

Working on English Skills Using Great Literature with Lightning Lit {A Homeschool Review Crew Review}

In the past, I've had the pleasure of using two different levels of Lightning Lit from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources. Amelia has used both Grade 1 and Grade 3, which we really enjoyed. As you can imagine, I was excited when the opportunity arose, thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, to review another level. This time, I decided to give Harold the opportunity to try it out, so we have been using the Grade 2 Lightning Lit Set. I have to say we've been having a blast reading great children's literature and using it to work on comprehension, grammar & mechanics, and composition. 

We received the two book set of Lightning Literature & Composition Grade 2 by Elizabeth Kamath. There is a Teacher's Guide and a consumable Student Workbook.  

In order to use this curriculum, we also needed to find the children's literature books that are required for each week's readings. Thankfully I was able to find all the books we've needed so far at the library, though we are still waiting for one to arrive from interlibrary loan. These are the books we have read so far:

The only other supplies that are required for using this literature curriculum are normal school supplies, such as pencils, paper, and crayons. However, this time around, I decided to take the perforated pages out of the bulky workbook and store them in a binder. It sure makes them easier to write on, though we have had issues with the paper next to the holes ripping so a few of the pages are now falling out of the binder. Oops.

Let's take a look at each of the books. 

First, the Student Workbook:

This softcover workbook is 354 pages in length and has perforated pages in case you would like to place them in a binder as we did. As you can see, the pages already have the holes punched out. There are 36 weeks' worth of work in this curriculum, just right for a normal school year. The majority of the weeks you will be using picture books, one per week. However, The Random House Book of Poetry for Children is scheduled to be used in weeks 8, 16, 25, and 33. Additionally, toward the end of the year you will be reading chapter books with your child, and each of those are spread out over 2-3 weeks. 

Here is a list of the books you will read with your child in addition to the poetry book:
  • Max's Words by Kate Banks
  • The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
  • The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco
  • Teedie, The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt by Don Brown
  • Insect Detective by Steve & Charlotte Voake
  • The Three Questions by John Muth
  • La Mariposa by Francisco Jimenez
  • Sequoyah by James Rumford
  • Anatole by Eve Titus
  • Pop's Bridge by Eve Bunting
  • The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
  • The Extraordinary Mark Twain by Barbara Kerley
  • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl
  • Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
  • Many Moons by James Thurber
  • Sam, Bangs & Moonshine by Evaline Ness
  • This is New York by Miroslav Sasek
  • The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh
  • A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Fairmont Avenue by Tomie dePaola 
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
  • Winnie-the-Pooh by Ernest H. Shepard (this is an optional, extra read-aloud)
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (another optional, extra read-aloud)

The first thing you will find is a Table of Contents. After that the majority of the workbook is dedicated to the worksheets that go along with the stories. Each week is between 8-12 pages in length. The first page is a colorful title page, then there are four days worth of work. During the week your child will work on different grammar and mechanics skills. A certain lesson will be introduced on Day One, and will be expanded upon in the lessons on Days 2 and 4. On Day Two the student will also work on writing what the story was about, plus sharing what they thought of the story and a favorite sentence. The writing portion is done after you have discussed the book using discussion points in the Teacher's Guide. Day Three has children working on word and or sentence order, or somehow playing with sentences. 

I appreciate that the grammar lessons connect to the story. For example, we learned about alphabetizing on Week 1 when we read Max's Words. In this story, Max collects words and organizes them in different ways. There are lists of words for the child to alphabetize on Days 1 and 2. Some of the words even connect to the story. During this week Harold also worked on word order to make good sentences. I love that the words in this activity are pictured as if they have been cut out of magazines or newspapers, just like the words that Max collects.

And then, during Week 2, when we read the book titled The Old Woman Who Named Things, we focused on nouns: common, proper, plural, and possessive. On Day Three Harold practiced word order again by putting together sentences from the story.

In Week 3 we read The Bee Tree, which is full of action. So, it seems logical that we were learning about verbs, both present and past tense. And again, there was a day where Harold had to work on sentences, this time finding the words to complete the sentences. On Day 4, Harold had to match present tense verbs to their past tense forms.

We had to skip Week 4 as we are still waiting for Teedie, The Story of the Young Teddy Roosevelt to arrive via interlibrary loan. So, during our fourth week we did Week 5, which had us focusing on punctuation with the book Insect Detective.

This book is an informational, non-fiction book. All of the sentences that we worked on gave us information about insects. And I just love all the bugs crawling around on the pages. The most colorful page so far is the one where Harold had to fill in the correct insect for the sentence.

As you can see, the curriculum does a great job of incorporating the story into the grammar/mechanics lessons. That is one of the things I've liked about Lightning Lit since we first reviewed it four and a half years ago.

As we work through the book during our summer session and into our next school year, Harold will be learning quite a lot of grammar skills: adjectives, quotation marks, plurals with es and ies, letter writing, pronouns, articles, adverbs, homophones, commas, compound words, linking verbs, synonyms,  antonyms, compound predicates, contractions, plural possessives, and conjugating verbs. We will also be working on sentence diagramming.

The back of the Student Workbook contains a 26 page "dictionary" where children can write down words. These words may be new to them or may just be one they found fascinating for whatever reason. Each letter of the alphabet has a page with room for 16 words. We actually haven't been using this dictionary, as we used the option given in the first lesson to create a "word collection" just like Max did.

Harold has been coming up with words, either from the story or just words he thinks about, and he places them in one of the several categories he decided upon. He decided to write the words on construction paper and then cut them out and glue them on another page. When we are done, we will staple the pages together to make a book.

Even though Hannah isn't using this curriculum, she loved the idea of making a word collection. She however decided to follow Max's lead, and has been cutting words out of the newspapers.

This has been a fun hands-on activity for Harold and Hannah.

While the grammar portion of the program is wonderful, that isn't all there is to Lightning Literature & Composition. I've already mentioned that we discuss the story before Harold dictates what he wants to write in the Reading Journal section on Day 2. I write it out on lined paper and have him copy it.

He also has to answer literal and inferential comprehension questions and work on a composition each week. The details for these activities are found in the Teacher's Guide.

The Teacher's Guide is a 350-page softcover book. The pages in this book are not perforated. This book also begins with a Table of Contents. There is then a 10-page "How to Use This Teacher's Guide" section. It explains how this curriculum is composed of Literature, Grammar and Mechanics, and Composition. Information is also given for tailoring the course to your specific needs, sharing the optional portions of the program. Instructions are given for how to prepare for the week. Then there are explanations of each section (Literature, Grammar and Mechanics, and Composition) for each day of the week. This introductory section ends with a "Note About Sentence Diagramming."

Each weekly lesson begins with a "Week at a Glance" which let's you know which book you will be reading, the optional reading selection (Winnie-the-Pooh or Just So Stories), Optional Materials for the week, the Grammar and Mechanics that will be taught, plus the kind of composition that will be worked on.

The Teacher's Guide does a wonderful job of walking the parent through the lesson. Here is a look at some of the pages.

This shows the comprehension questions for The Old Woman Who Named Things. I love that it also includes the answers.

Guidance is given for discussing the book on Day 2. The idea is to help your child touch on the Story, Character, Setting, External Details, Internal Details, and Conflict, without really using those words.

Answers are also given for the workbook pages.

You will also find daily instructions for writing the week's composition. 

Even though we decided to do the optional word collection, or "Word Book" as we are calling it, we also did Week One's composition assignment, which was not required. We were to use the last line in Max's Words to create a story. Harold dictated a story to me, then I typed it out and printed it in large font for him to cut apart and glue to pages. Here he is, working on illustrating his story.

Each week there are also extension activities. In Week 5 there are tons of suggestions right in the Insect Detective book that we are to choose from. Harold decided he wanted to dig a hole in our yard and place a jar inside it to see what kind of insects we could discover.

All-in-all I absolutely love Lightning Lit Grade 2. I love introducing my children to new literature selections. I've found some new favorites myself and have wondered why I had never heard of some of these books. We get to discuss the books and work on English skills in fun ways. This program is engaging and comprehensive, it has varied activities, including hands-on fun. I highly recommend Lightning Lit Grade 2.

I also invite you to read what I had to say about Grade 1 and Grade 3. Hint: they were great too!

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Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about various levels of Lightning Lit  (both elementary and junior high grade levels), plus other courses Hewitt Homeschooling Resources has available. 

Lightning Literature, My First Reports, State History Notebook & Joy of Discovery {Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Reviews}
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  1. This sounds like such a fun curriculum - so many great parts to it to make sure one's child is receiving a complete education.

  2. What a great review. We reviewed this, but I chose a level that was actually a tad too high for my son. I purchased one from a crew member for this year and am excited and hoping it will be a better fit :)


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