Friday, August 9, 2019

Digging Into Great Stories with Literature Guides from Memoria Press {A Homeschool Review Crew Review}

Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, we had the opportunity to review another product from Memoria Press this year. Memoria Press is a wonderful company that provides materials that follow the philosophy of a Classical Education. Though I don't consider us classical homeschoolers, I really do appreciate their materials and found they have added to our homeschool. We have used a variety of their materials from multiple subjects over the past four years. (Wow, has it really been that long since we were introduced to Memoria Press?!?) This time around, we received the Third Grade Literature Guide Set. This set includes the A Bear Called Paddington Literature Guide, the Mr. Popper's Penguins Literature Guide, the Charlotte's Web Literature Guide, and the Farmer Boy Literature Guide. Surprisingly, we actually used all of these guides during this review period. 

We were actually required to use just one of these guides, and I had every intention of using Mr. Popper's Penguins with Hannah as she had received that book for Christmas and was looking forward to reading it. And. . . she was my third grader, so when I requested this level, I was thinking of her. However, when I received the box with all of the guides, I had a sudden inspiration. Why not allow all the children to get involved and give them something specific to do for Language Arts during our Summer Session. Though all of these guides are from the third grade level, I noticed that the books were of various lengths. I figured I could modify as needed for the other children.

I realized the A Bear Called Paddington book would be perfect for Harold and I to work through as it is a bit shorter. I then asked Amelia to work on Charlotte's Web, and Tabitha to work on Farmer Boy independently.

As you can see, we received both a Student Study Guide and a Teacher Guide for all four books. We did have to provide our own copies of the novels. If you were to purchase this full set, the novels would be included. 

So, what exactly will you find in these guides?

The format of each of the guides is the same for all four novels, though the length does vary. 

The Student Guides begin with Teaching Guidelines. There are sections for "Preparing to Read," "Reading," and "After Reading." 

"Preparing to Read"
The teacher (parent) is directed to review and preview before reading the chapter. There are reading notes that introduce the student to key terms. You are also supposed to preview the vocabulary you will be coming across in the chapter. The words are given in context. And you are also supposed to read through the comprehension questions to help you focus as you read. 

Instructions are given on how to read the chapter. You are supposed to mark when you come across each vocabulary word and notice answers to the comprehension questions. 

"After Reading"
This section explains how to work through the sections of the study guide. There are:
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Quotations and Discussion Questions
  • Enrichment
  • Quizzes and Test (These are not actually in the student guide. They can be found in the teacher guide.)
Each chapter then has two pages worth of work.

The Reading Notes section lists several terms/people/places in bold and then gives a definition.
The Vocabulary section prints out a section of the text where the vocabulary word is found, bolding the vocabulary word. Then there are a couple of blank lines for the child to write the definition/synonym. 
The Comprehension Questions section asks questions that can easily be answered from reading the chapter. Three to four blank lines are provided for writing down the answers.
The Quotations section contains a quote from the chapter which can be used while discussing the chapter. Sometimes the student will be asked to answer a question about the quote, such as "Whom is this describing?" or "Who said this?"
There are then Discussion Questions to help you dig a bit deeper. These questions require more thought and may not have one right answer, you have to be able to infer at times. A key to these questions is in the back of the Teacher's Guide. 
And finally there is an Enrichment section. Here your child will complete different activities that may include more discussion, research, writing, or even drawing. 

Spaced throughout the guides are occasional sections to help the student review what has been learned so far. Additionally, all of the student guides except Mr. Popper's Penguins end with an Appendix.

The Teacher Guides begin with those same Teaching Guidelines. Then you will find the section that contains the chapter pages. These are identical to the student pages, except they include the answer keys for the Vocabulary, Comprehension Questions, and the Quotations (if applicable). Toward the back of the Teacher Guide you will find the Teacher Key which includes the Discussion Questions Key, Blank Quizzes, Exam Quizzes, and the Quiz and Exam Keys. The quizzes cover several chapters worth of information, and the Exam covers the entire book. 

So, how did we use these guides?

Harold and I worked on two chapters of A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond each week. 

First I read the Reading Notes, Vocabulary, and Comprehension questions to him. 

Then I read the chapter. 

As I was reading, I would jot down the page number where vocabulary words or answers to comprehension questions were found, so we could find them easier when we were ready to fill out the answers. We then spent some time figuring out what the vocabulary words meant (sometimes resorting to using the teacher key for the answer) and what the answers to the questions were. I wrote the answers down for him. Then I read the quotation and we discussed the discussion questions. 

Then we moved on to the Enrichment section. There were usually a few activities suggested. We usually picked one or two to complete. 

Here he is checking out sights in London after using the map found in the appendix.

Later on in the story, Paddington and the Brown family head to the seaside. One of the enrichment activities is to write about an experience at the beach. As the children have never been to the beach, I had Harold narrate a fictional story to me about what he thought it would be like if he went to the beach. I typed it out, enlarged the font, divided it into pages, and printed it out for him to illustrate. Here are the first two pages.

I have to confess, I had forgotten all about the quizzes that are supposed to be done after certain chapters. We actually finished the book and all the student guide activities, and then I flipped back in my Teacher Guide, and saw the quizzes. Oops. So, I sat down with Harold and we worked through the first quiz, which focuses on chapters 1-4. We probably would have had an easier time of it if we had taken it before reading chapters 5-8. I did notice that the guides for Charlotte's Web and Farmer Boy have review pages at the point where they would be taking the test. I sort of wish A Bear Called Paddington and Mr. Popper's Penguins did too. It would definitely be easier to note when the quiz had to be given. At least I am aware this for when Hannah gets to her first quiz.

I didn't want to write in the Teacher Guide, and I am trying to conserve ink right now, so I just took a blank piece of paper and wrote down the answers Harold told me.

Now, onto the guide that I had planned on being the only one I was going to use.

Hannah and I have been working on Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater.

Hannah actually read the book in its entirety prior to starting with the guides. She started as soon as we learned that we were chosen for this review. When she was finished, we started working in the guide, working at about a pace of one chapter (sometimes two) a week. We also had a week of no work when she was at summer camp. So, we haven't gotten quite as far as I was planning to.

We have been doing the "Preparing to Read" activities for each chapter, the same as I did with Harold. Then I read the chapter out loud to her, jotting down the page numbers where answers are found. One of the reasons it is taking her longer to work through the guide is that I am making her work on the vocabulary section independently (or as independently as she can, she does need help sometimes). I do still write down the answers to the comprehension questions for her. I had decided I was going to do this before I decided for sure we wanted to review these guides, because she had balked at the idea of having to all that writing. At first she was thrilled with the idea of the one-on-one time of reading the book. So, I didn't want to discourage her, so I told her I would write down her answers. This has been working out well. 

As I am doing with Harold, I allowed Hannah to choose one or two of the enrichment activities for each chapter. She enjoyed doing some illustrations, such as the Popper family, and this picture of Captain Cook in his new home:

We also spent some time looking up videos of people training penguins. 

Another one of the reasons we are working a bit slower is because we were waiting for the library to get in some books on Captain Cook and penguins for us to read. 

Amelia has been reading Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.

She's finished seven chapters and has made it to her first review section. After she finishes her review she will be taking her first quiz.

She has been working completely independently.

I have noticed that the enrichment activities in this guide tend to be a bit more advanced than they were in the guides for A Bear Called Paddington and Mr. Popper's Penguins. That actually confused me a bit, as they are supposed to be for the same grade. I do know Hannah would be struggling a lot more with these activities than the ones she has been working on.

She probably could have figured out this quotation review; however, I know she would not have been happy having to write out full passages like the one pictured above.

I like that the review pages have the student focus on elements of literature, such as character, setting, and plot. And while working on these elements, the student reviews different types of sentences (declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory). Amelia had to illustrate this storyboard after sequencing the events in the correct order.

The appendix is even more extensive than the one for A Bear Called Paddington. There is a biographical sketch of the author of Charlotte's Web, information about spiders, and there are poems to read, plus a labeled drawing of a spider.

Tabitha is also working through her book independently. Out of all of these books, Farmer Boy is definitely the longest. I've also noticed that it doesn't seem to capture Tabitha's attention as other books have, because she's been reading it a bit slower than her normal pace. As it is summer, I have been a bit lenient, and haven't been requiring her to work at a faster pace. Especially because she didn't ask to do this review. 

She has been getting through about a chapter a week, so she hasn't gotten to her review yet.

As you can see, the enrichment activities in this guide are about the same as they are for the Charlotte's Web guide. Lots of writing. 

She will also get to work on elements of literature, though she has drawing pages to illustrate her favorite chapter previously read, as opposed to doing the storyboards. She will also have vocabulary crosswords to work on as a part of her review.

The Appendix in this guide is quite informative. You will find a biographical sketch of Laura Ingalls Wilder, information of two 19th century primers (The New England Primer and McGuffey Readers), information, including pictures, of farm machinery of the 1800s, illustrations of some clothing from the 1800s, a recipe for Bird's Nest Pudding, plus a couple of poems related to farming. I thought it was really neat that Tabitha already knows these poems, seeing as they were included in the Poetry for the Grammar Stage Set available from Memoria Press that we reviewed back in March.

So, what do we think of these Literature Guides?
I think they are a great way for a student to dig into great stories. Not only are we improving our vocabulary, but we need to pay attention to what we are reading to be able to answer the questions. I appreciate that there are more literal questions, plus questions where we need to dig a bit deeper and learn to infer and think things through. The enrichment activities in the guides for A Bear Called Paddington and Mr. Popper's Penguins were a wonderful way to bring the stories to life. I love the chance to work on geography and delve into certain aspects of the story, such as researching London or Captain Cook. I definitely feel the guides for Charlotte's Web and Farmer Boy work better for my older girls than they would have worked for Hannah as the enrichment focuses more on copywork and literary elements. You don't really get to dig into things like we did with the other two guides.

I would definitely suggest working through these books from easiest to more difficult. This will allow the child to get used to the guides before being asked to do all the copywork. I do realize that the "easier" guides also have writing assignments, but I have allowed the children to dictate to me, which they couldn't do with copywork. 

Harold says he likes that he could answer questions and read the book again. His favorite part was doing the quiz together at the end.

Hannah says she likes that we get to read and draw different things, like Captain Cook's home in the refrigerator.

Amelia liked the literature guide because, "I got to think of things I never would have thought of without the study guide, like how to explain different words that you think you probably knew but when it asks you to explain it I couldn't' do it and had to look it up to see what it meant. I liked the chance to read the book.

Tabitha isn't a huge fan of working through comprehension questions, so she hasn't really enjoyed working through the guide. As a fellow bookworm, I completely understand her preference of just reading to read, as her mother and teacher, I know I have to make her use such things at times. 

All in all, I was very grateful for the opportunity to use these different study guides to enrich our homeschool. 

If you would like to see the other products we have used from Memoria Press, I invite you to check out my Memoria Press reviews. Over the past several years we have reviewed First Start Reading, D'Aulaires' Greek Myths, Latina Christiana Complete Set, Traditional Spelling II, New American Cursive 2, Poetry for the Grammar Stage Set (which I mentioned above), and Simply Classical Writing.

You can find Memoria Press on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

Don't forget to click the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of the Literature Guides they got to review. You will find reviews for guides for first grade through tenth grade.

First to Tenth Grade Literature Guides {Memoria Press Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting my blog today. I love to read your comments, so please leave me one if you have the time.

Related Posts with Thumbnails