Friday, October 9, 2015

TOS Review: Progeny Press Miss Rumphius Literature E-Guide

Progeny Press Review

Progeny Press recently sent us their Miss Rumphius Literature e-Guide Study to review in downloadable digital PDF format as part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. I've been curious about the Progeny Press study guides for several years now, so I was thankful for the opportunity to finally try one. I am also in need of a literature curriculum for the nearby future. I wanted to focus and be more intentional with teaching reading comprehension and vocabulary development using high quality literature. I truly believe that reading high-quality literature helps children gain skills that will cross into other subjects while developing vocabulary and reading comprehension.  
Progeny Press Review
Progeny Press offers over 100 literature study guides emphasizing a Christian perspective. The study guides are organized into four main grade range categories: Lower Elementary (K-3), Upper Elementary (3-5), Middle School (5th-8th), and High School (9th-12th). Each guide takes approximately 8-12 weeks to complete if you work on one page per day. You can easily slow or speed up the pace.

This 43-page e-guide study written by author, Dory Zinkand, is suitable for lower elementary students in 1st-3rd grade. The study guide is designed to be utilized with Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius book which is set in Maine early 1900's. The book is about the life of Miss Alice Rumphius which is narrated by her niece, Alice. The foundation of the book is based on the three goals Miss Rumphius set for her future as a child beginning with the memories with her grandfather. The book paints a picture of the adventures and experiences Miss Rumphius has as she explores the world and completes each goal. As an older woman, she engages the children's attention in stories about her travels. Miss Rumphius's young niece makes the same goals as her aunt aiming to make the world more beautiful. If you haven't read Miss Rumphius before . . . it is a story that will hopefully motivate your child to make the world a better place.

The picture book is NOT included with purchase of the study guide. However, you can purchase the book online or in stores for a reasonable price. You also have the option of borrowing the book from your local library. I already had a copy of this wonderful book in my book collection so we started the study immediately.

The study guide begins with information about the Study Guide Author. A Table of Contents follows the Peer Review Panel notification. It gives you a quick glance at the study guide layout and organization. There is a Note to the Instructor which explains the use of Progeny Press study guides. They recommend that the child has access to a good dictionary, a thesaurus, and a Bible (NIV optional). For some studies. you may also need a topical Bible or concordance, access to the Internet, and possibly an encyclopedia set. The Synopsis gives a paragraphed summary of the main ideas from the book. The study guide contains an About the Book's Author and Illustrator informational sheet which summarizes key points of Barbara Cooney's interests and accomplishments. The Before-You-Read Study contains activities that could be completed prior to reading the book. It provided us with several scripture references to consider which focused on planning, setting goals, and God's plan. The next part dived into a seed discussion relating to Bible scripture verses. The last activity was a seed hunt where observation was a means of exploring nature. The Before-You-Read Activities followed the Before-You-Read Study. Two core activities were mentioned. The first one stated that Alyssa could plant and care for lupines and the other activity consisted of marking and following Miss Rumphius's travels using a world map.  

The study guide is divided into 3 core sections. Section 1 is about Alice, the child, setting goals for the future. Section 2 explores Miss Rumphius's travels and her return home to live by the sea. Section 3 is about how the Lupine Lady makes the world a better, more beautiful place to live. This layout enabled Alyssa to see the different life stages of Miss Rumphius more easily throughout the story.

Section Activities Included:
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Looking at Artwork
  • Dig Deeper   
  • Projects and Activities
  • Grammar and Geography were also intertwined into the lesson.
The Related Resources sheet contained several booklists indicating books written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney in addition to related books of interests. The Resources followed the After-You-Read Activities. She made several beautiful lupine notecards as bookmarks for me at the end of the study. An Answer Key was also provided as a reference for the educator.

How We Used It
I used this study guide with Alyssa (almost 8 years old) as a supplement to her literature curricula. She is currently working on 3rd-5th grade level work as part of her core literature curriculum. My daughter has mastered basic phonics and most advanced phonics skills. We used the study 3-5 times per week for 30-45 minutes a day. We did double up work on several days and occasionally worked only 3 days a week. 

You'll need a computer with an Internet connection and Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the PDF files. I was sent an e-mail about the study guide. I created a store account and immediately downloaded the file from their website. I printed out several days worth of material, because we were preparing for a move and I knew my printer would soon disappear in a box. 
We used the study guide in the following way to keep the lessons short and sweet. We usually focused on one of the following sections per day which was the perfect work load for my daughter. 

Day 1: Before Reading Activities, Reading, Grammar, and Vocabulary
The study guide included vocabulary drawing activities which correlated with the guide. Alyssa drew pictures to understand vocabulary terms better which was an age-appropriate way for her to gain understanding. 
Drawing Vocabulary Words
She also identified the meaning of words within the context of the story by using the illustrations and surrounding words. A dictionary was used for one vocabulary activity. Other vocabulary activities included matching and multiple choice questions. 
Dictionary Skills

We wanted to plant lupines, but couldn't find the seeds in stock at our local gardening store. We discussed planting them next spring instead of during the hottest summer month in Texas. Alyssa did, however, create a list of well-thought out educational goals for the week as part of her Making Plans activity. I offered step-by-step suggestions to make the goals more attainable and realistic for the time period. 

She also reviewed the plural format for words that ended in f or fe. She was given a pair of sentences. She wrote and completed the second sentence with the plural form of the underlined word.   

Day 2: Comprehension 
I asked Alyssa to answer the story comprehension questions in written format so that she could practice answering using complete sentences. I knew I always had the option of asking her to respond verbally if it ended up being too overwhelming or if it took away from the enjoyment of reading the book. I was impressed with the types of analytical and literal questions about the character, setting, author's craft, and key ideas. 

Day 3: Bible and Character Study
The Dig Deeper and Looking at Artwork sections included a variety of thought-provoking questions that truly provided a meaningful and relevant connection between the reader and texts. The "Dig Deeper" section incorporates Bible scripture and character study features. The Miss Rumphius study emphasized honor and hospitality which were two character traits we haven't really studied thoroughly until now. We brainstormed ways for her to show hospitality and honor to others. I love that the study guide is biblically-based! This was one of our favorite sections to discuss! 

Day 4: Art Appreciation
The artwork integration was perfect because art lessons were set aside temporarily due to our recent move. The "Looking at the Artwork" section helped Alyssa focus her attention on details and the elements of art while appreciating the author’s illustrations. My daughter also noticed artwork within the illustrations of other books she read. She focused more in the details of illustrations after using this study. Her favorite artwork conversations occurred in the 2nd and 3rd section when the author discusses the significance and use of both dark and light shades. Alyssa was fascinated with the concept of perspective when exploring artwork. We are still unpacking boxes, but as soon as we find the watercolor paints she wants to paint a sea using dark and light colors to show depth. 

Day 5: Project Planning Day
We completed MOST if not all of the study in sequential order during the review period. She's currently finishing up her final projects in hopes to give one as a gift to a particular family member. I encouraged Alyssa to plan, organize, and create a few of the mentioned “after reading” projects on the fifth day. We did glance ahead to see what projects were coming. I also told her to think about a project that she could do that would enable her to beautify the world in some manner.

What I Liked
  • Downloadable PDF Digital Format Makes the Content Immediately Available
  • Variety of Activities
  • Vocabulary Activities Focus on Words in Context 
  • Thought-Provoking Comprehension Questions
  • Biblical Christian Viewpoint (Scripture Integrated into the Study)
  • High Quality Literature Selection Choice
  • Flexibility
  • Print What You Want When You Want
  • Can Supplement ANY Literature Curriculum
  • Profound Message
  • Integrated Several Subjects Including Geography, Art, Bible, Grammar, Literature, Science, and More
Geography: Scrambled Locations Traveled
Possible Cons
  • May Be Writing Intensive for Younger Children Within in the Age Range
  • Repetitive Content May Bore Some Children, but Repetition Helps Solidify the Learning Process. 
This study guide is available through the online Progeny Press store for the reasonable price of $11.99. The corresponding literature books are also offered at an affordable price.

Progeny Press products are available in 3 different formats including the printed bound copy, the CD with a PDF file, and the PDF in digital downloadable e-guide format.

Click the following link to see sample study guide pages

Overall Experience
Overall, the Progeny Press Miss Rumphius Literature Study E-Guide helped my daughter think deeper about the text she was reading which was one of my goals this year. It did enabled her to comprehend the story at a more analytical level. I really saw her thinking about each question and reflecting on what she learned when reading.

We both appreciate how the guide provides before, during, and after you read activities which sparked a deeper interest and captured her attention with regards to the topic before reading the book. Alyssa really liked hearing the profound message of this story and appreciated reading the selected literature book. She also enjoyed completing the activities, but said it was a lot of writing. I did ask her to write in complete sentences. This book has inspired and motivated her to do something important in our new neighborhood or community. My daughter also loves flowers and thinks lupines are stunningly beautiful. 

I believe Alyssa would have preferred using their Interactive Study Guide which would enable her to type in the answers so hopefully they'll offer this format in the future. According the the website, they have no plans to offer the Interactive format for the lower elementary study guide titles.

Are you looking for a study to supplement your lower elementary literature curricula? I recommend this study guide to Classical or Eclectic Christian educators. If you utilize a literature-based approach your will find this study appealing.

This study is complete and packed with activities that will challenge your child's level of thinking. If your child doesn't like writing, I recommend the upper elementary interactive guides so that they can type in their answers as opposed to writing everything. The study guides will definitely get your children thinking deeper about the story and relating the key ideas or themes to the Bible.

Listen to the story behind Progeny Press to find out more about the company. 

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Visit The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more Progeny Press reviews about the Miss Rumphius literature study guide and reviews for several other study guides including but not limited to Stone Fox, Tuck Everlasting, and Sarah, Plain and Tall.
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