Progeny Press Review

Bookworm, as he is aptly nicknamed, loves to read.  He roars through books in no time.  It’s not unusual for him to pick out 5 to 10 novels at the library and finish them in less than a week.  While I love his reading habit, sometimes I worry that he’s reading too quickly and not picking up all the fine details in the novels he reads.

Luckily, Progeny Press has a solution in the form of their excellent study guides and e-guides.  Recently, the kids and I were given the chance to review an upper elementary E-Guide for The Door in the Wall ($16.99) as well as a lower elementary E-Guide for Frog and Toad Together ($11.99).

What Is Needed to Use the E-Guides

To use the E-Guides, Progeny Press recommends students have access to a dictionary, thesaurus, and a Bible as well as supervised Internet access.

How the Guide Should Be Used

For the middle and high school students, Progeny Press recommends that students read the book during the first week and then during the second week and on, work on one page of the guide per day.  Each guide takes 8 to 10 weeks to complete.

While that is the suggested way to use the guide, Bookworm didn’t want to use it that way.  Instead, he read two chapters and then spent the next couple of days answering the E-Guide for the two chapters he had read.

The Door in the Wall E-Guide

Progeny Press Review

How the Guide Is Laid Out

The Door in the Wall guide opens with background information about the author as well as the Black Death and canonical hours.  Then there are prereading activities.

The guide is organized in sections of two chapters at a time.

Activities in the Guide

Activities for each section include:

  • Vocabulary (read the word in the sentence, guess the meaning, and then look up the dictionary definition)
  • Questions (These are in-depth questions that make the student reflect on what he’s read as well as draw conclusions.  For example, one question is, “Brother Luke said, ‘Thou hast only to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it.’ What do you think he meant?”)
  • Dig Deeper  (In this section, students apply what they’re learning to their own lives and experiences.)

The end of the E-Guide included Additional Resources that listed other books by the author, Marguerite de Angeli, as well as books of related interest.

Frog and Toad Together E-Guide

Progeny Press Review

How the Guide Is Laid Out

The opening of this e-guide is the same as The Door in the Wall.  However, each section was only for one chapter, rather than two as The Door in the Wall E-Guide was.

Activities in the Guide

Activities for each section include:

  • Questions (These are basic questions about the story as well as asking children to guess what might happen if something in the story had changed, as well as moral questions.)
  • Projects  (These are fun activities that relate to the story such as creating a Phonics garden or making cookies.)

This guide also ended with additional resources.

Our Experience Using the E-Guides

The Door in the Wall

Thanks to some of the older language in The Door in the Wall, Bookworm found this book a bit challenging and confusing.  However, he said using the E-Guide helped him by walking him step by step through some of the more difficult vocabulary by showing him the sentence the word was used in, asking him to guess the meaning, and then having him look up the meaning.

He liked the format of the guide as well as the additional information he learned about chapels, monasteries, and the terms related to them.  He also liked learning about English history.

I thought Bookworm may have preferred the hard copy study guide, but he surprised me and said he liked the E-Guide better because he couldn’t lose it (boys!) and because what he typed was easier to read than his own handwriting.

Frog and Toad Together

The E-Guide was too difficult for Cuddle Bug (4), but she enjoyed doing some of the projects such as painting a picture of something that scared her.

PB & J Girl (5.5) could use the E-Guide for the most part, but some parts were difficult for her such as when one question asked, “What does it mean to be tempted?”

She also enjoyed the moral questions such as those that the E-Guide related to the story and Bible verses.

Most of all, though, she loved the projects and wanted to do every one!

Suggestions for Change

Bookworm suggested that The Door in the Wall E-Guide be broken down by single chapters, because with two chapters per section, he felt there were too many questions.

I think the upper elementary guides could also benefit from a Projects section as the lower elementary guides have.

Overall, though, the kids and I really liked the E-Guides, and I will definitely consider buying more in the future.

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