Monday, March 12, 2012

Across Five Aprils Study Guide by Progeny Press TOS Review


As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I recently had the opportunity to review a literature guide from Progeny Press. They produce over 100 literature study guides for all levels from Kindergarten through High School. Progeny Press says about their guides:

"Progeny Press study guides concentrate on critical thinking, comprehension, literary analysis, and Christian application. Our goal is to teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"

PhotobucketI received a download copy of the study guide for the novel Across Five Aprils. Across Five Aprils is classified as American literature and takes place during the Civil War.

The study guide opens with a synopsis of the book,a brief biography of the author, and a description of the political/ social climate leading up to the Civil War. The beginning portion of the guide also features several literature based prereading activities to familiarize the student with causes of the Civil War as well map work showing the major battles and Union and Confederate states.

The study guide takes readers through two chapters of the novel at a time and focuses on several literary concepts. Vocabulary is addressed several ways. First students are required to define several words, determine word meaning from its context and then double check their guesses in a dictionary. Vocabulary words and definitions are presented to be matched. Another vocabulary activity is a multiple choice format. Another vocabulary exercise has the student use a thesaurus in studying definitions.

Next are several questions which ask the student to recall events from the book and analyze them. Several literary devices such as similes, synonyms, foreshadowing, hyperboles, juxtaposition,metaphor, personification, and idioms are reviewed and their uses in the text are studied. Some questions ask the student to examine the characters and actions in simple recall and application type questions. 

Students also study the characters' personalities, reactions to events, and events in general in light of Scripture passages. The student is directed to read one or more Scripture references and apply them to events or reactions discussed in the story.

There are also activities and questions which relate more to the historical context of the novel than the story itself. Topics covered here include studying various generals, battles, The Gettysburg address, and Lincoln's positions and assassination.

Each section concludes with one or two questions for group or class discussion and one or more writing activities.

Concluding the study guide is a brief study regarding plot and additional research and writing projects and suggestions. These activities feature more in depth study on people and battles of the Civil War. Students are directed to learn more about specific people as well as generic groups of people such as soldiers who fought for either the North or South.It is also suggested that students research some of the battlefields as well as visit, if possible. Researching the impact of the Civil War on the community where the student lives is also suggested.

At the end of the study guide is a list of other books by the same author and additional Civil War related resources and websites.  Brief biographies and qualifications of the study guide authors are included at the beginning of the product.

The suggested length of time for finishing a study guide is 8-10 weeks. The first week being used to read the book and then working on one section a week. 

Progeny Press also offers study guides covering the genres of British literature, Christian literature, World Literature, History, Poetry, and Shakespeare. Study guides are available in printed format, CD in pdf. format, or  pdf. format via email download. Novels/ books are also available for purchase from Progeny Press.

Prices for Across Five Aprils study guide are:
Booklet $18.99
CD $16.99
CD & Booklet $23.99
Email attachment $16.99

My Thoughts

My daughter enjoyed the interactive format of the study guide I received. This allowed her to write her answers directly into the document on the computer, rather than printing out papers that she would have to fill out. This interactive format takes some of the writing pressure off of her and makes the assignment less of a chore.She is quite capable of handling the material and analyzing the questions, but seemed to be overwhelmed with the amount of work presented.

In addition to questions regarding the plot and literary elements of the story there are a number of activities designed to help the student learn more about and understand the historical setting of the story. I appreciate having all of these and feel they are well chosen and designed.  However, since this is her first in depth literature study I don't want her to lose focus on the story therefore, I do not plan to have her do all the history related activities at this time. We will probably do more of those when we study the Civil War in our history studies.

I also like the scope of the study guide. By studying literary devices, their uses are made clearer to the reader than maybe found while just studying random examples. Seeing them in action may also help young writers use them in their own written work more easily and effectively. I am reading the novel myself and feel this guide is very complete and well done in what it covers from the novel. Most of the  points and elements I would have tagged as important as addressed in the study guide.

My only disappointment with the guide is a point or two regarding Biblical choice and application. A couple verses chosen and applied to story events do not necessarily mesh with my Lutheran beliefs.

Other members of the TOS Crew had the opportunity to review this same guide as well as guides for other novels. See what they had to say at the Crew Blog.


Disclaimer: I received a download copy of the above reviewed guide for the purposes of writing this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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