October 11, 2015

A Literature Study Guide for Miss Rumphius {Product Review}

We have had the award winning children's book Miss Rumphius on our bookshelf for awhile, but have yet to read it. When I had the chance to review a study guide from Progeny Press, I eagerly asked for digital download study guide Miss Rumphius, so we could finally explore this beautiful book. I hoped that the study guide would be along the lines of our favorite style, the unit study and had high hopes for this highly recommend company.

Product Information

Progeny Press Review
Progeny Press is known for their high quality literature study guides throughout the homeschool world. Their mission statement makes it clear why--they want to help children think clearly, to understand literature, to turn to the scriptures for truth and values...and to enjoy doing it! 

These Bible based study guides, help your child to analyze literature through vocabulary, comprehension questions, illustrations, thematic activities, and more! There are study guides for grades k-12 broken into four categories: Lower Elementary (K-3rd), Upper Elementary (3rd-6th), Middle School, and High School. Each grade level contains guides for many classic award winning books (ex. Courage of Sarah Noble, Charlotte's Web, The Giver, Jane Eyre), as well as some popular books (ex. Hunger Games, The Magician's Nephew, The Hiding Place, Fellowship of the Ring). The study guides are available as digital downloads ($11.99), printed workbooks ($24.99), and CD's ($21.99). There are complete answer keys included with each study guide. The books are not sold with the study guides, but they can be purchased through the company.

The study guides are designed to be used over 8-12 weeks doing about a page a day, though some of the elementary books can be done in much less time. 

We were given the digital guide of Miss Rumphius (Lower Elementary/K-3rd) to use with Baby Britches who is in Kindergarten. 

How Did We Use This Product?

My download information arrived via email, and I easily went and downloaded the study guide to my computer. The study guide breaks the book up into sections--this particular book was broken into three sections. Every section in this study guide contained the following:

*Vocabulary
The study guide included words from the story to be defined, words from the story to be guessed from context, and some grammar work.

*Questions from the Story
This portion was strictly story comprehension questions. Most were simple one sentence answers.

*Looking at the Artwork
Encourages the reader to look at the illustrations in the story and answer questions based on what they see. Some are definite, other questions are open ended.

*Digging Deeper
This section included additional activities (think rabbit trails), Bible work, art projects and more. It analyzes something from the reading and takes it further.

This study guide also included a "Before You Read" section which introduced us to our topic of goal setting and had a little nature study relating to seeds/plants.

As I usually do, I chose to look over the guide before printing it out and then only printing out about a chapter's worth at a time. I began with the "Before Your Read" and the first section of the study guide and we got started.

Miss Rumphius is a delightful picture book about a little girl named Alice, who grew up next to the sea with her grandfather. When she was young she set two goals for herself: to travel the world and live by the sea. Her grandfather encourages her to add a third goal: make the world more beautiful. The rest of the book follows Alice as she grows up and accomplishes her first two goals--and then shows how she decides to fulfill the third goal. The book itself is a must read with the gorgeous illustrations.

Some of the things that we did using the study guide that were part of the extra activities:

*read the Bible about goal setting
*did some research on seeds
*did watercolor paintings to show sea and sky
*learned about lupine flowers
*read the Bible about taking care of the earth
*made lupine note cards and mailed them to people
*found exotic countries on the globe
*tasted coconut water

We completed this book and study guide in 1 1/2 weeks choosing to do one section per day over 4 days.

Here are some photos from our use of this product:
The study guide with our open ended question
Collecting seeds

Watercolors of sea and sky
I even got in on the act! I love painting!

Some seeds
We had so much more that we did, but these were some of the more exciting things we did as part of the study guide.

What Are Our Thoughts on This Product?

One of the first things I noticed about the study guide is that though this is geared towards lower elementary, including Kindergarten, it is not WRITTEN for a Kindergartner to be able to complete. The open ended questions were much too vague for a 5 year old, the grammar lessons were for a 2nd-3rd grade level, and the Bible portions question and answers were in general too advanced for a typical 5 year old. On the other hand, the activities were very adaptable for an early elementary level, as were many of the comprehension questions, as long as they had concrete answers. 

I realized all of this after just scanning over the first two sections of the study guide, and made a decision to include my 4th grader in this review. The two boys worked together to complete the questions ORALLY and my older son did all the vocabulary exercises that were too hard for Baby Britches. Little Britches (Age 9) had no problems with any of the work and found it easy to complete.
We enjoyed the extra activities connected with the study guide. The boys enjoyed seed hunting and sorting very much and they adored painting. They both had fun finding the countries on the globe too. They both enjoyed the book, though they agreed with each other that it wasn't very exciting. 

We found that the extra activities MADE the study guide. It wouldn't have been as enjoyable without them and all of them were very feasible for us to do without having to purchase or find extra things.
The lower elementary guide we used could not be stretched to longer than 2 weeks without boredom setting in, especially since they are kind of designed to only read a portion of the book each time. I would even go so far as to say that the picture books like Miss Rumphius really are a one week unit. 

I think that I would prefer to use a printable workbook, but at the cost ($24.99) I will probably always end up with a digital one. That being said, I would like to see a lower price point on the study guides for the elementary grades in general--especially the lower elementary. The books themselves are shorter, and thus the guides are not as long or as detailed, yet they cost the same as the high school guides. I think something in the $7 range would be much more affordable considering what you are getting. I do believe the cost of $11.99 for the digital guides is good for the longer guides in the middle school/high school and well worth the cost.

Would I Recommend This Product?

We had a good experience with this product and I would be comfortable recommending it...with a few notes. I would not advise using it if you are just going to do it with a child in the 5-6 year old range. Though the company says that the lower elementary guides are good for K-3rd, I think the material is too advanced for anything less than 2nd grade. I highly recommend looking at the samples of the study guide before making your decision. 

That being said, I think this guide is PERFECT for someone wanting to use ONE guide for multiple ages. If you have several students falling in the K-3rd grade level, it will be easy to work through together as we did. Some of it could be done orally for they younger students, while the older students can write out their answers. The projects are excellent for multi-age.

So, will I use it again?
Unless the price point comes down for the elementary level to the range I mentioned, we will probably not be turning to Progeny Press for the elementary level guides. BUT, I will definitely be considering them for the middle school/high school level, as I believe they are excellent and priced well. They have exactly what I want for a literature study...and I know they carry guides for many of the books I plan to incorporate into our curriculum later on. 

Want to Know More?

We were given the digital download study guide of Miss Rumphius from Progeny Press. We enjoyed using the guide and exploring this great book. Make sure you visit my fellow crew members to read about their thoughts on the guides they used--especially the ones for the higher level grades!
Progeny Press Review
You can stay in touch with Progeny Press to learn more about their new releases and sales via these social networks:
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http://facebook.com/ProgenyPress
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http://youtube.com/progenypress
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http://twitter.com/progenypress 
 
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We enjoyed reviewing this product and had fun with all the activities that were included. It definitely fit our unit study style and was enjoyable for us all.
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