Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sarah Plain and Tall From Progeny Press–Another “Wow” Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

Progeny Press Review
I don’t think that it is any secret that the Tinkel family is a reading family. Both Sarah and I were blessed with reading parents who read all of the time. It was just natural for us to love reading from an early age. We wanted to instill that love of reading in our children as well. John Allen caught that love at an early age thanks to some fantastic elementary school teachers that he had for the few years that he went to public school. Joshua and Jacob have learned to love reading as well, but it has been a little more difficult because of their learning challenges. Because I have of there learning challenges I was skeptical when it came to using reading unit studies. Although he is improving, Jacob is not up to level in his reading, and Joshua is so literal that I have to explain many things to him. John Allen, our oldest, has used literature unit studies before so I knew what they were like and wondered how effective they would be for the two youngest until recently. A few weeks ago we reviewed and loved a wonderful book and unit study. Although I used it as a read aloud and we did the questions and projects together, they soaked everything in. Still, when the opportunity to review the downloaded unit study for Sarah, Plain and Tall from Progeny Press I pondered whether another study would work or not. After all, different companies produce different types of material. Would the Progeny Press Study Guide for Sarah, Plain and Tall work for them as well as the other study guide did? Would they enjoy it as much? I shouldn't have worried at all! It worked just as well and the kids loved it just as well. Let me tell you all about it!

I chose the Progeny Press Sarah, Plain and Tall Study Guide that is downloadable and interactive for several reasons. I had read Sarah, Plain and Tall by Sarah MacLachlan and knew the story so that helped. It was also considered and upper elementary - first through sixth grade level unit study that was right in the middle of where the boys were and seemed to fit them both.

I really liked the background info that they provided for the book. It really helped me gain an understanding of the time period and the way of life of the people who lived on the plains during that time. I had read the book before, but if I hadn't, the summary would have been excellent for me as well. Both of these sections helped or would have helped me when going through this study with the kids.

Just as the background info helped me to get ready for the story, the "Before You Read Activities" helped my boys to get ready. We love geography so the suggested map work activities were a given for us. The pen pal suggestion was also really neat. We know a lot of people from around the world since we are missionaries, but I had never thought about a pen pal for the boys. We may have to try that one. Some of the other suggested activities were to do some history research, some discussion questions (which we also used and was very helpful) and a read aloud story that was set in the same time period.
Progeny Press Review
The "As You Read Activities" are really the heart of this unit study though. The Sarah, Plain and Tall Study Guide divided the book up in to three parts that covered three chapters each. I used the book as a read aloud for them and we would read three chapters and then do the questions. It was easy to do this in a couple of days because the chapters are short. Each group of questions included a vocabulary section, reading comprehension questions, "thinking about the story" questions, and "dig deeper" questions. There were also a couple of sections based on similes and metaphors, one that talked about comparisons and one that talked about the setting. The questions took on many forms such as multiple choice, fill in the blank, answer the question or age appropriate short essay questions. Since we were doing the unit study together, I would often ask one of my sons what they thought and then the other before we discussed it together. Then the next questions I would make the opposite son go first. I really liked the dig deeper section because Progeny Press, a Christian company, often included Christian parallels in this section. I recall one set of questions where I read the story of how Abraham found a wife for Isaac and then we compared how Sarah and Jacob met to how Isaac and Rebekah met. The questions were very appropriate for the level that my Joshua and Jacob were on, but really made them think. My kids loved the "As You Read Activities" and we got in to some very good discussions. At the end of this section there were some summary questions, a word search and a crossword puzzle.
The last section was the "After You Read Activities" section. It contained suggestions for activities to be done . . . well . . . after you read! We loved watching the movie "Sarah, Plain and Tall" and talking about how the book and movie were the same and different. There were many other activities were an excellent way to wrap up the study.
Finally, the appendix offered other books that could be read and movies that could be watched. We plan on getting the next book in the Sarah, Plain and Tall series and reading it.
We really loved this unit study. The boys loved the book and loved how the questions helped them to understand the book even more. I loved it because my boys learned so much. The PDF pages where you were able to type in your answers without actually printing out the pages also helped a lot. Of course, some pages, such as the crossword puzzle and word search have to be printed out but most I was able to do directly on the computer.
I am very impressed with the Sarah, Plain and Tall Study Guide and am definitely going to look into other Progeny Press unit studies for my two youngest. All three of us gave this two thumbs up and consider this one of rare "wow" review items from all of the things we have reviewed. To find out more about the Sarah, Plain and Tall Study Guide or about Progeny Press and all of the things they have to offer just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Many other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed other unit studies from Progeny Press and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Reading!
Progeny Press Review
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