I love using Literature as the backbone of our homeschooling. All those hours reading instead of doing math homework and cleaning my room as a child finally paid off! I am, at least, well read. At least this is what I try and tell myself (and my mama).
It has been harder to get Josiah as enthused about reading. He is dyslexic and tends to avoid reading on his own like the plague. However, he loves to be read to. More on that in a minute.
Raise your hand if you have ever read The Door in the Wall. I see that hand! Recently, we were excited to review The Door in the Wall Study Guide from Progeny Press.
What I Received
Progeny Press offers literature guides for some of our most favorite reads. These study guides come in a downloadable/printable form or CD. We received a the interactive PDF which costs $16.99. An Interactive PDF allows the student to input all the information into the computer itself.
The study guides help the student use critical thinking skills while reading the literature. They not only provide comprehension questions, writing prompts and activity ideas, but they bring explore Biblical themes as well.
If your child is lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school or high school there is a guide for a variety of literature. The Door in the Wall Study Guide is recommended for upper elementary students grades 3-5.
How We Used It
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli is about a young boy named Robin. It is set in the Middle Ages. Robin is about to begin his training as a knight, but comes down with an illness and loses his ability to walk. The book is a beautiful story and has such a wonderful message. Some might find the language archaic (it is set in the Middle Ages, after all), but I wouldn’t let that deter you from directing your boys (and girls) in its direction.
The Door in the Wall Study Guide is designed to be used with the book. It begins by giving a brief summary of the book, information about the author and some background information concerning the history of the time. I do like how Progeny Press includes prereading activities.
When The Door in the Wall begins, The Black Death has taken hold of London. While Robin’s difficulties aren’t caused by The Plague, many of his trusty servants succumb to it, leaving him alone. In our day and time, we are unaccustomed to such horrors. The prereading activities gave Josiah and opportunity to research more about the time period and The Black Death. We also had to research a little about Monks as they generally aren’t to be found in our part of the world.
Students are instructed to read the book first before digging into the study guide. I did most of the reading. As I mentioned, Josiah is dyslexic and I leave most of his reading for reading instruction. This is changing as time goes on. He did have to read the questions in the study guide. They are easy to understand, well-spaced out and other than a few “rogue” words he couldn’t quite grasp he did fine.
True Confession. Instead of having Josiah use the interactive feature on the computer, I had it printed off at Staples. Now he is capable of using this feature and in fact, might have been a wiser for us to use in the long run.
But at the time, I was more focused on getting through the book and the guide. Because it required my involvement as well, I thought it would just be easier to put everything in a notebook.
One of Josiah’s favorite parts of the guide were the Vocabulary Sections. He enjoys words and there were quite a few words used in The Door in the Wall that were unfamiliar. I appreciated that many of the vocabulary activities encouraged more than just guess and point.
For example, In some of the sections Josiah had to think about what a word might mean before he looked it up. He did use an online dictionary for his vocabulary words. Our Children’s Dictionary just didn’t cut it.
Josiah is older than the intended age group. He is completing 6th grade. However, I felt that I didn’t want to frustrate him. I am trying to help him transition to working on his own. There was some benefit to this strategy. He was able to think a bit more critically and felt fairly accomplished. I certainly participated in his completion of the study guide, but he was able to manage just fine.
I mentioned that Progeny Press recommends that the student reads the book before starting the guide. I didn’t have an issue doing so. I wanted Josiah to enjoy the book for the book’s sake instead of digging through it just for the answers.
I also liked how the guide encouraged the student to think critically about the story. Josiah was asked to put himself into Robin’s place. While multiple choice facts and figure questions have their place, I feel it is more important to truly “live” the story. I want Josiah to be able to enjoy his literature, not merely spout off details. Progeny Press always does a good job with this. The Scripture activities included are especially wonderful.
I encourage you to try a Progeny Press Study Guide for yourself! In fact, it would be a great summer project for homeschooler and Public School student alike! I've got my eye on the study guide for The Giver (which an absolute fabulous book!)
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