Witch of Blackbird Pond
Historical fiction set in Puritan colonial Connecticut. Kit arrives unannounced to live with stern Puritan relatives whom she has never met and befriends an outcast Quaker woman accused of witchcraft. Newbery Medal winner.
The set of all 12 literature units at each level are intended as a complete language arts curriculum teaching vocabulary, grammar, writing, spelling, story elements, and figurative language in the context of popular children's books. However, they are more than this, bordering on unit studies because of their strong social studies, science, critical thinking, and art/design components. Available at five levels (ages 7-9, 8-10, 9-11, 10-12 and 11-13), they correspond to concept units in the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum.
These use literature as a springboard for investigation, exploration, research, creativity and expression; the focus moves outward from the book. This is unlike most purely literature study guides which bring everything in toward a focus on the novel itself. Another unique attribute is the amount of creative expression involved, from identification with particular characters in the book to developing plotlines or stories having some common theme - there is much more running with a train of thought stimulated by the book than responding directly to the book. Motivated, artistic, imaginative, creative children will love all of the extension activities here! They will have many opportunities for creative expression as they write stories, draw and design things, use critical thinking skills, journal, reenact scenes, and mentally put themselves in the characters' shoes. Also striking is the rigorous nature of some of the assignments, especially at the lower levels. I can see why these are recommended for gifted students. Since these guides were originally created to enhance a science and social studies driven curriculum, there are many activities that get fairly deeply into these subject areas. This is especially the case in pre-reading activities as you set the stage for the time and location of the novel. The author utilizes these research opportunities to maximum advantage - and it does help to put the book in context. Often, this facet of literary analysis is skipped or passed over too lightly when we read a book, making it difficult to really understand some of the conflict, circumstance and social culture/customs that are critical to comprehension. While it's difficult to get a bead on the comprehensiveness of the guides for spelling, vocabulary, and grammar with only a small sampling, I can say with certainty that there's plenty of composition integrated into the units. Besides a large number of writing activities, the student keeps a journal which is used for some of the discussion question responses each day. In some guides, the journal is also used for other creative responses (such as retelling part of the story as diary entries through the eyes of Anna each day in Sarah, Plain and Tall). Other language arts areas seem to be covered in a solid, serious, and thorough manner, based on the samples I've reviewed. Vocabulary work is significant with children looking up words and writing definitions and using target words in compositions. Students learn how to use a dictionary and thesaurus to their advantage. Many activity pages are devoted to grammar, mechanics, and punctuation. Spelling lists, including common and challenge words, appear at the end of each guide.
Each literature unit is in a standard format. Lessons are structured and easy to use. There's no guesswork involved. Each one includes most of the following elements:
Questions to Explore - the Big Picture ideas and concepts for the lesson
Facts and Definitions - any knowledge or vocabulary learned during the lesson
Skills - objectives, identified by subject area
Materials - everything needed for the lesson, even included activity pages
Introduction - exactly how to introduce the lesson to your child (almost scripted)
Activities - generally from 1-4 of these which vary widely by lesson
Conclusion - summing up the ideas from the lesson along with response from your child
Real-Life Application - an extension activity which takes a concept from the story and applies it to a real person or situation
While the format is standard, the lessons themselves are extremely varied. In one lesson, the concentration may be on a grammatical or literary aspect. The next, you may have a lot of social studies related activity. One lesson will have your child writing a persuasive paper; the next a poem. She may study prefixes and suffixes today and be baking cookies tomorrow! Today a science experiment; tomorrow planning a party! You get the idea. Moreover, there are often several options for an assignment, so you can choose the most appealing or beneficial one. If you are using these guides as the basis for a language arts program, you will probably want to leave most of those activities intact, but you may still want to moderate some of the writing assignments. And while the lessons are easy to use and complete, there is still a lot of parental involvement required. Some activities are challenging, others need adult help and guidance - which is not unusual at these grade levels. Lessons that include reading in the novel have a series of questions about the chapter(s). These are not all recall questions, but include more in-depth and subjective discussion questions. You should read the book in tandem with your child in order to assess her responses.
The number of lessons varies by guide. Some of the units include other books and resources (see below). Typically, a unit will last from 2-3 weeks, though you may take longer with some lessons, especially with some of the more involved activities. Every unit ends with a final project, some of which may take a few days to complete. There are three literature units for every concept per level. Using all three would allow your child to compare and contrast themes and characters across novels within a thematic framework. Literature units and novels also become more advanced through each level. Please note that this is not a religious curriculum. It does, however, encourage character development.
Concepts and units by age are listed below. Each literature package contains the literature unit guide AND the corresponding novel. Where other components are included, they appear below the package in italics. NOTE: Student Activity Page sets are NOT INCLUDED in the packages. A single copy of each is in the study guide. Although you are not allowed to reproduce these pages from the guides, they are all single-sided and usable, so you do not have to purchase a set of student pages unless you want to leave your guide intact.
Beginning with ages 9-11, the guides are "Student Directed Literature Units." All instruction is written directly to the student in a conversational tone and the guides are a worktext with no separate student activity pages. Each package contains the SDLU, the corresponding novel, and sometimes other books (listed below the package in italics). Occasional tests are provided with an answer key at the back of the unit. Also in the back are several references/helps: spelling lists, handy guides to writing and grammar, and a writing rubric.
The new guides for ages 12-14 are structured around two semesters, with five literature guides per semester. Publisher recommends the literature guides be completed in order. Each literature guide provides 12 lessons and a final project. In-depth analysis of story elements and figurative language, challenging essays and comprehensive grammar assignments will enable students to appreciate and emulate the craft of great writers. Thematically, guides will aid students in gaining a deeper understanding of everyday life in the past through the selected literature and reading assignments.
Enjoy Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH along with Old Yeller, The Wheel on the School, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and The Wind in the Willows.
If you're looking for a study guide for a specific book, Novel Units probably has it covered! They produce hundreds of literature guides - only a sampling of them are listed here. Teacher Guides are 30-40 pages - not voluminous, but enough for good coverage of the book. Format of the guides vary somewhat by grade level, but have some common elements. They begin with a synopsis of the book and its author and some pre-reading activities that serve both to provide background for the novel study and initiate student involvement and thinking about the story. Chapter by chapter (in some guides, multiple chapters) lesson plans contain vocabulary words, discussion questions (with answers), and suggested activities. Some guides also include writing ideas. Literature concepts/skills appear here and there. Some guides contain reproducible graphic organizers to aid student analysis. All include some culminating questions and activities. Again, these vary in scope and type by guide. There are no objective or essay tests, but each guide ends with a student assessment page that provides a list of projects or exercises to be completed to help evaluate student understanding. Student Packets (where available) are reproducible and, again, vary somewhat by grade level and book. In my sample packet, masters are provided for an initiating activity, a chapter-by-chapter study guide with questions and lines for answers, vocabulary activities, journal ideas, literary analysis, cross-curricular activities (art, drama, math), several graphic organizer / analysis pages, varied activity pages, comprehension quizzes, and a final test. Answers to all questions, worksheets, and test are included in the back, along with an essay evaluation form. Really, each of these components can function as a stand-alone product and can be used without the other, but for a more comprehensive study, they are best used in concert. There is very little overlap between the two, even in the chapter-by-chapter questions - but completing the questions in the Student Packet will help prepare your child for the more in-depth questions found in the Teacher Guide. If your child is working independently on a novel, the Student Packet can be used alone (if available). If you want to do little written work and put more emphasis on discussion, the Teacher Guide can be used by itself. As stated before, we have selected a sampling of guides at each grade level. If you like them, we'll add more!
Please note that some guides have been written to correlate with a specific edition of a book. Some of these editions are now out of print, and we do not carry all versions mentioned. Where multiple editions are available, such as Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the page numbers given in the guide may not correlate exactly.
The word "grammar" in the
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
A set of Literature Units (LU) is a complete language arts curriculum teaching vocabulary, grammar, composition, spelling, story elements, and figurative language in the context of popular childrens books. LUs each explore one facet of a concept that ties three units together. Each unit has a primary book that is studied for 2-3 weeks and may include additional
Very comprehensive and versatile study guides from a Christian perspective for selected novels. According to the publisher, the focus is on "teaching thinking and communication skills using literature as a base." A myriad of skills are covered here: reading comprehension, analytical and critical thinking, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, writing, and listening (I guess that's the "Plus"!). Total Language Plus is really both literature and language arts combined in one program. Novels have been carefully selected to either display a high moral tone, or to provide a basis from which to teach Biblical discernment. Most are Newbery Medal or Honor books; all are generally thought of as quality literature, have depth, and are high-interest.
One small teacher's manual presents the how's and why's of the program. It provides an overview and philosophy of the program, sample lesson plans for a typical week, and instructions for teaching each component of the program. The appendix contains a writing helps section and a summary of basic spelling rules. Also included here are answers to common questions about the Total Language Plus program. The program requires minimal teacher involvement as students work through most of the material on their own. While some work is done on separate paper, most exercises are worked directly in the student worktext, which is not reproducible. The only condition under which copying is allowed is when teaching multiple students simultaneously out of the same study guide.
The beginning of each book contains a variety of critical thinking activities, correlated to chapters in the novels, which include projects, drawing, writing assignments, and a puzzle. Some of the writing assignments require research or lengthier essays, while "Personally Thinking" questions require shorter written answers to questions that apply concepts in the story to the student's life or require the student to think and make judgments about story events and characters. These activities can be used at any time during the unit at your discretion, but you will probably want to use several of the shorter writing assignments per week if you want to include composition skills in the program.
The rest of the guide is broken down into weekly units. Each week, the student reads a section of the novel and answers comprehension questions pertaining to those chapters. Daily oral language exercises contain short paragraphs to be dictated to the student, practicing listening and memorization skills and reinforcing spelling and grammar. Passages are chosen to emphasize Bible truths that relate to the story or are actual excerpts from the literature. Other exercises practice an assortment of English skills, with Friday's exercise a summary of "problem words" for the week. Each day, students complete a section of their vocabulary worksheets, including the compilation of a glossary of vocabulary words for which students supply definition and part of speech. Vocabulary review sheets are included at the back of the book, and you can assign these to review and reinforce learning. As a culmination of vocabulary work, a final review test and answer key is provided. Daily spelling exercises also revolve around words from the novel. At the end of each week, a spelling test is administered on the words studied that week. As you can see, far more than reading and comprehension is covered here! Using this program you should not need separate spelling or vocabulary programs. Depending on the activities you choose, and the emphasis you place on composition skills, this may suffice as your total English program. Each book contains 5 to 8 units and will take about 8 to 10 weeks to complete. Plan on using about 3 to 5 guides per year.
Guides are available at five grade levels. Advanced high school guides contain more extensive writing activities that teach composition techniques, showing the student how to organize and plan their writing, as well as suggesting what points to include. They also contain oral readings for the selections to incorporate speech and drama into the program.
Lower-priced guides (see Out of the Dust and From the Mixed-Up Files...) are Focus Guides, which "focus" on specific writing skills and omit many of the varied language arts activities found in the other guides. While containing comprehension and analysis questions like other guides, they also feature comprehensive writing assignments relevant to the novel. Focus guides have less content overall than other guides and will take about 3 weeks to complete.
Imagine a classically-based history course where your child reads great history books and period-related literature, keeps a running timeline of the period studied, writes outlines and summaries of important people and events, completes history-related map work, and does all of this without extensive planning on mom's part. Although it may sound too good to be true, luckily for you it's not! Author Kathleen Desmarais has done an awesome job of combining an excellent variety of resources and activities and presenting it all in a very straight-forward, professional way that takes the stress of lesson planning off of you and puts the accountability and expectations squarely on your history student.
History Odyssey is basically a series of study guides, with one guide covering one era of history (Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern, or Modern) in one year. There are three levels to the program, so if you completed the whole series, you would cycle through world history three times - once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school education. The first level is intended for grades 1-4, the second level for grades 5-8, and the third level for grades 9-12. There will be twelve guides when the series is complete; currently, there are still several guides in production. The guides are loose-leaf and 3-hole punched, designed to be placed in a binder. You'll probably want a thick one; students will be adding a lot of material!
Although the same eras in history are covered in each level, the expectations on the student become more sophisticated, following the classical education progression. In Level 1 (the grammar stage), students are encouraged to approach history as a great story as they read (or are read to) and complete map work, History Pockets activities, copywork, and coloring pages. This level will require more attention from the parent than the two upper levels. Depending on the reading ability of the child, some reading selections may need to be read aloud or read together. There will also be copies to make and supplies to gather for each lesson. Level 2 (the logic stage) introduces the timeline, outlining as a writing skill, research, and independent writing assignments. Students are expected to read all assignments on their own, and critical thinking and analysis are emphasized through the assignments. Parental involvement should be reduced at this level, as parents should be only checking the quality of each day's work and making sure that it has all been done. By Level 3 (the rhetoric stage), students will be reading much more demanding history selections (including classic literature) and will be writing plenty of expository, descriptive, narrative and persuasive essays. Research, timeline work, and map work are continued from Level 2 but are more in-depth at this level. For each level, history, geography, and writing are strongly represented. Although the writing practice is extensive, you will probably want to be using a separate course in English and writing.
Now that you're familiar with the basics of the course, let's look at the lessons. Lessons are presented to the student in a checklist-type format. All assignments, including reading, timeline, writing, and others are listed for each lesson with a box to check when the task is complete. In Level 1, lessons are structured a bit differently, in that there is some parent preparation (highlighted in gray), a "main lesson" of assignments, and then several "additional activities" listed. Lessons typically include a mix of readings from resource books, map work, timeline work (in the upper two levels), and writing assignments/copywork to be added to the student's master binder. Exceptions may be lessons which ask the student to begin reading a required book. In this case, a recommended time frame is given in which the book should be read, and follow-up writing assignments may be listed. Occasionally websites may be listed to check out more information, but these are not absolutely necessary to the course if you are not able to visit them. Following the lessons, you'll find worksheets referred to in the lessons, outline maps used in map activities, and several appendices. Although the guide is not reproducible, the author does give permission to copy the maps and worksheets for your family's use only.
There are several important aspects of this course. First of all, with the exception of Level 1, there is little parent preparation. A "Letter to Parents" at the beginning of the guide explains the course, while the "How to Use This Guide" lists required resources and other necessary supplies, describes the organization of the student's binder, and briefly discusses several aspects of the program. For the upper two levels, parents will be primarily making sure the necessary books and resources are on hand and ensuring that each lesson's work has been done and is complete. This leads to my next point, which is that at the end of this course, the student will not have "completed a workbook," but will have compiled their own meaty notebook with all their work from the course. Instruction is given at the very beginning of the course on how to organize the student's notebook, and from that point on, the student will be putting all of their work into the binder. The binder will be not only a tremendous keepsake but a collection of all work done in the course. Finally, the timeline is a very important tool used in Levels 2 and 3 of History Odyssey. This can be made by you, or you may choose to purchase Pandia Press's very attractive Classical History Timeline, which is described below. Events and people studied are added to the timeline throughout the course, and when they're finished with the guide, the timeline can be folded up and included in the student's binder.
One bonus to the course is that they use well-known resources and literature that you may already own! Level 1 heavily uses Story of the World books, A Child's History of the World and History Pockets. My sample of Middle Ages Level 2 lists the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Story of Mankind, Usborne Internet-Linked Viking World, The Door in the Wall, Tales from Shakespeare, Beowulf: A New Telling, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Castle (by David Macaulay), The Canterbury Tales, and many more. Check out the lists of resources beneath each History Odyssey Guide below - I'm sure you'll see many familiar
Instead of isolating Bible and Christian history from what was happening in the rest of the world, the folks at Veritas aim to incorporate it. They offer four different history time periods (each aimed at a different grade level and designed to take one school year) which take students from creation to the present. The program originally had three parts: teacher's manual, history cards (an absolutely essential element of the curriculum) and a memory song on audio CD. The song is sung by a woman with a pleasant voice at varying tempos and is designed as a type of auditory time line. The history cards are fantastic! They have many interesting facets (the more you study them, the more you learn). The cards from the various time periods are color coded and numbered - there are 32 cards in each pack. If the cards also relate to Bible history they have another color and another number. Each card has a picture (usually in full color) representing what it is about. For example, the card for Creation has a reproduction of the Creation of the sun and moon from the Sistine Chapel Ceiling by Michelangelo. Many of the other pictures on the other cards are famous paintings as well. Each card has a
The best way to describe these wonderful books is "literature and Bible study rolled into one." Truly from a Christian perspective, these classic and award-winning books are examined in the light of God's Word and a Biblical worldview. The author sent us several review copies and they are wonderful!
Each guide includes:
- a concise synopsis of the book
- information about the book's author
- background information pertinent to the story
- suggestions for activities relating to the subject matter
- introduction of literary terms
- vocabulary exercises for each section of reading
- comprehension, analysis, and application questions for each section of reading with discussion of related Biblical themes
- a complete answer key and suggestions for further reading
Their brochure states "Our goal is to teach students of all ages to examine what they read, Christian or secular, classic or contemporary, and value the truth it contains as measured against the Bible." A worthy goal indeed! If you want to study great literature from a Christian perspective, here's your answer! If in doubt, try just one - we're sure you'll be back for more!
Progeny Press guides are available in two formats: softcover staplebound booklets and CD-ROMs. The CD-ROMs originally featured printable .pdf files, but Progeny Press is now transitioning these to interactive .pdf files. Inspired by a tax software, these files are able to be used by the student on the computer, or printed out. Questions in the files have text boxes to type in or buttons to select, so you won't have to print worksheet pages if you don't want to. Plus, users can grade their answers and leave notes as well! Upper Elementary through High School CD guides are now interactive, while Lower elementary
Literature guides abound, and each of them are slightly different from the rest, but if I may assert, these upper-level literature guides take a completely different angle altogether to literature. These guides attempt not only to give the reader a deeper look at the novel, but also to instill in them a deeper understanding of the time that the literary work was written in, and the connection this has to the piece. They do this by including statistics from the time, pictures, and most importantly, primary sources of related writings published at the time. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, students learn more about the book itself by reading a synopsis, information about the author, critics' comments, quotes from the novel, and a glossary. There is little comprehensive picking-apart of the book; instead, the focus is on connecting the book with the events and attitudes of the time. Students jump into the time period through a timeline, first-hand accounts surrounding events of the time, articles from the era on various topics that relate to items in the novel. In the To Kill a Mockingbird guide, these include letters to President Franklin Roosevelt, excerpts from state codes regarding segregation, equality amendments to the Constitution, writings from Mark Twain and other authors on lynching, Jesse Owen's writings on Nazi racism, and poetry from that period by Billie Holiday and Maya Angelou written on segregation. Questions and activities are suggested for each featured document, and lists of additional suggested readings, fiction and nonfiction, as well as more involved student projects are also included. The questions are primarily for discussion purposes, not comprehension, and answers are not included. Formats will vary, for instance Julius Caesar was written at a much earlier period in history, and there are a few less resources from the time to be used, so some Roman history and culture is included to make sense of both Shakespeare's writings at the time, and his portrayal of the Roman emperor, but the format is very much the same. This is a great way to understand the time frame a novel was written in, especially through the light of actual timely documents and writings - what a great way to connect history and literature! Please note that some guides are transitioning to PDF format on CD-ROM. If
If given a choice, most young readers will choose a book over a "reader" style collection of stories. Why? The stories are interesting, the illustrations engaging, and they seem more "manageable". Okay, so why not teach reading comprehension and beginning literature skills using wonderful children's books? Maybe because you don't want to invest in study guides for each book. Or maybe because you think there needs to be just a little more organized coverage of skills than you might come up with on your own. Or, maybe you just haven't found the right resource. Well, Logos Press has answered all these "maybes" by creating worksheets to go along with some great children's literature. These reproducible worksheets are compiled into spiral bound books and incorporate both the answers and notes for the teacher. Children have seven kinds of questions to answer: matching, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, drawing a picture, listing, vocabulary definitions, and essay-type. Beginning Literature 1 and 2 includes worksheets for each book plus a sample reading comprehension worksheet that functions as a book report form identifying and describing main characters as well as listing the book's happenings at the beginning, middle, and end. These worksheets provide an excellent introduction to literature studies and reading comprehension by encouraging both thinking about the reading selection and expressing those thoughts in a cohesive manner. A grading label (for reading, English, and spelling) is included on each worksheet. The teacher's instructions include guidelines for grading, and a complete answer key is included.