Sarah, Plain and Tall
When Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton responds to Papa's ad for a wife, she agrees to come visit for one month "just to see how it is." Anna and Caleb like her and want her to stay and be their new mother, but Sarah misses her old home in Maine. Will she leave them, or will she stay and bring back song and laughter to their prairie home?
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.
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.
These literature-based unit study curriculum guides are so named because you spend five days in a row (a full week; one day for each subject area) using a particular children's book as the theme for multiple academic subject areas. Five in a Row (FIAR) Volumes 1-3 cover social studies and character, language arts, math, science, and art through 15-21 children's books. The literature selections, primarily picture books, contain positive moral values reflecting Biblical values. Christian content is not incorporated in Volumes 1-3, but is available separately in a Christian Character & Bible Study Supplement. Five in a Row Vol. 4 is for slightly older students (Grades 2-4) and features fewer books, some of which are stretched to two weeks of lessons. Christian content is included in the Volume 4 guide.
Before Five in a Row takes the same concept, but simplifies it for ages 2-4, with multiple activities provided for each book, but not as structured between days of the week.
Beyond Five in a Row is the next step up (for Grades 3+), and these guides are structured around chapter books. Activities at this level incorporate history, geography, science, language arts and fine arts with Christian Character and Bible content available separately.
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 children's 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
Please also see our Readingsection for leveled reading seriessuch as I Can Read, Step Into Reading, and many more.
What is a "unit study"? Briefly, it's a thematic or topical approach to teaching as opposed to the traditional by-subject approach. Rather than teach each subject separately, a unit study attempts to integrate many or all subject areas into a unified study - usually centered around a particular subject or event. Obviously History (the study of events) and Science (the study of "things") are well-suited to unit studies, and usually form the "core" around which other subjects are integrated. Subjects like Bible, Geography, Government, English (writing), and Reading/Literature, Music, Home Economics, Life Skills, and Art, are usually easy to integrate around a core topics. Remaining subjects (Math, Phonics, Grammar, Spelling) can be integrated to some extent via related activities. Each, however, has its own "system" (progression of skills, mastery of "rules") which must be followed to some degree. Since one of the additional advantages of a unit study curriculum is the ability to use it with students of varying ages and skill levels, these subjects are generally taught apart from the core curriculum. This may be as simple as assigning pages in a grammar or spelling book, or using a separate "program" for Phonics and Math. Unit studies also tend to be more activity-oriented than the traditional approach, a real boon to kinesthetic learners. Advocates of the unit study approach site studies showing that children learn best when learning is unified rather than fragmented and when learning is more participatory than passive.
Please note that one of the literature selections at this level is Wheel on the School, by Meindert deJong. Unfortunately this book is currently out of print and unavailable, but it is easy to find used copies or borrow from the library.
"Reading should be fun, and writing should be satisfying." The author of this series believes this, and she has produced a course that tries to keep that goal ever present. She wants the students to enjoy themselves! Accordingly, reading assignments are not as strenuous as in some courses - two novels, two non-fiction books, two short stories and several poems for the 7th grade course, for instance. However, the lessons are well-constructed and coverage of vocabulary, comprehension, literary elements, and writing instruction is thorough.
The three components of this program are designed to be complementary for use together. The Student Book is the student's textual companion as they study the literature selections. There are eight chapters in Grade 7 and twelve in Grade 8, one for each of the major pieces of literature that are studied throughout the year, but the chapters do not necessarily correspond to a specific time period. For instance, in the 7th grade course, Chapter 5 is covered in two weeks, Chapter 6 in four weeks, Chapter 7 in two weeks, and Chapter 8 in nine weeks. There is a consistent pattern in the chapter contents, however: Introduction (to the literary work), While You Read (what to look for), Vocabulary List, Comprehension Questions, Literary Lesson, Mini-Lesson (writing lesson), and Writing Exercises.
The consumable Student Workbook is the place for the student to "do" their work. It provides worktext space for all the essential exercises as well as some optional fun/reinforcement exercises. There are 8-12 exercises per chapter, in seven different coded types - L for literary lessons, M relating to mini-lessons, C practicing composition skills, T for thinking skill pages, G exercises that review grammar and mechanics, P for puzzles, and E for extra-challenge (the last two being the optional ones). There's a nice variety in these exercises and a well-thought-out relationship between the literary and composition activities. Frankly, I like the step-by-step skill building that is integral to the worktext.
The Teacher Guide is the "glue" that holds the whole program together providing a philosophical and methodical overview of the program and a weekly planning schedule (lesson plans) as well as chapter-by-chapter answers and teaching helps.
To some, the reading selection choices might seem a little light, and perhaps atypical, but there is good variety in terms of genre, and the lessons are effective vehicles for grade-level skills. To give you an idea, in Chapter 6 of the 7th grade course, Helen Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life, is covered. Lessons, in addition to the usual background, vocabulary, and comprehension, include these writing skills: lists about yourself, developing an idea, putting ideas into a paragraph, identifying resources, determining fact or opinion, identifying a biased viewpoint, and identifying sentences plus a crossword puzzle, a word search and an extra challenge exercise on autobiography and culture.
If your goal is to prepare your student for high school literature and composition skills, then Lightning Lit & Comp is a good, solid choice. Although there is a conservative moral "feel" to the series and an occasional mention of God (by authors Stephen Crane and Mark Twain, for instance), there is no obvious Christian content. ~ Janice
Your child can read independently; congratulations! But he/she is not done learning to read-and our job as reading teacher isn't done either! This Debra Bell curriculum from Apologia helps you coach your student to become expert readers. Through step-by-step processes with an emphasis on progress-not perfection-students acquire reading skills to learn, to organize information, ask questions and make inferences, and to progressively become more skilled in using more advanced reading skills. The curriculum provides detailed instruction on using context clues for vocabulary, reading for inferences, and close reading. Students will also learn literary terms, to identify genre and to use genre-specific strategies to evaluate that literature. They will recognize and evaluate the author's style, the author's intent and how the author crafts language to achieve his goal. For the target-audience student, this is considered a one-year program. Reading assignments are aimed at 4-6 grades, but the program builds in flexibility for different ages and abilities by allowing you to pick and choose assignments based on your student's needs. The author's intent is that older struggling learners or those who are new to analytical reading can benefit from the course. Your goal as teacher is to provide targeted feedback emphasizing quality and effort. The goal for the student is to become an "expert reader."
The course requires two components and specific editions of Sarah, Plain and Tall; Charlotte's Web, and Because of Winn-Dixie. In the consumable Volume 1 combined student text/workbook, students focus in on three types of narrative fiction styles, each represented by a specific book: historical, animal fantasy and contemporary realistic. The full-color, 562-page, spiral bound, reinforced softcover student text/workbook is consumable and non-reproducible.
The material easily guides the student along. Six different units are divided into smaller portions called modules. Each unit includes an introduction, a creative project, a grading rubric, starter questions, preview of learning goals, student samples, a Reader's Toolbox (reading strategies), graphic organizers to organize their assignment, Ruminate sections (for higher-order thinking) and comprehension questions, vocabulary and English writing rules, progress logs, and tips for starting their own book club (5 total book club suggestions as an option). A Sowing Seeds section pulls from the reading assignment to connect with spiritual truths. Student samples aid students in their answers and writing. The text layout is appealing with a good balance of color, graphics and text.
Units alternate between an assigned book in the specified genre and then an On Your Own (OYO) unit providing students the opportunity to apply the skills they've learned in the previous unit to a book of their own choosing (within the specified genre).
The second component, the 232-page, non-reproducible Vol. 1 Answer Key, contains much more than just answers. You'll have the tools you need to more accurately gauge reading skill development and comprehension. The key helps you make a daily schedule, explain assignments, keep track of your child's progress-and probably most importantly-evaluate your child's work. Be aware that the key provides answers (color-identified) only when one correct answer, varied answers, and example or inference-type answers are required. Therefore, there are no answers provided for modules 5, 10 and 14, but you'll be able to easily discern these yourself. I love that this curriculum provides project-specific rubrics (6-point gradated checklist for evaluation). With these, both student and teacher can easily understand a project's requirements and students learn to evaluate their own progress. The Volume 1 Student Text and Answer Key can be purchased as a Set. The specifically required reading books are listed below for your convenience. ~ Ruth
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