My daughter is an avid reader and we enjoy using real books (versus just textbooks) as learning tools, so it's been a pleasure to review the Fifth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press these past several weeks. We had not previously heard much about the company or had the chance to use any of their homeschool materials, so this was new territory for us. I found out that Memoria Press has a lot to offer and that they are a publishing company, offering classical Christian educational materials in subjects ranging from Latin, Greek, and Literature to Science, Logic, Math, and more. There is so much on their website to look into!
It's easy to get caught up in looking at all their offerings, but please allow me to now focus back on the fifth-grade literature guide set! We loved every thoughtful, well-chosen book selection and found each study guide to be full of good material! As you can see in the image above, this set comes with Teacher Guides and Student Study Guides for three wonderful and classic works of literature: Lassie Come-Home, Heidi, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The readers, or books themselves, did not come with the set we received, but they can be purchased directly through Memoria Press (as linked above), at some book stores (online or at a physical location), or found at some local libraries. It is here that I'd like to note that the literature guide for Heidi is meant to go with a specific version of the book: the Puffin Classics Edition, or any edition translated by Eileen Hall. I missed this little fact at first and picked up a different edition of the book, which resulted in a bit of confusion until I realized my mistake. Also of note for those of my readers that live in Hawaii, is that the library at my local military base did not have Lassie Come-Home or the necessary version of Heidi, so I did have to get them elsewhere.
We've previously read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but the associated literature guide in this set coaxes us further into the story and helps reveal things in this classic piece of writing that my daughter probably would not have noticed or thought about otherwise.
These literature guides are all a tool to help dig deeper, not just skim or read through quickly, but really learn from the material, build critical thinking skills, expand vocabulary, practice writing skills, and experience the story even more fully through activities beyond reading. With Memoria Press' literature guides, it's not just reading for pleasure; it's reading for enjoyment AND so much more!
The primary sections of the Student Study Guides include:
The Teacher Guides also have Quizzes and a Final Test that could be used as well.
While the discussion questions and some enrichment options required interaction from a parent, this literature set was mostly student-driven, requiring little guidance or prep work from me. The Teacher Guides were a valuable resource to find correct answers or ideas for responses to discussion questions, which would be particularly useful for those parents who haven't read the book (or at least haven't done so recently).
Big Sis read from the book almost daily. In fact, it was difficult to get her to slow down and pace herself as we went through the study guides as well. Often times, she'd read ahead and then have to go back to a previous chapter in order to complete the questions in the guide. While this wasn't always a problem, sometimes it slightly muddled her responses and views when answering questions about what she read (because some questions asked things that assumed the reader didn't know what happens next or were based on only the knowledge the reader had from that chapter). This could be considered a drawback, for those like our family, in using literature study guides like these... my daughter just wants to read and keep reading and can get annoyed by being reined in, interrupted, or slowed down to focus on a certain part of the book. On the other hand, this could also be viewed as a benefit in that it might help strengthen my daughter's ability to gain more from what she reads and not just rush through to see what happens next.
When using the study guides, I noticed that the pages all have the same look and the similar sections... which could pose a problem for a child who wants to finish the book and might not see their progress as they move along. We avoided having it feel repetitious by focusing on one chapter at a time and making sure to include some enrichment activities with each chapter. We also found that this predictable pattern throughout the study guides made it easier to follow and use, allowing my daughter to have a sense of continuity and consistency, flowing from day-to-day, and from one guide to the next. It allowed her to know what to expect, plan for it, and improve in each area (writing, thoughtful discussion, figuring out vocabulary, etc.) as she went along.
While my daughter can, and does, do a lot of independent learning, she still thrives on interaction from me and spending time together. With that in mind, the discussion questions were a nice time to bond with one another through our thoughts on the story and even how things from the plot relate to our own lives or that in the world around us, or similarities to a character's experience or personality.
Enrichment Activities were my daughter's favorite part of the guides and study time. Some things from the Heidi study guide were: trying goat's milk, finding places on maps and pictures of mountains from the story, drawing a family tree, listening to and analyzing poetry, sewing, and more. I think it's important to reiterate here that these are optional activities, so please don't feel overwhelmed after reading this, thinking it's too much to fit into your day! Some were quick and easy and others were chosen by my daughter as something she did on her own outside of our regular study time. The easiest, and our favorite, enrichment task was to "spend an afternoon or day outside among nature and enjoy God's creation!"
We did not do all the enrichment activities, but there were plenty of good ideas that we could choose from. In particular, we did not always do the lengthy or complete copywork since writing is Big Sis' least favorite activity. Nonetheless, as the guide mentions, writing and composition are rather valuable, so we did find a middle ground where she completed some of the writing, challenging her to grow and improve, without making it a burden.
It is quite a blessing to have this entire set to work through and continue to develop the skills the guides focus on, instead of having this be an isolated activity that got cut short! While the guides are similar in structure from one to the next, they are not exactly the same because they have a different style book that goes along with it, and each one brings something new to learn and discover, helping to create a more complete study overall for my daughter's grade level. One could certainly use just one guide for just one book, but I feel like using the complete set of all three guides is getting the full benefit of building skills over time... and besides, we wouldn't want to stop after just one!
This Fifth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press has a lot to offer those who are seeking easy-to-use, easy-to-understand, Christian-focused, classical guidance for great works of children's literature. While some families might not enjoy the writing, the copywork options, or the classical style, I think others may find it to be just what they're looking for, giving a child the chance to challenge their thinking skills and improve their writing in easy-to-tackle sections as they explore a good book. It could also help a parent know that their child is truly understanding and learning something from the books they read!
If you'd like to learn more about Memoria Press and this or other products they offer, head on over to their website or check out other bloggers' reviews- including those of other grade level literature guide sets too- by clicking on the banner below. You can also find Memoria Press on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+!
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.