Progeny Press is a company that brings to the table something I struggle with – deep questions related to a story that force a student to think critically about things. We have been reviewing the The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide. This study guide is aimed at lower elementary ages. It has been a pleasant experience.
Bears on Hemlock Mountain is an early chapter book by Alice Dagliesh. The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide is produced by Progeny Press to go along with the book, chapter by chapter. My 8 year old (beginning 3rd grade) was able to easily read the book and use the guide. The guide does require quite a bit of writing, which is not her strong point, so we modified some of the longer writing answers for an oral narration. It adapted easily and well.
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide began with a note to instructors who are new to using this style of guide and it followed that with a synopsis of the book. Next is an author biography and a note on the background of the story itself (old folk story). There are a number of “Before-You-Read” activities to help the students become familiar with some of the background and ways of the people and places in the story. There were quite a few of these so we did not do them all. And then you get to the parts that go along with the story chapter by chapter.
For the pre-reading activities, we studied animal prints with a poster we have, along with the different types of animal prints you might encounter in the woods. We also looked at trees, leaves, and bird nests. We discussed a hill vs a mountain and looked at some examples online. We also had a discussion about hospitality: what it meant, how you can show it, why you would, and more. Finally, we looked up several sites where we could listen to bird songs.
The chapter by chapter questions are basically set up in two chapter sets. This made it very readable and if the child struggled to know the answer, there was not a very large area of the book to look to find the answers. Each chapter set covered vocabulary and comprehension questions. The vocabulary was both single words and muti-word phrases that the student may or may not be familiar with. Because it included some phrases, it was not always possible to just look it up in a dictionary. This meant that this was not independent work. That works well for my daughter because she likes company, no matter what she is doing.
The questions relating to the chapters varied from comprehension to making inferences to apply Bible verses. An example of a comprehension question is “What does Jonathan do to keep up his courage?” This was a low-level comprehension question because the answer is almost completely stated from the story. A deeper level question was “Uncle James taught Jonathan observation. What is the difference between seeing and observing?” I liked this variation on comprehension questions because often you get either the really deep thinking questions or the low-level question. Progeny Press seems to have included a good variation of both in this study guide.
The Bible verse questions were all application style questions. They asked you to read a verse, which was provided, and apply it to a particular situation in the story. An example of an application question for a verse had to do with reading a passage from James and then discussing being dependable and telling the truth. The student had to think about being dependable, telling the truth, and why those things may or may not go together. Then the student was asked if you could have one without the other. What a wonderful, deep application question that wasn’t too difficult but required some serious thought.
The final part of the study guide was a page of mystery words. The student had to recall some words from the story and then use them to solve yet another word that was coded.
Overall, this was an age-appropriate and ability appropriate study guide for my daugher. This was the first of its kind for her and while she didn’t love it, it worked pretty well for her. It was easy and followed the book well so she could easily hunt things up if she needed to, except for the last set of chapters. For some reason, it went from two chapters in a group to four in the last group. That made for a very long set of questions and a pretty big group of chapters to search through when she wasn’t sure of something.
I would also have liked to see some “after you read activities” included in the guide. I felt like this guide is definitely missing a hands-on set of activities, as it doesn’t have any except for the pre-reading activities at the beginning.
Progeny Press is a very good company if you are looking for a company to prepare study guides for your student over quality literature and living books. They have a large catalog for every age level. If you would like to see more of our reviews of Progeny Press, we have reviewed the following also
- The Sword In The Tree (upper elementary)
- Sarah, Plain and Tall (upper elementary)
- The Courage of Sarah Noble (lower elementary)
- Little House In The Big Woods (upper elementary)
Other Crew members reviewed one of these choices:
- The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide (Grades 1-3)
- Charlotte’s Web E-Guide (Grades 4-6)
- The Silver Chair E-Guide (Grades 5-7)
- Macbeth E-Guide (Grades 9-12)
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