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Sep 12, 2017

Progeny Press, The Silver Chair ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Progeny Press is a company which produces quality literature study guides written from a Christian perspective.  The Gilleland family homeschools and operates Progeny Press.  Some guides are written by the Gillelands and some by others.  Each unit study is peer reviewed by pastors and teachers before release. 

My punks are getting older, and the literature they read should also be aging with them.  We enjoy the Narnia series and were happy to read one book of C.S. Lewis' famous saga for this unit.  The Silver Chair E-Guide (Grades 5-7) by Carol Clark, is an interactive guide, as are all the electronic titles in grades 4-12.  This means that the 52 page file can be opened in Adobe Acrobat or other PDF reader and filled out on the computer.  The student can then use the Save As feature to save the e-guide with their work in the document.  A parent or teacher then can use the included answer key to check the students answers.  Many of the answers are in a short essay style and could not be automatically graded, regardless.

Silver Chair - E-Guide

It was simple to download the interactive e-guide and answer key.  A copy of The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis is required to complete the e-guide.  You can order a copy of the book from Progeny Press or elsewhere, check the library, or look on your shelf at home.  I have learned the hard way to check my bookshelf first!  Though you may want to save the money by borrowing from the library, due to the time commitment it would make more sense to borrow from a friend or purchase a copy.   You'll also need a Bible, a dictionary, and a thesaurus.

The Silver Chair Study Guide is available as the instant interactive e-guide, on CD, and as a printed workbook.  Each version has different aspects that you might want to consider before making your purchase.  The e-guide provides instant access and is reproducible within a family or classroom.  It cannot be resold like a book, nor can it be returned for refund.  I really appreciate the instant access of the e-guide and that I can use this again when Merrick is older.

The length of time required to complete a Progeny Press Study Guide is approximately two months or more.  The earlier grades do take less time than the upper grades, though.  In The Silver Chair E-Guide, you cover two to four chapters at a time.  If you are new to Progeny Press, I do suggest you read over the short Note to Instructor.  It's only a page or so, and will give you a rough outline of how the guide is intended to be used and how to use them for high school credits, as well as a bit of other information about usage.

The first few pages also include a brief synopsis of the book and an author biography.  Prereading Activities are suggested for the first week.  In this particular middle school level e-guide, reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is recommended as one of the main characters in The Silver Chair happens to have already visited Narnia in that installment.  Other ideas include learning about caves and researching "allusion" and related places/things from the novel.

Then the lit guide really begins with five pages covering chapters 1-2, with "Vocabulary" written in context, "Questions" about the actual text of the story (#5 List the four things Jill is to remember.), "Thinking about the Story" (foreshadowing, simile, etc), "Dig Deeper" (which requires a bit more thought to answer and also brings in Bible ties), and two Optional Activities.  Each week is similar, sometimes requiring Bible readings, dictionary searches, or suggesting discussion or writing topics.

The e-guide ends with some after reading activities which include writing, drawing, and designing activities.  This is followed by a list of related book titles.  Some are other of C.S. Lewis books and others are just books that readers of The Silver Chair might enjoy.  Several of the books in the list also have corresponding guides available from Progeny Press.

The nine page answer key arrives as a separate file.  It is just the answers.  While some of the answers can only be right or wrong, some of the answers are a bit more essay style and will be up to a bit of interpretation.  To grade the subjective answers, a parent or teacher would be required to also be familiar with the book.  I always enjoy these questions with Xavier.  He (ALWAYS) has a lot to say, but it's nice to chat with him about how he felt about an event that happened or how a person behaved, rather than Lego or Minecraft!

We did not use The Silver Chair E-Guide every day.  It was summer after all, and though we school year round, the punks definitely deserve some short days or even days off in this very abbreviated Vermont season.  We do sometimes do more than one page in a day, though, so having finished reading chapter nine and completed the corresponding section of the guide, we are more than half way through the study guide in about 6 weeks.  We discuss different parts of the book as well as completing the work in the guide, but we don't really do much with the Optional Activities section.  The activities look great and I'd love to do them, but the punks are on the low end of the range for this e-guide and I opted to keep us moving through the book (which keeps them attentive) rather than have them spend a considerable amount of time on the extra things.  You know your family best and I'm sure many fifth graders would enjoy that part.  I know *I* would have, once upon a time.

I read the book out loud, completing the chapters for the section before we started the Q&A parts.  Many of the questions, we answered orally as we sat together.  Sometimes, this works great for us and other times, Xavier monopolizes the question and answer session and I have to be very intentional about giving Malachi the opportunity to give his answers.  He tends to automatically answer, "I don't know," without giving it any real thought, while Xav is chomping at the bit to respond.  I have to back one up and just sit and wait while the other thinks it through.  Do you have that one kiddo who just wants to answer everything like it's a race?  Having them write answers is more time consuming, but often gives my "reluctant to answer" child a chance to shine.

Another thing we do a bit differently with the literature study e-guides from Progeny Press is *not* using them on the computer.  With two of them working on the computer, it would take forever as they are not good typists yet.  But Mal has a real issue with writing spaces and oversized letters.  Last time I reviewed a Progeny Press study guide (The Sword in the Tree), I realized I could add lines in the editable section of the file.  Then I save it that way and now when I print the pages, lines are already there for him to write on and guide him to consistently size his letters.

We're enjoying The Silver Chair and the Study Guide for Literature.  The punks are improving thinking, vocabulary, and writing skills.  I was surprised how attentive they are becoming as they get older.  As soon as I mentioned that the woman with the knight wore a green dress, Xav shouted, "Wait a minute, a green dress?" and the wheels were turning.

Others in The Crew are also reviewing The Silver Chair E-Guide as well as several other Progeny Press literature study guides.  Click the banner below to see what they thought about these guides.

I previously reviewed an upper elementary e-guide written for The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla.  While the guides are very similar, there is a marked difference in the reading and comprehension level required for the middle school level e-guide and book, The Silver Chair.
The Mission of Progeny Press
"To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"

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