Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
Learning to be an active reader is essential. A good study guide can help students practice skills that active readers use. Since Progeny Press has great study guides, I was excited for another opportunity to review one. This time, I opted for one of their Middle School products, the My Side of the Mountain Study Guide.
What Is This Product?
I received a digital download for both the study guide and the corresponding answer key. Both were in PDF form, so I could easily print out what I needed.
Since this is just a study guide, you will also need the novel to accompany it. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George is a book we’ve enjoyed several times over the years, so I already had a copy.
The study guide was 63 pages. It was broken down into several different sections, each covering a few chapters of the book. At the beginning, you’ll find a helpful note to the instructor to help you use the guide in your classroom or homeschool. Then, there’s a quick synopsis of the book and a few paragraphs about the novel’s author, Jean Craighead George.
There are pre-reading activities, to help the kids learn more about the book. Whenever you can activate prior knowledge and help a child get excited about an upcoming course of study, it’s a good thing. My daughter really enjoyed one of the activities, to think of foods she wouldn’t be able to eat in the winter if she had to grow them herself.
She even drew a picture of a small garden to accompany it:
We also took a field trip into the woods. We discussed food that we could eat and shelters we could build if we were surviving out there.
While we didn’t take time to build a shelter this time, we reminisced about shelters the kids had previously built. They typically build one each time we go cut firewood, so we had a lot of fun talking about how they were built. These were not built for long-term survival, but they’d help keep the rain off and give you a safer place to rest for a couple of days.
Another field trip suggestion was to go fishing. Since the pandemic shut down fishing in our state, we weren’t able to do this one. But, we talked about our previous fishing trips. There’s a creek running through the family farm, and the kids have fished it many times. Grandma and Grandpa also take them fishing on the lake.
In each section of the study guide, you’ll find the following:
- Thinking about the Story
- Dig deeper
- Optional Projects and Activities
The vocabulary activities varied from section to section. Sometimes students had to use the context clues to discern a meaning. Other times, they looked up synonyms in a thesaurus. The variety was appreciated. Here’s my daughter with a vocabulary worksheet.
You could print out each page, or fill them in on the interactive PDF. I opted to print them. I did this before we left home for Missouri, and that way we had everything we needed to finish during our trip.
The Questions worked through several types of thinking. Some were very straightforward from the book, and others asked students to think or connect the dots a little on their own.
In the Thinking About the Story section, students learn more about the literary devices used, and study more academic topics about the book.
The Dig Deeper section ties into biblical principles. For instance, in the chapter where Sam meets Bando, it asks:
What is true hospitality? Read 1 Peter 4:8-9 and Romans 12:13. How does Sam show this to Bando?
Finally, the Optional Projects and Activities are just that. Ideas for projects to help students bring the book to life. During the first chapter, one suggestion was to use sheets, blankets, and furniture to make a shelter inside. It asked students to make a bed and decide where they could store food. Most of the kids participated in this activity.
They decided to turn the whole playroom upstairs into a fort. It was neat to see how they set it up. They set out stuffed animals they could set traps for, used blocks for food, and had a lot of fun.
We also received a PDF with answers. It was very straightforward, with the answers provided for each section:
How We Used This Product
My entering fifth grade daughter was the primary user of this product. It’s designed for students in grades 5-8. We read the book aloud, taking turns with pages, and completed the sections in the guide after we read all of the chapters each one covered.
Then we’d take a day to do any of the activities and begin reading again the following day. It really broke things up, which my daughter liked.
There is a lot of writing in this guide, since it’s meant for middle schoolers. I thought it was a bit much writing for this particular child, so we did a lot of the questions orally instead. That’s one of the best parts about homeschooling – you can mix things up as you see fit.
What We Thought of This Product
My daughter and I both enjoyed reading through My Side of the Mountain again and diving deeper into it. She learned a lot of new vocabulary words, and picked up details about the story that she’d missed on previous readings.
I thought the activities were a good mix. There were writing projects, arts and crafts, cooking, and more. My daughter easily found at least one that she wanted to do each time.
If you’re looking for a good way to help your child get more out of reading, I highly recommend the study guides from Progeny Press.