Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Frog & Toad

We are a big literature family. Our schooling consists mostly of reading books and hands-on projects. That's why I was so excited to be reviewing the Frog and Toad Together study e-guide from Progeny Press.

Progeny Press is a Christian company owned by Michael and Rebecca Gilleland. It is their mission 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!" They offer more than 100 study guides for classic, popular, and award-winning books. The guides are designed to help students better understand and enjoy literature by getting them to think through the themes and ideas written in the stories. The study guides are available in three formats: a physical book, a CD with a PDF ebook, and a downloadable PDF file.

Since my oldest child is 8, I chose a book from the lower elementary (K-3rd grade) section: Frog and Toad Together. My husband and I both enjoyed the Frog and Toad books when we were kids. I still have a couple of them from my childhood, and we've since gotten the others for our kids to read, as well. We even have the entire collection on audio, read by Arnold Lobel himself, and listen to them often. My little ones love hearing these short stories about friendship. Though the two characters are blatantly opposite at time--Frog being the optimist and Toad being the pessimist--their friendship unites them and takes them on many adventures.  

The study guide is broken down according to the chapters, or stories, in the book.
  1. A List
  2. The Garden
  3. Cookies
  4. Dragons and Giants
  5. The Dream

The first part of each section begins with questions about the story: why did toad make a list? why would it be bad for Frog and Toad to eat the whole bowl of cookies at one time? do you think Toad told Frog about his dream? Not only do the questions get the student to review the story, but they also get him to think deeper, to put himself into the story and make decisions.

Within the questions section are Bible verses that compliment the lessons in the stories. The verses are written out in the guide itself, but because a different version from what we read is used, we opted to pull out a KJV and read directly from the Bible. There are also questions that accompany the Bible verses and reinforce the value of friendship.

The kiddos and I would cuddle up together on the couch to read the stories and answer the questions aloud. I find that this read-aloud time helps all the children to hear different ideas and gives me the opportunity to ask more questions and to encourage deeper thought. While they greatly enjoyed this time, they especially loved the parts that followed: the projects!

There are some written activities, like a Venn diagram, word search, and making their very own "list of things to do," but there are many hands-on projects, as well. There's a recipe for making cookies, and art project for drawing your own dream bubble, and painting pictures with watercolors. The highlight, though, was planting seeds, just like Toad did in "The Garden." There are two different seed projects--one to practice vowel sounds, and one to compare circumstances--and we did both. The kids enjoyed going to the store, picking out the seeds, and planting them all on their own. They thought it was so funny that we even read and played music for one set of seeds to determine if they grew better than their non-artistic counterparts! (Spoiler Alert: they grew faster in the beginning, but only 2 of the seeds grew, whereas all 4 seeds grew from the left-alone cup.) 

Honestly, I have nothing bad to say about this study guide, not even a slight suggestion for improvement. The kids and I enjoyed the stories, the question and discussion time, and all the projects. I love how the guides incorporate the Bible and point the readers back to Christ. This study has taken some of our favorite stories and has given them deeper meaning. Whenever you can apply a lesson, rather than just hear about it, it's much more likely to make a lasting difference.  

This study e-guide costs $11.99, and you can view a sample on their site. If your kids are younger than the lower elementary age, don't worry, Progeny Press offers study guides through the high school level, as well. We enjoyed this review and look forward to using another study guide from Progeny Press in the future.

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To read more reviews of this study guide or to check out one of the many others, head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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