I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
Focus on The Hobbit with Memoria Press Literature Curriculum was made possible with a copy of the Seventh Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press for review as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.
When I attended school, I remember we had a thick textbook for our language arts classes. Inside were excerpts from books along with tidbits on grammar and writing. Often times, I found that some of those snippets had me wanting to find the entire book and other times I felt like it was drudgery. Being a homeschool mom allows me to either repeat that same approach or try something a bit different.
My 7th-grade son is definitely one who enjoys reading a complete story, not just a small piece. And, he does not mind having a workbook or series of questions to answer which show his reading comprehension. When I saw that Memoria Press’ Seventh Grade Literature Guide Set provided both and included a favorite novel, The Hobbit, I knew that this would be a good fit for this particular learner.
What You Get With this Memoria Press Literature Curriculum Set
Memoria Press believes that pushing students to read slightly above their grade level will provide a challenge that will yield a better reader. (I totally agree!!) Their literature program takes this approach starting in grade 2. Students are encouraged to move beyond reading for pleasure and learn to engage an active, discriminating mind to think, compare and contrast as they are going through a piece of good literature.
For each of the four book titles (Anne of Green Gables, The Bronze Bow, The Trojan War, and The Hobbit) you receive both a student workbook and a teacher guide.
The student workbook focuses on vocabulary, spelling, comprehension, and composition skills. The study guides are divided up by book chapters (and in the case of The Hobbit, they have a few lessons for just the dwarves’ poem) with all four focus areas addressed in the lesson. A word study section is included to build vocabulary includes the use of a dictionary to find definitions to the words. Reading comprehension is determined through pointed questions to see if they are catching key details of the novel. Composition skills come through opportunities for written response beyond a simple comprehension question.
Quizzes and exams are found in the teacher guide and will check how much the student is retaining from their walk through the material. The tests have a mixture of matching, fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice and essays. Along with the blank quizzes and tests, you will find answer keys for all workbook pages and suggested answers for the discussion questions. The enrichment activities tend to be more ‘fluid’ and not have a set response. So, there is no answer key available for most of those activities.
Instead of a firm “day 1, day 2, etc.” format, the study guides offer guidelines for how to approach the program. Previous vocabulary, the plot thus far, and basic concepts can be reviewed as well as looking at the reading notes, vocabulary and comprehension questions ahead of reading the particular chapter. Once the reading is completed, the student can then work on the vocabulary, comprehension questions, quotations and discussion questions, and enrichment activities.
Each of the novels is expected to take 6 to 7 weeks. Note: The Hobbit has an Introduction, 19 Chapters, three poetry sections looking at The Dwarves’ Song, 4 quizzes and 2 exams. You would need to do a chapter / section per day and give each quiz and exam their own day to have it fit into that time frame. If your child takes longer to read and digest, then the study might need closer to 9 weeks to complete. With only 4 books for the school year, I do not personally think 9 weeks per study is unreasonable.
Our Thoughts on this Memoria Press Literature Curriculum Set
As I shared, this particular grade level included a study on The Hobbit. My son has a hardback copy which was a birthday gift this past year per his request. (The paperback copy which is my husband’s has seen significant wear from the boys!) Between reading this particular novel when he was in 1st grade (he was determined!) and watching the movies, the story is familiar. However, he’s always taken an entertainment approach to the times he’s read the story instead of digging deeper.
What became obvious to me as we began the study guide is that he really has been doing more of a skim reading approach instead of contemplating what he is reading. I found that his willingness to do writing of any kind is a challenge. Knowing that some battles do not have to happen, I allowed him to do the reading comprehension questions orally.
Thankfully, his dad is a lover of the story and was willing to encourage him on what he considered challenging: rewriting The Dwarves’ Song from poetry to prose. While the encouragement got him to try, the actual end result was far from the example response in the teacher’s book. Now, he had no qualms doing the more fun enrichment activity of figuring out the Runic Alphabet and then translating some phrases with his key.
I love having the quizzes and exams to come back and see if the work he is doing really sticks. While you could easily skip this portion of the material if you have a child resistant to testing of any sort, I find that it is beneficial to have test taking skills. For The Hobbit, some of the questions have the student referring to a map showing where different locations are in the story.
As he wraps up his time in The Hobbit, we are already considering which of the other novels he will complete this school year. I suspect it won’t be Anne of Green Gables, but am sure he’ll enjoy whichever of the titles he picks. Personally, I’d love to do Anne of Green Gables with him and will be lobbying for it over the summer.
Overall, I am quite impressed with the depth of the child’s discovery of a particular novel using the literature curriculum from Memoria Press. Learning to read critically is an important skill and using engaging literature selections is a great way to teach it. I am hoping that the more we pursue this skill, the easier it will be for him. And, I am eagerly looking at lower levels for my youngest son’s future studies.
What are some ways you’ve taught literature for middle school?
Don’t just take my word for how we found this to be. Visit Memoria Press Review post on the Schoolhouse Review Crew website to see what other homeschooling parents thought about this and other self-paced courses.