Monday, March 19, 2012

Progeny Press Study Guides for Literature


There is a way to help your child get more out of the literature they are reading...Progeny Press Study Guides.  When offered the opportunity to review one of their study guides, I saw that the book, Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt, was a study guide available and, since I am teaching about the Civil War to the 6th-8th grade students at our homeshool co-op in which two of my children are involved, I gladly accepted the assignment.


When I received the study guide, I realized that they have been using Progeny Press products at our co-op for years.  A good friend of mine has been teaching literature for a few years, and I recognized the study guides as Progeny Press guides.  I hadn't realized this previously.

There are many wonderful activities to further their learning while reading literature, and it is all done from a Christian perspective.  There are vocabulary activities and writing activities.  Depending on the book you choose to read, there are connections to history where you learn more about important historical figures and events as it is with Across Five Aprils.

Use of maps is incorporated.  Various elements of grammar such as learning about synonyms, personification, and overshadowing are part of the study guide as well.  There are exercises that allow the student to dig deeper by looking at how what they are reading applies to Scripture.  There are writing assignments that teach the student how to write persuasive essays.  There are so many topics touched upon by these study guides it makes it an invaluable tool along side any other language arts curriculum that might be used.  The student looks so closely at the book through all of these various topics that they are sure to get a greater understanding of what was written than they would have by simply just reading it.

Progeny Press has products available for all grade levels: Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High School.  You can also search by genre and new titles.  There are also additional resources available.  There are items from time to time you can save money on, and there are also CDs available.  I did notice that they offer a military discount of 15% for all active duty military personnel.

There are 36 different study guides for middle school including The Giver, Anne of Green Gables, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Treasure Island, to name a few.  The study guides are available in three different formats: printed and bound booklet, CD in .pdf format, and as a .pdf in an email attachment.  No matter how you receive the material, it all has the same content.  The shipping cost is what varies.  If you receive your guides as an email attachment, there is a simple $3 flat rate fee to cover employee time for order downloads, payment processing, and time spent assembling sending emails.

Pricing is as follows (it seems as if this is for each study guide):
Booklet  - $18.99
CD - $16.99
CD and booklet - $23.99
Email attachment - $16.99

They also sell the books for each of their study guides.  Prices differ depending on the book purchased.

Check out their website for additional information.  There is a FAQ page, a link to physical stores that sell their products, and information about Progeny Press and using their materials.

They can be contacted by address at:

Progeny Press
PO Box 100
Fall Creek, WI  54742

or by phone at:


Their email is

I hope you will check them out and will enjoy their products as much as I do.

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge in order to review it and provide an honest review.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Continuing Fascination

I captured 3 photos using my camera of the clouds in the sky one day a few weeks ago when I was dropping Jacob off for his robotics class on a Saturday morning.  I thought I'd share them with you.  I just love the artistry of God.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm Teaching My Kids How to Argue

Do you get tired of listening to your kids argue?  Did you ever think it would be a good thing to teach them how to argue the right way?  Did you ever consider it an art?


I received The Art of Argument from Classical Academic Press to use with my son who is in eighth grade.  I have been using it also with my sixth grader.


The first book I received and used was The Argument Builder.  As I read this book with my boys, I knew it was too deep and that they were getting lost in the words.  In looking through the book, I could see that it would be a great resource as my boys got older.  I did also receive the book, The Art of Argument, which I began using instead of the other as soon as I received it.  It is much easier to use for younger students.  This book is an introduction to informal fallacies.  It begins to teach the student how to argue correctly by avoiding arguments that are irrelevant, avoiding arguments that presume, and making sure their arguments are clear.  The beginning of the book is a bit wordy as it introduces the idea of logic and fallacies.  I was worried it was going to be like the other, but it has conversations between "Socrates" and "Tiffany" that help to explain things in a way that is easier to understand.

The book details 28 fallacies and encourages the student to memorize them so they will always have them in their memory when trying to determine if an argument is valid.  This is especially helpful in evaluating every day situations presented by advertisements and even political speeches.  There are discussion questions and worksheets.  The book is in black and white, but there are a lot of pictures and illustrations that make learning more enjoyable. 

The Art of Argument is a book in a series of books on logic sold by Classical Academic Press.  The student book is 230 pages and is geared towards junor high students.  It sells for $21.95.  The teacher book includes an answer key and reproducible quizzes.  It also includes the entire student text and sells for $24.95.  There is also a DVD that can be purchased for $54.95.  There are three logic teachers who present the information to four enthusiastic students in a thought-provoking yet humorous way.

Classical Academic Press also sells various language products such as Latin, Spanish, Greek, and French.  They have Bible products available, a poetry curriculum, and education resources for parents.

Classical Academic Press can be reached at 3920 Market Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011.  Their phone number is 866-730-0711.  A catalog can be downloaded as a PDF from the home page.

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge so that I might use it and provide an honest evaluation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Pennsylvania Homeschooling Adventure, Part I

I tried to give a talk on Saturday at the Greater Pittsburgh Homeschool Workshop about putting together portfolios.  I was sleep deprived, so my mind wasn't working well at all.  It was probably the worst talk I've ever tried to give.  This series of blogs, then, is my attempt to rectify my failure.  Hopefully some of the people who left just as confused as when they started will find this blog and gain some valuable information from it.  One of my deepest desires is to be a resource to people who have questions that I am able to find the answers for.  So, here we go...

First and foremost, if you feel God calling you to homeschool, do not disobey.  He will reward you in so many ways. You will wonder why you ever doubted you could do it.  Besides, it is not you doing it alone.  God will be with you EVERY step of the way, even on the days when you are pulling out your hair because your kids just aren't sitting still to do the work.  (I have many of those days.)

Second, if you are even considering homeschooling, contact your school district's administrative office and let them know you are thinking about homeschooling.  They will most likely send you a packet of information about requirements.

The third thing I would recommend before getting started is obtaining a copy of the PA Homeschool Law.  This can be purchased from PA Homeschoolers or viewed on their website at  This will give you information on specific items that are required by the state of Pennsylvania to keep you in compliance with the law.

When do you need to start keeping records for homeschooling or, as I like to phrase it, when does the school district need to know my child exists?  If you have had your child in first grade (not kindergarten) for at least one day and decide to pull them out, you need to file your affidavit and objectives and turn in a portfolio at the end of the year (to be discussed later).  If you haven't had your child in school yet and they don't turn 8 until after September 1st (or whatever your school's cutoff date for birthdays is), you don't need to let your district know they exist.  If your child has not been in public, private, or charter school before they turn 8, the first full school year after they turn 8 is the year in which you need to file your affidavit, objectives, medical and dental records, have your child evaluated at the end of the year and turn in a portfolio.

An notarized affidavit is to be filed "prior to the commencement of the home education program and annually thereafter on August 1st."  You can find an affidavit at  This form is your documentation that you are the superintendent of the home education program, that you will teach the required subjects, that no one in the home has been convicted of a felony, that your child has been immunized (unless religiously exempt), and that your child has had the required medical exams.  It MUST be notarized.  All of the children you are homeschooling can be included on the same form.  You do not need a separate form for each child.

The required subjects for elementary are:  English, to include spelling, reading, and writing; arithmetic;  science; geography; civics; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; art; music; physical education; health and physiology; and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires.

At the secondary level, the required subjects are: English, to include language, literature, speech and composition; science; geography; social studies, to include civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra, and geometry; art; music; physical education; health; and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires.

Next, writing objectives.......

*If you have any tips or suggestions regarding anything in this specific blog, please message me.  I will consider adding your thoughts to my blog.

Monday, March 5, 2012

K5 - A Supplemental Learning Program

K5 is an online reading and math enrichment program specifically for kids in kindergarten through grade 5.


My daughter is in 4th grade, and I am always looking for something to enhance her math skills.  This program was an added bonus for us in that it had reading and spelling.  While I wasn't concerned about her ability to read, I did appreciate the added spelling lessons, as well as vocabulary lessons.

Upon entering the math portion of the website, the student is given an assessment.  I went through this with my daughter.  Much of what was asked in the assessment was beyond her learning so far.  She does not enjoy math to begin with and was frustrated with this program.  The problems in the assessment weren't simple but expected greater understanding.  

Between segments of the assessment, the student is given a small game to play to break up the assessment.  The characters on the screen are interactive.  When the math lessons start, they teach by speaking so the student does not have to read everything.  The screen is very colorful, so this enhances learning.

The vocabulary and spelling lessons aren't colorful.  They show a simple box where you type your answer. For spelling, you can hear the word being said, and it is clear and understandable.  A sentence is also provided to give context to the word to aid in spelling.

There is a math facts section that times your student's ability to answer math facts quickly.  I personally like this section.  It keeps ME on my toes and makes me feel like my brain is working, but my daughter gets frustrated when she has to try to remember things quickly.


K5 provides a free 14-day trial.  Simply go to and click "Start My Free Trial."  It will then ask you for your information and to create a password but does not ask you for credit card information.  If you are satisfied with the program, a monthly subscription for one child is $25.  Each additional child is $15.  If you sign up for a year, the first child is $199.  Each additional child is only $129.

I believe this to be a great program.  I wish I would have known about it earlier as I could see the benefit of starting a child on it at the beginning of their schooling.  Unfortunately, my daughter is quickly frustrated when she is timed regarding math, as it is a difficult subject for her, and she doesn't like to look like she doesn't know much.  She did, however, do well with the spelling, but that is a section that is not animated and was, therefore, easily bored by it.

There is a FAQ page available for any specific questions you may have regarding K5 at  

K5 can be reached by phone at 888-281-2145 or at their address of K5 Learning, 510-4438 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6R 4R8.

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review of it.