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An Elementary Writing Curriculum

Reading and Studying Sarah, Plain and Tall With a Literature Unit From Progeny Press (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Although I love literature and love to read aloud to my children, I often have difficulty finding literature unit studies that I actually like. That's because many of them have so much to do with basic comprehension and don't seem to guide the reader to really think about the text. I've always liked the literature units from Progeny Press, however. I think they do a good job of bringing in some basic comprehension while also guiding kids to really think about the text.

We've had the chance to review for Progeny Press before and enjoyed the literature units, so I was excited when we had the opportunity to review the Interactive Study Guide for Sarah, Plain and Tall from Progeny Press. This guide is recommended for upper elementary school ages and sells for $17.99 as the regular price on the site.

Review of the Sarah, Plain and Tall literature unit from Progeny Press

About the Sarah, Plain and Tall Interactive Study Guide...

The study guide we received is a downloadable product. We received the digital download. The books do not come with the Progeny Press study guides. Many of them can be checked out from the library. I chose to purchase ours because this a book I really like, and I thought there would be times we will use it again.

One really cool thing about these interactive guides is that they can be written in directly on the computer and don't have to be printed off. (All of Progeny Press' guides aren't interactive, but Sarah, Plain and Tall was.) I chose to print ours off and put them in folders for the girls because we are short on computers right now, and I didn't know how easy it would be for them to both take turns filling in answers and saving their work.

Review of the Sarah, Plain and Tall literature unit from Progeny Press

The interactive guide has a variety of activities. It does not focus primarily on basic comprehension. Instead, it offers opportunities for the reader to really think about the story. Sarah, Plain and Tall has some deeper themes to discuss, and the guide does a great job bringing some of those out and providing a variety of ways to interact with the text.

Review of the Sarah, Plain and Tall literature unit from Progeny Press

The guide contains

  • A synopsis and author information as well as information about the time and setting of the story
  • Prereading activities to get kids thinking about what they are going to read
  • Vocabulary exercises 
  • Thinking questions that encourage kids to think about the deeper themes and meanings of the story
  • Bible references that relate to the reading
  • Literature response that includes activities such as completing compare/contrast charts, note taking about the characters
  • Activities with literary terms and devices such as similies and paraphrasing
  • Puzzles- crossword and word search
  • Hands-on activities such as a bread recipe such as Sarah would have made
Progeny Press breaks the guides down so that you are reading a few chapters, then completing a set of activities. I really like this format. I don't like to read the whole book and then do activities because I think we can have better discussions and the kids understand more when the material is fresh. But, sometimes, having questions or activities after every single chapter is too much- especially if the book has shorter chapters as Sarah, Plain and Tall does.

Our use of the guide...

I chose the Sarah, Plain and Tall guide because I'm doing American history with my younger girls -ages 11 and 10- this year, and the book fits well with discussions of America's early pioneers and the expansion of the country. It's the story of a family who lives on the prairies. The story is told by Anna, the older child. Anna's mother died when her little brother Caleb was born. Her father sends back East for a bride who can be a wife to him and a mother to Anna and Caleb. Sarah responds. She comes from Maine, beside the sea, so the prairies are very different. Anna and Caleb really want her to stay and become their Mama. The story centers around Anna's thoughts and feelings as she and Caleb and Jacob, their father, begin to develop a relationship with Sarah.

I read the book aloud to the girls. Before reading, I read through the synopsis and background information with them. We also did a few of the prereading activities such as mapping where Sarah came from in Maine and looking at how far that is from the prairie. After every three chapters, there was a segment of the interactive study guide to complete. For some of the activities, I had the girls read them and work independently. For some, we read through the activity together. 

Review of the Sarah, Plain and Tall literature unit from Progeny Press

I love the Biblical integration with the story, and we took the opportunity to talk about the passages in relation to our reading. That brought up some really good discussion. For the longer thinking questions that required more writing, we occasionally did them orally. My youngest struggles with writing, and it was just too much for her. My 6th grader enjoys writing and often wrote answers whether I required it or not.

In summary...

Once again, I was very impressed with the Progeny Press study guides. The Biblical integration, the balance between comprehension and more in depth interaction with the text, and the format of reading a few chapters at a time and then completing activities are all things I particularly like. The girls seem to respond well with them also as long as I balance the writing required for my youngest. Several of my children have enjoyed using these study guides in the past, and I know we'll be looking for more Progeny Press guides in the futures.



The facts...

Company: Progeny Press
Age recommendation: Upper elementary 
Price: Currently $17.99 on the site
Connect with Progeny Press:

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Other Review Crew members reviewed this and other Progeny Press study guides. You can see what they thought by clicking below.


Progeny Press Review



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