Reading great literature with my kids is one of my favorite things to do. We usually start our homeschool day all curled up together on the couch with a good book. Since starting this daily routine a few years ago, I’ve seen my children develop a love for good literature. Now, reading classic literature isn’t just my favorite part of the day, it’s theirs too!
Over the past few weeks we’ve been reviewing the digital version of Carry On, Mr. Bowditch , a study guide by Progeny Press. It’s been a great experience and, wow, what a great way to get more out of a book than just enjoying an interesting story. It’s been a great change of pace to really dig deep and discover treasures that have been just waiting to be uncovered.
Progeny Press creates literature study guides from a Christian perspective. Their goal is to help children have fun understanding literature while using Scripture as a foundation for truth and values. Progeny Press offers study guides for lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school. They offer different formats to fit your needs including digital, CD, and printed books.
The book, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham, is a biography of the genius Nathaniel Bowditch, a sailor and mathematician known for writing the ‘American Practical Navigator’. Although Nat loves numbers, he has to give up school in order to work for his father. Later, he works on a ship as an indentured servant but he continues to study and teach himself. He becomes an expert navigator and writes a comprehensive work on navigation for the benefit of sailors everywhere.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch study guide is geared towards middle school aged children in grades 5-8. The 63 page guide includes background information, pre-reading activities, worksheet activities, and an answer key. The worksheet activities explore vocabulary, characters, and thought provoking questions about the story. Some of the “Dig Deeper” questions incorporate scripture and thoughtfully weave Biblical truths into the story.
Thoughts and Usage
The digital study guide version of Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is interactive, meaning you can type your answers right into the digital file. You can then save your answers to your computer or print your answers out. Although, it’s a really neat feature, I really prefer having a physical copy, so I chose to print the file out and put it in a 3 hole pocket and prong folder.
The study guide groups several chapters together. For example, when we started the book, we needed to read through to chapter 3 before we could start the study guide because chapters 1-3 are grouped together in the study guide, as are chapters 4-6 and so on. I read aloud a chapter or two of Carry On, Mr. Bowditch each day to my son and then, if time allowed, my son worked through a page of the study guide. Because of how the study guide was set up into chunks, though, some days we only worked on the study guide and some days we only read the book.
The study guide was fun for my son. He enjoyed the variety of activities, the matching, the fill-in-the-blanks, and the thoughtful discussion questions. I let my son answer many of the questions orally because some of the essay questions were a little difficult for him.
I really enjoyed the vocabulary sections of the study guide. It was nice to be forced to stop and study the words we didn’t know. It added so much more meaning to the book and deepened our understanding of the story.
The study guide is well written and thorough. For me personally, though, I would’ve preferred the study guide not be set up into multi-chapter chunks. Much of my frustration in using the study guide came from it being divided into such large sections. Whenever we came across a question that we wanted to reference from the book, I had a hard time knowing which chapter to reference. It would’ve been so helpful if the study guide had provided page numbers or at least chapter numbers next to the questions. That way, when the study guide asks my son, “How did Nat’s father react when he was asked to join the privateer’s crew?”, I don’t have to spend 15 minutes helping my son find that section in the book. It would have been so nice to concentrate on one chapter at a time.
I did run across a few errors in the answer key. Maybe that stems from different versions of the book? I’m not sure. It didn’t really have a huge affect on our enjoyment of the study guide anyway.
Progeny Press literature guides are a great way to study classic literature. We’ve definitely enjoyed using the Carry On, Mr. Bowditch study guide and I’m looking forward to using more Progeny Press study guides as we continue to read and study more great classics.