Reading good stories is something that is central to our homeschool. We will often include everyone in literature studies – especially when we have a good audio version. Audio books make it easy for everyone to participate – the younger ones can “read” a book above their reading skill level, Mama can be driving, or we can be working on chores. We will often use historical fiction during the school year, but for summer school, we look for something that takes us in different directions. We often choose post-apocalyptic or science-fiction settings. That is exactly what we have with The Scavengers by Michael Perry. And because everything is a learning opportunity, I try to include study guides to give us activities and guide our literature studies. Progeny Press is my favorite source for literature study guides, like The Scavengers – eGuide.
Progeny Press has three different formats, printed book, CD, and pdf download for their literature study guides. We are using the digital version, the eGuide. It is easy to download – no waiting, and able to printed or filled in digitally. We have been using Progeny Press study guides for years. I trust their age recommendations for the literature selections and that the choices are safe due to their Christian worldview. When I had fewer and younger children it was easy to keep up with reading their books with them or before them to make sure there would be nothing objectionable. As my children get older, I hope they have learned to be discerning themselves. A quick check of the Progeny Press offerings lets me know not only what ages a title is appropriate for, but also if we can get some language arts worked in as well.
When we read a book all together it allows us to discuss it together as well. Many of the questions posed in the study guide are perfect for sparking interesting conversations. As The Scavengers is a middle school-age selection, I expected the four older children to participate in the discussions. From the rising 7th grader to the high school junior, they have all been offering thoughts. Often the 5th grader joins in with thoughtful answers as well. The 3rd grader? He is mostly just enjoying the story. He is learning though. Just by listening in to both the book and the discussions he is learning. Don’t underestimate the value in literature that is above a child’s reading level.
There is more to the Progeny Press study guide than questions discussing comprehension or analysis of the story, often in comparison to Scripture. We have also been exposed to new vocabulary and writing techniques and devices. We’ve explored similes and metaphors, spoonerisms, alliteration, and consonance. Learning about these types of things is much more fun and effective when derived from a book we are reading vs a textbook or worksheets. The questions where individual responses fit best, the children fill in the answers directly into the pdf. For vocabulary activities, such as crossword puzzles, we print those pages for all needing them (which is allowed with the pdf copies for your immediate family). As much as I prefer using printed materials, these study guides show how eGuides can be a good fit for our family.
The Scavengers is set in the future, an undetermined amount of time into the future. The story is told by Maggie, or Ford Falcon as she has named herself. She mentions that when her parents were children people argued whether the earth was warming or cooling. Some of the city amenities she mentions missing are things common to our time, so our assumption is that the setting is 20-30 years in the future. Other current “hot topics” are referenced such as genetically modified food and animals. Obviously, we don’t know what the future holds (well, we do know some future events from a Scriptural point of view) but it has been interesting to discuss current events in relation to how The Scavengers portrays the future. Mr. Perry wrote The Scavengers in 2014, so the similarities are not coincidental.
With pre-reading activities and the various additional books and activities shared in the study guide, you could spend 8-10 weeks covering this book of 59 chapters. The various lesson pages (10 “lessons” when including pre- and post-reading activities) cover anywhere from 5-10 chapters. Some of the additional resources are on our wish list – The American Boy’s Handy Book of What To Do and How To Do It by Daniel C. Beard is one that features prominently throughout the story. As homesteader’s with a prepping bent, the underlying current of both pioneer and survival living is one our whole family can relate to. Add in solar bears and grey devils and anyone who likes action and adventure will enjoy the story. Though the main character is a girl, our boys are just as thrilled by the story as their sisters.
I don’t want to give too much away, you just need to read The Scavengers for yourself (or your children should). And, if you’re reading a great book, why not pick up a study guide to go along with it and count that learning time, no matter the time of year. The Crew Families have reviewed 3 additional selections spanning all ages, The Josefina Story Quilt, The Green Book, and Perelandra. Click the image below to read all the reviews.