How do you study literature? We’ve just finished using the Miss Rumphius E-Guide by Progeny Press. It was our first book unit study, and it’s gone very well. Read on for more about our experience.
We received our 45 page Miss Rumphius study guide download in a PDF form. The book, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (who is also the illustrator) is a true story about her Aunt Alice. As a child, Alice wants to travel the world and live beside the sea. Her grandfather tells her she must do a third thing: make the world a more beautiful place. Miss Rumphius completes the first two goals but then becomes unwell.
One day she’s feeling better and discovers that some lupine flowers that she’d previously planted have spread and they are looking beautiful. She decides that is how she will make the world more beautiful – to plant lupines. She plants so many around her town that she soon becomes known as the Lupine Lady.
One of the reasons my children liked this book was because of the parallels they saw with me. I did some travelling before meeting their father. We live in a Victorian village by the sea, and this year we planted wildflowers in a couple of areas near our home to help our neighbourhood look more beautiful. What a wonderful tie-in that was to this book!
The study guide comes with activities to do before, during, and after you’ve read the book. Such things include:
- Talking about the illustrations
- Irregular plural words
- Unscramble the words
- Field trip
- Community project
I will note here that this study guide has a religious element to particular sections of the questions, but if you’re not comfortable with that it is very easy to either skip over those parts or re-word them in a more general manner. The Miss Rumphius book itself does not have any religious content within it.
Because this was a download that could easily be transported on an Android tablet, I didn’t print everything out. Most of the questions I asked the children verbally so that we could discuss it together. The age guide is for grades 1-3. Kallista is in kindergarten so this gave her a better chance to participate without becoming frustrated with the written work.
I printed out things such as the word unscramble and vocabulary for Tristan to do, although Kallista also helped verbally with some of the answers.
I also printed out a couple of pages so that they could each draw. This was a good project to do in the library one afternoon.
The children enjoyed getting the paints out and painting lupines. We really liked the emphasis on art appreciation in the study guide. There are beautiful pictures in the book, and it discussed what to look for, how to create perspective, and what you can learn about someone from their surroundings.
One of the post-reading activities is to enjoy a coconut. The children both love dried coconut in their trail mix-but they weren’t so keen on it fresh. But they gave it their all to crack that coconut! (Don’t worry – no hands were hurt during the taking of these photos.)
This was the children’s first book study and it went very well. When we finished it, I asked if they’d like to keep the book or if we should donate it. They both replied ‘I love it!’ They loved the story and the fun activities, and I loved that they were able to get deeper into a book and cover other subjects as well as just ‘reading’. Reading is important and I want them to love it as much as I do, but it’s nice to know that they’re able to apply what they’ve read to the greater world.
This was a great introduction to book studies for us and we’ll be looking for further study guides for literature in the future.
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