As a homeschool mom, you want your children to read, read, read and enjoy good books.
You read aloud to your children every day, but maybe you want to add more formal literature discussions into your day. Or maybe you would like to begin introducing literary terms.
I have found the perfect solution – a gentle literature curriculum that uses unabridged books to teach literary analysis and terminology! It also adds in some grammar concepts and composition assignments.
This school year I had the opportunity to receive a copy in order to review Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 3 from Hewitt Homeschooling. I was sent a copy of this program in exchange for an honest review.
I decided to combine my 4th and 3rd grade children in this literature curriculum to see how it fit their various learning styles and reading levels.
Lightning Literature and Composition comes with a student workbook a teacher’s guide.
It is 36 weeks of literature studies and discussions, grammar review, and writing and composition assignments.
Each week of work is divided into 4 days with the 5th day being to catch up on any work or to finish up the writing compositions.
For each day, there is a reading assignment, a short discussion guide (outlined in the teacher’s manual), a corresponding page or two in the student workbook that teaches a literary concept, a grammar concept, or both, and a step to complete for the composition assignment.
Here is the booklist for grade 3:
- Sarah Plain and Tall
- Rickshaw Girl
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Random House Book of Poetry for Children
- Ramona and Her Father
- The Big Wave
- Charlotte’s Web
- The Wheel on the School
- The Tale of Despereaux
Today I’m going to be sharing our thoughts on this program, and at a later time I’ll be going through how I used the program and what our week looked like.
In the meantime, you can enjoy this short video tour of the program for an inside look:
Now, on to our thoughts!
I absolutely love the book choices for this program. Many of these books were on my list of books that I want to read with my kids. So I appreciate that quality literature is used as the source material. And through the weeks of the program, each book is read in its entirety. This is not a literature program that is based on snippets of various books.
I was also excited to see that a poetry book is used. There are actually multiple poetry units in this program. There are 4 weeks that are dedicated to poetry study, all using the same poetry anthology. I remember always being intimidated by poetry study when I took high school literature courses, so I think it’s so important that kids be introduced to poetry study at a young age. My kids enjoyed the poetry selections and found them accessible and understandable. I’m hoping this helps take the fear and mystery out of poetry, so they can continue to enjoy it as they get older.
The book discussions are practically perfect. They are not so long and tedious as to suck the joy right out of reading the books, but instead are short and simple – as they should be at this level. They are also meant to be done orally as discussions – no writing long book reports or answering short-answer or multiple -choice questions. And best of all – they include sample answers in the teacher’s guide so you can help direct the discussions and not miss any important information.
The literary discussions were exactly what I was looking for in a literature curriculum. They were perfectly on level but used the actual literary terminology. We learned the differences between nonfiction and fiction writing as well as the differences between fact and opinion. We also studied poetry terms such as rhyme, couplet, repetition, imagery, and speaker. The program teaches how to analyze a poem as well as how onomatopoeia, alliteration, and assonance are used. Other literary devices that are introduced are transition words, dialogue, simile, and metaphor.
The program contains a lot of grammar! There are so many topics covered from common and proper nouns, capitalization, use of commas, types of verbs, diagramming and even suffixes and prefixes. The grammar assignments are fairly short and use topics and sentences taken from the literature. I really liked that the lessons were integrated with the literature assignments, making the program feel like a language arts based unit study.
I appreciated how the composition assignments were broken down into small steps that are to be completed each day. For example, one day might be brainstorming, the next day is narrowing down the topic, and another day is outlining the topic that the child chose. My kids have not done much formal writing other than copywork and dictation, so I was worried they would feel overwhelmed. However, this program takes a gentle and step-by-step approach that made it easy for us to complete the composition assignments.
The student workbook is colorful and fun – it includes lots of pictures and lots of color. The text is big and easy to read for a child. This made the workbook feel approachable.
I was a little worried about adding literature studies to our already full day, but was pleasantly surprised at how little planning I needed to do in order to use Lightning Literature. The teacher’s guide is very clearly laid out and the reading assignments and workbook pages are broken down by day. I was able to just open my manual and get started with our lesson for the day. The lessons didn’t take more than 20 minutes (not including the time to read the chapters of the literature book). I found this was a very doable program to add to our day.
My kids did have one complaint….They did not enjoy the dictionary assignments where they were to choose 5 words from the book or from daily life to write in the dictionary pages in the back of the book. They were then supposed to write the definition and even use the word in a sentence. However, I thought this was a great exercise in learning new words and seeing how words are used in context in literature. I think I’ll be adopting this practice as we move forward in our homeschool, because I appreciated how well they retained the meaning of the words that they studied. These assignments usually only appeared once a week, and I felt they were very beneficial.
I think my one disappointment was the way diagramming is taught in the books. It is not taught in a way that I learned diagramming or the way in which I’ve started to introduce it to my kids. The program takes a sentence and teaches the child to diagram it by drawing a line directly under it and then dividing between a subject and verb. However, in some of the earlier assignments, the sentences contained more words that just a subject and verb so those extra words (like adjectives or prepositional phrases) are just left on the line. While I understand that a child might not be ready to learn what to do with those words or phrases, I’m not comfortable teaching them an incorrect diagram in order to keep it simple for them.
So, I modified some of the sentences, simplifying them or showing my kids the correct way to diagram them. Later in the book, the diagrams become more complex as adjectives and adverbs and phrases are added correctly. However, I prefer to start with simple sentences in the beginning so each word can be diagrammed properly.
Overall, we’re really enjoying this literature program. It’s a nice blend of literature, discussions, grammar, and writing assignments. I think it’s going to be a perfect addition to our homeschool each year. I plan to continue with the program, especially since they just released Grade 4! It’s already on my wish list for next year!!
*Disclosure: I received a copy of Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 3 in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.