Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Wise Woman - Literary analysis

We have  always used narration in our homeschool but I thought taking a more structured approach to reading and analysing literature might be a good idea, so when I was offered the chance to do a review for Home School Adventure Co I immediately opted for The Wise Woman - with Literary Analysis Journal Questions.

Home School Adventure Co is the brainchild of Stacy Farrell - she is a veteran homeschooler whose focus is to create resources designed to encourage children to be compassionate, strong and wise. She has taken 'The Wise Woman' by George MacDonald and created a programme to encourage students to analyse what they read and look beyond the obvious to find deeper meaning while encouraging critical thinking.

'The Wise Woman' by George MacDonald is a fable about two girls, one is raised as a princess and the other by shepherds but both are spoiled. They both encounter the Wise Woman and the story describes their interaction with her and the lessons they learn - it's a tale of transformation and discusses issues like pride, arrogance and superiority.
I got the Ebook PDF version but it is also available as a spiral bound book. It is designed to work either equally well as either an independent study or as a family read aloud. Home School Adventure Co have sensibly included 'The Wise Woman' in the journal (so you don't have to purchase the book separately) and have broken it down into 14 chapters - each chapter begins by reading the story and then answering the literary questions for that chapter, there are on average 20 questions for each chapter and they vary between simple comprehension questions (what happened when...), through interpretation questions (what do you think the author meant by...) to more thought provoking, deep questions - they really push you to think beyond the obvious and question your own behaviours/attitudes.

I decided this would suit us best as a family read aloud so the younger two could join. I would take turns reading aloud along with Lilly and Sunflower (11 &  9) while Rose and Tulip (7 & 5) listened, then I would read the analysis questions and they would discuss their answers within the group. I did also print off the questions a couple of times so Lilly and Sunflower could write down their answers.

The language is very descriptive and George MacDonald's writing style could be considered verbose or flowery by some, so reading aloud gave us a great opportunity to discuss words they hadn't encountered before. It's worth noting that there is a vocabulary section at the end which does list the more unusual words by page number and chapter while providing you a space to write your definition.

The girls have been completely hooked by this and have begged for extra readings. All of the questions have been thoughtfully put together and have resulted in some interesting discussions (my favourite being whether there was a difference between being nice and being kind). I think that Stacy Ferrell has done an amazing job, she really has created an engaging way to encourage critical thinking. Her work really makes you think deeply about the story and what lesson you can learn and apply in your life. I also love the format, having both the text and questions together in one volume makes it so much easier to use. I would like to have seen the vocabulary sections included with the chapter analysis questions to perfect the format.

The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions is suitable for ages 12 through High School, however can be used as a read aloud for ages 9+. It is available as an Ebook for $14.95 or as a print version for $28.95 (there is a promotion code for $10 off any download purchase. Use code CREW-10 offer expires 15th May 2014.)

You can see what my crew mates thought of this and other Homeschool Adventure Co products over at the TOS Blog

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