For some children, learning reading comprehension, grammar, and writing skills in the context of literature makes things easier. I, personally, love to tie books into our subjects. For this review, we got to check out the eighth grade Lightning Literature set from Hewitt Homeschooling. It includes the Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Student’s Guide, the Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Student’s Workbook, and the Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Teacher’s Guide.
I used this set with my son, who is a new 8th grader. Now, let me say that reading is not really his thing, and in the paperwork I received with the review, it states that the grades are fluid and this guide could be used for 8th-9th grade. I think that it was a little above his level in some respects, so we picked and chose which literature we would read. Next year, I will return to this program to finish it up.
The set comes with a student’s guide, workbook, and teachers guide. The literature is not included, although a lot of it is available at the library. Some of the books used in the 8th grade program include: Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, The Hobbit, and To Kill a Mockingbird (which my son will not read until high school). The program also focuses on some short stories and poetry. Some specific skills addressed in Lightning Lit for 8th grade include: humor, symbolism, setting, and author’s purpose, among others.
Okay, first of all, the books are very well done. The Teacher’s Guide does a really good job of explaining each part of the program, and gives you a suggested schedule for each section. Lessons begin with the introduction to the author and story in the Student’s Guide. From there, children complete the reading. Now, the schedule as it was laid out was a little much for us. The novels were read in large chunks that were too much for my son, so we broke the reading down into smaller pieces. For example, in the first week of Treasure Island, students were supposed to read 12 chapters. We read about eight. But it doesn’t really matter, because the way Lightning Lit works, you just move on to the exercises when you finish the reading. This makes it especially homeschool-friendly in my opinion.
Once the reading is done, the student guide lists some comprehension questions, and then moves into the lessons. Again, the suggested schedule has these set up for completion in one week, but you can certainly slow that timeline down. Students begin by reading the lesson in their workbook. While the lesson is written directly to the students, the Teacher’s Guide offers suggestions for expanding on the lessons. Each lesson has a focus (such as setting for Treasure Island). The main lesson teaches about that focus. A mini lesson, often focused on some type of writing, is also included. Workbook pages relate to both the story, the lesson, and the mini-lesson.
A basic vocabulary list is included, which parents could use for their own lessons if they wanted. I thought the workbook pages were very good. They offered sufficient practice for my son to grasp the concept. Of course, the Teacher’s Guide includes answers to all of the comprehension questions and workbook pages, as well as suggested discussion questions. At the end of each lesson, suggested optional writing activities were included. Some of these focus on creative writing, while others focus on informational writing. We always chose at least one writing activity per lesson.
So, what did I think of this program? I think Lightning Lit and Composition is a VERY thorough and advanced program. It delves deep into the literature while also doing a great job of teaching important concepts your child will need in high school. That said, it was a little much for my son at this point, but I am definitely going to hang onto it for next year. Now, as far as my son’s opinion went, he enjoyed the stories when we read them together, and he liked how the lesson were written directly to him (those he had no problem with on his own) and the workbook pages were easy to complete. Some of the books were just a little meaty and frustrating for him. So, I would recommend this program for strong readers in the 8th grade, and for others, I would suggest looking at a grade below your child’s level (I think the 7th grade book would have been perfect for us!).
The Lightning Lit books are priced as follows: Student Guide: $25.00, Teachers Guide: 20.00, and Workbook: $25.00. I think they are well worth it if you want a solid, literature-based program.
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To see what other crew members had to say about this and the other programs we got to check out from Hewitt, click here: