I am making a disclaimer before beginning this review. We are a Hewitt Homeschooling/Lightning Literature family. That happened after we had the opportunity to review the Lightning Literature and Composition Pack Grade 7 (Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set) some time ago. As a result, I added the curriculum into our school with my youngest child also using the curriculum. So, when the opportunity arose for us to review the Lightning Literature and Composition Pack Grade 8 with Stories and Poems (Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set), I was so happy.
About Lightning Literature and Composition Pack Grade 8 with Stories and Poems
The full pack, which is geared towards students in the eighth grade (and also may be used by ninth graders), includes the following:
Lightning Literature: Grade 8 Student’s Guide, Lightning Literature: Grade 8 Workbook, Lightning Literature: Grade 8 Teacher’s Guide and Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages.
The literature books include the following: A Christmas Carol, A Day of Pleasure, The Hobbit, My Family and Other Animals, To Kill a Mockingbird and Treasure Island.
You may see the sequence of the literature and poetry that is covered in the eighth grade.
For this review, we received physical copies of everything except the six literature books. That was fine, because we already have those titles on our home library book shelves. I love good literature (and books). The titles are also ones you may easily find at your local library or may want to purchase to add to your personal home library.
The Lightning Literature (LL) Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set covers literature and poetry works with activities that include the following:
• Introductions – brief biographies about authors.
• Vocabulary – although it does not meet a comprehensive vocabulary program, the vocabulary section covers a good number of words, per book chapter, to enhance student knowledge.
• Comprehension Questions, Literary Lessons, Mini-Lessons and Writing Exercises.
Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages is a wonderful collection of stories and poems that is sectioned by the four seasons (ex: spring, summer, etc.). Some of the familiar authors included in the compilation are Robert Louis Stevenson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and William Shakespeare. Some not more frequently read authors include Alexander Pushkin, Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (W.S. Gilbert) and Aubrey de Vere. Although only some of the pieces in the book are included in the curriculum, students have ready, in their hands, a wealth of great readings from some talented authors. Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages is a great addition to this curriculum.
How We Used It
The Lightning Literature curriculum comes with a planned schedule for the student. This is extremely convenient and helpful for those parents who may not have time to create a lesson plan. The program is broken up into two semesters (18 weeks each) and lists weekly assignments. I used the schedule as a guide, but also broke up some of the weeks when reading was not the only assignment. An example is the original schedule for Week 5:
Read Chapters 28-34 of Treasure Island, pp. 235-298.
Read Lightning Lit Chapter 2, lesson and mini-lesson, pp. 34-45.
Complete as many workbook pages as possible for Treasure Island, pp. 19-40 (in back of the student guide).
My revision of the schedule:
Monday and Tuesday: Read chapters 28-34 of Treasure Island.
Wednesday: Workbook (W), pgs. 19-26 and Student’s Guide (SG), pgs. 34-41.
Thursday: W, pgs. 27-32 and SG, pgs. 42-45.
Friday: W, pgs. 33-40.
As we continue further into the semester, I will allow River to start working on pacing himself with the goal of completing the weekly assigned work on a schedule he creates for himself. Believe me, I know how important learning time management is and the prepared schedule/lesson plan helps guide towards that discipline in soon to be high school students.
Before River started reading each chapter of Treasure Island, I had him look over the vocabulary words. That allowed him to become familiar with the definitions of some words he would see in the chapter. After he finished reading the chapter, we went over the vocabulary words again and he answered the comprehension questions orally.
River is my child who would rather not write. He is great with literary analysis and critical thinking, but would rather explain it to you verbally than put it on paper. Even though I love to write, I get that about him. Still, I want him to have a good handle on being able to put his thoughts, intelligently, on paper. I love this statement by Elizabeth Kamath, author of Lightning Literature:
“Writing is important for so many reasons. Very few people become professional writers, but every day people write essays for college reports for work or letters to family, newspapers or politicians. Learning to write clearly, powerfully and with depth will help your students succeed in all these endeavors.”
Kamath presents, in Lightning Literature, a literature and composition program for students who love to write as well as for those who would rather be washing dishes. By including activities like the mini-lessons, literary lessons and workbook exercises (ex: multiple choice questions, paragraph writing assignments, critical thinking and grammar exercises and some fun with word searches and crossword puzzles) along with the writing exercises, the writing experience becomes more than just about writing papers. That is pretty much the focus in high school literature programs. If you have a child who loves to write, Kamath also includes several writing options from which to choose. I also love that poetry study is included in the curriculum.
Lightning Literature and Composition curriculum thoroughly studies literature without overdoing the analysis. It takes the student far enough into the study of a book, story or poem without losing him in a lot of extra busywork as do some other literature and composition programs. The workbook exercises also help students to continue practicing some of their basic skills (ex: grammar, critical thinking, etc.) that often get forgotten once the priority of writing papers takes over.
It is important to purchase all three Lightning Literature books – Student’s Guide, Workbook and Teacher’s Guide – to complete the curriculum. The books work collectively to complete the program and frequently refer to each other. If you will have more than one student using the program, you will only need to purchase a consumable workbook for each additional child. Students may share the Student’s Guide.
The Lightning Literature and Composition Pack Grade 8 with Stories and Poems (Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set) is available as a physical item for $143.95.
Social Media Links
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hewittonline Tag: @HewittOnline
Pinterest: https://au.pinterest.com/hewittonline/ Tag: @hewittonline
Hashtags: #hsreviews and #homeschool