Hewitt Homeschooling is a well known company that offers amazing literature guides with the focus of improving students reading and writing skills. Their main product, Lightning Literature, exposes kids to great books while grooming their grammar and writing skills. Students read the book and do the corresponding workbook pages.
Until recently, Hewitt Homeschooling was geared towards middle and high school students. Now they are expanding to include elementary students in their product mix. Last year they launched Lightning Literature for 1st graders and this year, 2nd grade is getting a turn.
For this review, we were sent Lightning Literature & Composition - Grade 1. Our package contained a student workbook and teacher's manual. This material is made for students in 1st grade.
The student workbook is full color with perforated pages for easy use. The teacher's manual is the backbone of the program. Each week is laid out for the teacher. It tells you what you need to do each day and provides space to record answers. Other than getting the book for each week's lessons, there is very little prep involved.
Lightning Literature uses great, classic books to teach grammar and composition. The lessons start very basic and progress to more difficult lessons. There are options for students that enjoy writing, but most of the lessons do not require a ton of writing.
How We Used It:
Josie just finished her 1st grade year.
We had actually used Lightning Literature at the start of last year. I had been apart of a test group that was able to download samples, so we were using those as our base. Both of us were loving it, but our life got crazy at the start of 2014 when Gabe's heart surgery was scheduled and we just never got back on track with this curriculum.
As soon as we got our package, I headed up to round up the books we would be needing. All of the titles are classic, well loved books. They are easy to find at the bookstore or the local library.
We started where we had left off in January.
It tells you what day to read the book and gives you discussion questions to ask. There are places in the manual to record the student's answers as well. When we first started this last Fall, I felt that there was an abundance of repetition. As an adult, I felt that it was unnecessary. However, after using it for awhile, I learned that it is very on purpose. Repeating the information with only slight variation really helped Josie understand the material by the end of the week. This did wonders for Josie's confindence.
The book you read doesn't neccessarily have much to do with the lesson.
A few of the book writing style made the lesson more obvious, but for the most part, you read the great book and then the worksheet will use characters and sentences from the book to teach the actual grammar lesson.
The lessons are great.
None of the pages take a long time to complete and there is a variety in the activities. Puncuation, sentence structure, parts of speech, and pluralization are just a few of the topics you will explore. It is all done in a very age appropriate way. The color is awesome and the spaces for writing are a good size.
Students begin diagramming sentences in this curriculum as well.
I don't really feel this is neccessary at this age, but it was nice to expose her to it. I personally don't remember doing this so I was learning right along with her! (That happens more than I should admit!)
Each week also includes a few pages to write a "dictionary," or list of words for each letter of the alphabet. Students are also encouraged to write their favorite part of the story and copy a favorite line from the story.
We didn't use all of the dictionary entry pages or all of the story summery pages, but that is only because writing isn't something Josie enjoys. She was summarizing verbally very well and when I asked her to write it down, she suddenly shortened her ideas to just a few sentences. I felt that it was causing more strife than the entries were worth.
We did those verbally and I think she got just as much benefit. Lightning Literature actually specifies that this is totally acceptable. I appreciated that since sometimes I feel like I'm not pushing Josie hard enough with her writing. This reminded me that I want her to learn the material and gently encourage her to write more instead of forcing it.
I am a fan of Lightning Literature and this product is great.
I 100% will be using this with Gabe. I think that the material is appropriate for a first grader. While I felt that it was a bit slow at the beginning, I soon saw how the material builds on itself in order to give students a firm foundation. The book choices are great, classic books that were easy to find in the library which made this a cost effective curriculum. The lessons didn't take a long time to complete. I think that's important at this age.
Overall, I think this is a winner!
Hewitt Homeschooling Website
1st Grade Lightning Literature Teacher's Guide - $29.95
1st Grade Lightning Literature Student Book - $49.95