Speaking of letting them lead, we were supposed to round out our literature year with Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. We were all set to read it, having finished The Story of Dr. Dolittle. Then my Littles surprised and humbled me once more by asking, “Mama, can we read The Hobbit instead?”
I was raised on The Hobbit. Tolkien was a household hero. So for my Littles to actually request the book made me nothing short of ecstatic. I wanted them to really get the full effect of the novel–light (good) versus dark (evil), and secret maps, lost treasures, fantastic characters and courage beyond imagining. So this called for no ordinary study guide.
It called for this. Not just a folder or binder with some notebooking pages and worksheets thrown in, but a study guide that made them feel like part of the adventure. So the first thing I did was Google a map of Middle Earth and Thorin’s map showing the way to the Lonely Mountain. I printed them out and we tea-stained them to make them look old. We also tea-stained a bunch of lined paper and some worksheets we would be using. I got out my handy-dandy woodburner and burned the edges of the maps and of the folders (in this case, I three-hole punched manilla folders because they were already the right color), and the Littles glued their maps of Middle Earth to the front.
We glued Thorin’s map into the inside cover. That way as the company travels to the Lonely Mountain, we can follow their path on both maps. We used binder rings to add the notebooking paper and worksheets to the folder because I’ve found they are easier to use than brads when you’re dealing with these types of folders.
We didn’t have a lot of worksheets for this guide, but I love to have them keep a character list, especially for books with this many characters. (I mean, the awesome thing about The Hobbit is that there are pretty much 15 main characters. 15. Sure, some of the dwarves and even Gandalf get relegated to minor characters throughout the book, but you still have to keep them straight in your head.) I made this simple worksheet, we tea-stained it and burned the edges… Voila–a worksheet that fits our theme.
As usual, we mostly use this folder for answering daily questions about our reading and doing fun writing exercises like making up dialogues between two characters who don’t ever really speak in the book. The Littles enjoy it more when they know they helped create such a cool place to keep their work. And Littlest Cannot Wait till we’re done reading so he can use his maps for play. With only 2 weeks of school left, he doesn’t have long.
Making this kind of study guide is easy and fun and adaptable to almost any adventure story. In fact, we did one for Robinson Crusoe two years ago that was made to look like a journal. If I can dig one out, I’ll take a pic and post it for you later in the week. In the meantime, keep making literature fun!