Lightning Lit and Composition by Hewitt Homeschooling {a Crew Review}

Hewitt Homeschooling is all about educating the whole child. They believe in teaching through good literature, hands on activities and academically challenging works that aren’t stifled by age limitations. Thus, this company and its curriculum are extremely Charlotte Mason friendly. Hewitt offers homeschooling products for children pre-k through high school.

We were given two items for review:
Lightning Literature and Composition: American Mid-Late 19th Century Student’s Guide
Lightning Literature and Composition: American Mid-Late 19thCentury Teacher’s Guide

The 160 page student guide is recommended for highschoolers (9th-12thgrade) and is available for $29.95.

Designed to be put into a binder, the three-hole punched teacher’s guide is 44 pages in length and is available for $2.95. It contains answers to the comprehension questions, schedules, writing exercises, discussion questions and project suggestions from the student’s guide, along with grading tips and templates. I found the checklists for grading very helpful. Not being an English major, the task of grading high school level composition papers can seem a bit daunting, but the help in the teacher’s guide made it more than manageable.. almost easy. 🙂 

We received the guides without the books needed for this program. However, being the library frequenters we are, we had no problem getting what we needed. Hewitt does offer a bundle that includes the teacher guide, student guide and the four novels required for $51.96.

The four novels needed are Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Red Badge of Courage and The Call of the Wild. A short story by Bret Harte and selected poems by Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Emily Dickenson are all included in the student text.

The Literary Lesson Outline for this program is:

1. Setting and Theme   (Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet B. Stowe)
2. Sound and Imagery in Poetry   (Leaves of Grass selections by Walt Whitman)
3. Local Color   (“The Outcasts of Poker Flat” by Bret Harte)
4. Humor   (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain)
5. Register   (Poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar)
6. Description   (The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane)
7. Figurative Language   (Poems by Emily Dickenson)
8. Point of View   (The Call of the Wild by Jack London)

The Mid-Late 19th Century selection is meant to last one semester. However, Hewitt has taken into consideration that some kids struggle with literature and composition so they have included both a semester and yearlong schedule for this course. How great is that?

How we used the program

After learning about Harriet Beecher Stowe and her life before and as an author, my freshman son worked his way through Uncle Tom’s Cabin (that’s a long book!!) and answered the comprehension questions in the student guide. The questions don’t come after every chapter but after every five, which is nice. And I especially liked that the questions weren’t mundane “what color was so-and-so’s shirt when she went to he store” questions. They were thought provoking and really made him think about and analyze the literature. After he completed the 45 chapter book (!) he went on to read about Theme (Characters and Theme, Evoking Empathy, Plot and Theme, Setting and Theme, Identifying Theme). We read through the book together and I’ll tell you, it is quite thorough!
After each of the literary works and concepts are writing exercises. Unit 1-Lesson 1 offered eight different writing exercises to choose from. It is only required that they complete one. He picked one requiring him to “focus on any character, other than the main one, and discuss the ways Stowe used that character as an argument against slavery“. He’s still working on it but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s going to be good!

My bottom Line

We have used and reviewed other literature guides before and I’ve quite enjoyed them. I am a huge fan of literature guides- they help understand the life of the author and the times in which they lived, ask thought provoking questions (critical thinking) and take a lot of the work load off of me as the teacher. That being said, Lighting Literature is my favorite guide so far. It may be the Charlotte Mason friendly factor, the teacher and student friendly layout of the program, the grading helps or the great selection of literature to be read by my student, but all in all, I am extremely happy with this program and have already made plans to purchase other guides.

Thank you Hewitt Homeschooling for this great opportunity!

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