SneakerBlossom study guides are great for those pursuing a classical education from a Christian worldview, and they will also work well for those who don’t want to use the Christian worldview component or for those not educating in a classical manner. You can pick and choose from the books to be studied and the ways that students will study them.
Thus far, there are study guides for six books written about the period of Ancient Greece and Rome. The literary works are mostly retellings of classical literature age-appropriate for children in the elementary grades. The titles of the books for which there are study guides are:
- Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff
- The Aeneid for Boys and Girls by Alfred J. Church
- The Wanderings of Odysseus by Rosemary Sutcliff
- Atticus the Storyteller's 100 Greek Myths by Lucy Coats & Anthony Lewis
- D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Edgar & Ingrid D'Aulaire
- Augustine: The Farmer's Boy of Tagaste by P. & T. De Zeeuw
You probably noticed that the first five books are related to ancient Greece, and the last book, which is about Augustine of Hippo, is a biography that takes place in the Mediterranean region during the time of the Roman empire.
The next set of study guides will address medieval literature, and some of them should become available in the summer of 2021. Thus far, the publisher lists three books for which they are writing study guides:
Stories of Beowulf Told to the Children by H.E. Marshall
Stories of Roland Told to the Children by H.E. Marshall
The Canterbury Tales translated and adapted by Barbara Cohen
SneakerBlossom study guides have a number of options that make them very flexible and usable for students from about second grade through high school. You can read the same literary work aloud with all of your children, then use whichever SneakerBlossom books are appropriate for each child for the activities.
While the SneakerBlossom series is called study guides, these books are actually a mixture of study guides and answer keys. There are six different SneakerBlossom books for each literary work from which to choose those to suit different ages, situations, and learning approaches. The six books available for each literary work are a study guide, three different workbooks, an answer key, and a book with only questions. All of these present different options for pairing a source for questions and activities with a source for answers. All of the SneakerBlossom books are print items except the questions books, which are only available as PDFs.
I will describe the elements within these books, then let you know which elements are in which books. Note that the books cover the material in each literary work a chapter at a time for most books, and story by story for books such as D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.
Elements in the Sneaker Blossom Books
Character Identification: This is a list of characters introduced in the chapter or story. They are identified for levels A, B, or C, indicating decreasing levels of importance. Level A characters would be the most important characters, ones that all students should be able to identify. Students write brief descriptions of each character. To keep things easier, you can require students to write about only level A characters, but you can add level B or C characters if you want to make it more challenging.
Character Index: A reference resource that lists all of the characters in the book, it shows the chapter in which each one appears, the type of character, the level of difficulty (A, B, or C), and a brief description of each character.
Map Work: A few maps are included in the books for students to trace journeys or identify locations. Map activities also have levels of importance: A, B, or C.
Comprehension Questions - simplified: These are primarily multiple-choice questions with a few fill-in-the-blank questions.
Comprehension Questions - more challenging: These are open-ended questions for either discussion or written responses.
Suggested Lines of Discussion to Pursue: These are open-ended questions that require deeper thinking and application of a Christian worldview. For example, “Compare and contrast the Land of the Dead with the Christian beliefs about Heaven and Hell” (SneakerBlossom Study Guide for The Wanderings of Odysseus: Complete, p. 22). You can skip these if you do not want Christian content or the worldview aspect of the study.
What is in Each Book
Parents who want all of the elements can purchase either the book titled Complete Study Guide or the two books that are titled Questions and Answer Key. Students can be given assignments directly from these books, but it should be easier to give students one of the workbooks so that they don’t have to recopy information before doing their work. Any of the workbooks can be used with only the Answer Key book.
Complete Study Guide
All of the elements except the simplified questions are in the Complete Study Guide. (Answers to the simplified questions are included in the answer key section of that book, so you could still have a student using the Relaxed Workbook described below.) Intended for use primarily by the teacher, the Complete Study Guides have all of the answers in the last half of the book. You could work with only this book, but you would have to write out or have students copy from it the names of characters, the mapwork, and any questions for which you want students to write out the answers. (PDFs of the maps are available by email from the publisher if you need them, but that helps with only one the map work.)
The Questions books are available only as PDFs. They have the lists of characters for each level, mapwork, the more-challenging questions, and the suggested lines of discussion. (Add the separate answer key book and you have all of the elements of the Complete Study Guide book.) The Questions books are useful if you want to give them to students to work from without having answer keys available to them.
The Relaxed Workbook lists only level A characters and map work for level A, and the simplified questions. It has a character index at the back showing information for only level A characters. The format and content make this a good choice for younger students.
The Studious Workbook lists characters from levels A and B and map work for level A. It has only the more-challenging comprehension questions. It has a character index for level A and B characters.
The Scholarly Workbook lists all three levels of characters. Near the back of the book, the character index has charts with all of the information for each character except their description. These multi-page charts have space for students to write their own descriptions into the workbook. Map work includes all levels. The workbook includes the more-challenging comprehension questions with blank lines for students to write out their answers. It also has the Suggested Lines of Discussion, although they are labeled “Questions for Research, Discussion and Essays.” If you choose to have students write out their responses and thoughts for these questions, they will need to do so outside of the workbook since there is not enough space in the workbook.
The Answer Key book, like the answer key within the Complete Study Guide, includes all types of answers: the complete character index, an alphabetical list of map locations (all levels), answers to multiple-choice questions, suggested answers for comprehension questions, and ideas for the Suggested Lines of Discussion.
Religious Point of View
The SneakerBlossom books are broadly Christian, although they reveal a slight favoritism for Protestantism on rare occasions. It is important to note that Augustine: The Farmer's Boy of Tagaste was written from a Protestant point of view and has a couple of comments disparaging the Catholic Church at the beginning and the end. The SneakerBlossom Complete Study Guide for the book mentions this and encourages parents to use these comments as points of discussion.
There are many study guides for literature available, but none of them have the flexibility of the SneakerBlossom books. In addition, the biblically-based worldview questions are excellent for helping students learn how to analyze literature from a Christian perspective.