I first fell in love with Shakespeare when I was in 9th grade and I was forced to read Romeo and Juliet. I blame my love of Shakespeare on Ms. Bradovitch. In addition to Romeo and Juliet, she made us read the sonnets and write papers. I did so well in her class that I found myself promoted to honors English classes for the rest of high school. Not so sure I liked that part but I have never lost my love of Shakespeare. It only grew as the years have passed.
Because I love Shakespeare, I want my daughters to be as excited as I am about the Bard and his writings. In a previous crew year Boobear and I had the opportunity to use and review Shakespeare Tragedies and Sonnets. When Hewitt Homeschooling offered the crew the opportunity to review Lightning Literature and Composition: Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets Student’s Guide and Teacher’s Guide, I begged for the chance to review it. Yes, begged. No, not just because it is Shakespeare but because it is Lightning Literature from Hewitt Homeschooling!
Shakespeare Comedies & Sonnets covers 4 plays and 8 sonnets. Lightning Literature presents the course in 4 Units with 2 lessons per unit. The first lesson of each unit is a play and the second examines the two sonnets for that unit. You can see the plays and sonnets used in the Table of Contents.
Let’s Take A Tour: the Student’s Guide:
Although you do need to have access to copies of the plays, which can be purchased from Hewitt Homeschooling or obtained on your own, you do not need anything else. The Student’s Guide contains the literary lessons, comprehension questions, discussion questions, writing assignments and project suggestions.
Before beginning Unit 1, there is an “Introduction” section and a section about William Shakespeare. The introduction portion also includes a subsection entitled Paper Writing 101. There are sections for how to use the student guide and a subsection of Activities to Enhance Your Study.
In addition to information about Shakespeare’s life, the Shakespeare section also provides information on the Schools of Shakespearean Criticism, The Plays, and The Sonnets. The student will also find helpful information about how to read Shakespeare, and some guidelines for How to Approach the Lessons.
After the four Units, there are four appendices. Appendix A has discussion questions and project suggestions. Project suggestions are listed under categories such as art, memorization, and music. Appendix B is a reading list. These are not required but “these books of Shakespeare criticism are particularly useful.” (p. 157)
I love Appendix C because it has movie and video recommendations for each of the four plays. Ms. Kamath doesn’t just list the titles but gives her opinion and gives pertinent information such as “this is your only choice for a traditional production.” (p. 159 referring to Felicity Kendal’s Twelfth Night [BBC]) Appendix D has two schedules: Semester: 18 Weeks and Full Year: 36 Weeks.
Would I Want the Teacher’s Guide:
In a word? Yes. First it is only $2.95. There is a short introduction that encourages teachers to be familiar with the Student’s Guide. The next section is Grading Tips. I need this section. The Teacher’s Guide includes checklists and grading templates. This little binder-ready packet includes the answers to the comprehension questions. The rest of the Teacher’s Guide includes information that is also included in the Student’s Guide: Schedule, Discussion Questions, and Project Suggestions. The Grading Tips and Answers to the Comprehension questions are worth the $3.
How Tailorbear Is Using Lightning Lit Shakespeare Comedies & Sonnets:
Tailorbear is only 15. She has not gained the same level of independence that her older sister had when Boobear did her Shakespeare Tragedies & Sonnets studies. Tailorbear needs a bit more handholding but is exceeding my expectations. To say that she dislikes writing is an understatement. To say that she detests formal writing is also an understatement, yet not only did she willingly choose her writing assignment for her first paper, she likes it!
We are moving at a pace a little faster than the Full-Year Schedule but slightly slower than the Semester Schedule. She independently read the required sections of the Student’s Guide but we chose to read the play aloud. Turtlegirl (who has studied Twelfth Night before), Tailorbear, and I would divide the parts for reading. This helps to bring the play to life. Ms. Kamath recommends reading the plays aloud. I was able to find a free public domain version of the play in both Kindle and NOOK formats so that we could all have the same exact version which made reading aloud easier.
Being familiar with the story and plotline can make it easier to read the play, so Tailorbear read a narration or story form of Twelfth Night from one of the Shakespeare for children type books we own. This meant she could concentrate on the beauty of the language without also trying to keep the plot and story straight in her head.
Who Should Use This:
Lightning Lit & Comp Shakespeare Comedies & Sonnets is recommend for 11th-12th grade students, students who have used two high school level Lightning Lit courses, studying Renaissance history, or interested in Shakespeare. Tailorbear is just finishing up 9th grade work and would be considered 10th grade in the fall. She’s on the young side to be studying Shakespeare but because she is my daughter and because she has two older sisters who have studied Shakespeare, Tailorbear has already been exposed to Shakespeare. I would not use this program with a student as young as Tailorbear who did not already have some experience with high school literature studies and some experience with Shakespeare. I think it is also helpful to have a solid foundation of writing skills.
- The Vender: Hewitt Homeschooling
- The Product: Lightning Lit & Comp Shakespeare Comedies & Sonnets
- The Author: Elizabeth Kamath
- Format: Student book is perfect bound, teacher guide is three-hole punched paper and stapled (ready for your binder)
- Age Range: 11th – 12th grade or two previous years of high school Lightning Literature
- Price: Student’s Guide: $29.95 Teacher’s Guide: $2.95
- Also Available: Hewitt Homeschooling also offers a complete Pack which includes the plays as well as the Student’s Guide and Teacher’s Guide for $55.72
- Samples: Student’s Guide Table of Contents Sample and Chapter Sample; also Teacher’s Guide Table of Contents, Grading Tips, and Schedules.
- NOTES: Hewitt Homeschooling offers a variety of resources including Reports, PASS Test and more levels of Lightning Literature.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.