A Literature and Composition Course for 7th Graders | Review

Hewitt Homeschooling offers homeschool literature and composition courses from K through high school, as well as grading and testing services. I recently had the opportunity to try their Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set with my soon to be 7th grade son, Malachi.

For this review, I received:
  • Teacher's Guide
    • Includes a weekly planning schedule, answers to comprehension questions, an explanation of the literary lesson, workbook answers, and more 
  • Student's Guide
    • Includes an introduction, vocabulary lists, comprehension questions, literary lessons, a mini lesson, and writing exercises to be completed after workbook activities   
  • Workbook
    • A consumable book with writing activities that include short answer, multiple choice, creating outlines, filling out graphic organizers, editing, writing one page reports, cross word puzzles, word searches and more. 
  • Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children
    • A delightful poem and story book that contains forty-one intelligent stories and eighty-three poems by authors such as Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Lear, Nathaniel Hawthorne and other well known authors and poets. It is organized with a seasonal scheme with poems and stories primarily from the 19th century or earlier that flow together well. These are timeless stories and poems that can be read again and again. 

Additional books needed for this course:
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  • All Creatures Great and Small
  •  Helen Keller The Story of My Life
    In this course, 7th grade students will read two novels, two non-fiction books, two short stories, and several poems for a total of 8 unit chapters.

    Elements of each chapter:
    • Introduction - to be read before the assigned reading
    • While You Read - questions or clues to watch for while reading
    • Vocabulary List - words your student may not know
    • Comprehension Questions - to ask your student while reading (how often is up to you!)
    • Literary Lesson 
    • Mini-Lesson
    • Writing Exercises - one exercise to be completed per chapter after completing the workbook pages

    Literary Lessons and Mini-Lessons in this course include:
    • Poetry, Rhyme, Limerick, and Haiku
    • Creativity and Nonce Words
    • Dialogue and Saying it with Style
    • Autobiography and Brainstorming 
    • Sound in Poetry, Cinquain, and List Poems
    • Character Sketch and Choosing a Topic

    Our Experience with Lightning Lit 7

    I used Gr 7 Lightning Lit with my 12 year old, Malachi, who will be in 7th grade this fall.

    Lightning Lit 7 has a weekly schedule rather than a daily schedule. This meant that my child completed all weekly tasks at his own pace throughout the week.

    The lessons are divided into two semesters that are 18 weeks long for a total of 36 weeks of lessons. During the this review, Malachi completed the first 11 weeks of the first semester schedule.

    Weeks 1 & 2

    During this time, he read "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" by Rudyard Kipling from Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children.

    Then he read the Literary Lesson on Plot Line. He studied exposition, foreshadowing, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution/denouement. The mini-lesson was on story openers and how to make them interesting. In the workbook, he filled out a graphic organizer on plot line to identify each part, read Little Red Riding Hood and identified its plot line, identified the best openings, wrote his own openings, rewrote a story in his own words, wrote a paragraph from note cards, edited a paragraph for capitals and apostrophes, identified nouns and adjectives, did a crossword puzzle and word search, completed a graphic organizer, created a storyboard, and more! 

    After all workbook exercises were completed, he headed back over to the Student Guide to choose one of three writing assignments. Malachi chose to write a short story and identify its plot line. 

    Weeks 3 through 9

    Malachi dug deep into Tom Sawyer during the rest of the review period. Each chapter has a list of vocabulary words with definitions and comprehension questions, and this particular book is scheduled out over 7 weeks. It took Malachi about a week to read the book, but it took me another week to realize why he was so full of tomfoolery! He lived out all his childhood dreams of mischievousness through the character of Tom Sawyer and went through what I now call his "Tom Sawyer" stage. When he asked to read Huck Finn, I said no. It's a high school level book anyways, and I needed a break from his silliness. Who knew a book could have such an impact? Of course, he loved it! 

    Weeks 10 & 11

    While he read the book quickly, he took the scheduled amount of time to work through the workbook and writing exercises. He had soccer camp one of these weeks, so he did one exercise per day. The Literary Lesson on plot line deepened with a study of subplots. Tom Sawyer is full of little stories called subplots that weave into the main plot line. The Mini-Lesson was on creating outlines.

    The workbook had him matching plot line terms and definitions, writing his own outline, writing from note cards, recognizing fact and opinion in writing, identifying pronouns and antecedents, and doing a crossword puzzle and word search (just for fun!).

    Then he chose a writing exercise from the Student Guide. He chose #3a and wrote a paper explaining what he thought the ending of "The Lady and the Tiger" (a story from the workbook exercises) should be. His paper was well written, but I should note that because this is a composition course, some knowledge of writing is needed. In other words, this program assumes your child can write at a 7th grade level. All writing instruction is taught by example through the workbook activities, but the exercises themselves are just writing prompts. This is what initially turned me away from the Language Arts program of my favorite literature based curriculum company, however, we have been doing an intensive writing course this past year, and I feel much more confident guiding my child through these types assignments now!

    Our Thoughts on Lightning Lit 7

    Lightning Lit 7 is written to the student and can be used independently. We did all comprehension discussion orally because this is what we are used to doing, but I could have had him write his answers down and graded them using the Teacher's Guide which is a valuable resource when discussing the book or reading selection. I loved that I was able to intelligently discuss the book as he read it.

    The Workbook exercises are like mini writing assignments and offer plenty of writing practice through a variety of activities. The grammar exercises were easy for Malachi, but I need to remind him to use capitals where needed even when writing informally.

    Lightning Lit 7 is a very doable literature and composition course for 7th grade students. I like that it uses short stories, poems, and full length unabridged novels. The book selection is great. Malachi liked it all - Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children, the books, and the writing activities. He especially liked the word search and crossword puzzles.

    Our literature course scheduled for this coming year will have Malachi reading 19 books over 36 weeks, so I wondered if the amount of reading material scheduled (however awesome!) is not enough content to cover a full school year. Since we were easily able to double up, I think Lightning Lit 7 would be sufficient for 1 semester course for an advanced student who loves to read, but perfect for an average student or even a child who doesn't like to read for a full year course.

    Hewitt Homeschooling offers many other homeschool literature and composition courses, as well as a paper grading service, so be sure to click below to read more reviews!

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    1 comment

    1. Excellent review. I think you've convinced me that my 7th grader needs this!