Thursday, April 30, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Memoria Press

This school year I have had a crash course in Classical Education. There are some ideas I freely embrace, some I don't, and still some I just don't understand. However, I always feel as a homeschool mom to always be learning, always "perfecting," and changing to meet the needs of the individual student - which I call more eclectic.

I was introduced to Memoria Press a little over a month ago. On their website they have many great articles on the classical method of education. To visit this list click here. There are many articles there to get a taste or a full course meal, depending on what you are looking for.

Memoria Press puts out some great history products. They have reprinted the Famous Men series by John Haaren and A.B. Poland. They have occasionally clarified pronunciations and added beautiful color pictures. Otherwise they are the same as the originals. I was very impressed with the colored pictures. Many are full page and double spread pages. My only disappointment was that they don't have a hard cover. This might be because this would significantly increase the cost.

The Famous Men series is biographical stories of different people during the time period covered. These give young children a foundation in world history before going on to a more thorough study in high school. You could complete one or two guides a year depending on how fast you want to study, and how in depth you want to go, maybe supplementing with other real books. From my perspective, I felt that the books were better understood by second or third grade levels and up.

Also available to accompany the Famous Men series are student workbooks and teacher guides. The student workbooks contain lessons for each reading in the Famous Men series. They include: Facts to know, vocabulary, comprehension questions, timeline work, who said what worksheets, activities to accompany the lessons, drawing pages, tests, and map work. The teacher books are basically answer keys with some additional information and explanations, which I found helpful. The student books are more suited to middle school grades.

The Famous Men of Greece books combines myths (Greek allegory) with truth to tell the history and stories of ancient Greeks:"Apparently ancients did not think like we do, that things are natural facts and some things are untrue. The classical myths are allegories. The ancients saw these stories as true - not in the natural fact, but true in a different way." "An allegory is a story about real things told in terms of mythical persons and events. The meaning of an allegory is true, or intended to be true although the persons or events may not be factual." (From the Teacher guide book that accompanies Famous Men of Greece; page 11.) This explanation really helped me to better understand where the Greeks are coming from and how to explain it to my children. There is also an excellent article on: Why Study the Pagans? Click Here.

Some topics/ biographies covered in Famous Men of Greece:

The first half covers the myths:

The God's of Greece

Deucalion and the Flood




The adventures of Odysseus

Then the book goes onto a more biographical history of Greece:

Draco and Solon



Alexander the Great


The Fall of Greece

(and many more)

You can see a copy of the table of contents by Clicking HERE.

Famous Men of Modern Times is similar in lay out as the Famous Men of Greece except that the teacher guide contains copy work passages and writing prompts for the activity section, which I thought was a great addition to the program.

The Famous Men of Modern Times covers famous and not so famous people such as Columbus, Chevalier Bayard, Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Francis Drake, Galileo, Peter the Great, George Washington, Napoleon, and many more. My children did enjoy sitting and listening to these great stories. I do wish the stories had more "meat" in them, but overall were very good. The student guide helps the child to remember important dates and map the paths of the explorers to help cement this all in their memory and give a great foundation.

One of the great things about this series is the price. You can save 25% buy purchasing the complete set (teacher and student guides and Famous Men book) for only $39.95. To see all the Famous Men books available visit: Memoria Press by clicking here.

Memoria Press also offers Latin curriculum at several levels. We looked at the first level available: Prima Latina. This is for grades K-3, however they have to be reading before they can begin. Some say this level is optional and you can skip to the Latina Christiana program if you would like. All of their Latin books can be used and taught by the non-Latin teacher/parent.

Absolute essentials to the programs are:

The student book

The teacher manual

and the Pronunciation Guide, songs, and prayer CD

Optional, but highly recommended by me, the DVD's to accompany the program.

This program uses Christian Pronunciation.

You can do the program without the DVDs, however, they were such a blessing to me, I don't think I would want to do it without it. The DVDs contain the entire lesson taught by the author of the book. She makes it so much fun and is very encouraging to the student. She gives explanations that I just don't know.

Having done a few lessons, the lessons are appropriate for the young reading child. They are not overwhelming, learning just 5 new words each lesson. Grammar is gently integrated into the lessons, helping to understand grammar better. There is pronunciation practice, memory work, and writing practice to help build the Latin foundation. There is review built in and the program bridges the way into the next level: Latina Christiana.

If you are wondering why we should teach Latin. You can visit the article page listed above and read different reasons. One of the reasons is that most of our words are derived from the Latin language and helps build vocabulary. The one reason I appreciated the most was the fact that it helps the child learn critical thinking skills. You can read an article about how it helps build critical thinking skills in the PDF file: An Apologia For Latin Centered Classical Curriculum (Click Here.)

Memoria Press has other great products to supplement a great classical curriculum. You can visit their website to explore and learn more about their other great products.

Memoria Press Website - Click Here.

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