Thursday, June 4, 2015

Famous Men of Rome Review

Just 2 months ago I posted our first experience with Memoria Press (the program has been working so well that we are continuing to use it), and here we are with another curriculum to review

Memoria Press is known for its easy-to-use classical Christian materials. They believe in the "cultivation of wisdom and virtue through meditation on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful" by training in the liberal arts and studying great books and great thinkers of the Western Tradition. Their products are characterized by 3 things: simplicity, quality, and affordability. They are designed to be used by anyone from an inexperienced homeschool parent to a seasoned classroom teacher. Of all their fabulous programs, we've been using the Famous Men of Rome Set.

The Famous Men of Rome Set includes the following:
Famous Men of Rome textbook
Famous Men of Rome Student Guide
Famous Men of Rome Teacher's Guide

The Famous Men of Rome textbook is filled with 30 stories covering Ancient Roman history. You'll read about Romulus and the founding of Rome, Horatius and the defeat of the Etruscan army, Julius Caesar and his assassination, Nero and his rise to power, and about many lesser-known men. Each story is easy to read. It's geared toward grades 4-8, but I found myself caught up in the stories, as well. Each story has at least one colored illustration and many black and white drawings. The back of the book includes a glossary of people and places as a quick reference to important information along with full-color maps.

The Famous Men of Rome Student Guide has a corresponding lesson for each story of the textbook and there is a review after every 5th lesson  The lessons are broken into 4 parts: Facts to Know, Vocabulary, Comprehension Questions, and Activities.
  • Facts to Know: lists the most important facts, generally people and places, from the story. It often includes a quote. This is the foundation of the memory work.
  • Vocabulary: highlights more difficult words, pulled directly from the text in the book. There is space for the student to write the definition.
  • Comprehension Questions: helps the student find the most valuable information from the stories and recognize the virtues and indiscretions that took place. There is enough space to write the answers in complete sentences.
  • Activities: incorporates many exercises to enhance the lesson, including maps, timelines, discussion questions, and writing prompts. It integrates lessons from Bible stories, Greek mythology, and the modern world.
 The back of the book contains maps, drawing pages, timeline, a pronunciation guide, and other resources.    

The Famous Men of Rome Teacher's Guide is exactly the same as the student guide but with all the answers given. It also includes a test for every 5th lesson to be copied and given to the student.

My 9-year-old loves history. And battles. And weapons. And action. I knew he'd be drawn to this curriculum. While there are lesson plans you can purchase, it does not come with the set. We started doing 1 lesson a day: all 4 parts of the student guide along with reading the story. It took a while to complete, but he enjoyed it. The problem was that he was flying through the lessons without retaining the information. We slowed the lessons down. For our 4-day schooling week, we followed this schedule:

Day 1: He and I review the Facts to Know and discuss the Vocabulary.
Day 2: He reads the story.
Day 3: He completes the Comprehension Questions, getting help as needed.
Day 4: He and I complete the activities together.

This schedule has been working out much better for us. He absolutely loves the stories--loves them--but isn't so crazy about the accompanying questions, because they're "kinda hard." There really is a lot of information in this set and could easily fill and entire school year with the extra activities and resources that are listed. For us, personally, I think we're going to discuss the vocabulary words and just enjoy the action-filled stories. We'll work through the set again and focus on the comprehension questions when my guy is a little older.

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If you'd like to read more reviews of this study or are interested in the Latina Christiana or Ancient Romans sets, head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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