Friday, April 1, 2016

Memoria Press Literature

Being part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew means that we're always reviewing different types of curricula that meet various learning styles. In this way, our schooling can be considered eclectic. When it comes down to it though, our foundation is literature-based. We spend the majority of our school day reading. I want my children to have a love of reading good books with rich literature. My little ones often read books above their grade level, so I was pleased to receive the Third Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press to use with my second grader.

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.

This curriculum covers an entire year of literature by using the following books:
  • Farmer Boy
  • Charlotte's Web
  • A Bear Called Paddington
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins

Each title has a corresponding student study guide workbook and a teacher guide book. The teacher guide looks identical to the student book except that the answers are given. Also, it contains quizzes and tests for the students.

The student work books have the same basic format and are divided into chapters that correlate to the literature books.

Reading Notes
This portion lists 3-5 words from the chapter and defines them. It explains characters, places, and terms that are relevant to a certain time period. (Mr. Popper's Penguins varies slightly in that it has a Pronounce & Spell section where no definitions are listed.) 

This section pulls quotes directly from the book and prints in bold type a word in which the student may not understand. There are lines to write in a definition. Drawing attention to these words help the student to better understand the reading portion and encourages better vocabulary.

Comprehension Questions
This part asks 4-6 questions about the chapter. These questions help the student to think deeper, compare and contrast, form concise answers, write good sentences with proper capitalization and punctuation, and remember important aspects about the story. It also encourages purposeful reading.

This portion lists a quote or two from the story and is to be used for oral discussion. It introduces a higher-level of thinking as it can open the students to deeper concepts.*

Discussion Questions
This contains a handful of questions that, again, can be used to make the students dig deeper in their understanding. They might not understand everything fully just yet, but the questions be beneficial to the process.*

This section is filled with varying activities. Things like copywork, sequencing, composition, mapping, drawing, charting, character studies, and more further the learning and teach more than literature.

The back of the student book also contains an appendix. This section is quite fascinating. Depending on the study, you will learn a short biography of the author, farm machinery and clothing from the 1800s, poems, a recipe for marmalade and birds' nest pudding, and other interesting things.*

 *Mr. Popper's Penguins study guide does not have these sections. 

Since the studies are independent of each other, I gave my daughter her choice of which book she would like to start with. She chose A Bear Called Paddington. Right away, she enjoyed the story and fell in love with Paddington's silly ways. She read the book on her own, but would often read portions to her brothers and me that she found amusing, such as Paddington re-painting Mr. Brown's picture, his magic tricks, and his dropping a sandwich on a man's head at the theater.

This study does a wonderful job at encouraging developing reading skills and encouraging an active mind. I appreciate being able to point out difficult words or terms that are related to time-periods before the reading in order to better ensure understanding. The Comprehension and discussion questions let me know if she understood what she read. Since the teach guide is very thorough, if my daughter doesn't know the answer to a question, I can easily give clues or key words to jog her memory and get her to think of the answer on her own.

The enrichment activities were by far our favorite part of the study besides the actual reading of the book. We found locations on a map of London, determined Paddington's route on the globe, discussed what "You're worth your weight in gold" means, and made marmalade (which she fed to her baby brother "by the spoonful" just like Paddington.)     

We have thoroughly enjoyed this study together. She even asked me this morning when she can start another book from the list (she's chosen Charlotte's Web). While she is used to reading quality literature, this guide has taken her understanding of it to a deeper level. The teacher guides could not be simpler to use. I love that each title has its own student and teacher books instead of being combined into one large book for the entire year's curriculum. Quality literature, quality activities, quality learning. I am so thankful to have this resource in our home.

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You can read more reviews of this level or of some of the other products offered by Memoria Press by visiting the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. 

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