Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Memoria Press History Sets Review

History was not one of my favorite subjects in school, but as I've gotten older and especially since starting to homeschool my children, I've grown into a love of learning about the past. Learning about people and how they lived, what they did, what circumstances and influences affected their decisions; about events and places and things--it's all fascinating to me. The majority of our historical learning is through the books we read. My kids don't have history textbooks, but instead focus on biographies and historical nonfiction literature.

When we had the opportunity to review materials from Memoria Press, I was intrigued by their American history sets. Designed for grades 5-8, The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History Set highlight key events and people that helped mold our country. I knew these sets would be perfect for our family.

Memoria Press is known for its easy-to-use classical Christian Materials. This family-run company believes 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 three things: simplicity, quality, and affordability. They are designed to be used by anyone from an inexperienced homeschool parent to a seasoned classroom teacher. We personally have used their products for Latin, literature, reading, and men of Rome at times. Everything has been high quality, so I was excited to get started with these sets.

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set is based on H.A. Guerber's two-volume books with the same name. The text has been heavily edited since many pivotal events have happened in the over 100 years since the original was penned. The book is concise and ideal for a year of American history study for a middle school student.

The set contains the following:

  • The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic 
  • Student Guide
  • Teacher Guide

I appreciate the format of The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic. Instead of feeling like a textbook, this book is an historical reader that is meant to cultivate good men and women for the future and encourage loyalty to our country. Each topic is divided into short, 1-2 page  chapters, starting with the Native American and those who first sailed here and ending with the Spanish-American War in 1896. This soft paperback book is 9 x 6 inches, making it easy to hold. It is filled with photographs, drawings, maps, and paintings from the times which help bring the stories to life.

The Student Guide divides the 85 chapters of the book into 32 lessons. Each lesson follows the same format:

  • Facts to Know -- person, place, or event and its significance
  • Vocabulary -- words from the lesson with space to fill in definitions
  • Comprehension Questions -- questions about important facts and space to fill in answers
  • Enrichment -- hands-on activities that include map skills, timeline, additional research, writing assignments, and more.

The appendix in the back of the book is filled with more information and aides. There are maps; charts; letters; poems; documents like the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, and more.

The Teacher Guide is identical to the Student Guide, but contains the answers. The back of the book also holds the tests along with the answer keys.

Everything is easy to understand. The lessons don't tell the student the exact pages to read in The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic or even the chapter numbers, but they do list out the titles. Also, the enrichment activities require the student to add events to a timeline. The finished chart is included in the Teacher Guide, but there is no page in the Student Guide or even directions to make it. The first mention of the timeline to the student is "Add the arrival of Leif the Lucky in North America."

The 200 Questions About American History Set is a supplement to H.A. Guerber's book through the Spanish-American War and The Story of the World Volume 4 covering WWI through the Cold War. Between these 2 books, students will learn 200 facts that everyone should know about American History. This set will give middle school students a solid foundation for deeper study in the high school years.

The set comes with the following components:

  • Student Book
  • Teacher Guide
  • Flashcards

The bulk of the Student Book is the drill questions. The questions are numbered through 150, give a brief description, list which chapter of the book it is found in, and leave a space to write in the fact. There are additional pages for a timeline, notable quotes, the list of U.S. presidents and a brief fact about each, and patriotic poems.

Just like the other set, the Teacher Guide looks identical to the student's book page for page, but with the answers. There are also tests and keys in the back. Both teacher and student books include a recommended schedule to get through the material in a year.

The Flashcards cover everything found in the Student Book including the drill questions, timeline, quotes, and presidents. The cards are approximately 3.5 x 2.5 inches on cardstock. The type of question and its number is listed on the top left corner with the description on the front and the answer or fact on the back. The top left corner of each card is rounded, so it's easy to keep track of the fronts and backs should the cards get mixed up.

Again, the materials are simple to use. The set requires The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic and The Story of the World Volume 4 but does not include them. We have the first book from the other set, but in order to finish the course, we will need to purchase the second book.

These two sets cover the same material but at different levels. While The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set depends on deeper learning with vocabulary, questions that require a more complex understanding, and further study, the 200 Questions About American History Set focuses on straight facts.

The two can be used together or independently. I had originally had my 5th grade daughter in mind for these courses, but once I started looking at the schedules for them, I noticed that they don't line up. For instance, we are working on week 6 right now. The first set covers through chapter 16, while the second is testing through chapter 28. It makes sense given the purpose of each course and that the second set also teaches about the last 100 years or so.

I determined that it would be better for our family to split the sets. My 5th grader is working through the more detailed set, while my 8th grader is briefly covering the facts for a strong introduction to high school next year.

Because of our style of learning, my kids aren't used to writing answers for historical learning. Even though they were apprehensive at first, they are enjoying these materials more than they expected to, ha. The best part is all the fun we've been having using the flashcards from the 200 Questions set. One kid will randomly grab a stack of cards and start asking questions. The other child and I (and even their dad if he's home) race to answer first. Lots of laughs and lots of fun. But more than that, my middle schoolers are retaining these facts and even my younger children are learning simply by hearing the information.

I am pleased to know my kids will have a strong foundation in American History because of these sets from Memoria Press. Whether you're looking for a deep study of the past with The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set or just a highlight of facts from the 200 Questions About American History Set, you're sure to find something to meet your needs.

You can connect with Memoria Press on the following social media sites:

My crewmates and I had multiple choices of products to review from Memoria Press spanning grade levels 1-12. You can read those reviews on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Classical Writing & Spelling, American History & Jewish Wars {Memoria Press Reviews}
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