Thursday, June 4, 2015

Crew Review: The Book Of The Ancient Romans from Memoria Press

Memoria Press Review

Memoria Press is a well-known and respected publisher of curriculum designed for the classical educator. Although we are not a classical-style homeschool, we have used several different curriculums from Memoria Press over the past 7 years (when we were first introduced to them). I always appreciate the simplicity of their curriculum (meaning there aren't a million components) and the quality of the books themselves.

I was excited to see Memoria Press on the Schoolhouse Review Crew schedule, and hoped we'd have a chance to review The Book of The Ancient Romans Set, since I have a few children that really enjoy ancient history. I had never seen this particular set before, so I was excited. When it arrived, I found three softcover books in the package. The Book of the Ancient Romans text by Dorothy Mills, a Teacher Guide, and a Student Guide workbook. This is another well-designed, easy-to-use, and straight-forward classical curriculum from Memoria Press!

Memoria Press Review

The Book of the Ancient Romans is written for the middle school student. Dorothy Mills actually wrote it for a history class she was teaching in the 1920s. Memoria Press has re-printed it, with the addition of black and white illustrations. The textbook is smaller in size than the student and teacher guides, measuring 9 inches tall, 6 inches wide, and an inch thick. It's actually a very nice size to hold when reading. The teacher's guide and student book are thinner, 8.5 inch by 11 inch softcover books.

The Student Book contains 77 pages of comprehension questions, vocabulary words, Latin words, facts to know, map and timeline activities, and review questions. The tests (and answer keys) are in the slightly thicker Teacher Book. These really take the fear factor out of classical education and ancient history for me. It's as simple as assigning one chapter per week to read, complete the assignments, and move on.

The Book of the Ancient Romans set contains 26 lessons, 5 reviews, 5 section tests, plus a final exam. I always try to simplify the breakdown of a textbook, so we all know what's expected each week. If you school year round, then you can spend 2 weeks on each lesson. But if you follow a 32-36 week school year like we do, you can do one week per lesson with a week dedicated to review (perhaps add a writing assignment to supplement the week) and you'll have 31 weeks with a little room to catch up if you need to.

Most of the lessons work well for reading in a single week, though some students may be overwhelmed by the longer lessons. Lesson readings can vary between 8 pages and 33 pages. If you have middle school students like mine (boys who prefer video games), you will need to spell out to them that they need to divide the number of pages by 4 (leaving the last day for the bookwork) or 5 days. Otherwise, they'll try to read 2 pages at a time and make very little progress. In other words, it will take supervision to make sure they are reading the chapters, or you may need to read it aloud to them.

I try to avoid having to read aloud, but my 11 year old son doesn't do well with assigned reading, unless it's very interesting. Although he enjoys reading about Greek and Roman mythology, and enjoys historical fiction based in that period, he isn't fond of history textbooks. The Book of the Ancient Romans is like many books from the early 1900s, well-written, but a little dry for boys of the video game era. Granted, we aren't classical educators, and some families have kids who read these books much better on their own. But in my home, I have to read it aloud.

Even though I had to read it aloud, I was able to hand the text and the workbook to my son and have him do the chapter assignments on his own. I like that the teacher's book also includes suggested responses to the comprehension questions (which are short-answer essays). That is much more helpful than "student answers will vary" when I need to check their work.

Although the textbook and teacher's guide are re-usable, the student book is intended to be consumable. However, Memoria Press prices are always very reasonable and purchasing a new workbook for future students will only cost $17.95. The entire set is very affordable, and only costs $39.95 for a year or ancient history. You can view samples of each of the three books in the set at the Memoria Press website.

Although my sons are not fond of reading the textbook on their own, The Book of the Ancient Romans set is still an excellent ancient history book. Two of my older daughters would have loved this when they were in 5th - 8th grade. It's simple to use, and provides a comprehensive understanding of Roman history, its rulers, and the customs and culture of the time.

If you're thinking about trying classical education, but you feel overwhelmed when you look at some of the more complicated history curricula on the market, The Book of the Ancient Romans set from Memoria Press is an excellent, easy-to-use curriculum for 5th - 8th grade. It would also be a great choice for any middle school or junior high student who is interested in ancient Rome.

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(Psst! While you're at the Memoria Press website, you should definitely check out their First Form Latin. My daughter used it for her 10th grade language credit last year and loved it. I loved that it was simple for her to use on her own! We've already purchased Second Form Latin for her to use in 11th grade this fall. It is the simplest language credits we've been able to give in high school so far - easiest for the student and myself! She's learned a lot of latin, and is able to recognize latin roots as well as latin phrases she comes across in books and movies.)

April E. 

Memoria Press Review

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