Thursday, April 30, 2009

Memoria Press: Famous Men of the Middle Ages/Prima Latina

For those who follow a "Classical" method of schooling, I'm sure that Memoria Press is a familiar name. For the rest of us... it is a name worth becoming acquainted with!

I was sent two sets of products for review. The first, Famous Men of the Middle Ages, meshed quite nicely with our Tapestry of Grace unit on the middle ages. The second, Prima Latina , has been a fun addition as well.

Famous Men of the Middle Ages is a reprinting of the classic text by John Haaren, recommended by Tapestry of Grace as a core read-aloud for all ages in it's Year 2 Unit 1 (Middle Ages). When we started our TOG review, I was happy to find the text online for free at the Baldwin Project, but not so pleased that I had to either read aloud from my desktop or print many pages to bring with me. Imagine my delight when we were informed by Memoria Press that we could choose any of their Famous Men series to review.

How much more enjoyable to be able to bring this book with me outside to read in the front yard, or the back yard, on a blanket in the shade.... not worrying about pages blowing away... OK, I'm a "Book Person"! :) I love the high quality, heavy weight, slick pages, with color illustrations. NICE!

So... I like having the text "in hand". However, we were also sent a Student Guide(Workbook) and Teacher's Guide with 30 lessons, corresponding to the text, for a full year of study(Or less, if you take it at the TOG "pace"). The Teacher's Guide contains the complete student workbook, with answers filled in, as well as tests and a "Final Exam".

Overall thoughts on Famous Men of the Middle Ages:
My children really love hearing about the real people who "made history", so-to-speak. They are much less interested in spreading out the lessons and want me to read a new chapter every day. I actually hear groans when I tell them that we're done for the week! (That's a GOOD thing! Keep 'em thirsting for more!)

The Student Guide is a handy resource to have for the purposes of review, to see if they were really listening, and as something to add to the portfolio for assessment. I think the Teacher's Guide is helpful to have as well, so that Mom (Or Dad) has less work to do. One feature that I appreciated was the set of maps included in the back of the workbook series. It is such a time-saver to have them right there, making geography "Easy" and quick, instead of trying to search out just the right map for each lesson.

Overall, I would say that the Text is fairly appropriate for all ages (With some editing for the youngers, occasionally, depending on their "Sensitivities"... they weren't also called the "Dark Ages" for nothing...), with the student guide being most appropriate for 5th - 8th grade.

In my opinion, these books are very reasonably priced:
The entire set of Text, Student Guide, and Teacher's Guide is currently priced at $39.95 a savings of 25% off the list price for the set($52.85)

You can also purchase each book individually:
Famous Men of the Middle Ages Text $16.95

Famous Men of the Middle Ages Student Guide $17.95
Famous Men of the Middle Ages Teacher Guide w/ key $17.95

Updated photo which includes Instructional DVD and Flashcards
which were not available at the time of this review.
The Prima Latina text set was our second review product, and one that the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed(Well, ok... maybe middlest didn't "Thoroughly" enjoy it, but he was excited to show off some of his Latin vocabulary to his friends in the neighborhood. ;) ).

This set included a Teacher's Manual, Student Guide, and Pronunciation CD. This is the precursor to the highly acclaimed Latina Christiana, so I was again, delighted to be allowed to choose this as a beginning course in Latin for my children. It is most appropriate for 1st(Or advanced K) through 4th grade. It was a "little" slow for my 6th grader, but sometimes I like to "ease" into something new, and since she was already working on Japanese, I figured that simpler was better at this point in time.

Both of my "schooled" children (3rd and 6th) are quick to catch on to how the "Roots" work, and are starting to get the gist of how to figure out a word based on them. I appreciate the amount of review that is built into each lesson, without overwhelming anyone.

Not growing up in a culture that uses Latin, my children are getting a kick out of learning some of the Latin "prayers". We are actually turning them into something along the lines of Gregorian Chant, and even the 22-month-old gets a kick out of
"SancTUS, SancTUS, SancTUS
DomiNUS DeUS SabbaOTH!" (Emphasis mine... ;) )

Oh, they could also be enjoying it because their only other exposure to Latin has been a goofy CD (Grunt~ Pigorian Chant~ by Sandra Boynton) which they have enjoyed BEFORE learning any Latin... so it's a positive, FUN thing for them. :)

Although I spent my high school years singing in choirs with a number of Latin pieces, I found it helpful to have the pronunciation CD to keep my vowels straight. ;) (It's amazing what one forgets.

This is also a good foundation for learning any of the "Romance" languages, and although my daughter has been digging in her heels (Remember... she's learning Japanese, for goodness sake!), this may be an opening to her considering Spanish or French in the future. If not... it's going to come in handy when she takes those SAT's in a few years, with 125 Latin words, and 25 phrases under her's a good start, anyway, and a solid base for continuing on to Latina Christiana.

Prima Latina is set up in 25 Lessons, with 5 vocabulary words/ lesson, in addition to a "Practical Latin phrase", and one line of a Latin prayer (With each of four prayers being learned over the course).

There is an aspect of grammar taught in each lesson, so if you've been on the slower/gentler boat to grammar, this is a pleasant way to incorporate it into your day. It is also easy to break each lesson up into 4 or 5 sections so that you are doing a SHORT lesson each day, with built in review, and less chance of "burn out". Those Charlotte Mason "Bite sized" chunks are great for retention, and keeping things fresh... Once again, I can truthfully say that oldest asks for Latin each day, and middlest is often eager also.

You can check out samples from the Student book (Lesson I, Lesson XI), the Teachers Manual (Lesson 1 exercises with Answers, and Selected Teacher Pages). If you scroll down the main Prima Latina Page, you will find a number of FAQs and links that should answer a bunch of questions, including whether to start out with Prima Latina, or Latina Christiana.

Once again, I feel that Memoria Press is outstanding in presenting a quality product at a reasonable price:

The set of Teacher and Student Texts and Pronunciation CD is $32.95.
The Student Book and Teacher Manual are available individually for $14.95 each.
The Pronunciation CD is $4.95 separately.
If you'd like to add some flashcards for study, Latina Christiana I's flashcards fit well here ($14.95).

If you just don't have the time to actually "Teach" the course (Although it really *is* possible to do with just 5-10 minutes a day), there is also the option of popping in the Instructional DVD's ($45 for 3 DVD's), and letting Leigh Lowe (The author of Prima Latina) teach your children for you.

You can also purchase all five products as a set for $90.90, if that suits you.

OK, so that nearly sums up my review of Memoria Press. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there is a page filled with articles that are interesting and thought-provoking as well as educational for those of us teaching. You know, the other day some public school teachers, in the course of conversation asked what I do for "professional development", and reading articles like these was one of my answers. ;)

Well... that ends my 2009 TOS Crew Reviews.... Stay Tuned for a "Top Picks" post to follow. I hope that you've enjoyed reading them and found them helpful when deciding where to spend your hard-earned homeschool budget dollars.


1 comment:

  1. I am happy to read about your journey with Prima Latina...I jsut got it for our 2nd grade year!


    (Oh, and HI from the TOS Crew!)


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