Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Memoria Press Review

Are you a classical educator? Then you have probably heard of Memoria Press and their products. If you are not a classical educator, the thought of teaching your child Latin is probably very foreign to you and is not something you would even consider. I was the latter. We are not classical educators here and Latin is the last thing I thought my son would want to do or even enjoy. I was wrong! When I gave him the choice of products to review, he begged me to pick the Latin. He has really enjoyed it.

I chose Prima Latina to review because it is geared towards K-3 grades and is for students and parents with no experience in Latin. Throughout the course, you child will learn:
  • 7 parts of speech
  • 125 Latin vocabulary words
  • Numbers 1-10
  • Basic constellations
  • Simple introductions to tenses, derivatives, conjugations, and declensions
There are 25 lessons in the course. In each lesson, your child will learn:
  • a new grammar rule
  • 5 vocabulary words
  • a practical Latin phrase
  • one line of a prayer (the entire prayer is learned by the end of the course)
Throughout the course, there are 5 review lessons and 5 tests to check what your child has retained. There is also an appendix which contains a full vocabulary list with their meanings and parts of speech and a list of the practical Latin sayings as well.

This program is laid out very well. When you open up either the Teacher Manual or Student Guide, it is very easy to follow. The spacing on the pages was one thing that was pleasing to me. So often workbooks are very overwhelming to look at and students who have trouble focusing can get lost before they even begin. These books are not like that at all. In addition, there truly is not a lot of preparation to teach it. You could pull this out of the box and be learning Latin within a few minutes.

A CD comes with the program for the student to listen to for pronunciation. It includes:
  • The Introduction
  • Pronunciation Guide
  • Prayer Instructions
  • The Prayers
  • Lessons 1-25
  • Songs from Lingua Angelica
This is a great way to reinforce what has been learned in the lesson. It is also something the student can do independently. This helped with correct pronunciation. There is also a reproducible worksheet that can be used after listening to the CD. The student can list the vocabulary and Latin Sayings learned during the lesson.

A Grammar Form is also included in the book to reinforce grammar introduced throughout the course.

The Student Book has exercises which were developed to reinforce what has been learned in the lesson. Each lesson includes:
  • Review Questions- reviews information from previous lessons
  • Lesson Questions- these questions pertain to the information learned in that specific lesson
  • Translations- the child writes the definitions of the Latin words
  • Speaking Latin- there are suggestions for how to practice using the Latin words and phrases in every day situations
  • Write and Learn- the student writes what has been learned as reinforcement
  • Fun Practice- fun activities are suggested for practicing information learned in the lesson

This course is very well written. If you have any doubts about being able to teach Latin or if your children can learn it, you need to try this. My son has started to see Latin derivatives in English words. That is not something I thought I would ever see. We will be using this program again in the fall. It has definitely helped to reinforce grammar rules and increase vocabulary as well.

Prima Latina Text Set (including Teacher Manual, Student Book, and CD)- $32.95
Teacher Manual- $14.95
Student Book- $14.95
Pronunciation CD- $4.95

I believe you could do the Prima Latina course by itself and would be fine but I have to say that I highly recommend getting the Prima Latina Instructional DVD's that go along with it. They are awesome! With these videos, you truly can put them in and begin instantly. In fact that is what we did. My son was down with the flu the day they arrived and we snuggled up on the couch with the laptop in front of us and watched Lesson 1. Within 30 minutes he was saying his first Latin words. I think for children who need a multi sensory approach, these would be very beneficial. Leigh Lowe does a wonderful job of presenting this information for this age group. It's hard to believe Latin can be this simple, but it really is. If you wanted Leigh Lowe to teach this course instead, these videos are the answer. Then just follow up with the workbook pages. It is suggested that you teach the lesson yourself first and then follow up with the videos. I personally liked doing the videos first to make sure my pronunciation was right when going over the information later.

Prima Latina Instructional DVD's- $45.00

I also reviewed Famous Men of Rome. This is part of their Classical Studies line. There are three different books that can be used together. The first is a text book. It's a very nice fully illustrated book covering 30 different stories in Roman history from Romulus to the last emperor in the West. The stories are sure to catch your child's attention. Especially if you have a boy! These great stories have been simplified (but not turned into twaddle) and could easily be enjoyed by both your younger and older children at the same time. Also included in the book are maps of Rome, Italy, and the Roman Empire. A Glossary of People and Places has also been added. This is a really nice book. A great story book and resource book to keep.

If you just read the text book alone, your children would learn a lot from it. However, if you would like to turn this into a year-long course, there is a Teacher and Student Guide that can be purchased as well.

Each lesson includes:
  • Facts to Know- The important events are pulled out and used as a foundation for memory work.
  • Vocabulary- There is a lot of vocabulary in this book and many of them being advanced. What's interesting about how they are taught in the guide is the usage of context from the story rather than a dictionary definition. This makes it easier for the student to remember and understand. So often dictionary definitions are not the way the word was used in the story. It makes perfect sense to learn vocabulary words with this method. In the workbook, the student will actually be given a small part of a sentence, which includes the word, and then he will write the definition next to it.
  • Comprehension Questions- These questions will help the students to remember the most important information from the story.
  • Activities- These are a range of activities such as discussion questions, drawing, quote memorization aids, and more. Anything that is needed for these activities is provided in the Appendix, including answers to the discussion questions.
The Appendix contains maps, timelines, worksheets, a modern geography reference, pronunciation guide, and an article on the relation between ancient Rome and America.

This is a neat series and definitely a classical approach. The maps were very nice. There is a lot of geography to be learned in this course. The textbook is something that we will definitely continue to use but the year-long course was not our cup of tea. If you want to increase your child's vocabulary or he likes to write out definitions and answer comprehension questions, this is for you.

There are three others in this series: Famous Men of Greece, Famous Men of the Middle Ages, and Famous Men of the Modern Times.

Each textbook is $16.95
Teacher Guide is $17.95
Student Guide is $17.95

To find out more about Memoria Press and the many other products they offer, please CLICK HERE.

Heidi Miller-Ford

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