My middle two kiddos are bored with their current reading curriculum. They’ve been begging me to let them abandon their readers and use “real books” instead since the holiday break. They were both thrilled when Memoria Press sent us the entire Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set to review! I was just as delighted as the kids since Memoria Press was on my list of curriculum companies to look into for our next academic year’s literature selections. Sparkles chose to read “The Cricket in Times Square” by George Selden and Middle Boy chose “Homer Price” by Robert McCloskey. The other two selection are “The Blue Fairy Book” edited by Andrew Lang and “Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress” arranged by Oliver Hunkin.
The literature for fourth grade only includes four books and that didn’t seem like much at first glance. After studying a sample of the online lesson plan (found on the fourth grade complete curriculum page) I noticed that each book should take about six weeks or so. The goal is for the students to really immerse themselves in the books and comprehend the material.
The Teacher’s Guides:
The guide included tips on how to help students read through the books. They encourage reading the book aloud together, taking turns reading aloud or reading independently. Reviewing the comprehension questions before reading is encouraged to help develop focused reading. We also reviewed the vocabulary words each day and looked for them in the book. I was happy to see the teacher’s guide point out that some of the comprehension questions could just be answered orally, especially for younger students. Further and deeper discussion of the material is pointed out in the “Quotations and Discussion Questions” section and the back of the teacher’s guide has an answer key for these. The guide also has answers printed on full-sized reproductions of the student workbooks pages, as well as reproducible quizzes and tests.
The student workbooks are all similar in style and format. Each of these books are broken up differently for study by chapters (Dangerous Journey and Cricket), sections by page numbers (Homer Price) or short story title (Blue Fairy). Some have more drawing exercises than others. Even though they are similar they are not exactly the same.
- Reading Notes–This section may define a few words, point out literary notes or give more information about a character.
- Characters–this section was only in “The Dangerous Journey”. The teacher’s guide contained no guidelines for this particular book. My guess is this information is provided in the lessons plans from Memoria Press. However, the workbook answers are provided as well as to the discussion questions.
- Vocabulary–Sometimes the students look up a brief definition or fill in the blank. The vocabulary words show up in the reviews, quizzes and exam so it is helpful to reviews these.
- Comprehension Questions–These go over the events of the story. The guide encourages you to help the students write their answers in complete sentences. Sometimes we just went over these orally.
- Quotations–Not all of the books had this section. Usually the student needed to identify the speaker and we usually discussed why the quote was important to the story. Sometimes I used these for copywork.
- Discussion Questions–The answer key in the back of the teacher’s guide was very helpful. We generally discussed characters, motives, literary elements, plot development, etc.
- Enrichment–This section provided a variety of assignments. Sometimes copywork, literary device discussion, drawing, character study, mapwork, etc. My kids liked these since they provided variety to the workbook.
- Occasionally reviews were included as well as supplemental material at the end of the student guide relating to the book to aid the student’s understanding or historical/cultural context.
Overall, the kids enjoyed this literature program from Memoria Press and have begged to ditch the old reading program and replace it with these guides. The Student Study Guides are quite thorough and I am very happy to continue using Memoria Press’s literature guides in my homeschool.
I just returned from the GHC Convention in Cincinnati. While I was there I stopped by the Memoria Press booth to ask a few questions about “The Dangerous Journey” study guide. In my review above I did not understand the Characters section of the guide. I learned the characters are listed because there are many of them in the story and it is important to understand the meaning of the person’s name. For example, knowing the meaning of the word pliable aids in comprehending the role of the character with the same name the protagonist encounters. Had I been familiar with the original Pilgrim’s Progress I probably would have figured that out…alas, my education is sorely lacking. Also, the omission of the teacher tips at the beginning of the Teacher’s Guide was simply an omission and will be included in future printings.
I was so impressed by our discussion of the book that I decided to do the study with all of my children and bought additional student study guides and the book. I am looking forward to learning all about Christian’s journey.
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