Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review of Memoria Press' Geography

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Memoria Press has been "Saving Western Civilization One Student At a Time" since 1994.  Offering homeschooled students top-quality classical materials in all subjects, Memoria Press has become a staple in homeschool schoolrooms everywhere.  For this review, I was thrilled to be able to try out a product I have been eyeing since it was published - Geography I.

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Geography I, for grades 4-8, costs $48.00, and includes the following (the products are also available individually - prices are in parentheses):

  • Geography I Text ($14.95)
  • Geography I Workbook ($11.95)
  • Geography I Teacher Guide ($12.95)
  • United States Review Student ($5.00)
  • United States Review Key, Quizzes, and Tests ($7.95)

This curriculum covers the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, or the territory that comprised the ancient Roman Empire.  Each country in these regions is presented in two contexts: its present incarnation and its former, as it existed in ancient times.  For each country, students read about the country's ancient and modern histories and then complete a workbook page on which they note the country's capital, its ancient name, some fun facts, and, finally, label relevant places on its map.

How We Used Geography I

This product came at the perfect time for us, as we have been studying Ancient Rome this year! I can show my kids any map of the ancient Roman world and ask them where Carthage is and they can all identify it immediately.  They can even tell me it is in North Africa.  Give them half a chance and they'll start talking all about Dido and Aeneas (gotta love those homeschoolers!).  What they didn't know was what Carthage is today.  That's actually a fairly serious problem.  Memoria Press has come up with a way to solve that problem in an ingenious way that links past and present meaningfully for students.

By showing students that a country in the ancient world does have a continuity with a modern day country (i.e., Carthage becomes Tunisia), my kids were able to learn more about the linear nature of history than they have been able to learn from a timeline.  I don't know why no one has ever approached geography this way before (that I know of!), but it is the best marriage of geography and history that I have ever seen.  My kids have understood so much about what happened to what we used to call the Roman Empire.  It also helps to illustrate just how amazing that Empire truly was when you see how many countries were born from it!

Although my eldest daughter (11) was the one who actually did the workbook associated with the course (and she was the perfect age for it - she loved it), all of my kids listened as I read them the textbook material.  I showed them the map in the teacher book that already had the information filled in that Therese would then fill in herself on her own map.  In this way, my younger kids (8, 8, and 9) got a lot out of the material without it becoming another school subject for them.  So Therese can count this as an actual Geography course, but the younger kids got to enjoy, essentially, an added read aloud appended to our study of Ancient Rome.

For this review, we focused on the countries of North Africa and Mediterranean Europe, as those are the countries the kids are most familiar with from our study of Rome thus far.  We covered three countries per week.  If not doing this for review, I would probably cut that down to only two countries, simply because I love geography and have a tendency to want to throw everything into anything we study.  Actually, though, that's part of the genius of this program.  You really don't have to throw anything else in.  Memoria Press includes everything for you.  You learn about the past and the present of a country.  You learn the physical features.  You even learn the flag, food, and other cultural aspects of the country.  If you are a perfectionist like me, this is the ideal curriculum for you. You really don't *need* anything else, which makes the price even more appealing.

The Geography I curriculum also includes the United States Review, which is intended to ensure that students retain what they learned previously with Memoria Press' States and Capitals course.  It is comprised of states and regions maps and captials quizzes and can be used in a variety of ways to supplement any geography curriculum.  My kids have learned their states and capitals on their own through a variety of online games, but we have not formally studied U.S. Geography.  Because I want to be able to quiz all of them at the same time to ascertain that each of them is rock solid on their U.S. Geography before moving on, I didn't use this part of the curriculum yet.  I plan to buy three more workbooks and have all of them review together this fall ($5.00 - such a great price).

Memoria Press' products are all so wonderful and of such high quality.  If you're in the market for a Latin curriculum, you'll definitely want to read all of the other Crew reviews, as some Crew members got to try Prima Latina - a course I have used with most of my kids!


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