I will admit it. Geography is not one of my favorite subjects. However, I don't want that passed on to my children. (Lucky them!) I hope and pray that by knowing and understanding not only the world's landscape but also it's peoples, they will have a deeper love and concern for those in other nations than I did.
Company Information: Today's review comes from Memoria Press, a family-run classical curriculum company that is "characterized by three things: simplicity, quality and affordability." Their products are designed to provide training through the liberal arts and by providing a familiarity with the great books and thinkers of Western civilization. Along with Scripture, these provide both the "how" and "what" of education, enabling our children to be prepared not only for higher education but also for life.
In order to faciliate this, Memoria Press provides curricula that aids even those parents who, like me, have very little personal familiarity of the subjects that they wish to pass on to their children. In all they do, they seek to help homeschool parents do the best they can for their children without it costing a fortune. I know I could use that kind of help!
Product Reviewed: Geography I program, which includes five softcover books:
- Geography I Student Text
- Geography I Student Workbook
- Geography I Teacher's Guide
- The United States Student Workbook
- The United States Teacher's Key, Quizzes and Tests
This study covers the area of Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. The student text provides reading about each country, giving some history of its past as well as a look at its present-day state. In learning this area thoroughly, students then have the foundation for a better understanding of not only their history lessons, but what is going on in the world today.
The United States material is meant to be a quick review to supplement the Geography I program. Each of the eight regions of the United States is reviewed four times in the school year, covering states and their capitals. The review starts by identifying states, then matching the capitals to the states. The last half of the review then requires students to remember and spell state names correctly, and then finally spelling both capitals and states.
Price: $48 for the set. Items can also be purchased individually (e.g. if you need another copy of the student workbook for another child).
Age Range: grade 4+ (4th-6th)
Parental Preparation: Very little parental preparation is required. Aside from reading the opening pages of introductory material, which helped me to then pace and plan the study, I didn't have to do much beside just handing the books to Matthew!
How We Used It: As Matthew has been reading through the Bible this year, I thought we would focus our review on the Middle Eastern section of the program so that he can see where Assyria, Babylon, Tyre, Sidon, and so forth, were located. Each day, he would spend about 15 minutes reading the student text (usually one country per day) and then completing the worksheet in the workbook. To my surprise, he enjoyed the mapping part the best and would challenge himself not only to fill in what was requested, but to put in as much detail as he could remember. (You never can tell with kids!) By working through about 3-4 lessons per day, we were able to comfortably cover that first section, along with the review page at the end of the section.
In addition to the main text, we also spent some time working on learning the states and capitals. For some reason, we never did learn all the capitals so this was the perfect opportunity for us to do so. He was able to whiz through the first section on state names pretty quickly, so I just went at his pace. When he finished a section, we would verbally go over the quiz material. Learning the capitals took a little more time. At this point, we are still trying to learn all those Rocky Mountain region capitals!
What We Liked:
- This is very much (for us) an independent study. I was thankful for something that did not require a lot of time on my end, yet provided good instruction for Matthew.
- The text is clean and easy to follow.
- Reading assignments are brief (one page) yet interesting enough to keep him engaged.
- The Fast Facts box helps put all factual information into an easy-to-find section.
- I appreciated the way that the text links biblical/ancient history with present-day times. This helped us to get a better sense of not only the geography of the area, but what happened, leading us to where we are today.
- There was some mapping each day, but not a lot, so that it helped solidify locations.
- Spelling was emphasized, which is not my son's strong point, but it challenged him to pay attention!
- It did not add a lot of extra time to our school day.
What We Didn't Like:
We personally did not have anything to complain about! However, if your kids are more of a hands-on, activity-loving personality (or you are), this may be a struggle for you. Also, the text is not very colorful (photos are black and white), so if you are looking for beautiful illustrations, this may not fit the bill in that regard.
This summer, our goal is to complete the United States capitals and states review. The rest of Geography I will be an excellent supplement as we go back to world history again this coming school year. I know this helps us to visualize the places we are reading about much better, especially as we are reading Scripture. There is also a Geography II set if you are looking for something that will give your elementary-age child a strong foundation in basic geography. This set covers areas of the world outside of Ancient Rome (sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.)
Whether you are looking for a complete curriculum or systemized teaching in any of the classical subjects, Memoria Press offers high-quality materials for the home educator for a reasonable price. I hope you'll check them out!