Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Memoria Press (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Memoria Press is a company many people in the homeschool community are familiar with. Best known probably for their Latin curriculum, they have in recent years expanded beyond to include a more diversified offering such as penmenship (which we previously reviewed),  Christian Studies and English Grammar.  We were recently given the opportunity to review their Third Grade Literature Guide Set and we were really excited to see how this company approached classic children's literature.

What We Received

Memoria Press was generous and gave us complete copy of their Third Grade Literature Guide Set.  This set included the both the Student Guide as well as the Teacher's manual for the books Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White and A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond.    Since we already had plans to read Mr Popper's Penguins as part of our literature studies, we decided it would be perfect for our review.

How We Used It:

As the kids and I typically do literature daily and we were already about to start the novel Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater, we decided that this would be the perfect book to try the Literature guides with.  Our typical schedule is to read one chapter out of our literature book 4 days a week (on Fridays we instead read a selection from Hans Christen Andersen) and after reading the chapter we would work on the corresponding chapter in their guides.  The first 5 minutes is typically designated to the Pronounce & Spell words at the top of the page, which are 8 words of varying difficulty for the kids to sound out and read aloud.    Following this is the vocabulary section which contains six to eight passages from the reading with a bold word which the kids were to write the meaning of.  The second page of the chapter contains the Comprehension Questions, typically about 6 questions that correlate to the chapter. Finally, there would be a few activities that could be tied into the reading.  These activities ranged from Map work, looking up biographies of real people,  drawing pictures or researching an event in history.    Also, there were three honors activities in the book that would differ from the regular pattern of coursework.

The kids really enjoyed the various activities suggested at the end of each chapters, especially the mapwork exercises. Unfortunately, however, these literature guides as they are designed to be used were not a good fit for us.  This is not to any fault of Memoria Press or their Literature Guides but because my kids are not use to a Classical style curriculum and are more receptive to a Charlotte Mason style learning.  They found the study guides to be too repetitive and quickly came to resent the format of multiple vocabulary words followed by multiple comprehension questions without much change up.   I'm sure there are many students out there who would really enjoy this type of repetition and who do not like change, unfortunately, that's not my kids.

However, that's not to say that we did not learn much from doing the study guide along with our
reading selection.  We found many of the activities suggested at the end of each chapter to be very enriching and offered things we would not have thought of doing prior. (Example: I contacted Sea World who was happy to give us the address to contact their penguin keepers and the kids wrote letters asking questions about caring for Antarctic penguins to them - we're just waiting for a rely). And while they may have resented the work in the guides, I do believe I have the only 2nd Graders on base who can tell you what "in rotogravure" means.  So while this may have not been the perfect fit for us, it wasn't a complete waste of our time. And while I will not be using the guides as intended with the kids, since we will be reading two of the three remaining books (possibly all three), I will still use the guides to initiate discussion, check comprehension and introduce vocabulary to the kids, I just won't be giving them the workbooks and asking them to work independently.

I should also mention that there seems to be a bit of difference between the guide for Mr Popper's Penguins and the other three guides.  The other guides seem to have much more variety in the activities, offering bookwork, discussion questions, quotations and enrichment exercises designed to allow students to figure out expressions or theories.   The guide to Mr Popper's Penguins did not offer any of these types of activities and maybe my kids would have been a bit more receptive to the other offerings.  As we are still working on the Mr Popper's Penguin book (we finish later this week), I cannot say for sure at the time of this writing.

I would suggest this particular style of curriculum more for students who are use to a classical style approach to education, especially with literature and who like a more "no-nonsense" approach.  This would not be a good fit for someone who teaches with a more of a laid back style or who prefers the narrative approach to literature like with Charlotte Mason.

For more information about Memoria Press and their Classical Christian approach, be sure to visit the on one of the following social media platforms.

Twitter (@MemoriaPress) -
Instagram (@memoriapress) -

Memoria Press was extremely generous and offered 100 members of the crew various levels of their Literature Guide Sets ranging from First Grade to 9th Grade. Be sure to Click the banner and go read what other members of the crew thought.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review


  1. We also do CM homeschool, so my son answered his questions orally. It worked out well for us to do it orally, and he did do some mapping and drawing activities. Great review.

    1. I want to keep using the guides with the kids, so I think we will probably also just do it orally as well.. :) They really are good guides, but the repetition of the writing just wasn't a good fit with Ash and Garrett.


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