Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review: Memoria Press

A few months back, my youngest daughter, Abby asked to learn more Latin. Upon hearing his sister’s request, Ethan replied with an incredulous, resounding, “Why? Latin’s a dead language!” (Ahem...)

 During our experience with Apologia Science, both children received a taste of Latin and seemed to enjoy learning the new words. (But apparently, Abby enjoyed the experience far more than Ethan. Go figure.) However, being that I'm not one to let statements like that go, I tried to explain to my charming son that Latin, although not spoken in everyday life, indeed has its place. He wasn't buying it.

Shortly after that, Abby asked if there was more to the French language than just ballet terms. (Hmm...I detect a pattern here!)

It was about this time that a thought occurred to me; Sierra should learn how to argue and understand what truth is. Not that she can't argue (trust me!), or doesn’t understand the difference between truth and falsehood. I simply wanted her to learn how to break down an argument--her own or someone else's—effectively, and to recognize the truth and validity in that argument.

Well, well, well! It just so happens that my last review items of the year came from the good people at Memoria Press. We received not one, but three of their fabulous products; Prima Latina (Ethan, get ready to "wake the dead"!), First Start French (“Ooo la la, Abby!”), and Traditional Logic (“Sierra; permission to argue granted!”).

Founded in 1994 by Cheryl Lowe, Memoria Press is a family-operated publishing company offering a variety of classical Christian education products to meet the needs of both home and private school students. Designed with the “amateur” in mind, the format and structure of their products make both teaching and learning simple, effective, and enjoyable.

Prima Latina

I believe a basic understanding of Latin is foundational to a well-rounded education. It’s also a good pre-requisite to earning a spot on Jeopardy later in life. (But I digress.)

Prima Latina provides a solid introduction to Christian Latin while laying foundational English grammar skills for students in 1st -4th grade. The course comes complete with Pronunciation CD (which includes songs and prayers), a Student Workbook, and Teacher’s Guide. Supplemental materials include an Instructional 3 DVD set (which I received) and Flashcards (which I did not).

Each of Prima Latina’s 25 lessons covers a new grammar skill, 5 vocabulary words with corresponding English derivatives, a Latin phrase, and a line of a prayer that is learned in full by the end of the course.

Ethan and Abby devoured their first lesson and couldn’t wait to greet Daddy with a hearty, “Salve`!” later that evening. Then on the following day, they asked to do two lessons instead of one. (Ha!)

I’m very impressed with Prima Latina. It managed to change my son's tune from "Latin is dead!" to "Latin's pretty cool", and satisfied my linguistically-ravenous daughter. The program effectively conveyed proper grammar skills (something not easily presented to my son, who generally hates all things related to Language Arts), enhanced their other English and Science studies, and was just a whole lot of fun to use! In fact, they both asked to continue studying Latin next year. (Who would’ve thought?)

A brief side note: Although the program is extremely user-friendly, I highly recommend the Instructional  DVD's. Listening to the audio CD was great, however visually oriented learners would greatly benefit from watching Leigh Lowe’s video instruction. She really does a fantastic job.

With several appealing graphics and easy navigation, they are well worth the additional cost, believe me. Ethan and Abby both like watching more than listening, so these were right up their alley. They said the teacher seemed "friendly and nice”, and especially liked her Southern accent.

The Prima Latina Text Set, which includes pronunciation CD, Teacher’s Manual and Student Book, is available for $32.95. Prima Latina Texts/DVD/Flashcard combo set is available for $90.90. Items are also sold separately.

You can take advantage of the free sample lessons or check out the super-cool Prima Latina Online Games by clicking here.

Prima Latina has earned two hearty thumbs up!

Traditional Logic

The next item up for review is Traditional Logic I: Introduction to Formal Logic. Written by Martin Cothran, this course provides an in-depth study of classical syllogism (*Syllogism: “The verbal expression of a deductive inference.” Betcha knew that already, right? Yeah, me too), and is designed for students as young as 7th grade. Due to its flexible format, this course can be completed in either one semester or one year, based upon student need/ability.

This detailed program is divided into 14 Chapters (the final chapter being a Review), with four Daily Exercises for each Chapter.  In addition to instilling the basic concepts of logic from a Christian perspective, the course also discusses the following topics:
·         The four kinds of logical statements
·         The four ways propositions can be opposed
·         The three ways they can be equivalent
·         And the seven rules of validity

Everything here is well-organized and carefully presented, making Traditional Logic the most complete, easy-to-use logic program I’ve seen.

If your child has expressed a keen desire to “argue well", I can’t think of a better, more constructive channel than this. (Think future debate team member!) My 7th grader, Sierra really enjoyed this program. Although admittedly finding it “incredibly easy” at first, the challenge-factor soon picked up considerably as the lessons went on. (Ahem)

I'm not only amazed by her progress, but by how meaty-yet-digestible the program itself is. Much of the course's material I remembered learning back in high school, but let me assure you that my textbook was nowhere near as concise as this, nor was my understanding as thorough! Not by a long shot.

Traditional Logic I includes Student Text and Teacher Answer Key for $31.90. The Text and DVD set are available for $68.95. As with the Prima Latina DVD’s, the videos are considered supplemental. However, if you plan to use this program with younger (ie.7-8th grade) students, I would again highly recommend them. The benefit of the visual component cannot be measured!

To check out a free sample lesson, peek at the Table of Contents, view the “Tour of Features”, or—my personal favorite—listen to the “Syllogism Submarine” mp3, click here .

Traditional Logic  upholds Memoria Press’ high standard of solid, comprehensive teaching wrapped up in a big, user-friendly bow. We proudly award it with two thumbs up!

First Start French Book 1

As I mentioned above, Abby wanted to learn French. Outside of ballet terminology and mass consumption of pastries, I have zero experience with French. But, thanks to First Start French Book One  from Memoria Press, my girl is gaining a firm grasp on her foreign language of choice, with little help from moi.

Written by Danielle L. Schultz, this unique program was especially created for 3rd-8th grade students. Comprised of 36 lessons covering aspects of grammar, vocabulary, translation skills, and practice exercises, this program is sure to become a favorite among homeschoolers.

A helpful “Resources” list is included in the Teacher’s Manual, with suggestions for French audio CD’s, books, and magazines for those desiring extra enrichment.

Corresponding quizzes, articles, and nifty crossword puzzles can be found by visiting

As we worked through the first lesson, Abby was completely mesmerized. She grasped the flow of the language quickly and enjoyed every single minute of it. Afterward, she picked up her Student Book and headed for her bedroom.

“Hey, where are you going with that?” I asked.
She paused slightly and replied over her shoulder, “I’m going to put it under my pillow.”
(Crickets chirping)
“Under your pillow? Why on Earth for?” I asked, with one eyebrow arched quizzically.
“Because I just love it so much!” she exclaimed, hugging the book to her chest.

Well, alrighty then! How many textbooks earn that kind of approval?

As you can tell, Abby truly adores this program. She especially loves listening to the audio CD, as it gives her a chance to correct herself (because as you know, dear old Mom’s of no help!), and includes fun songs. The lessons are easy to follow, with no prep time on my part. All I have to do is simply open the Teacher’s Manual and follow along! We definitely plan to continue with Book 2 next year.

The only thing I would consider adding to this program would be Instructional DVD’s like those offered with the first two products. Other than that, this program is perfect just the way it is!

First Start French I Set is available for only $39.95 and includes the Teacher’s Manual, Student Text, and Pronunciation CD. To learn more or to view sample pages, click here.

As with the other two products, First Start French deserves two delighted thumbs up!

In Closing...

Our family has been overwhelmingly impressed with the superior products offered through Memoria Press . They are without a doubt, one of our new favorite publishers and we look forward to using more of their materials in the future.

Visit their website to view their entire product line, request a free catalog, sign up for their newsletter, read Classical Education articles, or check out their neat looking online academy. You won't be disappointed!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Hi, I'm currently reviewing the first start reading and I love it! So I'm reading reviews for some of their other products. Glad to hear you enjoyed so many of them, it helps!


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