Long ago, when my daughter, Laine, went to Public School, she had a history teacher who, for the first time in her life, taught her that history could be exciting. His lessons about ancient Rome, Egypt, and China, would be recited to me virtually word-for-word, each day after school! It was truly a gift. So when I saw a chance for her to further her study of ancient Rome using Dorthy Mills,’ The Book of the Ancient Romans, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
This 3 book set from Memoria Press arrives in paperback format, with thick heavy covers and high quality binding. Included is a text book, a student guide, and a teacher guide. The textbook is what is known as ‘a living book.’ Living books are significantly different than regular textbooks. Here is what SimplyCharlotteMason.com has to say about living books.
Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.”
Isn’t that just what we all want education to be about?
Dorothy Mills wrote this text in the 1920’s. It has stood the test of time. Memoria Press has edited it, but otherwise, it still carries Dorothy’s eloquent vocabulary and descriptive character. The text is reasonably long, and could carry over a school years worth of history over about 30 weeks. An ambitious student could tackle the material quicker. Students who struggle with reading comprehension may need to take their time with this text, as it is written with wordy flourishes and a lot of new vocabulary. Lovely, but in some ways, more difficult than a straight forward text.
With that said, however, the student guide which accompanies the text leads a student through it beautifully. The Table of Contents reads more like a lesson plan. Laying out in a very simple format (which I LOVE!) exactly what pages of the guide coincide with the text. This made it easy for my daughter to know exactly what pages needed to be completed before she moved on to the next section of reading.
Because of this simplistic layout, this study can be used by a student on their own, with little help from a parent, other than checking over answers.
Each of the lesson pages are clearly labeled at the bottom of the page. They will say, for example, Lesson 2 (pp. 13-19), again, reminding the student what textbook pages they need to read in order to complete the workbook. I absolutely love that the workbook lays out the new people, places and vocabulary found in each chapter of the text, and asks for descriptions or definitions of each. This instantly checks for comprehension and helps kids stay on track with all the new information they are reading about.
There are also comprehension questions (short answer), and activities, which are very classical in nature: timelining with each lesson, map creation, additional research papers, etc. These activities definitely stretch understanding of the material, and will undoubtedly solidify comprehension. But they are also quite time consuming. Because we are technically on Summer Break, we chose to forgo some of the more time consuming activities, all the while wishing I wasn’t. Drawing maps, making timelines – I know the extreme value in these skills, and would definitely make time in the future to complete all the activities listed.
The workbook pages are, in short, excellent. They also become instant study notes for the Review sections, which could be used as tests if you desire. Because they are called ‘Review’ and aren’t labeled as tests, they are much less intimidating to students who struggle with anxiety over being tested. Memoria Press did include a set of tests in the teacher guide should a parent want to assign reviews as well as tests. Of course, a complete answer key is provided.
We worked through the text slowly, trying to fill in the workbook pages as we read. We often used the answer key instead of a dictionary for definitions or descriptions of people or places. It seemed the easiest way to procure the exact definition of words in the context they were used. Because the teacher guide is so clearly laid out, this was easy and pleasant. 3 Cheers for Simple Teacher Guides!
In short, we were thrilled with The Book of the Ancient Romans. From its physical quality to its beautiful script, well laid out guides and challenging activities, we absolutely recommend this product. Memoria Press lists it for grades 6 through 9, but I think 6 through 12 is completely suitable. A senior high student would find the text interesting and the workbook challenging.
Memoria Press, founded by Cheryl Lowe in 1994, is a classical curriculum publisher, focused on making it simple to teach classically in our homes and private schools. Providers of the popular Latina Christiana, Memoria Press has curiculum covering many subjects for students in K through 12. When considering a Memoria Press purchase, I would encourage you to read through their company philosophy, which is focused around 3 key elements: Simplicity, Quality, & Affordability. Who can’t get on board with that?
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