Friday, August 9, 2019

Memoria Press Tenth Grade Literature Guide Set Review

I've said it before, and I'll say it again-we love,love,love Memoria Press. We were recently blessed with the Tenth Grade Literature Guide Set and it's been everything we hoped it would be.

I was really excited for this one, because all of the books in this set were books Katie was already scheduled to read in tenth grade. We received:

The Scarlet Letter Literature Guide Set 
Julius Caesar Literature Guide Set 
To Kill a Mockingbird Literature Guide Set 
Romeo and Juliet Literature Guide Set 

Each set includes the novel, Student Book, and Teacher Guide. All you need to add is a notebook, as the student book is not workbook.

We started with To Kill a Mockingbird.  The Student Book divides the novel into three sections, giving your student time to really dig in to the story and interact with it. 

Each section includes Pre-Grammar, which prepares your student to think about the novel and its Central One Idea by answering some questions to help them draw upon prior knowledge or experiences.

In the Grammar section, your student discovers essential facts and features of the story through Reading Notes, Words to Be Defined, and Comprehension Questions.

The Logic section presents Socratic questions to help your student sort, arrange, compare, and connect ideas. Here you will also find Essay options.

The Teacher Guide mirrors the Student Book and contains all of the answers to the Comprehension Questions and Socratic Questions. It also contains a test for each section, as well as the answer key. 


These Literature Guides are really user friendly. Everything your student needs to do is clearly mapped out for them. 

We've gotten into a rhythm, with each chapter following the same pattern. Katie starts by reading the reading notes and words to be defined, reads the chapter, and answers the comprehension and Socratic discussion questions. 

While easy to use, there is nothing easy about the content. One of the things I love most about Memoria Press is the absolute lack of fluff. Following a true Classical model,  these literature guides train your student to actively read, think deeply, and make connections between abstract and concrete ideas. 

The four novels included in this Literature Guide Set are deep and nuanced and tackle a lot of complicated issues. I love that Katie has such great tools to help her really get into these stories and truly understand them. 

Memoria Press has always been unbelievably generous, and this time was no different. They sent us the entire Tenth Grade Literature Guide Set even though we would only get through one Literature Guide during the review period. Wow, right?

We are just about finished with To Kill a Mockingbird, and next we move on to The Scarlett Letter. After that we'll do Romeo and Juliet, and then Julius Caesar

The Student Books and Teacher Guides for all four books follow an identical format, so now that Katie is familiar with the To Kill a Mockingbird Literature Guide, she'll move on to the next novel seamlessly. 

Don't just take my word for how amazing Memoria Press is, click below to see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Review

We're big fans of literature-based learning here, so I jumped at the chance to try out the Grade 8 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources.

The Grade 8 Lightning Lit Set is a literature and composition program that prepares your student for high school composition skills by responding to great literature.

For this review we received the Teacher's Guide, Student Guide, and Student Workbook. 

Student Guide includes: 

  •  Introduction/While You Read: Includes a brief biography of the author, and gives information on the literary lesson and questions to consider.
  • Vocabulary Lists: Reference for words students may not know.
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Literary Lessons: Along with the writing exercises, these are the heart of the Lightning Lit series. Topics covered include setting, figurative language, symbolism, and more.
  • Mini-Lessons: Additional practice that includes reading or an introduction to other composition skills.
  • Writing Exercises

The Student Workbook is meant to be completed after the reading and lesson and before the writing exercises, and includes seven types of activities related to:

  • Literary lessons
  • Mini-lessons
  • Composition skills
  • Thinking skills
  • Grammar and Mechanics
  • Puzzles
  • Extra-challenge pages

The Teacher's Guide includes a schedule, discussion questions, answer key, and more.

The Student Guide and Student Workbook are written directly to the student, which makes it very user friendly. Over the course of thirty-six weeks divided up into two semesters, your student will read four novels, two nonfiction books, three short stories, and several poems.  

How We Used It & What We Thought

I won't even try to play it cool, we absolutely love Lightning Lit! My thirteen year old really enjoys reading and writing, and is a big fan of all things language/grammar related.

I really want to paint a picture for you of how great this program is, so I'm just going to walk you through what we've been working on. 

Weeks one through three had us working on the short story, "A Crazy Tale". After reading the Welcome, Introduction, and Vocabulary we read the story and answered the Comprehension Questions. 

Next we did the Literary Lesson on author's purpose. The Mini-Lesson came next, on taking notes. 

Then came the workbook pages. These pages reinforced the concepts taught in the Literary Lesson and the Mini-Lesson. Pages included work on discerning author's purpose, writing with a purpose, capitalization and apostrophes, fact and opinion, taking notes, and an optional crossword puzzle and word search. 

Once all of the workbook pages were completed, we moved on to the Writing Exercises. There were four options to choose from: 
  1. choose a common object to write about
  2. choose any topic and write five paragraphs: one to inform, one to explain (instruct), one to persuade, one to describe, and one to explore.
  3. write a short story
  4. write a research paper

The next book is Treasure Island. All of the readings follow the same format, so we began by reading the Introduction and Vocabulary sections before beginning the book. 

The Literary Lesson for this section is on Setting. The Mini-Lesson is about rewriting in your own words. The workbook pages include: analyzing setting, detail in setting, identifying bias, rewriting source material, and more. There are again four choices for writing. There are also Comprehension Questions for each chapter, that we've been answering as we read. 

As you can see, this is a very thorough program. I love the combination of exploring great literature while working on composition skills.  It's a perfect fit for our family, and we will happily pick it back up in September after enjoying a slower pace over the summer. 

75 members of the Homeschool Review Crew were blessed with a variety of wonderful programs from Hewitt Homeschooling. Be sure to click below to read more! 

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Memoria Press Review

We are huge fans of Memoria Press, so we were super excited to jump right into The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic Set and the 200 Questions About American History Set 

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic Set includes the book by H.A. Guerber, Student Guide, and Teacher Guide. 

Each lesson covers three chapters of the book and contains the following sections:

Facts to Know: gives brief information on people and places you will read about

Vocabulary: define words you will encounter

Comprehension Questions: reinforces comprehension of reading

Enrichment: Additional activities to complete such as maps, timeline,research and composition. Also assigned here are primary source readings, which are conveniently included in the Appendix. 

The Teacher Guide mirrors the Student Guide, with all of the answers included.

200 Questions About American History Set includes the Student Book, Teacher Guide, and flashcards.

With this set you'll learn 150 questions that everyone should know about American history, famous quotes from great Americans, significant dates from American history, and memorization of the presidents in order. 

These two sets were created to be used together as a great one year survey of American history for middle school students that will give them a solid foundation for high school American history. 


We've been really enjoying working through both of these sets together as a family. I have a 7th and 9th grader, so one was right in the target grade range, and one was a bit older. Since our experiences with Memoria Press have proven that they produce high quality, challenging programs without any busy work or fluff, I knew they would both get something out of these lessons.

200 Questions About American History utilizes three books: The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic, Story of the World Volume 4, and Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework, all of which we own. The last one is now out of print, but Memoria Press does offer suggestions to use in place of that one. 

Each day that we did history, we would sit together and read the chapters from The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic aloud. Since the student workbooks are consumable and meant for just one student, we also answered the questions and vocabulary aloud with one daughter serving as scribe. 

After finishing the work from that set, we'd do the additional reading from 200 Questions, if any, and then answer the drill questions. Since the purpose of this set is memorization, we reviewed the previous drill questions before moving on.

There is a great weekly schedule in 200 Questions that lists reading selections from each of the three books with corresponding drill questions, timeline entries, quotes, presidents, and tests. For example, week one had us reading chapter 1-7 in Guerber, answering drill questions 1-8 (the answers to the drill questions will be found in the scheduled reading) and one timeline event. Famous quotes come in at week 7, and memorizing presidents at week 12. We found this schedule to be tremendously helpful.

Although we have an eclectic type style of homeschooling, we do tend to lean pretty heavily toward the Classical model, which is why we love Memoria Press so much. You can buy their curriculum with confidence, knowing your student will have an exceptional learning experience no matter the subject. 

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew were blessed with a variety of great products from Memoria Press. Be sure to click below to see what they had to say. 

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Friday, May 10, 2019

The Critical Thinking Co. Review

Since Katie is in 9th grade this year, thoughts of PSAT and SAT testing have been in the back of our minds. We jumped at the chance to review Vocabulary Virtuoso: PSAT-SAT Book 2 from The Critical Thinking Co.

Vocabulary Virtuoso Book 2 is written for students in grades 8-12 to build vocabulary necessary for comprehension in critical reading.

The lessons in this 187 page book are built around 20 vocabulary lists. Each list is made up of nine words, and 85% of the words in the lessons are from current PSAT or SAT lists. Each list emphasizes one part of speech- such as nouns, verbs, or adjectives. A review lesson is included after every four lessons to help ensure your student obtains mastery of the words. 

Each word list includes the pronunciation of the word, the definition, and a sample sentence to help give your student some context. There are six lessons for each word list that include a variety of activities. Some of those activities include:
  • writing the best word from a choice box to complete the sentences
  • story challenges: fill in the blanks in a story
  • working with synonyms and antonyms
  • word scrambles
  • matching definitions with words
  • completing sentences to demonstrate understanding of the words

How We Used It & What We Thought

Katie has been working through this book entirely on her own. All I have had to do is correct her work each day. (The answer key is right in the back of the book, which makes it a breeze to correct) We added this to her regular school schedule, so she completed one section of a lesson per day, four days a week. 

I have noticed her making connections between the words she is learning and every day life. It's been fun to watch her light up and say "Hey! I know that word! I was just working on it the other day!" 

Since Katie has been the primary user, I decided to share her thoughts with you.

"I like that this book has a lot of different pages for each word list so that you can really work on them and actually remember them. I liked the history stories a lot. I love working in workbooks, so I really liked that this was an actual workbook and not something we printed out and put in a binder. The thing I liked the most is that most other vocab books I've used always start you off with easy words, and this book gave me more challenging words right from the very beginning, so I was never bored with it. It has actually been fun to use and I'm learning a ton."

The Critical Thinking Co. designs critical thinking into all of their lessons so that students learn to carefully analyze what they are learning. Because deeper analysis produces deeper understanding, students can then achieve better grades and higher test scores. Most importantly, students who practice critical thinking will learn to apply it throughout all aspects of their lives.

The Critical Thinking Co. produces high quality learning materials for a variety of subjects. Members of the Homeschool Review Crew received quite a few options for review. Be sure to click below to see what they had to say!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Review

I didn't find history very interesting as a kid. I've had the pleasure of discovering my love for it alongside my girls throughout our years of homeschooling. We were really excited to try out Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum from Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum.

Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum is a Christian program with a Biblical worldview that you can use with your whole family.

Written for students in K-12th grade, this curriculum allows you to teach multiple students in various grades all at the same time. The Teacher Guide is written directly to the teacher, and the Student Guide directly to the student, making it very easy to implement and use.  

For this review we received World History, which included the Teacher Guide, Student Guide, and The Chain of Liberty Book and Studyguide. 

 The program is divided into four years:
  • Universal History-Year 1
  • The Middle Ages-Year 2
  • U.S. History-Year 3
  • World History-Year 4
There are different levels within those four years:
  • Level 1: K-3rd grade
  • Level 2: 4th-6th grade
  • Level 3: 7th-9th grade 
  • Level 4: 10th-12th grade

What this means is that you can have all of your students using the same program, regardless of grade level. The weekly subjects and principles are the same for every level, with different books assigned for each. We used only one level, Level 3, as my girls are in 7th and 9th grade. 

The weekly overview gives you a great snapshot of everything you will do each week. There are four lessons broken down by level so you can easily see what each of your students is to do. 

Each week begins with a Scripture verse, Principle, and Leading idea. For the history piece there are assigned readings, (most days) videos to watch, and questions to answer in the Student Guide. There are also additional expanded history reading options, writing, and vocabulary assignments. 

How We Used It:

The only thing I needed to do to prep was request the books we'd need from our library. The lesson plans are so thorough you can literally open the guide and go. For Level 3 we were assigned books to read from Joy Hakim's series, A History of US.

Each day we'd sit together and read the assigned chapters, watch the video, and then answer the questions. The time it took us to complete the work varied depending on the length of the videos, which averaged from 15 to 45 minutes. After we completed the work for the day I would assign them chapters to read from the History Expanded section. I thought this was helpful to allow them time to read the entire book we were working from, as the curriculum didn't assign all the chapters in the main lessons.

What We Thought:
We have really been enjoying this curriculum! I love the inclusion of videos, as it adds an element to our learning that doesn't come from just reading alone. I like that there are writing, word study, and vocab lessons in addition to the history. It makes for a very thorough and well-rounded program. 

There were a few minor things that we didn't love. The videos were on Youtube and not super easy to find. I'd love to see a more structured approach to cataloguing the videos by level or something. There were also some typos and formatting issues, but again, that's not really major. The last thing was that we didn't really care for The Chain of Liberty book. If I had it to do over again I'd probably skip the first two weeks where that book is used and begin at week 3. 

Overall, I think this is a solid history program. My girls have really enjoyed using it, and we've learned a ton of stuff we didn't know before. We will definitely continue using it in our studies. 

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew received different levels to review. Be sure to click below to see what they had to say.

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