Friday, June 14, 2013

Memoria Press - Geography 1 - Review

I have several friends who have spoken highly about products from Memoria Press, so I was quite happy for the opportunity to review their Geography 1: The Middle East, North Africa, & Europe curriculum. Arlene (7th grade) was the test student this time, since it is geared for grades 4 and up. I would say it would be appropriate for most students in grades 4-8. 

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The curriculm includes 5 books: Student Text, Student Workbook, and Teacher Guide for the Geography 1 region, and the Student Workbook and Teacher Key, Quizzes, & Tests for The United States.

I'll start with the US books. These books are for learning the location, shape, and capitol of all 50 states. The states are divided into 8 different regions, so your student can focus on a managable amount of information at a time. Since we had spent this past school year learning how to draw the US from memory, this was mostly review for Arlene, but it helped reinforce the capitols. If your student hasn't done much (or not done any) US Geography, this would be a great way to start. If purchased separately, the two books cost $12.95.

Now, moving on to the meat of the review, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe books. If you are wondering HOW this area was chosen to be learned covers the lands that used to be part of the Ancient Roman Empire. So, if that's coming up in your history for next year, this would be an excellent addition to your day!

The Student Text has a two-page spread on each country ( or country group, i.e. the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania are covered together on a two-page section, while France has it's own 2 pages.) The page on the left tells about the country's history, and also often contains something to relate to today, or at least post World War II history. This also includes a Fast Fact chart. The right page has a map, that shows the country, it's capital, and defining mountain ranges, along with neighboring countries. Once the student has studied the pages, they open the workbook where they find a page to record what they have learned, and a map to label. The points they need to label are listed in the "Word Bank" section of the page so they are not so overwhelmed about spelling.

This is more than just worksheets, it is processing the information, because the workbook has a section for "Fun Facts." Your student gets to choose which facts they found the most interesting about the country. Sometimes, they choose the Biblical connection facts that are found in their Student Text for many of the Middle Eastern countries. 

I can vouch that this curriculum works. Earlier this week the girls were looking at the world map we have on the wall in the Dining Room. When Emily (15) made a comment about all of the '-stan' countries, Arlene proceeded to tell her about the history of war between Pakistan and East Pakistan (Bangladesh.) Then she ended the history lesson with "I learned it in my Geography book last week."

In the Student Text, each area begins with an overview of regional history, including a Biblical refernce, and a map showing which countries will be studied. In the Student Workbook, each region ends with a few (usually 3) pages of review and maps to  label for the region.

Arlene and I had some good discussions about the Middle East, particularly about how her books had talked about Biblical refernces to the different countries (even though many of them have changed their names and/or borders.) 

Because it is summer vacation, and Arlene was working on her 4-H projects in the afternoons, I didn't give her any of the Quizzes or Tests from the Teacher Guide. I did, however, look through the Teacher's Guide. The front has all the answers to the Student Workbook sheets. Under 'Fun Facts' it says "Answers will vary." The quizzes and tests should help the parents check how well their students have retained the information. If your child is used to narration, and map drawing, you might decide to skip the quizzes and just give them the tests. A lot of this depend on if your student is a 4th grader, or an 8th grader.

I liked the independent aspect of this curriculum. Since Arlene understood the vocabulary words used to describe the countries ( or looked them up) she didn't need my help with the daily work. In the front of the books, it suggests covering 2-3 countries a week. I would suggest studying 2 countries a week, and spending the 5th day workingon drawing the coutries' shapes freehand. Of course, some student are quicker and may cover 4 countries a week. Since handwriting her answers has always been a slow process for Arlene, we stuck to two countries a week.

Arlene said "I like it!" We are planning to continue using these books this Fall. Since written history starts in this region, I don;t think you can study it too much. These books will mesh well with our study of "Ancient Civilizations and the Bible" by Diana Waring. I am sure it would line up well with many other Ancient history curriculums as well. If you are doing multi-level, family-wide History, this would be a great supplement to have for the older students to take their learning farther in-depth.

Overall, Memoria Press's Geography 1 gets an "A!"


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