At our house, we love history and my boys really love hearing about famous battles and heroic warriors. So, I was happy to get a chance to check out the Famous Men of Rome set from Memoria Press for this review. Aimed at students in grades 4-8, the three book set includes a student workbook, teacher’s edition, and full color textbook.
The full-year curriculum covers the ancient history of Rome with a focus on the men who had a big impact on the course of the country’s history. Students will of course learn about famous twins Romulus and Remus, and people like Nero, Julius Caesar, and Cicero. But they will also learn about some lesser known figures like Camillus, Regulus, and others. The text itself is beautiful. The soft-cover book features gorgeous illustrations, and the stories are generally four to five pages in length, enough to be read in a single day for older kids, or two days for younger ones. My son and I (8th grade) do history together. Depending on what we have going on, we either read the story together over a couple of days, or if it’s a crazy-busy week, he reads it alone in the car while we’re driving around, and he narrates it to me.
The accompanying workbook helps to flesh out the program, turning it into a one-year history program. Each lesson starts off with a Facts to Know section, that usually includes a list of names of important people they will read about in the lesson, and a statement explaining who they are. The next section is vocabulary. I liked this section because it gave the students some unfamiliar words, but not just in list form. Instead, the words are given in the context of a phrase, allowing the students to try and determine the meaning of the words on their own. They can then go back and update the definitions after they read the story and find the words there.
The workbook also includes comprehension questions and a list of suggested activities that include map activities, essays, research activities, essays, timelines, and more. In general, we used the workbook as part of a three-day history program in our homeschool. On the first day, my son read the facts section in the workbook and completed the vocabulary section. Then, depending on how long the story was, we might read part of it, or we might wait until the next day to read the whole story. On the second day, we completed the story, then he did the comprehension questions. On the third day, he completed the activities. Since he is in the 8th grade, I usually had him do most (if not all) of the activities. If one of them involved writing an essay or some type of research, I would assign it as a project due for the next week. If you have a younger child, you could certainly pick and choose which activities you wanted your child to do.
Every five lessons, the workbook features a review that includes more extensive vocabulary, mapping, comprehension, timeline, and other activities. During a review week, I would divide the review into daily sections that my son would complete on his own. I really liked that this was built-in to the program. A lot of times, I feel like when we do history, my son kind of just goes through the daily lessons, but I’m not sure how much of it “sticks”. These reviews really gave him time to sort of work the info into his memory.
The Teacher’s Guide includes a full copy of the student pages with complete answers to all of the questions. It also includes optional tests for every five lessons. So, after you complete each review, you can have your child do the test for that section. I did have my son do these tests, and I felt the reviews were very good preparation for them, but if you don’t want to use the tests, you don’t have to. There is also a final overall test and a test on European Geography that I think is kind of cool.
This history program is very high-interest and I think it’s a great way to make learning about ancient history fun. For me, the program is really well-laid out and so easy to implement, it makes my days simple. I literally just opened the book and went, and after a long year, it was just what I needed. We are going to continue to use this as our main history program, and maybe flesh it out with some historical fiction for read aloud time. The entire set costs $39.95 for all three books.
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To see what my fellow crew members thought of Famous Men of Rome and the other Memoria Press programs we got to check out, click here: