We were given the opportunity to review the Famous Men of Rome Set from Memoria Press. It is classical year long course about Ancient Rome designed for 4th to 8th grade students. The set comes with a 157 page soft covered book, Famous Men of Rome. The book is broken down into 30 different chapters covering the history of Rome from the tale of Romulus and Remus to the end of the Western Empire. It is full of pictures, some black and white and others in color. The back of the book includes a glossary and full color maps of Ancient Rome. The length of each chapter really varies. Some are as short as 2 and a half pages while others are more than six pages long.
To go along with the Famous Men of Rome, we also received a Student Guide. The Student Guide is a 120 page soft covered book. It includes a two page lesson for each chapter, 5 different review lessons, drawing pages to complete activities, maps (in black and white), a blank timeline to fill in, European geography lessons, a pronunciation guide, and additional resources.
Each lesson is designed to last a week. The lessons are broken up into four sections; Facts to Know, Vocabulary, Comprehension Questions, and Activities. The Facts to Know section lists the most important facts from the lesson. It is also the section of the lesson that is to be used for memory work and copywork if desired. The Vocabulary section takes words from the text. The student is to try and figure out the meaning of the word from the context that it is use in, if they can’t then they are to look up the word. The Comprehension Questions are questions based on the reading. Most of the questions require a short answer or a list from the reading. The Activity section changes each week. They include locating places on the maps, filling out the timeline, drawing part of the reading, looking up information, and questions from the reading. There are some questions marked throughout the book that can be used as essay questions as well.
How we used Famous Men of Rome
While the lessons are intended to last a week, after the first week we decided to speed up the pace. We school 4 days a week and completed two lessons a week. The first day we would go over all of the Facts to Know sections from the previous lessons. Then AJ and I would read the first half of the chapter. She would answer any vocabulary or comprehension questions that she could answer from the first half of the chapter. Then she would choose 2 or 3 activities to complete, usually map work, timeline work, or drawing a picture.
On the second day we would go over all of the Facts to Know sections so far then finish up the reading. When she was finished she would fill out any unanswered vocabulary or comprehension sections. The reading time varied depending on the length of the chapter and her willingness to read, but the book work part never took longer than about 20 minutes.
What we thought about Famous Men of Rome
We are NOT classical homeschoolers. We don’t do memory work and rarely use text books. We enjoy reading great stories and learning in a hands on way. I didn’t know how AJ would take to trying to memorize dates and places, but I was pleasantly surprised. She really enjoyed reading the stories. They were exciting, full of drama, and in her words, crazy. The part she liked the best was the Facts to Know section. She loved trying to learn all of the facts. She remembered way more than I expected, and even took it upon herself to create flashcards for some of the ones she was having trouble with.
We both liked that the book work part of the lessons was short and sweet. The activities were varied enough to keep her interest and there was not too much writing. I love the fact that the vocabulary section came with answers. So many times we struggle with the vocabulary section because all dictionaries are a little different. It was nice to have the correct definitions at my fingertips.
My favorite part of the entire set was the pronunciation guide. It was written where AJ could easily figure out how to pronounce the different Roman names. I can’t ever seem to get names right, so I found that section very helpful.
The geography section was ok. By the looks of the book more geography is introduced in later chapters, but in my opinion you would really need more geography to have a solid grasp.
The major complaint I had was the lack of instruction for the teacher. As I mentioned before, there is a two page section that tells you how to use the guide, but it isn’t very useful. The book doesn’t tell you how long a lesson should take, or give any suggested schedule. While I appreciate the answers, I prefer a teacher’s guide that has more to it.
The other issue I had was with the tests. The tests are in the Teacher’s Manuel, but they are not perforated for easy removal. They look difficult to remove. Since the answer key is right behind the test, giving the student the book really isn’t an option.
Overall we liked the Famous Men of Rome Set and I would recommend it to those who want to study history in a classical way. It is interesting, doesn’t have too much busy work, and AJ enjoyed it. We are planning on continuing with the books next year, but we will more than likely skip some of the vocabulary and continue with our faster pace. The stories are great and I feel that AJ has already learned so much from them.