First Start Reading Teacher's Guide
The Teacher's Guide starts with an introduction that covers all the basics and equips you with the information needed to teach the program effectively. The lesson plans include general information for the teacher as well as scripted instructions for the student.
A surprise from a publisher known for its Latin programs! First Start Reading from Memoria Press is deceptively simple with an emphasis on vowel-consonant/word-families phonics and a serious focus on correct pencil grip and letter formation. Yes, in a day and age when penmanship is often ignored, they've chosen to make it a central part of their approach to reading. And, I have to confess it makes sense. After all, it serves as a kinesthetic reinforcement activity.
First Start Reading is a traditional and uncomplicated approach to phonics. After starting with ear training, vowel-consonant blending with unvoiced (m, n, s, r, f, t) consonants is first. Teach one sound for each phonogram at a time. Practice the new phonogram and its sound in a word family list with extensive practice in CVC words. Practice reading words and sentences as early as possible and reinforce learning with manuscript printing and that strong emphasis on correct pencil grip and letter formation. Include a small number of sight words. Throw in a couple of clever "tricks" for dealing with b-d confusion and you're done! Once mastered, these skills should take the student competently into a first grade reading level.
The entire program consists of four Student Worktexts (A-D) and a Teacher's Guide. The worktexts are about half letter presentation, blending, and reading practice and half writing practice space - on facing pages. Black and white line art drawings that can be colored keep the look clean. Letter formation clues include directional arrows on sample letters and starting point "dots." The four Student Worktexts are from 70 to 108 pages. The Teacher's Guide starts with an introduction that covers all the basics - syllabi for the Worktexts, the phonics approach, getting started, phonics recitation (an important element of the program), and pencil grip instruction. The rest of the book - except for a few reproducible visuals in the appendix - are wrap-around lesson plans. The lesson plans include general information for the teacher as well as scripted instructions for the student. As mentioned, half of every lesson is writing instruction, which serves as phonics reinforcement.
We expect easy-to-use from Memoria Press and we're not disappointed here. There's an amazing amount of quality phonics/reading instruction in a very reasonably priced package. You might be wondering what to do after this course. Perhaps Memoria will publish a sequel but until then they recommend Primary Phonics as a follow-up. First Start Reading is obviously designed as a lead-in to another new program from Memoria: StoryTime Treasures. Check our reading section for more information. ~ Janice
First Start Reading by Memoria Press is a traditional and uncomplicated approach to phonics with an emphasis on vowel-consonant/word-families phonics and a serious focus on correct pencil grip and letter formation. In a day and age when penmanship is often ignored, they've chosen to make it a central part of their approach to reading using it as a kinesthetic reinforcement activity. This program covers consonants, short and long vowels, and at least 45 common words and manuscript printing. The entire program consists of five Student Worktexts (A-E) and two Teacher's Guide, which make up the Complete Set below. The worktexts are 70 - 108 pages each and contain half letter presentation, blending, and reading practice and half writing practice space. Black and white line art drawings are also included to color. First Start Book E provides more reading practice and advanced phonics, and functions as preparation for transitioning into StoryTime Treasures, Memoria Press' first grade reading/literature guides. Each of the eight lessons focuses on a particular phonics concept and each includes a story. The Teacher's Guides starts with an introduction that covers all the basics and equips you with the information needed to teach the program effectively. The lesson plans include general information for the teacher as well as scripted instructions for the student.
After completing this program, Memoria Press suggests continuing reading progress with real literature or their StoryTime Treasures literature program. Traditional Spelling by Memoria Press will also provide continued phonetic practice.
Memoria Press now offers complete Curriculum Manuals and grade-level curriculum packages for PK-10 using the classical methodology. Recitation is used in every level for memorization of basic facts, systematic phonics and good books are used for reading education, copywork is used for teaching Bible truths, and music and art are included for enrichment in the early (K-3) levels. Each Curriculum Manual contains complete lesson plans for a one-year course of study. The Curriculum Manuals are well-formatted and easy to use. In the front of each book you will find a checklist of the materials needed at that level, an explanation of this curriculum, instructions for lesson implementation, a recommended schedule and blank schedule for your own planning purposes, and 33 weeks of detailed lesson plans. Lessons include assignments from the books used at each grade level, as well as activity suggestions. The appendices include a variety of material for that grade level, and may include: prayers, letter activities, recitation, memory verses, read-aloud book list, poetry list and selections, and a paintings/music list for kindergarten and first grade. These pages are reproducible for family or classroom use. Although most of the guides have been available for several years, the curriculum was restructured in 2015, with many of the programs originally included in 3rd grade now with a slower pacing to span 3rd and 4th grade. Guides for grades 3 and up have been modified to reflect this change, while the lower-level guides have only had minor changes. If you are already midway into the program with the original guides, you can still continue in that track with the older guides, now
There will be families who are very thankful for the appearance of this curriculum; for years it's seemed as though classical education and special needs might be incompatible. Then comes Cheryl Swope who just...does it. Not only did she start walking down the classical path with her special needs twins, but she quickly realized that it was the very best possible educational path for them. The combination of systematic repetition, language skills emphasis, gracious implementation and quality content has reaped amazing results, transforming their challenging lives into those with meaningful expressions of beauty and service.
Simply Classical Curriculum, written by Mrs. Swope, is essentially a set of lesson plans coupled with a choice reading list that moves gradually into some of the Memoria Press curriculum products (i.e. First Start Reading and Classical Phonics) as well as other early level curriculum products (i.e. Rod & Staff preschool workbooks). A quick look at these lesson plans might cause you to conclude that it is simply a typical classical program slooooowed way down. You're not exactly wrong, but you're not exactly right either. It's rather that the possibility of slowing way down is built into the lessons. The daily collection of lessons - rich in quality literature - progress slowly and surely through the process of laying a very solid foundation in classical learning. The plans/program offers 10 key features:
- - The rich, beautiful content of a classical Christian education
- - A slower pace with ample review
- - An emphasis on books with elegant illustrations to cultivate a taste for excellence
- - A multi-sensory presentation of material
- - Oral language components
- - Skills checklists
- - Integration across subjects
- - Themed levels
- - A trivium approach
- - Socratic questioning
Introductory information for each level includes a program overview, readiness assessment, FAQs concerning where to begin, list of read-aloud books, supply list, brief teacher notes, and a week-by-week chart for recitation and memory work. The detailed readiness assessment for each level covers language, cognitive ability, emotional development, fine-motor skills, and gross motor skills and is followed by a set of skills in each area to develop during this level of the program.
Other than making sure you have read-alouds and supplies for the day, prep is practically nil. The four-days-a-week, weekly lesson plans provide a daily checklist with specific tasks in each of several areas such as calendar, alphabet/numbers, and motor skills. In levels B and C, Simply Classical Crafts is incorporated into the arts/crafts tasks. Opening and closing the learning period with prayer is not only encouraged but prompted with suggestions for prayers to learn. There are 34 weeks of plans plus eight weeks of review. 110 - 180 pgs, pb.
The Core Curriculum Packages include the Curriculum Manual (Lesson Plans) plus books/workbooks used throughout the year. The Read Aloud Packages include all the books used as read alouds for the year. The Supply Packages are a collection of school supplies that are needed to complete the program. ~ Janice
Programs in this section focus primarily on teaching children to read, and may not provide comprehensive instruction in reading comprehension, spelling, writing, or other language skills. Arranged roughly by grade.
Theme is Animals, Alphabet & Aesop. Emphasis areas are wonder, nature, alphabet sounds, number values, writing, fine-motor skills, and prayers. Approximate mental age for this level is 4-5. Daily areas include prayer, devotion, recitation, calendar, alphabet/writing, show and tell, number lesson, activity/craft, literature/language, poetry, enrichment or therapies, and closing prayer. Prayers for Children illustrated by Eloise Wilkin is a required supplement for this level but is not included in any package.