Monday, June 10, 2019

Classical Approach to Learning How to Write Sentences: Reviewing Products from Memoria Press

Reviewing: Simply Classical Writing Book One: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) and Simply Classical Writing Book Two: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) with Teacher Key, Skill level about 1st-3rd grade

Our family was excited for the opportunity to review products again from Memoria Press. Our son has been using the Simply Classical Writing Book One: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) for the past several weeks. As part of the review we received three paperback books from Memoria Press:

Each book is designed to provide a full year's worth of instructions when approached at a slower pace. The books are part of the Memoria Press Classical Curriculum adapted for Special Needs. A Classical Christian education is one in which children are trained in the liberal arts and are introduced to the great books and great thinkers of Western tradition. With the slower pace of these books adapted for Special Needs, families can provide a Classical Education for all of their children. However, your child does not need to be classified as special needs in order to benefit from using these slower-paced books.  I would use Simply Classical Writing books with all children. They provide a firm foundation in learning how to write.

In the beginning of the 118-page Book One, there are two pages of Teacher Notes that outline supplies, how to teach the curriculum, an outline explaining day by day activities, and recommendations for special situations.

Each week consists of the following activities: 

  • Read the assigned story
  • Learn the rules
  • Copy and mark decodable sentences
  • Read-Aloud sentences
  • Create a sentence
  • Challenge sentence – students will use their own words to tell something that happened in the story – our almost six-year-old found this to be one of the harder tasks for him 
  • Illustrate and describe the drawing – students draw something talked about in the story and then write a caption for their picture 
The sentences our son copied, wrote, and created were marked using colored pencils according to the instructions: 
  • Green for capital letters at the beginning of the sentence
  • Red for the ending punctuation 
  • Blue for specific names that need to capitalized (in our lessons, these were God, Eden, Adam, and so on) 
In the beginning, we worked on reviewing the rules. You can see how he circled the beginning letter of the sentence.
We had to review what words needed to be circled in blue on more than one occasion. 

Each week's work is spread out over three pages and – depending on your child and their ability – you could take a week to complete the work as suggested or less time. For example, some days we completed one whole weeks' sentences and other days we only worked on one or two parts. In general, we took two days to complete each lesson. 

Our son had some difficulty with the challenge sentence and the illustrate and describe part, so we usually did these two on separate days. As Simply Classical Writing Book One is geared towards ages 6-8, it did not surprise me that our son would need more assistance with some of the work. 

How We Used the Book 

We started using Simply Classical Writing Book One: Step-by-Step Sentences as soon as it arrived. We were both pretty excited to get started.

I decided to break up the rules about sentences (there are four pages) into separate lessons. We started with the first four rules. Then, each day I would introduce one more rule while reviewing the previous ones briefly. Sometimes I wrote them on our small white board and other times we read directly from the book. 


As this is the Bible Story Edition, it is recommended to have an introductory Bible story collection. They teach from A Child's Garden of Bible Stories. As we already have three illustrated collections, I used these books. If a lesson took us more than one day, I even swapped which book we were using to read the story. So while one book might have information regarding Moses as just a baby, hearing the word of God, and then leading his people out of Egypt; another of our books told of the plagues and wandering in the desert. This gave our son lots to pick from when he was writing his own challenge sentence for several lessons (weeks 8-10). 

On the first day, I would read the story to both our children. Then our son and I would work on the lesson together. The next day I would read the story again (or use a different book) and then he would complete the lesson.

When working the challenge sentence and the illustration, he would often have the book in
front of him for reference as you can see at the top of this photograph. 

What I Like 

I like how this seamlessly incorporates Bible reading into our day. It is great to talk about the Bible – such stories as that of Abraham and Sarah, Elijah, Daniel and the Lions, the message delivered to Mary by the Angel, the miracles of Jesus, the parables of Jesus, and His death and resurrection – during our language arts lessons. So while our son gains a firm foundation in sentence writing and learns about nouns, verbs, punctuation, and more; he is also receiving a firm foundation in his faith. 

I also appreciate the binding of the book, the quality of the pages (they can take quite a bit of erasing), and the fact that there is ample room to write in the book on the lines provided. At the end of Week 34, there is an appendix with a certificate for completion and a reproducible template for further practice. I think this is fantastic as it will let us continue to use this format (which works) when we read other books and stories.

Because of the high quality of the pages, I could have asked our son to erase the first sentence where he forgot two words. Instead I decided to show him two editing notations to help him correct his mistake. 

The lessons allow us to discuss how wonderfully God provides for His people.

I also think using Simply Classical Book One: Step-by-Step Sentences has helped our son's handwriting tremendously (see example above). The copy work is serving a dual purpose – he is working on his ability to construct sentences, learning grammar rules, and improving his handwriting.

Looking Forward to Book Two 

We will probably begin to work with Simply Classical Writing Book Two in the new year – January 2020. I think finishing up Book One slowly will enable our son to continue to grow as a writer, give him some free time over the summer, and let us focus on building the foundation for writing good sentences using the classical approach of Memoria Press. 

I previewed Book Two so I would be able to schedule the lessons into our homeschooling planner. I like that Book Two continues with the same basic format as Book One but then includes instructions in grammar and sentence writing that are a little more complex. It looks like there is a lot of natural progression for students as they move from one book to the next.

I have included two photographs from the Student Guide and one photograph from the Teacher's Guide to give you an idea of how the lessons change to introduce more complex topics. Students will learn about nouns, pronouns, verbs, commas, apostrophes, synonyms, antonyms, adjectives, adverbs, and how to start writing paragraphs. Mixed into the lessons on all these important concepts are reviews built in for your child. Book Two also has an appendix with some great items like a week-by-week list of themes, scriptures referenced, and the page in the recommended story Bible. There are also a couple of reproducible pages to help you continue the lessons. I am very excited to start working on this book in the new homeschool year with our son.

Simply Classical Book Two: Step-by-Step Sentences

Teacher's Guide

If you would like learn more about Memoria Press, please visit the following:

Memoria Press gave families the opportunity to review several products including:

I think all these look like excellent products so I can't wait to check out the reviews myself to see what the members of the Homeschool Review Crew think about them.

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