Writing and grammar scare the bajeebers out of people for some reason that I find inconceivable. Seriously, people, diagramming sentences is my favorite! Apparently I am in the minority. That is why Memoria Press developed their 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. Because not everyone chooses diagramming over YouTube.
Simply Classical Writing is part of the Memoria Press line of excellent special needs products that guide special needs (or any) student on a gentle but impressive classical education. It allots more time and practice than their traditional products. This particular set teaches grammar and writing with the use of Bible stories, enhancing the student’s knowledge of Scripture and solid punctuation–two of my favorite topics! It is considered appropriate for grades 1-3, but, as with anything homeschooling, parents can use their discretion.
The first book teaches the basic rules of sentences, including capitalization for proper nouns and beginnings of sentences, end punctuation, and forming a complete thought in a sentence. (No text speak allowed here.) It also has the student working with other forms of punctuation, but keeps it pretty simple. They will also learn different types of sentences, proper spacing, and a wealth of other information taught gradually and repeated throughout the year.
The first book does not come with a teacher’s manual because you don’t need one. You will, however, need a Bible story book. If you don’t have the one they recommend, which is A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories, you may substitute one of your own or do what we do and read it straight from the Bible. You simply match up the story with the theme of the lesson–easy as eating pie. There is a Bible verse included with each lesson if you want to incorporate memory work, familiarize your child with the Scripture itself, assign copywork to more capable children, or simply locate the story in the Bible.
The lessons in both books are short. You can finish in five to ten minutes, which is perfect for my little-bit-here, little-bit-there lifestyle. (Of course, my artist turns a five-minute lesson into an hour of creativity, which is great!) The format for the lessons is similar throughout the book, so the child can work independently after a few lessons. Here’s what a typical day looks like:
- Read or review the story.
- Review the brief relevant sentence rules.
- Follow the instructions for that day’s activity, which is usually writing a sentence.
Each day the child will be writing one sentence based on that week’s Bible theme. They write directly in their consumable student books, where the spaces are plenty big and the lines are a suitable size for elementary students. Whether that writing revolves around decoding a sentence, writing an original sentence, copying, etc., depends on the day. There are also a few other simple activities, such as marking capital letters and drawing a picture of the story. The key word here is simple, so it shouldn’t be scaring anybody away from writing. Each lesson lasts about a week, totaling 34 weeks for the first book. Of course, you can speed this up or slow it down; the books give you ideas for both, including adding some Charlotte Mason themed activities like narration.
I was intending to pass book two on to my fourth grader while my first grader worked on book one. I thought it would be good for filling in the gaps simply and quickly. This is true, but it proved to be too simple for her as she is shifting into the fifth grade. The large, lined writing spaces are really meant for the elementary years, so we’re going to continue with Eliana into book two after we complete book one…you know, how it was intended. Brilliant!
Simply Classical Writing Book Two is designed in the same manner as book one and builds on what the student has learned in book one. It teaches the concepts of main ideas, details in sentences, parts of speech, antonyms, and similar topics. It flows smoothly from book one, and your student will well-prepared for the transition.
If either book is too simple, the lessons can be doubled up or you can move through all the lessons in one day. You can also add narration, dictation, or other ideas to the lessons. On the other hand, you can slow down the process, copy some of the words for the child, skip pieces, or otherwise move at a more manageable pace for your child.
As for us, we are still building a language foundation for Eliana. She has not exploded into reading yet, although she is reading and can sound things out. Therefore, we are moving super slowly, dabbling really. The milestone I’m waiting for before launching into this more consistently is her ability to be 100% bomb-proof on her vowels. She still mixes them up. Once she can tell me without fail that “I” says “i,” we will move forward faster. No use building a house on a shaky foundation. Until then, we’re “playing” with this course, and oh boy does she love it! (This is just my approach. Others choose to solidify skills while moving ahead. I solidify skills while dabbling in the future. To each their own.)
This is currently the only form of copywork Eliana has. No use doubling up, in my opinion. She is pretty good at her handwriting, but I’m watching carefully as she writes here so she doesn’t pick up any bad habits.
The lesson length is ideal for someone at Eliana’s level or beyond. She can decipher and write one simple sentence a day. She doesn’t always understand everything, which is why I am holding back a little. It’s fine; she’ll figure it out in time. And this simple format with lots of repetition will help her grasp it.
Yes, my language arts theme is lots of exposure to good language, both spoken and read, and not pushing too much too soon. This course is definitely not too much too soon for the majority of first to third graders. Even for Eliana, it’s a good fit, but I’m moving at a cautious pace. Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this course as well and share their experiences here. (Look for the word “writing” after the blog name.)
Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed different products from Memoria Press, namely the following:
- The Wars of the Jews set (grades 9+)
- The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History set (grades 5-8–this sounds really good!)
- Simply Classical Spelling Book One: Step-by-Step Words and Simply Classical Spelling Book Two: Step-by-Step Words (grades 1-3 approximately)
- 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 (grades 1-3 approximately)
You can read about their experiences and hear their opinions right here. I highly encourage you to go read some of these reviews and get a good handle of what Memoria Press is doing for families.
You really can’t go wrong with Memoria Press. We have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated everything we’ve ever used from them, which currently includes two levels of Latin, literature, grammar, and this writing course. If you want to get to know this classical Christian company better, learn more about their courses, or hear about their exceptional special needs resources, go to their website and order their excellent catalog/magazine (catazine? magalog? catamagalogazine? Whatever it’s called, I have two issues by my bed right now) and follow them on any of their social media pages below: