Memoria Press-First Start Reading

My preschooler has really been soaking up learning lately so I was excited to recently have been given the chance to review First Start Reading from Memoria Press. I have had the chance to use curriculum from Memoria Press in the past and we have really enjoyed their approach to learning and the ease of use of their curriculum.

What is it?

First Start Reading is a classical curriculum that teaches reading, phonics and printing that includes focusing on correct pencil grip. Granted, my daughter was a little on the younger age for this curriculum as she will only be 4 in July but she has really shown an interest in learning phonics and can already write her name. Knowing those facts, I figured she would really enjoy using this curriculum. They focus on the more traditional approach to phonics learning the vowel-consonant style as well as learning word families along the way.

First Start Reading-Memoria Press

The full curriculum package contains a 322 page teachers guide and 4 consumable student books that costs $42.95. This curriculum can be used in a classroom or homeschool setting as indicated in the teachers guide.

Teachers Guide

The teachers guide takes 2 pages per lesson to walk you through how to implement the student book and even gives suggestions for dialogue to say to the student. It starts out having the teacher/mom pointing to the photos in the student book and asking them what the photos are which then leads to talking about what letter they start with. From there, you go on to show them the sound the letter makes. You then share words with the student and ask them if those words start with the specific letter sound you are working on.

After discussing the letter and its sound, you then show them how to form the letter in both lower & uppercase. They suggest using a chalkboard or whiteboard for this part. Then you move onto having the student practice writing the letter in their book.

Teachers Guide on the left, student book on the right with my daughter practicing writing.

Student Workbook

Each lesson has 2 pages. When they are learning a new letter, the first page shows the upper & lower case letter then it has 2 black & white pictures of something that starts with that letter. The child can color those photos. On the page next to it, there is a blank box for the child to draw their own photo that starts with that letter. Below that, there are several lines for the child to practice writing the letter being highlighted on that page. The first line has light dots for the child to trace for the uppercase letter then the next line they are to write it out themselves. The 3rd line has dots for the student to trace the lower case letter with the 4th line blank for them to practice writing it themselves. The 5th line has a combo of upper & lowercase letters for the child to trace & write.

Every couple of lessons, the curriculum takes the previous letters the child learned to combine them into a word. For example the first 2 lessons in "Book A" teach the letters "M" and "A". The third lesson them combines them to teach the student the word "AM". The approach is unique in that there is a dotted line linking the 2 letters together so you sound them out slowly joining their sounds together. The child also traces and writes the word as well.

In the later books which we haven't gotten to yet, the lessons have the student writing out full words and reading short stories. There are also pages where the parent dictates words for the student to write (basically like a spelling test).

How we used it

My daughter could not WAIT to start this program! I only wanted to do one lesson a day so she would be able to soak in what she was learning but boy she begged to do another lesson once we were finished for the day. I would sit down with her and point to the letter at the top of the page and tell her what it is (she knew many of them prior to starting the curriculum). Then I'd ask her to tell me what the pictures were and we'd overemphasize the letter sound. From there, I'd recite some words to her and ask her if they started with that specific letter. Then I'd ask her to come up with words on her own that started with that letter.

Afterwards, I'd ask her to come up with a picture to draw starting with that letter. Then I would very lightly write that word in pencil in the photo for her to trace. After she was done coloring the photos on both pages, we'd move onto how to write the letter. I had a small white board that I used to show her how to write the letter then I'd let her practice. Once she felt good about writing it, we'd move back to the student book where she would follow their guidance and practice writing her letter.

Not too bad for a 3 year old!!!

By the 3rd lesson, she was reading her first sentence, "I am Olivia"!!! She was SO incredibly proud! Throughout the days after her lessons, I would occasionally ask her what letter or word she learned today and the sounds that they made just to make sure she was still recalling it. I am beyond impressed how well she is learning at such a young age her phonics and even her handwriting is blowing me away.

I truly wish I had had this program when my older children were preschool/kindergarten age. I LOVE that there is NO prep work at all for me, I can simply open up the teacher guide to see what I am supposed to do with her and we sit down to do the work. I'd say we spent 20 minutes a day on a lesson but keep in mind she is only 3 and I added a bit to the lesson to really help drill the letter & sounds with her. I will definitely be using this with my other preschooler when she is ready to start learning her phonics!

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