Last year, I made the big decision to homeschool my children using the Core Curriculum from Memoria Press. It was an enormous leap of faith for me to do something so incredibly different than our previous 8 years of homeschool, but it has been one of my most successful homeschool decisions to date.
One season in our homeschool ended and a new one began. This new season also brought a new curriculum.
Included in the 5th grade Core Curriculum package, you’ll find Famous Men of Rome. It’s a wonderful ride through the main players of Ancient Rome and the contributions of which they are most well-known.
I thought I’d show you how we use Famous Men of Rome in our homeschool. As y’all know, I love to see how other moms teach their children, and I enjoy sharing our experience with all of you.
We can learn and grow and encourage each other that way.
By the way, this post uses my affiliate links, and you can take a peek at my disclosure policy if you’d like. This is not a sponsored post, just FYI.
➡ Browse through all of the homeschool curriculum posts here at Mama’s Learning Corner.
About Famous Men of Rome
In our homeschool, we use the Famous Men of Rome text and the Famous Men of Rome Student and Teacher Guides from Memoria Press.
While the Famous Men series is available in the public domain, the texts from Memoria Press are updated with beautiful pictures, and easy-on-the-eyes text. The font and layout of the pages make it enjoyable for all levels of learners.
The Student Guide is just that – a tool to guide the reader through the text and then to think critically about what is presented.
The Teacher Guide is for me to ensure my child’s answers are correct, to add more depth to proposed questions, and to provide the occasional extra activity.
Also included in the Teacher Guide is a set of reproducible tests for each unit (a group of five weekly lessons), as well as a final exam.
Each lesson is broken up into parts: assigned reading in the text, Facts to Know, Vocabulary words to define, and comprehension questions to answer. My children like that the assignments are the same from week to week, as they do best when they know what is expected of them.
The pages in the Student Guide are black and white with no cutesy graphics. This page layout makes it appealing to 4th graders, all the way to middle schoolers.
As they have moved into upper elementary and middle school, my daughters have commented how much they like black and white plain pages over lots and lots of text or graphics. I have one child that struggles a bit with attention, and this page simplicity is especially helpful for her.
How We Use Famous Men of Rome in Our Homeschool
I am moving through my second year of teaching Famous Men of Rome in our homeschool. Even though it is scheduled for 5th grade in Memoria Press’ Classical sequence, I had my 7th grade daughter take it last year during 6th grade. She had very little exposure to Ancient Rome and needed a solid foundation, which Famous Men of Rome easily provided!
→ This year, my 7th grader moved on to Famous Men of Greece. You can read about her 7th grade course load here.
Even though Memoria Press schedules this as a one-day class in their curriculum guide, I find that it’s better for my children if I spread the work out through the week.
Here is my method, which seems to be successful in our current homeschool situation.
Note: We almost always do a 5-day school week now, so I write the plans for 5 days. Day 1 does not necessarily fall on Monday, however. For this class, Day 1 is almost always on Tuesday.
FMOR Day 1
When I have a scheduled class with my children, I expect them to come to class prepared. So Day 1 includes all of the ways they need to prepare themselves for class, and become familiar with the lesson. Hearing me talk about the lesson just one time isn’t enough for them to master the material.
And mastery of the material is always our goal.
On Day 1, I assign the reading in the Famous Men of Rome text. My 5th grader is also required to read and understand the Facts to Know section, and define the vocabulary words in the Student Guide.
The Teacher’s Guide suggests the students define the vocabulary words from the text itself using context clues, but I let my children use a homemade dictionary (read: very short definitions) to define the words.
I don’t want to take a lot of valuable time with them browsing through the dictionary and writing super long entries. This should be short and sweet.
FMOR Day 2
Day 2 is usually our class day, and it’s also the heaviest day of the material.
I try to always start our class with reviewing previous material. There’s an excellent list of Famous Men of Rome Drill Questions in the Teacher’s Guide that I use each week. I also have my daughter summarize the previous lesson and its key players.
The we jump to the day’s lesson. Usually my daughter and I take turns reading the text aloud, although if it’s quite long, we only read certain sections aloud. I ask leading questions, we talk about what is important, we highlight the main characters of the narrative, and we enjoy the story together.
After we’ve sufficiently discussed the main points, my daughter and I answer the comprehension questions together. My current 5th grader needs quite a bit of help with composing thoughts succinctly in a sentence. I want to help guide her in writing detailed, yet efficient answers to the questions.
To achieve this, we talk through the answer to the comprehension question together, and she orally composes a sentence. I write her sentence on the board, and she re-reads it aloud. If it makes sense and answers the question completely, we move on. If not, we revise.
We answer all of the questions for the lesson in this way. When finished, she copies those answers in her book, making sure her spelling and sentence mechanics are correct. We are working hard on her attention to detail this year and not turning in sloppy work. She sees me model nice handwriting and solid answers, so she knows what I expect.
This is no small task, I tell you. I will be the first to admit that it’s hard to be consistent with this week after week, but I’m confident we will see the fruit of this hard work in months and years to come.
→ You can read more of our 5th Grade Goals for this school year here.
FMOR Days 3 and 4
Since the bulk of the week’s work is completed on Day 2, Days 3 and 4 are significantly lighter.
My daughter is required to go through her stack of Famous Men of Rome flashcards, as well as review the Facts to Know and vocabulary from the current week’s lesson.
It’s helpful to keep the ideas fresh in her mind with quick spiral review.
FMOR Day 5
I give my children a quiz on Day 5 of Famous Men of Rome. Last year, I used Facts to Know from the week’s lesson and the prior week’s lesson to make a total of 10 facts.
I tested my daughter orally, giving her the answer and she had to provide the person or place.
For example, I would ask, “What are the three wars between Rome and Carthage?”
She would have to answer, “Punic Wars.”
This year, my time is really tight on Fridays, so I made a little quiz of the Facts to Know. For this school year, this paper quiz method is going well.
I always include all of the Facts to Know, and possibly a few of the vocabulary or quotes. I always include the timeline dates.
Famous Men of Rome Quizzes and Tests
I know that giving grades in the homeschool world is controversial. I’ve written about why we give grades in our homeschool a couple of times. A grade is hugely motivating for my children, and the effort they put forth is much more than if they didn’t receive a grade.
I have also found that the more often my children have to interact with the material – class, flash cards, quizzes and tests – the easier it is for them to master the material.
Prior to taking the test, I tell my children most of the questions and content on the test. I do ‘teach to the test’, which has a very bad connotation in the educational world right now. Memoria Press does a magnificent job of pulling out the most important concepts of a subject, and then creating a test based on those concepts.
The test questions are the ones they must master, so I make sure they know what those questions contain.
This is not the same as teaching towards an End of Grade test that you read about in the public school world. This is an entirely different concept.
A Few Last Notes about Famous Men of Rome
— I was taught very little Western Civilization in my K-12 years, so I am no scholar. I have to teach myself before I can teach my children. Even though I went through 2 cycles of Ancients with my children when we used a 4-year history cycle, I still need some big picture help.
To prepare for class with my daughter, I read the Famous Men of Rome text of course, and also the correlating sections in The Story of the Romans by H.A. Guerber. I often read the correlating sections of The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer as well.
The more I understand the material, the better I can teach my children. It takes a lot of time and work, however.
— Famous Men of Rome dovetails so beautifully with our Latin studies. The FMOR text often has Latin words and phrases that are recognizable to those of us with only a small bit of Latin under our belts. Those Latin words are always fun to discover!
— It makes our class time go so much smoother if both my daughter and I each have a text book. I purchased a new one (for me) when I ordered the 5th Grade Core package, and found my daughter a used book from our local homeschool store.
— Some of the Lessons in FMOR are a little long to completely discuss in one 30-45 minute class time. When I see that we are going to discuss two different events during the one week’s lesson, I schedule two different class times. That’s pretty hard for me to squeeze in because there’s such little margin in my school days. However, I’ve proven to myself many times over that shorter class times are always better for retention and for the Mama’s sanity. 😉
Do you use Famous Men of Rome in your homeschool curriculum?
Thank you for sharing your experience and switch to Memoria Press, we are in prayer as to switch some of our children next year over to memoria press. Doing all the research, we already follow a classical/Charlotte mason approach to learning.
This has blessed me today: to see how you use these materials, and hear you acknowledge that it is hard to put in the “extra” work to make sure that you are teaching well. And hear that the hard work is worthwhile!
I am horribly and shamefully late in replying, but thank you, A, for that kind comment! Yes, it has been worth the effort. I’ll admit that one particular child of mine just does not “get” writing MP-style answers despite how much we practice. It’s a mix of lazy vs. I Hate Handwriting vs. attention troubles vs. ‘It’s too hard’. I still model quite a bit for her, actually.
But yes, lots of “extra” and general effort.
I hope your new school has started off well!