Review: Classically Catholic Memory

We were so excited to bring both Classically Catholic Memory and Catholic School House to the Atlanta Catholic Homeschool Conference this past April. We were able to see the materials of both of these fine programs. And, it is nice to have truly Catholic options instead of “Catholicizing” other programs.

Both programs are set up to either use them as materials for an individual family or for use in a co-op setting. Both programs include Religion, Latin, Science, Geography, Language Arts (poetry memorization) and History. Catholic School House can actually be used as your primary curriculum at least in elementary by using the included supplements. You would need to add a math and phonics section and of course great books to read.

I will focus on Classically Catholic in this article because ultimately it is the program I chose to purchase for a variety of reasons. I already use a curriculum, Mother of Divine Grace so I really needed a supplement, not another entire curriculum. And, a local friend shared with me how she used the program in her home with her family.

As I said, I use MODG for my curriculum, but I have found that as my older children got older and entered high school, that I had less time to do all the memory work required for the little ones. Things like math facts, Baltimore Catechism questions, poetry and geography memorization just weren’t happening. Additionally, we never were successful implementing timelines. I have nine children that range in age from 17 down to 2. This upcoming school year, we will have 8 officially in school. So, I implemented family school several years ago to address these deficits.

The problem I encountered was one of planning … I didn’t. So, each day I kind of winged it. Ultimately, it would fizzle out; no memory work would be accomplished. So, in steps Classically Catholic Memory.

From the website:

Religion:  Each year provides various Catechism questions and answers and passages from Scripture.

Latin:  Each year provides various prayers and hymns.

History:  History sentences from one of four time periods:

  • Alpha Year:  Creation through the Birth of Christ (Ancients)
  • Beta Year:  The Time of Christ through 1500 (Middle Ages)
  • Gamma Year:  1500 through 1800 (Early Modern Times)
  • Delta Year:  1800 through Modern Times (Later Modern Times)

Science:  Science questions and answers from one of four science topics:

  • Alpha Year:  Life Science:  Animal Life
  • Beta Year:  Earth Science and Astronomy
  • Gamma Year:  Chemistry and Physics
  • Delta Year:  Life Science:  Human Anatomy and Physiology and Plant Life

Math:  Skip counting (every year)

  • Alpha and Gamma Years: Geometric Formulas
  • Beta and Delta Years: Conversion Formulas

Timeline:  The same timeline is learned every year.

Geography:  Countries, some capital cities, and physical geography of either one or two continents per year.

  • Alpha Year:  Asia and Australia
  • Beta Year:  Europe
  • Gamma Year:  North America
  • Delta Year:  Africa and South America

Great Words I and II:  Every year provides material that includes poems, historical documents, and speeches.

As you can see, a great amount of material is covered in a systematic manner. The only thing I will probably add is more Baltimore Catechism questions. But this is easily addressed. I plan to copy the questions out I want them to cover, divide them up over 4 years, and paste them onto each of the planner pages.

In particular, I am very pleased with the breadth of the geography and history timelines. I only have Alpha year at this time, but in week 10, they study China and will map Beijing, Kunlun Mountains, the Yangtze River and Gobi Desert among other things. The timeline will cover St. Thomas Aquinas, Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, The Plague in Europe, St. Joan of Arc and St. Catherine of Siena (additional items are covered). Finally, we will be able to work on our timeline as a family.

Latin includes the memorization of various prayers including the Table Blessing, O Come Emmanuel and the Hail Mary. It is not that it is particularly innovative in itself, but that it is included in a package – so no fumbling around for additional resources. Nor are there labor intensive organizational skills required.

Math includes working on the skip counting tables – yes, in a methodical manner. One of the shortcomings of homeschoolers that I have seen mentioned in various places is memorizing math facts. Additionally in this year, various geometric formulas are memorized.

The poetry sections, called Great Words, has two levels. I plan on using this section last so I can have the elementary age children learn the level 1 materials, and the middle and high school students learn the level II materials. Level II includes an excerpt from “Give me liberty, or give me death!” by Patrick Henry.

Finally, a section to not be missed – The Subject Summary at the end of the book. Yes, she in a few pages gives you the summaries for each area by week. So, in a glance you can see what materials are covered in 18 weeks in religion or the timelines. If you wanted to flesh this out even more, you could easily use this to plan for additional books to be read, art projects and music.

One final note, the science section is very well done. Not only is memory work assigned each week, for example memorizing the classification system, but detailed instruction is given in the Teaching Notes section. Generally 2 pages of instructions are included. Activities include for level II  dissection of a perch (note you would need to get a dissection guide). Each week, five different levels of activities are included.

For me, hands on science slips. So, I do hope this will allow me to do more hands on projects this year. She also includes in the back animal cards that you may print and cut apart. But, she does suggest purchasing them. A number of additional items for purchase are suggested. You definitely do not have to purchase them, but information is included. Such items are Micro Mounts that include a cricket, locust, beetle and crab.

In closing, I will update this entry later in the year after using the materials. I am quite optimistic that this will be the puzzle piece I have been looking for.

To order, please actually visit Ingatius Press.




Review – Catholic High School Economic Program – Apostles and Markets

Finally! Yes, I finally sat down and went through this beautiful program in order to provide a write up. This is a Catholic economic program for high school age students called “Apostles and Markets“. From the website the author states:

I wrote Apostles & Markets with Catholic teachers in mind. For twenty years I held an endowed chair in economics at a Catholic college-preparatory high school in the Midwest. In my work I sought to develop the particular perspective and instructional materials that I knew I needed in order to teach well according to academic and normative standards. At the same time, I became aware that other teachers, similarly situated, faced the same challenge. How might a teacher in a Catholic school frame the study of immigration, for example—or wage inequality, profits, the environment, or globalization—validly, according to relevant disciplinary principles, and according to principles of our faith? How do technical issues of monetary and fiscal policy come into view in a Catholic context? I struggled with difficult questions of this sort for a long time, through study, discussion, and ongoing classroom practice. These efforts have now yielded Apostles & Markets. I offer it here in the hope that others will find uses for it and, in their work with it, contribute to the quest it represents.

Stephen J. Haessler, Ph.D.

Honestly, I found myself a bit reluctant to review this program because I do not as yet have students in high school. So, I offer that as a caveat.

The program is provided in a very large 3 ring binder that permits the teacher to pull out the reproducibles quite easily. The quality of the paper is quite nice, and while the majority of the pages are black and white, there is enough color to give your eyes a treat.

The program is comprised of 12 chapters – each one named after an apostle. The topics include:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Prices
  • Valuation
  • Profit
  • Wages
  • Pollution
  • Trade
  • Tariffs
  • Unemployment
  • Immigration
  • Stability
  • Corruption

Each chapter begins with a “Lesson Description” offering a one paragraph explanation of what the student is to learn, what resources he or she will use and what project they will work on to apply the lesson. This is followed by the “Lesson Rationale” – another one paragraph item. After these two paragraphs, there follows a list of references including specific biblical passages, references from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The author also provides a list of Economic Concepts, Economic Standards, Objectives and finally a list of Materials (handouts) that you would make copies of for your students.

The next section of the chapter is the specifics on how to teach the lesson. In general this is about a one page “script” for the teacher. There are terms for the student to define, questionms to pose and discussions to lead.

After the “Teaching Procedures” portion of the chapter, answer keys are provided for each of the handouts for that chapter. The answers are generally a few lines each. Finally, you are given a set of guidelines on how to assess the work that is turned in.

The meat of the program is in the Handouts. For example, in the first chapter, Handout one is comprised of six pages. Four pages are text and include biblical passages and passages from the CCC along with explanations of how the passages relate to the chapter’s topic. Following the text are the questions to have the student work on. Some of the handouts are hands on projects like “Doin’ a Dozen: Applying Supply and Demand Analysis to Gas Prices” in Chapter 2 – “St. Andrew: Market Pricing”. This handout has 11 pages and guides the student to an indepth analysis and chance to apply what they have been studying.

You can view samples for each of the chapters on the website by clicking on the Lesson links on the left side of the page.

This program is best suited to be used in a group setting. One parent might feel comfortable teaching all the lessons, or you might have each parent take 2 of the lessons to teach. You would be best prepared to study the materials and go through the activities on your own so that you can better guide your student.

I think this is a fantastic addition to the homeschooling community. While it is geared to a presentation in a group setting and was developed for Catholic teachers, I believe that students benefit from this type of setting for this particular topic and I believe that there is enough information provided for a homeschooling mother to manage – but it could be a stretch honestly since this is not a subject that many of us have studied.

The foundation of the program is solid and authentically Catholic. My hope is to offer this as a class in my homeschooling community during the year we again study American history and civics. I envision some lively discussions and feel that the projects will be of great assistance in really learning the material. Another suggestion would be to enlist a homeschooling family that owns a small business – what a great opportunity for a father to teach to the homeschoolers – perhaps a Saturday morning class?

Review – Two new (republished) Saints Series for Early Readers

I was so thrilled when I received these two books from Mary’s Books. They are reprints of Dujarie Press Saints and Famous Catholics Biographies by Brother Ernest and Brother Roberto from the 1960’s. The books are the size of typical early reader books with a light blue cover and a simple black lined picture both on the cover and then black lined drawings in the text.

Not knowing what to expect, I opened the first book, “A Story of the Infant Jesus of Prague” by Brother Ernest, C.S.C. (32 pages) and was entranced. I have a number of Catholic saint books from several series; one is a very old set in hardback (what a find on a used Catholic books list) and of course the Mary Fabian Windeatt along with lots of books that are collections of saint stories. But, none of these were really appropriate for my beginning readers. The level 1 book opens with the following text:

Many years ago, no one knows just when, an artist in Spain made a very lovely statue of the Infant Jesus out of wax. We do not know who the artist was, and we do not know for whom he made the beautiful statue.

Isn’t that all very strange?

But I am very glad that the statue was made. I think you will be, too, when you read about it. Its story is a very interesting one. Tell all of your friends about it.

The book continues on to describe the first miracle attributed to the devotion and how the statue lost it’s hands and how they were recovered. Finally, children are introduced to all the miracles that a devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague are attributed.

Ten books are available in the Level One series and retail for $6.95 each or $62.55 for all ten books:

  • A Story of St. Therese
  • A Story of St. Anthony
  • A Story of the Infant of Prague
  • A Story of Saint Bernadette
  • A Story of Saint Joan of Arc
  • A Story of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
  • A Story of Saint Charles
  • A Story of Saint Margaret of Scotland
  • A Story of Saint Agatha
  • A Story of Saint Cecilia

For level 2 readers, I had the privilege to read a book from the series, “In the Footprints of Saints” by Brother Roberto, C.S.C. Again, the book is the size of the typical early reader book with a blue cover and a black and white image on the front. I began to read “Stairway to the Stars, A story of St. Germaine Cousin”. The book was 94 pages long so more advanced readers have time to really get to know the saint in language that is appropriate to their reading level. The story begins:

This is the strange and wonderful story of a girl, deformed, ugly, unloved and unwanted, who became one of the great saints of the Catholic Church and who works many miracles today for the sake of suffering people. The girl is Germaine Cousin. Her of of twenty-two years on earth was filled with pain and loneliness and suffering, and now that she is at rest, she does her best to relieve the pain and lonliness and suffering of all who come to know her. For, to know her is to admire her, and in admiring her, we come to love her.

The book simply invites the reader to learn more. You learn about her life, unwanted and mistreated and how she turns to God for comfort and “to help her bear patiently all the bitterness and anguish that lay ahead” and how she attends mass on her own daily and even encourages her care giver to do the same in spite of a busy life. For sensitive children, some of the unwarranted abuse she suffered at the hands of the wife might be a bit disturbing, “the terrible woman raised her fist high above the girl’s head and brought it down with all her strength on Germaine’s head”. But, for my children the scenes were not too disturbing and truly give the reader an image of the suffering that she patiently endured.

And, in spite of the suffering, Germaine is able to take joy in her work of tending sheep and instructing other children in the faith through stories of the saints, her devotion to the rosary and sharing her meager food. Children are also introduced to the miracles attributed to St. Germaine including the wolves not attacking her household’s sheep and even the conversion of her primary tormentor.

Even as an adult, I was moved by the story and my 10 year old daughter, a reluctant reader, who has never voluntarily read a saint book inhaled it! I have fallen in love with a saint about whom I would have never known. These books cost $9.95 each and more titles will be added to the following list:

  • Stairway To The Stars-A Story of St. Germaine Cousin
  • No Tears For The Bride-A Story of St. Perpetua
  • Bring Me An Ax-A Story of St. Boniface
  • The Girl Who Laughed At Satan-St. Rose of Lima
  • Music From The Hunger Pit-A Story of St. Maximilian Kolbe

I love the fact that children can read for themselves such beautiful stories about our beloved saints for themselves. The books can be used both as an introduction to the saints, and as a way to learn about history and geography and of course our faith. These books would be lovely gifts for First Communion or as a gift to a god child for Easter or Christmas. You can purchase the books at