Okay, I know what you’re thinking… I already reviewed this right? Well, yes and no. I reviewed the entire Memoria Press Kindergarten Curriculum and as a part of it that includes the First Start Reading Program, but I want to tell you more. What can I say? I’m a fan of anything and everything from Memoria Press and I really want to share my opinions with you.
On the Memoria Press website you can see a sample of each of the student workbooks and the detailed teacher’s guide table of contents as well.
While you’re there, you might want to also check out the related articles:
“Why First Start Reading” by Cheryl Lowe
“What is the Classical Approach to Phonics?” by Cheryl Lowe
First Start Reading is…
First Start Reading (FSR) is the phonics and reading program utilized in the Memoria Press Classical Core Kindergarten Curriculum as well as in their Simply Classical Curriculum Level C (ages 4-5) and Level 1 for special-needs (ages 5-6) using a portion of the program at a different pace, presumably continue in the work-in-progress Level 2. At this point I am using this route with my different learner in my younger daughter. (OrangeBlossom is not special-needs, but she is a different learner, we’re still finding our way with this attention span of a butterfly child. No rush, she’s young yet.)
Using FSR in the school year…
Using the FSR program, your child is set with approximately 33 week (with catch up time to give you a full year’s curriculum) of Phonics, Reading & Printing (handwriting/penmanship). The FSR program are physical books, for the benefit of this review I received the Teacher’s Guide and all four Student Workbooks.
Thus, as I’ve said before. Phonics is an important part of the school day! For us, this is guided by the Memoria Press Lesson Plans and First Start Reading. FSR is fully capable of being used without the Kinder Phonics Lesson Plans or the full Kindergarten Classical Core Curriculum Lesson Plans. You can use the Teacher’s Guide and the accompanying four Student Workbooks A-D solely. For us, however we like the reinforcement and further reading with the addition of Memoria Press Classical Phonics. In the lesson plans they also recommend a particular brand of beginning readers, but we use what we have on hand as reinforcement for what is being taught and mastered in FSR. They also recommend supplemental practice in a workbook series, we use a different brand than their recommendation as we started as they were changing recommendations. And none of this is in replacement or instead of FSR, but to reinforce the topics learned and discussed in FSR. Some students may not need the reinforcement, but we like it for mastering the subject and got the idea from the plans used by Memoria Press.
Memoria Press has phonics well in hand for children in the four to six years old age range with their own curriculum program of First Start Reading. The current edition includes the Second Edition Teacher’s Guide and four student workbooks, labeled A-D.
First Start Reading covers consonants, short and long vowels, 45 common words, and manuscript printing, accompanied by artist-drawn coloring pictures and drawing pages for every letter. Your child will begin reading in the very first lesson as he progresses through four student books and thirty-one phonetic stories, such as “Hogs and Pigs” and “Jog to the Jet.” The Teacher Manual guides you through the program and provides helpful assessments and teaching tips.
*This next bit may seem familiar if you read my review series on Memoria Press Kindergarten.
The Teacher’s Guide for First Start Reading has a gorgeous exterior and a no-nonsense black and white interior with lots of space to write notes for future lessons. Each of the student workbooks is fully reproduced within. Answers when appropriate and a scripted guide the letters to the basic phonics. I love the hand-holding it provides and after a while was able to easily instigate a lesson without reading directly. (This Teacher’s Guide is teaching me to be a better teacher in our early years of “learning” homeschool together.)
My experience with phonics programs varies, but I am delighted with the atmosphere of First Start Reading. It is a program meant for early writers, and letter recognition is taught at the same time as letter formation. Although if the handwriting is too much for your student, I can see and have heard of others completing parts orally very successfully.
Student Workbooks labeled A-D are also very attractive. Just long enough to set a goal, and accomplish the completion of a book, however not so long as to overwhelm as one or even two FULL workbooks might be. The interior is full black and white, yet there is plenty of opportunity to color for the artistically inclined child and they’ll be delighted to do so. Even for the less artistic (those kids that despise coloring!) the program is fully functional with minimal coloring as well. First Start Reading uses a trace, and then copy method to build up a student.
Creative Madness Mama use of First Start Reading
For AppleBlossom we used FSR as was directed in the Kindergarten Lesson Plans while she was four years old. We used the material as directed in the Teacher’s Guide and when something was just a little too difficult, we took a break and tried again in a few days or in some situations a few weeks. Going from knowing letter sounds to blending words was quite a hump to get over. However, once she mastered that she was flying. It was very easy to do things orally at first when her handwriting needed a little more time and then it was very easy to catch up. It was very easy to just pick up the book and go. It traveled well when we needed it to, and it was bright and recognizable for her to get off the shelf for me when it was time. FSR was an incredible experience for my daughter and my family. She is five years old and reading up a storm and I completely believe with excitement behind my student that Memoria Press is at the hub of that responsibility. I definitely recommend it, with bells on!
When I started preparing for this review and OrangeBlossom saw the pictures of the book covers, she continuously commenting that [AppleBlossom] has those books. For an attempt right now, we decided to jump in and try a few lessons (she is 3.5 and not quite as studious as her sister – she’s a free spirit). We worked well for about a week before she was more frustrated than not. She has mastered the letter A and the letter M (can we spell mama?) but then we were experiencing more anxiety than not. In her case, we are going to shelf it for a bit. I absolutely plan to pull it out and use it when she’s ready, but for her, she’s just not ready yet.
By the end of First Start Reading and in our case with the inclusion of Memoria Press Classical Phonics and three American Language Series early readers and supplement writing phonics practice in worksbooks students are able to then, tentatively, head into reading Level 1 early readers. Memoria Press uses readers as reinforcement and while we do not own those, we substitute fairly well. The short stories found both in the readers as well as within the student workbooks are the perfect amount of momentum for the beginning reader.
We use a variety of objects in our attempt at phonics mastery, but my favorite and my core is Memoria Press First Start Reading. This is the book I reach for when I want to teach my children. This is the book that my daughters are excited to see and eager to participate in. Other things that are good to know if you’re interested in other materials from Memoria Press for this age, the Copybook I builds on the penmanship practice in the FSR workbooks.
Visit Memoria Press’ website to read more about their Phonics and Early Reading materials. And as I mentioned while discussing the whole kindergarten while not included in the Kindergarten curriculum package, if you’re student needs more, you can always add in the Coloring Book and Alphabet Books from the Junior Kindergarten Curriculum for a little extra, especially for those artists. I think the Alphabet and Coloring Books would also be good reinforcement if you are using solely the FSR program. (See my review of those in the archives! Linked below the JrK button, below here.)
*Note: This review has been updated and several pieces of information removed to follow in the guidelines of this specific review.
Connect with Memoria Press on Social Media
Make sure to check out the parts of my Kindergarten review in posts!
You might also be interested in Junior Kindergarten.