Poetry has always been one of my favorite forms of writing. As a former public-school teacher, any time that I could incorporate poetry into my lessons, I would. This is why I was so excited that our family was given an opportunity to review Poetry for the Grammar Stage Set by Memoria Press.
What Is It?
To answer this question, we must first answer the question “What is classical education?” Classical education is a rigorous program that is used to develop a student’s critical thinking. Students are taught how to think more in depth about ideas by connecting various forms of knowledge. There are three stages to classical education: The Grammar Stage (PK-5), The Logic Stage (6-8), and the Rhetoric Stage (9-12).
The publisher, Memoria Press, is “a family-run publishing company that produces simple and easy-to-use classical Christian education materials for home and private schools.”
Poetry for the Grammar Stage Set is a three-book set that contains a Teacher Guide, Student Guide and Anthology. The set focuses on 33 poems that are both engaging and higher-level, requiring the student to think critically and analytically about the poems.
In the student book, each poem has a place to illustrate and copy the poem, important vocabulary, questions to analyze the poem, and comprehension questions.
The teacher guide contains lessons on how to teach a poem to enrich poem analysis, answers to the comprehension and analysis questions, as well as a glossary for poetry and figurative language terms.
The anthology is a collection of the poems.
Poetry for the Grammar Stage Set uses the scaffolded approach, in that it begins working with easier poems, and then progresses in difficulty throughout the anthology. Poems range in size from eight lines to upwards of 100 lines. The types of analytical and comprehension questions also become more complex in nature.
How did we use it?
Our family does not typically follow a classical education approach; therefore, this was different for us. However, we were able to adapt it to use it in a way that worked for us. My daughter, who is in 5th grade, used this product. For the first couple of poems, we used it in its intended manner. However, having very little experience with analyzing poems, I found that she struggled with being able to identify the rhyming scheme, and analyzing the poems to go beyond just the literal words that were used.
However, we used her student guide to highlight the rhyming words. We would use the number of colors that were in the rhyming scheme. For example, in the poem “The Spider and the Fly”, we used three colors: blue, green, pink. In each stanza, we would highlight the words that rhymed the same color. This helped her quickly identify that the poem had an ABC rhyming scheme.
Since Poetry for the Grammar Stage Set uses the scaffold approach, it was very important for us to build the foundation in the first few poems so that she could be successful later when the difficulty level increases.
I also found it was helpful for her to underline in the poem the stanzas or lines that contained information that she would need to answer questions. After she underlined, she could write down any questions she had or words that were unfamiliar for her. We would then discuss these items. I found that during the first poems we used this approach for, she had many questions. However, as time progressed, and she became accustomed to thinking analytically about poems, her questions became fewer.
Another way that we adapted the lessons was for me to type the poem, and print it out. I then cut lines apart. Prior to reading the poem, she then had to use context clues and rhyming schemes to put the poem in order. We then read the poem to see if she was correct. This gave us very in depth conversations about the rhyming scheme, and events in the poem. I found she often did very well. She used prior knowledge about rhyming schemes to determine where the rhyming words should be and then would read the lines to see if they flowed well together.
What’s the verdict?
Honestly, after the first couple of poems, I was thinking this product would not work for her. However, we found ways to make it work. The biggest struggle that we had was with copying the poem. She, nor I, could really understand the need for it. It became laborious, especially as the poems increased in length, despite only needing to copy selections. I think this comes from us not classically homeschooling.
I was impressed with my daughter’s ability to analyze the poems, once we became familiar with the process. My daughter is an exceptional reader and can answer any literal questions that you ask her. However, once we would start working on higher-level thinking, she would lack confidence in her answers. This has drastically improved during use of Poetry for the Grammar Stage Set.
We would definitely use more products like this one from Memoria Press. We can easily adapt lessons to make them fit our needs but still teach classically. They build in complexity and helped to increase not only my daughter’s analytical skills, but also her confidence. I like the wide variety of products offered by Memoria Press such as Latin and Greek. I also liked that it is Christian based.
How can you learn more?
Are you interested in learning more? If so, connect with Memoria Press by any of the following methods:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MemoriaPress Tag: @MemoriaPress
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/memoriapress/ Tag: @memoriapress
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