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First Start Reading and Classical Phonics by Memoria Press

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Memoria Press offers a wide range of awesome products for a Christian Classical Education, and for anyone interested in adding rich literature and history, Latin or other languages, logic and rhetoric, and many other unique flares to their homeschool curriculum.  Their website offers a wealth of valuable information and resources for any homeschooler, and I have been enjoying their free magazine/catalogue chalked full of great homeschooling articles (with a classical theme) for a few years now, called the Classical Teacher. This company really offers some amazing products as well as some wonderful homeschooling resources and support.

Last year when Levi was 4,  I started the reading program I used successfully for Taylor with him. He dabbled in it, but never really got too excited about it.

I looked around in the summer at several phonics/reading programs to see if something sounded like it might be a better fit for him, but knowing maturity has a lot to do with it.

I remembered seeing a full Kindergarten Curriculum in my Classical Teacher catalogue from Memoria Press, so thought I’d give it a second look.  I clicked through the contents of the K curriculum, which looks amazing! Then I arrived on the First Start Reading page of the website. I loved the description of the program, the reasoning behind “yet another phonics program”.  The books and sample pages looked inviting, and the lessons short and simple enough to keep my boy-who-would-rather-build-forts-all-day’s interest.

Since I have many Memoria Press products already- some review items and some purchased, I know the quality of their products is outstanding.

When I saw this program listed as a review product, I about did a back flip and said a big prayer! (God is cool like that, you know.)

I couldn’t wait for the box to arrive when I found out I would be reviewing the program I had my eye on.

But when it did, I was even more pleasantly surprised by Levi’s reaction. We retrieved the box full of books from our mailbox on the way to run some errands. When I said that this was some cool new reading books for review, I was delighted that Levi asked if he could open them. After carefully tearing the tape from the box with help from his sister, he began pulling the brightly colored, shiny books from the box one by one. He opened them very carefully and ran his finger along several of the pages sounding out words. He said he liked them. HE SAID HE LIKED THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I must admit I love opening a crisp, clean, brand-new book myself, and these books are beautiful quality books with adorable illustrations on the cover.

We received First Start Reading Student Books A,B, and C along with the Teacher Guide, and Classical Phonics.





First Start Reading Books A,B, and C plus Teacher Guide is $29.95 for K-2 studies, and offers a balanced, age appropriate approach to phonics and reading with a serious focus on correct pencil grip and letter formation.  Additional student sets can be purchased for $21.00.

It uses a traditional vowel-consonant approach combined with word families, and focuses on mastery of short-vowels. The set of three books covers consonants, short vowels, 45 common words, manuscript printing, and includes 25 phonetic stories.  The  consumable student books contain artist-drawn full page coloring pages and pages for students to practice letters and draw their own pictures for every letter , which are simple and easy to focus on. The teacher guide has copies of the student pages along with instructions to guide the student through each easy and fun lesson.

To see sample pages and a more complete description of the books, click above on First Start Reading Books!



Classical Phonics is $14.95 for K-2 level studies. This consumable little book covers nearly all English phonograms and sounds taught through second grade, and would be a great supplement to any phonics/reading program!

It is based on a 1913 classic, Word Mastery, which was updated and reorganized to create a brilliant tool for helping young students practice  their growing phonics skills based on mastery of letter sounds. This little book is meant to be placed in the hands of beginning readers in there very first year, but not until the teacher has carefully studied a plan of well written suggestions to teachers in the back of the book.

This plan begins by outlining 4 important parts of teaching phonics:

1. Ear training

2. Tongue training

3. Eye training

4. Word building

Each of these are thoroughly discussed with practical and fun ideas on how to use them.


Gunn Ranch Academy Adventures

I’ve already discussed the joy I felt and Levi’s excitement over receiving these books, as well as the wonderful quality of the products.

While we are continuing our regular reading program, this is an easy and fun additional to learning to read. It’s a little different approach, a fresh and fun way to review and add to what we are doing. I guess technically one shouldn’t combine programs, but it’s working great for us. The short lessons are the key. Included in the lessons are listening activities, training the ear to isolate the given sound. So we take the opportunity to jump up and down when a word starts with an S or fall down on the floor if it doesn’t. Or some days Levi will make up a whole string of funny words to say if the word ends in an N and another set if it doesn’t (and laughs hysterically when he can’t remember the words or gets tongue twisted.)

I love that this program is so easy to add your own kind of fun to, and easy to adapt to hands-on, rather-be-building-a-fort kinda guys.

The easy lessons do build upon each other, from learning the sound of M, to A, then writing “I am Levi” and drawing a picture of himself.

He has had absolutely no problems identifying and remembering the sounds we’ve covered so far, or reading the words being built by the sounds we have covered.

I do love the way they write the letters, and trace the blend, then put the letters together with the blends, then trace the words, then read the words.

We are about halfway through Book A at this time because we use this 3 times a week. As we progress through the books I am planning to update our progress.

I would definitely recommend First Start Reading as a two thumbs up phonics program!

I was having a bit of a difficulty in figuring out where and when to use the Classical Phonics book with the First Start Reading. It seemed to be just a repeat of what we were learning in the First Start Program, but when I flipped on into it I could see word lists and such.

Then I read back through the first part of it, which often helps once a program is actually started.

This cleared it up totally for me, and I can now see that once we get moving further into our First Start program that the Classical Phonics will become more and more useful.

~At Highlands Latin School in Louisville, Kentucky, we have used Classical Phonics as a supplement to our reading program in K-2. I incorporated the first section of Classical Phonics into First Start Reading, thinking we would not need Classical Phonics until the first grade, but I was mistaken. The kindergarten teachers and parents still wanted their Classical Phonics books, and I soon discovered why. When each First Start Reading workbook was completed and put away, the students still needed their word lists to practice previously learned phonics and compare new words to old ones. The beautiful simplicity of Classical Phonics keeps everybody focused. It is a compendium of all of the phonics the child learns in K-2 in a handy little review book. Whatever phonics program you are using, Word Mastery can be your vademecum (go with me) review book for years to come.~

Now I understand, and can certainly see that this little book will become more and more useful as we progress through the workbooks. For now, it is only a repeat of what we are doing, but once we move on it will act as a kind of dictionary of what we’ve already learned. Very Cool!! (Remember, sometimes it helps to read back through the Preface and directions when things aren’t clicking!)

Classical Phonics gets my two thumbs up as well as a supplement to First Start or any phonics program!


To see my Crew Mates adventures with Memoria Press products, visit our Crew Blog!

Happy Homeschooling!



* I received these products from Memoria Press as a Crew Mate on the TOS Homeschool Crew for review purposes. No other compensation was received, and opinions are my own.



One thought on “First Start Reading and Classical Phonics by Memoria Press

  1. Great review. Visiting from the TOS Crew and Molly’s Home Team. Also following you! Have a great weekend!

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