Astronomy, Mythology, and Stargazing on the Road

Note: Memoria Press sent us their Book of Astronomy Set (including one Student Guide and the Teacher Guide) in exchange for a fair and honest review. The government isn’t happy with my site if I don’t disclose that bit of info. Now we’re all friends again. We also bought D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths with our own money to go along with our study of astronomy. The government doesn’t care about that, but I thought you might.

When we began homeschooling back when our now 19-year-old Hannah was a small fry, we were classical schoolers. That lasted, like, 5 minutes before we learned we were really more the Charlotte Mason type, which lasted several years before we hit the road and became the do-whatever-it-takes-to-not-look-like-a-bunch-of-dumb-hicks-living-in-a-travel-trailer type. We still say we’re Charlotte Mason schoolers, because it sounds better. Point being…

I have a soft spot in my heart for the Classical approach to education. I believe it is effective and it is modeled in Scripture. It also overlaps beautifully with Charlotte Mason, and everything overlaps with the do-whatever-it-takes approach.

Memoria Press is a great classical publisher. Our Latin curriculum is from them, and I, for one, think it’s a hoot! (I know you’re not supposed to have that much fun in Latin, but I can’t help it.) We also reviewed a literature curriculum from them–loved it and are still using it! And now this!

Last things first…

Before I get into the this, that, and the other about The Book of Astronomy, I’m going to go a little backward and give you my final thoughts first.

After this review period has ended, we will continue using this curriculum. That is the ultimate compliment. We will make space for it in our 240 square-foot travel trailer and cart it through the 20-some states we’ll be visiting between now and this time next year. After that, we will reuse it with our younger children.

Not much makes the cut around here. The Book of Astronomy set is a keeper.


We’re huge into Creation. Studying God’s Creation, particularly the heavens, helps our children grasp that God is so grand that he’s ungraspable, which makes the unbelievable more believable. Did that make sense? If God is so big that he made all that, then he’s big enough to change water into wine and move hearts.

Next, it’s simply fascinating.

Also, it’s impressive when your kids can point to the heavens and bowl a few of the doubting relatives over with some intelligible comments–ha ha ha! Okay, that’s not really the reason, but it is true.

Finally, we’ve seen some amazing night views. Amazing! We love to study them.

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

Now, let’s hammer out some nuts and bolts.

The teacher’s guide contains the following:

  • the cheat version of the student workbook (answers are filled in)
  • unit tests
  • a final exam
  • blackline masters for overhead transparencies…which makes me laugh considering our situation…but for co-ops, that’s brilliant! Actually, I dunno–do people still have overhead projectors? I’m so non-techy!

The student workbook is consumable. If possible, get one for each of your chicos, since they’ll want to practice drawing their constellations.

The study is broken up into units as follows (let’s switch to square bullets this time; they’re fun):

  • unit 1: introductory basics, summer-fall constellations, summer-fall zodiac (I’m an aquarius. What are you?)
  • unit 2: the winter sky
  • unit 3: the spring sky
  • unit 4: solar system, planets, munchkin planets, and moons covering the planets, dwarf planets, and major moons.

Each unit also includes exercises, with reviews available at the end of the book as well.

A spread from the teacher's manual. The student draws the constellation and labels the first magnitude stars on the left. The right is for copywork and ideally memorization. It's also great discussion.
A spread from the teacher’s manual. The student draws the constellation and labels the first magnitude stars on the left. The right is for copywork and ideally memorization. It’s also great discussion.

Digging Deeper

If you want to tie science into history and literature, snag the D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, available at Amazon and similar retailers. The astronomy study references the D’Aulaire book since many of the constellations and stars get their names from the ancient Greeks and Romans. We added it to our library. Our first grader reads it for fun.

Memoria also offers a study guide to go along with the D’Aulaire book, if you really want to dig deep! Neither is necessary for your study of astronomy, but if you’re interested and can swing it, dive in!

The Age Issue

This set is appropriate for grades three and up. Ironically, my first grader is the most interested in it and is diligently memorizing and looking for stars and constellations. She was talking to her sister in college about some of the first magnitude stars, and her sister said, “I didn’t know that. I’m impressed!” She’s hard to impress.

Our main students are the 1st, 4th, and 7th graders, but we also have other ages tagging along. As for the upper age limit, I have learned masses of information. Siriusly. That was a little star joke there.

Additional Thoughts for my Fellow Roadschoolers

If you’re a roadschooler, that means you’ve probably boondocked in Utah or stared at the vast stars in the western skies of Nevada. Stargazing out in the boonies is an experience. Period. This program is worth its minimal size and weight for the educational aspect it will add to your night viewing.

Of course, you’ll need a student book for each student, which takes up a little more space, but they’re slim.

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Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

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Analyzing Literature Without Losing the Love {A Review}

It is my legal duty to tell my readers that Memoria Press sent us the four student books and four teacher guides in their Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set to review, and I always perform my legal duty to the letter…except the time I showed up for jury duty with a new baby in my arms. All opinions here belong to me and my children–Memoria Press did not influence our decision.
Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

Most of my readers know that I was an English major in college. What you may not know is that by the time I was finished with college, I rarely read books anymore. The joy of reading had been stifled by too much literary dissection and over-the-top analysis. The natural process of thinking through an author’s work and making friends with writers and characters had been replaced with trying to figure out what a professor thought the author intended to say and making friends with a syllabus.

For that reason, the majority of what my children read is not laid out on the operation table to be cut into layer by layer. It is allowed to dance in their brains and on their tongues as they share their own interpretations without my attempting to get what want out of a reading.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

That is why, despite my degree, this literature guide set from Memoria Press is, as far as I can recall, the first I have ever used with my kids. My opinion? I love it! My kids’ opinion? They love it! Let’s talk about why.

  1. The book selection is challenging, but not impossible by any means. The selection for fourth grade includes Homer Price by McCloskey (an old friend to most reading families or anyone who has fallen in love with the ducks in Boston), The Cricket in Times Square by Seldon, Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress arranged by Hunkin, and Blue Fairy Book by Lang (the book we started with because we already had it on Kindle).
  2. Together, the series touches on different styles of literature. Some students may not taste certain genres unless required to, and might never otherwise learn that they love it.
  3. The discussion questions are not tedious or boring. We work through most of the questions out loud, and the kids are super enthusiastic. They do the quizzes on paper, and are just as enthused.
  4. The questions guide them to think through character traits, but so far have avoided being preachy.
  5. The Bible is brought into a few of the lessons, particularly in Dangerous Journey.
  6. The vocabulary words are fun for the kids, because, overall, they are useful words the kids are now noticing or using in their everyday lives. Also, the new words per lesson are minimal–not overwhelming by any means. There are, of course, a few wonky words they will never use again, such as Genus Mephitis from Homer Price, which doesn’t pop up over pizza too often.
  7. Character, plat, setting, an other literary devices are discussed in the guides here and there, more so in The Cricket in Times Square. The kids learn the literary words without being chased down by a literary bear with a chainsaw…if you catch my drift.
  8. The books in the series complement each other, but are separate studies, so parents can begin wherever they like.
  9. Not only is it good for children to read slightly above their grade levels, but to listen as well. Sometimes I read the story aloud; other times the kids read it to themselves. The program is flexible enough to be used however it works best for the family.
  10. The appendices in three of the four guides add just a little bit extra to make the book that much more interesting, but not so much that you start drooling while reading.
  11. The study guides introduce brief writing assignments–not torturous. My first grader loved them.
  12. It’s age and grade flexible. While this is a fourth grade set, most of my kids listened in and the fourth and first graders actively participated. The other grades look equally as flexible, because the literature selections are timeless.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

While I most definitely will continue giving my children a selection of books to read that will require no formal written or spoken analysis, and especially no worksheets, I will also continue to work through the rest of the Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press. It’s that well done, and it doesn’t kill the joy.

Additional thoughts for my fellow roadschoolers:

With the availability of Kindles, you all know that our libraries can come with us–praise God for that! I’m old school and prefer a book in one hand and popcorn in the other, but I’m still ecstatic about how the Kindle has expanded the roadschoolers library. The Memoria Press Teacher’s Guide and Student’s Guide are both quite slim and will likewise not take up much room on the shelf. Three of the four sets can be stowed until needed while keeping the fourth at hand.

A Lit Program Even I Love

While it’s ideal for each child to have her own student book, if you have eight kids and a limited amount of space, you can adapt as we do and as described above.

The flexibility of the program has made it simple for us to have our literary discussions and sometimes readings in the van as we drive. The quizzes and lessons are short enough that they’re not going to get in the way of hiking through Bryce Canyon.

I see no reason why this one shouldn’t make the roadschool cut! 

Read what other reviewers have to say right here: