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D'Aulaires' Greek Myths Student Guide and Teacher Guide Review by Kathy GelzerCheryl and Leigh Lowe
4105 Bishop Lane
Louisville, KY 40218
Many homeschoolers are familiar with the classic Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire. I first encountered this highly acclaimed book when I attended a youth theater production of a Greek mythological play. The coloring pages that they were handing out to young children before curtain time were intriguing, and highly detailed. They were, as it turned out, copies of the beautiful illustrations found in D'Auliares' Book of Greek Myths. That was years before I even thought of homeschooling. Now those of us who want to incorporate this timeless book into our study of the ancients have some excellent tools to help us.
D'Aulaires' Greek Myths Student Guide and Teacher Guide are two paperback, comb-bound books containing about ninety pages each. Each of the thirty-one lessons covers an average of three to six pages of the text and has four sections. First is "Facts to Learn and Recite," which is a glossary of who, what, and where: gods/goddesses, creatures, locations, etc. The second section lists ten words (used in the text) for the student to define. The third section has five to seven comprehension questions. And the fourth section is the "Oral and Picture Review." This is one of the most valuable parts of the study guide, taking advantage of the lavish, meaningful pictures in the book. Those familiar with the Charlotte Mason and classical method of picture study will appreciate this. After every five lessons, there is a review lesson with locations to find on the map, a "Fun Practice" section, and a fill-in-the-blank vocabulary and spelling review. In the back of both the student and teacher guides is a chart of the moons of the planets (many of which are named for Greek gods), a map of Greece, and a handy pronunciation guide. Just keep those pages open as you read the book.
According to the Memoria Press catalog, these books are designed for third through sixth graders. Memoria's materials flow out of their classical school in Kentucky and are appropriate for traditional schools as well as homeschools. The scope of these guides is so broad, you could practically use them as a unit study. You will find you are covering history, geography, vocabulary, spelling, art, copywork, literature, and memory work as you work through the text.
Outstanding features include text page number references for answers in the teacher guide and clear, concise directions on how to get the most from these guides, especially the picture review section. It's uncommon for picture study to be such a significant part of a literature study, but these illustrations are an integral part of the text and worthy of more than just a passing glance. The teacher guide does not include answers for the picture review questions-and some of them are not that easy! However, that may not be a drawback as both you and your children spend more time mulling over the pictures and questions together. The "Fun Practice" component of the review lessons is somewhat redundant, containing the same two activities throughout the guide. Also, spaces for writing answers are admittedly small. (The instructions suggest that children with large handwriting do the work on a separate sheet of paper.) If the student guide is ever revised, larger answer blanks and more variety in the "Fun Practice" section would make the product more child-friendly.
D'Aulaires' Greek Myths Student Guide and Teacher Guide make this classic book doable by breaking it up into manageable chunks and helping you get the most out of it. All the teacher-prep work is done for you. If you plan to use D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths in your homeschool, get these guides.