McGuffey Primers – No school like the old school!

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After reading about these primers on lots of US homeschool blogs we decided to give them a try.  First of all I perused the digital archived copies on archive.org.  I printed off the Revised Primer for free, then cut and bound it into a pamphlet to use with our 8 year old.

Originally published in the 1830s (and then revised in the 1880s) I expected we might find them a bit stuffy or old-fashioned, but in fact they are refreshing in their simple morals and earthy topics.  So I bought a couple of hardbacks from the Original Eclectic series, having read that it was revised to reduce the Christian content (as well as what was perceived 50 years later to be racist content).  We are in no rush to cover vast quantities of curriculum in order to oblige Ofsted, so I can take the time to explain to the children anything which seems to be inaccurate or anachronistic.

Sure enough the children were easily learning to read, taking just one short lesson a day (or splitting it over days often).  And, even more amazingly, THEY ENJOY IT!  How much more effective and interesting it is than “Who is it?  Biff and Chip…” !  We do own quite a few Oxford Reading Tree books that I’ve picked up in charity shops, and one of Julia Donaldson’s compilations.  They are a handy side serving, but McGuffey’s is the beefy main course, and it tastes good!

The Original and Revised Primers move quite fast from short phonetic words through to longer lessons so it would take a bright or fast-developing child to follow this book straight through.  It was a good choice for our 8 year old, who had learned his phonics a long time earlier and been reading a little already.  He is now 9 and is about to conclude the First Reader, less than a year later. (More on this later). I therefore chose the 88 lesson Pictorial Primer for our 6 year old early reader.  Lesson 1 starts with “Is it an ox?  It is an ox.” Lesson 88 includes “The sun shone, and the birds sang on the trees.”

So in the end I was so pleased with the effect of these books that I have invested in the beautiful gilded box set shown above.  If you have decided to use the series then this represents better value for money than buying titles separately, and they are well made so will last through more than a few children if cared for.  You should be able to get hold of it at Amazon or Book Depository (who offer free worldwide delivery), and if any of the titles are out of stock at one then it is worth checking the other.

Here’s the Original Primer (Hardback) and the Revised Primer (Laminated red pamphlet), and a look inside the Revised edition:

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Here’s a look inside the Original Primer (Hardback):

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And here’s what the Pictorial Primer looks like:

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We have used copywork booklets to go alongside the readers, which is a really simple but effective way of them improving their handwriting as well as learning good spelling and grammar without even realising it.  Copywork for the Pictorial Primer is available to download in my shop.   Copywork for the other primers and readers can be purchased from Classical Copywork and CurrClick.

Here is Miss B working on the Pictorial Primer:

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And not to be left out little R has his own ABC colouring and copywork book ^^^ 🙂

You can download this for FREE courstesy of another Beth, over at 123Homeschool4Me.

2 Comments

  1. March 29, 2015    

    I love older books like this. I am considering HomeEd for my kids so will be delving into your blog more over the coming weeks
    thanks for linking to #weekendbookclub

    • March 29, 2015    

      Hi Sarah, how exciting. I plan to share more on this series of books soon. Have a great Easter!

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