I want to share a little about McGuffey’s Readers and Ray’s Arithmetic because I see many people assume that a primer is for kindergarten, and the 1st reader is for first grade, the 2nd reader is for second grade, etc, and that’s not accurate. Also, there are two distinct sets of McGuffey’s Readers that are very different.
Most schools only used the 1st through 3rd readers. The ‘typical’ level of education when these books were used was an 8th grade education. They 4th reader was considered ‘higher education’
After mastering the 3rd reader, most students are reading better than today’s average high school student. While the lessons are short, they should be poured over, discussed and fully mastered before moving on to the next lesson.
I also should clarify there are TWO very different sets of McGuffey’s Readers. The original set, written by McGuffey, contained 4 books and was full of religious and moral content. The revised set has 6 readers and while still moral and still mentioning God, is much more secular in nature.
For the Revised Edition (American Book Company)
Eclectic Primer: K – 1st grade
1st Eclectic Reader: 1st–3rd grades
2nd Eclectic Reader: 3rd–5th grades
3rd Eclectic Reader: 5th–8th grades
4th Eclectic Reader: 6th–12th grades
5th Eclectic Reader: 7th grade–college sophmore
6th Eclectic Reader: 9th grade–college senior
The Original Set (Mott Media)
Primer is for 1st-2nd grade or K-1st grade
1st reader is for 3rd-4th grade or 1st-2nd grade
2nd reader is for 4th-5th grade or 3rd-4th grade
3rd reader is for 6th-8th grade or 5th-6th grade
4th reader is for 9-12th grade or 7th-8th grade
The progressive speller is designed to be the only spelling book a child would ever need; taking the child from phonics through college.
Ray’s is old fashioned math. It’s more of a living math approach, based on word problems, mental math and real world problems. In other words, it makes math relevant as it’s taught. Early math is tuaght with manipulatives, and you can use anything you have on hand, including dry beans, M&Ms. marbles, etc.
Keep in mind, our curriculum has been dumbed down over the years, the referenced grade levels will be above today’s grade levels, so don’t rush your child through them or think they are behind today’s children in terms of grade level.
Just like McGuffey’s, take lessons slow and move on only once they child has mastered a lesson.
K-2 Ray’s New Primary Arithmetic
3-4 Ray’s New Intellectual Arithmetic
3-4 Ray’s Rudiments of Arithmetic
5-6 Ray’s Elementary Arithmetic
5-6 Ray’s New Practical Arithmetic
7-8 Ray’s New Elementary Algebra
7-8 Ray’s New Higher Arithmetic
9-10 Rays New Higher Algebra
9-10 Ray’s Elements of Astronomy
9-10 Ray’s Geometry and Trigonometry
11-12 Ray’s Differential and Integral Calculus
11-12 Ray’s Surveying and Navigation
The Key to Ray’s New Arithmetics contains answer key for Ray’s New Primary Arithmetic, Ray’s New Intellectual Arithmetic, and Ray’s New Practical Arithmetic.
How to use them:
The goal isn’t a lesson a day, but mastery of a lesson before moving on. The child should be able to read the words in each lesson well with proper inflection, spell the words in each lesson, understand the lesson (and in this day in age, that also can teach a bit of history at times), memorize & recite parts of or the entire lesson and in the original (Mott Media) versions, moral lessons are a huge part of each lesson. There was also supposed to be an emphasis on oral speaking (something we don’t see much of in today’s education) and not to recite passages in monotone, but with proper inflection.
The grammar books in the McGuffey’s series weren’t meant to use until 4th grade. Until that point, grammar should be gently taught as part of the reading lesson within the reader as it’s encountered.
The pictures were meant to be part of the lesson as well. The picture was to be studied and discussed before the lesson was read.
You’ll find the Original Mott Media version has a moral to each story and many mentions of prayer, God and the Bible. The Revised American book Company version is less moral. Actually edited to remove the Bible emphasis. Still better than today’s books, but much less of a Christian emphasis in the revised version.
For the original Mott Media McGuffey’s set, people recommend the Ruth Beechick guide.
There is a Ruth Beechick guide for Ray’s Arithmetic as well.
For the revised editions of the series you can get the Eclectic Methods for teachers book free online.