Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You Can Teach Latin! - A New TOS Review

My husband and I decided that when we chose a classical style of homeschooling that we would also be teaching our children the classic languages, which includes Latin.  I also had read somewhere that the earlier you begin language studies the easier it would be for the child throughout life.  Most language programs we had researched aren't geared for younger children, say kindergarten through second grade.  We had found one, but I had to tweak and manipulate it in order to use it with both my girls (K4 and 1st) last year.

The Product:
Then as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given the opportunity to review a Latin program that was specifically designed for K - 3rd.  Just what we needed with our little crew.  The program is called Song School Latin from Classical Academic Press.  It is a one year curriculum with 31 weekly lessons and an additional 7 review lessons.  I actually received a bundle pack that included the Teacher's Manual, the Student Manual that includes a CD with all the music and a set of Latin Monkey Match Cards.  This bundle costs $64.95, or you could purchase the items separately.
In the very beginning of the student book they give the difference between the Classical and Ecclesiastical pronunciations as well as how to choose which pronunciation you would like to use for your family.   We choose Ecclesiastical because our prior Latin program had used that version so there was less confusion.

So what exactly makes Song School Latin different?  Well for starters it is definitely created for youngsters.  The monkey on the front covers and throughout the book tells you that.  Also in the student manual the "Practice Your Latin" portions are completed.  The child has to trace the answers, which takes some of the pain of not knowing how to spell or say something quite right out of the equation.

Each chapter is broken down into several sections over three pages.  First, you have the words to learn.  Next are the songs that correspond with the chapter.  Usually you have one to three songs for each lesson.  Then comes the chapter lesson which is a very short, yet concise lesson that is easy to understand.  Then they have the discipuli practice their Latin (this is where the tracing comes in.)  Immediately following their practice they have a section called 'Grow Your English' which ties Latin to English in a child friendly way.  The last two sections are a 'Chapter Story' and 'Show What You Know'.

All of the sections use many different types of answering including tracing, fill-in the blanks, matching, multiple choice, and circling.  This allows for variety in each week while still keeping a similar feel and flow from week to week.  Not every week has every section either.  The review lessons  focus on mastery from the previous weeks.  In these lessons there is no tracing available so that the child has to answer the questions from memory, thus proving true mastery.

The Latin Monkey Match cards can be used for a variety of different games including Go Pisces or Memory.  You could also use them as just flash cards to increase memory retention.  The cards are color coded to match the lessons they are drawn from allowing you to customize the games to match  the lessons you have previously learned.

Our Experience:
We started the program right away.  The first day we got our package, school was over, but as soon as the girls saw the CD they wanted to hear some music.  They LOVED it!  In fact, the whole family did -- even pater and Seanan.

The next day was Wednesday and since we have had prior knowledge of Latin, I figured we could do one lesson over the next few days.  There's no real lesson plan that is laid out so it's up to you to figure out how you will break down the lesson.  We started off with listening to the chapter songs before each lesson.  Then I would have my eldest puella work on the workbook.  Since I had the teacher manual I could ask Audrie questions which she could answer orally since she is yet to be proficient in writing and reading.  The first lesson was completed in 3 days, but you could easily stretch the lesson to 5 days.

Over the next few weeks our regular schedule would look like this:
Monday - Introduction to the 'Words to Learn' and category (eg. greeting words, people, household items).  Listen to chapter songs.
Tuesday - Listen to chapter songs, review the week's words, and do 1st page of lesson.
Wednesday - Listen to chapter songs, review the week's words, and do 2nd page of lesson.
Thursday - Listen to chapter songs, review the week's words, and do 3rd page of lesson.
Friday - Review words, listen to the songs, orally ask questions from chapter lesson and complete and pages not yet finished.
We would generally listen to the CD at several other times throughout the week and even on the weekend.  We occassionally would take the CD in the car to listen to while we were driving around. The songs are quite entertaining and use known or catchy tunes.

Arianna and Audrie's favorite song is Silly Sally.  It's a song reminiscent of Little Miss Muffet.  However, the voices decided to add accents to the chant after the first time and the end up laughing out loud.  Every time the girls hear that song they begin to laugh.  Arianna told me that she LOVES learning Latin because it's fun.

The puellas are learning a lot of vocabulary as well as the other children I watch and even my little puer.  We plan on continuing this and maybe even checking Song School Greek or one of the other Latin programs, or other language program that Classical Academic Press has to offer.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this program. I found it entertaining and created just for my children's ages which allowed them to be excited about learning languages.  I know that we will be taking advantage of this program and probably many others in our future.

I loved that the writing portions were able to be traced.  That was a big plus for me.  Another plus for me were the additional activities that were included in the Teacher's Manual.  Generally, I would not purchase a teacher's manual, especially for this age range.  But it has 41 activity pages as well as all the thinking (for grading) has been done for you.

Another great addition to this curriculum is Headventure Land.  IT is a website that carries mini-videos and free downloads including coloring pages that correspond to the Song School Latin book.  Great accessory for those younger tots and pre-schoolers who want to learn right along with the rest of the family.  One thing that I didn't like about the site is it was not as organized as I would like.  But I had no problem finding things once I got acclimated to the site.

And do not think that because it's Latin you will not be able to teach it.  As the magister or magistra you will be learning right along your children.  There's no pressure to have it all memorized beforehand.  That is part of the fun of this program.  And I'm sure that you will think the songs are just as cute as I did.

Well, I need to run and see what cibas I have for cena tonight.  Hope you take some time and go check out what other Crew members thought about Classic Academic Press.

*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***


Four Little Penguins said...

Isn't this a great product?
Thanks for the comment. :)
I'm following you now!

Martha said...

Great review. I like how you incorporated Latin vocabulary into it.

I have a copy and used it a little and have enjoyed it also.


Crissyanna said...

You sprinkled quite a bit of Latin in there, loved it! And I adore your little clock widget! Though it reminds me of how long I've been online...

Jenni said...

We enjoyed the program as well. The songs are catchy and the workbook is fun. Just stopping by from the Crew to say hi!

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