Third Grade: Week Three Wrap-Up

This week, I’d like to share a little bit about our experiences with Latin.

Last year, we started with Memoria Press’s Prima Latina. It’s meant to be a gentle introduction to Latin, (both for students and teacher), geared toward about second grade, although it can be used with younger children if you’re really ambitious. I really liked the layout of the weekly lessons, and I especially liked that it was written with the assumption that the teacher doesn’t know the language, (which I don’t!). The main focus of Prima Latina was building vocabulary and some longer pieces in Latin, including the Sanctus and the Lord’s Prayer, and strengthening the student’s foundation in grammar.

So, our first year of Latin was successful, (even Moose and Ladybug learned the Sanctus, just from listening to us practice), but I was a little concerned going into the next level of Memoria Press Latin–Latina Christiana I. You see, the last few lessons of Prima Latina started to go into declensions and conjugations, obviously as a preparation for what we’d be learning this year, and that scared me a little. OK, a lot.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that Latin this year is going just as well as it did last year. There are now approximately ten vocabulary words to memorize each week, but so far, only two have been new–the rest have been review from last year, (which would also be helpful if we hadn’t done Prima Latina at all, and had just jumped right in with this program, which is totally doable). There is also a new Latin phrase to learn each week, just as there was last year.

We have been working on conjugations since week one, but the first two weeks focused primarily on making sure the verb endings were properly memorized, and then using them to conjugate amo, the Latin verb for love. This week, we delved deeper, working with other verbs we already knew, and conjugating them, as well as translating the already conjugated verbs back to English with the correct pronouns. Turkey and Bunny have really taken to it–in fact, they memorized the conjugations before I did! (I do think I’ve got it down now, too…finally!)

There is more history tied into this year’s lessons, which I like. The teacher’s guide has a full section dedicated to Roman history. This would be even more beneficial if we were currently studying world history, but even though we’re not, it’s good to refresh some things we learned about last year, and that we’ll be studying again in the future.

Now, I haven’t ever used anything other than Memoria Press, so I can’t compare it to other programs. I do know, however, that I have been so pleased with Memoria Press that I have no intention of switching to a different Latin curriculum. I’m looking forward to starting First Form Latin in fourth grade, (which, if we complete it successfully, will be the equivalent of a full year of high school foreign language), and after completing that series, eventually moving on to Henle Latin. There are many other resources from Memoria Press that are tempting to use in the future, including a study of Greek Myths, which we will be using in fifth grade. I also recently discovered that Memoria Press is beta testing a Greek curriculum, which is also exciting, as Turkey wants to learn Greek eventually–that may have to be added to the homeschool to-do list!

Beginning Latin

We have wrapped up our first five weeks of Latin using Prima Latina.

I think this is one of the most fun and interesting things we’ve done in school yet, and the children, especially Turkey, seem to agree with that assessment. From a teacher’s standpoint, I can say that they’ve learned more grammar and vocabulary in these five weeks than they have all school year…and maybe in school, period. Given that grammar is one of the things I feel our current curriculum is weak in, I’m grateful to have some instruction and reinforcement, even if I was surprised that came via (look–one of first vocabulary words!) a foreign language, and a dead one at that.

I have now witnessed first hand how true it is that young minds are more receptive to learning a foreign language than adult minds. Turkey and Bunny barely need to see a word and its translation more than once, and they have it memorized–not so much true for me. And over the course of five weeks, they have memorized the whole Sanctus in Latin. I’m still peeking at the words in the teacher’s manual, and they’re saying it rather confidently. They also don’t have the hang-ups about pronunciation that I do. After dealing with English for such a long time, it’s very difficult for me to train myself that vowels are always pronounced one way in Latin, but I guess since they’ve had less time to get used to the oddities of our language, they don’t struggle as much with that as I do.

I think learning other languages is very important (and the lack of that instruction is part of what makes American schools inferior to those in Europe and elsewhere), and Latin is a great place to start. So much of our grammar and vocabulary comes from Latin that even when we’re learning a foreign language, we’re reinforcing our own Language Arts as well. And a foundation in Latin should also make learning some languages much easier for them in the future.

I know there are other Latin curriculum out there, and I’ve heard good things about them, but I really like Prima Latina, and am planning on continuing with Latina Christiana I next year. I’ve never actually studied Latin as a language, and I’ve found that the teacher’s guide is very helpful, and doesn’t require that the instructor be familiar with the language. There are CDs available with the pronunciations that might help me with my mental block regarding them, but I’ve also heard that the Southern accent on the speaker is almost unbearable, so I’m no hurry to go out and buy them. There are also flashcards available, which I may look into getting in the future, but for now, I’m making my own (and hoping my children can read my handwriting!).

The only problem I’ve really had with the program is that when I scheduled it, I included the review “lesson” at the end of the week it immediately follows–I should have provided a full week for each review lesson, as they’re quite in-depth and lengthy. It’s too late to change that now, though, as I’ve scheduled it through the end of the year. That’s my fault, and I know for next year (as long the program is set up in a similar fashion) to reserve those extra weeks–even with the review lessons added, there are fewer weeks of Latin then there are of our school year.

I also really like that the program approaches Latin from a liturgical perspective. Turkey and Bunny have both whispered to me in church that they’ve noticed Latin words in the hymnal/service, (and they’ve also greeted their Sunday school teacher in Latin). It’s exciting to see them making connections from what they’re learning in school to an important part of their everyday life. It may be a “dead language,” but it still has a wealth of practical application for us today!

Second Grade

*Disclaimer: for those unfamiliar with Sonlight, Core number does not necessarily equal grade level. I’d hate for anyone to think that I’m throwing first grade material at my second grade students just because of the number on the Core!

We’ll be embarking on our journey into second grade in just a few short weeks, and I think I’ve finally got all of our curriculum for the year sorted out.

Following last year’s introduction to world cultures, we will now be learning about world history (and geography) from creation to the fall of the Roman Empire with Sonlight Core 1. I’m especially looking forward to learning about ancient Greece with Turkey and Bunny, and I’m also excited about many of the year’s read-alouds. Even though they don’t all directly relate to our history lessons, we’re going to be reading a lot of childhood classics, starting in week one with a nostalgic favorite of mine, Charlotte’s Web.

We’ll be using Sonlight for language arts, as well. We’re about one third of the way through language arts/readers 2, so part way through the year we’ll be finishing that and starting language arts/readers 2 intermediate.

We’ll also continue to use the A Reason For… series for both handwriting and spelling. I decided not to use the transition to cursive text until next year, so both handwriting and spelling will be text B this year.

Sonlight continues to be my choice for science, as well. Like the Core, we’ll be in science 1 this year, and there are so many topics that Turkey and Bunny are excited about learning! Turkey is very excited about the astronomy aspect, and Bunny can’t wait to learn all about animals.

One change this year is that we will *not* be using Sonlight’s Bible program. I decided to go with some CPH materials for both Bible and catechism for second grade, and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to come up with. We’ll read through A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories, and use the accompanying Old and New Testament workbooks for Bible, and My First Catechism and the matching activity book for catechism. You just can’t start too early (and they’ve already memorized most of the Small Catechism, anyway!).

We’re continuing to use Horizons math–level two this year. I’m pretty nervous about teaching them all the things they need to learn in second grade math, but I was nervous last year, too, and that seemed to go well, so we’ll see…

I have this year’s Sonlight electives to use, although we’ve already listened to the Bernstein Favorites CD approximately one zillion times. We’ll keep listening to the Classical Kids Collection CDs, and we’re also going to learn about Bach this year.

I’m embarking on a new subject this year, for both the children and myself. We’ll be using Prima Latina to give us a basic introduction to Christian Latin. I’m both very excited about this, as Latin is a very important element of classical education, and terrified, as I’ve never studied Latin myself. I figure we can all learn together, and if all else fails, Daddy studied Latin in college, so he can help us!

I think that’s all. It’s going to be another busy year!