Friday, July 8, 2016

Learning Latin with Latin Readers and Workbooks from Laurelwood Books {A TOS Review}

Have you ever learned a foreign language? What about a classical language? I took several different languages in my high school career, including Latin and Greek. However, I only learned Latin for part of a semester because of my schedule. One thing that bothered me about learning it the way we did was, we learned it to speak it like any other language. This seemed silly to me because it was a classical language that isn't spoken anymore. When I took classical Greek, the focus was to learn it to read it. This was one of the reasons I was intrigued by the idea of Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin Reader I and Workbook I from Laurelwood Books.

In this series of books, the student is learning Latin as they read fables, parables, and Bible stories. We received two books, the softcover reader and the softcover workbook by Mary Ellen Tedrow-Wynn. This first volume contains 3 stories: The Three Little Pigs, The Tortoise and the Hare, and The Crow and the Pitcher. Each of these stories is presented first in English and then in Latin. 

Both the reader and the workbook begin with important information for the teacher/parent. Then there is a pronunciation guide and a listing of roman numerals to 60 (LX). Both books are printed in grayscale.

The stories use simple phrasing to make it easier to translate to Latin. One entire story is presented in English so the reader knows the story. Then it is presented completely in Latin. In the sidebars you will find a list of the vocabulary used in the story on that page.

At the bottom of each page, it is noted that you need to stop and do the assigned workbook pages. These pages give the student the chance to practice translating words to get them memorized. The child is to use their reader to aid with the translation. 

The first exercise for each page is simple translation from Latin to English, and then in the second column from English to Latin. Then, on the bottom of the page, the child is to read the English sentence, fill in the blank with the English word, and then translate the word into Latin. 

Approximately every other page read in the reader has the child then completing 2 pages in the workbook. One of the pages is the same kind as pictured above, and the other is a matching page.

As your child goes through the lessons, they will come across Digging Deeper pages. These allow a child and the parent to dig into such things as grammar and etymology. We learn that Latin is a language where the endings of words are of utmost importance to understanding what is being said. At first I thought about skipping these pages for now, as Amelia is only 8 and digging deeper into languages and grammar seemed a bit advanced. However, I decided to go back and start working on these exercises with her. I think some of it is going over her head, but at least the foundation will be there. 

Here are a couple of examples of what we are learning in the Digging Deeper sections:

One of the reasons I hesitated to go into the digging deeper information, is because there is a LOT of information being introduced. I wanted to focus on just the vocabulary we were learning in the lesson, not add in more, unrelated vocabulary. I then realized, it wasn't as if we were being asked to memorize the information. These new words were being given as examples. I think that is the key. Read the information but don't worry about memorizing it. It is there to lay the foundation. 

As completing a Digging Deeper section was extra work, I counted it as the day's lesson, which has spread out the lessons. We have not quite made it to the final lesson in our first story, which is an "Ready to Take the Challenge?" exercise. The student needs to translate entire sentences from English to Latin in this final page of the story. 

Also included on the final page is the Digging For Treasure quote. This quote has been filled in a little at a time as we work through the lessons. At the bottom of some workbook pages you will find a little shovel with the words "Digging for Treasure." There is a Latin word and it's English translation. 

These words are placed in the correct spot in the quote, which for this first story is a quote from the Bible, Proverbs 6:6.

The remainder of the stories in the Olim, Once Upon a Time. . . In Latin I follow the same pattern for the lessons. The first story, Tres Parvi Porci (The Three Little Pigs) has been introducing us to nominative & accusative cases (subject & direct object), verbs, adjectives, singular & plural, and matching endings with nouns and adjectives. In the next story, Testudo et Lepus (The Tortoise and the Hare) we will be getting into perfect and imperfect past tense, infinitive verbs, and adverbs. In the last story, Corvus et Urceus (The Crow and the Pitcher) we will expand our knowledge of grammar by learning about prepositions & negatives, and asking yes or no questions.

Another thing we have been learning is how many of our words in English are derived from Latin. While we were reading the story, I would help Amelia try to think of English words that were related to the Latin word, so we could more easily memorize what the word meant. For example, when we were learning that portabat meant carried, I showed her that "portabat" starts with "port" which reminds us of portable. Another one I showed her was vidit, which means he saw. I showed her that "vidit" starts with "vid" as does our English word video. 

Amelia and I got a slow start to this study as we were having trouble trying to read the Latin words at first. Yes, there is a pronunciation guide; however, we were still stumbling over the words. I am quite thankful that the pronunciation guide is in both books, because while we read from the reader, I was able to have the guide open in the workbook. However, I was coming across the same problem I have had in the past while studying languages, not being sure I am pronouncing things properly. And it is especially hard when you don't have someone there to demonstrate how it should sound. I do realize this is the same for any program I would use for a foreign language that doesn't have video or audio lessons. But I did want to explain our struggle as foreign language is most definitely NOT my strong suit.

We spent extra time on the first lessons, just trying to say the words correctly and start committing the vocabulary to memory. We would sit on the couch together, reading the current page in the story. Then I would send Amelia to the table to work on her workbook.

It wasn't until we were partway through the review period that I realized I should be having her work on memorizing her vocabulary on days we weren't actually learning a new lesson. So, I had her pull out the workbook and read over the lessons she had done so far.

As I already mentioned, I also decided to start working on the Digging Deeper sections part way through the review period. I would read the information to her, and if there was an exercise for her to complete, I would have her do so, with or without my help.

I admit, at first I thought there was way too much vocabulary being introduced at once, because I was used to the way I had been taught a foreign language. However, she has shown that she IS memorizing these words and phrases. I can say something in Latin and she will translate for me. Additionally, just recently Tabitha decided she wanted to learn Latin too. As we don't have a workbook for her, she has been just reading the reader. Amelia has been able to help Tabitha with the pronunciation and the meanings of the words. It has been a blessing to see how much she has learned from this study. Once we finish the first book, I would love to get the next one in the series. I will probably get a workbook for both Tabitha and Amelia at that point. I do believe it is important to understand the classical languages, because they play such an important part in our own language.

I have been very happy with Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin I and highly recommend it. 

You can find Laurelwood Books on Facebook.

The Crew had many different products to choose from for this review of Laurelwood Books. In addition to the first volume of Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin, there are reviews of volumes II, III and IV. Fellow Crew mates also got to review: State: The Facts, A Guide To Studying Your State, Patriotic Penmanship, Scripture Scribes, either His Name Is Wonderful, One Another, or Men of Honor and Women of Grace, or Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I.

Don't forget to check out the Crew reviews by clicking on the banner below:

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Crew Disclaimer


  1. You are amazing. I would not be able to teach those lessons. I am bad with foreign languages.

  2. I got a Latin curriculum with my kids 20 years ago, but it was so hard that I could not figure it out - even with tapes to help with pronunciation. This sounds super easy. I want to get them.


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