One of the greatest perks of being on the Homeschool Review Crew is that I get to discover not just new products, but companies I have never heard of. Some of these companies may be well known among homeschoolers, but were new to me before being on the Crew. One of these is Memoria Press, which provides a wide variety of materials for a Classical Christian Education. Though we are not technically "classical" homeschoolers, we do incorporate different classical education materials in our curriculum. Over the past few years, we have had the opportunity to review a few of these different products thanks to being on the Crew. For the past several weeks, Tabitha and I have been learning Latin together with the Latina Christiana Complete Set, which is a beginning Latin curriculum suitable for children in the 3rd-6th grades.
Thankfully, Latina Christiana was written for teachers with no background in Latin, because that would be me. I took a tiny bit of Latin in high school, as we were all required to take a classical language in my school, but it ended up not fitting into my schedule and I switched back to Greek. So, Latin is new territory for me. One of the most helpful components in this complete set is the instructional DVD, on which Jessica Watson actually teaches the lesson. This has been a huge lifesaver to me. Because, while Tabitha seems to be pretty good at learning languages, this is not something I excel in. Not even close.
Let's take a closer look at what we received.
The Latina Christiana Complete Set comes with:
- Teacher Manual
- Student Book
- Instructional DVDs (set of 3)
- Pronunciation CD
The Teacher Manual is a spiral bound, soft cover book with 187 pages. Included in the book, after the preface and pronunciation rules, are seven sections. The Teacher Guide section gives an overview of the grammar and goals for the student's first year of Latin. There are teaching guidelines and reproducible drill pages. The bulk of the book is devoted to the actual Lesson Plans. These pages contain the actual Lesson pages from the student book, inset on the double page spread with the lesson plans around them.
After the Lesson Plans you will find approximately 30 pages of Appendices. These contain prayers, conversational Latin, songs, Latin sayings, grammar forms, history guide with maps for the optional history lessons, two vocabulary indexes, an English to Latin reference and a list of derivatives with their definitions.
Next there is an Advanced Grammar Overview. And then you will find the Reproducible Quizzes and Tests plus the Answer Key.
The Student Book is a 105 page soft cover book. After the Introduction to the Student by the author and magistra Cheryl Lowe, and a couple of pages explaining the pronunciation rules, this book moves straight into the Lesson pages. There are 25 lessons, plus five review lessons. These review lessons occur after every five lessons. Each lesson is meant to take one week to teach and is laid out on the double page spread in about the same format throughout the book, with some slight differences as you get further into the lessons.
Next comes the vocabulary.
Here is a picture showing ten vocabulary words.
A copy of these pages are what are inset in the Teacher Manual, as shown in the picture above.
Each lesson teaches a new Latin saying, new vocabulary along with derivatives, and grammar forms. The first lesson taught five new vocabulary words, but each subsequent lesson teaches ten. We have been learning to conjugate verbs and decline nouns in the grammar lessons.
The Latin Saying and translation is found at the top of the page.
Here is a picture showing ten vocabulary words.
At the bottom of the lesson page you find the new grammar forms being learned.
The second page of every lesson is where the student will do their exercises. The number of exercises ranges from 3-5.
The student is to translate phrases and sayings, work on their grammar with fill-in-the-blank exercises and working on conjugating or declining, translate different words, and figure out how to complete sentences with derivatives.
The Appendices in the back of the Student Book are the same Appendices that are found in the Teacher Manual. I guess it may be better to say that the entire Student Book can be found in the Teacher Manual. The prayers, conversational Latin, songs, Latin sayings, grammar forms, history guide, vocabulary indexes, alphabetical English to Latin reference, and the derivatives & definitions are all available to the student. However, the Advanced Grammar Overview, Reproducible Quizzes and Tests, and Answer Keys are only found in the Teacher Manual.
There are three Instructional DVD discs. Disc 1 contains an Introduction along with Unit 1 and part of Unit 2. Disc 2 contains the remainder of Unit 2, Unit 3, and part of Unit 4. Disc 3 contains the remainder of Unit 4, plus Unit 5. Each unit consists of five lessons. The Review Lessons are not taught on the DVDs. The parent and child are responsible for doing the review lessons on their own.
The lesson is chosen from the menu.
Our teacher, or magistra, appears on the screen to teach the lesson.
During the lesson she speaks directly to the student, expecting the child to repeat after her and answer her questions. She greets the students with "Salvete, amici Latinae" and then waits for the students to respond. Then she asks the children to stand or "surgite" before telling them to pray or "oremus." During this unit we have been learning the Table Blessing. The Teacher Manual indicates that we are also supposed to sing our song, so at this point in the lesson I will pause the DVD so we can sing. During this unit we have been learning "Christus Vincit."
Then she cues the student on the recitation portion of the lesson. We are to recite the conjugations and declinations we have focused on so far.
She then moves on to the Latin saying, explaining the significance of it, and asking the children to repeat it plus the translation.
Then the new vocabulary is introduced. First the entire list appears on the screen:
But the screen is then cleared, and each line is listed as she reads it.
After reading all the words, she will focus the child's attention on important details, such as which ones are nouns and which ones are verbs. Then she looks at the derivatives. The student is then asked to underline the part of the derivative that can be found in the Latin word. I will pause the DVD while Tabitha works on this, so she won't feel rushed.
She then moves on to the grammar portion of the lesson. The first couple of lessons focused on the 1st Conjugation, then we learned the 1st Declension, As the lessons progress, we are learning more details. While we memorized the different forms for the declension in lesson three, it wasn't until lesson four that we were taught what each of the cases were that went with the case endings. And in lesson five we learned what the functions of these cases were.
The average length of these DVD lessons is 12 minutes so far.
The Pronunciation CD contains 32 tracks. There is an introduction, then the prayers and songs are presented. The remainder of the tracks are the 25 lessons plus a recitation track. This is different from the DVD in that it is not teaching the lesson, but just presenting the words/phrases in Latin and English. A short amount of time is allowed for the student to repeat the words after the teacher.
The pack of flashcards contains all the vocabulary, the Latin sayings, and the grammar forms. At first I wasn't sure how I wanted to store the cards. I finally decided to divide the cards up, and hold each pile together with rubber bands. The vocabulary cards are divided by unit, then there are the Latin sayings and grammar form cards. These were then placed in a plastic gallon-sized zippy bag. I even got all sorts of organized. The cards in the red rubber bands are ones we are not using yet, so red equals stop. The yellow are the ones we are currently working on. The pack with the blue rubber band are the Latin sayings. I chose to keep those together.
How have we been using Latina Christiana?
After I spent some time reading the teaching guidelines, we jumped right in. Tabitha and I sit down together and watch the DVD. For me, this was the best way for me to introduce the lesson material to Tabitha. We are learning together. During this initial introduction to each lesson, I am a student right along side my daughter. I make sure I am understanding what she is learning, and listen carefully to the pronunciation. Throughout the week, I will then review with her what was learned, using the board to write out vocabulary or grammar, and having Tabitha write out the information in her notebook. Reproducible drill sheets are provided, but I chose to have her use her notebook for a few reasons. When we first started the review period, we were without electricity, so I couldn't photocopy the papers. Then, once our power was restored, I decided it worked well enough to have her use her notebook, so it saved on ink, and ensured that loose papers weren't getting lost in our house.
Each day I also have her work on one of the exercises in her Student Book. We tend to start the week with the derivatives exercise, and then she chooses which exercise she wants to work on each day.
I was loosely following the suggested schedule found in the Teacher Manual:
As I already mentioned, we watch the lesson on the DVD, so we get the entire lesson in one sitting, instead of doing part on day 1 and part on day 2. I also haven't been having Tabitha do the written drill three days, and I don't have her use the CD. As the lessons get more advanced, we may start following this schedule more strictly. However, at the end of each week she has been taking the quiz and is doing wonderfully, so I haven't seen the need for more drill as of yet. Honestly, at first I missed the fact that we were supposed to be using the CD. I saw written drill and went, okay, let's write these out in your notebook. Once I realized my oversight, I realized she was doing well without the extra written work, so I decided not to push more work onto her.
We are currently taking two weeks, instead of one, to review the materials from Unit 1, before she takes her test. She spends time writing her information out and using the flashcards to review. Sometimes I will drill her with the flashcards, other times she works with them herself.
Latina Christiana is a wonderful curriculum for teaching and learning beginning Latin. I absolutely love that there are instructional DVD lessons. Jessica Watson is a great teacher. Tabitha really enjoyed the clip of her that we watched prior to asking to be on the review. She felt comfortable with the way Ms. Watson was teaching and asked to be able to use Latina Christiana.
Even without the DVD's the lesson plans are easy to follow. They are well organized, with all of the sections of the lessons laid out, explaining to the parent/teacher what is to be taught. I love that the quizzes and tests are reproducible, and can be given more than one time if needed, plus used for additional students. All I have to do when the younger children are old enough to take Latin, is purchase a Student Book for them. We already have all the other components for the curriculum.
When we are done with Latina Christiana, we will know around 200 Latin words, plus 25 Latin sayings. We will also have two prayers and three songs memorized. In fact, Tabitha already has the Table Blessing down pat. Me, on the other hand, I still have a ways to go. We will have a better understanding of how to conjugate verbs and decline nouns. And I really, really like that we are learning derivatives, as that will help with English vocabulary.
I highly recommend Latina Christiana from Memoria Press. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to look at the different levels of Latin Curriculum Memoria Press has available.
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Don't forget to click the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about the various Memoria Press materials they reviewed. In addition to different levels of Latin curriculum, some of the Crew were able to review The Book of Trees and Nature's Beautiful Order.