How to Enjoy Latin in the Elementary Grades

Olivia told her dad just today that her two favorite subjects in school are reading and Latin. This makes a mama feel good to hear after all of the struggle we had with her reading and finally finding our way.

As for the Latin, this has been something she has loved since we started it last fall. To tell the truth, I really love it myself and can’t wait for us to learn more as the years go on.

Latin Games and Curriculum for Elementary

What surprised me most, though, was how much the little brothers wanted to join in on the Latin studies. I finally had to start letting them study it with us. Using a combination of curriculum and Latin games and printables, we have a fun and effective time with elementary Latin at our house.

Elementary Latin Curriculum

For elementary school I had two main goals behind starting Latin with Olivia in third grade. First, I wanted to use Latin to study English grammar, and second I wanted a gentle program to start building a foundation for future Latin learning.

We are not about rushing through, getting things done, or making Latin challenging in the elementary grades. We want to learn a little grammar, become familiar with the basics, and learn to love Latin. With that in mind, we use two different Latin curricula in our house.

First we use Prima Latina from Memoria Press. This is the Latin curriculum I started with Olivia. What I love about it is its focus on English grammar, its easy pace, and the Latin prayers. We have been working through this book rather slowly, but at this point we are okay with our pace.

Typically we start a unit by listening to the audio CD and reviewing the new words and concepts. The next day Olivia will usually complete the “Write and Learn” portion of the student workbook where the student is asked to write each new vocabulary word and its meaning twice. Olivia will write each one once in the book and then will use index cards, making a set of flashcards for the second writing. Once she is done we review the flashcards.

The next day she will complete the first student page of the lesson, and then we review the flashcards. The final day she will finish the second student page and review the flashcards. After this point, we will continue to play Latin games and review until she has the words memorized and then take a quiz.

We found not too long after we started studying that the boys wanted to jump in and answer the Latin questions as Olivia was working. Since there seemed to be an interest I decided to give Songschool Latin by Classical Academic Press a go. I am so glad I did.

This little program is fun, fun, fun. We listen to the Latin songs from the CD during our morning time and then complete the student book orally. Everyone from Olivia down to Thomas takes part. I am ordering Latin Monkey Match this week for the new school year because it looks like so much fun, and we already love playing the extra games and watching the videos at Headventure Land. CAP is on to something good with this program!

Fun Latin Games and Printables

The other side to our Latin studies are the Latin games and printables. Our very favorite is the Race to the Colosseum game. The object of the game is to get your marker to land on a colosseum square.

Kids playing Latin games

The beauty of it is, you don’t have to be the one to know the most Latin to win. So everyone from Thomas to Mom can play together and have a good time. They would play this fifty times a day if I would let them.

The Roman puppets often come out during morning time to help with our Song School conversations, and we also use the Latin prayer folders to help us memorize our prayers. Right now I have folders for the Sanctus, the Gloria Patri, and the Pater Noster, as well as the Table Blessing.

The prayer folders include assembly instructions, but basically you end up with a file folder that includes a copy of the prayer you cut apart to make into puzzle pieces. Then there are two “game boards” to assemble the pieces on. One has a copy of the prayer in light gray letters. This is the easiest option.

Child playing Latin game with prayer

The next challenging level has blank boxes to place the pieces in. The boxes are the correct size to match the pieces so that helps with the self-check. Finally, the student can progress to assembling the pieces of the prayer on a blank tabletop. Each time the student assembles the prayer, they should repeat it out loud.

The combination of two great curricula and our Latin games have made Latin a huge hit at our house. We plan to study it at a leisurely pace through the rest of our elementary years and then move into a more serious study in junior high and high school. Valete!

For more great resources on teaching Foreign Languages in your Homeschool check out these other great posts from the bloggers at iHomeschool Network. And for more information on teaching Latin in elementary school using Prima Latina, check out the information from Dianna at The Kennedy Adventures.

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  • Tonia says:

    I love including games in our homeschooling but I really hadn’t though about doing anything with Latin. Fabulous ideas! Race to the Colosseum sounds like fun!

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Oh they love it (sometimes much to my chagrin). Between the games and songs and chants it is no wonder Latin is one of their favorites. 🙂

  • I am so glad to hear you like Song School Latin! I just ordered it last week… 🙂

  • […] you’re looking for a different approach to learning Latin, my friend Pam has a treasure trove of games, printables and ideas for helping children learn […]

  • Doriann says:

    Thanks for this post! I know nothing about Latin, but really wanted to start studying it “family style.” This is so helpful:)

  • channon says:

    I fell really stupid even asking, but why study latin? Is it just to earn a foreign language like Spanish or French? Or is there more to it? I see a lot of people talking about it, and after reading your post I think it sounds great! 🙂

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      We study it as a way to really understand English grammar. (I never really understood grammar until my college Russian classes.) It is also great for vocabulary building — so much of our vocabulary is Latin based. And as Classical educators our goal is to one day read original works in Latin.

  • We are always looking for great games to add to our collection. Thank you for the great ideas! We have seen how easily Samuel has picked up Latin even in our casual study of the language. So many awesome ways Latin can help in life. 🙂

  • Looks like you found some ways to enjoy learning Latin. The Race to the Collosseum Game looks really fun. Thanks for linking to a review of the game in this post 🙂

  • Amy says:

    Sounds like you guys are doing awesome! Latin in probably my kids’ favorite subject as well =) We use Song School Latin and it is such a great intro, getting kids excited about Latin. I don’t know for sure what we will use after, but next year we will move on to SSL2. I haven’t tried your Race to the Colosseum game yet, but I’ve got it on my to-do list =) I know my kids will love it too!

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