Rota: "An Old Roman Game"

In 1916, there was an article in the Classical Journal describing “An Old Roman Game,” Rota. Although the name and rules are modern, it could have been played on the game boards found scratched into various stones in the Roman world. It’s a great game to play if you’re missing most of the class for a music assembly or a snow delay.
The information in this post is based on a wonderful presentation given by Donna Lyons at CANE Annual Meeting a few years ago. CANEns, the CANE newsletter, has an issue with two boards and detailed set of rules and instructions available here as a pdf. She has two boards, a fancy one and a plain one.
The board is straightforward: it’s a circle cut like a pizza. There are three lines along diameters of the circle.
Two players play on one board. Each has three markers. In the first turns of the game, players take turns setting their markers on the board. After all six markers are on the board, each player moves one marker to an adjacent spot each turn. Pieces cannot be jumped or captured, and each player must move each turn. To win, the player needs to have three markers across a diameter of the board.
Donna suggested playing the game with the glass pebbles made to put in the bottoms of vases. If you do this, the pebbles are translucent enough that you can play a sample game on an overhead projector. (This is how I usually introduce the class to the game.) It would also be possible to play it with magnetic pieces on a whiteboard or chalkboard.
For class sets, I usually copy a set of boards (having kids decorate a basic board can be fun as well) and then cut up colorful paper on a paper cutter for the pieces (holes from hole punching are a little too small; one of the shaped hole punchers would be fun). I have an envelope of cut up paper and a stack of photocopied boards in my closet so, if class is unexpectedly shortened or lengthened for weather reasons, we can play.
It also works to use candies for the pieces; in that case, the winner usually gets them. (My students came up with this version. Chocolate candies are a bad idea, and the winner may not want unwrapped candies that were used.)
An online version of the game can be played here: There is at least one version of it for iPhone/iPad in the app store. I haven’t played any of them, though.

Roundup of Games

Because of the holiday this week, we’re posting a little differently. There won’t be a Thursday resource, and today is a roundup of posts we’ve made on games in the classroom:
Review Battleship:
The Latin Dictionary Game:
Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Using Spoken Latin in YOUR Classroom, Pars II

In my last post, I covered some basics about speaking Latin in class. Here are some other techniques I use to get my students speaking and acquiring vocabulary.
One of my favorite boxes in class is an old copy paper box, filled to the brim with stuffed animals and fake fruit. I have so many different old stuffed animals from when I was a kid, it’s crazy. If you need stuffed animals, or fake fruit, Ikea and Michaels/ACmoore are great places to acquire such items. So I take the box, filled with all the animals, show it to the students, and say “Ecce! Est arca!” (you can also use cista! Or whatever other word you have for “box!”) I use the method I talked about in my previous post to get the students to say “Arca est.” Then, pointing to the box, I ask, “Quid est?” The students reply, “Arca est.” Have a couple students say it individually, and then have the whole class repeat it once more.
Then, I set the box down and take something out of the box, usually an adorable stuffed animal, in this case, a dog. “Ecce!” I say. “Canis est!” Have the students repeat, “Canis est.” I pick a student (Clodia, for these purposes) and offer them the dog, making it very obvious that I want them to take it. “Visne canem?” I ask. Clodia should respond with, “ita vero!” or whatever word/phrase they know for “yes.” If I get a blank stare, I ask again, “Visne canem?” and then nod my head to see if I can prompt her. Once she say “yes,” I hold the dog up in the air. “Clodia canem vult,” I tell my students. I have the class repeat, “Clodia canem vult.” Then, I set the dog on my desk and say, “Da mihi canem, quaeso.” I take the sentence and break it down, like I did in my previous post. Once I’ve got the students saying, “Da mihi canem, quaeso,” I ask Clodia to say it alone. Once she does, I give her the dog.
If a student stumbles over saying something in Latin, you can do one of a few things:
1) Have another student say it and then have the struggling student repeat it.
2) Say it yourself and have the struggling student repeat it. (Sometimes it helps to break it down for them again!)
3) Have the whole class say the sentence again and then have the struggling student repeat it.
I always remind my students that mistakes are normal and use the “Mirable!” technique to help reinforce that.
Anyway, you can keep going through the box of animals and foods. Get them handed out to students, and then have the students offer them to other students and have the other students ask for them.
This is not a one-class lesson. This one will take a few classes for your students to get it. It works really well, even if you have high-schoolers, to get them sitting in a circle, so that everyone can see the object that the other students have. (And even high-schoolers love to play with the stuffed animals!)
Enjoy this one. It’s a lot of fun! ☺