Teaching Latin to the Young

With young students, even more than with older students, you need to think about what your goals in teaching the class are. A Latin class in middle or high school, even though different teachers may have different approaches, is likely to teach the language with a goal of reading some texts by a certain point. Classes for younger students, though, Is this supposed to be an introduction to the concepts of learning a language? An introduction to Latin that will be built on the next year? A world civilization class? Vocabulary building? Will the students take NLE/ALIRA/any other exam? Will they all go on to the same class in the future, or will they spread out into the world? Is this supposed to charm them into taking Latin in the future, or is it all the Latin they are likely to have? Are they supposed to learn about Rome, Rome and Greece, or the generalized ‘Ancient World,” which can include Egypt, China, the Americas, and more? Do you want lots of hands on activities, or is this more of a book class?
For two years, I taught fourth and fifth grade students at a small private school for the gifted “Classics.” This was one of the elective classes, like art, gym, and music. All students at the school took “Classics” those years, then, as middle school students, took Latin. They also took a modern language, starting in kindergarten.
The first year, there was a fifth grade section of the class and a fourth grade section. The second year, because of a difference in the size of the grades, there were two mixed sections. I took a different approach each of these years. In the first year, I used the book *Minimus.* All students ended up doing Minimus I, although I planned that the fifth grade the next year would do Minimus II. I loosely defined culture ideas for the fourth grade as “Rome at Home,” doing food, clothes, and so on, while I loosely defined the fifth grade activities as Rome abroad, teaching about the broader Empire. I quizzed on the Minimus vocabulary only, giving certificates of accomplishment to students who scored above a 90%. The Latin was casually worked in; I tried to have students able to recognize big concepts like endings and we read and talked about the Minimus story, but the exposure was my main goal.
In the second year, because there were students in each class who had been exposed to Minimus I and the Rome at Home topics as well as students who had not, I took a different approach. We used *Telling Tales in Latin* and did mostly the Rome abroad topics. The Latin exposure was more casual- we had no quizzes and, although we did talk about the topics, the focus was even more on exposure.
Here is an annotated list of resources I found useful in teaching this class.
Activitates Liberis
This is a great collection of activities to do with students. We had a Roman wedding from this, but had two dolls get married instead of students. At Katy Ganino Reddick’s suggestion, instead of throwing nuts during the procession (when I wheeled the dolls around through the classroom on an office chair), the students threw packing peanuts. The wedding was a highlight of the year for a lot of students. This collection had readings, worksheets, handouts, and more for a wide variety of topics.
Ancient Coins for Education
The coin identification project is aimed at older students, but younger ones can enjoy a simplified version.
Johns Hopkins runs the Center for Talented Youth, which offers a course in *The Ancient World* for students who have finished grade 3 or 4. Sample syllabi are available online, with suggested books.
This fun British textbook is written as a comic book about real and imaginary people at Vindolanda. The teacher guide is expensive but worth it with lots of activities and reproducibles.
Telling Tales in Latin
This new text is an adaptation of Ovid, and so ties in nicely with myths. There are a lot of pictures and discussion questions.

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Teaching Latin to the Young

With young students, even more than with older students, you need to think about what your goals in teaching the class are. A Latin class

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