Monday, September 21, 2015

Latin, Stars, Sailing, Car Washes and Dance

What a vast richness fill our lives. My oldest, Cate, is sailing in Madison today with the U of I sailing club. The next oldest, Duncan, is busy writing music when he is not in his two high school classes or at work, washing cars. He's rediscovered his skate board and is even biking more. Nothing like not having a driver's license yet to motivate one to new levels of locomotion.

Latin is back in our school days, to my great pleasure. Charles expressed an interest in learning Latin and I, super-casually, exercising great restraint, armed with only 3 of my 4 Latin courses, jumped right on that. He is surprised to see that because of his knowledge of Spanish and French, many Latin words make sense right away to him.
I am secretly thrilled that because he is learning Latin, the other two languages as well as many English words and grammar rules will be that much easier to integrate.

In science, I am greatly aided by a good friend who has taken Charles into her rigorous anatomy-for- grade-schoolers lesson block this year. He is thrilled to be with a friend who is very close to his level in writing, reading and a super-quick learner. I am reading to him selections from Kovacs' "Muscles and Bones." At home, Valentine and I are doing chemistry, we've begun with fire, and we are taking our time about illustrating and writing out observations and conclusions. The boys are allowed to look on silently as we conduct experiments. They love it.

Astronomy and Latin are two of my unfulfilled, personal ambitions. I spent the summer wishing we were doing more astronomy and reading the Charles Kovacs' "Geology and Astronomy." I also peruse online and print magazines for astronomy amateurs and listen for "StarDate" on the radio, Sadly, every night I planned on star-gazing ended up being either cloud-filled or hosting a raging storm. Tonight, though partial clouds are predicted, we will attend Popular Astronomy Club's free event to hopefully view three planets. I am also ordering the Great Course's "Our Night Sky," which I borrowed and had to give back too quickly to the library twice now.* On our way to Chicago in the dark last week, in the wee hours of the morning, the kids started searching for constellations out the car window. It was spontaneous and fun and I passed around my i-phone's sky chart and we talked about the myths behind the constellations until they all nodded off to sleep.

And little Gaël, already 8 and past the "small" stage, is enjoying learning about everything that comes his way. He is not yet a zealous reader, which seems to be par for the course for an active boy this age, but I can see him delight in reading to me the list of sentences that we add on to each day. I am careful to vary an element in each, so even though they are similar, he actually has to look at the words when reading. This is an exercise in confidence-boosting, as he mostly memorizes what he's read before, global word recognition, and phonetics, or actual sounding-out of letters and combinations of letters. What? How?
I write and read a sentence to him: "Gaël is in the garden." The next day he reads it to me. We add another sentence. Little by little, I ask him to sound out more words rather than just read them to him. We've done all the days of the week, rhyming word guessing games and he writes everything, either in his good book or on the chalk board.

Valentine is back in dance class and has added theatre this year, after the "most amazing, Mama, really!" experience she had this summer in theatre camp, 7 hours a day for three weeks. In past years, she has had the choice of one extra activity, but she has decided she cannot live without both of them. With such shining eyes, full of passion for something I understand all too well, it is hard to resist.**

*If learning more about the sky is on your agenda, here is a link to more resources for amateur astronomers: Sky and Telescope Resources. Our local club hosts events every month, for free! It is on our calendar now.

**For locals: here is the link to our favorite theatre for kids school: The Center


  1. Just curious, what are you using for Latin? I do Latin with all my children, but always like to know what other people use.

  2. Hello Eva! I would like to know what you like best for Latin as well. I have not been all-the-way happy with any approach, though my final choice, for older kids, is Wheelock's Latin, the standard. I have also used, for the youngest; Latin's Not too Tough, though it is really about exploration of vocabulary and just a nice starting place. The Cambridge Latin courses are what I've used for the middle school and older, but I find it lacks the rigor of declensions that make Latin interesting to a speaker of romance languages or linguistic student. That's why I picked up a basic Latin grammar in France and turned to Wheelock's. There is a new video series I was considering, but a quick online research showed me that there are a bunch of free Latin videos available on Youtube and other places. Tell me about what you do, please.

    1. We have "Latin's Not So Tough," but I do think when you reach the third level the grammar explanations are not so well done anymore (we have also used the Greek book by the same author). I have never seen the Cambridge Latin, but I know the title. This is what we do:

      Grade 1: Mater Anserina
      Grade 2: I am Reading Latin Stories (CD plus four books)
      Grade 3: Little Latin Reader Primer A, B, C
      Grade 4: Little Latin Reader: Level 1 and 2
      Grade 5: Little Latin Reader: Level 3, 4 plus Getting Started With Latin plus Lingua Angelica I
      Grade 6: Lingua Latina per se Illustrata I plus Lingua Angelica I (plus Reader Coloquia Personarum)
      Grade 7: Lingua Latina per se Illustrata I plus Lingua Angelica II (plus Reader Coloquia Personarum)
      Grade 8: Lingua Latina per se Ilistrata I plus Lingua Angelica II I (plus Reader Fabulae Syrae)
      Grade 9: Henle Latin 1 or Lingua Latina I and Linguar Laitna II (plus Reader Fabulae Syrae)
      Grade 10: Henle Latin 2 (or 1) or Lingua Latina II (plus Reader Epitome Historiae Sacrae)
      Grade 11: Henle Latin 2 or 3 or Lingua Latina II (plus Oeberg's Readers like Caesar, Vergil, Cicero, Ovid)
      Grade 12: Henle Latin 3 or 4 or Lingua Latina II (plus Oeberg's Readers like Caesar, Vergil, Cicero, Ovid)

      I have not tried Wheelock, but got it from the library once. There is also Minimus for childern which looks neat, but is kind of expensive. And then there is Ecce Romani, but again, I have not been able to see an actual copy.

      It has taken me several years to figure out what to use and Jonathan and Charlotte are only finishing up Henle 1. I wish I had done it differently with them too, but only now we have found a good rhythm. The younger ones are doing Latin as outlined above. Who knows if I will change this again, but for now it is working. We do have a Latin teacher for Henle Latin, but only because we joined a Latin class in California when we were there in the spring. The teacher is now teaching the class online to those that were taking his class last spring. It forces Jonathan and Charlotte to be diligent and they have deadlines and quizzes that are not graded by me.


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