Lively Latin

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Lively Latin is a solid Latin program that offers some definite differences and a good amount of flexibility that you don't find in many other Latin programs at this level. First of all, even though you get a LOT of content (there's a reason why they call them "Big Books!), everything is on disc at both levels. Level 1 (for Gr. 3-6) includes over 400 pages in PDF format while Level 2 (for Gr. 4-8) features over 600 pages! Each level is divided into 16 multi-part lessons. Both levels also include an audio CD with classical and ecclesiastical pronunciations for all vocabulary learned. Secondly, the program is self-paced and designed for independent study (perfect for parents with no knowledge of Latin). Author and "Magistra" Catherine Drown recommends spending 20-30 minutes on Latin three times a week or 15 minutes five times a week. While older students may complete each level in about a year, younger ones may need two years to work through a level.

Although you may be picturing a jumble of PDF files on CD, the course is very organized. Each Big Book CD holds all of the lesson files, the answer key files for each lesson, the glossary, the chant sheet, the introduction, the "My History of Rome" files, notebook dividers and a cover. The introduction makes a very convincing case for why the student should study Latin and provides the student instructions on how to set up a 3-ring binder to hold all lesson content (and how to keep it organized!). The notebook will end up with five divisions, which reflect the range of the lessons: language lessons, vocabulary, derivatives, history and "Et Cetera." The pages of the lessons feature different outline colors which make it easy for students to figure out where to place them in the binder. Lessons are made up of each of these parts, beginning with language, continuing with vocabulary, examining English derivatives of the Latin vocabulary studied, and reading a segment of Roman history (excerpted and edited from Famous Men of Rome and The Story of Rome).

One of the most notable characteristics about the course is not only the distinct segments of each lesson, but the impressive range of exercises and activities built into each part of each lesson, which plays a major part in helping the course live up to its self-proclaimed "lively" reputation! The language segments focus on grammar, reinforcing both Latin and English grammatical concepts even sentence diagramming! The teaching portions are short and to the point, and the student gets to practice the concepts through a wide variety of short "chunks" of exercises, including matching, short-answer, labeling, drawing, translating and much more. There are fun questions thrown in here and there (like identifying the "reginae" depicted in three paintings) to mix things up a little more. Vocabulary study is done though an introductory vocabulary list and accompanying chant (pronunciation is included on the audio CD). Printable flashcards for each vocabulary list are incorporated into the lesson PDFs, and are intended to be cut out and applied to index cards for practice. Word Power activities emphasize derivatives of the Latin vocabulary learned in the lesson and provide opportunities for reinforcement through short answers, word puzzles and more. The history portion of the lesson proceeds chronologically through the history of Rome with excerpts from the books mentioned above, followed by reinforcement activities including picture studies based on works of Roman-inspired art masterpieces, notable places and names to unscramble and match, crosswords, character studies, map activities and much, much more. But that's not all! As students read each history segment, they will also be creating a page in their My History of Rome book by drawing a scene from the story and writing a few sentences about it. When they're finished with a Big Book, they'll have their own fully-illustrated history booklet to share with others. All in all, it's obvious that a lot of thought and creativity went into every lesson!

So, what will you cover in each level? The Big Book Volume 1 covers 1st and 2nd declensions; Latin nouns, cases and genders; use of ablative cases, 1st conjugation verbs in present, imperfect and future tenses; the irregular "to be" verb in 3 tenses; 1st and 2nd declension adjectives, sentence diagramming, 175 Latin words, and the history of Rome from its founding to the Third Punic War in 146 B.C. The Big Book Volume 2 covers declensions 2-5 of Latin nouns and uses of all of the rest of the cases, conjugations 2-4 of verbs and all verbs in 6 tenses, personal pronouns, 350 new Latin words and the history of the Roman Empire from 146 B.C. to the end of the Western empire in 476 A.D. If you combine the Big Books, it's about the equivalent of one year of high school Latin, or three years of elementary Latin.

There are a few other features to point out about this engaging program. First of all, students using the Big Books can create an account online at and access the author's tips and helps for each lesson, ask questions in the forum and play featured games. Secondly, you will get much more out of the lessons if you print them in color. The pages are fun to look at and incorporate quite a bit of clip art and art reproductions as well. So you'll want to have access to a color printer and plan on printing most of the pages (you can get away without printing the answer keys if you want). Third, the program is from a religiously neutral viewpoint.

There is a lot packed into a deceptively-small CD case here! I suspect that young students will especially enjoy the varied activities and the "accumulation" of the finished work into their own personal binder. The inclusion of Roman history and culture tends to "break up" the language and grammar content, giving students a little relief from the vocabulary memorization and grammar concepts. The "My History of Rome" project, art studies and other creative activities will appeal to creative types and students with different learning styles. I like that both classical and ecclesiastical pronunciations are included, giving you the choice of which you prefer. While it appears expensive at first glance, I think you'll find that it's comparable to other programs in this section if you add on all the "extras" such as flashcards, history readers, etc (although you also have to take the cost of printing into consideration). You can use it with multiple children at similar levels, and there's virtually no teacher preparation time, or even participation time except for ensuring that your students follow a chosen study schedule and progress through the lessons in order. True, there are a lot of options for studying Latin at this level, but there's a lot to like about Lively Latin! Jess

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Lively Latin Volume 1 CD Item #: 053533
Grades: 3-6
Rainbow Price: $69.95

Lively Latin Volume 2 USB Drive Item #: 053534
Grades: 4-8
Retail: $79.00
Rainbow Price: $69.95

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