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Top 10 Reasons to Consider the BigBooks for your Latin Curriculum:

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

9.  Since it is our cultural foundation, Latin offers the ultimate in integrated studies.  The BigBooks  draw upon this with their interplay of grammar, vocab, history, art, geography, even ideas from science and math!

8.  The BigBooks are cost-effective. Whether purchased in hardcopy, CDs, or PDF version, materials can be reprinted for all students in  immediate family.  Access to the virtual classroom never expires.  Great for families with more than one student.

7.  Audio recordings provide help to learn pronunciation.  There’s a choice of Classical (used by Romans and widespread in colleges today) or Ecclesiastical (used in medieval times and in the Catholic church today).

6.  Short, effective videos teach the grammar portions of the program.  Use them to learn or review lessons.  These are a tremendous help to time-strapped parents who don’t have a background in Latin.

5.  Online vocabulary games like hangman, word search, memory offer interactive fun and value.

4.  Roman history stories are interspersed with the grammar and vocabulary instruction. Fun reinforcement activities follow each 2-3 page story.

3.  English vocabulary from Latin root words are taught through varied interesting exercises, not just a list of words to memorize.

2.  PLENTY of assorted and imaginative reinforcement activities for learning and mastering grammar and vocabulary.  Students don’t do the same things lesson after lesson.

1.  The BigBooks are fun, colorful, captivating, lively, and kid-friendly.  Latin becomes a favorite subject for students!

It’s Done!

Monday, July 26th, 2010

BigBook 2 is finally done, all 600 pages of it, including the audio files, history, and derivative sections!  It’s taken a lot longer than I thought or hoped but I’m pretty happy with it.

BB2 brings a student through the major uses of all the cases of nouns, the endings of all 5 declensions, the 6 active tenses of all 4 verb conjugations, the personal pronouns, and various other Latin grammar points in a systematic yet high interest fashion.  There are enough varied and appealing exercises to thoroughly reinforce grammar and vocabulary.  I’ve gotten good feedback and results using these with my own students.

A new feature of BB2 is a longer reading passage (average of a page) at the end of each lesson so that students can try their hand at translating not just sentences but paragraphs.  Since at advanced levels Latin is largely a read language, this is a skill students must begin to focus on.  The reading passages encourage this.

The “Word Power” section,  which is the study of English words derived from Latin, enriches students by connecting ideas from across all disciplines, from  architecture to zoology.  I’m happy with how this feature of BB2  demonstrates the depth and breadth of our cultural and intellectual debt to Latin.    To understand that there is a history of meaning behind the words they use every day enlarges a student’s perception of language, encouraging him to be more careful, precise,  and attuned in communication.  What a benefit!

I’m excited about the history section, too.  Its text is a combination of two works in the public domain with my own liberal editing and additions.  I added much more detail on perhaps the greatest Roman of all, Julius Caesar, tracing his rise to power, his astonishing accomplishments in the conquest of Gaul, the civil war with Pompey, and just why 60 Roman senators feared his power so much that they resorted to murder to get rid of him.  

Other additions:

  • A section on Livy, Horace, Vergil, and Ovid, the great writers of the Golden Age of Latin Literature.  This is to introduce students to some of the authors they may aspire to read after a few more years of Latin study. 
  • Just what was meant by a Roman triumph and why every Roman general aspired to have one.
  • A hands-on activity which instructs students on how to make a model of Trajan’s column. 
  • A section detailing the crisis in the 3rd century AD which put in motion forces that would move social and economic structure from that of the Roman Empire to that of medieval Europe.
  • Detailed instructions on how to build a model of Caesar’s seige works at Alesia, an example of his military genius.
  • An explanation of what Roman citizenship rights were, why everybody in the ancient world wanted them, and how they compare to US citizenship rights today.
  • Tons of maps, artwork illustrating key events, battle diagrams, timelines, etc.

There’s more but I’m getting carried away with this.  To sum it up, I’m excited to have a resource now that I can use to teach all through Roman history from its mythical beginnings in 753 BC to the last emperor in the West in 476 AD, complete with readings and reinforcement activities. 

Here are some Sample Pages to check out.  Here’s more about BB2.

To celebrate the completion of BB2, I’m offering several pricing specials that are good until September 15.  You can save up to $25 on BB2 or BB1 and BB2 sets.  Click on the Store tab  above to check them out.

Felicis Aestas! (Happy Summer!)

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Salvete Omnes!

So glad it’s summer!  As my school-year teaching comes to a close, I’m excited to get going on some LivelyLatin projects.  Here’s what’s on tap for me:

1.  I’m finishing all derivative and history lessons and well as the audio files and games for the last part of BigBook2.  All will be done and posted by July 1.  This has been a long haul, given my pickiness and desire to create a really useful and helpful product. 

2.  BB2 CDs will be produced in July and I’ll be figuring out how to manage the hardcopy.  The book will be about 700 pages long so I need to figure a format that will not make it prohibitively expensive nor unwieldy to use.  Suggestions are welcome.

3.  In late July I plan to make video recordings of me teaching the mini lessons of BB1.  I’ve had many requests for this and as hesitant as I am to actually see myself teaching, I think it will benefit many and move the cause of learning Latin.

4.  Yes, I will make some tests for BB1.  I’ve also had many requests for this and though I’m not a big on formal tests for Latin (email me and I’ll send you an explanation of why), I put together 4-6 for those who want to use them.

5.  I will add more games and materials to the “Fun Stuff” section above.  Note that I recently added picture flashcards for all the vocabulary in BB1.  You can use these to play memory and other games.  I’ll add instructions for how I use them in my classes after July 1.

As always, if you would like to contact me, please feel free to use my email,

Revelations of the Roman Republic and Ted Kennedy…

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

This weekend I had the television on as I worked on BB2 (there is a good amount of mindless work –attaching page numbers, converting to PDF, etc- that allows for multi-tasking) and caught a fair amount of the memorial and funeral services for Ted Kennedy.

Many ideas percolated for me throughout:  the importance of enthusiasm and zest for life, compassion for those in emotional and physical need, perseverance in the face of great loss, the redemptive power of forgiveness, love, and time…    

 Having my particular bent, I also could not help but think back to the ancient Roman Republic when large aristocratic families held much of the power in Rome, even families whose ancestors might have been ill-reputes (since Romulus opened his new city to the outcasts of surrounding tribes).  The men of these families served in the Senate and also worked their way up through the elected offices of the cursus honorum, which culminated in the consulship.  The consul was kind of like our president but there were two elected, both of whom held power for only 1 year.

 Accepting no salary, these aristocrats were public-minded men who served the Republic for a lifetime and groomed their children to do the same.  As I watched the Kennedys, young and old step forward to honor their patriarch, and as I, of course glimpsed the many black and white photographs of Joe, John, and Robert, with a younger Ted, that the news networks repeatedly displayed, I was drawn to compare this family with the Scipios of the later Roman Republic.

 One obvious connection was the public murder of two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus (Scipios through their mother’s line) who were attempting to bring reform to the Republic.

 Some time ago I had created an activity for BB2 showing the family tree of the Scipios spanning about 6 generations.  Out of about 20 males listed in the tree, 13 attained the office of consul in the Republic, several of them more than once, and others held many lower positions in the cursus honorum.  Many were generals, including Scipio Africanus the Elder,  the conqueror of Hannibal in the 2nd Punic War,  and Scipio Africanus the Younger, the destroyer of Carthage in the 3rd Punic War.   Scipio the Elder’s father and uncle both lost their lives to Carthaginian foes in the same year on Spanish battlefields.  I marveled to myself then that there could have been no question in the mind of the Scipio parents as to what vocation to prepare their children for –they all were destined for public service and leadership in their society.

 Witnessing Kennedys as young as 10 stand up in front of thousands of people to speak a few words,  I had no doubt as to what they are being prepared for, either.  Their family tree would reveal a president, senators, congressmen, governors, state legislators, leaders in business and philanthropic institutions, etc.  Particular politics, ambitions,  and personalities aside, I was struck by the singular thrust of this family:  leadership and service to others and the willingness to bear the sacrifice they entail. 

 Naturally, my thoughts turned toward the education of my own children and the children I teach…How to instill the skills and heart for leadership, service, and sacrifice in whatever endeavor they pursue? 

 I am continuing to percolate on this…

Update on BigBook 2

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

FYI:  I’m planning on posting new blog messages at least every Tuesday.  Hold me to it!  Here’s the first:


What I did on my summer vacation…


I worked like crazy on BigBook 2.  I’m pitifully slow, as many of you know, and I don’t always have realistic expectations of what I can accomplish in a day, week, or month (I’m working on improving in that area!).  It’s not always easy to find the exact image I have in my mind to illustrate something.  A simple thing like finding an image of a sword can turn into a half hour search for the right shape, color, etc.


For those of you who have been asking, I have to report that I expect all the grammar and derivative work to be finished by or before Sept 15, the history to follow a month later, and the initial CDs to be burned shortly after that.  This book will end up about a third larger than BB1 (I’m  thinking of calling it “The Bigger Book of LivelyLatin.”) and will have the same features:  audio files, online vocab games, a My History of Rome, Vol 2 section, etc.


There are presently over 200 pages of BigBook 2 presently in the virtual classroom.  That should keep new students busy until the release of the whole book in October.  There are a few students who are caught up to me.  For these, you can email me to request the lesson files as they exist at present: word files not yet put into PDF pending final proof-reading.


OK, let me get back to work…