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Lively Latin Blog Learn Latin Mon, 20 Jun 2011 13:57:46 +0000 en Top 10 Reasons to Consider the BigBooks for your Latin Curriculum: Mon, 20 Jun 2011 05:02:05 +0000 Magistra 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!

Come See Me! Sun, 03 Apr 2011 03:20:10 +0000 Magistra …At the Pacific Homeschool SuperConference, April 7-9, in Santa Clara, CA.  I’ll be presenting a workshop on learning Latin with the BigBooks of LivelyLatin  at 8:10 am on Friday.  I’ll also have the books and CDs available for perusing and purchase in the Exhibitor Hall thoughout the 2 1/2 day conference.  Whether you already use the BigBooks or are considering it, I’d love to speak with you about your Latin learning endeavors.  Please stop by my booth!

Here’s a link for more information:

Videos Tue, 04 Jan 2011 04:20:21 +0000 Magistra We’re hoping that these will be a useful tool for students and parents for the grammar portion of the BigBook lessons. Ranging in length from 5 to 11 minutes, they’ll help clear up questions students may have, can be watched repeatedly until material is learned, and/or used as a review. 

Please bear with us as we’re working to figure out the best way to deliver them faster. When we do, we’ll be adding a video for each of the grammar mini-lessons in the BigBook.

Testing, testing… Mon, 25 Oct 2010 03:49:34 +0000 Magistra I’ve made four OPTIONAL tests which cover the content of BigBook 1.  They are designed to be used after every fourth lesson in BB1.  I uploaded them to the appropriate lessons in the BB1 virtual classroom.

Please modify these tests as you see fit.  You can do parts of them orally, have your student dictate the answers for you to write, skip parts, etc.  How well your student performs on these written tests may not accurately reflect accomplishment in the the language, so please make accommodations so your student can demonstrate his or her knowledge.

Also, use these as a tool to determine what needs to be worked on.  Allow the student to do the relearning and review work and then retake the test to show mastery.

As always, let me know of any mistakes or typos.

Romulus & Remus Cards Sun, 17 Oct 2010 03:25:57 +0000 Magistra As I began teaching through BigBook, Volume 1, this fall I wanted an activity to review the story of Romulus and Remus from Lesson 1 for my 8-10 yo class.  So, I made a series of 18 picture cards with captions on them that tells the story from the time of evil Uncle Amulius through to the death of Romulus.  I used pictures as well as text so that  students who resist reading can still put them in order.  I printed a few sets of these on card stock, shuffled them, and gave them to groups of students to line up.  After everyone was done we reviewed the story together.  (Then we acted it out.)  For fun, we even drew in some extra details on the cards.  This class is 90% boys so they definitely had to have some blood on the swords…

I thought you all might enjoy these so I added them to the Fun Stuff tab above.

It’s Done! Mon, 26 Jul 2010 03:29:47 +0000 Magistra 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!) Sat, 19 Jun 2010 12:49:27 +0000 Magistra 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,

Got Errata? Wed, 09 Sep 2009 03:40:33 +0000 Magistra OK,  a few people have asked me lately about where they might find an errata page for BigBook 1. 

What to do about these?  I had started a couple of forums on the BigBook site to have people list any mistakes they might find.  This worked well in the beginning but later became difficult for me to access and address.  I found that I can answer questions that come right to my email fairly quickly but actually having to be on the computer and the website to do it really slows me down.  That’s why it may look like postings weren’t answered, when I actually just answered them privately (probably not the smartest thing to do as it only helps one at a time).

So, I’m working with my new tech guy to get a forum that will hook up to my email so I can respond more quickly and publicly.

Meanwhile, I will work to put together one page of errata that can be accessed easily from one location.  Then, as soon as I finish BB2, I’ll actually correct those errors and typos! 

Until then, I ask that everyone keep in perspective the fact that of about 400 pages of BB1, 95-98% of the content is accurate and correct.  Imperfect as it may be, it’s a pretty good tool to help kids learn Latin.  I will continue to work to improve it and your experience of it.  Keep the feedback coming!

Revelations of the Roman Republic and Ted Kennedy… Tue, 01 Sep 2009 16:51:35 +0000 Magistra

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 Tue, 25 Aug 2009 18:07:02 +0000 Magistra

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…