Lower Elementary Latin

This "Lower Elementary" page is especially for homeschooling parents who are introducing their younger children (ages 6 - 10) to Latin.  Here they will find useful suggestions and fun activities for familiarizing young students with the language. The structured projects, games, and songs/chants presented here can be used in any learning environment, from home settings to small schools or co-ops. Parents will find them excellent for helping their students to build vocabulary, to get a feel for grammar, and to sharpen their hearing and speaking skills.

Some Favorite Latin Activities for Children from the Classical Learning Resource Center


Family Tree

Have the students make up a family tree – with pictures of their relatives (photos or hand-drawn) and each one labelled in Latin – mater, pater, frater, avus …

Children’s Books

Translate a simple children’s book like “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?” into Latin and have the students illustrate it.

New Vocabulary Exercise

Provide the students with a list of vocabulary words to learn.  As they study them, have them draw a picture or write a story using as many of these words as possible.  If they draw a picture, they should label everything in the picture in Latin.  If they write a story they can be as ambitious as they want – write the whole story in Latin or write the story in English and just insert the Latin for the new vocabulary words.

Practice with Numbers:

Micatio

    • Count to three (in Latin of course).
    • On three, each student puts out a certain number of fingers.
    • At three, as they are putting out their fingers, each student calls out the number that they guess will be the total number of fingers.
    • The student who is closest wins.

Quod scio

    • The teacher says a sum in Latin.
    • e.g. Quattuor et tres est septem.
    • It it’s right the students say “quod scio” = “I know that”
    • If it’s wrong they say “minime!”

Math problems

    • Very similar to the above – just ask the problem “Quattuor et tres est …” and the students provide the answer.

Translate simple counting books like Bears on Wheels

Hands on the desk

    • The students put both hands on their desk.
    • The teacher says a number.
    • Students raise that many fingers.

Some Favorite Latin Games for Children from the Classical Learning Resource Center

I Spy with my Little Eye

  • The student says 'conspicio ocelliculo..." then the student gives the name of a color in Latin.
  • 'ocelliculus' is a double diminutive (diminutive of 'ocellus,' which is already diminutive of 'oculus') for which there's probably no literary parallel but it works well for this children’s game!
  • You could add 'aliquid quod est' – something which is …. But just using 'conspicio ocelliculo..." has a better ring to it
  • The other students can say the names of the objects they guess in English.
  • Or if you have been working on the names of objects in your classroom or home in Latin the students can guess the objects in Latin.

  Desistite

  • Use an imperative verb to tell the children to perform some action – e.g. currite – Run!
  • The children then run around saying ‘curro, curro, curro’ = I am running
  • Until the teacher says ‘Desistite’ = stop
  • Then the students say ‘Desisto’ =  ‘I cease’ and stand still to wait for the next imperative verb.

Magistra Dicit

  • Like ‘Simon Says’
  • Similar to Desistite but students only obey the command if the teacher first says “Magistra (magister for men) dicit”
  • As in Desistite – the students should say the 1S of the verb while they are acting it out (but only if the teacher says ‘Magistra Dicit’!)

 Animal Game: 

  • All the children line up on one side of the room or playground.
  • The student who is ‘it’ says name of an animal in Latin.
  • All the students act like that animal (slither on the ground like a snake, gallop like a horse …) to get to other side of the room or playground.

  Parsing Game:

  • Show a card with a verb or noun ending.
  • For verbs, students identify the subject pronoun for that verb ending (e.g. students identify the card “-MUS” as “We”)
  • For nouns, students identify the case of the noun, or the role the noun would play in a sentence (e.g. Nominative for Subject, Dative for Indirect Object etc.)
  • This is a good game to do in teams and award points for each correct answer.

Latin Baseball:

  • You can also use games like this for ‘baseball’
  • The team that is up to bat – instead of hitting a ball with the bat, they stand at home plate and then answer a question.  Easier questions send the player to first base, a harder question would go to second or third base …  If the student answers correctly, they run to their base.  If they do not give the correct answer, it’s a strike.  They get three tries just like in baseball – three wrong mean’s they’ve struck out.
  • For the team that is in the field – they just get one question – if they get it right, they have caught the ball and the student that is running the bases is out.

Match the Endings:

  • Buy some magnets and attached cards to them with verb stems, connecting vowels, and endings.  You need two sets of all of these – one for each team.
  • The teacher says a verb like – we were calling
  • Each team (or individual) goes up to the white board and has a set time, about 15 or 20 seconds, to form the word
  • Students have to select the correct stem, ‘infix’, and ending:  vocā – ba - mus

 Jump rope chants:

  • Young students love chanting verbs and nouns
  • Encourage them to carry this out to the playground – inventing their own jump rope chants for Latin noun declensions and verb conjugations.  Wherever one student jumps out, the next one jumps in and picks up the chant where the first one left off.

Variation on Chanting:

  • The student who is ‘it’ gets to choose how the chant will be done
  • e.g.
    • The student says ‘magna voce’ = ‘with a big voice’ – and everyone says the chant very loudly.
    • The student says ‘lente’ = ‘slowly’ and everyone chants it very slowly
    • The student says ‘cantu’ = by means of a song – and everyone sings the chant in a fancy operatic voice
    • You can combine this with animals too – the student says “similis pullō’ = ‘like a chicken’ and the students all bend their arms like chicken wings and flap their arms while they do the chant.

Some Favorite Latin Songs for Children from the Classical Learning Resource Center

Old MacDonald

(MacDonald) Senex habebat fundum E-I, E-I, O

Et in fundo habebat vaccam (use the accusative form) E-I, E-I, O

Cum “moo moo” hic, cum “moo moo” illic

Hic – “moo”, illic – “moo”, ubique “moo-moo”

(MacDonald) Senex habebat fundum E-I, E-I, O

Nominative                                         Accusative

horse: equus                                        equum

dog:  canis                                           canem

cow: vacca                                           vaccam

pig:  porcus                                          porcum

cat:  feles                                              felem

sheep:  ovis                                          ovem

lamb:  agnus                                        agnum

chicken:  pullus                                    pullum

hen:  gallina                                         gallinam

rooster:  gallus                                     gallum

geese:  anser                                        anserem

bull:  taurus                                          taurum


Happy Birthday

Felix natalis tibi

Felix natalis tibi

Felix natalis care (boy’s name)  cara (girl’s name)

Felix natalis tibi

 

Frater Jacob (Frère Jacques)

Surge, surge,

Frater Jacob,

Dormisne?

Dormisne?

Iam campanae sonant,

Iam campanae sonant,

Din don don,

Din don don!

If You’re Happy

Si te esse scis felicem                        Verte sic!

Plaude sic                                            Ride sic!

Si te esse scis felicem                        Canta sic!

Plaude sic                                            Pulsa sic!

Si te esse scis felicem                        Sali sic!

Fortunatum et beatum                     Clama “sum”!

Si te esse scis felicem

Plaude sic!

These three songs work well as a round:


She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain

Transportabit montem illa visens nos,

Transportabit montem illa visens nos,

Transportabit montem illa,

Transportabit montem illa,

Transportabit montem illa visens nos.


O When the Saints

Cum intrant caelum sancti,

Cum intrant caelum sancti,

Annumerari in his vellem,

Cum intrant caelum sancti.


Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Veni de caelo, currum!

Domum, oro, porta me!

Veni de caelo, currum!

Domum, oro, porta me!

Anne Van Fossen, M.A., CLRC Classical Languages Program Director

Anne-Anne Van Fossen  spent seven years working with her husband, John, to found a Christian Classical K-8 school in California. Anne was the Director of Program and Curriculum Development and head of the Ancient Languages Department. She has over 15 years of experience teaching classical Greek and Latin to all ages from Kindergarten to adult. Anne earned her Master’s degree in Classics from the University of California at Santa Barbara where she was awarded the Keith Aldridge Memorial Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement in the Classics and taught Greek Mythology, Classical Archaeology, Greek Civilization, and Greek Tragedy as a teaching assistant for four years. Anne earned her bachelor’s degree in Physics and Chemistry (summa cum laude) from Mount Holyoke College and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi Societies. Anne lives in Naples, Idaho where she homeschools her three sons with her husband. She loves reading, running, and romping with her boys.