Tag Archives: Classical education

Learning Latin With Stories (Crew Review)

Olim Review
The one thing that has intimidated me about classical education is Latin.  I never studied it myself, which makes it a little scary to try to teach, as much as I can see the value in it.  When we got a chance to review a fun Latin program from Laurelwood Books, I decided this would be an easy way to get our feet wet.  We received the Olim, Once upon a Time in Latin, Reader I and Olim, Once Upon a time in Latin, Workbook I, which use familiar stories to help teach Latin.

About Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin

The Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin series has six levels, each consisting of a small softcover reader and a corresponding full-size softcover workbook.  The readers have fairy tales, fables, or Bible studies retold in simple English followed by a Latin translation, and can be used by themselves.  The workbooks, however, are really helpful as they walk the student through each page with various vocabulary exercises, as well as teaching helpful Latin grammar lessons.

Olim Workbook and Reader
The Volume I Reader is 57 pages long and starts with instructions in how to use the reader, a guide for “How to Pronounce Latin,” and a list of Roman Numerals.  Then it contains three stories: “The Three Little Pigs,” ” The Tortoise and the Hare,” and “The Crow and the Pitcher.”  Each story is presented in its in entirety in English with simple illustrations.  Then it is repeated in Latin with a vocabulary key on each page for new Latin words.

Olim Reader
The 80-page workbook really helps students get the most out of each story.  There are 30 pages for “The Three Little Pigs” alone, consisting of translation exercises, matching worksheets, and “Digging Deeper” features, which teach related grammar concepts.  An answer key is in the back of the workbook.

Our Experience

Ian readingI presented the whole subject as if we were working with a code, and we needed to figure out the messages written in Latin, and figure out how to put our own messages back into the code.  Right from the very first lesson, the boys caught on quickly and enjoyed figuring out the Latin words in the reader.

This series is intended for 2nd grade through 5th grade, so I knew Ian (8) would be ready for it.  However, I was pretty sure Elijah (6) could also get a lot out of it even though he couldn’t quite handle the amount of writing in the workbook.

I often found it easier to work with one boy at a time so that they each were able to sit close and study the reader.  Here’s what a lesson looked like for us:

  1. Read 1 page of the story in English
  2. Keeping my finger on the English page, I turned to the corresponding Latin page.
  3. I read through one sentence in Latin, then flipped back to the English page and had the student try to figure out which words “matched” based on similarities to English (necesse-necessary), roots that I could explain (“What do you do at an exit?  You go out.  So ‘exire’ means to go out.”), or words we’d already translated (erat/erant).
  4. After we had read through the entire page sentence by sentence, we pulled out the workbook to work on the vocabulary exercise that went with that lesson.  (I talked Elijah through these, but Ian was able to complete them mostly independently.)
  5. I went through the “Digging Deeper” pages on my own and taught them that material as a separate lesson.

Olim Digging Deeper
Because we are completely new to Latin, this was a learning experience for all of us.  I used the “Digging Deeper” pages in the workbook more like a Teacher’s Manual, and then I presented to information to the boys a little bit at a time using a whiteboard.  It just seemed a little too overwhelming to put a full page of explanations in front of either of them.

Overall, we really enjoyed this first exposure to Latin.  I discovered that Ian has a quick mind for learning languages, and he zipped through these lessons on his own.  I’ll definitely have to consider purchasing the next volume in the series.  If you want to try them out, Laurelwood Books is offering my readers a 20% discount, good until August 15, 2016.  Just enter discount code: blogger121.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}
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Online Bible Course from Veritas Press (Crew Review)

Veritas Press Bible Review
As much as I love teaching my children, I have found that sometimes I need them to work independently, and Veritas Press has proven to be a great place to turn.  Last year Ian went through one of the online Self-Paced History courses, and Elijah has been eager to have a turn.  He was thrilled to get to try their online Self-Paced Bible course “Old Testament 1: Genesis to Joshua.”

Veritas Bible 6

About Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible Courses

Veritas Press Bible Image
Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible Courses are interactive online lessons that take students through the Bible chronologically.  There are 32 events covered in “Old Testament 1: Genesis to Joshua,” corresponding to the Veritas Press Bible cards.  Each card is covered in 4 lessons (including the quiz at the end). It is possible to do the course without having the physical cards, but I decided to go ahead and purchase them, and I was glad I did.  Elijah liked having something tangible to refer back to, and he used them with almost every lesson.

VP Bible Cards
During the lesson two young Israelites, Asher and Abigail, act as teachers or guides, walking the student through the story (with a little help from an animated cat, Teb).

Veritas Bible 3
There are lots of different activities, such as putting events in order, matching up definitions, a catchy memory tune that covers all 32 events, and even fun games.  Students do need to be able to read to complete most of the activities, so these courses are intended for 2nd-5th grade.  (Scriptures used come from the New King James Version.)

Veritas Bible 1
Following the classical style, students memorize names, dates, and places, gaining a solid foundation of biblical understanding that will prepare them for delving deeper in the Bible as they grow older and move into more advanced stages of learning.

Veritas Bible 4
Veritas Press Self-Paced Courses are all online.  The student logs in and is automatically sent to the correct lesson.  (If they stopped in the middle of one, they can choose to pick up right where they left off.)  Quizzes are graded, it’s easy to see how they have done on each lesson by looking at their student dashboard (or signing in as a parent).

There are actually two options for going through these lessons.  The first is the Self-Paced Course Elijah is doing, where the student has one year to work through all the lessons, and they are graded on how they do on the quizzes.  The other choice is a monthly or yearly subscription to VeritasBible.com, including an option for a family subscription that allows multiple students to use the program.  With VeritasBible.com, they can also access the lessons from ALL the available Bible courses (both Old and New Testaments).  While I usually try to find resources that can benefit several of my children, this time I opted for the Self-Paced course because I felt like having a deadline to get through all the lessons would help us stay more disciplined about getting through the entire program, plus I was only going to have Elijah using it this year.

Our Experience

Veritas Bible 5Because Ian went through one of the Veritas Press history courses last year, Elijah went into this course with certain expectations.  Some things were the same, but there were also several differences.  His favorite thing about the history lessons had been the games.  He watched Ian get to play a new one every week and was so excited to start his own course so he could play games like that too.  Unfortunately, for the first several weeks there were no games.  He was really disappointed, and it was hard to get him motivated to sign on and do his Bible lesson.

Thankfully, when he got to the Flood, he found a game very similar to one from Ian’s course.  From that point on, Elijah gladly worked through his lessons.  The games continue to be his favorite part.

Here are the main ways this Bible course compared with the self-paced history courses:

  • Still 32 cards (for 32 weeks) but only 4 lessons for each card rather than 5
  • The Bible lessons are a bit shorter (13-14 slides each)
  • Similar activity pages
  • Not a game for every week
  • Continual review of what’s been learned previously so students master the material

My Opinion

I am really pleased with this Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible course and have already signed Elijah up for the next course, Old Testament 2: Judges – Kings to start once he completes this one.  (If you purchase before July 11 you can save $100 off the price of the course and set the start date for any time up through September 1!) I love the solid Biblical foundation Elijah is getting through this program and want to keep adding onto it.

Other Crew Member took a look at different courses, and some received a subscription to VeritasBible.com, so if you want to learn more, click on the banner below to see what they thought of those options.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas ReviewCrew Disclaimer

The Conversation (Crew Book Review)

Bortins Conversation Review
I recently jumped at the chance to review The Conversation: Challenging Your Student with a Classical Education by Leigh A. Bortins.  Published by Classical Conversations, this book completes a trilogy about homeschooling children through the three stages of a classical Christian education.

If you know me, you might be asking, “Why are you reading a book about classical education in high school?”  After all, my oldest child is 7, and we don’t exactly follow a “classical method” of homeschooling.   To put it simply, I always like to know what’s ahead before I get there, and while I’ve never dived in to classical homeschooling, what I do know about it intrigues me (I think we’ve adopted some of the elements into our rather eclectic style), and I thought this would be a good opportunity to find out more.

About the Book

the-conversation-coming-summer-of-2015-10.gif_zpshfavqygsIn case you’re not familiar with the classical method, it breaks down the child’s education into three stages: grammar (which teaches children to “acquire lots of knowledge and facts about the world”-p.39), dialectic (which teaches them to “assess and order that information” so that they can understand it-p.39), and rhetoric (in which students “write essays, present hypotheses, lead discussions with others, and act on the knowledge they have gained about a new subject”-p.35).  In her previous books (The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education and The Question: Teaching Your Child the Essentials of Classical Education), Bortins covers the first two stages, and now she completes the trilogy by covering the final stage.

The Conversation is written in two parts.  Bortins first reviews the classical method, explaining the five “canons” of classical education:

  1. Invention
  2. Arrangement
  3. Elocution
  4. Memory
  5. Delivery

She encourages parents who might be intimidated by the thought of homeschooling through high school by laying out why the classical approach works so well with students at this age.

Then in the second part of the book, Bortins goes through individual subjects, using the five canons as a framework for leading students through the “rhetorical arts.”  I expected subjects like reading, writing, and especially speech and debate, but I was surprised to read how she also applied the five canons to subjects like math, science, and foreign language.

Our Experience

Even though we’re still many years away from high school, I found this book inspiring and encouraging.  When people find out we homeschool I’m often asked, “How long do you plan to do that?”  They always seem either skeptical or in awe that I plan to go all the way through high school, Lord willing.  In this book, Bortins has given me much food for thought, and I’ll be able to give a much more articulate response the next time I’m faced with this question.  I now find myself excited about homeschooling my children during the high school years.

I learned so much about the classical method from reading The Conversation.  I had never heard of the five canons, but as I read about them I found myself looking back over my own education and realizing how helpful it would have been to have those concepts put into such terms.  The whole process made so much sense, and I felt like I was finally finding words for things I had intrinsically understood during my school years.

Everything I learned in reading this book makes me want to find about more about the classical method. During Ian’s preschool years I felt drawn to other approaches, but as he’s moved into the elementary grades things weren’t always feeling natural to me and I found myself making a lot of adjustments.  Reading about the classical method made me feel like I’d found something that fits my style better.  I’ll probably always be rather eclectic in my methods, but I feel that learning all I can about different approaches will give me more “tools” from which to choose as I educate my children.  So I’ve ordered The Core and The Question and I look forward to diving into them soon!

Classical Conversations Review
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