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Easy Games for Beginning Latin

October 14, 2010
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I brought these ideas up at park day last week when a mom asked about when she could start working on Latin with her young children, which made me think some of you might like to hear about them too.

“The Slapping Game”

Get a set of English from the Roots Up Cards (there are two sets available). Or you can make your own (with help from a website listing Greek and Latin roots like this one). Root word is on the front (a color can be used to identify whether it’s Greek or Latin), English translation and possibly derivatives on the back. My kids (and  their friends when we’ve done it as part of a class) love what has come to be known as “The Slapping Game”.

Lay out about six cards at a time with the root word facing up. You call out the English translation and the kids try to be the first one to slap the correct card (they should keep their hand on the card until you tell them which one is right – sometimes there are two correct answers if you have the Greek and Latin versions of the same word out at the same time).  To make the game more smoothly I have a rule that they can’t talk during the game unless they raise their hand. If they do talk, they have to give up one of their cards. We’ve had a lot of fun with this game and found it very motivating for the kids to study the words at home on their own.

Root-Word Certamen

Certamen is kind of a team game show played by Latin scholars in Junior Classical League competitions and such. (You can read more about Certamen on the hand-dandy Wikipedia page.) The game consists of 15 or 20 questions on a wide variety of topics. These “toss-up” questions are worth 10 points each. If your team answers a toss-up question correctly, they also get a chance to answer two bonus questions, worth 5 points each.

We do a simplified version of this, also with the English from the Roots Up Cards. I hold up a card that everyone gets a chance to translate. The team with the correct translation gets 10 points. Then they are invited (for a possible 5 points each) to identify English derivatives of the word.

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