One reason for the study of Latin is that it is rigorous—translating is similar to working mathematical equations. I love this about Latin. I also love the fact that eventually I will be able to read ancient writings myself; I will be able to appreciate Cicero not only for what he said, but how he said it.
Our children, however, may not appreciate these lofty goals and to be honest, reaching these goals will require hard work over several years. Helping our students develop a positive attitude about Latin early on may help motivate them when the translating gets tough. I have found a few ways to liven up Latin with my Challenge class. You might want to try these ideas at home with your family over the summer or work with your director to plan something for your CC community or Challenge class.
A very easy way to have fun with Latin is to plan a Roman feast. This sounds like a big deal, but you can have a fun and educational experience without going to a lot of trouble. My Challenge class had a Roman feast during lunch on week 15, which was the perfect time because it was just before Christmas break and the Foundations students were not on campus, so we had the fellowship hall all to ourselves. I asked the students to do a little research on their own to find out what a Roman feast would have been like. They brought their research and together we decided on a menu, and they decided who would bring what dishes.
Dress up: Have all your guests wear a simple toga by wrapping a bed sheet over regular clothes. (I do not get too caught up in authenticity, so if someone wears a toga with Superman on it, I think that is fine. I do recommend the flat sheet, not the fitted.)
Location: Spread blankets on the floor so everyone can lounge while they eat. At the church, I laid two tables flat on the floor to make a smooth surface for our food, but at home you might use a low coffee table or just the floor covered with a table cloth or picnic blanket.
Food: Dried figs, broiled lamb or chicken wings, grapes, cherries, pita bread, shrimp, and grape juice are just a few ideas. You can find more elaborate options for food by doing a search online if you wish.
Entertainment: After everyone has enjoyed eating, relaxing, and talking, you might want to learn more about the ancient Romans. I asked my students to prepare a little educational entertainment. I suggested they research some aspect of ancient Roman culture and tell us about it. Being smart, classically educated students, of course, they went beyond my expectations. One student composed an original poem about ancient Rome and read it to us. Several researched interesting topics and prepared a formal presentation with visuals. A group of four students performed “The Three Little Pigs” in Latin and again in English (complete with pig and wolf ears in addition to their togas). The students had found a script for the short play online and had practiced their pronunciation and it was truly hilarious. We picked up a few new Latin vocabulary words, too!
My students and I enjoyed our feast so much; I hope it will become an annual tradition for our CC community. I may find a way to have a similar experience for the Foundations students to tie in with Cycle 1. The Roman feast is a great way to build positive attitudes and liven up Latin.