I’m giving some explanation in this initial aside before I launch into my story. We’ve been using Prima Latina as our latin program in 2014* so that all of us had a gentle introduction to Latin. While I am a secular home educator, my children are also being raised in the Catholic Church by their father, so I have been understanding of the religious overtones of the Prima Latina program, while still educating the children to understand its religious context in the larger world.
The Bigs love the review game I’ve created to practice translation and to help remember derivatives. I give a phrase or vocabulary word in either English or Latin and they are expected to give the corresponding translation in either Latin or English. I count down from ten (decem, novem, octo, septem, sex, quinque, quattuor, tres, duo, unus) and they flip their white boards around to show me the word(s) they’ve written. For each correctly spelled translation they get, they receive one point. If they’ve gotten the translation correct, they also have the opportunity to earn bonus points for each correctly spelled derivative they write. For each correct phrase, depending on its difficulty, they can each earn two or four points.
Instead of the game being competitive, which I discourage in general, it’s cooperative. I add up all the points they’ve earned together and for every 25 points, they each earn one house point. House points can be traded in for video game time, TV time, and other fun goodies that are otherwise restricted. (Other ways to earn house points are by doing their chores correctly and on time, helping Mom without complaining, reading stories to the Littles, and any other behavior that we want to encourage in our house.)
We’re doing some review this week, so I gave the Bigs the following phrase in Latin: Sicut erat in principio. I announced it would be worth four points each. Nate groaned and immediately said he had no idea what it meant, but he’d guess. He screwed up his face, thought really hard, and wiggled a bit as he wrestled through all the Latin he knows. Once I started counting backwards from ten in Latin, Nate suddenly appeared very anxious and furiously scribbled his guess.
“Decem, novem, octo, septem, sex, quinque, quattuor, tres, duo, unus,” I droned. They flipped their boards. Sammi’s was empty. Here was Nate’s:
“Gory be to the father,”** it read. Gory be. I couldn’t contain my laughter. He looked puzzled and then flipped the board around and read it again. By this point, Sammi had joined in the chortling. Nate snickered. I begged him to let me take a picture and post it (not that I ever actually have to beg; he loves to share).
Gory be to the father.
The next time I hear the “Glory Be” while in the church, I’m probably going to inappropriately bust out laughing.
* Our school year runs the first Monday after New Years Day until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
**Sicut erat in principio is translated as “As it was in the beginning” in our program, so it wasn’t only spelled hilariously incorrectly, but also translated incorrectly.