First of all, it was raining quite heavily, and the children's mood was affected by the weather - we were inside, and as a few of the children were unable to make it for the final class, the group was smaller. In itself, that was not a problem. The recap from the last few weeks went very well: I laminated some paper objects which I hid and the children loved finding and with which we then did some counting games. They were very keen to hold on to the golden coins particularly, so I must remember to make more of those next year. We recapped the yoga exercises too and they remembered all the words: kinaesthetic learning comes really easily to them.
So far so good. When I told them we were going to sing 'Let it go' in Latin, they were very happy - and the ukulele was received with enthusiasm. However, when we actually started... one of the children refused to sing along - said they didn't like singing in front of other people. That immediately made the others more self-conscious. They didn't get the first pre-reading exercise at all and got bored reading through the lines waiting for their own to appear. I then tried to get them to sing the whole song - three of them did enjoy this and actually asked me to keep going, but as the others clearly didn't and were getting bored, I changed tactics completely.
We ended up doing more counting games with the parachute and the ball, and did pictionary for quite a while: they were completely happy drawing femina fortunata or deus iratus and we played this game until the end of the class as they kept asking me to give them more challenges.
I found this the trickiest class of them all and wish I had not wanted to move them to a level that was too complicated. I thought, as they all clearly knew the song by heart in English, that would make the step to the Latin fairly straightforward. I was wrong: it's clear that for this age group, working at the level of Latin words and phrases - integrated in English sentences - works very well: through games (parachute, ball games, yoga, tag, hide and seek) and craft (painting, drawing, making clay coins) we covered the difference between masculine and feminine of the first and second declension, verbs in the imperative and the first and second person present indicative of the verb to be, adjectives and their agreement with nouns, numerals 0-10 and adding and subtracting in Latin, and of course connections between Latin and English and the basics of how to play with derivatives. Any reading or writing was approached far more reluctantly - it's clear that this approach worked better in the homework when the words had already been learned through play.
The children were amazing and I was really pleasantly surprised at their level of engagement and commitment: homework was promptly returned by most of them at the start of each class, and they were eager to find out more. Even tricky words were embraced through the derivatives. The break in the middle of each class - with juice/water and biscuits - helped them bond and engage in the informal atmosphere. (Btw for some reason this group didn't like dressing up, but I think that might have had more to do with the hot weather than anything else.)
Overall, then, I think the course went really well. I got to know all the children well by the end of the classes and had a great time seeing their linguistic understanding develop and engage with their peers, myself, and Josh. I'm a little gutted I got it wrong in the final class - but if I hadn't tried it, I would've regretted it so I'm glad I did. The children didn't seem to mind and I learned a lot about the educational needs of that specific age group: keeping it simple and very playful have to be the key messages.
Written by Evelien Bracke, Project Coordinator, 14 July 2014