Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Song School Latin

This year Latin was a new subject for us. (See article: Why studyLatin?)
We’ve completed the Song School Latin 1 program, and let me tell you: We absolutely LOVED it!

Every time I announced it was time for our Latin lesson, the kids would actually cheer. I repeat:  They would actually cheer about Latin! I wanted a program that would give my kids a good first impression of Latin.  My goal was to whet their appetite for the language and give them motivation to complete the more rigorous studies of the language to follow in future years. Song School Latin filled the bill! We have all learned a lot, and even my 2 year old is speaking in complete sentences in Latin.  (This was not our intended goal, but a funny thing he has picked up through informal exposure!)

We are using the Song School Latin Package with DVD which is priced at $78.95 on Rainbow Resource. This package comes with:

Components of the Program

1)  Student Text and Song CD:
(Listen to samples of Songs here. View inside the workbook here.)

The heart and soul of the program can be found in the Student text and included song CD.  You will need this book at a minimum to teach the program.    The book is consumable, so you will need a book for every student in your house.    Inside the book you will find 31 lessons (including review lessons).  

Each student book contains a copy of the song CD inside a pouch on the back cover.  The Song CD contains 31 songs and chants in both Ecclesiastical and Classical pronunciation. (Different pronunciations are separated into different tracks for ease of use.)    These songs/chants are very catchy to help re-enforce the vocabulary taught on the DVD program.  Older children might consider the songs to be too "babyish".  (At least, I have heard this comment from friends of mine.)   However, our family did not feel this way at all.   We all liked the songs and felt they were very useful tools for memorizing the vocabulary.  You will have to listen to samples and decide for yourself!

2)  Song School Latin 1 DVD.
(See Sample DVD Lesson Here. This is very typical of all of the lessons.) 

The DVD program is not required, but I highly recommend it.   I think that it is one of the reasons my kids have been so successful for Latin this year.   It is a very fun and effective extra.   Plus, it has made the subject really easy for me to teach.    This has been my busiest year with homeschooling to date, so I appreciate the help of an experience magistra when it comes to teaching Latin.  

The DVD is really well done in my opinion, and manages to teach a lot of information in a fun way. I am a huge fan of Memoria Press Latin, but I have to admit that the Classical Academic Press DVD has a much higher production value.   Plus, it is a lot more fun.

The DVD contains 24 lessons. (One for each new topic in the book. Review chapters do not have an associated DVD lesson.) Parents can VERY easily choose which Latin pronunciation they want to use with their children using the menu on the DVD.  (This was not the case with Prima Latina which we have also used.)

Each lesson starts out with an introduction from a "lively magistra". The magistra introduces the vocabulary and grammar lesson.   This portion of the program contains some very "artistic" cinematography. The camera sort of focuses on unrelated things as the lady is talking.  My children found this distracting. I heard one of my children say, "Why are they showing a spatula when they are talking about the word Magistra?" (See sample lesson to see what I am talking about.) I personally liked the way the program was filmed.  I think it looks nice.  However, I thought I would mention the reaction of my children.

The DVD program then continues with a funny animated skit staring a silly monkey named Simeon. In the skits, the characters speak mostly in English, but sprinkle in any known Latin vocabulary.  My children all love this part of the DVD program.  Even my two year old looks forward to our "monkey taught Latin program".

Next, the program continues with the "Derivative River" portion of the lesson. These lessons are taught by Dr. Christopher Perin, and show how common Spanish, French, and English words are derived from the new Latin vocabulary. I really like this part of the DVD lesson. (One of the reasons we are studying Latin in the first place is to increase our vocabulary.) I will be honest and warn you that that most kids will not find these parts of the lesson thrilling. They are VERY well done, but not exactly fun. (It is hard to compete with an animated monkey when you are dealing with young children.) My children are picking up new vocabulary words from watching the DVDs.       (They especially enjoy using the word defenstrate in conversation now.

3)  Monkey Match Flashcards 
(Download sample of these cards here.)

These flashcards are sturdy and colorful.  One set includes the words/phrases in Latin; the other set contains the same words translated in English.   The flashcards are nicely color coded so you can quickly sort them by chapter.   The cards include instruction for playing memory, Go Fish, Old Maid, and many more.   I think they are a nice extra if your kids enjoy reviewing with games.

4)  Teacher's Manual 
(See inside the teacher's manual here.)
The teacher's manual was nicely formatted and well laid out.   However, I found that I didn't really need it to teach the program.   All of the answers to the student textbook are fairly obvious.   (Even to me, and I have NO experience with Latin.   I am just learning along with the kids.)   The teachers manual also includes some other ideas on how to teach the lesson.   However, I have never implemented any of these ideas in my home.

5)  Headventureland.com
(Subscription is not included in the package).
Classical Academic Press also has a website made for review called Headventureland.   (See intro video here.)  On this website, kids can review Song School Latin by playing video games, watching fun movies, downloading board games, and more.   Kids earn badges and can compete with other Song School Latin users for top score.   The first three chapters of Song School Latin are free on this site.   So parents can try it out and see how they like it.   After that, students will need to pay $19.95 per year to join the site.   We did end up paying for a subscription, and my kids have enjoyed the fun review games.   I put headventureland.com on their independent work checklist everyday.

6)  Various Free Resources
Parents can also download free MP3 files which contain all of the pronunciations for each chapter.   (We use these weekly for review!)   In addition, there are also other free resources available for Song School Latin online including coloring pages.    My two year old often wants to be included in "school", so I can give him a coloring sheet to scribble on so he feels included. However, I would imagine that 4-5 year olds tagging along would enjoy these sheets even more.  
Marcus takes Monkey Match very seriously!  He's got his game face on.  :)


We try to do a few minutes of Latin everyday. I think this is really important when learning a new language. I find that we typically spend anywhere from 5-15 minutes on Latin per day. This is much less time than we were spending with Prima Latina.   Although that is because: 1) My kids are on the upper end of the age range with SSL and the lower end of the age range of Prima Latina, and 2) Prima Latina covers a lot more Latin vocabulary, phrases, and grammar than SSL.   Song School Latin is more of a fun introduction.

Song School Latin 1 contains 31 lessons.   Each lesson is meant to take approximately 1 week, which equates to a full school year of Latin with some slack time built in for holidays and review.   I think this would be true if you were using it with the lower end of the recommended age range.   However, we find that working at a very easy pace, we are able to complete approximately 1-2 lessons per week.

Typical Week of Study for Us:

Day 1: Watch the DVD

My children really enjoy the DVD that comes with this program. I watch along with the children as I have NO experience speaking Latin. This helps me know how to pronounce the vocabulary and phrases.

Day 2: Listen to Song CD and Pronunciations

 free pronunciation mp3 files here.)

The next day we will listen to the songs for the chapter.   We also listen to the short pronunciation file just to make sure we are saying the words correctly.  

Day 3: Added Practice (only if needed)

The next day I will quiz the kids orally on their vocabulary for all chapters covered so far. If I feel that they have things pretty well wrapped up, we skip this day and move on to Day 4.    If there is hesitation, I go ahead and review for another day or two. 

If we need more practice, we will review the vocabulary in several fun ways. Classical Academic Press's motto is "classical subjects creatively taught." And I find that is REALLY a true statement. They somehow take all of these very challenging subjects and find fun ways to teach and review them. We have caught on to this spirit of instruction and have invented several fun ways to review Latin.

1) Monkey Match Review Game-

2) Headventure Land

3) Latin Dance Party--I don't mean Latin as in music from Latin America, I mean Latin as in....um....Latin. I will play the Song School Latin CD and we all sort of dance around to the songs and have fun.   This sounds very simple, but my kids love our Latin Dance Parties.

4) Roman Soldier Review Game-- This is a review game my 9 year old son made up that has become a family tradition this school year. In this review game, one of the kids pretends to be a Roman Solider on patrol. He stops someone else and starts to speak to them in Latin. If they can't remember a word or answer a question, we know they are a spy and not a Roman citizen so we arrest them. My students have cracked me up during this game. They have dressed up as Greek slaves, old peasants, and other creative costumes using towels, sheets, and whatever else we can find.

5)  Throuhout the Day Latin Review-  We also have a running game where we are not aloud to say any of the English words that we know the Latin words for.   If someone catches you, they are aloud to demand a favor.    (This was a game created by my 7 year old daughter.)

As you can see, we have had a LOT of fun learning Latin this year.  

Day 4: Workbook

Once I feel like they have the vocabulary down, I have them complete the pages in the Song School Latin student textbook. My kids are reading and writing fluently, so these workbook pages are really easy for them. (This would not have been the case if we had started this program even one year earlier!) They can complete an entire chapter in one day very easily, and they are able to do this independently. (Again, I would not expect this with a younger child.)

Final Thoughts

I think that this has been one of my busiest years ever as a homeschooling mom!   Not only do we have a very full curriculum, I also have a two year old in the mix.  (That really complicates things.)   Song School Latin has made it very easy to give my children an introduction to Latin.    However, that is exactly what Song School Latin is meant to be:  a light introduction to Latin.   That is perfect for us.  However, If you are looking for a more in depth study, you might be better off with a different program. 


  • Quick!   It takes only a handful of minutes per day to complete.   
  • FUN!   I can't tell you how much fun we are having with this class.
  • My 2nd and 3rd grade students can work through the workbook mostly on their own.   
  • I can quickly review latin vocabulary anytime and anywhere thanks to the MP3 pronunciations, song files, and DVD.  (I can't tell you how many times we have completed Latin in the car on the way to some club or activity.)  
  • Not a lot of writing.   I can see this as a pro if you are using this with very young children, or children with learning disabilities.  


  • Not as thorough of an introduction as some other beginning Latin Programs.  (Example:  Prima Latina).  Your children will NOT be fluent in Latin at the end of this program.   They will only be exposed to some vocabulary.
  • Very little grammar covered.
  • Some kids complain that the songs are "babyish"  (We did not feel that way, but I have heard that complaint.)

Note: Rainbow Resource was generous enough to give me a copy of the Song School Latin DVD package to review for my readers in exchange for my honest opinions.    All of the opinions in this article are my own.  



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