First Form Latin: A Little Review

We have been studying Latin in our homeschool this year, which I am so excited about! I am really enjoying learning this language along with my kids. Quite possibly, I am enjoying it much more than they are;). But they are humoring me and going along with it, so all is good. Today, I want to share a bit about First Form Latin, which I am using this year with my ninth and seventh graders.

First of all, I am a huge fan of this program! I only wish I had found it earlier in our homeschool journey. We have been using First Form Latin for about ten weeks now and it is going so well. This program is very understandable and teacher-friendly even to me, someone with very little Latin experience! The lessons are clearly laid out and we were able to quickly develop a good routine for going through them, which I will share below.

For First Form Latin, I purchased the “complete set”, plus duplicates for some items.
This includes the following:

  • Teacher’s manual
  • Student texts for each of my boys
  • Student workbooks ~ one for each of my boys, plus one for me to work in alongside them
  • Teacher key with answers to the exercises and quizzes
  • DVD
  • Audio CD 
  • A booklet of reproducible quizzes
  • Flashcards
  • In addition to the above I purchased:
    • The First Form Latin schedule from Memoria Press – I love having a daily schedule; this one keeps me on track and tells me what exercises to do each day ~ and it has boxes I can check!
    • Desk charts (not shown) ~ I will confess I have not used these grammar helps yet, but writing this post reminded me that I should get them out!
    • Lingua Angelica set ~ I loved the idea of listening to Latin hymns as part of our learning so I also purchased this set, which includes an audio CD, teacher’s manual, student workbook, and songbook.  We have not been using the workbooks at all, so in retrospect, I could have done without them. We just listen and follow along with the lyrics in the songbook.
    So how do we do all this?
    On Mondays (typically) we watch the lecture for our assigned lesson. I feel like this time gives me a little break and really, we could not do this program without “our” Latin teacher. Hearing someone else explain something really helps those words on the page sink in!

    After we watch the DVD lessons (about 20 minutes) we head to the kitchen table and get out our textbooks. Each lesson contains assigned Latin grammar questions for us to go over, and Monday is typically the day we do this. This takes about 5-10 minutes. Next, it’s on to the heart of the lesson.

    Each FFL lesson contains several  components and I try to review each component each day we do Latin. We typically start with a recitation, then review the Latin saying and vocabulary for the week. Next we have “chalk talk” where we learn about conjugating various forms of the verbs and other grammar points.  We are usually told to conjugate a couple of the new verbs on a white board.  Then, on subsequent days we slowly work on conjugating the rest of the verbs on the white board.  Teaching the lesson takes about 10-15 minutes, on average, usually a bit more the first day.
    Next, we do the assigned exercises (from the MP schedule). As I mentioned above, I purchased a student workbook for myself and I do the exercises right along with my boys. This has made a HUGE difference to me  in learning and teaching Latin! The exercises usually take 15-20 minutes to complete, after which we all check our answers together. I am not sure why one of my kiddos is working with a sock on his hand, but whatever works, right?


    After we check our answers, we listen to our assigned Lingua Angelica song for that lesson – we usually listen to it twice.

    On subsequent days, we review each lesson for about 15 minutes, then do our exercises. Typical exercise include filling in tense ending charts, working with derivatives, writing out the saying, and working on translations. And each day we listen to our assigned hymn. On Wednesdays (or the third day of our lesson) we use the audio CD to review. I try to do Latin five days a week, though we don’t always get to it.

    On Fridays, we do the oral drill from the lesson and go over flashcards. Then, we all take the quiz for that lesson, and we are ready to move on to the next lesson.

    I honestly cannot think of anything negative to say about this program – it is well-laid out and organized and makes Latin so much easier for me to understand and teach than other programs I have tried. My hope is that we will be able to continue on with Second Form Latin next year.

    Woodworking for Homeschoolers

    My boys (ages 14 and 12) requested woodworking for their art program this year. They are pretty handy with tools and loved the idea of building things for schoolwork. We researched several books and they eventually settled on The All-New Woodworking for Kids.

    This book is the only resource ~ besides tools and wood ~ we need for this year’s woodworking. It lays out step-by-step, easy-to-follow instructions with plenty of photos, and my two have had no trouble completing their projects independently. I love that they can do this totally on their own!
     The book begins with a section covering different types of tools, safety measures to take, and technique. I had each of my boys read through this section before they started their first project. Here are a couple of the projects they have already completed:
    A miter box

    A toolbox (they each made their own)
    They are currently working on making their own workbench ~ that one’s taking a while because it’s a bigger project and we’ve had a couple of Fridays off. Typically, they devote 2-3 hours on Fridays to their current project, which has been working well. We have a lighter day on Fridays, so the sawing and hammering aren’t as disruptive to the girls. They handle these projects mostly by themselves, with occasional input from their Dad. I failed woodshop (seriously) so I told them upfront I was not going to be much help. They have really taken off on their own with this, which has been nice to see.
    We turned a corner of the basement over to them for their projects. I would post a photo of their work area, but our basement isn’t terribly photogenic;). They have an old workbench down there, plus a large folding table to lay out their tools. My rule for them after finishing each project is that they look ahead to the next one, decide what materials need to be purchased, and text their Dad a list. He picks up the supplies when he gets a chance, and they are ready to go for the following Friday.
    Woodworking is a huge hit in our homeschool this year and I am looking forward to the other projects they will build this year! As for my other kiddos, Rose isn’t quite ready for woodworking and Grace had no interest, otherwise I would have loved to get them involved too. I’ll share what my girls are doing for art in a future post.

    Till next time!

    Mid-Year Update: Homeschooling Tenth Grade

    One last “mid-year” update ~ I believe I will be ready soon to start sharing what we have planned for next year’s homeschooling curriculum.

    So, Grace is in tenth grade this year, which is both exciting and a little scary. I alternate between thinking things are going great and just being absolutely paranoid that we are not doing enough and that she will not be ready, whatever that means. I am starting to plan in earnest for college prep and it’s honestly freaking me out quite a bit. I am going to try to do more posting on high school/college stuff as I go along and try to figure things out.  For now I’ll just say, it’s both easier and harder than I expected.

    You can see Grace’s original tenth grade plans here.

    Grace is working mostly on her own now. Her general routine is a morning of independent work starting a bit before 9, followed by lunch, then our group reading, after which I discuss her work with her, go over her readings, and just generally prod/nag her in the right direction. Then she does more independent work before she finishes around 2:30. In a perfect world, we would do longer hours, because this isn’t usually enough time to get everything in. But, she is very involved at her barn and with a couple of other activities, plus I like for her to have some just “being” time. So, we do what we can.

    Writing Strands Level 6  This is going super slowly for her. I’m not really sure why. She took off the month of November and did Nanowrimo. She has only done a (not-quite) handful of writing projects this year besides that. She tends to be a slow, careful writer though, and she does work on her current project most days. I gave her a choice this year of working on a history or science paper if she doesn’t care for the assignment from Writing Strands. Sometimes, the assignment just seems too similar to something she has already done. So one month, for example, she wrote a paper on Elizabeth Cady Stanton instead of working on the next WS assignment. 

    Vocabulary from Classical Roots D – This is finished for the year, and she’ll pick up a different vocabulary program next year, probably Wordly Wise.

    Analytical Grammar’s High School Review and Reinforcement – Having finished all three seasons of Analytical Grammar, she does one review sheet every other week. This is going well for her.

    Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 – This is also going well. And I can’t even tell you what a relief it is that she understands the algebra and I don’t have to try to explain it to her! She generally completes one lesson per day, though some she needs to stretch over two days. I expect she will have to work through the summer on this to finish it up in time to begin geometry next year.

    The Thinking Toolbox – (copying this from her brother’s update) –We currently do this as our lunchtime reading. It works very well for this because there is about five minutes of material I have to read in the beginning, and then we go over the discussion questions while we eat.  I have been very pleased with this program. It’s neat to see the kids apply lessons they learned in it to real life – especially with all the political talk lately!

    BookShark American History 100 – She is just about to finish this program up ~ probably in another week ~ and then she will move on to Sonlight Core 300. I debated long and hard about what to do after BKSK 100, but since there are no further BookShark levels out, back to Sonlight it is.This way of learning just works for us, and I don’t want to reinvent the wheel at this point.  She will carry Core 300 into next year.  I plan to do a review of 100 in the coming weeks, but for now I’ll just say that while Grace was often annoyed at the tone and content of the notes in her student guide, she very much enjoyed Hakim’s History of US and I am very pleased with her knowledge of American history.

    Chemistry – We ended up dropping Design Through Chemistry partway through and replacing it with this homemade chemistry program. It’s a better fit, but progress has been slow and I often feel like I am bugging her to “just get some chemistry done please!” I’m thinking finishing up this program will be a summer project as well.

    Ouino Spanish – Grace enjoys this program much more than Rosetta Stone, which she finished up last year. But we both agree that doing a course at a community college next year feels necessary to truly study the langauge. I would love to do some more Latin study with her pre-college, but I am just not sure we have time. Still, it will be something to think about it as I plan for next year.

    Artistic Pursuits Senior High Book 1 – She has created a lot of really awesome drawings from this book this year and has been pleased with the ideas in this book. She often puts her own spin on things.

    And I think that’s it! If you want to see my previous mid-year updates you can see them here:

    My third grader
    My sixth grader
    My eighth grader

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Tenth Grade Plans, Simplified

    I think I am just about done going through everyone’s homeschool plans for the year,with an eye to simplifying them as much as possible. I often plan for too much stuff, so this year I am trying to do better. I thought I had already posted Grace’s plans here, but now I can’t find them! So much for getting organized. So here are her simplified plans, and I’ll just make notes about things I cut out.

    Language Arts

    Writing Strands Level 6 – She was also going to do The Creative Writer Level 2, but WS has plenty of creative assignments, so we decided it was plenty.

    Vocabulary from Classical Roots D She started this last year, so I may have her start Level E if she finishes before year’s end. 

    Analytical Grammar’s High School Review and Reinforcement – Grace is finished with all three levels of Analytical Grammar, so now she just needs to do a review sheet every two weeks. The review books come in several different themes; she is going to do American Authors.

    Math & Logic

    Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2The original plan was to have her finish up Life of Fred Advanced Algebra, then start the Geometry book. But her summer has not allowed that kind of time and she felt confused about some of the concepts. LOF has worked well for her up until now, but I think she needs something more straightforward ~ and I need something that grades for me so I can keep on top of things ~ so TT it is. 

    The Thinking ToolboxShe’ll do this one with her brother after we complete Fallacy Detective. 


    BookShark American History 100  – She started this last year and will jump back in again around week 16. I am hoping another level will come out soon for her to use. We do not use the language arts component of the program; she uses the programs listed above instead.


    Discovering Design Through Chemistry with lab kit – I considered doing Apologia (even though we are a secular homeschool), but the negative reviews of the revised edition made me wary. DDtC is written by Dr. Wiley, who wrote the original Apologia chemistry. I never really looked at Apologia, because I figured it just wouldn’t work for us, but I really wanted something more open and go this year. I’ll try to update on how this program is working out for us as the year progresses.

    Foreign Language

    Ouino Spanish  – I spent tons of time trying to find a decent Spanish program. Grace has completed the first two levels of Rosetta Stone, but had some frustrations towards the end. It is an immersion program, so nothing is explained in English and it felt like too much guessing and poking around in the dark for her. We are trying something new this year, and starting right from scratch to hopefully fill in any gaps in her knowledge.  I had her pick just one language to simplify things, so she won’t be doing Latin this year.


    Artistic Pursuits Senior High Book 1I was going to have her do Story of Art for an art history credit, but we’re just going to stick with AP.

    And that’s it! I am hoping this year will feel a bit easier than last, with a little less going on. Our first day back will be the day after Labor Day.

    Until next time!