Happy New Year!
Inside this issue: the days of the week and weather in Latin, calculating calendar dates, our English word “calendar,” Julius Caesar, and more!
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Main Feature: Two New Lesson Plans
Each issue will feature two lesson or activity ideas: one related to the Latin language, and one related to Classical Studies (Greek or Roman culture, mythology, or history).
1. LATIN LESSON: The Days of the Week and the Weather in Latin
Introduction: This lesson introduces the Latin names of the days of the week, along with their connections to the gods and goddesses. It also explores Latin weather terms.
Objectives: Students will be able to tell the day of the week and the weather in Latin.
- Days of the Week Cards (one set for display and another for each group of seven students)
- Note-taking handout
- Slide show (to accompany the note-taking handout)
- Days of the Week Song
- Set of Large Weather Cards (for display)
- Weather Card Game (one set per group)
- Clothing and weather-related items for the weather clothing relay game – Suggestions: sunglasses, baseball cap, cooling towel, umbrella, raincoat, gloves, a hat, a scarf, a heavy winter coat, and a small kite or pinwheel.
Preparation: Print and cut the Days of the Week Cards and the Weather Cards and card game prior to the lesson.
- Give students the note-taking handout. Have them fill in the Latin terms for the days of the week as you move through the slide show. As they write the name of each day, they should also draw a simple picture of something they typically do on that day of the week.
- Sing the Days of the Week Song with the students, either projecting it or providing each student with a copy. Encourage students to sing along in order to become more comfortable with the words.
- Divide the class into groups of seven, and give each group a set of Days of the Week Cards. Each student should hold one card, and the group must arrange itself in order from Sunday through Saturday. After they do this successfully, they should try to do it again without talking at all!
- Weather terms: Finish the slide show and have students write the weather terms on the back of their note-taking handout.
- Put students in small groups, and have them practice these weather terms by playing the weather card game for a few minutes. The cards may be used to play a basic matching game like Memory or Go Fish.
- Once students have some familiarity with the weather terms, play a weather clothing relay game:
- Place the clothing items in a large container or box in the front of the room.
- Divide students into two teams, and have each team send one team member to the front by the container.
- Call out a weather term in Latin. Each team must then send another team member up. This student must choose a weather-appropriate item from the box and place it on the first student. The first team to do this accurately wins a point.
- The game continues until all six weather terms have been used. The team with the most points wins.
- To close the lesson, write “Hodie” on the board and place all of the Days of the Week Cards and the Large Weather Cards on the board. Ask students to think about which cards are correct for that day, and then choose one or two students to come put the right cards under Hodie. If you leave all the cards on the board, this could be an excellent activity for beginning class each day.
2. CULTURE LESSON: The Roman Method of Calculating Dates
Objectives: Students will be able to identify major holidays or their birthdays that have been written in the Roman way of calculating dates.
Background Information: The Romans’ method of calculating dates involved counting forward to one of three special days: the Nones (the 5th), the Ides (the 13th), or the Kalends (the 1st day of the next month). The Romans counted inclusively from the day in question to the next special day. For example, to say January 2 in the Roman way, we need to count inclusively to the next special day, the Nones, which is January 5. By counting the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, we find that January 2 is four days before the Nones of January. This would be written as: ante diem iv Non. Ian. It is also common for ante diem to be abbreviated as a.d.
*N.B. – Four months are slightly different and have their Nones on the 7th and their Ides on the 15th. The months that follow this pattern are March, July, October and May. This rhyme is often a helpful reminder: In March, July, October, and May, the Ides are on the 15th day.
- 3 fun hats or accessories (to be worn by three students representing the “special” days)
- Chalk (if outside) or 30 pieces of paper, each one labeled with a number 1-30
- Copies of the Sample Roman Calendar
- Copies of the Holidays Matching Worksheet
- Slips of paper with students’ birthdays written in Latin (no names)
Before the Lesson: Have the students write down their birthdays. Render each date into Latin and write each one on a slip of paper. These will be handed out during the lesson.
- Introduce the Roman calendar with a kinesthetic activity. This would work well outside on blacktop with chalk but could also be done in the classroom with pieces of paper on a wide-open area of floor.
- Draw (or have students draw) with chalk a January calendar in a grid formation. (You could actually choose any month, but it is probably best to avoid March, July, October, and May at first since their Nones and Ides are different.)
- Choose three students to stand on the Kalends (the 1st), the Nones (the 5th), and the Ides (the 13th). Give each one of them a special hat or accessory to wear in order to signify that they are the “special” days.
- Start with the 2nd day of the month, and choose a student to hop from square to square until he or she reaches the Nones, with the class counting (inclusively) along the way. Once the student reaches the Nones and the class has counted to four in this way, explain that the Romans would have referred to January 2 as the day “four days before the Nones of January.” Show the class that this would have been written as a.d. iv Non. Ian.
- Repeat this hopping and counting activity with the other days that lead up to the Nones, then with a few days leading up to the Ides, and finally with some days leading up to the Kalends of February.
- Give students the filled-in monthly calendar handout so that they can see each day written in the Roman form. Be sure to explain to them that the Nones and Ides are different for March, July, October, and May.
- Next, students will practice this calendar information in groups using the Holidays Matching Worksheet. They will match holidays such as New Year’s Day to their ancient Roman equivalents. They should keep in mind that the month named in our dating system may not be the same month when that date is written in Latin! Then, go over the answers.
- Closing Activity: Hand out slips of paper with students’ birthdays already written on them in Latin. These should be given out randomly, and then each student must walk around and search for the student who has the slip with his own birthday.
- Discuss with students: How is the Romans’ calendar system similar to our own? How is it different?
Online Resource: Legonium Days of the Week Posters
Each issue will feature a new or popular online resource that could prove useful for Latin and Classical Studies instruction. We aim to stay current so that you can wow your students with how “with-it” you are when it comes to technology!
Days of the Week Posters from Legonium
These eye-catching posters for the days of the week feature Lego figurines of the deities and short Latin descriptions of them. A seven-page pdf file is available for sale for $5 AUD (around $3 U.S. Dollars) so that the posters can be printed and displayed.
Legonium is also a very student-friendly resource for information about Roman festivals. Under the Kalends section, a webpage for each month teaches about the celebrations the Romans observed. Each festival is depicted with Legos and is explained with a very clear, two-to-three sentence caption. A printable calendar for the year is also available and would look great on a classroom wall!
Many items being sold today do not directly connect to Latin and Classical Studies, but with a little effort, we can adapt them to serve our purposes. This section explores these types of objects.
Classroom Calendar Kit from Lakeshore Learning
This nylon pocket chart comes with cards for each month of the year, the numbers 1-31, days of the week, and major holidays. It gets great reviews from preschool and elementary school teachers, but we think it would also be useful in a Latin classroom! We like that the cards for the numbers are short, which would leave lots of room in each day pocket for a larger, square-shaped card to be visible. It would be easy to make your own square-shaped cards for the Kalends, the Nones, and the Ides. Teachers could also create cards that utilize Roman numerals and place them behind the number cards.
Featured Word: Calendar
Each issue will feature a challenging English word that we encourage you and your students to explore together. The English word will always come from one or more Latin words.
The origins of the word of the word “calendar” tell us something about its development. The Latin word “calendarium” literally meant “a place for the Kalends” and was originally a log for accounts because debt payments were due on the first of the month, or “Kalends.” The term “Kalends” (Kalendae in Latin) uses the letter k because the word derived from the Greek verb “kalein” (“to call”). In the early period of Greek and Roman history, the priests would “call out” each new month when the moon was new. The term stayed on as the word for the first day of each month and reminds us of the Roman origins of our modern calendar system.
The days of the week in Latin also give us some interesting English words. The Romans named each day after the sun, moon, and the five planets that were visible to them and all humans before telescopes were invented. So, of course we have solar and lunar from dies solis and dies lunae. The English terms deriving from the planets sometimes end in -an and sometimes -al. Often, the -an ending relates to the planet itself while the -al ending relates to the god behind the planet’s name or to the personality of a person born under the influence of that planet. For example:
- “Martian” means pertaining to (or an inhabitant of) Mars while “martial” means war-like.
- “Mercurian” means pertaining to the planet Mercury, but “mercurial” means erratic or unpredictable.
- “Jovian” means relating to Jupiter, but “jovial” means cheerful and friendly.
- “Venusian” means pertaining to the planet Venus, but “*venereal” refers to love and sexuality. *teachers may not want to expose students to this word, depending on their grade level!
- And last, “Saturnian” relates to the planet, but “saturnine” means slow and gloomy.
Famous Roman: Julius Caesar
Each issue will feature a famous individual or group from Greek or Roman history whom you may wish to explore with your students.
Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.E.), while more famous for his roles as a general, politician, and finally a dictator, also held the office of “pontifex maximus” or chief priest of Rome. In his role as pontifex maximus, control over the calendar, which set the days on which to worship the different gods, fell to him. The coin pictured here depicts Caesar as pontifex maximus.
Caesar wanted to bring the Roman calendar in alignment with the solar year. In 45 B.C.E., after consulting the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria who calculated the solar year as having 365 ¼ days, the Julian calendar began. In order to account for ¼ of a day, Caesar instituted the practice of leap year, which added a 366th day every four years.
The Julian calendar, while still used today in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches to calculate dates, was replaced in Europe by the Gregorian calendar in 1582. The Gregorian calendar was the same as the Julian calendar for the most part, with three fewer leap years in every four-hundred year period.
- Each year, Bolchazy-Carducci produces a calendar in which each date is written in the Roman form. It also contains a Latin quotation for each day of the year. The calendar can be downloaded here.
- Teacherspayteachers.com is a great resource for editable classroom decor! This llama-themed bundle, for example, includes month and day cards, number line cards, center cards, classroom job cards, and more. With this kind of product, teachers could edit the text to use the Latin names of the months or other information from this issue, and they would be ready to go in no time!
- More activities related to the calendar and weather are available in Leap into Latin, a publication from Ascanius. These include a sundial activity, a blank calendar with guidance for adding Roman festivals, pronunciation of key vocabulary terms, and more. Here is how one Elementary Gifted Educator, Kelly Workman, has used these resources. Kelly says:
- I blew up a monthly calendar with the Latin days of the week for display in the classroom. I then printed on card stock and laminated the months and Roman Numeral numbers for the dates and year. I made little versions of the weather and birthday pic with colored ink and laminated them. I then update the calendar each month with the month and numerals for days for the new month and add kids’ birthdays (with felix dies tibi sit and their name). We then add the weather as we go.
- Together, the class made a twelve-month calendar with the Latin names for the months, Roman numerals, etc. Each student chose two months to do. Then I picked one from each student and combined them to print twelve-month calendars. The kids were excited to take it home.