Numbers! Unus, Duo, Tres
Numbers! For a long time, I was stymied about how to begin. The first week is short in my school, only three days before Labor Day. Too short to begin in earnest... so what to do?
I teach numbers. Numbers are a great two- three day lesson. It's a self contained -requiring no explanation of parts of speech, cases or genders. I know it's not the first unit in your textbook. It's not the first in mine either. Numbers give students confidence. They sound like the Spanish numbers they already know just slightly more exotic. They are listed in the back in the reference section. Flip the the back and get everybody counting and then ask them to add:
How many chairs in your room?
How many posters on the wall?
How many pairs of sneakers?
How many dwarves? (septem)
How many nazguls? (novem)
How many bears? (tres)
What if the bears met the dwarves? (decem)
*What if One Direction met the bears and Justin Bieber?
(*Substitute any popular band with a well-known entertainer)
Afterwards, write these nouns on the side of the board with their Latin equivalent
puella = girl
puer = boy
porcus = pig
villa/ casa= house (Use whichever one is more compatible with your textbook.)
equus = horse
Now divide the class into two teams and call up a member from each team to the board and instruct them to draw tres puellae. The first person to draw tres puellae (stick figures with slightly longer hair are fine) and crouch down gets a point for their team. The next pairing comes to the board and draws duo porci. Just keep pairing animals and numbers. As they become more familiar, you can double up, "Pingue tres puellas et quinque equos."
The other thing that I like about this activity is that is serves as an "ice breaker" while teaching Latin. The hastily drawn stick figures and animals are pretty hilarious to everyone. Teams start to cheer each other on and the beginning of community starts to take shape. This game also helps me to introduce two very important rules - Games are instruction. You may not opt out. Yes, you may be uncomfortable drawing in front of the board but everyone is in the same boat. We are learning together. Also, before starting, I review my rules about sportsmanship. No one may say anything derogatory even if they are "just kidding" to someone at the front of the board or they will lose a point for their team. With a class that is shy or stiffly staring at you like a bunch of frightened rabbits, it's better to begin by stating these two rules. Also, this game helps to introduce the modus operandi of my class - in here we will take risks, we will be silly, but we will treat each other well so we all feel safe.
Then, on Day 2, play Latin battleship. Board is in the Hilara drive. It's just like regular battleship but students need to say the numbers in Latin to each other. Battleship takes about 30-40 minutes to play.
On Day 3 if you want to continue with numbers, use this great little card game the incomparable Senora Jackson and shared with me. It's easy - break your students into groups of two or three and give each group a deck of cards. These are cheaply found at Dollar Stores, Job Lot, Five Below and many other rock bottom discount stores. Have the students shuffle the cards and deal out all the cards to each person in the group, face down. No one should look at their cards. The first person flips their card over, places it in the center of the playing area and says, "unus" even though the card probably isn't an Ace. (Aces are low in this game.) The second player then turns over their card and places it on top of the first one and says "duo." Players continue taking turns turning over cards in their hand and counting - tres, quattuor, quinque, sex, septem, octo, novem, decem. However, when the card matches what the person says, all three players should try to slap the pile. For example, if the person turns over an eight while he is saying "octo," then all three should try to slap the pile. The first person to slap the pile gets all the cards. Play continues until someone is out of cards. The winner is the player with the most cards in their hand - reshuffle and redeal.
What to do about Jack, Queen, King? Well, the Spanish teacher explains that those will be 11, 12 and 13. I put these on the board as Dux- Jack; Regina -Queen;
Rex - King. These words are more common in Latin literature than the numbers so I prefer these terms but your mileage may vary.
This game has a run time of about 20 minutes. My students tell me it is similar to "Slap Jack," a game many have already played and loved. If you have more time to fill, try Cape with numbers. Have students hold up fingers for numbers 1-10 and have them make a circle with their fingers for nihil. Or play flyswatter and add in the numbers 11-20. I also tend to teach mille and centum at the same time. After two - three days of numbers, your students will go home and count aloud in Latin to their parents or any adult they can get to listen to them. They will feel proud, successful and ready to continue. Believe me, ain't nobody going to guidance..