Aequora Debuts New Latin Summer Camps
High School Students Open Eleven Classics Camps
If you’re wondering how to spread your passion and enthusiasm for Latin in your local community, look no further! This past summer, the Paideia Institute awarded eleven grants of $100 each to high school students who were looking to bring Latin to their communities. The grants supported each of them to organize a short summer camp in their area using the Aequora curriculum.
This is how the Aequora summer sites were born. Like the school-year Aequora program, Aequora summer sites target primarily elementary and middle school students. Aequora summer camps are typically 1–2 weeks long, and may be created at local libraries and community centers, or run in school summer programs. Using the Aequora materials provided by the Paideia Institute, the grantees introduced school children to the language and culture of the ancient Roman world in a fun, engaging way.
For instance, here’s what one of the grantees said about her summer camp: “The students in my camp did the crafts and skits suggested in the Teacher’s Manual. They very much enjoyed the mythology lesson, in which they each made a craft relating to a god or goddess of their choice. They also liked the derivative tree, and it was great for them to learn new words in English as well as Latin, since most of them didn’t know the meanings of the English derivatives listed in the textbook (convalesce, gratuity, valedictorian, benign, etc.). The students were very quick learners and were able to translate full sentences by the end of the week.”
Running an Aequora summer camp calls for a lot of energy and creativity. This is how one of the site leaders describes the day-to-day activities of the camp: “Each group of 1–2 volunteers and 2–3 students covered Units 1 through 3 in the textbook. A typical camp day involved a reading of a vocabulary list or story first, then an activity like a craft or speaking game. The students made bullae out of aluminum foil and string, played a restaurant game using newly-learned food words, performed skits from mythology using sock puppets, created family trees and derivative crafts, and made the Capitoline Wolf sculpture out of Play-Doh. The final day of camp involved playing Jeopardy while earning Jolly Ranchers for correct answers, testing the students’ accumulated knowledge of Latin roots and mythology. All the students agreed that this camp had been fun! Several have already asked if they could do it again next year. ”
Summer camp leaders often created their own lesson materials and incorporated them into the curriculum: as another grantee told me, “I downloaded pictures of Greco-Roman sculptures, mosaics from different time periods and projected them onto a wall, asking students to describe the sculpture and if they could name the people, deities, or actions depicted. I also created a multiple-choice quiz game, which I created using Google Slides and then projected onto one of the room’s walls, on all the Roman culture and language they had learned. To make the game a bit competitive and exciting, I incorporated buzzers which my students would press when they thought of an answer to the questions.”
The grants offered by the Paideia Institute helped camp leaders defray the costs of instructional materials, publicity, and refreshments: “I bought crayons, colored paper, glue, and scissors, which I gave to the students to draw their favorite characters or scenes from the stories they read in the Aequora textbook. In addition to drawing pictures of the scenes, I would have the campers act out parts of the story that they enjoyed. They would also act out the customary practices of the Romans. This was an opportunity for them to laugh, run around, and behave in how they believed characters in ancient Rome acted.”
Another site leader said: “Some of the activities that the students especially enjoyed included creating edible models of Roman roads using crushed Oreos, pudding, and graham crackers, filling in Latin words for a hilarious Madlibs, and learning the Latin names for popular foods in our “Mini-Forum” as a simulated market place where they can purchase groceries with Roman coins they designed. All in all, we felt that it was a great experience that allowed us to share our knowledge of Latin and to teach younger children. ”
The results were quite impressive. In the words of one instructor: “The children enjoyed learning about the Romans’ multifaceted culture. It was also important for me to learn about the students’ diverse backgrounds — many had never heard of Latin before they took the class. At the end of the summer camp, I invited each student to join me this fall for my Saturday club at my school. One of my students from the community center is particularly interested in continuing his Latin education.”
Aequora is now about to start another exciting school year! The program website includes information on how to volunteer. We hope you will join us and help expand access to Latin!
Marco Romani is Outreach Manager for the Paideia Institute. He also enjoys the NYC theater and opera scene.