A Review / Opinion of Song School Greek
from Classical Academic Press
Song School Greek is a gentle introduction to Koine Greek designed for children in 1st-3rd grade. It’s main focus is on exposure to conversational Greek, 135 vocabulary words, the Greek alphabet and basic decoding skills.
Even though Otter is out of the target age, I looked over the materials and we decided to do the program together anyway. Song School Greek is an instantly appealing book with a colorful, slick, glossy cover. Inside, there are 222 pages chock-full of lessons with child friendly black-and-white illustrations, activities and songs. There is a cd in a plastic sleeve in the back with 62 songs. Thirty-one of the tracks are sung in traditional Greek and the other thirty-one are in modern Greek. In fact, the entire book has options to learn either the traditional or modern Greek, both clearly marked with syllable-by-syllable pronunciation guides.
The program starts you off learning about the Greek alphabet. The introduction is followed by 30 chapters focusing on such topics as items in the classroom, things at home, color, shapes, Jesus’ birth, eating, animals and more. Most of the vocabulary seems to be centered around words a younger child would be interested in learning and using around the classroom and home environment. Some example words from the various chapters are:
- write, drink, hide, feed, eat, carry, play, sleep, throw, kick
- books, pen, papers, scissors, chairs, doors, floor, ball, bed, song
- the father / the mother / teacher
- good morning / good night
- yes / no
- head, shoulder, knee, feet, mouth, hair, eyes
- fruit, grape, apple, meat, cheese, fish, bread, milk, water
- sheep, pig, horse, dog, lion, camel, animals
- earth, mountain, moon, sun, sea, sky
- I love you, thank you, I see, Where is __?
Songs are an important component of the program and most of them are set to familiar tunes such as “London Bridge”, “Frère Jacques”, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, “Hush Little Baby”, the Doxology and more. There are also a few chants. While the program can be taught to older kids, I think the songs are going to appeal mostly to younger students. Otter (a 5th grader) thought they were babyish, but didn’t protest since he found them to be a really easy and effective way to get the vocabulary to stick in his head. The songs are sung by both a man and a woman and are pleasant, at least to our ears. There is some acoustical guitar, violin and occasional soft percussion (sounds like a maraca?). Even Bear remarked that they weren’t annoying or grating like most “kiddie” songs. The songs mix English and Greek and are designed to help your kids retain the lessons painlessly. They work too, at least for us! I could see even a preschooler picking up on them and learning a bit of Greek along with an older sibling.
Each chapter is divided into different sections:
- Words to learn – Words to learn has the chapter’s vocabulary listed along with a pronunciation guide in both traditional and modern Greek and the meaning(s) of each word or words.
- Chapter song – Pop in the CD and listen to the chapter song(s). You can also read along in the book.
- Chapter lesson – The lesson section contains some text written to the student. There is also often a small section where the student can practice writing the Greek letters that are being focused on. Sometimes there are pictures to color that help reinforce the lesson. The practice sections contain various activities like matching, circling pictures, writing letters, etc.
- Practice your Greek – Decode Greek words, practice letter sounds and more.
- Grow your English – Grow your English teaches your child how Greek words relate to English. An example from chapter 12 is (after learning in the vocabulary section that οφθαλμος means eye): ” The English word “ophthalmologist” comes from the Greek word οφθαλμος. Can you guess what kind of doctor an ophthalmologist is? That’s right, an eye doctor.” These are great little tidbits that will help your child expand his English vocabulary while learning a new language!
- Chapter fun – Here you can find games, drawing and more gentle, workbook style activities.
- Show what you know – Usually this section has your child listen to you say a word in Greek and then your child responds with a drawing or other activity. There are also other instructions where a student can demonstrate what he’s learned both orally and in writing.
There are also chapter reviews, diglot stories and small sections sprinkled here and there that introduce very basic English grammar such as articles and proper nouns. While the entire program has a lively, playful feel to it, there is a good amount of learning going on, enough even for my 5th grader (and me, lol).
While I think the student book is set up in such a manner that I think you don’t HAVE to purchase the teacher’s manual, I found it to be a helpful addition. Just a note though: if you don’t have it, you would be missing some specific scripts to say for some sections of the student text. The teacher’s edition comes with its own CD that contains chapter-by-chapter guidance that can be viewed before teaching with plenty of tips and help to make your lessons the most effective.
The CD lessons are “taught” or explained by the “dad” (Chris Perrin) who is also featured in the Latin for Children videos. There is an introduction where he explains the program itself as well as additional videos that help with letter formation tips and more. The CD is designed to help a teacher new to Greek have more confidence and familiarity with each chapter’s topics and items. I personally picked up some good tips from it. I don’t think I will ever forget now that the Greek letter Zeta ζ looks like a person kneeling!
The text of the guide contains all of the student pages with the answers in light gray (in full size!) as well as “teacher’s materials” with suggestions, scripts to say during lessons, and other helps. It also contains things you should say to your student for specific sections that he will respond to in his workbook. I think it’s especially a help if you have to help your student with an answer and are a bit shaky in Greek yourself.
After doing the program just a little bit, Otter was really enthused to continue our Greek studies. He’s looking forward to Greek for Children which is due to be published some time this year. Why study Greek at all though? Here are some reasons that make me think it is a worthwhile subject:
- Greek is the basis for approximately 20% of English vocabulary.
- It is the language of the Greek New Testament and the language of many classical works of literature.
- It helps create mental discipline as you recognize patterns and observe details while learning to think logically.
- Greek is foundational to areas of learning such as science.
- Click here to read more reasons!
I think Song School Greek is a great addition to the homeschool market. Now even your youngest students can start learning Greek with this fun, gentle and lively program.
Click here to visit the publisher’s website: Classical Academic Press for other terrific materials for learning Latin, Greek, Spanish, Bible, Logic and more!
You can also visit their AWESOME online website Headventure Land to practice Latin, Spanish and Greek with fun videos, games, stories and downloads!
*Note: All our reviews reflect only our personal opinion(s) of materials. We aren’t experts! We’re just a homeschooling family with 3 kids and ideas of our own about what works and what doesn’t for US.