Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Teaching Latin Roots with Harry Potter spells

I'm about to get my nerd on. You've been warned.

The nicest thing my mom ever did for me was the teach me how to read. Also high on the list was to teach me basic greek and latin language  roots, and the reason is simple: if a person knows basic word roots, that person can decode the majority of words they encounter without a dictionary or being a hard-core etymologist. That's always a plus.

I'm also a fan of learning being painless, and not having my children spending their lives poring over flashcards. Who wants to do that? I never did.

This is where I want to kiss J. K. Rowling on the smacker. Thank you, Mme Rowling, for being so freakishly imaginative and delightful in your attention to every little detail of the Harry Potter world.  Pssst! This is the skip-able part where I'll provide a little  info for all y'all who believe magic is something nasty Satan pulled out of his underwear (it's OK, I won't tease you...too much) or for those who have been perfecting meditation in a remote monastery (an admirable pastime!). A lot of the fantastic curses, hexes, charms and spells from the wizzarding world are based fairly accurately on latin words that reflect the nature of the magic performed. For instance, Aqua Eructo (water, to raise)  is the spell for producing a raised jet or stream or water. Many of them can be broken down and explained with basic latin roots. 

So we like decoding spells. First, we use dry erase markers on windows to explain the basic root and tease out words commonly used in our language which contains parts of said latin roots. Then, I write up several spells (Mirth has most of them memorized from the books already!) and we notice how the root meaning matches the result of the spell! It's way more fun than I just made it sound. :D 

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