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Song School Greek Review by Nancy Casari Dayton

Michelle Hahne
Classical Academic Press
3920 Market Street
Camp Hill, PA 17011

Families interested in introducing Koine Greek to their young elementary students will enjoy this new offering from Classical Academic Press. Like their other curriculum products, Song School Greek (SSG) offers attractive, well-organized materials in manageable increments, a logical scope and sequence, and a good value for the price. Families who have used and enjoyed Song School Latin (SSL) will find themselves in familiar territory and can easily add Greek to their studies or use SSG after SSL before beginning higher-level materials in either language. 

The 222-page student book contains 30 chapters (lessons), including 6 review lessons. Three appendices contain a chapter-by-chapter glossary, an alphabetical glossary, and a listing of numbers up to 100. A typical lesson contains the following sections:

  • Words to Learn presents a list of 6 or 7 words for vocabulary development.
  • Chapter Song provides a chant to help student retain the new words. The music for each chant is very catchy; sometimes the tunes are familiar.
  • Chapter Lesson contains an explanation of a Greek language concept (e.g., Greek Words and Their Endings, Counting from 1 to 5).
  • Practice Your Greek requires students to provide written responses. This might include writing Greek letters and a brief matching exercise. You can decide whether your young students are ready to provide written responses. If they're not, just do this section orally.
  • Grow Your English helps students appreciate the Greek roots to our English language by making connections from Greek words to familiar words in English.
  • Chapter Fun and Show What You Know might ask students to draw pictures of words their new Greek words, practice saying words from the current or previous lessons, or provide other brief written responses. Again, these can be done orally, if necessary.
  • Chapter Story provides a brief (sometimes familiar) story that includes Greek vocabulary from current and previous lessons. The teacher can read the story using the English words first. The second time through the teacher reads the story with the targeted Greek words. By the third time, students should try to say the Greek words at the appropriate times. This component is not in every lesson.

Based on my experience with Song School Latin, you may or may not elect to have a student workbook for each child. If your children are not yet writing proficiently, you might get along very well with just one workbook, doing the exercises orally. With my first-grade and kindergarten children, we just sat on the sofa together and went through the lesson over the course of a week. I wrote the responses. I do wish Classical Academic Press (CAP) provided an inexpensive option for obtaining additional student workbooks. Currently, the student workbooks are bundled with the chant CDs; a family is more likely to need extra student workbook pages rather than additional CDs. When I contacted CAP directly, I was told that they would provide permission to make one additional copy of the student book for family use. 

The Teacher's Edition (TE) contains a complete copy of all the student workbook pages with the answers, but unlike the TE for Song School Latin (SSL), this TE for Song School Greek has additional helpful resources. Each chapter in the TE includes a two-page spread of additional teacher resources. There are helpful notes for the exercises and complete texts of all the chants and stories in both the traditional and modern pronunciations. But wait, there's more! The TE for SSG comes with a video instruction DVD to help prepare the parent/teacher to present each lesson with some background and confidence. This is a welcome resource. 

To be honest, one could get by without purchasing the TE for SSL. The Latin alphabet is (almost) the same as our English alphabet. However, teaching Greek (without having any background in the language) is another story. When I looked at the vocabulary lists, chants, and stories in SSG, I found it a little daunting. It's . . . um . . . Greek! The DVD provides brief introductory segments that explain the program in general, the alphabet, the two different pronunciations, word markings, and building words. Then there are segments for the chapters. This DVD resource is not intended for students; it is geared for the parents/teachers. The instructor is standing in his office in front of a white board as he thoroughly explains the vocabulary words (i.e. both pronunciations, the translations, perhaps some etymological background, the articles that go with the words). I have found it very helpful to preview this information, and I feel encouraged to begin the program with my children. 

The Greek Beak Match Flashcard Game provides a fun way for students to practice the Greek vocabulary they are learning. The whole set contains four color-coded decks that correspond to sections of the student book. Each deck covers 6-8 chapters. The decks can be used as flashcards or for playing familiar card games, including Memory, Apple Core, and Go Fish! The decks may be used separately or together. 

The Song School Greek bundle (student book with CD, Teacher's Edition, and Greek Beak Match Flashcard Game) lists for $72.95 on the company's website, which also offers PDF samples from the student and teacher books and the song CD. The books and CD contain both traditional and modern pronunciations. I will also mention that the texts are very well-organized and visually appealing. The program overall is user-friendly for students as well as the parent/teacher. Song School Greek is a great option to begin teaching your children Koine Greek.

Product review by Nancy Casari Dayton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010