The Classical Education Edition of Caesar’s English I is filled with so many extra elements that the book is too large to be handled easily by children. We ultimately decided to publish the student book in two parts.
A principal aim of the book is to teach children important vocabulary while giving them wide-ranging insight into the ancient world and its contributions to our lives.
Michael Clay Thompson has designed this book to reinforce the entire language arts curriculum; every strand of the curriculum is revisited in each of the twenty lessons.
The vocabulary component is based on the Latin stems and the lists of nonfiction words made from those stems, as well as lists of advanced words and classic words. There are analogies, synonyms, antonyms, and word searches. Vocabulary is loaded into all of the activities.
The writing component is present in each lesson with numerous examples of how the great writers have used the vocabulary words. Specific writing activities include paragraph-writing assignments, which parallel those in Paragraph Town, the writing book at this level, as well as exercises in which students rewrite the sentences of great authors. Other sections provide short introductions to major authors whose works are used in the examples.
The lessons have been divided into quarters to reflect the four levels of grammar analysis as taught in Grammar Town, the grammar book at this level. Through every set of five lessons, a different level of grammar analysis is emphasized, so the first five are devoted to the parts of speech, the next five to the parts of the sentence, then phrases, and finally clauses.
The poetics, which use techniques described in Building Poems, the poetry book at this level, are enhanced by a poem written by Michael in every lesson. Using the vocabulary words of the lesson, his poems offer students a perspective on the Roman world through the eyes of one of its denizens.
Insight into the Roman world is enhanced by more than 80 full-page photographs taken by Dr. Thomas Kemnitz of Roman sites and artifacts.
In addition, the book includes:
- Concentration on the links between English and Spanish, highlighting the Spanish cognates of the English vocabulary that the students are learning. Myriam Thompson has translated some of Michael’s poems into Spanish, and bold type is used to emphasize the cognates. She also writes about the importance of Iberia to the Roman world and provides biographies of some of the Roman emperors born there.
- Perspective on the feminine experience in Rome. Michael says, “We have tried to pay some attention to this dimension of the text. There are images of Roman women, there is a poem from a mother’s point of view, there are images of jewelry that Roman women wore, and there are poems about art and culture. The difficult thing about looking at Roman history is that most of the famous names are men, and most of the famous events are battles or assassinations (think Caesar). But we have tried to give a bit of a rounded perspective.”
- A ten-part biography of Julius Caesar using the words from the vocabulary lessons.
- Fifteen essays by Thomas Milton Kemnitz on Roman buildings; the use, styles, and making of columns; the Roman use of concrete and its importance; Roman roads; and the Roman handling of water, including aqueducts, lead pipes to houses, fountains, and the Roman baths.
There is a set of flashcards available to help children study the stems and words in this book. Click here to go to the flashcards.
Note: New to the third edition of this book is a special bonus feature: QR codes that link to audio of Michael Clay Thompson reading his poems and his exposition on the first classic word in each even-numbered chapter. This enables children to hear the words in context and to know how they are pronounced. Myriam Borges Thompson had written two Spanish translations of Michael’s poems for this book previously; now she has added several more, and she too has provided audio for the book, reading her Spanish translations.