Monday, January 9, 2012

Special Agents: Greek Alphabet Code Cracker

Wow! Its 9:30 pm and I just got the oldest two settled down and to bed. They are stoked and more excited than Christmas Eve! All because we turned Greek studies into a mystery caper using the Book: Greek Alphabet Code Cracker (click the link for a free sample chapter.)

No one has asked me to review this book, we just LOVE it so much we wanted to recommend it to others interested in learning ancient Greek!

We have a general course we are working through and love, and have mastered saying the names of each Greek letter. But we were having a bit of difficulty learning the sounds each letter made and the diphthongs, to be able to read actual Greek words. But this book was perfect! It uses the Greek letters to form English words...that's the code! Look at the Greek letters and decide what English word it pronounces! It is a complete work book but I only bought one copy. It's full color, so photocopying pages would be expensive and probably illegal, so how do three people use one workbook? We turned the book into a game!

The book is a missing Vase case, and you have to break the Greek code to find clues and discover the thief and his hiding spot.
I made little notebooks for the two oldest children, detective note books! They drew pictures of the suspects and used the notebooks to record the codes, the clues and at the back kept track of diphthongs and general rules. We even drew the map inside the books to follow the thief to his hiding place!

We sat at the kitchen table, at about 7pm...I mean Squad room at 1900 hrs...and I was promoted from Detective to chief by the two other detectives! They chose their badge numbers and wrote them on their books, and then the fun began!

I read the details and witness accounts, and led them through the exercises on the blackboard. We turned some exercises into races between the two detectives, and other exercises were collaborations they had to finish together and agree on the answers before writing in the blanks on the board. And other activities they copied from the board into their note books, all keeping in character of any good Hollywood version Detective team. Actually, I felt a lot like Charlie Eppes, Numb3rs mathematician phenomenon, writing all these amazing characters on the board the normal Canadian wouldn't understand! (Yea, I wish, lol! Me and math are not best friends!)

So what do I hoe this accomplishes? Well, if we can read the letters as sounds that form English words we are familiar with, we should be able to look at the same Greek letters and sound out Greek words that are foreign to us with decent accuracy...and learn their English meanings of course so we know what we are saying! We will then return to our regular Greek course.  I think as a game it was perhaps so much fun for us because we have a previous knowledge of the alphabet and had an introduction to their sounds. So we weren't really trying to learn something new, we are using this to deep root the knowledge we have been trying to retain.

We finished two units tonight, and I had to bribe them to settle down to sleep, and threatening NOT to play tomorrow if they didn't stop talking to each other through the walls of their rooms about the game! We have 6 more units to the book...and even I can't wait until tomorrow to play at least two more!

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