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Latin Games

Vocabulary Building with Picta Dicta

Picta Dicta is an innovative and highly engaging tool for students to build their Latin vocabulary. This program could easily serve as an introduction for young students into the delightful world of Latin. The lessons would also prove a wonderful supplement to any Latin curricula, or even as a summer strengthening program for Latin students. The approach engages students in learning vocabulary through pictures and images rather than the usual vocab word list found in most textbooks. Instead of being shown two words such as vir, viri, m. – man. The students are shown a Latin word connected to a picture.  In some cases, as the students advance, a sentence is included for context.  This is a fabulous way to instill the true meaning of a word as connected to an image or an idea as opposed to another word. For students who are visual learners this can be a powerful tool.  However, the program does not leave it entirely to the student’s intuitive understanding to connect the word to the right idea.  The NOTES tab will still provide a traditional dictionary entry and other helpful information.  When offered the SENTENCES tab will use the word in a Latin sentence to provide context.


Picta Dicta not only builds vocabulary skills by connecting pictures (picta) to written words, but also to words spoken (dicta).  As the images appear on the screen a voice can be heard reading the word or even the sentences.  This is a great tool for the parents who feel anxious about modeling correct Latin pronunciation at home. With this program student and parent can learn together through modeling and repetition.

The more senses students use to learn something, the better they will retain it. Picta Dicta uses visual cues of both written words and pictoral images, the program uses audio cues for them to hear (students would do well to repeat the words they hear form more audio reinforcement), and it uses tactile elements as it requires students to respond to questions they have learned. After learning a specified set of words, the progam will then begin to sollicit responses in a number of ways – clicking on a correct image, fill in the blank (choosing from multiple words), or even typing in a word using the keyboard. A HINT button is always available to give the student a boost. When an error is made the program gently redirects the student to a correct answer and then makes note to quiz that concept again soon.


From a teacher perspective this looks like an ingenious idea.  However, I wanted to obtain a student perspective.  There are multiple levels for students in grades K-12. I was able to get a sneak peek at the lower two levels and share them with my own daughter who has just completed the 9th grade. She gave Picta Dicta an enthusiastic two thumbs up.  She looked through a program built around human anatomy.  Some of the words she already knew from her Latin classes, but several words were new to her. She really enjoyed the way the program engaged memory and review by asking questions from several different angles. She found the notes not only helpful, but very interesting as they often give additional insight into eytmology and derivatives. For example the notes tell students that umerus (meaning shoulder or upper arm) is also the funny bone – a “fun” play on the word humorous (humerus).  My daughter happens to be a gifted artist. As such, visual learning suits her very well.  Another feature that she really appreciated as a student is the built in accountability feature. Picta Dicta uses Cerego, a brilliant memory program. Parents can see how Cerego tracks the words that students have successfully learned, those that are weak, and those they labels as “fading” because it has been a while since the student reviewed them. As the program tracks a student’s progress, it will bring up words needed for review. Cerego will also send friendly email reminders to students that it is time to get back in the game in order to continue to build vocabulary skills.

Overall I think this is a truly brilliant program for building Latin vocabulary in a highly engaging and enjoyable manner for students of varying ages and ability levels.  I am often asked for ideas to keep Latin fresh over summer break or for tools to help build vocabulary in general, PICTA DICTA will be my new answer for such questions.

You can sign up for Picta Dicta at

For another great site for interactive games and visual learning visit the post on Headventureland.

Phaedrus Latin Composition Contest – 2012

Year three of the Phaedrus Latin Composition Contest is officially underway. Teachers can sign up now and incorporate the contest into their lesson plans for the year.
The Phaedrus Latin Composition Contest is for high school age students, typically 13 to 18 years old. Student entries will be due Feb. 1, 2011. A top prize of $500 will be awarded for first place. Other cash prizes will be given to the second- and third-place winners, along with honorable mention recognition for other deserving entries.

Participating students will submit a 100- to 200-word original fable in Latin, along with an English translation of the submitted piece. Compositions will be graded based on the student’s ability to accurately use Latin vocabulary and forms of speech, the student’s creativity in subject matter and writing style.

The Phaedrus Latin Composition Contest is administered entirely through the internet and allows willing teachers to take part in the nationwide judging. Thanks to the support of their sponsors, there is no cost to you or your students. Getting started is easy:

Visit to find out more and to sign up!

Note: Participants who registered last year must still reregister anew each year.

If you have any questions, please contact Christa Blakey


phone: 208-882-1566.

CAMWS Latin Translation Contest, 2011-12

The Classical Association of the Middle West and South will offer $250 cash prizes, book awards, and letters of commendation to qualifying winners in its School Awards Latin Translation Contest. Read the rest of this entry »

Phaedrus Latin Composition Contest, 2011

Registration is now open for the 2nd annual Phaedrus Latin Composition Contest, hosted by New St. Andrew's College! This post will direct you to information for this contest, and to resources that will help you prepare for this wonderful opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »

Latin Scrabble

Scrabble is a classic, so is Latin. It is therefore only natural that the two should blend together beautifully! Latin Scrabble is another student fav at our school, and it is a great way to build vocabulary and even exercise some grammar. If you find yourself with a yearning for some Latin Scrabble, and no amici with whom to play you might try the online site Read the rest of this entry »


Headventureland is a brand new website where students can play games, read books, and watch videos in Latin! Read the rest of this entry »

Gladiator Game – Online

As gruesome as the gladiatorial games are, students are drawn to them. Recently, I was introduced to an online game called Read the rest of this entry »

Card Games

When learning Latin numerals cards games can be wonderful game to review the lesson and practice speaking Latin. My personal favorite is "Go Fish" or "I Piscare!" To play Read the rest of this entry »

Games That Get You Talkin’

In a previous post I discussed a lesson plan where I had the students giving one another commands in Latin.  The lesson plan was in effect a game that not only reviewed grammar, but helped the students develop their oral and aural skills.  It was a game that got them talkin’ in Latin – and they loved it.  Here are a couple others.

Magister Dicit (The Teacher Says): Simple to Challenging.  Requires some preparation.  This is a great game for beginning grammar students all the way to advance students.  You can begin with simple one word imperative commands such as cantate, surgite, or sedete.  When you introduce prepositional phrases it can create all kinds of fun mayhem. Discipuli, ascendite in mensam!  The more grammar they know, the more complex the commands can become.  This will require some preparation for the teacher.  You will want to have several commands at the ready.  You can also give the students the opportunity to play magister and let them take turns commanding their peers in Latin.

Magna Fabula (The Great Story): Challenge.  Some prepration may be required. Have you ever played the game where one person begins a story with a simple sentence and the others take turns adding on a sentence at a time?  This is great fun in Latin class.  The first time or two  you may want to warn students in advance so they have a few ideas prepared.  You may even want to encourage them to use vocabulary from a certain chapter or unit so that A) they have some material to work with and B) everyone will be familiar with the words that might be used.  Everyone feels a little insecure at first – worried they will make a grammatical error.  Remind them that we make grammatical errors all the time when we speak English, but we still manage to communicate.  The point is to get them talking AND listening.  After they have become a bit more comfortable with the game, surprise them with a story time on the fly!

Do you have some great ideas to get students talking in Latin class?  Please Share!

Be sure to check out other game posts in the blog site like Latin Taboo.

Next gaming blog: Playing Cards

Latin Taboo

Some of you may be familiar with the popular party game "Taboo." Well, at Grace Academy we play a similar game with a Latin twist. It quickly became a student favorite and is great for practicing vocabulary. Here is how to play Read the rest of this entry »