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Language Tree Project

The Latin Family Tree is a beautiful creation.  Its roots run deep into the Proto-Indo-European language spoken through most of Europe c.5,000 B.C.  Its trunk reveals beautiful hues of Italic languages influenced by the Etruscans and the Greeks.  Its lofty branches reach far and strong to provide the arboreal beauty of modern Romance languages: Italian, Spanish, French, Romanian, and Portuguese.  What delight to play in its shade and admire its beauty!


Chapter 5 of Latin for Children, Primer A offers young students a peek at the Latin Family Tree.  Our third grade class at Grace Academy engages in this study through a simple yet delightful two-day project.


  1. Create 5 language worksheets, one for each of the Romance languages listed above.  Each worksheet should have three columns:  Spanish Word*, Latin Origin, English Meaning. (See image for Spanish Worksheet below.)
  2. Create a set of leaves for each language equivalent to the number of words on the worksheet.  These can be purchased or cut out of construction paper.
  3. Create a large trunk, about 3-4 ft. tall, with 5 large branches.  Mark each branch with a different Romance language.

*Students discover the meaning of Spanish words (left column) using their Latin vocabulary (center column).


Day 1: The class is divided into 5 groups, based on the five Romance Languages.  They are each given a three-column worksheet for that specific language. The first column offers 7 words from that language.  The students must use the Latin vocabulary they learned in the first four chapters of LFC, A in order to discern the meaning of these foreign languages.






language_tree_leaves2Day 2: Once our linguistic detectives have identified the Latin root and the English meaning for each of their assigned words, they are given a set of leaves.  Each language is given a set of leaves that differ in color and in shape from the other languages. The students write the words they were given for their respective language on the leaves.  The leaves are then fastened onto the appropriate language branch.


Finished Product, The Language Tree:  In the end you should have a beautiful tree that demonstrates the Latin root words on the trunk and the words derived from each root in 5 different languages.  The real beauty of this project is the sparkle in students’ eyes as they discover for themselves that Latin holds the key to knowing so many languages.  One young linguist looked up at me and smiled, “Spanish is easy now!”  I responded, “Of course, my dear, that is because you already know some Latin.”


Latin teacher, Mrs. Smith, assists our arboreal linguists as they finish the language tree.

The Language Tree is adorned with a different set of colored leaves for each of the five Romance Languages.  The list of word we use is provided below.  See if you can find their common Latin root in the first few chapters of Latin for Children, Primer A.

French (Red): donner, pénetrer, porte, terre, paginer, patrie, île, reine, onde, gloire
Spanish (Yellow): dar, entrar, puerta, tierra, página, patria, isla,reina, onda, gloria
Portuguese (Orange): dar, entre, porta, terra, página, patria, ilha, rainha, onda, glória
Italian (Green): dare, entrare, porta, terreno, pagina, patria, isola, regina, onda, gloria
Romanian (Pink): da, intra, poarta, teren, pagina, patrie, insula, rgina, unda, glorie

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