Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: Lone Star Learning "Greek and Latin Roots"


I had the opportunity to review Greek and Latin Roots flashcards produced  by Lone Star Learning. I had never heard of this company before, and when I first looked into the offer made available from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was pretty excited about these cards.

First of all, when I was in school...back in the day... I had the opportunity to take a year of Latin. This was way before learning Latin was popular! I remember feeling somewhat daunted, thinking that if I couldn't master French after all the years I had taken that, then why in the world would I study Latin? And how would I ever use it? Who would I speak it to?

After a few weeks into the class, my opinion completely changed. We were not learning "a language" but were basically studying the origin of words. I learned that much of our English language was based on Latin roots, and I also learned how words were built, using roots, prefixes, and suffixes! I was totally fascinated and completely hooked! To this day, I often find myself able to figure out new words when I am reading, just by breaking them down into roots, prefixes, and suffixes, and figuring out what it means. This is especially helpful when reading through medical literature, which I do often these days!

AST(ron) + NOMY = Astronomy 
'ast' or 'astron' (meaning "star") and 'nomy' (meaning "a system of laws or knowledge about a particular field) = the word 'astronomy' - the study of stars
This is an experience I have always wanted to transfer to my children. Sometimes I will see them struggling with remembering vocabulary words, and I tell them that if they would just look at the root in the word, they would know what it means! Their spelling/vocabulary books list the words according to roots, prefixes, and suffixes, and they actually do learn a few roots a week, but they still have a really hard time keeping them straight and remembering them enough to make it useful when reading. Without having all the roots memorized, it just is not helpful enough.

Enter the Greek and Latin root cards!!  This set of cards uses a Keyword Method of visualizing the word you are trying to memorize. This helps the memory to use cues to recall the meaning of the word that is visualized and has been proven to be a strong and effective way to remember unfamiliar terms.

As you can see from the picture above, the roots are formed out of 'picture cues' that will cue the student, giving them a clue to the meaning of the root and helping them to visualize it and remember it better.  I am really thrilled with the concept of these cards.

About the cards:  This set of 60 cards is printed on heavy weight card stock. There are 30 Latin roots, outlined in lavender, and 30 Greek roots, outlined in green. They are glossy and very colorful. The cards are 5.5" by 8.5", and are also made in the USA! The root cards are suggested for grades 3-7, but I think they would be good for high schoolers also, especially if they are still struggling with vocabulary words or prepping for SAT vocabulary. This set of cards sells for $39.99 from the Lone Star Learning website.

How we used the cards: All the girls have used the cards since we received them. Kelly is on the young side for them, but still enjoys looking at them and trying to remember what they mean. Melissa is learning roots in her spelling/vocab book, and found the cards pretty fascinating. The high school girls have lots of lists of roots, prefixes, and suffixes that they are constantly working with, and really liked the idea of these cards. We mostly used them just as they were designed - as traditional flashcards. One person holds up the card, and the other says the meaning. The girls enjoyed quizzing each other. Of course, there are lots of ways you can use flashcards, and the company included a short list of games, ideas, and suggestions for various ways to use the flashcards in a non-traditional way.

Another perk that we found when using them, is that Laura was able to recognize that many of her Spanish vocabulary words are derived from Latin roots. It was fun to watch her discover the meaning of the roots, then think of the corresponding Spanish word.

I love, love, love these cards. In fact, the company sells similar flashcards with science terms that are now on my wishlist.

But....I have two major problems with the cards. The first problem is that, while they did use a list of common roots for these, less than half are the words that are currently on the lists that the girls have to memorize for their weekly spelling/vocab lists. The flash cards definitely do not coincide with Abeka curriculum for either 6th grade or high school spelling/vocab. I REALLY wish they did! While I think it is definitely useful for the girls to learn these roots, regardless of whether or not it is on their regular weekly tests, it would have been SO nice for them to have flashcards that actually line up with the words they need for their weekly tests. It makes me want to make up my own, except I know any homemade ones I make would not be as nice as these cards are.

My other issue is that the back of these cards are blank! I think the producer missed out on a huge opportunity to print the meanings on the back of these cards. While they do include a list of meanings, it is extremely difficult to keep going back and forth between the list and the cards when you are trying to learn them.  I solved this by taking a black Sharpie and writing the meanings and clue word examples on the back of each card, which made them much more user-friendly for the girls, although it certainly doesn't look as nice as the front!

One challenging activity I did was to have the girls come up with new clue words using the roots. It was hard and certainly a brain stretcher!

As I mentioned, the set of cards sells for $39.99. While I think that the flashcards are extremely well done, and could be a very helpful part of studying words, I think the cost might make it prohibitive for many families to purchase them.

I know that the cards are already well enjoyed here, and I am sure we will get many more years of use out of them as the younger girls grow. I have full confidence that even if they struggle with some of their roots, there will be 60 roots that they will know very well!

If you would like to see what other members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of these cards, as well as some of the other products available from Lone Star Learning, please click the banner below:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the "Greek and Latin Roots" flash cards from Lone Star Learning through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own, or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.

1 comment:

  1. Luke found the same thing about the crossover between Spanish and Latin -- saved his butt more than once already! LOL He's drilling a few a week for SAT prep - he's got a little over a year and realized memorizing the dictionary isn't a viable option, so roots will help decode. Good review!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!