Wednesday 12 January 2011

Minimus Mouse Courses on Hadrian's Wall

My Big Plan for 2011 is to start to offer Minimus Mouse Courses on Hadrian's Wall - both at local schools and from our B&B. (Yes...I know our website is not finished yet...but completing it is part of the big plan!)

I'm a qualified Minimus Mouse Teacher (my blog post about going to Dulwich in 2008 to meet with Barbara Bell, the Minimus' author, and her colleagues is here). I'm starting to go to local primary schools to introduce the children to Minimus mouse.

It's a passion of mine and I wholeheartedly believe in the courses - Minimus and Minimus Secundus.

For those of you perpetually scarred by your schoolboy and schoolgirl Latin lessons please take note...this course is all about FUN!!!!! Here are a few facts about the course:

• Comic Strip Cartoon and Stories of Latin Mouse and Family. The story is based on a real Roman family who lived at Vindolanda, a Roman Fort in the area near Hadrian’s Wall, at the beginning of second century AD.

• Main Characters are: Flavius Cerialis (Dad and Fort Commander), Lepidina (Mum), Flavia (aged 16), Iulius (aged 13), Rufus (aged 3), Minimus (Mini Mouse) the mouse and Vibrissa (Whiskers) the cat. Also featuring Corinthus, Candidus and Pandora.

• The story is based on real archaeological finds found at Vindolanda (where archaeologists have been digging since the 1930’s and full time from 1970’s onwards).

• The Vindolanda Writing Tablets are Britain’s Top Treasure as voted by experts at the British Museum, have been found at Vindolanda - 1973 and onwards. The course draws upon the history and stories yielded by the writing tablets.

• Subjects covered include: the famous Birthday Party Writing Tablet, archaeological finds, music, design, drawing, geography, history, drama and acting, recipes, travel, roads, maps, Hadrian’s Wall information re – Vindolanda and other historical sites, Roman York, Greek myths, English poetry, chemical symbols, medicine, games, writing, jewellery making, weaving, shopping, learning about British tribes, the Roman army, bath times, Greek and Roman gods (to name but a few things!).

• Interactive learning: pronunciation of Latin words, Latin derivatives forming English words, syllabus supports learning of modern European languages and Key Stage 2 History (for children) and general background history for adults, helps with English vocabulary and grammar. Helps to refresh the Latin of children and adults who have already studied Latin.

• Guided visits by me (Hadriana) to the site and the museum to see where the family actually lived; what they did and what they used. (Vindolanda's Chesterholm Museum and The Roman Army Museum will be re-opened to great fanfare after their complete renovation this March 2011.)

• Written by Barbara Bell, MBE, and illustrated by Helen Forte

• Over 100,000 books sold: at least 10% of British Primary Schools are using this course.

• Internationally popular: Minimus is taught in Europe, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand

• Two stage course (Minimus and Minimus Secundus) with full colour cartoon stories, grammar and Greek myths published by Cambridge University Press Student books, teacher resource books, CDs and audiocassettes, DVD of Minimus the musical, further mini books as extension readers. Interactive website:

• Accessible to learners of all ages and abilities:

• “Minimus has introduced thousands of children to one of the great treasures of the British Museum. The delicate Vindolanda letters paint a vivid picture of everyday life in Roman Britain describing everything from birthday parties to knitted socks. Minimus takes this enthralling material and uses it well, bringing Latin and Roman Britain to life for its readers.” Neil McGregor, Director of the British Museum

• “Minimus flies off the Vindolanda Museum bookshelves as devotees indulge in the joyous adventures of this endearing Latin mouse. This is a wonderful way to introduce the Latin language to young people and it remains a firm favourite with children and parents alike.” Patricia Birley, MBE, Director of the Vindolanda Trust

• “When you finish the lesson Minimus makes you want to stay there forever.” Enthralled Minimus pupil

It's designed for 7-13 year olds but I know that people of all ages will get a lot of enjoyment out of studying it. (I'm teaching it to some adults as well who agree with me!) I'm also combining it with my guiding at Vindolanda (the fort) and The Roman Army Museum both of which are just down the road from here.

Ta da! That's what I am up to. Will keep you posted as I go along.....I'll also explain a few Latin bits and bobs as I go along too....

vale! valete! - Goodbye! (singular and plural forms of goodbye!) for now........Hadriana  :)


Fiona said...

Absolutely wonderful idea, go for it! I was always disappointed that more wasn't made out of our proximity to The Wall, history and heritage when 10 year old was at primary school. Waisted opportunity, too much control from central government with national curriculum. Hope your idea works! Just discovered they teach Latin at QEHS, 10 year old torn between that and Italian! Good luck!

the fly in the web said...

I loved Latin so it's wonderful to hear of this programme for young kids,,to think we had to wait until we were 11 to begin!

Expat mum said...

Fabulous. Your energy is a bit exhasuting though. I'll have to go for a lie down!

Maggie May said...

Sounds a very appealing idea!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Ladybird World Mother said...

You are a marvel, you really are. So nice to pop by and see you again! I ADORE Latin, and Middle Son was only asking at supper tonight, what is the point of Latin.... Well, I told him, good and proper. Wish I'd had you here to say more...
well done, and will be back soon. Hugs. xx

Hadriana's Treasures said...


I agree with you. I grew up in South Shields and Newcastle - went nowhere near the Wall. In retrospect I cannot believe it but rubbish transport connections etc...had me believing that Hadrian's Wall was akin to being on Mars! Part of all of this is to try and change all that...

P.S.: My friend, Mrs. Baring teaches Latin at QEHS and she is excellent. It must be up to your 10year old to decide. If I do say anything is that if you learn Latin first..learning Italian will be a doddle.

I learned Latin first at school and at the same time my father went to Italy to teach English (his best friend had English schools in Italy). I went with him. I was 13/14 and I lived with an Italian family for 3 months. The Latin I had learned help me learn the Italian. :)

Fly - I reckon that the earlier the better (as long as they like it!)...I've talked to the whole primary school not just targetting the older ones. In some respects I may have bitten off more than I can chew but it will be a good learning experience I reckon!! (on both sides hopefully...)

Expatmum - Yes. There are some days when I question it all. Am I doing the right thing? Am I mad?
Mind you - probably always been slightly bonkers. It helps I suppose!!!

P.S.: The film based on "The Eagle of the Ninth" is coming out Feb 11th. It's been retitled: "The Eagle". It's got Donald Sutherland in it and the Billy Elliott chap whose name I have just forgot!!

As I said in the blog post Vindolanda will be getting a big splash as some of the famous writing tablets will be coming back up here.

Tullie House Museum is launching a new Roman/Frontiers Gallery in the Summer over at Carlisle.

LWM: Thank you muchly! Your encouragement is fab. Really do appreciate it. My moods go up and down thinking about it. We have a lot to juggle (as everyone does I'm sure) but I think once I get started on actually DOING these courses then we'll be on track. I'll still be doing some guiding up at Vindolanda and The Roman Army Museum.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Jamie Bell is the Billy Elliott chap. Should remember that as both Bell and Elliott are Reiver names!

Film link is here:

To convince children/people/inanimate objects e.g. "What did the Romans and Greeks ever do for us?" re - benefits of learning Latin...Friends of Classics have a great leaflet...pdf here:


Hadriana's Treasures said...

Languages are so much fun.

I have great fun with English, Spanish, Italian, French, Latin and even Geordie!

But my ethos is not to bash people over the head with it. Learning should be about fun. Minimus is great for that! :)

OK. Am now back to the business plan....

Thank you all for your comments. Truly appreciated in these dark, damp days...

ADDY said...

I studied Latin up to the age of 21(doing it as a subsid for my German course at uni)and am saddened by the fact that schools no longer seem to teach it Even my daughter's private school only chose to teach it for 6 months in which time they hardly learned anything. It is so useful for understanding English (and other languages), German grammar and critical thinking. Such a pity that it gets pushed to the sidelines in favour of more trendy subjects.

Nota Bene said...

Marvellous idea...and a lot of fun!

Good luck

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Thank you, ADDY, for mentioning all of that. I agree with you esp. German grammar, critical thinking and English grammar. Plus more besides!

There has been a project launched called "Classics for All" - it aims to get Classics taught in state schools as mainstream subjects within the next ten years. You can read about it here:

There are some big names behind in it. It's not a government initiative - it's a private initiative. Dr Peter Jones, Bettany Hughes, Ian Hislop, Sir Tom Stoppard, Colin Dexter, Joanna name but a few are backing it.

They are serious about it. If anyone is interested in it for their/local UK school - the deadline for the first application for funds is 4th February 2011.

Thank you, Nota Bene, that is very kind of you!

Dumdad said...

You're now on my new blogroll.

Bonne Année!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

DD...Wishing you the very best of luck with your new wordpress blog. I'm already impressed! It's so clean, nice, uncluttered. Maybe I'll follow your example?

Happy New Year to you too. I'll update your link now. H :)

The bike shed said...

I so disliked Latin at school - bad teaching I think, though no doubt I contributed too. But I regret it now. It is important that some people (not necessarily all) study the classics in literature and language - Jane's cousin teaches Latin at a top public school, he's one of the cleverest fellows I know.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Mark,

I think a lot of subjects end up being badly taught. Quite often how a teacher reacts to you - is how you/one react(s) to the subject. My science teachers and maths teacher did not really hit it off. Therefore I did not take to those subjects.

I am stubborn though. I went into banking for many reasons. One of them was to convince myself that I was not bad at maths. In the end I wasn't but I still don't have a passion for numbers. A bit bizarrely I do like algebra and I wonder whether that's because it contains letters!

I want to teach this Minimus course to adults who want to learn some Latin/get started/want to refresh their school Latin. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm combining the course with hands on history too! :)

P.S.: I struggled with Tacitus and his "Agricola" at A-level too. Part of the reason I've delved into Hadrian's Wall is that I wanted to "crack" that problem. I think I have too - it's a fascinating subject for me now!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

science teacher, maths teacher plus me = we didn't dislike one another...just that we didn't "gel"...whereas my English, Spanish, Latin and Geography teachers were brilliant!

Wylye Girl said...

I wish you'd been my latin teacher, Hadriana. I might have kept it up then. Very best of luck with the courses. Did I give you my new blog address? If not, click on my name and you'll find it. I've blogrolled you. (formerly Mme Marmite)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hello Wylye,

I'll have to come and check you out in your new incarnation. Sorry for the late reply. I'm more than a bit snowed under at the moment...

Hopefully I'll be able to come up for air soon. :)

Anonymous said...

All sounds great.

Just one point about your site.
You highlight Neil Oliver's History Channel film on Hadrian's Wall as being very good?

It is just dire and full of the tired cliche bias' with the wrong date of construction, reason for it being built, wrong size (70 miles?), wrong locations etc etc.

I'm using it on my site Hadrian's Wall Live as a basis for debunking the myths about the Wall.

Cheers Paul

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your comment. Glad to see/hear that you are back up North. Hope your mum is feeling better now. Shame we did meet up for that pint. Maybe another time?

I agree with you to a certain extent about the Neil Oliver film. I know certainly that the name of one legion is incorrect. Having said that I like his passion and particularly when he and Tony Wilmott go into Chesters bathhouse - that is wonderful.

The problem with many things is that so much is done on the hoof these days - hence mistakes creep in.

My overall aim with this site is to encourage people to come to the area. Little films, on the whole, are quick things to watch and give an impression (hopefully a good one) of the region.

Yes - there are some mistakes but I think - here are two intelligent men having an excellent conversation about life here under the Romans. I admit the purists might not be too happy with it.

Equally my aim with language and history is that all is knowable and accessible. I have this thing that if we make things too difficult it will put people off initially. Sorry I'm on my soapbox now! :)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Shame we did NOT meet up for that pint. Ooh. er. I'm not getting tetchy about what you said - far from it. Good old debate is great and healthy. Just ask any archaeologist!!

I'm rushing because I've got a couple deadlines to meet today and I also desperately want to blog about the Egypt situation.