Review: Roman Roads Media

While I know that it's considered a 'dead language,' Latin is the source of many of the words and phrases that we still regularly use today. Also, for some reason, Breeze has been asking to study Latin for some time now. So reviewing Picta Dicta Natural World from Roman Roads Media was such a joy. And of course, the fact that one of my little interests is etymology really made this review a pleasure.

PictaDicta Natural World
 What it is

Picta Dicta Natural World is a Latin vocabulary builder. Made for younger elementary children, it's a self-paced course that uses wonderful hand-drawn illustrations, audio pronunciation guide, and interesting text to teach 400 Latin words. In this course, the words are from the natural world, so you learn the Latin names of animals, plants, body parts, land forms, metals and stones. The different topics are presented as chapters, the activities are games, and the levels of difficulty are called campaigns. You can choose the campaign for each student (easily changed in the Learner dashboard) according to their ability.

Learner Dashboard--where you can set the campaigns and monitor progress

The lowest levels start with English words (no Latin yet), and text is brief and read out loud. The upper levels get more challenging. You can choose to 'Train' on the upper right hand corner to practice with the games (which include matching the picture and the Latin word, typing the English word, or typing the Latin word). You can also test yourself by clicking on 'Go' on the upper right hand corner as well.

Sampling of topics. Note the 'Train' and 'Go' icons on the upper right hand corner.


The games that you can choose to practice. This selection option comes out when you click on 'Train'


There are 26 chapters in the entire course, and over 400 vocabulary words (nouns--there doesn't seem to be any conjugation involved at this level). There are courses for older students available: Picta Dicta Ancient World, Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder, and Visual Latin (which teaches grammar and reading in Latin). Also reviewed by other families of the Homeschool Review Crew is the Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric, a complete curriculum that teaches high school kids "the art of using words well."

How we used it and what we think about it

I set up both girls for the Reader I campaign. Once I set up their Learner accounts, they were able to login and do the lessons on their own. Raine (11, grade 6) and Breeze (8, grade 3) usually do a 15 to 20 minute session of Picta Dicta two to three times a week. In the Reader I campaign, you will need to go through the courses in order, starting from Animals I. You can, however, choose the game. Both girls have now moved on to chapter 4, Land Forms and Terrains.

The girls usually do Picta Dicta on the iPad or their geriatric laptop.

This is one of those review courses that both girls love.They love it so much that I actually use Picta Dicta sessions as a reward for finishing chores or other assigned activities. Hey whatever works, right?

I like how they are able to connect the Latin words to English words that they already know and use. We were even able to connect the Filipino word for skin, 'kutis,' to the Latin root, 'cutis.' I have been working with Raine in particular on trying to get the meaning of new words based on context clues, and on possible root words. Picta Dicta helps cement the some of the ideas. Breeze and I today learned that 'genu' is Latin for knee, and that's how we got the word 'genuflect' (I even sang, "Genuflect, show some respect, down on one knee!" from Disney's Ali Baba to further illustrate).

The girls, on the other hand, just think that Picta Dicta is pure fun. Perhaps the outright presentation of the exercises as games help make it so. I mean we've tried other online programs with similar exercise formats (they were called exercises or practice) but those didn't elicit a similar reaction. The gorgeous illustrations also helped a lot. There was nothing cartoonish or kiddie about the illustrations; they were realistic, and the girls (and I) loved them.

Finally, I like how the same lessons can be adjusted to different levels (see photos below). As you go higher, the lessons and the activities become more complex. It's a good way to review the words without it getting boring or tedious.

Lower level lesson


More advanced lesson on the same word


This was a win-win review for me and the girls. They enjoyed doing Picta Dicta Natural World without feeling burdened to "help Mommy with another review." I loved the whole concept of Picta Dicta, and it really is a well-made course. I hope to eventually move on to Visual Latin some day (not just for the girls, but for me!).

Other homeschooling families reviewed the different courses from Roman Roads Media. Click below to read about their experiences.


Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

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