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4th grade class studies ancient Celtic language "Ogham"

This week, students in Ms. Lyons’ 4th-grade history class learned how to write their names in the ancient Celtic language, Ogham (pronounced “ow-um”), by carving them into clay. According to Ms. Lyons, the Celts used Ogham symbols to write on stones found across the British Isles. 
Ms. Lyons’ goal for the activity was to expose students to different cultures and writing systems so that they can see there are many different modes of expression of thought. She said, “The same nation that produced simple Ogham stones also created elaborate illuminated manuscripts. As we continue our studies of medieval history, students can see how rich and varied medieval culture was, even on one small island!”

In class, Ms. Lyons spoke about the theories behind the uses for Ogham, one being that it is simpler to carve lines into the stone as opposed to more complex Latin letters. Students got to experience this firsthand. 

Lydia Holland, 4th grade, was especially excited about the activity. “I am Irish so it was really cool to learn about this ancient Irish language,” she said. “It was difficult because some letters in English do not exist in Ogham.”

The language is especially challenging because it writes from bottom to top. Another 4th-grade student, Gus Brooks-Mitha, described the language and said, “It’s a language that uses diagonal, sideways, and straight lines. They would read from bottom to top and the vowels are dots.” 

Students got to bring home their clay tablets and show their families. Ms. Lyons said the students were very excited to carve their names. “Many of them are proud of their Irish heritage and felt a personal connection to this activity. Students are happy to have a tangible ‘souvenir’ of their studies and look forward to sharing them with their family.”
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