(in response to questions on elists)
Our family began studying Latin in the Fall of 2007, and in response to discussions on various lists, I've put up this page for resources we've found inspiring, since many people find it hard to imagine "Latin" and "inspiring" can exist in the same realm.
For my elementary aged daughters: My daughters were 6 and 8 years old when we started out using an introductory Latin course, Minimus: Minimus Pupil's Book: Starting out in Latin (Cambridge Latin Texts) and Minimus Secundus Pupil's Book: Moving on in Latin. This is an outstanding series for introducing elementary age Latin, published by Cambridge University Press. Minimus uses a reading approach to learning Latin in context, and follows a Roman family (with their mouse, Minimus, and cat, Vibrissa) in ancient times in the Roman Britain town of Vindolanda.
The stories are based on actual archeological evidence from the locations they live and travel to. All I can say is, it is FUN. It's often functioned as bedtime reading when my girls didn't want to stop reading the stories. The student books are well constructed, and beautifully illustrated in full color. There is an online homeschool co-op that can provide you with more information, see MinimusHS.
After less than a year of working through Minimus, we moved into Cambridge Latin Course (North American 4th Ed)
combined with Lively Latin.
Lively Latin is a Latin program developed by Latin teacher and homeschool parent. I heard so many personal recommendations from homeschoolers taking her classes that we decided to try her distance learning plans. This is essentially a Latin unit study, incorporating English and Latin grammar, English and Latin vocabulary /derivatives, cultural history and lots of activities. My kids find it a lot of fun, and I find it very substantial. I initially had concerns my youngest could keep up, as it is a worksheet based program and there is a lot of writing. However, if I did much of the writing and she narrated, she was able to do this at age 7. It is the only worksheet-type curriculum I have ever successfully used, it is well designed. By about age 11 or 12, it may be overkill on the repetition and the "young" aspect of the program, although some families on the LatinClassicalEd list have used it with kids this age successfully.
For my middle schooler: In 2007, our family combined funds with another to have a Latin/classics teacher meet with us once a week for about a year. We started out using the 1989 version of Jenny's First Year Latin (The Allyn and Bacon Latin program). The teacher found the text and support materials to be the best she could find for high school. Jenney has a long history of being a well-liked text, with pacing being the only problem for high school classes. As we go at our own pace, this is not a problem. It is a grammar program but has readings, historical and cultural contact that make it interesting.
Our teacher has the Workbook and Teacher's Manual for this course and was competent in Latin. Without those support materials, it is very difficult to learn, unless you yourself know Latin. These can be hard or impossible to find as they are out of print. FWIW, on a Latin educators list, this older version of Jenney is well respected, much more than the newer version.
We also discovered Cambridge Latin Course (North American 4th Ed), and began blending Jenney with this text. The effect was an immediate increase in the kids' enjoyment. The story line is very fun and engaging, and keeps you reading Latin! Jenney explains the grammar we encounter in Cambridge fairly concisely. Cambridge has a large following and there is an excellent elist for support from teachers around the world using it in a variety of settings: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CambridgeLatin/
I obtained Lingua Latina: Pars I: Familia Romana for myself, because I am a reader and a reading approach to learning appealed to me. It is enjoyable because you pick up vocabulary through repeated use in context, and grammar rules are introduced in contextual situations as well. This can be used with middle school on up. There is a great support list for Lingua http://nxport.com/mailman/listinfo/oerberg
Now (this is written in March '10) I am working with my girls at ages 10 and 12. We are using a combination of Jenney First Latin (going through the same materials my son did), very slowly, and I am using Lingua Latina with them as well. We use the CD-Rom that goes with the program for reading and answering the "pensa" (questions). We also use Cambridge for reading. Because we are using three books, we go slowly, but as each text has a lot of richness and depth, and they are learning, I prefer this approach to using one text. The slower pace is a plus, as Jenney is a middle school / high school text, and my girls are 4th and 6th graders. But they enjoy the combination of some written work (the Jenney workbook has you writing in Latin right away) and lots of reading.
I am not a Latin expert, I have relied on recommendations of others. There are other programs that might be worthy of trying. These we selected based on the fact that they allow us to study Latin in a holistic manner and they make it fun for us. The Jenney text would probably not be nearly as lively if it were not for the experience we had for one year with our Latin teacher, however. She was truly an inspiring teacher for us all.
More information on Latin learning methods can be found at the LatinTeach website and this article in particular: How to Teach Latin?