10th August 2009

Barbara's American Tour - Photos from Laurel

Read the article in The Almanac, a Pittsburgh paper

See ZeeAnn's collage of pictures


10th July 2009


Queen's Birthday Honour for Minimus!

On Nov.10th  I will be going to Windsor Castle to receive an MBE .( Member of the Order of the British Empire). This honour has been awarded to me in the recent Queen's Birthday honours list . The citation reads " for services to local and National education. "

I am so delighted and deeply honoured. My family will join me and we are looking forward to another Minimus celebration! I am especially pleased that Classics will be  brought into the public eye  on this occasion.

14th June 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary School, Bristol

I visited a Catholic Primary school -Our Lady of the Rosary School, Lawrence Weston, Bristol. I enjoyed working with a class of yr 5 and 6 children who study Minimus on the timetable each week. We discussed Vindolanda, did word derivations and I gave them a preview of Minimus Secundus. As I stepped into the school I was greeted by two pupils who said " salve, magistra! expectatissima es !  Hello, teacher; you are very welcome! " They also presented me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  


I then took a year 4 class and we had a lesson on Roman and Celts. Finally I watched a splendid performance of " Palla Rubra" ( Little Red riding-Hood, in Latin, which the Latinists put on in front of the whole school. They spoke the Latin beautifully, trained by their teacher, Mrs. O'Neill,  and had done  a great job with the set and costumes.


14th June 2009


Visit to Northwood Prep

In May I spent a most enjoyable day at Northwood Prep. school in north London. I spoke to the whole school about the writing of Minimus and the work of the Primary Latin Project. I then taught 2 Year 4 classes who are studying Minimus. It was great to see the boys' enthusiasm for Latin ;they assured me that " Latin is cool! " My thanks to the Head of Classics, Richard Waddington, for inviting me.

10th May 2009

Barbara and Boris

Some encouraging words from Mayor of London Boris Johnson

"For many years, the Minimus Latin Project has been a beacon of educational innovation and excellence, helping to make classical culture, history and language accessible to a new generation of children from all backgrounds.  The classics should be for everyone and I would like to see more London schools offering young people the chance to learn and enjoy this subject. There is clear interest in the subject and the Primary Latin Project is to be congratulated on reaching the milestone of 100,000 copies sold."

30th April 2009
Minimus celebrates 100,000 copies
We have just returned from a wonderful weekend at Vindolanda, home of Minimus, celebrating sales of 100,000 copies of the first Minimus book. The mouse was published in 1999 so at the end of august he will also be 10 years old-so 2009 is a very special year.
The Primary Latin Project Committee always meets in April so we began the weekend with our committee meeting. Then we met children from a Newcastle Primary school who are taught by our Chairman, Jeremy Paterson in a Minimus club. They and their parents joined us on site for photographs ;they had each made a poster celebrating 100,000 copies! We toured the site together in glorious sunshine and also enjoyed the splendid Chesterholme museum.We watched the new DVD which shows archaeologists finding writing tablets and then the careful process of cleaning them in order to read the Latin.
In the evening we were joined by other supporters of Minimus for a celebration dinner at our hotel in Hexham.It was such fun to be together and to reminisce about how the Project has grown over ten years from very small beginnings.

On Sunday we had a fabulous walk on Hadrian's' Wall, from Steel Rigg to Housesteads and then toured Housesteads fort. The committee began to disperse in the afternoon. I will never forget this marvellous event; I was especially glad that my family could also be with me.

23rd April 2009

Meeting Caroline Lawrence

It was a great thrill to meet Caroline Lawrence, author of the Roman Mysteries series, at the British Museum in April. We had a delicious lunch to celebrate sales of 100,000 copies of Minimus! We discovered many links between us: our work is about introducing Latin and the Roman world to young children and we both have a passion for Italy and all things Italian, especially Sorrento!

I am delighted to report that Caroline has agreed to join the committee of the Primary Latin Project; now we will work together even more closely.

Find out more about Caroline and her books


February 2009

It was a great pleasure to visit my former pupil, Ben May, who is now Head of Latin at the Unicorn Prep. school in Kew. I spent a happy morning doing Minimus drama with his pupils in Years 5 and 6, as part of their Creative Arts week.

January 2009

In January, despite deep snow, I had a most enjoyable day at St. James' Church of England Primary school in Stourbridge, at the invitation of Linda Perkins. It was excellent to meet her Minimus club, to chat to them over lunch and to see their preparations for this year's mythology competition. I was so impressed with their IT skills- they have made a film of their Latin play. I then visited senior classes to talk about the advantages of learning Latin. I hope this will help with recruitment for next year's Latin club!

28th September 2008

MORE MiniBooks

Last summer I spent a few days in Bury St Edmunds with Helen Forte, writing the second set of MiniBooks. They are now finished, checked, illustrated and printed - and available to buy! We are very pleased with them, and hope they will be as popular as the first set.

1st June 2008

MiniDorm 2008


This year's MiniDorm is cancelled. We hope to see another in the future. Meanwhile, disappointed Minimus fans can look forward to the second set of MiniBooks...

10th May 2008

The Mouse in the Museum

It was splendid to see 300 pupils, plus teachers and parents, at our special day at the British Museum last month. For many pupils this was their first visit to this wonderful museum and I saw several jaw-dropping moments when they saw the Great Court and they marvelled at the sheer size of the museum. I also enjoyed speaking to many of them when seeing the Vindolanda Tablets for the first time, and I am sure my own pupils at Clifton High in Bristol echo the feelings of all of them; they were amazed at how tiny these scraps of wood are.

Pam Macklin had organised the day and it ran “like clockwork” as one delegate reported. Pupils were delighted to meet Helen Forte, the illustrator of both Minimus books and some had a sneak preview of the forthcoming second set of MiniBooks! Legio Secunda did a great job with their presentation of the Roman Army and Medicine and our chairman, Jeremy Paterson, spoke to each group about the people of Vindolanda and the significance of their names. Business on the Minimus Et Cetera stall was brisk throughout the day and pupils seemed to go home tired but happy clutching their purchases.

I am indebted to the staff from the British Museum who helped things to run smoothly and to the marvellous team of helpers.

Thank you to those who have sent feedback on the day which will help us to plan and improve the next one. We are considering similar Minimus days around the country at key Roman sites so please let me know how you feel about this.

Click here to see photos from the event!

5th April 2008

Minidorm 2008

Sign up now for this year's MiniDorm! Held over the weekend of July 12th and 13th at Bilton Grange prep school near Rugby, it promises to be a lot of fun for children aged between 9 and 12. Application forms and details are to be found here; if you need persuasion, look at the photos from last summer!

16 March 2008

March - It was a great pleasure to judge the Minimus class of the Southampton reading competition, held at St. Swithun's School. 4 schools competed and performed 3 different plays -
Iudiium Paridis, Dolium Pandorae and Androcles et leo.
The pupils entered into it with enthusiasm! They all dressed up and busy Mums and Teachers had created marvellous costumes and props. It was excellent to see so many children bravely performing in Latin, in a huge hall, in front of parents, teachers and of course each other. The Southampton branch awards medals- bronze, silver and gold- and clearly these are something to be treasured.
Congratulations to all the performers.
The event is sponsored annually by the Classical Association. Why not run one in your area? For information and advice, please get in touch with Mrs Diana Sparkes

23rd February 2008

Sat. Feb.2nd Dublin training day

It was lovely to return to Alexandra College, where the Classics department had organised a training day for anyone interested in Minimus and possibly using it in the future. 22 delegates attended, including staff from the school, from many different subject disciplines, local Classicists and 2 lawyers interested in Latin!

The day followed a similar pattern to the Minimus days run in England; I gave a general introduction to the activities of the Primary Latin Project, an overview of the content of Minimus and Minimus Secundus and talked about special events coming up and the support that PLP can give to Minimus teachers. One additional extra was a demonstration first Minimus lesson that I taught to 5 of the adults who knew no Latin themselves! They gallantly agreed to be my class and we had excellent fun.

The Dublin group is keen to take Minimus forward and I hope it will be possible to address a group of Principals or Curriculum planners from local Primary schools at some point. Meanwhile, armed with our new publicity leaflet, several of the delegates have already started having those all-important one-to-one conversations with those who they think should know about Minimus. It is thus that the Minimus gospel is spread.

vobis gratias ago!

Also in February, I very much enjoyed visiting Fairfield School in Backwell, near Bristol, to meet the Year 6 children who are using Minimus. It is always good to answer their questions about the background to the Minimus story and to share with them my love of Latin and especially the extraordinary site of Vindolanda. The children also read to me in Latin, translated a story and acted it.

I am always pleased to be able to do such visits; please get in touch if you would like to arrange one to your school ( normally on Mondays and Thursdays )

16th January 2008

The Mouse in the Museum - Please book soon !

I am looking forward to meeting many teachers and students of Minimus at our special day in the British Museum on Sat. April 26th. Places are filling up fast so do book soon. The deadline for bookings to be in is Jan.31st.

6th January 2008


In December, I spent three days in Stuttgart, taking part in a conference on the teaching of ancient languages. The delegates were from universities, secondary and primary schools. There was plenty of interest in 'Minimus', and several people asked me when the German edition will be available. A representative from Klett was present and he expressed great interest in Minimus. Many more German teachers have joined our mailing list and I was pleased to have the opportunity to work with them. See photos here.


In November, I visited Richard Pate School in Cheltenham. I very much enjoyed meeting pupils in Year 5, who had just done a few weeks of 'Minimus'. I taught them 'Old Macdonald' in Latin (available as one of our support sheets) and we had a lot of fun performing it.

I then worked with Year 6 on 'Arca Pandorae', a play written by Anne Chapman at Downside, which is also available as a support sheet. I was very impressed by the speed with which they understood the Latin. It is quite a demanding play but they mastered it superbly well. It is always a very great pleasure to meet pupils who are so clearly enjoying 'Minimus' and gaining so much from it. See photos here.

17th December 2007

Dublin Trip

In mid November I enjoyed a marvellous visit to Dublin. I was invited by Joan Wright, a Classics teacher at Alexandra College in Dublin, an Independent Girl’s School, which is one of four remaining schools in the country which teaches Classical Greek. I was asked to deliver a public lecture about Minimus; this was one of a series of annual lectures in memory of a former Headmistress of the school who was a Classicist. The lecture was well attended and seemed to go well and it produced a very pleasing response. Some of those present want to get involved in the Granny Latin Scheme. Others are keen that there should be a training event in Dublin and I will be returning to run such a day on Saturday, 2nd February 2008 at Alexandra College. If this is something that you think you might like to get involved in please do join us on the 2nd February. If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to email me on bmbellmini@aol.com

To see the photos of the Dublin trip, click here

22nd November 2007

Boris Johnson, MP

In recent months it has been excellent to have the support of Boris
Johnson (MP for Henley) in our Minimus activities. I was invited to the
House of Commons in June to meet Boris at a reception for Classics teachers
who are involved in promoting Classics in the state system. Having had a
privileged education himself, Boris is very keen to make Classics accessible
for those in the state system. The June reception was a celebration of
recent successes in this area and was a very upbeat occasion. Several MPs
spoke warmly of Minimus and we promised to work together further in the

On 1st November I was again honoured to meet Boris Johnson at the House of
Commons. I outlined to him the ways in which Minimus has expanded over the
last 12 years and we discussed some possible ways in which the Government
could support Minimus. I was delighted that he wrote immediately to Andrew
Adonis (House of Lords) with a copy to Ed Balls (Secretary of State for
Education) urging them to put serious Government support behind Minimus.

We have invited Boris to join us at our special Minimus Day at the British
Museum (Saturday, 26th April) but since this is the weekend before the
elections for Mayor of London it seems unlikely that he will be able to join
us but he has promised to pop in if he can!

I am also hoping to persuade him to visit my own school, Clifton High School
in Bristol, to see how we deliver Classics and I am particularly keen that
he should meet a very strong GCSE set who study both Latin and Greek in one
slot of curriculum time.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting him; I was amazed by the business of his day
and the phenomenal amount of correspondence that he clearly has to deal with
I really value his support for Minimus and hope it will be possible to
work with him again in the future.

11th November 2007

Visit to Kings College London
    In early October, I was delighted to address students at Kings College London who are training to be Classics teachers. We looked at the content of Minimus and the different ways that it is being used throughout the world; I outlined the support that the Primary Latin Project can give to Minimus teachers and then we shared ideas for a first Minimus lesson. The students are eager and enthusiastic and I feel very sure that the future of Classics teaching in this country is in good hands.
Visit to the Oxford Outreach Centre

    Later that week, I had a splendid visit and was delighted to meet Lizzie Belcher from Oxford University who is in charge of outreach work in schools. Lizzie and I are hoping to run an event for schools based on Vindolanda later in the year. Meanwhile, I will be running a Minimus training event in Oxford on Thursday January 17th for graduates and teachers.

London Training Day - November 3rd 2007

We had a great day at James Allen's Girls School in Dulwich, London. 15 delegates attended and with the help of my speakers - Oliver Makower and Diana Sparkes (state schools) and Michelle Anderson (Independent school) - we discussed setting up Minimus clubs, using Minimus on the timetable, the content of both Minimus books and the support that the Primary Latin Project can give to teachers. Diana also had us all taking parts and reading 3 short Latin plays out loud! I always enjoy these training days and learn a lot myself. See details of 3 more training days this year.....

23rd September 2007

Mouseholes Conference

Yesterday I attended a meeting in London of the Minimus " Mouseholes"-the local representatives who help other teachers of Minimus and who are helping to spread the word. It was a most interesting day, hearing what each person is doing in her area. The day ended with Jeremy Paterson, our chairman, taking us over to the British Museum to see the Vindolanda writing tablets. They are now open again and it was a lovely end to the day.  
Thanks to all our representatives who are doing so much to promote Latin through Minimus. Perhaps you might consider doing this work in your area? Please get in touch for details.

23rd September 2007


Publicity Leaflets

Leaflets -Our new Minimus publicity leaflet has just been printed. It has all the key information about the various Minimus publications and explains what Minimus is and how it fits in the classroom. It also has some important quotations from those using it.

We have had 50,000 printed and we would value your help in distributing them. If you could give them out at special events, or in your local area, please contact me and I will post some to you. I hope you like it and thank-you in advance for your help.

17th September 2007

The Mouse goes to Germany


We have a number of people on the Minimus mailing list from Germany. In 2004 we enjoyed meeting German teachers  and visiting a school near Munster where I taught a Minimus taster lesson. Now I will be returning to Germany again; in December I will be doing a presentation at a conference on Ancient Languages in Stuttgart


13th September 2007

Minimus in Ireland
In recent years I have very much enjoyed meeting teachers in Ireland who are interested in Minimus. In 2003 I spoke at the Classical Association meeting in Cork  and in October 2006 I enjoyed being part of a Curriculum conference in Dublin.
This August Nick and I received typical warm Irish hospitality when we attended the Classical association of Ireland's annual conference in Limerick. The theme of the event was
 'The Weather ". My presentation was " Latin-Whatever the Weather". I tried to argue that Latin  can and should be taught to all students -whatever their age and ability, and throughout the world.
 I have been invited back to Dublin, this time to give a public lecture on Thurs. Nov.15th.The following morning I will be giving a taster lesson Minimus lesson in a school.

Thank-you for all the interest in Minimus in Ireland!

12th September 2007
New Minimus products
We are pleased to announce 3 new Minimus products. They are key-rings, for 50p each, rulers (6inches) for 75p each and fridge magnets for £1 each. Each has a picture of Minimus, with our slogan 'The mouse that made Latin cool."
Please note that they can only be bought from Nick and Barbara Bell at our Minimus et cetera address.

They would make ideal small prizes for competitions and stocking-fillers at Christmas!

6 September 2007


More Minibooks

In August I met Helen Forte and spent 3 days working with her on the second set of Minibooks.  The stories involve all the family from "Minimus " plus several of the new characters from "Minimus Secundus."  Helen will now be very busy adding the illustrations.

With any luck we just might get these stories published by Christmas. Watch the website for a publication date!

We hope you like them - do let us know! 

11 August 2007


In July I had a fantastic time at our 2nd Minidorm, held at Bilton Grange Prep. school. Tim Wheeler, Head of Classics at Bilton Grange, organised a wonderful weekend for the 34 pupils who attended. They made mosaics and Roman helmets, did some language work and played on the Minimus website with Helen Forte; everyone performed plays in Latin and learnt some soldiers' commands  and  the Greek alphabet. On the Saturday evening we had a Roman banquet, with genuine Roman recipes. Everyone dressed up in Roman costume -see the photos to see how splendid everyone looked!


Tim will be organising another Minidorm in  2008 , from July 12-13th. Make a note of the date and try to join  us for a weekend of Minimus fun!

Barbara Bell with Boris Johnson and Minimus
Barbara Bell and Helen Forte
Barbara Bell meets Caroline Lawrence to discuss Minimus

Click picture for a bigger version

Photos from Barbara's recent visit to Copenhagen: with school and University teachers in Copenhagen; with the statue of Hans Christian Andersen. One story-teller to another?