Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Where did you go? Fun Back to School Activity for World Language Classes

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I ALWAYS ENJOY A NEW BACK TO SCHOOL ACTIVITY for my elementary Spanish classes....even though I have a whole host of ones I've done and loved, I am always on the search for something different, especially as I like to differentiate what I do at each level so I don't hear "we did this last year, Señora" (gotta keep it fresh, my friends!). This past year, after every vacation we did a poll to find out where everyone went during the time off. I framed it as a simple question "¿Adónde fuiste durante las vacaciones?" and gave the sentence starter "Yo fui a ____" as a prompt along with some possibilities (locations such as the name of various states, towns, stores & restaurants, as well as My grandma's house, My friend's house, etc). It was a great way to re-enter school after vacation, and allowed us to expand on the conversation via follow up questions and reactions in the target language.

Write a Postcard Back to School Activity for Spanish Class

TO BUILD ON THIS IDEA, having students write a postcard telling where they went is a natural next step! Whether it is as simple as one sentence for younger students, or several lines for middle or high school, telling about your vacation is an authentic way to communicate, and is very relevant- AS LONG AS THE INFORMATION IS SHARED. Having students tell about their vacation only to have the information turned in makes little sense and doesn't give meaning to the activity.

AN EASY WAY TO SHARE WRITING for younger students is to have them read their postcard aloud to the class while you record the answers on the board. As repeats come up, you can put tally marks next to the answer. Once all postcards have been read, debrief, counting up as a class how many people went where, asking follow up questions such as asking other classmates whether they, too, had gone to destinations named during the activity, whether they liked it, etc.

Write a Postcard Back to School Activity for Spanish Class


FOR OLDER STUDENTS, have them come to the center of the room and form two circles, one inner and one outer, forming pairs. Provide the supportive language "I also went to ___" and "I didn't go to ____". The activity starts by one partner reading their postcard to the other- the second student has to respond with one of the above. If they both went to the same place, they can raise their hands and you can mark a point on the board. (See more about this in a moment!). They then switch and the second partner reads his/her postcard and first student responds. Again, if they both went to the same place, they raise their hand and a point is awarded. Monitor the conversation, ring a bell or other sound to have the inner circle move over one space to a new partner, and start again. Keep going in this fashion until students have gotten all the way around the circle. Tally up the points and have a competition between classes in the same grade level- winners get a 5 minute dance party or other fun activity!

NEED POSTCARD TEMPLATES TO INCORPORATE THIS IDEA IN CLASS? We've got them in both Spanish and French!

Write a Postcard Back to School Activity for Spanish Class


https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Saturday, July 22, 2017

How to Send Your Stuffie or Mascot on an Imaginary Trip for Spanish Class

PEPITA, OUR INTREPID BUNNY RABBIT, has gone on trips to visit her family in South America every year for almost two decades. Yes, that's right! And with the advent of email and social media more readily accessible in the classroom, bringing this to life with my elementary Spanish students has been even more fun and meaningful!

Send Your Class Mascot on an Imaginary Trip

MOUNTING AN IMAGINARY TRIP FOR YOUR STUFFIE is a great way to incorporate travel, culture, and communication skills in the target language and most importantly, taps into young childrens' imagination, which is still very much intact. Little kiddos still believe that stuffed animals talk and go on adventures, which means they will be very motivated and excited by their class mascot going on a trip. Here are some tips to make this successful:

*HAVE YOUR STORY THOUGHT OUT BEFOREHAND: In the first few years of doing this activity, I was not prepared for the many questions my students would ask about how Pepita got to the airport, plane details, who would pick her up at the airport in Argentina (that's where her family lives), and so on. I quickly learned I had to have these details thought out so the questions were easy to answer- 'Oh, I bring Pepita to the airport.', 'Yes, the stewardess will take good care of her on the plane and help her at the layovers', 'Yes, she loves the pretzels on the plane!', 'Her parents will definitely be at the airport!', 'Yes, her family has a computer.' and so on.

*PLAN AN ITINERARY: Before your stuffie heads off, you and your students can go over her 'itinerary'- this is a great way to incorporate maps and travel plans! You can also "pack" her suitcase!

*TAKE SOME PHOTOS OF YOUR STUFFIE WITH OTHER STUFFIES: These will be great to "send back" to the class during her trip! One year I bought 7 rabbit puppets (it was Easter time) and kept them hidden- they were Pepita's family. I actually started having one come back with her for a visit after she returned- that was hilarious!

*WRITE A POSTCARD TO YOUR STUFFIE: Writing a postcard to the stuffie while he/she is away is a great communicative activity that little kids love to engage in, and because they believe the stuffie is real, it is an authentic activity for them. Before starting the activity, brainstorm and review postcard writing conventions such as appropriate greetings, leave takings, messages and so forth. For little kids, post these on the board so they can copy them without having to try and sound out / spell the target language- this allows them to focus on the message.

*HAVE YOUR STUFFIE WRITE TO THE CLASS: Whether your mascot writes an email, a postcard, sends messages via Instagram or Snapchat, this is a great way to share culture with your students while your stuffie is on vacation. You can find photos on Pinterest or the internet to "send" to the class or use your own from travels. You can also pose your stuffie in front of a picture in a book to make it look like she/he is in the location.

WOULD YOU LOVE TO HAVE YOUR STUDENTS WRITE POSTCARDS but need a template? Grab ours here!

Write a Postcard Activity in Spanish Class


https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Resources & Ideas for Teaching About Colombia in Your Elementary Spanish Class

COLOMBIA IS ONE OF MY "PAISES ADOPTADOS", one of several countries I am particularly attached to outside of my native US. I have many dear friends from Colombia, who have made the culture a treasured part of my heart. Here are some ideas on how you can incorporate this amazing country in your elementary Spanish classes:

Resources for Teaching about Colombia in Elementary Spanish Class

*NATIONAL SYMBOLS: Just as here in the US, national symbols are a great introduction to the culture and identity in other countries, ones which little kiddos are typically really interested in. Coloring the flag is a great place to start, along with looking at the map and identifying regions and/or landmarks. Colombia's national symbols are:
-National Flower: Cattleya Trinnae, May Flower, which is a species of orchid
-National Bird: Andean Condor
-National Tree: Wax Palm Tree

*MUSICALIBRE.COM.CO is an incredible website from Colombia full of children's songs, games, and more. And don't miss Cantoalegre, another AMAZING resource of songs and videos from Colombia!

Resources for Teaching about Colombia in Elementary Spanish Class

*FERNANDO BOTERO is a famous artist whose paintings and sculptures (the ones appropriate for littles) can be used to practice colors, numbers, shapes, and lots more! Along with images of his works, here is a great short video for kids from Argentina :


*MAKE PATACONES...MMMMMMMM! One of my favorite Colombian foods, I can't get enough of them! And, since they are so easy to make, they are a great choice for class (as well as not having to worry about nut allergies or gluten free!). Here's a link to a simple recipe from Una pizca del hogar.

*SPEAKING OF DEAR FRIENDS, CAROLINA from Fun for Spanish Teachers has a series of great resources about her native country. Here are a few, and be sure to explore her blog for more!
-A FREE downloadable mini book featuring various aspects of Colombia- grab it by clicking this link!
-Super cute BULLETIN BOARD SET!! I love the photo booth props that go along with it! Click here

Resources for Teaching about Colombia to Elementary Spanish Class

*EL BIBLIOBURRO is truly an amazing man (Carolina has met him!) and an inspiration to all. Team up with your school librarian to teach about him and reinforce the importance of reading and books in one's lives. 'Waiting for the Biblioburro Esperando el Biblioburro' by Monica Brown is a great picture book to share with elementary students.

*PEPITA VA A COLOMBIA Activity Pack is part of our travel series featuring our rabbit, Pepita, and introduces students to Colombia in context with simple sentences in Spanish, and includes additional activities to teach about this terrific country! You can find it here!

Resources for Teaching about Colombia in Elementary Spanish Class

Have fun!

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Using Photos of Yourself and Family to Convey Meaning in a 90% Target Language Classroom

I'M A BIG PROPONENT OF TEACHING FROM 'I' OUTWARD in foreign language classes, meaning beginning with autobiographical information and working outward from there. When I think about novice speakers and what situations they might find themselves in in relation to native speakers, most likely they will be introducing and/or answering questions about themselves, so vocabulary and structures that help them interact is key. To that end, learning the first person singular becomes quite important, and serves a secondary purpose as well- building community in your class. There are loads of activities you can do that involve students talking about themselves, such as graphing and polling the class about how many brothers/sisters they have (or pets!), what their favorite color/fruit/animal/number/etc is, sharing likes/ dislikes/ preferences with food, and so on. All of these are very accessible activities for novices, and helps them stay in the target language rather than tasks which see students devolving into using English because the task really isn't at the right language level for them. But I digress....

Strategies for teaching 90% in the target language

OF COURSE, IF WE WANT OUR STUDENTS TO SPEAK IN THE FIRST PERSON SINGULAR, and we also teach 90% in the target language, I believe we need to model the construction. Yes, you can also translate, or go through an explanation of the 'why', but most specifically with little kids (and with all ages, in my opinion), modeling concrete sentences works very well for these types of simple autobiographical constructions. I find that one of the best ways to help me convey meaning when modeling sentences using 'yo' is to point to photos of myself WITH my family, my pets, my house, etc. My students quickly intuit that I am talking about myself, because I am in the picture! The construction(s) we are focusing on then becomes all the more comprehensible and I can ask them questions whose answers use that construction, without needing to translate.

Señora: Soy yo. Yo tengo un perro. Es mi perro, Yosha.
Señora: Mason, soy yo, Señora. Yo tengo un perro. ¿Cuántos perros tienes tú?
Mason: dos
Señora: Ah, bueno, yo tengo un perro. Tú tienes dos perros, ¿cierto?
Mason: Sí.
Señora: Ah, repite 'Yo tengo dos perros.'
Mason: Yo tengo dos perros.
Señora: ¡Qué súper! Y Lila, ¿cuántos perros tienes tú? Yo tengo un perro, y Mason tiene dos perros. ¿Y tú, Lila? ¿Cuántos perros tienes tú?

and so on, coming back to kids who have already answered, sometimes asking them the question again to elicit the answer a second time (I like to keep them on their toes! :) ) and gradually adding in more questions, always modeling and pointing to the photo as I go. This example activity can be done completely in the target language with the aid of just one photo! (and my adorable Yosha :) )

So, get your camera out, co-opt your family into a photo shoot and corral the pets! Have fun! :)

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Monday, July 3, 2017

Reflections on Teaching Kindergarten Spanish 100% in the Target Language

SO, THIS PAST YEAR I DECIDED, SOMEWHAT LAST MINUTE, TO TEACH MY KINDERGARTEN CLASSES ALL IN SPANISH, 100% in the target language....oh, and not only that, but I pretended that I didn't understand English either, which as I look back, was one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. I'll come back to that in a moment, but suffice to say, the language learning I saw taking place in my students was amazing, even better than all my other kiddos being taught at 90%, which I had been thinking was astounding in and of itself. Here are my reflections on how my year went, a year where after 23 years teaching, it was so exciting to still be learning, growing professionally and trying something new!

Teaching Kindergarten Spanish 100% in the Target Language

LET ME START FROM THE BEGINNING, as it were...the first week of school I asked my Kindergarten homeroom teachers to introduce me to their students, tell them that I teach Spanish, and that I don't speak or understand English. Honestly, I hadn't planned on that part (the no speaking/understanding English part) until a few minutes before my first class arrived, but as I said above, I am so grateful I did! Why? Because it set up a dynamic where my students had to figure out how to communicate with me in a way I would understand. This is profoundly different than the typical dynamic where we, as teachers, are the only ones in the room trying to figure out how to communicate in a comprehensible fashion, and that difference is key. I firmly believe my students' brains had to literally rewire in order to function effectively in class, a true immersion setting within the short time frame I have with them each week. Rather than relying on English when they couldn't remember a word in Spanish, they had to learn to use gestures, point, act things out, and use the limited Spanish they did know to get their requests, messages, and needs across....AND THEY DID IT!  And they did it because they BELIEVED they needed to. Some better than others, admittedly, but WOW! my kiddos picked up vocabulary and expressions on a scale I had not seen before, even my 90% students.

SO HOW DID I DO IT? Honestly, I'm not entirely sure! It was very organic, and often experimental, but here are a few things that were key:

*I took the concepts of teaching 90% in the target language and applied them to every minute of class. (Click on the categories '90%' and 'comprehensible input' to see my many posts on this!)

*I learned to be even more patient than usual... as in, I didn't expect language acquisition to happen at the snap of the fingers. Waiting for the process to unfold, without rushing it or worrying that it wasn't going to happen at all, was a true test for me...I had to have faith that, yes, they were going to understand this one word or phrase, I just had to give it time. And just like teaching 90%, as a teacher, it's necessary to make the commitment to having some things just take longer (like giving instructions for example!).

*I narrated everything I did (part of the 90% technique- see my post here on this) which provided loads of input in context.

*I didn't worry if they didn't understand every single word I said; it was my objective to surround them with language, most, but not necessarily all, of which was comprehensible. I relied on the idea that they would negotiate / intuit meaning based on the context.

*I never reacted or answered a kid who said or asked me something in English. I stayed in character the entire year; I did fudge some "understanding" on my part when they were trying to get a point across, most especially when it was a behavioral issue where a kiddo was upset. In these instances I would "understand" far more quickly than in some other situations where it wasn't key that I dealt with hurt feelings, bullying, or other issues. This 'staying in character' was one of the most challenging aspects, especially when around other adults, students, or parents in the building.

*My tone, facial expressions, and body language did a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of building relationships with my students. It is amazing how much we convey without ever saying a word, and put to bed any worries I had that I wouldn't be able to build relationships with my students without the use of English.

*As always, I was very intentional about building a common core set of vocabulary that we all worked off of- I say this because I want to be sure I am clear that I still followed my curriculum, helping my students learn the skills that I have laid out for Kindergarten Spanish. The backbone of the curriculum centers around themes in which vocabulary/ structures are introduced, practiced, and reinforced, with subsequent themes building on and expanding previous content. Without a common language to interface with, one that I've identified as key words/structures/ skills, I feel too much random action can happen which is more difficult to build upon throughout the year and, going forward, throughout the K-4 sequence and beyond. This is not to say impromptu conversation didn't, or doesn't happen; it happens regularly in my classroom, but I look for ways to tie that impromptu conversation back into, or bring into that impromptu conversation, our core vocabulary and structures so that they keep coming up, keep being reinforced and practiced. This goes back to that intentional planning behind everything I teach; it's always at the back/ front of my mind, and continued to be the focus even while teaching 100% in Spanish. Intentional planning + comprehensible input + organic, natural interactions= a great equation for learning!

*I reached out to parents and informed them of what I was doing and why. This was important to get them on board, and to reassure them that their kid would be well taken care of - which, they were!

WHAT WILL I ADD/ DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT YEAR?

*Establish a set of signs (hand signals) that I can teach the kids from the start so they can communicate certain requests with me- we already have a sign for going to the bathroom, but I would like to add a few others. (Such as 'It's an emergency!'). These I will couple with visuals to help convey meaning when they are initially introduced.

*Have a series of photos on my wall of various locations and people around the school, most especially the nurse's office and nurse. These I can then point to (or they can) when referencing these locations and people. (Other locations, for instance, include the playground and cafeteria). These, along with other key visuals, I will be sure to put at a height THEY can reach to point to!

*Model, teach, and incorporate the following key words/phrases right from the first day together: yo, tú, es mi turno, repite, quiero, esto/esta (I, you, it's my turn, repeat, I want, this). There are lots of other words that I did start with and am glad I did; I just want to be sure these are included as well, right from the beginning. I think I waited too long to realize I needed to emphasize these. I mean, seriously, how did I miss how important 'turno' is to a 5 year old??!!

*Speak with my colleagues, secretaries, principal and parents beforehand to give them a better head's up of how I was going to interact with THEM when my Kinder students are present (as in, no talking in English with them if the Kinders are in earshot). The importance of getting their cooperation and understanding around this became more and more evident as the year progressed.

*In the spirit of the above, I need to create a series of short phrases in Spanish and images to go along with them that allow me to communicate with colleagues, etc, when it is necessary without lapsing into English. Some examples include '_____ is in the bathroom.', '_______ is at the nurse's office.', 'I need to touch base with you later about ______.' I can then point to these when talking in front of the students.

CURIOUS AS TO HOW MY CLASSES LOOKED AND SOUNDED? Visit my Youtube channel where I've posted a number of videos of us in class, including this one from our very first day together:



https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Narrating Your Actions in the Target Language to Provide Comprehensible Input

THERE ARE MANY WAYS WE PROVIDE COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT in the target language during our time spent with students. A simple way to do this that allows students to intuitively understand what you are saying, and over time they pick up vocabulary, is to narrate your actions as you do them. So, for example, if I am tying a kid's shoes, I narrate the entire process, step by step, in Spanish. Or if I am getting materials out, or helping a kid with an activity, whatever I might be doing, I narrate my actions. This input is not always the key vocabulary we are working on, but it fosters genuine communication in the language and creates an environment where the language is used all the time as the mode of interaction, just as you would talk to a child in any other setting- in a natural, interactive way that just happens to also provide loads of input.

Teaching with Comprehensible Input in the Foreign Language

A KEY PART OF TEACHING IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE is keeping up your own language skills- follow pages and accounts on social media that provide the kind of input that helps you provide this kind of 'narrative' input. For example, on Instagram, I follow a lot of primary teachers from Spanish speaking countries- I love reading their posts about activities they are doing in the classroom! Here are a few of the accounts I follow (and don't forget to follow us! @mundodepepita)
* @elauladecarla
* @letratouille
* @aprender_jugando
* @laclasede_elena
* @maestrasmolonas
* @maestras_activas
* @maestra.primaria
* @maestra_lis
* @candelaclase


Happy teaching!
https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tips for Having Your High school Students Teach Spanish to Elementary School Kids

MY DISTRICT IS VERY LUCKY IN THAT WE HAVE AN ELEMENTARY SPANISH PROGRAM starting in Kindergarten (I started the program in 1998, if you can believe that!), but I know that many districts are not so fortunate. One way districts have found to provide a fun language connection in the elementary school is to have high school students come down to teach basic vocabulary to the littles. Here are some quick tips to make that a successful venture in your district (until there's enough funding to start a full on elementary program! :) ) :


*CHOOSE VOCABULARY SETS THAT ARE CONCRETE, such as numbers, colors, animals, foods, etc and that of high interest to little kids. These also provide a great base to work off of!

*KEEP THE ACTION GOING! Little kids have short attention spans, so having a variety of activities is key! Mix up the lesson with movement activities, songs, games, and LOTS OF HANDS ON activities. The average attention span in minutes is approximately the same as the age of the kiddo- so, a five year will be focused for about 5 minutes before he/she is heading to squirrel town... yep, I live this every day! Four Corners is a great activity to keep them moving and practicing vocabulary-here's how I get the most out of it!

*DID I MENTION HANDS ON? Toys, counters, cut out pictures, games that involve manipulatives, play food, etc are always going to increase the motivation of elementary students, so incorporating them in lessons will keep more focus on your budding teacher and less on the ant crawling across the floor. My students LOVE pom poms- click here to see a post I wrote on activities you can do with them!

*WHOLE GROUP ACTIVITIES are extremely helpful for class management, especially for the really young ones (Kindergarten and First Grade). Waiting to take turns is hard for littles, especially with their short attention spans (yes, I mention it again!), so songs, whole group games, stories, poems, etc are great ways to keep everyone together and learning. If your high school student does want to do a turn-taking activity, look for something that has a surprise within it, or something that the whole class can take part it even while one kiddo is taking a turn.

Go fishing game to practice numbers in elementary language class
Attach paper clips to pictures of fish (ours have different amounts of fish on each card) and have a kiddo 'go fishing' with a magnet attached to a ribbon or string... in our set we also have a shark- if he's caught, he eats all the fish already caught! Chomp! Part of our Numbers Activity Pack here.
*CUTTING AND WRITING ACTIVITIES are challenging for many little kids, especially the younger ones, so having fewer of these is probably a good idea. Five and six year olds often still lack in these skill areas, so it is best to steer clear... instead, gross motor activities like rolling a ball for a greeting activity, categorizing items by color, acting out/ following commands for actions, dancing, etc are great ways to keep kids engaged.

*PREPARE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS BEFOREHAND; they are not teachers, so giving them some guidelines and tips on how to behave with the elementary students is very important. Be sure they have prepared ahead of time what they will be doing, and double-check the content of what they will be teaching to ensure it is accurate. And it goes without saying you want to have students participate that are reliable, want to work with little kids, and are outgoing and cheerful :)

*NEED IDEAS FOR SONGS & GAMES? Click on our category 'Games' right here on this blog to find lots of games perfect for elementary school, and for songs, head over to our Pinterest board here!

Have fun!
https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two, DAY 5- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

IT'S OUR FIFTH AND FINAL DAY OF SUMMER CAMP ACTIVITIES, and we hope you have found some great ideas, both on our blog and on Fun for Spanish Teachers! Be sure to visit Carolina's final post by clicking here! And, don't miss our activity below- a take on the traditional game 'I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing....

Activities for Summer Camp in Spanish

I ALWAYS HAD FUN WHEN I WAS A KID PLAYING the picnic game... I confess, I have a decent memory, so even when I was one of the last kids to have a turn, I could often remember what everyone else had put in the basket- but even when I could, it was still always a challenge (I LOVE challenges!). When playing with my students in Spanish class, I make a few modifications to make the task a little easier, primarily as a scaffold for vocabulary recall, which can be tricky for some kiddos.

I'm going on a picnic activity for Spanish class

BEFORE STARTING TO PLAY, I PUT OUT A SET OF FOOD IMAGES that represent vocabulary my students already know- these serve to jog the memory and help those kiddos who have a harder time coming up with a word without assistance. They also serve to corral the possibilities to those shown/ provided, which helps to move the game along.... no 'Señora, how do you say ____?' which can bog down forward movement, and the unfamiliar word is harder for the rest of the crew to remember since it is...well, unfamiliar. By scaffolding the game, everyone has a lot more fun! And, you can encourage kids to add adjectives or quantities to what they say, so instead of... 'I'm making a picnic and I'm bringing a donut', a kiddo could say 'I'm making a picnic and I'm bringing a huge, chocolate donut.' :)

Have fun!

And don't miss our other posts for summer camp activities!
*Make worry dolls with a clothespin
*Make agua fresca
*Mount a puppet play (with FREE downloadable script)
*Make a paper arpillera

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two, DAY 4- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

IT'S DAY 4 OF OUR COLLABORATION WITH FUN FOR SPANISH TEACHERS, highlighting activities for summer camp in Spanish...we hope you are finding some great ideas (I know I am- loving Carolina's posts!). Her post for today features a parachute-be sure to head over there and read it! Click here to read it! Today we bring you another fun traditional craft, la arpillera.

Summer Camp Spanish Activities

I LOVE ARPILLERAS, and they are a wonderfully tangible authentic example of culture that kids love, too. Since I am not overly excited about needles and thread with little kids, making paper arpilleras is the option of choice! Provide campers with a piece of blue paper for the background, along with lots of other colors they can use to cut out shapes (houses, trees, shrubs, mountains, a sun, clouds, hills, llamas, sheep, etc) and glue in layers on the background piece to make their own arpillera.

Make a paper arpillera

WANT TO BE SURE AND INCLUDE LANGUAGE ALONG WITH THE CULTURAL COMPONENT? Arpilleras are a perfect vehicle for talking about colors, numbers, and all the items one sees in an arpillera. Here's an example of me asking my class questions related to how many of each thing are in an arpillera to give you an idea:



HAVE FUN!

DON'T MISS OUR OTHER POSTS THIS WEEK!
*Make Worry Dolls with Clothespins
*Make Agua Fresca
*Put on a Puppet Play (with FREE script download!)
*Play I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing...in the target language

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two, DAY 3- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

WELCOME BACK TO DAY 3 OF ACTIVITIES FOR SUMMER CAMP! We are so thrilled to be teaming up with Fun for Spanish Teachers for this week of great ideas for summer programs, whether they be camps. Vacation Bible School, or even for after school! Be sure to head over to Fun For Spanish Teachers blog to see today's post!

Activities for Summer Camp in Spanish


HOW ABOUT MOUNTING A PUPPET PLAY? Stick puppets, shadow puppets, finger puppets, puppets made from paper bags...it is always fun to make a puppet and then put on a show with friends! Why not encourage your campers to act out a story or make up a short dialogue in Spanish to be performed with puppets? The backdrop can be as simple as some plants outside, or kids can illustrate their own to go along with the play. Need a simple script to use for camp? Click on this link for a free downloadable!

Put on a Puppet Show in Spanish for Summer Camp

INTERESTED IN OUR OTHER POSTS FOR SUMMER CAMP ACTIVITIES? Check out:
 Make worry dolls with clothespins
Making Agua Fresca
Make a Paper Arpillera
Play I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing..in the target language

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two, DAY 2- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

IT'S DAY TWO OF OUR ACTIVITIES FOR SUMMER CAMP FUN! Be sure to visit FUN FOR SPANISH TEACHERS to see today's post on a fun beach ball game! And don't forget to follow us both on Facebook so you never miss another great event or post!

Activities for Summer Spanish Camp
Visit Fun for Spanish Teachers!
I LOVE TO COOK WITH KIDS AND SHARE CULTURAL FOOD AT THE SAME TIME! Since it's summer (well, almost here in Maine!) and the days are getting hotter, how about making AGUA FRESCA? This is a simple recipe that kids can help make (be sure they are old enough/ supervised when using a knife!) and is a yummy, refreshing treat on a hot day- our fox, Olivia, just loves it! 


Agua Fresca con Fresa Receta Recipe

TO MAKE AGUA FRESCA CON FRESA you will need:
1 pound strawberries, cleaned and cut in half- un medio kilo de fresas, lavadas y cortadas por la mitad
3/4 cup sugar- 3/4 taza de azúcar
6 cups water- 6 tazas de agua
slices of lemon- unas rodajas de limón 

Place the in a bowl and sprinkle them with the sugar and let them sit for about 15 minutes, then macerate them (crush them somewhat, they do not need to be mashed to a pulp!). Add them to a glass of water with ice, add a lemon wedge if you wish, and you are done! 

Colocar las fresas en un tazón (cuenco), agregar el azúcar y guardarlas por 15 minutos. Después, molerlas un poco, y verter la fruta molida en una jarra. Agregar una rodaja de limón y unos cubitos de hielo. ¡A disfrutar!

AN ALTERNATIVE to macerating is putting the strawberries, sugar, and water in a blender and blending the mixture, which gives you a completely different texture!


Making Agua Fresca con Fresa

STRAWBERRIES ARE BUT ONE FRUIT YOU CAN USE TO MAKE AGUA FRESCA! Try mangos, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, guava...or combine fruits for additional yumminess!

Enjoy!

WANT OTHER IDEAS FOR SUMMER CAMP? Check out:
*Make Worry Dolls with a Clothespin
*Put on a Puppet Play (with free script!)
*Make a Paper Arpillera
*Play I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing...in the target language


https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Monday, June 12, 2017

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

LAST YEAR Fun for Spanish Teachers and Mundo de Pepita (us!) teamed up to bring you some SUMMER CAMP ACTIVITIES and as this school year comes to an end it occurred to us to write a sequel! (Click here for last year's post!) EACH DAY this week we will post a new idea perfect for summer camps, Vacation Bible School, or an after school program! BE SURE TO VISIT FUN FOR SPANISH TEACHERS to see today's post, too! And follow us both on Facebook so you never miss another great event! :)

Spanish Language and Culture Activities for Summer Camp
Visit Fun for Spanish Teachers Blog!
One thing I love about summer camp is the extended time you have with students, especially younger ones with whom we elementary teachers often have only short bursts of time, which can really curtail the type of activities we can do. Here is today's activity that brings language and culture to your summer camp program:

*MAKE WORRY DOLLS: Use clothespins and yarn to make Guatemalan worry dolls... this project is best for older kids as winding the yarn can be a little challenging for small hands. I created a quick video tutorial which you can see here:


I think they come out pretty cute! Students can then describe them in Spanish, using colors and clothes vocabulary, or have them make up short dialogues with the dolls! And don't miss the opportunity to share a map of Guatemala or a wonderful video such as this one!



How to Make Worry Dolls with a Clothespin

WANT TO CHECK OUT MORE IDEAS FOR SUMMER CAMP? Click here:

*Making Agua Fresca
*Put on a Puppet Play (with free script!)
*Make a Paper Arpillera
*Play I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing..in the target language


https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Simple Activity to Incorporate STEAM (STEM) in Your Elementary Foreign Language Classes

I AM A HUGE PROPONENT OF TEACHING CONTENT IN THE FLES CLASSROOM, teaching using the foreign language, rather than just teaching the language itself. This has traditionally taken the form of thematic units where science, geography, math, and more are explored and integrated into class- and kids LOVE it! So as STEAM/ STEM gather momentum in the educational arena, I am excited to reflect on activities I already incorporate into my classes, and to learn from others so I can integrate new ideas and activities. (NOTE: a cautionary thought of mine- like doing very involved craft or other types of projects in class, I want to be sure that with STEAM/ STEM I am keeping in mind that my ultimate goal is for my students to acquire language, so designing activities that foster lots of interaction with the language is key, rather than unintentionally set up unstructured situations for which my students do not have enough target language and therefore devolve to English).

EXPERIMENTATION IS A KEY COMPONENT in any science endeavor, and can be brought into the foreign language classroom in a variety of ways. A simple opportunity presented itself today in one of my Kindergarten classes, and though definitely not earth shattering in it's complexity, was rich with language while at the same time providing a fun way to do our greeting activity.

Simple STEAM STEM Activity for Elementary Spanish Class

ONE OF OUR GREETING ACTIVITIES WE DO IN KINDERGARTEN is rolling a ball to one another and greeting the person (see our post here on greeting games with a ball!). As the year progresses, I begin giving them choices of what type of ball we will use, voting on them and then using the ball that gets the most votes. Our last theme of the year is 'Julieta y Mateo hacen un picnic' which introduces fruits and the verb 'querer'...to be a little silly, I start giving fruits as a choice along with a couple of the balls. Today, I opted to have students choose the three items we would vote on, and 'queso' (cheese) was one of them- and won the vote!

HERE'S WHERE THE STEAM STEM comes in! As you can see in the photo above, I have a variety of play cheese, none of which roll very well! But, instead of me choosing one, I decided to have the students decide which rolled/ moved best by experimenting with each. I gave one cheese to five different students and instructed each (all in the target language, btw) to roll/ fling/ send the cheese across the circle. As each was tried, we all gave a thumbs up/ down as to whether we thought it worked well. As it turned out, the flat piece of swiss cheese slid very well across the carpet, so that became the cheese we used for our subsequent greeting!

AS I SAID ABOVE, this was an incredibly simple way to incorporate the concept of experimentation, but was full of language interaction and gave the students lots of chances to add their comments to the process. And, we had a blast!

SEE OUR POST ON A SANDWICH TOWER for another fun way to bring STEAM to your class!

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS YOU INCORPORATE STEAM STEM in your classroom? Please share in the comments!
https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Tip to Motivate Your Students to Stay in the Target Language

ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING PARTS OF TEACHING 90% IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE is keeping your students in the target language, too. What are some strategies we can implement to encourage and support our students? Here is an idea that works really well in my classroom for my elementary Spanish students, and is applicable for all levels:

Teaching in the target language

INCORPORATE ACTIVITIES THAT STUDENTS don't want to "lose"...in other words, activities that act like privileges that continue in the classroom as long as the target language is spoken. For example, this spring my 4th graders followed an Iberian Lynx breeding center in Spain via a live cam on the net (link here!). As long as their reactions and comments were in Spanish, the live cam stayed on the whiteboard. If English became the mode of talking about the lynxes, the cam went off. Since it was of such high interest for my students, they stayed in Spanish the vast majority of the time because they didn't want the cam turned off.

THE SAME DYNAMIC can be created with other live cams, videos, games, and more that are high interest and motivating. If speaking in English means the game is now over, for example, most students will strive to use what they know rather than have the game end. As the teacher, in order to support this output, you have to be sure to choose activities that are accessible to students in terms of what they know and can do in the language; if they don't have enough vocabulary to interact, it's not going to work for them, and they will revert to English.

Happy teaching!


https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How I Made a Take a Break Space for my Elementary Spanish Classroom

IN THE FALL, I SET ABOUT ESTABLISHING ROUTINES & PROCEDURES IN MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASSES, with an eye to classroom management being the glue that keeps us all together and moving forward smoothly. I am a Responsive Classroom teacher, which means I work hard at proactively modeling and practicing our expectations and building community in my room. A tenet of Responsive Classroom is the 'Take a break' space where students can go when they need to get themselves back in focus. Over the years, I have included a variety of things at the Take a Break space to help kids with this, rather than just have them sit there. I am continually refining what these are; two years ago our entire staff made glitter jars during a staff meeting, which I then included and has been very successful! (Want to know how to make your own glitter jar? Click here)

How to Make a Take a Break Space in an Elementary Spanish Classroom

ALONG WITH THE GLITTER JAR, I have a stuffed polar bear to snuggle, and copies of some of our mini books for mental engagement. Some years I've included crayons to go along with the mini books, but since a Take a Break space isn't intended for a long term hang out, I decided to do away with them and just encourage kids to read (or "read" if they are really young) the books and look at the illustrations (they are all old familiar favorites or new adventures they can read on their own).

How to Make a Take a Break Space in an Elementary Spanish Classroom

THIS SPRING I DECIDED I NEEDED TO INCLUDE some sort of activity that would help really active bodies slow their motors down; we have a number of ADHD kids who struggle mightily to keep their impulsivity under control. This unfortunately results in a lot of distracting behaviors and classmates becoming frustrated with them, so finding ways to help them helps everybody. Although I do not practice yoga myself, I have heard and read so many good things about how it can be incorporated in the classroom, I thought I would give it try at the Take a Break space. I had created a set of yoga poses cards on the request of a fellow Spanish teacher and wondered if they could be used  at the Take a Break space. I decided to include them plus a little timer so my kids would know how long to hold the pose. Like all routines and procedures, it's important to introduce how to use the cards and the timer so that it will be effective and kids will know what to do. I would love to hear how you use yoga in your classroom!

How to Make a Take A Break Space in your Elementary Spanish Classroom

INTERESTED IN OUR YOGA POSES CARDS? We have them in Spanish, French, German, Russian, and English!

Yoga Poses 12 Cards for Spanish Class
Click here to grab this resource!

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Reloj A Fun Card Game from Spain for Spanish Classes of all Levels

AS THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR APPROACHES, and my elementary Spanish students are getting a bit squirrelly, I like to incorporate authentic games in class, whether that be going outside or playing games in the classroom. Many years ago I was introduced to RELOJ, a card game from Spain that is perfect for most levels of students, from upper elementary to high school. (I wish I could remember the teacher's name! It was during a presentation here in Maine about 15 years ago, if my memory is jogged I will give her credit) The object of the game is to go out first, to get rid of all your cards. Students can play in small groups, or as a whole class, which is how I do it with my 4th graders when introducing the game. Once they are familiar with it, I break them into groups of 4-5 to play.

Reloj A Card Game from Spain


PREPARATION
I purchased several decks of cards at the Dollar Store; I particularly like the oversized ones as they are easier to see and manipulate for my students. Remove the jokers and queens- Spanish decks do not have queens, and the jokers are not used in this game.

TO PLAY
Shuffle all the cards- if you are playing with the whole class, combine 4-5 decks, shuffling as best you can.
Deal out the deck(s), just as you would when playing War; all cards are dealt out face down. Students cannot look at their cards, they keep them in front of them in a pile. When playing with the entire class, I usually only deal out 8-10 cards per student, especially while they are still learning how to play.
Going clockwise, first student flips over the top card on his/her pile, puts it in the middle (discard pile) and says 'Reloj' (this card has no penalty for saying it- you will see what I mean!)
Next student flips over top card and says 'Uno', next student does the same saying 'Dos', and so on "around the clock" until you get to 'rey' whereupon you start again with 'reloj'. NOTE: a ten is called 'caballo', the jack is 'sota', and of course the king is 'rey'.

If a student flips over a card and says the same number as is the card he/she flips, he must take the entire discard pile! And since in order to win, you must go out, grabbing the discard pile is not what you want! You can see now why having 'Reloj' be the penalty free card is great- since there is no corresponding card, it's like a safety card. Game continues until one player goes out.

*I usually write the numerals and their corresponding names on the board for my 3rd & 4th graders as an additional support. For older students, this might not be necessary.

Have fun!

AND, TO HELP YOUR STUDENTS STAY IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE while playing, check out our Games Vocabulary Posters! You can find them here.

Games Vocabulary Posters for Spanish Class





https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

Friday, April 28, 2017

Summer Reading List with a Spanish Flavor for Children and Families 2017

AS WE WAVE GOODBYE TO OUR LITTLE TREASURES heading off to summer vacation, I can't help but want them to keep some Spanish and/ or Hispanic culture in their lives, even as they are enjoying the sun and fun of being away from school. One way I do this is to give a list of book recommendations to families, books in English they can readily find at our local library or bookstore, all with a Spanish connection, whether it be non fiction or a fun read at bedtime. Here is this year's list- see our list from 2015 here.

Summer Reading List with a Spanish Flavor for Children and Families 2017

PICTURE BOOKS

*THE STORY OF FERDINAND: This classic by Munro Leaf continues to be a favorite of mine, and with the animated movie coming out in December, all the better to have kiddos read it before seeing it!

*A MANGO IN THE HAND: I love the incorporation of authentic proverbs in this story, a great way to keep that Spanish going through the summer! Interested in getting it yourself? Here's the link to Amazon.

Summer Reading List with a Spanish Flavor for Children and Families 2017

*THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR A TALE OF TWO VOLCANOES by Duncan Tonatiuh is the retelling of the Aztec legend of the two volcanoes, Izta and Popo. A wonderful way to introduce ancient culture and a great read both kids and parents will enjoy!

*WAITING FOR BIBLIOBURRO ESPERANDO A BIBLIOBURRO by Monica Brown is the endearing story of Luis Soriano Bohórquez, bringing books to children in Colombia via his burro. A must read!

CHAPTER BOOKS FOR UPPER ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL

*WHO WAS CESAR CHAVEZ? continues the series of biographies of famous people for kids.

Summer Reading List with a Spanish flavor for Children and Families 2017

*UGLY CAT AND PABLO by Isabel Quintero is a fun little treasure I found at our Scholastic Book Fair this year. A silly read, there is lots of Spanish sprinkled through the book, and is great for emerging readers who don't want too long a book.

*STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN by Jennifer Torres is one of those books I happened upon in Barnes and Noble while trying to search out more books with Hispanic protagonists (not an easy feat!). I haven't read it yet, but it looks fun and is on MY summer reading list!

*GHOSTS by Raina Telgemeier was all the rage this past fall with my 3rd and 4th graders! A graphic novel, it highlights Days of the Dead, making it a great connection with our curriculum.

Summer Reading List with a Spanish Flavor for Children and Families 2017

*MOVING TARGET by Christina Diaz Gonzalez is the first in an adventurous mystery series that is a great read! One of my Fourth Grade students and I read this almost simultaneously, making for awesome conversations at bus time! Set in Rome, Cassie Arroyo finds herself in the middle of an ancient tug of war, and must find a missing scepter in order to save her father. Gonzalez also wrote 'The Red Umbrella' which I recommended in my 2015 post and which I loved!

Happy reading!


https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

SaveSave