Sunday, October 1, 2017

Las Guaguas de Ecuador- A Days of the Dead Tradition

DAYS OF THE DEAD IS A WONDERFUL CULTURAL THEME FOR THE ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASS, especially if we keep the information concrete, clear, and comprehensible for little kids. We often focus on México's traditions for this holiday, but it is celebrated in many countries, including Ecuador. Marked by a sweet bread called LAS GUAGUAS (meaning 'niños' in Quechua) and often served with colada morada, a spiced berry drink, the celebrations focus on el 2 de noviembre, el Día de los Difuntos.

Las guaguas de Ecuador, a Days of the Dead Tradition

LAS GUAGUAS typically are in the shape of babies and animals, and have frosting and other decorations making them look very festive. I've pinned several photos of them and colada morada to my Pinterest board El Día de los Muertos, which you can check out here!

WANT TO SHARE SOME SIMPLE FACTS ABOUT LAS GUAGUAS in Spanish class? I've created an infographic poster with a few facts in Spanish; you can download it for FREE and print it out! NOTE: It is an 11 x 17 file so be sure the right size paper is in the printer before printing! Click here to download.

Las guaguas de Ecuador A Simple Infographic in Spanish

*Los Barriletes de Guatemala from Fun for Spanish Teachers

*Days of the Dead Songs to Share in Class from Fun for Spanish Teachers

*Making Paper Marigolds in Spanish Class

*Reasons for Teaching Days of the Dead in Spanish Class from Fun for Spanish Teachers

*Creating a Family Altar by Mamá Tortuga

*Las celebraciones en Bolivia From Fun for Spanish Teachers

Friday, September 22, 2017

Foster Output in the Target Language by Holding Students Accountable

HOW DO WE GET OUR STUDENTS TO SPEAK IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE in a 90% classroom rather than in English? I am asked this question frequently, and see it posted regularly and there are a lot of answers to that one! Here is one tip that seems obvious on the face of it, but requires the teacher to consistently hold the line when students try to slip into English rather than use the TL. (sometimes harder to do than you think!)

Foster Output in the Target Language with this Tip

EVER NOTICE THAT EVEN MANY OF THOSE PHRASES, WORDS, ETC that you have taught, reinforced, practiced umpteen times still get the English treatment? If you really want your students to use the language they are learning, you ultimately have to establish the expectation that THEY WILL USE THE TARGET other words, when a student says to you "Can I get a drink of water?" and this phrase has been practiced frequently, your response is not 'Yes', 'Si', 'Да' (you get the picture), it is 'En Español por favor' or ¿Cómo? ...and when they repeat the English again, you respond (again) 'En Español por favor'... and you keep doing that until the student restates in the target language. By doing this, you are holding your students accountable for what is being learned rather than sending an unintentional message that even though you are teaching content, it doesn't really have to be remembered.

THIS APPLIES TO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING YOU ARE DOING IN CLASS, whether it be a single word, a phrase, a request, you name it. If it's something they have worked on, hold them accountable. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU DO NOT HELP THEM! If a student needs help to get the phrase (word, etc) out, OF COURSE you prompt them, guide them, encourage them. The key is that, even with the prompts and help, the utterance is still in the target language and there is a lot of power in this moment for the student. And the more you help them through saying what they want to say in the TL, the more confident they will become as they realize just how much they really know, and the more they will try to express themselves in the target language. It's a beautiful thing!

GIVE IT TRY NEXT CLASS AND LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES! And for another tip on encouraging output with students, check out this post! :)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

How to Talk Like a Pirate in Spanish- Fun Vocabulary for Class

SEPTEMBER 19TH IS INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY, and, knowing the popularity of pirates amongst kiddos, why not incorporate some authentic pirate speak into your Spanish classes? Here's a list of some common phrases you can use in class- have fun!

Phrases to Talk like a Pirate in Spanish Class

*ARRRRRR (it's a classic lol)
*¡Yo-ho-ho! (yo-ho-ho)
*¡Al ataque! (Attack!)
*¡Barco a la vista! (Ship ahoy!)
*¡Tierra a la vista! (Land ho!)
*¡Camina la plancha! (Walk the plank!)
*¡Todos a sus puestos! (Everyone on deck!)
*¡A dormir con los tiburones! (You'll sleep with the fishes!)
*¡A toda vela! (Full speed ahead!)
*¡Rayos! (expression of surprise)


And don't miss our Activity Pack, 'Mateo y el mapa del tesoro', perfect for upper elementary and lower middle school! Grab it here!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Los símbolos patrios de cada país hispanohablante- National Symbols for Each Spanish speaking Country

UN ASPECTO CULTURAL MUY POTENTE PARA TRABAJAR EN LA CLASE DE ESPAÑOL son los símbolos patrios de cada país. Podrías enseñarlos durante el Mes de la Herencia Hispana, para celebrar unos días patrios, o como parte de un tema sobre un país específico. De todas maneras, los símbolos patrios son una gran parte del orgullo de cada país, y para los peques, especialmente, una cosa bien tangible para aprender. Aquí un listado de las flores, animales, y árboles nacionales:

Los símbolos patrios National Symbols for Spanish Speaking Countries

*la flor nacional: ceibo
*el ave nacional: el hornero común (Rufous hornero)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: ceibo
*la flor nacional: la orquídea negra
*el ave nacional: el  Tucán de Quilla o Picoiris (Keel billed toucan)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la caoba
*la flor nacional: cantuta y patajú
*el ave nacional: el condór andino (Andean Condor)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: palma
*la flor nacional: copihue
*el ave nacional: el condór andino (Andean Condor)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: araucaria
*la flor nacional: orquídea colombiana
*el ave nacional: el condór andino (Andean Condor)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: palma de cera
*la flor nacional: guaria morada (orquídea)
*el ave nacional: el Yigüirro (Clay colored thrush)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: El árbol de Guanacaste
*la flor nacional: mariposa
*el ave nacional: el tocororo, el trogon cubano (Cuban trogon)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la palma real
*la flor nacional: chuquiragua (no oficial)
*el ave nacional: el condór andino (Andean condor)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: cascarilla
*la flor nacional: flor de izote
*el ave nacional: el Torogoz, Momoto ceja turquesa
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: El Maquilishuat
*la flor nacional: clavel
*el ave nacional: no hay
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la encina (carrasca, chaparra/chaparro)
*la flor nacional: monja blanca (orquídea)
*el ave nacional: el quetzal
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la ceiba
*la flor nacional: orquídea de la Virgen
*el ave nacional: la Lapa Roja (la guacamaya) Scarlet Macaw
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: el pino
*la flor nacional: dalia
*el ave nacional: el águila real (Golden Eagle)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: Ahuehuete o El Árbol del Tule
*la flor nacional: sacuanjoche (plumeria)
*el ave nacional: el Guardabarranco (Turquoise browed Motmot)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: madroño
*la flor nacional: flor del Espíritu Santo
*el ave nacional: El Águila Arpía (Harpy Eagle)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: camoruco (el árbol panamá)
*la flor nacional: mburucuyá
*el ave nacional: el pájaro campana
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: tajy
*la flor nacional: cantuta
*el ave nacional: el tunqui (el gallito de las rocas) (Cock of the Rock)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: quina
*la flor nacional: flor de maga
*el ave nacional: el carpintero puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican Woodpecker)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional:
*la flor nacional: Rosa de Bayahíbe
*el ave nacional: la cigua palmera (Palmchat)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la caoba
*la flor nacional: ceibo
*el ave nacional: el tero
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: ciebo
*la flor nacional: flor de mayo
*el ave nacional: el turpial venezolano
*árbol nacional: araguanay


PD: Esta es la primera vez escribiendo un blogpost en español; hay errores? déjame saber!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Four (Five!) Corners Activity with Spanish Vowels

I LIKE TO START FORMALLY TEACHING THE SPANISH ALPHABET TO MY ELEMENTARY STUDENTS WITH THE VOWELS-I find that, along with certain  consonants, the vowels are the most difficult for my students to grasp, especially 'a', 'e' and 'i' so sufficient practice and exposure is essential to them internalizing the sight-sound phonetic connection. I wait until Third Grade to directly teach the alphabet (see my rationale at the bottom), but my students are exposed to, and interact with, print and early literacy skills in Spanish from the beginning of Kindergarten onward. Here is a simple movement activity I do when introducing the vowels to help my students match the sound of each vowel with it's written letter.

Vowels Movement Game for Spanish Class

*PREPARE A LIST OF FAMILIAR VOCABULARY, each word of which is comprised of only one vowel. The list I work off of is below :) Place each of the five vowels around the room, like you would place images for playing Four Corners. Say a word from your list and instruct students to head over to the vowel that's in the word. So, if you say 'mamá', students will move over to the 'a'. Once students have moved to the correct vowel, say another word and have them move to that vowel. Continue in this manner, mixing up the vowels out of order after the first few rounds so they need to play close attention. This is a great activity to review vowels also (and you can add in consonants, especially those tricky ones!) when you have 5 minutes at the end of class that suddenly appear unexpectedly!

A: mamá, papá, casa, banana, manzana, naranja, salsa, mal, va, mar
E: bebé, nene, tres, sé, me, sed, ve, es, pez
I: gris, sí, bici, kiwi, picnic, rin rin, mi
O: ocho, dos, rojo, flojo, yo, lobo, loco, globo
U: cucú, tutú, glu glu, un, tú, muuuu

*YOU CAN FOLLOW UP THIS ACTIVITY WITH MINI WHITEBOARDS, saying a word out loud and having students write the vowel they hear on the whiteboard, again using the same list.

AND DON'T MISS THIS VIDEO OF US LEADING UP TO THE VOWELS ACTIVITY! I introduce the vowels with actions and key here to view it on Youtube.

REGARDING WAITING UNTIL THIRD GRADE to formally teach the alphabet- over the years I have found that up until this point the majority of my students in class do not have secure early literacy skills and may lack foundational understanding of the concept of sight-sound matching (looking at a written letter and telling what sound it makes). I have made the conscious decision to wait until these concepts are more secure for most of my students before introducing formal conversations about the Spanish alphabet and phonetics. This helps them access our activities much better, and at a more confident level. As I stated above however, my students are exposed to, and interact with, Spanish in print right from the beginning of Kindergarten, through the mini books we read, the print I have all around my room, simple reading and writing/labeling/copying activities we do, and so on. These activities prime my students for being ready to look at the alphabet more closely at the start of Third Grade, and then applying that knowledge going forward in the course of subsequent class activities (more mini books, more writing and reading activities, entrance slips, and so on). Each teacher needs to find what is most appropriate for their students; some start earlier, some later, it all depends on what works best for the program you teach in :)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

First Days in My Elementary Spanish Classes -What I Do to Welcome My Students Back & Begin the Year

THANK YOU TO OUR READER, LAUREN, for suggesting this post about what I do in my elementary Spanish classes during the first days back to school- what a great idea!

First Spanish class lessons of the school year

Here is an outline of how I start off in my First through Third Grade classes; Fourth Grade looks a little different, though I still start the same way with a greeting- I've described my system for Fourth in this post-click here. Kindergarten is also different as they are new to their school and my class.... I videotaped my first class last year which you can watch here:

OK, FOR FIRST THROUGH THIRD GRADE, my first class for all grades looks very similar, though the specific games/songs are individual to the grade. Since all of these classes are returning, meaning I have had them before, I don't need to get to know more than a few new friends, whom I do greet and welcome to our school and ask them if they've had Spanish class before, reassuring them that we will all help him/her out and have lots of fun! Here's a run down of a typical first class (my classes are 30 minutes):


*I MEET THEM IN THE HALLWAY outside my room (when I was traveling on a cart, in the homeroom classroom) and welcome them back to school, greet new friends and have a student introduce me.

*I WELCOME THEM INTO MY ROOM and have them stand in a large circle around our rug. I then give them their "Spanish spots", their assigned seats in circle. These spots allow for a very quick transition into class throughout the year, rather than having kids change it up each class, often causing bickering and hurt feelings which I would rather avoid. (I had assigned seats when I traveled also)

*WE DO A SIMPLE GREETING GAME- whether it is just rolling a ball across the rug (see this post for some ideas!) or a more energetic game like 'INSIDE/OUTSIDE CIRCLE', I choose a greeting activity which is familiar to them and allows us to get back into the groove with something they (most of them) know already, which also keeps the affective filter way down. #winwin

*WHERE DID YOU GO OVER VACATION? POLL- this is another simple way to get back in the groove and allow kids to share some news about vacation while still staying in the target language. Depending on the grade level, kids can answer with just the destination or with a full sentence. Since I do this same question after all of our vacations, they are accustomed to this as well! Here I am last spring asking this question to one of my Fourth Grade classes so you can get a sense of how it works:

This is how I set up the question- I give them some answers to get started and they can add as appropriate. For those kids whose families don't do a lot of traveling, I always include local shops like Hannaford's Grocery Store and Walmart.
For First Grade, they might only respond 'Boston' or 'mis abuelos', whereas my Third Graders can provide most, if not all, of the sentence I've provided as a prompt. I provide the prompt to give support to my kiddos who need it, and also provides some structure and boundary to the activity, which also lends support.

*GOOD BYE... we wrap up class with a high five good bye or wave and I send them on their way.


Often I will do a quick model and practice of our call and response routine which I use to get their attention (I say 'Nachos' and they respond 'Salsa' and then look to me); other routines and expectations I model, practice and reinforce as they come up since my students are already familiar with them from years past. I do make a point of being sure that there are plenty of situational opportunities where these WILL come up to be sure we have that chance to practice them in the first few weeks. I also use my 10% in English to remind my students why we have expectations in the first place: so everyone is safe, can learn, and feels good, not frustrated, at the end of class.


*STUDENTS ARRIVE AT MY DOOR, I CHOOSE A SECRETARIO/SECRETARIA (a helper for the class) who picks a stuffie from the basket. We do a call and response related to our expectations- I ask '¿Preparados? and they respond "Listo/ lista" depending on their gender. We do this in the hallway at the beginning of EVERY serves as a reminder that they are to be ready to follow and meet our expectations. (Ready to use your best manners, ready to be your kindest self, and ready to be in the game/ participate)


*REVIEW ACTIVITY OR GAME RELATED TO THE FIRST THEME we will be learning for the school year. Depending on what the first theme is for the grade level, I purposely bring back at least one activity or game we did the previous year which ties into what we will be learning in the current year. This serves to spiral our curriculum and prime them for the new learning that will start on DAY 3. For example, in Kindergarten, one of our themes is 'Julieta y Mateo hacen un picnic' during which fruits are introduced and practiced. We have our mini book, we act out the story with props, and play a variety of games to practice fruit vocabulary in context. So, since our first theme in First Grade is 'Me gustan las frutas' where I introduce likes/ dislikes phrases (me gustan, no me gustan) in context with fruits, during this DAY 2 I re- read our mini book, and we play a game such as 'What's missing?' to prime and practice las frutas. With each grade level I plan activities that will allow this spiraling to take place-it is a great way to connect the past and present and keep old vocabulary alive even as we add new. It also is a "soft entry" for my students, meaning there is lots of success because they are familiar with the activity/ vocabulary.

*BLAST FROM OUR PAST SONGS... if there is time, I usually will pull up some of our favorite songs from the past on Youtube such as 'Bate, bate, chocolate', 'Los pollitos dicen', 'La familia dedo', etc, again to give a soft entry and keep the positivity going.

*GOOD BYE AND HAND OFF to next class.



*THIS IS TYPICALLY WHEN I WILL START OUR FIRST THEME of the year, passing out their folders with the first mini book, and following our routines for beginning a new theme (putting their name on the mini book, I introduce the book, we read it together, and so on). I may have a song or poem that is related to the theme which I may incorporate; depends on the theme. THIRD GRADE I formally introduce the calendar, being sure they understand that it is set up with Monday first. We don't do regular calendar activities; instead I reference it throughout class as appropriate when we are talking about anything related to timeframes. (I am working on a post about this and will link it when it's done!)

*FREEZE DANCE: for my Kindergarteners and First Grade I usually try to get movement in before they head out; Freeze Dance is an easy activity that they love and doesn't require them to do anything more than pay attention (which also teaches self control, a HUGE bonus!).


I hope this has given a decent sense of my first few days- I will be videotaping the classes this year (hopefully!), so be sure you are following our Youtube channel so you don't miss those! I would love to hear how you start the year, too!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Activities to Teach about Solar and Lunar Eclipses in Spanish Class

ECLIPSES ARE ALWAYS AN EXCITING EVENT, and, although they are rare, they are a fantastic opportunity to incorporate science in Spanish class, something I have found to be a HUGE motivator for my elementary students- they LOVE to learn and talk about all things having to do with science. August 21, 2017 brings us a solar eclipse visible throughout much of the US-here are some resources and ideas to bring solar and lunar eclipses to your classroom:

Activities to Teach about solar and lunar eclipses in Spanish Class

ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE VIDEO SERIES is Zamba from Argentina- this video is about a solar eclipse:

ANOTHER VIDEO I LIKE IS THIS ONE, it is well illustrated and simple- great to pause and give comprehensible input about the event:

THIS EDUCATIONAL VIDEO, LIKE THE ABOVE, can be used to introduce vocabulary and highlight various moments throughout an eclipse:

RIMAS DE COLORES has a great post with ideas to teach about both eclipses- you can read it here!

One of our readers, Kenna, kindly shared a link to this song on Cantoalegre (thank you so much!)

ANOTHER GREAT BLOG POST IS this one from CIENCIA Y LAPICERO. They've included a demonstration on how you can re-create both types of eclipses with a flashlight and balls. Neat!