Sunday, January 8, 2017

How to make a paper snowflake in Spanish class in the target language

MAKING SIMPLE CRAFTS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSES can be a lot of fun- and can be a great use of time if they are done in the target language. Instructions for making things often incorporate high frequency vocabulary, so choosing small projects to do in class can offer your students a new and novel context in which to encounter this vocabulary, something I think is important. Refining knowledge of the meaning of words takes a long time, and various contexts help in that refinement.

ENTER PAPER SNOWFLAKES- since its winter, and snowflakes are a popular craft in most elementary and middle schools, why not harness the fun and make them in your class? Here are instructions in Spanish for how to make a simple snowflake out of paper.

REMEMBER, WHEN DOING A CRAFT OR PROJECT in the target language, have everyone do each step together, waiting until everyone is finished before moving on to the next step. This helps those students who have difficulties with multistep instructions, and keeps everyone in the same place which helps with classroom management. Have fun!

teaching 90% in target language making a paper snowflake

Monday, December 12, 2016

Spread holiday cheer with our FREE downloadable Spanish E CARDS!

TIS THE SEASON AND WHAT BETTER WAY TO STAY CONNECTED than to send your friends, colleagues, and loved ones a card! We've created three E CARDS in Spanish you can download for free and send via email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more! Let's fill cyber space with joy and fun!


Spanish holiday e card downloadable for free
Click here to download!
Spanish holiday e card free download
Click here to download!
Spanish holiday e card free download
Click here to download!
And one in Russian for the New Year, because I also speak Russian and just love hedgehogs! :)

Click here to download!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Villancicos Song Props for Christmas Movement Fun!

MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH STUDENTS LOVE SONGS that involve movement, and I love them, too! Actions and acting out songs reinforces the vocabulary presented in context via the song, and provides that all important movement component little squirrels need. Since it is the holiday season, my Kindergartners are having loads of fun with 'Burrito Sabanero', a long time favorite of's how we're incorporating it in class:

burrito sabanero villancico song props

*MY GOAL FOR THIS VILLANCICO with my Kindergartners is to expose them to the song, without expecting them to learn every word. I concentrate on the repetitive lines 'si me ven, si me ven, voy camino de Belén' for their initial exposure. For the movement component, I made a printable donkey hobby horse (double sided) and attached it to a yardstick- you could use any hobby horse available or find a picture of a donkey in a magazine or online and attach it to a yard stick. Choose a student to "ride" the donkey and hit play- while everyone is tapping their toe, the rider gallops around the circle. Stop the music after the first stanza and hand the donkey off to another student, stopping the music again after the next stanza. Continue in this manner until the end of the song. You can then either play the song again so that everyone has a turn, or play the song/game over the course of a few classes to ensure turns all around.

WANT OUR PRINTABLE DONKEY HOBBY HORSE? You can find it along with our other Villancico Song Props here:

Villancicos Song Props

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fun and easy activity to do with musical instruments and Feliz navidad

MY KINDERGARTEN SPANISH STUDENTS are a wiggly bunch, and as much as they love to sing José Feliciano's song 'Feliz navidad' during December, adding another layer with musical instruments really focuses them, and provides an additional cultural component to the song. I do confess: I got this idea from our Music teacher, the magnificent Mr. Dyer, tweaked it a little to ensure I could do it entirely in Spanish, and ¡Ta-chán! The fun ensues!

spanish activity elementary school feliz navidad

START BY GATHERING TOGETHER a bunch of instruments from Spanish speaking countries (beg, borrow or steal!)- your school music teacher is a great resource, as are many gen ed teachers who have a stray maraca hanging about. Over the years, I have collected quite a collection, taking advantage of yard sales, Good Will, and others, but work with what you have.

PUT THE INSTRUMENTS OUT in the middle of your circle or in front of your students so they can see them and take a minute to point out various ones and where they are from. Here are the ones I have:

elementary Spanish activity feliz navidad

NEXT, HAND OUT AN INSTRUMENT to each kiddo. I find this avoids bickering over certain instruments if I hand them out, rather than having kids choose for themselves. Establish a 1...2, 1..2...3 rhythm with the instruments- this is what they will "play" during the song (feliz- two syllables, hence 1...2, and navidad- three syllables, hence 1..2..3). Next, practice the rhythm saying 'feliz navidad' as you practice.

HIT THE MUSIC AND BEGIN PLAYING FELIZ NAVIDAD... each time José Feliciano sings the words 'feliz navidad' have the students play the rhythm. When not playing the instruments, have your students hold them quietly in their laps (I put up my hand in a 'stop/ alto' gesture so they know when to stop- this is also great to help them with self control, so you are also building social skills :) ). My kiddos love this! Each class I redistribute the instruments so they get to play a variety over the course of a couple of weeks. Have fun!

HERE IS A QUICK VIDEO OF THE RHYTHM (please forgive my singing voice!):


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to Introduce la Navidad & el Día de los Reyes Magos in a 90% TL Classroom

TEACHING OUR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS CULTURE in the target language can sometimes sound daunting, but it doesn't have to be so, especially if we are very intentional about what we teach, we seek out concrete, tangible aspects which our students can more easily connect with, and we give ourselves permission to teach key elements, rather than the whole kit and kaboodle (remember, you can always spiral back in subsequent months or years to add to what you have taught your students- it's not a one and done situation).

COMPARING AND CONTRASTING LA NAVIDAD Y EL DÍA DE LOS REYES MAGOS presents a wonderful opportunity to teach about culture concretely, particularly because you can harness the power of graphic organizers such as a T Chart or a Venn Diagram to assist in your lesson. Here's how I present a simple comparison of these two holidays to my Kindergartners speaking 100% in Spanish with a teacher script and student responses in quotes and lesson actions in parenthesis- CHANGE 'MAINE' TO YOUR STATE. The primary goal of this lesson is to acquaint students with the key aspects of each holiday; essentially a fact building activity. The lesson lasts approximately 15-20 minutes.

compare and contrast culture in the target language holidays

PREP: I found a world map online in Spanish to project on my Smartboard, visuals of the various components of each holiday (Santa, Rudolph, Three Kings, camels, hay, etc), a visual of a famous character such as Peppa Pig or Mickey Mouse, a photo of me, and a photo of a friend from Spain (you could use a photo of someone from any country you chose, or download one off the internet using Google Images if you don't have a current photo of a friend), and 'Feliz navidad' by José Feliciano cued up for playing.

*THE LESSON: (I have the map projected on the Smartboard behind me)


TEACHER-"Ok niños, vamos a hablar sobre la navidad." (Hit play and play the first chorus of Feliz navidad, the portion in Spanish). -This establishes the topic of Christmas as many students are familiar with this song and know it in the context of Christmas.

TEACHER: "Celebramos la navidad aquí en Maine (point to your state on the map)...¿sí o no?"


TEACHER: "Y, aquí en Maine, ¿quién trae los regalos? ¿Papá Noel o Peppa Pig? (hold up a visual of wrapped presents to establish meaning for 'regalos' and then visuals of Papá Noel and Peppa Pig for the either/or question)

STUDENTS: "Papá Noel" (some will definitely respond in English with 'Santa Claus'- you can say "Sí, Papá Noel" to foster use of the Spanish name) Stick the visual of Papá Noel on the map near your state.

TEACHER: "Ahhh, y ¿con quién viene Papá Noel? ¿Con Mickey Mouse o Rodolfo?"

STUDENTS: "Rodolfo" (again, you may need to reinforce the Spanish as replacement for the English, that's ok!) Stick the visual of Rodolfo next to Papá Noel on the board.

TEACHER: "Hmmm, y ¿dónde pone Papá Noel los regalos? Debajo del árbol, ¿sí o no?"

STUDENTS: "Sí" (stick visual of Christmas tree on board with a present under it)

TEACHER: "¿Y en unos calcetines? ¿sí o no?"

STUDENTS: "Sí" (stick visual of stocking with present in it on board)

TEACHER: "Papá Noel tiene hambre" (make a circular motion over your stomach) ¿Le dejamos pizza? ¿sí o no?


TEACHER: "¿Le dejamos unos tacos?"


TEACHER: "¿Le dejamos unas galletas? ¿sí o no?"

STUDENTS: "¡Sí!" (stick picture of cookies on board

TEACHER: "y qué tal un vaso de leche? ¿sí o no?"

STUDENTS: "Sí" (stick picture of milk on board- you could go through this process for what we leave for reindeer also, such as carrots and/or reindeer food)

TEACHER: "Ok, así celebramos la navidad aquí en Maine. Papá Noel nos trae los regalos y Rodolfo le acompaña. Papá Noel pone los regalos en los calcetines y debajo del árbol. Le dejamos a Papá Noel unas galletas y un vaso de leche. ¿Sí o no?"


TEACHER: "Hmmm...pero en España no celebran así...Esta es mi amiga, Maite, en España (show photo of friend and point to Spain on the map, stick her photo next to Spain). Maite no está en Maine, está en España y Papá Noel no viene a la casa de mi amiga Maite. Rodolfo no viene a la casa de mi amiga Maite tampoco. (point to the visuals of Papá Noel and Rodolfo, say 'no' and shake your finger no to further establish meaning). En lugar de Papá Noel, vienen los Tres Reyes Magos. (put up visual of Three Kings next to photo). Y, los Tres Reyes Magos no son acompañados por Rodolfo, no. Hay tres camellos (point to the camels/put up a picture of camels). Los Tres Reyes Magos ponen los regalos en y alrededor de unos zapatos (put up a picture of a pair of kids shoes and presents in/next to them- you can mime the Three Kings putting the presents in the shoes). Y, los camellos tienen hambre, ¿no? (make the circular motion over your tummy)- para los camellos, los niños ponen paja o hierba y un poco de agua. (put up pictures of hay/grass and water next to the camels and mime them eating and drinking the water). Y ta-chán, así se celebra el Día de los Tres Reyes Magos en España."

I HOPE THIS GIVES YOU SOME IDEAS for presenting this cultural theme in the target language- Spanish!

GRAB OUR HOLIDAY COMPARISON PACK in our shop and make preparing for this lesson easy for yourself! You can get it here!

holiday comparison la navidad el día de los tres reyes magos

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hand signals & gestures for behavior management-stay in the target language!

I HAVE GIVEN MANY PRESENTATIONS on how I keep my behavior and classroom management in my elementary Spanish classes in Spanish, and one thing I share each time is how I use hand signals and gestures to provide redirects and reminders. Borrowed from ASL, Responsive Classroom, and other sources, the following simple signals are, in fact, quite powerful and allow you to stay in the target language once you've established them as part of your routine management style. Also check out my list of 13 verbal redirects in Spanish here!

hand signals for classroom management in the elementary Spanish classroom

*¡ATENCIÓN!: Most likely you use this one, too. Eyes on me is one of the most important things I need my kiddos to do in order to see all the visually supports I give them (see my post on a 90% partnership for more on this). I often accompany this gesture with the verbal redirect '¡Atención!, but not always.

hand signals for behavior management in the elementary Spanish classroom

*¡SIÉNTATE BIEN!: This is the ASL sign for sitting and comes in extremely handy for those squirmy, wriggly kids who are all over the floor, up on their knees, or lying about instead of sitting on their bum.

hand signals for classroom managment elementary spanish class

*MOMENTICO: I was inspired to use this gesture by watching a previous principal who used it frequently at staff meetings. I use it all the time; when a kiddo has a raised hand but I can't call on him/her right at that moment; when a kiddo needs something but I can't grab it right at that moment; any time I need my kiddos to wait for a minute for my attention, help, etc. It is way more powerful than I could've imagined! Kids feel ACKNOWLEDGED, that I see them and will get to them as soon as I can, which also cuts down on the "Señora, Señora, Señora....". I do typically say 'momentico' when I make the gesture; many of my students have picked it up and use it, too! NOTE: a key component of this is that you do indeed get back to the kid you've said 'momentico' to- this builds trust and shows your students you will follow through.

hand signals for classroom management in elementary Spanish class

*SNAPPING YOUR FINGERS: Need to get a kiddo's attention without saying anything? I find snapping my fingers often does the trick, and I can then give a second hand signal to redirect the behavior that is heading off course or a verbal redirect if necessary.

I hope these help out and/or give you inspiration! Have some gestures of your own? Share in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

La Castañada- a Fall Celebration for Elementary Spanish Class

AUTUMN HAS ARRIVED and though in Spanish class we often look to Days of the Dead to fill our plan books, another celebration takes place at the same time- la Castañada! This holiday, celebrated in Spain and Portugal, rings in the fall harvest of nuts and fruits, centering around las castañas (chestnuts), and takes place on November 1, All Saint's Day. Images associated with this holiday include a woman in peasant dress selling chestnuts on the street, nuts, fall leaves, hedgehogs, squirrels, birds and the forest. In doing a search on Pinterest, I came across a slew of activities for elementary age students- this holiday seems a great one for craftivities in schools in Spain. Couple this with autumnal vocabulary and you've got a great theme for October/ November that features culture- a win win!

HERE IS A ROUND UP OF SOME IDEAS I find particularly fun and engaging for our elementary Spanish classrooms (and that I would like to do in my classroom!):

*FIRSTLY, A BIT MORE INFO ABOUT LA CASTAÑADA: this site gives background information and history, as well as an interesting perspective about which to celebrate, Halloween or Castañada.

*THIS SWEET AND SIMPLE SONG is perfect to learn along with fall vocabulary and la Castañada. I found it at AliciaInfantil (click here for more of her printables)

*MAKE THESE CUTE CHESTNUT FACES- a great way to practice and reinforce emotions- kids can make a talking bubble to go along with the chestnut to include emotions vocabulary. I tried to source this picture but was unable to; it is not mine.

*SHARE THIS ADORABLE MINIBOOK with your students, highlighting la Castañada and fall.

*MAKE PANELLETS, traditional treats for All Saint's Day, Castañada, and the fall. Here is an incredibly well photographed recipe, step by step.

*A SIMPLE POEM ABOUT LA CASTAÑERA (the peasant lady who sells castañas on the street):
"Cuando es el tiempo de las castañas,
la castañera, la castañera,
baja y vende castañas,
en la cuidad,
la camisa le va pequeña,
la faldita le hace campana,
los zapatos le hacen clon-clon.."