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.."


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Managing Multiple Grade Levels with Rotating Themes

A BIG CHALLENGE FOR ELEMENTARY LANGUAGE TEACHERS is teaching multiple grade levels- many of you out there teach upwards of 5 or 6 grade levels- even 9 if you are a K-8 teacher! Along with that type of span typically comes a large number of students, so prep and planning can be a bear, especially with the limited prep time often provided. One way to tackle this (and save your sanity!) is to create a yearly rotation of themes, teaching one theme to multiple grade levels in a given year, then another the following year, and so on. With embedded differentiation to take into account age appropriate activities, this allows you to plan ONE theme across many levels (obviously you will have a variety of themes across that one year, but this is a way to attack having different themes for all grade levels all through the year).


ONE WAY TO GO ABOUT DOING THIS is to look at the ACTFL standards and choose one that lends itself particularly well to differentiation while still keeping to the same basic theme. Here's an example of how that can be done highlighting a set of activity packs we have available, tapping into ACTFL'S cultural competence standards:

Under 'CULTURES' ACTFL has the following standard:
-Relating cultural practices to perspectives: Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the cultures studied

Under 'CONNECTIONS' is the following standard:
-Acquiring information and diverse perspectives: Learners access and evaluate information and diverse perspectives that are available through the language and its cultures.

THESE TWO STANDARDS could be achieved in a variety of ways- a popular way to do this is to focus on a particular country, highlighting various aspects of culture from that country focus. With young kiddos, who have little knowledge of other countries in general, it is also a great way to widen their horizons and instill curiosity and interest. To achieve the standards, you could have a different country focus at each grade level; for example, for Kindergarten, México, for 1st grade, Spain, for 2nd grade, Perú. (or even regions). The alternative could be to set up a rotation over the course of a few years, like this:

YEAR 1- México- all three grade levels (or a span of your choice) study México
YEAR 2- Perú- all three grade levels (or a span of your choice) study Perú
YEAR 3- Venezuela- all three grade levels (or a span of your choice) study Venezuela

In YEAR 4, you start over again with México, and so on for another three year rotation. You could also have more years in the rotation, adding countries to the list. Or have a different set of countries for upper grade levels, with it's own rotation. The key here is you are prepping ONE THEME for multiple grade levels, rather than several themes, which eases your workload.

WE HAVE A SERIES (EVER GROWING!) OF COUNTRY FOCUSED ACTIVITY PACKS which are just perfect for this idea of rotating over the course of a few years. Each activity pack highlights simple cultural aspects of the country, including the flag, foods, animals, a special landmark or feature, and geography, using basic language to convey the information in Spanish, making them ideal for little learners. Each can also be supplemented with additional activities for upper elementary and/or middle school, such as videos, projects, songs, etc. Each also meets the above ACTFL standards through the window provided via the activities in the pack. Here are the three we currently have (keep checking back as new ones are in the pipeline!):
Pepita va a México Activity Pack
Pepita va a Perú Activity Pack
'Pepita va a Venezuela' Activity Pack


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Open House Activities for Elementary Spanish Class

THIS WEEK WE HAD OPEN HOUSE AT SCHOOL, and I wanted to make it more meaningful this year...our principal had referenced parents 'learning something' as they traveled through the many classrooms in our school, which inspired me to go beyond the typical 'meet and greet' I had always done. After searching on Pinterest for far too long, I came up with the following:

THREE THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU COME TO THE SPANISH ROOM: I created a printout of three things kiddos could do while visiting me:

1) Greet me with 'Hola'

2) Introduce their parents to Pepita and friends (they are such a part of our class I thought it would be fun to have parents introduced to them)

3) Do an estimation activity with a jar of Guatemalan worry dolls (which also gave practice for numbers) You can download my estimation activity for FREE here!

The kids had a lot of fun, especially with the estimation jar, and it was a great opportunity to showcase how well kids comprehend Spanish- many parents witnessed me speaking and prompting kiddos with the estimation slip, demonstrating how I teach in the target language while kids completed the task. I would love to hear how you do Open House!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hispanic Heritage Month- Making Cultural Connections by Comparing a Taco

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH is a wonderful opportunity for our elementary Spanish students to learn more about how the influence of Hispanic culture has contributed to their own. Since we are talking elementary, I particularly like to provide concrete, tangible examples of how, in our everyday lives, we experience the many contributions we enjoy and which have become a part of the culture here in the US. I could get very sentimental and say that, after all, we are a melting pot, and our culture is an amazing amalgam of traditions, values, and customs from the world over... it truly brings tears to my eyes!

BUT, BACK TO HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH! So, if you ask yourself the question, what does a 5, 6, 7 year old experience in his/her daily life that has come directly or in part from a Spanish speaking country, for the majority, the answer is mostly likely tacos and nachos and salsa! (Or, at least in my neck of the woods here in Maine...) And, most likely they have no idea that these yummy foods came originally from México AND most likely do not know or have ever had an authentic representation of either.

SO, WHY NOT TAKE THIS CONCRETE EXAMPLE OF MEXICAN CULTURE and share with your students the real deal? If you aren't able to bring in food, or have too many students to make it feasible, you can still show your students via videos and pictures more traditional representations. Here are some resources to compare and contrast Mexican tacos and those often eaten in the US:

THOUGH THE SPANISH in the video is most likely above your students' language level, the visual representation of a step by step recipe is a great way for kids to SEE the difference in tacos we frequently eat here (Ortega, anyone?). After viewing the video, and talking about the differences (both in how they are made and the ingredients) between a taco in México and the US, have your students do a Venn diagram with visual representations of the differences- here is a FREE downloadable Venn diagram activity page! This is also a great activity to meet ACTFL Standard 4.2 (Students develop understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own)

HOW ABOUT PICO DE GALLO? Check out our post here on making salsa tipo pico de gallo! And don't miss our 'Olivia hace chocolate caliente' Activity Pack- two great additional opportunities for cultural comparisons!

olivia hace chocolate caliente culture comparison


Friday, August 26, 2016

Hispanic Heritage Month- 16 Pop Songs for Elementary Spanish Class

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH BEGINS SEPTEMBER 15, and is a wonderful opportunity for elementary Spanish teachers to highlight the many ways Hispanic culture is part of our students' daily life. One tangible aspect is music- our students hear quite a bit of music sung and created by Latin artists, but don't always think about the connection between the artist and the country they, or their families,  are from. Whether you teach your students salsa while playing Celia Cruz, or play 'Freeze dance' with 'La Bamba', bringing music into class and highlighting the connections make a significant contribution towards your students being more aware of Hispanic culture and the contributions it has made to our own. Here are 12 songs I like to play with my elementary students, some of which are very familiar to them, while others are new but lots of fun:

Hispanic Heritage Month Songs for Elementary Spanish Class

*'Ven a bailar' by Pitbull and J Lo
*'La Bamba' by Los Lobos
*'Echa Pa'lla (Manos Pa'arriba)' by Pitbull
*'Oye como va' by Santana
*'Rie y llora' by Celia Cruz
*'La vida es un Carnaval' by Celia Cruz
*'A Dios le pido' by Juanes
*'La bicicleta' by Shakira and Carlos Vives
*'Dímelo' by Marc Antony
*'La Copa de la Vida' by Ricky Martin
*'Volaré' by Gypsy Kings
*'Noche y de Día' by Enrique Iglesias featuring Yandel and Juan Magan
*'Qué viva la vida' by Wisin
*'La Gozadera' by Gente de Zona featuring Marc Antony
*'Canción del Mariachi' by Antonio Banderas and Los Lobos (yes, Antonio Banderas!)
*'Soy yo' by Bomba Estéreo
*'Bailando' by Enrique Iglesias
*'Yo voy ganao' by Systema Solar
*'Salsa y choke' by ChocoQuibTown featuring Nejo
*'Baila conmigo' by Juan Magan featuring Luciana (in both English and Spanish)
*'Bailamos' by Enrique Iglesias (this is primarily in English but does have some Spanish)

Happy dancing!


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Activities for the First Days of School in Elementary Spanish Classes

WE'VE TEAMED UP WITH Fun for Early and Elementary Spanish Teachers for a fun week on Facebook, sharing activities for the first days of school in Elementary Spanish Classes. Be sure to follow both of us on Facebook (click here to go to our page!) so you don't miss out- this week, and every week!

I AM ALSO POSTING ALL OF OUR ACTIVITIES here on our blog! Here we go! (I'll add each activity here as we progress through the week)

Activities for the First Days of School in Elementary Spanish Classes

Activities for the First Days of School in Elementary Spanish Class

Activities for the First Days of School in Elementary Spanish Class

Activities for the First Days of School in Elementary Spanish Classes Back to School

*Here is a great Youtube video with two little girls demonstrating 'Por aquí pasó un caballo'

Activities for Back to School in Elementary Spanish Classes

Activities for Back to School in Elementary Spanish Classes

Activities for Back to School in Elementary Spanish Classes


Monday, August 15, 2016

Routines for the End of Spanish Class- Cleaning Up and Saying Goodbye

I CONFESS, I'VE DONE A FAIR SHARE OF POSTS highlighting greeting activities, but have yet to write a post starring END OF THE CLASS ACTIVITIES! ¡Qué locura! Well, I am here to remedy that with a round- up of closing activities you can do when cleaning up and saying goodbye to your class, which are just as important as greetings in that they bring your class closure in an orderly and meaningful way, and send them to the next teacher ready to transition.

Routines for the End of Spanish Class-Cleaning Up and Saying Goodbye

*CLEANING UP is one of those times when having a routine is super helpful; whether it is simply putting away pencils and activities, or cleaning up a big mess made from a project, my goal is always to do this as efficiently and quickly as possible. Several years ago I stumbled upon an authentic song 'A guardar' which has become my staple for signaling it is time to clean up and get ready to go. Although only about 30 seconds in length, you would be amazed how much can be accomplished in that time frame- if you MODEL and PRACTICE what kiddos need to do as soon as they hear the song start playing! You can download the song on ITunes: 'A guardar' by Sari Cucien

*SIDE NOTE ON COLLECTING FOLDERS: This is a two-parter- if you use a seating chart AND you hand out folders containing activities, at clean up time, collect those folders in the order in which your kiddos sit, following your seating chart. This will, in turn, make it much easier and quicker to hand them out again the next time you use them! I have also added to this routine that they need to hold their folders upright (rather than on their head like a graduation cap, in their hand like a pizza box, or as high as they can possibly get it- all of which frequently end up in folders falling and activities scattered all over the place).

*REFERENCE A WELL KNOWN REFRAN with this quick chant I modified, which is perfect as a call and response to signal the end of class! You can download it for free here on our drive!

*SAYING GOODBYE: Sadly, we have to say goodbye to our little critters as they have places to go and people to see...but it's always nice to do so with a smile on our faces! Here are two songs that are perfect to sing as they are lining up, on their way out the door, or as a closing circle activity.

I also videoed myself demonstrating how I instruct my students to clean up, all in Spanish, to give you a sense of how that can be done in a 90% CI classroom.

Hope I've given you some good ideas for ending class!