Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Three Easter Themed Videos for Elementary Spanish Class Plus Tips to Use Them in Class

EASTER IS SUCH AN EXCITING TIME FOR LITTLE LEARNERS, as they look forward to Easter egg hunts and baskets full of chocolate. Here are three videos with an Easter theme you can use in class as a source of loads of question and answer directed activities, allowing for practice and reinforcement of previously learnt vocabulary, and an opportunity to add to their word banks, while at the same time keeping their attention span on language learning and practice, even during this exciting time of year:

PEPPA PIG IS, OF COURSE, a perennial favorite, as is Pocoyó. Both are cute, very illustrative in terms of action, and kids readily relate to the story. UPDATE! I just stumbled across another Pocoyó episode with an Easter theme (the first part of the clip)-see below!

ZOU IS AN ADORABLE ZEBRA, from Disney I believe. The videos are not quite as concrete as Peppa Pig and Pocoyó, with greater reliance on the spoken word to tell the story, which can be challenging for some kids. However, if you have a fair number of heritage speakers in your classroom, this is a great choice!

SINCE SOME OF THE SPANISH IS challenging for my students, especially my Kinders & 1sts, I do not have an expectation to watch these videos and have them understand everything. However, as I mentioned above, they are great to use as picture and prediction prompts in a Q & A format. I use a lot of YES/NO and EITHER/OR questions when incorporating videos, which serve as supports for my kiddos and allow us to stay in the target language. Other questions I use over and over again are ¿Cuántos? and ¿De qué color es ___?- these two alone are enormous workhorses! How many eggs are there? Now how many are there? and now? and now? What color is that egg? What color is that egg? And what color is that egg? What color egg does Pocoyó have? What color egg does Elly have?..... you get the drift! The repetition provides tons of practice, is very comprehensible, and also allows us to add in those "small but powerful" words like 'y', 'muy', 'un poquito', 'también', etc, that are learned better in context rather than in a directed lesson.

Three Easter Videos for Spanish Class Elementary Spanish for Kids

IN THE EPISODE WITH PEPPA PIG, for example, you can start with what color the house is. Is the house big or small? Is is sunny or rainy? How many friends are there? Is it Grandpa or Grandma? Are they looking for cheese or eggs? Are the plants little or big? What color are the plants? and so on. I usually stop a video every 10 seconds or so, depending on the action, to ask questions and elicit responses. In order to head off the 'don't stop the video' comments, I have established the routine that, time permitting, we will watch the video a second time without me stopping. I can certainly understand why they want to watch all the way through without pause, so I try to provide that-and since we have already been talking about the video the first time through, they frequently call out words and phrases in Spanish as we are watching it a second time!

WHAT VIDEOS DO YOU LOVE to use in class? Share in the comments! :)

A Simple Tip for Explaining Traditional Foods in the Target Language (without translating!)

TRADITIONAL FOOD IS A GREAT WAY TO INCORPORATE CULTURE in our foreign language classrooms, but the more unfamiliar they are, the trickier they can be to explain without translating... well, actually not! Here's a SIMPLE TIP for explaining foods without resorting to using English in class (and therefore maintaining your 90% in the target language goal!):

How to Explain traditional foods in world language class without translating

*a photo(s) of the traditional food
*a map
*the main ingredients, either as photos or plastic food or a mix of both (or, the real ingredients!! even better!)

TO INTRODUCE THE FOOD, show a photo of the dish and name it. Then, point to your map to identify where it comes from (I love to have velcro on the back so we can stick pictures up on a large map!) and then show the main ingredients that make up the food. It's that SIMPLE!

A quick tip to talk about traditional foods in language class without translating

BY NAMING THE INGREDIENTS, you provide a mental impression of what the finished dish is comprised of, which, even for little kiddos, is usually enough for them to get the overall idea of the food without having to go into more detail. Remember, this tip is just for identifying a food! So, for example, if you are naming typical dishes of a variety of countries (or just talking about one country and identifying traditional dishes, this tip is perfect to allow you to stay in the target language :) )

FOR PHOTOS OF TRADITIONAL FOODS FROM SPANISH SPEAKING COUNTRIES, visit my Pinterest board 'Recetas del mundo hispanohablante' here!

I'd love to hear what foods/dishes you talk about in class-share in the comments below! :)

March Madness with a Twist-How I Made Brackets with Animals for my Elementary Spanish Classes

HELLO MARCH and HELLO MARCH MADNESS! It is exciting to see teachers engaging in music brackets in their foreign language classes and to hear how much kids are enjoying them! Last year I tried it out, with great music suggestions from a Twitter colleague, but I just couldn't manage it in my 30 minute classes-clearly operator error! As this March came ever closer, I wracked my brain to find a way to participate that I could pull off..... and then I came across this really cool project out of Arizona State University (March Mammal Madness) and realized THIS I could do-especially since my Third Graders had done research on endangered animals in South America in December, so this became the perfect followup.

March Madness Brackets with Animals for FLES Spanish and French

I SIMPLIFIED THE BRACKETS FOR MY CLASSES since we only meet twice a week and have other theme activities to do... I chose 8 animals from South America, including the ones we had focused on back in December, and created the bracket. Since I have 4 third grade classes, each class will vote on each part of the bracket before an animal is advanced-this was a challenge for me last year-keeping four sets of votes on music as we progressed. Again, operator error I am sure! I've used white poster board for the brackets this year and as we vote, I put tally marks right on the brackets (oh, a little math, too!!! sneaky!)...I copied smaller pictures of each animal to place along the bracket as the vote moves forward. (The animals on the board this year are: el lobo de crin (aguará guazú), el guanaco, el puma, la guacamaya roja, el zorro chilote, el oso andino, el pingüino de penacho, y el jaguar)

March Madness Animal Brackets for FLES Spanish and French

SINCE I KNOW MY STUDENTS will want to also make commentary about the animal they are voting on at any time, I also put up some phrases they can use in the course of the conversation, and as we really get into it I anticipate others will come up as well that I can add to the board. I am really excited, and so are my students- I will let you know how it goes...and which animal is the winner! UPDATE: el pingüino de penacho was the runaway winner last year! I did find I had to stay on top of organizing the brackets, and keeping track of which classes had voted each time as it's hard for me to keep everything in my head-this helps too because you can't move on until all classes have voted! (I just kept a checklist next to the board :) )

Here is a video of me introducing the activity and our first round of votes:

Interested in doing something similar? I have a bunch of animal photos saved on my Pinterest board here. :)

2019 UPDATE: This activity was SOOOO successful last year, and actually led into my 3rd grade classes fundraising to adopt two animals through World Wildlife Fund, which they were so proud of! They begged me to do this again, to which of course I said ¡Sí!. This year the animals are:
la javelina, el oso perezoso, el flamenco, la cigüeña blanca, el lobo mexicano, el mono, la tortuga de Galápagos, y el armadillo. Little factoids are shared all through the voting, which is also a great way to add in some content. :)

And, for non fiction resources about animals & habitats in Spanish speaking countries, don't miss our printable MAGAZINES, Mira el Mundo and Mira el Mundo, Jr! Geared for elementary & middle school, they are also great for highschool FVR-find subscriptions & individual issues in our shop by clicking here.

Non fiction Magazine in Spanish for Kids

3 Activities to do with Dr Seuss in FLES classes

I LOVE DR SEUSS BOOKS, as do our students, but I haven't always found the best way to incorporate his national birthday celebration (March 2) in my ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASSES, in part because many of the books contain language that can be challenging for them to understand, or at least some of my personal favorites anyway (The Lorax!!!). Well, thank goodness for Pinterest! While searching for ideas, I stumbled across a few activities in English that I knew I could modify and  be perfect for foreign language classes, especially at the younger levels! Here's how I adapted them for FLES:

Dr Seuss Activity for FLES Classes Spanish and French

1) WHICH DR SEUSS BOOK DO YOU LIKE MOST? Instead of reading the books in class, capitalize on them having been read in the gen ed classroom already (or at home) and use that prior experience to practice the phrase 'I like the most' (or any and all preferences phrases!).

HAVE A SELECTION OF DR SEUSS books / titles available to 'vote' on. If you don't have the physical books, just print off images of the covers using Google Images or other search engine. Put them in a pocket chart or on the board-students 'vote' by putting their name tag under their preferred title and saying the phrase in the target language. Even young students can participate because it isn't necessary to know how to say the title in the target language- this is a great way to stay 90% in the TL! Once everyone has placed their name tag, you can count up the names and discover which book is the most popular in that class. If your students have more language skills, they can express WHY they like a particular title over another!

Want some likes/dislikes cards already made up so you don't have to? Grab ours in our shop!

2) MAKE TRUFFULA TREES: Truffula trees from The Lorax can be made just like marigolds for Days of the Dead, and stuck into a cool straw for the tree trunk. I was lucky enough to find black and white striped straws at Walmart, but if you don't have them, any fancy straw will do. You can find the instructions for making these paper flowers in my blog post here. Just have a variety of colors of tissue paper on hand that kids can choose from- this is a great project to do all in the target language!

Make Truffula Trees for Dr Seuss Read Across America in FLES Spanish French

3) PLAY MEMORAMA! I love Memory, it has endless potential for vocabulary practice, kids are familiar with how to play, and can even play independently in small groups. You can make Memory cards with the covers of books, or key elements of a favorite book, having two of each kind. A fun way for kids to interact with the books!

Have fun!