Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Summer Reading List 2019 for Elementary Spanish Students & Heritage Speakers

SUMMER IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER, and as per my yearly tradition, I've gathered a list of book recommendations for STUDENTS IN ELEMENTARY SPANISH as good reads while they are on vacation. My hope is to keep those connections to culture and language alive over the months we are apart, and of course, at the same time, encourage kids to read some FANTASTIC books! This year I'm including books available not just in English but also in Spanish for our heritage speakers.

Summer Reading List 2019 for Spanish Students in Elementary School

To see my past Summer Reading Lists visit:
2015 Summer Reading List
2017 Summer Reading List
2018 Summer Reading List


*DREAMERS by Yuyi Morales- This is such a touching, memorable story of coming to the United States from México! Not only is the story beautiful, but so are the illustrations- I highly recommend this book. Also available in Spanish: Soñadores

*THE DAY YOU BEGIN by Jacqueline Woodson- a lovely story about celebrating who you are as a unique being! Also available in Spanish: El día en que descubres quién eres.

*ZOMBIES DON'T EAT VEGGIES by Jorge Lacera and Megan Lacera- this is the debut book of Colombian author and his wife, Jorge and Megan Lacera, and features traditional foods in a witty, fun story, sure to be enjoyed by kids! Available in Spanish: ¡Los zombis no comen verduras!

*PLANTING STORIES, the Life of Storyteller and Librarian Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise is the biography of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City, and namesake of the prestigious Pura Belpré Book Award. On my own reading list this summer! Available in Spanish: Sembrando historias.

*YO SOY MUSLIM by Mark Gonzales is on my reading list this year-I'm excited to see a book exploring cross-heritages, highlighting the complexities of identity and celebrating ones roots.


*SARAI AND THE MEANING OF AWESOME by Sarai Gonzalez (of Soy yo fame) and Monica Brown. Both inspirational and fun, this short book is perfect for upper elementary reading! Available in Spanish: Sarai y el significado de lo genial. NOTE: This is the first in a series featuring Sarai, be sure to check out all the titles!

*SOFIA MARTINEZ, Every day is Exciting by Jacqueline Jules- I LOVE this book for early emergent chapter book readers (say, around 2nd grade or so)- Sofia Martinez is getting ready for her friend's quinceañera, with mishaps galore before she finally makes it to the party. Cute and accessible! Part of a series, these are awesome books for young readers :) All books in the series are also available in Spanish.

CHAPTER BOOKS for Upper Elementary and Middle School

*THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK by Celia C Pérez is AWESOME! I loved this book so much, really fresh, relatable for kids of all backgrounds, but most especially for kids who have a mixed heritage and are struggling to figure out their identity. A Pura Belpré Honor Book.

*MARCUS VEGA DOESN'T SPEAK SPANISH by Pablo Cartaya is another book exploring one's identity in light of your heritage- I adored this book, and think ALL kids can connect with Marcus' story.

*MERCI SUÁREZ CHANGES GEARS by Meg Medina won the 2019 Newberry Medal, and is on my reading list for summer. Featuring Merci Suárez, a 6th grader trying to make her way in a new school, this sounds great-I'll report back after I've read it!

*LUCKY BROKEN GIRL by Ruth Behar won the Pura Belpré Award and tells the story of a Cuban-Jewish immigrant to NYC, whose journey to belong is jeopardized by a tragic accident which leaves her bed ridden for an extended period of time. Set in the 1960s, this is another on my list TO READ!

Finally, last year I had on my list Me, Frida and the Secret of the Peacock Ring, by Angela Cervantes which I LOVE LOVE LOVE and is now available in Spanish: Frida, el misterio del anillo del pavo real, y yo. A great read for heritage speakers!

Happy reading!

Going GREEN in Your Classroom- Ideas for a More Environmentally Friendly Space

LIKE MANY OF YOU, I TRY REALLY HARD TO BE A RESPONSIBLE STEWARD OF THE EARTH AT HOME-we compost, we recycle everything we can, we've reduced our plastic, water and electricity use where ever we can, I carry metal straws in my purse, and reusable bags in the car. But honestly, I haven't put nearly as much thought into my footprint at school... until now. Over this past school year, I have been systematically making my classroom a GREENER space, and am continually searching out new ideas to implement. Have you been thinking the same thing? making efforts too? I would love to hear about it-post in the comments below and let me know what you're doing to help the one and only earth we have!

Going Green in Your Classroom Eco Friendly School Space


*PAPER BAGS INSTEAD OF ZIPLOCS: I will profess, I long have loved ziploc bags, they are so cheap, convenient and come in so many sizes. But, as my stash is being used up, I'm not buying more. Instead, I found paper sandwich bags, and am using them to hold manipulatives, class sets of materials, pictures and more. For larger items, I've been using paper lunch bags. So far, so good- I just have to label the outside of the bags before storing them away (as opposed to being able to see through them to the contents like with ziplocs).

*REPURPOSING VEGGIE TRAYS: Sometimes our vegetables come on a stiff paper "tray", which are perfect for arranging & organizing items (like legos, dice, little letters, etc) at stations or around the room instead of plastic bins.

*COPY PAPER BOXES: This I've been doing for as long as I've been teaching, but as a few have worn out, I haven't replaced them with plastic bins. I keep all my theme materials in cardboard copy paper boxes which are sturdy and can be stacked easily if necessary. TIP: I've gotten all mine from our custodians- which is to say, FREE!

*LOW/ NO LAMINATION: Whaaaaaatttt???? I know, this is a tough one, especially for us elementary teachers! Now, I've been at this on and off for the past several years as I became concerned about the freakish amount of lamination I had been doing and the potential health risks from inhaling all those fumes (we have a hot laminator at school)... but this year I have gone the extra step to work on wrangling my students to try and be a little more careful with materials so they would last longer rather than laminating them. By no means a runaway success, their heightened awareness of the problems plastic poses to the environment has helped the cause and I can say happily that I haven't laminated anything since last September :) SIDE NOTE: Although I haven't laminated in months, I don't expect to give up lamination altogether, there are some things that just make sense to laminate, but reducing to the bare minimum is definitely a help for the environment!

*CRAYON SHARPENERS: How I missed this one all these years is a mystery to me! I don't use markers in my classroom (but if you do, definitely recycle them via CRAYOLA's program- link here), instead having crayons as I find them easier to deal with....but the down side is once they are dull, kids don't want to use them anymore and I end up throwing them away. I have spent a lot of my teacher time peeling crayons to try and extend their lifespan, but even that is not satisfactory for my little treasures. Enter the crayon sharpener on the back of the 64 pack- it works reasonably well and lengthens the life of a crayon quite nicely and in an acceptable manner for my students, meaning I don't have to throw it out so soon. (and yes, I tried baking them down into blob crayons, but the smell was unbearable! Nevertheless, if you want to try this at home, here's how)

NOTE: Crayola will take your dry erase markers, even though they aren't their brand!!

*TURN OFF THE LIGHTS: I don't recommend you spend all day in the dark, but you probably can find some strategic moments to cut the lights- I also find the lights being off has a calming effect on my students, an added side benefit to being globally responsible!

*PAPER CONSERVATION: I find this to be a tricky one, since I can't get away from paper altogether, most specifically in the classroom. However, most of us have gone digital for classroom news (no more paper handouts), so that's a good step. For older students, utilizing Google Classroom and devices can be a big assistance here as well. For the littles, a couple of things I've been trying: using smaller pieces of paper (cutting paper in half, for ex) for projects, encouraging (e-hem, requiring) them to use BOTH sides of a paper before throwing it in the recycler if they aren't happy with something, gluing scrap paper over unwanted items for those kiddos who just CAN'T live with a cross out on their paper, using mini whiteboards instead of paper

*GLUE STICK CARE: Like many of our materials, if not taken care of properly, glue sticks end up in the waste basket before they are completely used up. I always model how to use them (roll down BEFORE putting the cap back on!!!) before we use them, each and every time to remind my friends of proper care.

LASTLY, GET YOUR STUDENTS INVOLVED! I find the more I appeal to my students' desire to also be stewards of the earth, the better they are at being ones. Educating THEM about how they can help take care of the environment while at school is a huge step towards them being more conscious outside of school :)

Have additional ideas? Please share them below!

End of the School Year Survival Guide- Tips To Get You Through

END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR... EXHAUSTION, STRESS, WANTING TO PULL YOUR HAIR OUT, eating poorly... perhaps you experience some or all of these as the warrior teacher you are, I know I do! By the time spring hits here in Maine, which really doesn't start until mid-April, the kids are squirrelly and I am done, stick a fork in me please. Couple that with all the special events happening in and out of school, routines going haywire, and a need to just SLEEP, it most definitely is the hardest time of year, at least in my opinion. Over the years, I've tried to institute some changes to the end of the year (as in the last two months!) to make it more manageable and enjoyable for me and my students. Here are some tips that have grown out of those changes:

End of School Year Guide and Tips for Teachers Spanish and French

*STICK TO YOUR ROUTINES: This doesn't mean don't do anything special, it means maintain the routines and expectations that you have worked so hard to put in place, and that, especially if you are an elementary teacher with potentially many years with these same kids, you don't want to lose. For ex, keep the beginning of class routines in place, such as your greeting or your welcome. Continue to remind and reinforce your expectations-it's very tempting to just let them slide now that you are exhausted and the kids are bonkers. But.... this is when holding to these expectations will pay off in terms of making the last weeks positive or negative. A rowdy, chaotic class is only fun for the ones being rowdy-everyone else, including many of their classmates, are not digging it. (SIDE NOTE: I know how HARD this one is, believe me!)

*PLAN FOR LESS "ACADEMIC" CONTENT: I wasn't quite sure how to word this, but the idea is relatively simple- when planning out your year, consider putting content at the end of the year that requires less intense focus on the part of students. This doesn't mean you throw content out the window altogether and swing from the rafters, but rather take into consideration the difficulty kids have at this time of year, and intentionallycmake that part of your planning process. For ex, my last theme of Fourth Grade is traditional card and board games-over the course of six weeks, I introduce a series of 4-5 games which we play in class and/or outside if the weather is nice. I still stick to our routines, kids are participating in cultural activities in the target language, and no one is taxed to the point of losing their mind. Win-win!

Planning the End of the School Year for Spanish and French Class

*BLAST FROM THE PAST: This is what I call our trip down memory lane :) The last few classes of the year are a great time to bring back old favorites, such as songs, games, activities, videos, etc-I love to not just revisit those from the current year, but ones from all the years we've been together. It's awesome to hear kids say, 'I remember that song from Kindergarten!'. Because these are familiar to kids, there is less 'effort' on your part to introduce them...and the bonus is you get to recycle some great content, too!

*HOLD KIDS ACCOUNTABLE: Related to the above 'stick to your routines', hold kids to the expectations you've established. Some kids just lose it at the end of the year, thinking they can get away with disruptive, wild behaviors. It's a no go. If a kiddo can't contribute to the community in a productive way, give yourself permission to give consequences-perhaps this is some time spent in the Take a Break space while the rest of the class is playing a game, or off to the Buddy Classroom while the class goes outside... whatever makes sense for your class and school. Lose of privilege is a natural consequence that can be effective, especially if held to consistently. has some great articles about this!

*HEAD OUTSIDE: With the weather warming up, going outside is an obvious option. Choose activities that have structure, involve ALL your students (nothing like an activity where they have to take turns to devolve into mayhem and frustration), and don't require extensive instructions (you will lose them to the dandelions, rocks, and twigs if your instructions are too involved!). Scavenger hunts, chalk flags, traditional games like hopscotch, jump rope, circle games, etc are great, low prep activities for the outdoors. You could also bring out a basket of books and enjoying some reading time in the sun :) A NOTE: Going outside does require some pre-teaching, modeling and reminding of appropriate behaviors prior to heading out-don't skip this step! :)

*BE SENSITIVE TO YOUR STUDENTS: Lastly, but perhaps the most important- many of our kiddos are not excited about the end of the year, many are anxious or stressed about moving to the next grade level or building, and many students dread summer vacation which can be an absolute nightmare for them-being home for some of these kiddos is a horror show. Often, these emotions present as disruptions, explosions, melt downs and defiant or argumentative behaviors. As hard as it is, being a positive and constant adult in these kids' lives is crucial. To that end, being careful in how you reference summer and vacation is important-take into consideration that these kids won't react positively to a 'Who's excited for summer vacation?' or 'Only 23 days til vacation!'. Consider trying to frame vacation as a bridge 'We'll be seeing each again really soon!' or 'I can't wait to see you again in September!'. :)

*5 Traditional Board Games from Spanish Speaking Countries
*Reloj, a card game from Spain
*Yearbook Activity in Spanish and in French
*Doodle Pages- Draw and Share
*Make Tissue Paper Flowers
*Minute to Win It Games for Spring

How do you end the year? Let me know in the comments!

Doodle Pages Activity to Foster Language Use in Student Centered Learning

STUDENT CENTERED LEARNING is certainly very much talked about in education circles today, and no less so in world language classrooms. There are so many ways we can incorporate activities that promote students' perspectives, creativity and "showing what they know". And, we know that kids respond really well to choice driven activities, which not only is great for them but can also have a positive impact on classroom community and management. At the same time, we language teachers want to foster authentic communication in our classrooms, embedded in relevant activities.

Doodle Pages Activity for World Language Class Spanish French

A FUN ACTIVITY TO FOSTER MEANINGFUL LANGUAGE USE is a twist on the writing prompt idea-using a visual prompt instead that inspires our students to complete a drawing and then share that with someone else-you, a classmate, a small group, or even the whole class (or, if you have Seesaw or another similar app, they can share with their families!).

PERHAPS YOU HAVE SEEN DOODLE BOOKS- as someone who loves to draw myself, these books are so much fun! And, they have the added benefit that they can be completed in an infinite number of ways, making each page up to the interpretation of the student artist.

SO, HOW TO USE A DOODLE PAGE IN CLASS? Choose a page that connects in some way to a theme or content set that your students know-perhaps the page has a cloud and raindrops on it if you are interested in kids practicing weather related vocabulary, or a shirt if you are talking in the midst of talking about clothes-or any page just for fun! Instruct your students to finish the drawing started by the doodle, filling in the background and/or setting a scene. With novice students in particular, I find it's a good idea to guide their ideas towards vocabulary sets they are familiar with, giving them choice within structure so that they are able to share what they've drawn at the end. As students are drawing, you can walk around asking them questions about what they have in their pictures and encouraging them to share in the target language. Depending on your students, you could use yes/no or either/or questions to elicit a response, or a more open ended one if they are ready to do so. The great part about this is that each kiddo can share based on what they are ABLE TO DO, rather than getting stuck in what THEY CAN'T DO; your differentiation in the interaction allows this to occur naturally :)

ONCE FINISHED, students can share their drawing elements as I mentioned above. Even a simple listing of each thing is awesome for kids as they are telling about something THEY created-super motivating! You can see a cute example from one of my first grade classes here:

I'VE CREATED A SET OF 20 DOODLE PAGES for anyone who wants to try these out! They can be used at any grade or proficiency level, and with ANY LANGUAGE! Click here to grab them :)

Draw and Share Doodle Activity Pages for Spanish French class

Links & Resources to Advocate for, and Educate about, Early Language Learning Programs

I AM FREQUENTLY ASKED ABOUT RESEARCH AND INFORMATION RELATED TO EARLY LANGUAGE LEARNING AND PROGRAMS, as many of us find the need to advocate for our programs and educate parents, districts and communities about the advantages for children to study a second language in preschool and elementary school, and for children to be bilingual, as well inform them on realistic expectations for their child in an #earlylang program. I thought it would be helpful to gather these together in one blog post-please let me know any I've missed and I will add them!

Links & Resources to Advocate for Early Language Learning

*NNELL: The National Network for Early Language Learning is our national advocate here in the US, with many resources for teachers and parents on their website. Becoming a member means you also gain access to their journal and resources and you are able to connect with other teachers across the country.

*Lead With Languages is an advocacy initiative from ACTFL, working to educate on the importance of language learning. The link provided connects you to their rationale for early language learning; they have links for all levels so be sure to explore their site!

*ACTFL: The American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages has this advocacy page explaining the research behind language instruction

*Edutopia produced this video on the benefits of language learning for children, could be a great link for parents!

*This article from the Early Childhood Education Journal highlights the benefits of studying a foreign language on language arts & math instruction

*Ñandutí is a website dedicated to preK-8 language instruction and has several articles related to advocacy

*'Beyond the Bridge of Understanding, the Benefits of Second Language Learning' by Martha G. Abbott is an excellent article written for the American Educator.

*The European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe has a section dedicated to early language learning. You can find an additional series of links here.

*Multicultural Kids Blog has collected many resources to help parents advocate for their children being bilingual/ learning another language and being culturally connected. Here is a great set of links for the role of being bilingual.

*The State of French Education in Canada- on pages 7-8 of this report you will find the results of a research study conducted to determine whether there is interference from a second language being learnt on the first language... psst.... nope!

*Advice for homeschool families on bringing a second language to their lives, lots of great info!

*For infographics and other visual resources, I've created a section on my Pinterest board entitled ''Benefits of Learning a Language and Being Bilingual' which you can visit by clicking here.


I also find that it can be helpful when talking with parents & admin to give them a better perspective on second language acquisition and what should be realistically expected from an #earlylang program. Here are some links to that end:

Stages of Language Acquisition to Help Advocate for World Language Programs in Elementary

*Stages of Language Acquisition- this outlines the five stages of language acquisition with fantastic prompts for each stage-I have used this basic concept for most of my teaching career to guide me in how I plan my lessons and flow throughout my program.

*Geared for ELL, this article from Colorín Colorado is applicable to all languages and is very informative.

*The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker is one of my all time favorite books, a terrific read for those who are interested in how the brain learns language.

*Ohio Department of Education does a FANTASTIC job of breaking down hours of instruction and expected proficiency level, including for FLES programs (meeting a minimum of 90 minutes a week). An excellent resource for educating parents!

*A breakdown of contact hours for a student to reach various proficiency levels by language-the Ohio document is more applicable to us, as this is based on specific language training, not your average public school setting, but still informative in my humble opinion as an additional resource.


Here are some tips on keeping your program front and center with parents, admin and your community!

Again, please let me know what I've missed and I will add them! :)

Minute to Win It Games for SPRING

IT'S OUR MINUTE TO WIN IT GAMES SPRING EDITION! One of my most popular posts is one I wrote a few years ago with NINE games related to Valentine's Day (although you could play them anytime!)-easy to prep, easy to play, and like all games, highly motivating for kids-and as I said in that post, games of all kinds are authentic in and of themselves, making the communication that happens while playing also authentic-yay! (you can read that post by clicking here) Well, with my kiddos getting a little squirrelly before April break, I began thinking of what kinds of games would work for this time of year, incorporating themes of the season.... and here they are!

Minute to Win It Games for Spring Spanish French Classes

*WIND UP TOY RACE: I love these bunny & chick wind up toys, they are irresistable! You can get them at a dollar store very inexpensively, which is great! Draw a circle on a large piece of paper, anywhere from a foot to two feet in diameter (I would experiment first with the ones you purchase as they vary in terms of how far they go-you want the circle big enough that there is a bit of challenge, but still manageable for one to exit). The competition is a simple one-two kids face off with their wind up toys, the first toy to hop out of the circle is the winner!

Minute to Win it Games for Spring World Language Classses

*BABY ANIMAL MATCH: You will need small mom and baby animal toys (or flash cards of the same), sufficient sets for the number of players, each set in a bag or box so the players can't see them. Set the timer, students need to pull out the animals one at a time and start matching babies to mommas. The kid with the most matches when the timer goes off is the winner! NOTE: You will typically need more animal sets for older kids as opposed to younger kids who may still be learning which go with which and therefore might take longer to put the matches together :)

Minute to Win it Games for Spring in Foreign Language Class Spanish French

*EASTER EGG TOWER: I saw a version of this on Pinterest-it is way harder than it looks! You need: plastic Easter eggs and play dough or poster putty. Students have one minute to build their tower using the poster putty to attach the eggs to each other; the tower with the most eggs is the winner, with only one egg touching the table. Note, I did not say the highest! When I did this on my own, my eggs kept toppling over-until I started building on the sides, too. Even so, I only had 6 eggs total lol

Minute to Win it Games for Spring STEM

*FILL THE NEST: You will need a nest, little chicks and a clothespin for each player. The goal: fill your nest with as many chicks as possible-but you can only use the clothespin to transport them into the nest, one at a time. Set the timer- the player with the most chicks in their nest when the timer goes off is the winner :) You can also do this with cotton balls or pom poms and a rabbit, chick or lamb cookie cutter!

*EGG RACES: This is based on a classic game-you will need spoons, plastic Easter eggs, and baskets or bins, one for each end of the "racing course". The goal: to transport as many eggs from the first basket to the second before the timer goes off. To play: have the "starter" baskets containing the eggs, and a second basket across the room or across a section of the playground field (this makes a great activity for outdoors!). Set the timer-students must scoop up an egg with the spoon, carry it to the next basket, drop it in the basket and return to get another egg, and so on until the timer goes off. The player with the most eggs in his/her basket is the winner. (Hint: use smaller spoons for older kids for an extra challenge!)

- These can be done as stations very easily; prior to playing, take a picture (or series of pictures depicting materials & objective) of the goal, post it next to the materials for that station, divide your students up and assign them to the stations, set the timer and have every station competing at the same time. They can then rotate to the next station and so on.
- Any of these games can also be played outside, especially if you have access to an all terrain cart you can carry the materials outside with. Great for those beautiful days when you all would rather be outside!

AND DON'T FORGET TO THROW IN GAME VOCABULARY as students are playing-these authentic expressions are easy to learn and help keep the activities in the target language.

FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, WE HAVE A SET OF GAMES VOCABULARY POSTERS in Spanish that support your students while playing-you can grab them here!

Games Vocabulary Posters in Spanish

We Did a Video- Now What? 5 Follow Up Activities for FLES World Language Classes

I LOVE DOING VIDEO WALKS WITH MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH STUDENTS... they are a great way to bring in authentic resources, they are appealing to my students, and they provide an effective medium to practice and reinforce vocabulary. I choose videos which are connected to the mini book and theme I am teaching, and sometimes spend WAY too much time on Youtube searching out just the right video. You can find my post here on how to do a Video Walk, by the way! Of course, once the video is over, it's over, right? Well, maybe not! Here are FIVE FOLLOW UP activities you can do to extend the learning and connections from the video you've just used in class:

Follow Up Activities after showing a video in Foreign language class

1) DO A VENN DIAGRAM: You may already know that I LOVE Venn Diagrams; they are so simple and easily accessible for novice speakers, and have the additional benefit of a math concept (compare & contrast). Since I frequently connect my mini books with videos, it is a natural extension to compare the two. You can do a whole class Venn diagram using hula hoops (I borrow from our Phys Ed teacher) and story props from the theme along with cut outs from the video (I usually do a search on Pinterest for images related to the video) or you can have kids complete individual Venn diagrams on paper. Here is a video of a Venn I did with my Kinders using our mini book 'Julieta y Mateo hacen un picnic' and a Peppa Pig video:

Link to our Theme Pack 'Julieta y Mateo hacen un picnic'

Here is a Venn I did with my multiage class after reading our mini book 'Arriba' and viewing another Peppa Pig video, el Viaje en globo-since these classes are made up of Kindergartners, 1st and 2nd graders, I instructed them to illustrate, rather than write, what each character sees during her trip; as they are illustrating, I circulate and ask what they are drawing, either with yes/no questions, either/or or open ended depending on their level.

Use a Venn diagram to compare a video and a minibook in Spanish class
Click here to grab our Theme Pack 'Arriba'
2) TALKING BUBBLES: This is a fun way to get kids practicing the first person singular by utilizing talking bubble post its and a screen shot or drawing of a scene from a video. Once a video has been seen, choose a scene which ties in well with vocabulary your students are familiar with- I particularly like ones that connect to greetings and emotions, preferences, etc which we practice on a regular basis but where I find some kids can get stuck on certain phrases and never practice others. This type of activity challenges them to go beyond those "old standards" of theirs. In the example below, my 2nd graders watched a Musti video related to our 'Helado' theme; I then drew Mamá and Musti, gave each student a talking bubble post it and instructed them to choose one of the characters and write something they might say. Responses ranged from 'Tengo hambre' to 'No me gusta' to '¡Hola! to 'delicioso' and so on. My kids LOVE this activity-you can also do it with a mini book or story book character after reading!

Talking Bubbles Activity for Foreign Language Class

3) FOUR CORNERS with screen shots... this is an easy prep activity that involves taking screen shots of various scenes from the video, then using them as the images in FOUR CORNERS (click here for my post on how to play if unfamiliar). I like this a lot as it allows me to use longer chunks and/or full sentences as the listening prompt, rather than just a single word. The images in the photo below are from Cantoalegre's Lolalá episode 10 which I use during my 'Olivia en la granja' theme ..I love that the images from this particular video allow me to reinforce listening comprehension for 'sees', 'looks for', and 'finds', all verbs we use again and again.

Four Corners Screenshot Activity for Spanish class

4) SEQUENCE THE SCENES with screen shots...again, a simple activity to prep. Take a series of screen shots from the video, mix them up, and following viewing the video, have kids put the scenes back in order according to the video. Here is one of my First grade classes ordering scenes from a video on how to make chocolate -note how simple I keep the activity to make it accessible to my Novice Low students, including the use of number cards to further convey the task:

5) WORD-IMAGE MATCH: There are a variety of ways you can do this, adjusting for proficiency level of your students-from a one word or word chunk match to a screen shot, to a longer sentences matched to a screen shot. Provide a set of screen shots that reinforce the key vocabulary you are focusing on, along with word or word chunk cards or sentence strips which students then read and match to the correct screen shot.

Word to Image Matching Activity for Spanish class

You can also give your students a set of cards, some of which create a sentence to go with the screen shot, and some which are extras. My second graders do this activity with the Peppa Pig video, along with scenes from my mini book 'Arriba'. I divide them into groups, and they rotate through the images (I put out 6 different ones) kind of like centers or stations. You can find the pack with this activity here. You can also make this an activity page as well, with kids cutting out the words and pasting them below a screen shot.

What follow up activities do you do with a video? Please share in the comments below!

Resources to Teach Le Temps des Sucres in French Class

LIVING HERE IN MAINE I AM KEENLY AWARE OF MAPLE SUGAR SEASON, always excited to see the buckets go up on maple trees in March, a sign spring is on it's way! As much as it is a cultural part of the northeast US, it is also a deep part of spring traditions in Canada, most especially Quebec, which is the world's largest producer of maple syrup, as in almost 80%! This lends itself perfectly to French class, with so many tastes, sights, and experiences related to sugaring season.

Resources to Teach Le Temps des Sucres in French Class

*Mouk- Le sirop d'erable: This episode features Mouk traveling to Quebec to learn more about maple sugaring season-perfect for a Video Walk!

*This video from a sugar shack in Quebec has some great shots of the equipment used to process the sap:

*Making tire à l'érable in Montreal:

*Here's a simple infographic of foods that go well with maple syrup! Click here to access the page where you can enlarge the infographic.

*PRODUCTION OF MAPLE SYRUP IN CANADA: here is a link to an infographic pertaining to statistics of maple syrup production in Canada; you will need to scroll down a bit, but it's there! :)

*POSTERS OF MAKING MAPLE SYRUP IN FRENCH: Don't miss our set of 10 posters featuring maple syrup collection, sugar shack production and more! You can find them in our shop by clicking here!

Le Temps des sucres 10 Posters Labeled in French
click here
*PEPPA PIG LES CRêPES: a cute, related episode from Peppa Pig in French

Creating Visual Rubrics to Establish Expectations for Students

SUPPORTING STUDENTS IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE is an important component throughout class, and across all activities-we all know this. But are we clearly communicating what our expectations are to our students? Do they know what constitutes 'meets' (in a 4 point rubric) for example? Do they know what 'Novice Mid' looks like/sounds like in a given activity? Providing a visual breakdown (or even audio breakdown in a video!) can be that powerful link that gives kids a strong understanding of the expectations and provides an opportunity for them to engage in their own reflection on their learning (aka student self assessment).

Expectations presented visually for students to support their self reflection

ESPECIALLY WITH MY ELEMENTARY STUDENTS, but certainly with ALL students, their understanding of expectations is frequently unclear if I don't provide an example, which, in my opinion, becomes quite unfair in an assessment situation. If you don't know what to shoot for, how do you really know what to do in the first place? One way to do this is to break down a rubric into it's elements and provide a visual representation of each so that kids know what constitutes a 1, 2, 3 or 4 (in a 4 point rubric where a 4 is 'exceeds').

Visual Representation of a Rubric's Levels

THIS IS A RUBRIC I CREATED FOR MY FIRST GRADERS of our Salto Ángel collage activity, part of our theme on Venezuela. As you can see, I created an example of each level of the rubric so they could see EXACTLY what needed to be completed to get to '¡Muy bien!'. This representation also aids in keeping the class in the target language because if a student comes to me with 'I'm done' we can compare theirs to the visual rubric, and it becomes readily apparent whether they need to do more or not: I put the question back on them and THEY self assess by looking at the examples. We can then very simply process: Is yours like this? like this? like this? (see how simple the language is! #novice) I can then point to elements in the level beyond where they identify their work to indicate what they still need to do. Interestingly, when an example of a 4 is provided, I find more kids will shoot for that as opposed to if you only show up to a 3. Again, it's that idea of clearing up the mystery of what's expected and what can be achieved. Here's the link to a super simple video example of processing with a student-click here.

Rubrics provide an incentive to shoot higher

ONE WAY I REALLY LIKE TO TALK ABOUT movement along a rubric, and/or even where one is on the rubric continuum, is the hamburger rubric, which I morphed into a 'Taco rubric'. It is very kid friendly and envisions the rubric as progress from just getting started to achieving, without a 'gotcha' stance, and uses ordering in a restaurant as it's metaphor-I just LOVE it! You can read about it in my blog post here.

What types of rubrics do you use? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Simplify Your Classroom Management Vocabulary to Stay in the Target Language

I AM FREQUENTLY ASKED HOW TO KEEP CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE, an area where it can be challenging to meet that 90% goal recommended by ACTFL. Here is a simple tip: KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Classroom Management in the Target Language for Spanish and French Class

WHEN REDIRECTING STUDENTS, we teachers often have a tendency to be a bit verbose, going into a long explanation of what needs to happen instead of boiling down the redirect to it's most concrete components-which also makes it more comprehensible more often than not. Think about all the routines and expectations you have in class, and how, regardless of how angelic your students are,  often you have to redirect think of the actual language you use. Is it a simple command (raise your hand, sit appropriately, don't touch, etc) or is it populated with incomprehensible language that is also unnecessary to get the point across and have the desired behavior come about? These concise, concrete redirects may take a little to get used to, and may feel a little curt at first (but it's all in the tone!!), but they will pay off down the road as you are able to stay more in the target language which provides more input for students-and did you ever notice that most classroom management vocabulary, especially when boiled down, contains high frequency words?!

WANT TO EVOLVE YOUR CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT VOCABULARY, but not sure how to go about it? Start by taking 3-5 redirects you use regularly and re-formulate them into concise phrases. If you are like me, it might take you a while to develop the habit of using them, so consider writing them on notecards you can post in your room or on your cart, or even put them on a ring attached to a bracelet or lanyard-this really helps! Here is a post I wrote on my top redirects-perhaps it will inspire you!

For more tips on staying in the target language, be sure to click on our category 'Teaching 90% in the target language'!

Kid Friendly Carnaval Activities for Spanish Classes

CARNAVAL IS A BIG CELEBRATION, WITH THE POTENTIAL TO BE A WONDERFUL CULTURAL COMPONENT of our world language classes, but it can be a challenge to find resources and links that are little kid friendly. To that end, here are some I have searched out, along with some activities that work well to integrate the celebration (and don't miss our Pinterest board with more links! click here) :

Kid Friendly Activities for Teaching Carnaval in Spanish Class

*Los Mundos de Uli has an adorable cartoon featuring el Carnaval, great for a video walk! Click here for the link on Youtube. (from Argentina)

*Lulu Delacre's book ¡Rafi y Rosi Carnaval! (also available in English) is a cute story featuring Carnaval in Puerto Rico. You can find it on Amazon here. And a huge thank you to our reader, Sara B., who shared that this book is also available on EpicKidsBooks, an online library, free for teachers! Click here.

*Another great book, by Arthur Dorros, is Tonight is Carnaval (available in Spanish as well, Por fin es Carnaval) highlighting Carnaval in Perú and featuring beautiful arpilleras as the illustrations. Available on Amazon here.

*Use songs such as Celia Cruz's 'La vida es un carnaval' for Freeze Dance, Musical Chairs, Inside/Outside Circle greeting activities, or as background while kids are doing another activity-this is a great way to incorporate music without needing to teach the lyrics-kids just enjoy the sounds and rhythms of the music. Be sure to identify where the song comes from (which country) to make that cultural connection for kids. Putumayo has a cd, Carnaval, which, although out of print, can still be found on Ebay. Pocoyó also has a version of 'La vida es un Carnaval' here :)

*Print out kid friendly photos of Carnaval from a variety of countries and use them as an interactive activity with a map, instructing students to stick them on the country you indicate (use velcro or poster putty). Once they are all on the map, you could solicit observations about similarities and differences across countries. For novices learners, a great way to do this would be to use a graphic organizer such as a T-chart or graph with columns, with general headers such as 'Has parades', 'Has costumes', 'Has dances', etc and the countries down the vertical side. Kids can then answer 'yes' or 'no' to questions like 'Does Carnaval in Colombia have parades?'... mark 'sí' or 'no' on the graph. For photos, check out our Pinterest board here.

*Masks and headpieces are a great, concrete and tangible way for little kids to learn about Carnaval. I've created a series from six different countries for kids to make in class, you can find them here!

Carnaval Masks for Kids to Print and Make
Click here
*Cascarones are part of the Guatemalan tradition for Carnaval. Here is a post I wrote with three easy steps to make these fun confetti eggs!

*Follow @Carnaval_SA and @CarnavaldeNinos on Twitter for great authentic fotos and posts about Carnaval in Barranquilla, Colombia. And you can search the hashtag #CarnavaldelosNiños for more posts. Some incredible content is shared regularly!

*Here are some cute free printables from SpanischmitNatalia-click here to download them!

*And don't miss this great post from Fun for Spanish Teachers! Lots of wonderful activities for little learners, including a Marimonda craft!

Other ideas or resources? Please let me know in the comments! :)

Making Mini Flags with Legos in World Language Class

MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH STUDENTS LOVE FLAGS, and I am constantly searching for new ways to incorporate them in class. I stumbled across the idea of using Legos on Pinterest a while back but didn't act on it until I saw a Twitter post from Señora Speedy (check out her blog here!) where she had fast finishers making large flags out of Legos, which gave me the push I needed to try it myself. Since my First Graders focus on the South America map in January, it seemed like the perfect time to bring in the Legos.

Making Mini Flags with Legos

I DECIDED TO STICK WITH MAKING MINI FLAGS since I wanted to do the activity with whole class at the same time, and therefore needed A LOT of Legos! I don't have any of my own, so I put out an all call to my colleagues at school, and quickly had several bucketfuls at my disposal. I parceled out bricks of the colors needed to put together the flags from South America onto paper plates, labeling each paper plate with the teacher's name from where I got those Legos so I could return them to the right bucket. (I ended up only pulling from two buckets). I made seven plates so I could divide up the class into groups of 2 or 3, thereby reducing the chance of arguing over bricks.

BEFORE STARTING, I SHOWED KIDS EXAMPLES USING DIFFERENT SIZED BRICKS, all making the same flag (Paraguay) so that they realized they didn't have to stick with just one size (this was in large part because I just didn't have enough bricks of any one size for all kids to make the same flag at the same time).

Mini Flags with Legos for Language Class

ONCE IN GROUPS, I BEGAN BY NAMING A PARTICULAR FLAG, showing it to my students and instructing them to construct it themselves using the Legos on the plate. I gave them a few minutes to put the flags together, I checked them out, and then we reviewed the colors of that flag. We then took them apart and started again. I did this activity twice, over two classes, each time lasting about 12-15 minutes tops.

I taped one of my classes which you can watch here:

IT WAS SUCH FUN, AND A GREAT HANDS ON WAY TO PRACTICE country names and colors while focusing on culture! For more activities with flags, check out my pack here:

Flag Activities for Spanish Class
Click here