Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dice Sentences {Free Printables}


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Want a quick and easy way to do some review in groups with verbs and the formation of sentences? All you need are these printables {see below} and some colored dice {These work well.}. Basically, students roll four dice at a time (red, green, blue, and orange) and depending on what numbers they get on each colored die they create sentences.  Here's an example:


Let's pretend that a student rolls the following: red 2, green 3, blue 4, and orange 6. The sentence he or she creates would be "Tú estudias español todos los días en la biblioteca." These sentences can be done in groups out loud as a class starter. They can also be written by students. Small groups of students (3 to 5) tend to work well for this activity. 

I have created four printables: 


You will notice with some of the charts the students create a sentence that conveys four pieces of information: who, what happens, when, where. Other charts have three pieces of information and then the type of sentence they are to create (affirmative, negative, interrogative). This adds another level to just straight sentences and makes them think about how to form different types of sentences.



So pull out some colored dice and get your students forming sentences!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Hide-N-Seek Vocabulary Game (for Second Language Learning)

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I struggle sometimes on how to get my youngest students to use the language especially when they are in the first few months of exposure to Spanish. The first problem is that with lower elementary-age students their attention span is very short, and when you add the fact that they have limited vocabulary at the beginning it can be challenging to find activities to get them talking in the target language. This week though I came across an activity that really worked! Not only does this activity require that they speak in Spanish, but it incorporates repetition of the vocabulary in a way that keeps them motivated. Here's how it works...


I create picture cards with the vocabulary on them we are working on. The ones you see here are for the weather, but the cards could be any group of vocabulary as long as you can use pictures: clothing, rooms in a house, places in a city, foods, etc. I laminate the cards (VERY IMPORTANT) so that I can use the dot stickers on the back of them. If the cards aren't laminated then you won't be able to get the sticker off as easily.  I lay out the cards face up on the table. If you have a large group of students you can make bigger cards and hang them up. Then I ask my students in the target language to turn around (away from the cards) and close their eyes (young ones are expert "peekers" so I have them do both actions). I then take a colored dot (See these here as they are easy to remove.) and stick it to the back of one of the cards. Then all my students can turn around and open their eyes. They take turns asking in the target language about a card to see if the dot is behind it.



So for example, if we are working on weather words they would ask, "¿Está nublado?" or "¿Hace viento?". I then reveal the underneath of the card to show them whether the dot is there or not. After I have hidden the dot a few times, I let some of my students do the hiding. If you have a large group, you may not be able to let everyone hide each time you play the game. So you may want to keep track of who has hidden the dot so that next time other students can do it. My students absolutely LOVE hiding the sticker and being in charge of answering the questions and revealing the backside of the cards. Another variation I do (normally at the end of the activity) is for me to "hide" the dot one more time. However, this last time around, I don't actually hide the dot on one of the cards. I put it some place else out of sight. This forces the students to ask about ALL the cards and review all the vocabulary. When the last card is revealed there may be some surprised looks! 😊

While I have used this with great success with elementary-age kids, it can be used as a quick review for older students (like in high school). I love how it requires students to use the language and how they get to hear the words/phrases over and over again. The other added benefit? If a child has the task of hiding the dot, he or she then also has to practice finding which card the other student is asking about. There's plenty of repetition and review without it being boring!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Motivate Target Language Speaking


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Have you ever been to a baby shower where they hand you a clothespin or two and forbid you to say the word "baby"? If you do, another party guest can take your pin. The one with the most pins at the end of the party wins a prize. I have been to tons of baby showers and even some wedding showers that have played this game...

So today I was teaching Spanish to a small group of kids who were speaking WAY TOO MUCH English during the lesson, and the idea hit! Why not do the same thing with my students? So I pulled out some clothespins and gave each student about three of them and told them the rules. I was thrilled at how well this worked! My students immediately started to strive to speak Spanish. When they couldn't communicate in the target language they acted out to the best of their ability what they were trying to say. It was stretching for them and satisfying for me to watch them go through the process, or shall we say...the struggle.

Here are a few tips to implement this idea:

  • Limit the game through groups. If you teach a whole classroom, you might want to break the kids down into groups. They may only take from those in their group. Those they sit closest to would be the ideal candidates.

  • Define the time. How long will you maintain the game? With bigger groups, you may want to start small when it comes to length of time...maybe have them complete one or two activities while maintaining communication in the target language.



  • Be creative with the item you use. It doesn't have to be clothespins. At my daughter-in-law's bridal shower this past summer we played the game with gaudy plastic rings. You just need an item that they can attach to themselves so they don't lose it unless they start speaking in English.  Binder clips would work. These smiley face clips would be cute. There are also decorated clothespins like these that might be fun.

  • I give my students the option to use English once during the session if they have a question about what they should be doing in the lesson. They must request from me in the target language the ability to speak in English. They are allowed one question, and that's it, which makes them really think through how to avoid English until they absolutely need it. Many students will opt to not even request a question in English. 





Have fun! By limiting English you will find that your students will become more animated with their gestures and more creative in their communication. Another side benefit? Your classroom will become a bit quieter since they can't speak in their native tongue!😊





Monday, September 18, 2017

Clothespin Monsters and Language Learning


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I am always looking for new ways to teach Spanish vocabulary I have taught for years. It adds spice to my lessons and also keeps the teacher (me) engaged. Last week I came across this post on making little monsters and decided to make them in all the colors that I have taught my students. I also laminated them and used this glue (click here) which is incredibly durable. In the post, she suggests playing games with pom poms (find them here) with the monsters. I am using the monsters and the pom poms to review colors. Here's how I do it:

I lay out all the monsters on the table and then give instructions in Spanish like "El monstruo rojo come azul." One of my students then needs to find the red monster and use him to pick up a blue pom pom to deposit in a nearby cup. Once I have done this enough with students, I then ask them to "be the teacher" and give instructions to fellow classmates. 

Another activity is to have small disposable bathroom cups for each child. Lay out all your pom poms on a table. Each child gets a clothespin monster to use. Time them for thirty seconds or one minute and have them fill their small cups with as many pom poms as possible using only the monster to get them in the cup. When time is up, have them count the pom poms in their cups in the target language and tell you how many they got.


I also have doll clothes that I use for teaching which can also be used with these monsters. Give students instructions on which colored monster is going to eat which article of clothing. Have them deposit the clothes in another container that serves as the "stomach" for the monsters. Actually, these monsters can be used for all kinds of vocabulary in this same manner as long as you have something for the students to pick up with them. 

If you have any more ideas on how to use these monsters in a language classroom I would love to hear them! 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Word Pictures for Vocabulary Review


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Want a simple activity that incorporates creativity with vocabulary learning? How about trying word pictures with your students? Pictures are drawn entirely with words. For each part of the picture, students write the word for that part over and over again to form the shape of the item. For example, if you are drawing a dress then you would write the word "dress" to create the shape of the dress.



The best way to start these pictures is with a pencil. Have your students lightly outline their drawing. Then using fine tip pens (I used these.), have your students write the word over the pencil lines. They should pick words that correspond to each part of the picture. There is a little bit of poetic license, for the face in the picture I could use cara (face), cabeza (head), or chica (girl). When they are done they can erase the pencil lines. Let your students be creative!


They will also need to decide how much they will break down the picture with vocabulary words. I had the option on the picture below to write the words "trunk" and "leaves" for the tree, but just opted to write "tree" in Spanish instead.


This simple activity is a great way to reinforce the vocabulary your students are learning. You can do pictures for all different kinds of sets of words: weather, body parts, clothing, parts of a house, furniture, cities, foods, etc. Have fun being creative!!



Friday, June 23, 2017

Spanish Camp for Kids {Day 5}


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The final day of camp! Time for review and fun and games! We will review all previous vocabulary through different activities. We may even go back to some of the earlier activities in the week. {To see all the posts for my Spanish camps, click here.} We will finish off the week with making personal piñatas. You can find the instructions here.


We will also play some extra games today...

Minute-To-Win-It games- We will do several of these games...especially the ones with pompoms.

Mano Nerviosa- A simple game that uses regular decks of cards to review numbers. My students LOVE this game!

Cerdos- We will have played this earlier in the week, but for today I have set up this game to review more of the vocabulary we have learned.



To finish off, I will read La Piñata Vacía to my students and hand out these little packages of bilingual cookies to them as they go! They are available here.



To see all the ideas for each day of my Spanish camps, click HERE! And I would love to hear from you! If you have done Spanish camps before, what activities have you done? What has worked well?


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spanish Camp for Kids {Day 4}

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I had the privilege of living in Buenos Aires, Argentina for awhile to improve my Spanish. One of the interesting places I visited was the neighborhood of La Boca with its brightly painted houses. So for the fourth day of my Spanish camp we are going to focus on houses and the vocabulary surrounding them (door, window, up, down, outside, inside) and then recreate some of the typical houses in La Boca.


Today I have decided to rely heavily on die cuts. I made six houses each in a different color. I also made die cuts of different weather symbols. So to review weather, house, and color vocabulary I will give students instructions in Spanish and see if they can create the scene I describe. For example...

Llueve sobre la casa roja.
Nieva sobre la casa verde.


I am also going to take this opportunity to review animals with the die cut houses. I found some animals that were smaller than the houses. I will lay out all the different colored houses and then hide one of the animals underneath one of the houses. Students will need to ask me in the target language if the animal is behind the blue house or the yellow house, etc. 


Another activity we will do is to draw in the details of houses following my instructions in Spanish. See this post for more information. And this post for the printable of houses you can use.

One of our active games today will be using the colored cups I bought for the week. With them we will play "Arriba/Abajo". Take several cups (maybe twice as many cups as you have students) and place half of them right side up (arriba) and half of them upside down (abajo) on the lawn or large play area. Divide your group into two teams one that is "arriba" and one that is "abajo". Tell them to start...the object of the game is to change the cups to fit what team you are on. If you are on the "arriba" team then you need to run around putting all the cups right side up. If you are on the "abajo" team then you want them all upside down. Give them one minute to play. The team with the most cups in their position wins.

Our craft will be to re-create the houses of La Boca, Argentina. Here are the instructions for the project with a little background information on La Boca. 


You will need a paper crimper for this project to give the right look to the sides of the buildings. Here is a link to get an idea of what to look for...




For our reading today we will dive into the following books:



Harold y el Lapiz Color Morado
Ruidos en la Casa- Cute book of a puppy who is scared being home alone
La Casa Adormecida
El Pastel Esta Tan Arriba
Oso en Casa

To see the rest of my plans for the other days of camp, click HERE!!