Tuesday, December 30, 2014

31 Days of Spanish Books for Kids

I am a lover of books, and I especially love children's books. I use them every time I teach kids Spanish. My collection is pretty extensive {read: "an obsession"}. So I have collected for you a list of some of my favorites. Each day during the month of January come back and read another post about a great book you can use to help kids learn Spanish. I have picked these books based on several criteria {although not all the books have each one of these characteristics}.

A great overall story
Thematic vocabulary
Examples of Hispanic culture
Teaching concepts {Ideas in the story that you can springboard off of to teach Spanish}

So here is the list and links to each post about the books I have chosen.  {Please note that links won't work until the actual date of posting.}

El Increíble Niño Comelibros
Chumba La Cachumba
Mi Pequeña Enciclopedia

Adivina Qué Está Creciendo Dentro de Este Huevo
Un Alce, Veinte Ratones
Los Animales No Se Visten
El Alce Que Tenía Sed

Este Alce es Mío
El Flamboyán Amarillo
Se Venden Gorras
Oso en Bicicleta
Un Recorrido por la Selva

Así Me Siento Yo
La Oruga Muy Hambrienta
De la A a  la Z (Country Books in Spanish)
Como Atrapar una Estrella

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hispanic Culture with Picture Books

I LOVE children's picture books. When my boys were younger it was the way I taught them using books based unit studies from Five in a Row and Homeschool Share. My boys are now teens, and picture books have fallen by the wayside for us. However, I teach Spanish to homeschoolers and public school kids in the afternoon and use a plethora of picture books to teach them. Homeschool Share has a blog, and they are featuring my post on teaching Hispanic culture with picture books. Not only do I share a list of picture books {all in English}, but there are also unit studies {free from Homeschool Share} to go with the books. 

To read the complete post, click here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Teaching 1-100 in Spanish

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I have a couple of young students who are working on mastering 1-100 in Spanish. Yesterday I came across these number cards {a free printable from The Measured Mom}. I printed them out and laminated them (I tend to laminate a ton of stuff so that it will hold up under little hands. I use this 

The Measured Mom has a list of great ideas on how to use these cards. I will be doing several of these activities in Spanish with my students come January.  I really like "number hunt", "find the missing number" and "race to 100". These are perfect activities to use with young kids to help them review the numbers and yet not deal with the drudgery of repeating them after you over and over again or having to count up to 100 over and over again. I am so glad I found these cards because it will make the learning more enjoyable!

When I teach numbers I also read a couple of books that focus on counting. Here are my favorites:

Huevos y Patas-counting by two's

¡Montones de Mariquitas!-counting by five's

Correle, correle ciempies! -counting by ten's

Here are some other posts on Debbie's Spanish Learning to help you teach numbers.
Mystery Pictures
Teaching Numbers with Children's Books
Color and Number Bingo
Teaching Numbers 1-20

Monday, December 8, 2014

Of Ice Blocks and Penguins {Teaching Prepositions}

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I have been teaching a Polar Animals Unit to my elementary-age students these past two weeks. One of the concepts we have been working on are prepositions which work well with penguins and ice blocks. I have used these free posters to introduce all the vocabulary dealing with prepositions. While showing my students one of the posters I have them recreate the preposition using a toy penguin and a clear tupperware container as the ice block.  This week we will be doing the exercise on paper.  I created a page with numbered ice blocks and bought a bunch of penguin stickers.  I will use these stickers and pages with my students by describing one of the penguins (what they are wearing) and telling them where to put him in relation to one of the ice blocks on the page.  Here are some examples:

Pon el pingüino que tiene un sombrero rojo y azul cerca del bloque número seis.
Pon el pingüino que tiene los esquís y una bufanda anaranjada encima del bloque número uno.

If you would like to read a story related to penguins along with this activity here are a few...

Perdido y Encontrado - My students loved this book when I read it to them last week! I have to admit it is one of my favorites!

Arriba y Abajo - A penguin that wants to fly!

To see my Polar Animal Unit, click here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Poetry in Language Learning

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Poetry is a great way to teach kids vocabulary and the flow and rhythm of a language. Over the years I have had students memorize poems (from elementary to the high school level) and have found it to be worth the effort.  The key is to pick poetry that is accessible to language learners (especially if they are elementary school age) and that has a decent vocabulary base so that they can increase the number of words they know.  Memorizing poetry also embeds in a language learner the structure or grammar of the language. 

Here is how I go about teaching a poem...

First I use half index cards and write one to two words on each card of the poem.  Depending on the length of the poem it may take quite a few cards.  If you are teaching a large group I would use full-sized cards so that they can be taped up on a wall (See activities below).

I store these cards in order according to their stanzas. I use an index card holder with dividers to keep them all in order.

There are a myriad of ways to use these cards:

*Lay out the poem cards (or maybe just a stanza or two if the poem is longer). Have the students read the poem. Then take away a couple of cards and have them read it again filling in the words that are missing. Keep taking cards away and having them say the poem until there are no more cards left. This works extremely well to help with memorizing!

*Put the poem in order. Give the students the cards all mixed up. Can they put them in the correct order?

*Lay out in order only a few of the cards from the poem. They don't need to be consecutive words. See if the cards give them enough cues to say the whole poem.

Here are some other ways I work with poetry with my students...

*Test their vocabulary knowledge of the poem. Call out one of the words in the poem and see if they can draw what you just said.

*For a homework assignment have them create a drawing that represents the poem.

*For older kids and highschoolers use the poem as a jumping off point to work with grammar points.

*Once a poem is memorized you can do a drawing activity with the poem. I say aloud one line in the poem and then see if the student can draw or make a representation of what is happening in that one line. The poem Mi Dragon {see below} works well with this activity.

Here are some poems and places to find poems to use in your classroom:

Juan Guinea Diaz- My favorite is Mi Dragon. (Scroll down to find it.)  I have used it with tons of my students with great success. Boys in particular love it.

Douglas Wright- Mr. Wright is from Buenos Aires and he has some great poems on his site for kids. This is one that I really like, but you should check out his whole site.

This poem for colors...

A big selection of poems for younger kids.

¡Pío Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes are great for younger kids!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spanish Verb Charts {The Irregular Indicative}

Have you seen my other free printable of Spanish verbs? Sometimes it is helpful to have charts of the different tenses condensed for students. It can get confusing to keep it all straight as a student is trying to master the language.  Last time I posted all the regular verbs.  This time you can print off these charts of the irregular verbs in the indicative.

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I have been using Spanish Grammar in Review with my most advanced students to help them review all the grammar points they have learned. These charts pretty much follow how the verbs are introduced in the book: first the regular indicative and then the irregulars. Subjunctive comes later in the book. When I get to that section I will post charts. 

So here are all the irregulars.  These pages can be put behind each regular tense page...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Spanish Verb Charts {Regular Indicative}

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Verbs can be tricky in Spanish especially for advanced students that have been introduced to all the tenses and moods. It is easy when you are working with one tense at a time, but put them together and things get muddled. A verb conjugation book like 501 Spanish Verbs is great as a reference, but sometimes students need the basics condensed for quick reference. I recently made this simple chart of the indicative verbs for my most advanced student.  Each page focuses on one tense and how to do the regular verbs.  My goal is eventually to make charts for the irregulars for each tense so that those pages can be added behind these charts. I also want to create charts for the subjunctive. So check back for more charts in the future!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Books for Winter in Spanish

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Reading a picture book is a great way to have younger students learn another language. They get the opportunity to hear the language and match it with the pictures. This allows them to make sense of words or concepts they might not otherwise understand.  Since the cold weather is upon us and the holidays will soon arrive, here is a list of great books to read to kids during the cold months:

Una Senora Con Frio Se Trago Un Poco De Nieve!- Follows the plot idea of the old lady who swallowed a fly.

La Mejor Navidad De Froggy - Froggy books are a favorite among my students. This book is no longer in print, but can be found cheaply on the used market. Hibernation is touched on as this is the first Christmas that Froggy has experienced because he is normally sleeping.

Un Dia de Nieve- A classic on the wonders of snow in childhood.

Copos y Cristales: Un Libro Sobre la Nieve - A science book for older elementary kids.

El Invierno -All about winter. More of an informational book.

El Mitón- A classic, but out of print.

¡ Cómo el Grinch robó la Navidad ! -Christmas...Grinch-style.

Estela, Reina de la Nieve- My students and I are loving Estela books! She and her little brother explore the world together. Cute conversations happen between the two of them.

Tren de Invierno - Beautiful book on how the animals escape winter.

Perdido y Encontrado- A penguin gets lost, but is ultimately found.

Oso No Para De Roncar - Bear keeps on snoring.

El Primer Beso de Froggy- Set in late winter (February), this story is for Valentine's Day.

Froggy Se Viste - An extremely humorous book about getting dressed to go out in the snow. This book is great for teaching clothing related to cold weather.

Also, if you are interested in a winter theme I have a post on a polar animals unit here.

Do you have favorite books that you share with your kids during the winter season? I would love to hear your ideas!

Also, here are some books for every season!

Spring Books
Summer Books
Fall Books

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Using Mystery Pictures to Teach Numbers in Spanish

Numbers are tricky in another language. They are especially hard for elementary students who are still learning numbers in their native tongue. Recently, I started using hundreds chart mystery pictures to help my younger students review numbers 1-100.  It has worked out really well!

Here is how I go about it...

First, you need to find some mystery pictures already set up for you. Look at the bottom of this post for a list of resources.

I then take my mystery picture and cut off the list of colors and numbers at the bottom so the student doesn't have access to them.

With colored pencils in hand, the student listens as I call off in Spanish the color and the number. I don't go in the order listed on the page, but rather I jump around between the colors and the numbers. I use the strip with the numbers printed on it to mark off what numbers I have called. By skipping around like this it keeps it interesting for the student and keeps them guessing as to the picture. Eventually though it becomes obvious that there is a pattern emerging. When this happens I then have the student start speaking in Spanish. I will point to a box and they have to guess the color and say the number of the box in Spanish. More often than not they are right on their guesses. 

For younger students you may have to really breakdown the numbers in order for them to find them. Normally, I say the number {like 45} then I use the chart to have them count by tens to find the first part of the number. Once they find the forty we go down to the next row to look for the other number (in the ones column). The students may have to count to get there, but that is ok.  Just more practice for them!

Here are the charts I use. The first resource has the most options and includes different themes. For example the pictures in this post are of the pumpkin chart. I used this as I was doing a pumpkin unit in Spanish with my students.

And if you want to go a bit higher here are charts up to 120!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Teaching Emotions in Spanish {Free Printable}

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Over the past few weeks I have been teaching a pumpkin unit to my students. One of the activities that I stumbled upon as we worked through the material is to teach emotions.  Having blank pumpkins to put faces on just naturally works with reviewing the vocabulary for different feelings.

By far, the BEST Spanish children's book that I have encountered to deal with a variety of emotion vocabulary is Así Me Siento Yo. (You can read my review here.) Not only does this book incorporate rhyming words, the illustrations really drive home what emotion is being talked about on each page. 

First, I read the book to my students. We then use the following printable. I call out the type of pumpkin (for example: la calabaza triste, la calabaza enojada) and they have to draw the appropriate face on one of the pumpkins on the page. It is amazing to see the creativity in my students...for example, I had a few students not draw a face on their "shy pumpkin" because in their view a shy person tends to turn away from others and you can't see his or her face. Brilliant!

This short lesson has really helped to cement some of the vocabulary on emotions that I have been struggling to teach to my students. Fall would be a great time to review once again feelings with your students! After all, every pumpkin needs a face filled with emotion.

Pumpkin Faces Printable

If you work with young kids this set from Lego Education looks awesome!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Polar Animals Unit in Spanish

I live in Alaska so I am very familiar with the cold, snow, and the animals of this region.  We  have had moose walk down our street. One year a caribou herd entered town in the depth of the cold. So since my students are somewhat familiar with the arctic (We actually live in a boreal forest area than the arctic.), I decided to do a polar unit with my students. I have lived in Argentina {love that country!} and been to the southernmost city in the world (Ushuaia) so I have a little familiarity with the other side of the world. So why not add the antarctic to our studies since South America at least comes somewhat close to it and hosts penguins and other animals from that region.  Here is a list of resources if you would like to teach about the two poles and the animals that live there...

I start out this unit by teaching the continents and then talking about which continents are in or near the arctic and antarctic. We then move onto animal names.  Here is the list we work with including the regions that they are located in. "Los Dos" indicates that they are both arctic and antarctic animals. {Note: A moose is not an arctic animal...more sub-arctic, but many people include them in the list.}

Foca-seal   los dos 
Morsa-walrus   ártico
Zorro-fox   ártico
Alce-moose   ártico
Oso polar-polar bear   ártico
Pingüino-penguin   antártida
Orca-killer whale   los dos
Ballena-whale   los dos
Caribú-caribou   ártico
Buey almizclero-musk ox   ártico

Please see all the resources below that I use to teach this unit...

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Books to Read

Mi primer Atlas -I love using this children's atlas all in Spanish. For this unit, I use it to show and discuss the polar regions.

El Habitat Del Artico

El Habitat De La Antartida

Arriba y Abajo-A sweet book with a penguin as one of the main characters. Read my review of it here.

Perdido y Encontrado -Another great book by the same author as Arriba y Abajo . Here is my review with teaching ideas for the book.

El Invierno-A book to discuss more about winter.

Copos y Cristales: Un Libro Sobre la Nieve

Adivina Que Esta Creciendo Dentro de Este Huevo -While this book is all about animals that come from eggs it does have great information on penguins (antarctic) and octopi (both arctic and antarctic).  There are several other animals in the book, however, that would not pertain to a polar animal unit.

Teachers Pay Teachers Units

I use a lot of the available resources at Teachers Pay Teachers so that I don't have to reinvent the wheel!  It saves me so much time!

Penguin Prepositions-Posters that teach prepositions using penguins and ice.

Polar Bears and Penguins-Great little booklets and fact sheets all in Spanish about these two "polar opposite" animals.

Penguin Preposition Practice

Los Continentes-I teach the continents in Spanish with this unit and we discuss what continents are involved in the arctic and antarctic and which ones are close to those two regions.

Find and Tally Arctic and Antarctic Animals

Polar Vocabulary in Spanish

Foca, Foca Reader


This science activity to show how animals survive the cold.

Roll and Draw a Penguin-How about a game in which all you need is a die, this printable and a pencil? An excellent way to incorporate some more words into your students' vocabulary. This is a competitive game. Roll the die and draw in the penguin part. The first person to complete his or her penguin with all five parts wins.