Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Card Talkers" {Of Playing Cards and Conversations}


{Affiliate links used}

I have been using an activity that I named "Card Talkers" with my students to get them to ask and answer questions in Spanish. The activity also doubles as a cultural lesson because you can teach your students about how the deck of cards are different in Spanish-speaking countries.  In order to do this activity you need a set (or several sets for a classroom) of Spanish Playing Cards {La Baraja}. La Baraja is the name of the deck used in Spanish-speaking countries.  It is smaller than the English version containing only forty cards in all.  It also has different suits: oros (coins), bastos (clubs), espadas (swords), and copas (cups).  Traditionally, each of the suits represented a different part of medieval society.  The oros were merchants. The bastos were the peasants.  The espadas were the military, and the copas represented the Church.


The face cards are also different.  There is the sota (like our Jack), the caballo (horse/knight), and the rey (king).  Interestingly, there are no cards with the numbers eight and nine on them.


Once you have the cards, you can print out the files below.  The first page is more basic while the second page is for advanced students.  To use the cards and the questions, just shuffle the cards and put them face down in the middle of the group (no more than five students).  One student picks up a card and finds the appropriate question based on the suit and number of the card.  He or she then asks the person next to them the question.  That student answers and then picks up a card to ask the next student and so on and so forth.  I find that this activity works well at the beginning or end of a lesson.  It doesn't take a lot of set-up especially if you have the decks on hand.  I have laminated my question sheets so that they can be used again and again.  All you have to do is pull the materials out and get your students talking!

You can download the Basic Card Talkers here.

You can download the Advanced Card Talkers here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Monster Drawings {Learning Body Parts}


One of the activities that I do with my students when they learn body parts are monster drawings.  I randomly give them about ten to fifteen body parts that they have learned.  The best way to do this is to have little slips of paper that have a body part written on them. They then pick ten of those slips of paper without looking at what is written on them. The students' job is to use only the body parts he or she selected and create some kind of creature with them.  They have to use all the body parts on the slips of paper.  So if they happen to get two papers with "los ojos" on them then they have to have four eyes on their monster.  Normally, I don't put the word "body" on any of the slips of paper as I want the students to be creative in coming up with a unique body based on another part.

{por Jacob}

After my students draw their monsters they then need to label the body parts in Spanish.  Finally they need to create a name for their creature, tell me where it lives and what it eats.

{por Jeffrey}


I have used this activity for years, and for the most part the students love it!  It is a great way for them to be creative while still working with the language.

{La Sanguijuela por Agnes}


{Miguel el Tercero por Noah}



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Food People Drawings


{Artwork by Kaylee}

A simple, enjoyable exercise I do with my students when we learn food vocabulary is for them to make "food people".  They are required to ask a family member (this is what I do because I do private Spanish lessons) or a classmate for a list of ten foods that person likes.  If the conversation can be done in Spanish that is even better.  Once the student has ten items he or she is required to draw that person using only the items on the list.  Then they label the parts in Spanish.

Another activity is to describe their drawing to you or the class.  They can talk about what each body part or article of clothing is made of.  This helps review two more set of vocabulary.  For example, with the above picture you can say...

La cabeza es una zanahoria.
Los brazos sons las bananas.

Over the years I have seen kids do a lot of really creative pictures.  They even teach themselves new vocabulary like rhubarb! {See the picture above to find it.}  Be prepared to be amazed by the creativity!

Need more ideas to teach foods? Click here.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Battleship for Verbs


One of the best ways I get students to do the boring work of verb conjugation is to play battleship with them.  Below you will find a page you can download to create your own battleship boards for whatever language or verbs you are trying to teach.  First, let me explain the process to you...

Download the document and write in the subject pronouns that you want to use {see the above photo}.  Then, above the grid, write the infinitives of the verbs you want to have your students practice.


Make enough copies for as many students as you have.  They will work in groups of two.  On the board on the left they place their ships by outlining the boxes they want.  The board on the right is for recording their hits and misses as they play.  Once they place their ships on the left board, they don't really need to do anything with that board except to record with an X when a part of their ship gets hit.  On the righthand board they can record their hits with an X and their misses with an O.

Instead of saying "A2" or "C5" to locate ships they will now have to conjugate by saying "Nosotros hablamos" or "Ellos comen" to ask if a certain space is a hit or miss.  So as you can see, students will end up doing A LOT of conjugating! This is one of the first activities we do when doing a new set of verbs or tense.  It gets students used to how to conjugate them before starting to use them in speech and writing.

You may also want to provide your students with vocabulary to say "hit", "miss", and "sunk".  With my students we use "golpe", "errado", and "destruido".

Have fun!