Tuesday, September 30, 2014

File Folder Game for Preterite and Imperfect


Anytime you can get students to practice grammar in a different way especially in game form more learning happens than just straight drill. The concept of when you use the preterite and the imperfect in Spanish can be a hard one for students. One of the best ways is just to practice deciding which tense works in different types of sentences. 

I have a simple game using Mini File Folders and cards cut from cardstock (two inches by about one and a half inches) that I use with my more advanced students to work on the concept of the two past tenses. Each student needs a mini folder (these can also be made with big folders, but I like the compactness of storing this game with the mini size). In each folder you have a side for the preterite and for the imperfect. You need to draw an outline of about the size of the cards you will be using. Each side needs five outlines (see the above picture). The goal is to have a spot for each person/verb form in the preterite and the imperfect.  So for example on the left hand side you would have in the preterite these spots:

Yo
Él, Ella, Ud.
Nosotros
Ellos, Ellas, Uds.

Then you need the same on the right hand side for the imperfect. You then need to create cards with the verb not conjugated that would either take the preterite or the imperfect. Here are some examples:

Nosotros____________(ver) un accidente.
Todos los lunes Carla______________(ir) al cine.
Yo estudiaba cuando ella____________(llamar).
Ayer Lisa y Carmen no_____________(hacer) la tarea.

Create enough cards in the pile so that each student could fill his/her file with an example of each (basically so they could cover all their spaces), but then create some extra cards.  

Here's how you play:

Students take turns picking up a card and deciding what tense to use. They then say their sentence outloud conjugating the verb correctly. They place the card on the correct tense and person in the file folder.  If a student picks up a card for a space they already have covered it is like missing a turn, and they place the card at the bottom of the file. The object of the game is to fill your folder first by covering all the spaces. 

This game can be used with other concepts in the language like ser vs. estar.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Teaching Prepositions

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Teaching prepositions can be some of the easiest and hardest teaching experiences. Hard because for some reason the prepositions are not easily memorized. Easy because there is a plethora of fun activities that you can do to teach them. 

Let's start out with some great books that have a lot of prepositional words in them:

Vamos Froggy-My students LOVE Froggy books. In this one Froggy has misplaced several items and has to find them before heading out on a bike ride with his dad.  The main prepositions used are debajo, dentro, and en.

Se Venden Gorras-A great classic, Caps for Sale, that uses prepositions.

Where Is the Green Sheep? / Donde esta la oveja verde?-Lots of prepositions in this one. For younger elementary and preschool.

Lupe Lupita, ¿dónde estás?-Another book with lots of prepositions. It comes in "big book" form or as a board book.

So what are some activities you can do to teach the prepositions?

I normally introduce my students to them through the use of Blobby Robby and a plastic cup. I put him in relation to the cup and then tell them the preposition that is being displayed. For example, I put him close to the cup and say "cerca de" or I put him under the cup and say "debajo de". All my students know that when they see Blobby Robby we are going to review prepositions.

Another activity I do with house and body parts vocabulary is to get a blank outline of a house (see the above picture) and these Monsters Stickers . I then give the students instructions like "Tomen el monstruo con dos cabezas y ponganlo debajo de la cama." The students then have to take the correct monster and place him in the house correctly. Even the high school students I work with LOVE this activity!


Another item that I will be getting very soon for my younger students is the Positional Words Resource Box. This looks like so much fun! While the set is made to work with students that speak English there is no reason why it can't be used with another language. You as the teacher can give instructions on how to position the objects or you can do the extra work of creating cards in the target language like the set has.



Another activity that I do from time to time is to take some TOOB toys and give instructions to my students on where to place them in the room. Depending on which TOOB you use you can review the words for those items also. You can also hide the animals beforehand and then give instructions in Spanish for the students to find them.

So what cool ideas do you use for teaching prepositions? I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Great Book on Emotions in Spanish



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There are very few books out there in Spanish that I have run across that focus on emotions, but recently I found Así me siento yo , which presents several emotions in a great format! The book has a rhyme for each of the emotions covered. Each rhyme describes a situation that elicits an emotional response. I love the artwork in this book as the colors and scenes really portray the emotions that are being talked about. Even when my students don't know the Spanish word many times they can guess the feeling by looking at the illustrations.


Besides the very familiar emotions of happiness and sadness the book covers the following: tonto, asustado, resentido, enojado, agradecido, frustrado, timido, aburrido, emocionado, celoso, and orgulloso.


I will be using this book to introduce emotions and to teach the verbs "estar" and "sentirse". For more ideas on teaching emotions, see this post on teaching emotions with ping pong balls.

Also, this set from Lego Education looks amazing. What an awesome way to work with young kids and introduce them to feelings vocabulary!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

El Increíble Niño Comelibros

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If you have read my blog for any amount of time you know that I love Oliver Jeffers' books in Spanish. Here are all my posts on the books I have used in my classes that are written and illustrated by him. El increíble niño comelibros is a cute book about a boy who loves eating books and becomes smarter with each book he consumes. The story line promotes reading and is great for delving into different categories of Spanish vocabulary and exploring some grammar points.


Here are some categories of vocabulary and grammar that you can touch on after reading the book:

Comelibros- A compound word.  See my posts on teaching compound words.

Types of Books- novelas, diccionarios, almanaques, libros de bromas, libros de historias, etc.

Verbs like gustar and encantar

Comparatives and Superlatives- Since the boy becomes smarter the more he eats and then is deemed the smartest person in the world you can discuss how to form comparatives and superlatives. There are the "mal", "peor", "bueno", "mejor" so you can talk about irregular comparatives. 


Preterite and Imperfect- The book is written in the past tense and gives great examples of how the preterite and imperfect work together in Spanish.

Emotions and Conditions- The book has the following words: enfermo, verde (for being sick), vergüenza, triste, complicada

Words related to digestion- comer, atiborrarse, devorar, la boca, la barriga, morder, masticar, tragar, la digestion


El Increíble Niño Comelibros is not to be missed!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Teaching Numbers with Children's Books


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There are a plethora of great children's books in Spanish that focus on numbers and counting. Here is a short list that is helpful when teaching young kids to count.

Elefante tiene hipo- This book is out of print, but I LOVE the humor in it and the fact that students can practice counting down from ten to one.





Un Alce, Veinte Ratones - I have written about this book before on my blog.  Great one for teaching numbers 1-20.





Abuelita fue al mercado-A trip around the world using numbers.





Demasiados Globos-I have used this book for over a decade to review numbers and colors.




Apréndete Tus Números- A great series of books for learning to skip count...

Huevos y patas- Counting by 2's
¡Montones de mariquitas!- Counting by 5's
Correle, correle ciempies!- Counting by 10's




El Libro de Contar de Los Chocolates Marca M&M - A great activity book for reviewing numbers up to 12, colors, and shapes.  It even gets into groupings (like "seis grupos de dos").


Do you have any great children's books you use for teaching numbers?  Would love to hear what you use!