Monday, April 24, 2017

Instant Lesson Plans for Your Language Classroom

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Let's face it. While teaching can be incredibly rewarding, it is also draining emotionally and physically (especially when you are sick). There are times when I really struggle to get through a teaching day. While I don't teach in a regular classroom (I give private and small group lessons), I still struggle from time to time to get through a lesson. Recently, I decided that I needed a master list of easy activities I could do with students when...
  • I'm not feeling well.
  • They have a make-up lesson.
  • We have a game day at the end of the semester.
I prefer not to waste precious time with my students with activities that don't further their language learning, and yet there are days when we need to step back and do something different. I was also realizing that coming up with ideas when I'm pressed for time or feeling ill wasn't working for me. I needed a ready-to-go list I could just pull out. So on a quiet afternoon, I did some brainstorming of all the activities my students have been exposed to that we could do on a game day or a day when I'm sick. (Or if you are teaching in a regular school...a day when you need a sub). I created a file and then printed out several copies to have on hand. I teach a big age range (age five through high school) and a myriad of ability levels. So it is easier for me to have a master list and circle the activities we are going to do based on the ages of the students and their abilities. It becomes my instant lesson plan.

If you are teaching larger groups, you may need to break students into groups and have "stations" where they move from activity to activity during the class. That way no one gets bored and all the teacher has to do is monitor the groups.

Here's some of what is on my list with links to see how it's all done. However, since every teacher is different it would be ideal for you to come up with your own list of activities that work in your classroom.

So pull out a piece of paper or open up a file and start brainstorming ideas for the days when teaching is tough!! I welcome any other ideas in the comments!!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Family Trees in Spanish

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I love using "garage sale dots" (You know... those little round stickers you see used every summer as people endeavor to sell their excess possessions. 😏) These dots have become valuable teaching tools when it comes to my language lessons! One of the ways I used them this past year is to create family trees with my students.

I had my students choose a different color for each generation. They then could create their families (or a pretend family) with each dot representing a different person. Then finally, they drew arrows between people and wrote in Spanish how they were related.

This simple exercise not only helped them retain the vocabulary, but also understand the relationships better. For example, they get to see how cousins are connected because their parents are siblings or how a person can be a sister, niece, cousin, and daughter all at the same time. Such a simple exercise that only takes dot stickers, a blank piece of paper, and a pen or pencil! Give it a try with your students the next time you work with family vocabulary! (NOTE: For younger kids, it is helpful to first show them examples of family trees with pictures of people and then create the one with dots.)

Here are a few more resources while working with family member vocabulary:

This file folder guessing game uses house and family vocabulary.

A sweet story about a boy who gives away his animal crackers to different family members.

Here's another activity with colored dots that my students love!!! Check it out!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Seasons Activities in Spanish {Free Printable}

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Seasons are hard words to remember in another language. Over the twenty years I have been teaching I find that even though it is only four vocabulary words they can be forgotten quickly. So I was really pleased to come across a book in Spanish that beautifully illustrates the changing of the seasons...

Las 4 Estaciones Desde el Gran Arbol shows the progression of the seasons with a tree in the forest. The animals around it come and go as the year passes. The weather changes. The plants grow and become dormant or die. And during the whole time there is an owl in the tree watching the events around him. The book has cut outs that allows you to see the animals in the tree. There are several activities that you can do as you read the book and then afterwards. Let's take a look...

For my students that can write I have them re-create the four seasons with pictures and words in Spanish. (You can download this page here.)  They can draw in the way a tree would look for each season and then label the squares with the correct word. I also have them add color and weather words related to each season in the appropriate square. Another set of vocabulary that could be added are the months in the appropriate season, but be careful with this! What if you are in the southern hemisphere? This would be a great time to discuss how summer happens in December, January, and February in South America (like in Argentina and Chile).

During the reading of the book you can point out all the animals that are throughout the story. One of the reasons that I love this book is because there are so many animals and they reoccur several times on the different pages. For younger kids, I call out the name of an animal and they can count them. For older kids this is a great time to play Spot It! (the animal version) to review the names of animals. (See here how I use Spot It! as a teaching tool AND game at the same time.)

For more advanced students that know their prepositions, you can do a drawing activity with them. Students start out with a blank piece of paper and you describe a scene with a tree in Spanish that they have to draw. Here's a sample description that could be drawn:

Hay un árbol grande con un sol brillante en el cielo. En el árbol hay dos búhos y tres ardillas. Debajo del árbol, hay una familia de zorros. Un zorro persigue una mariposa. El árbol tiene manzanas en las ramas y un nido lleno de huevos.

Finally, here are some resources that are great for working with the seasons...

Y De Pronto Es Primavera-A sweet story about waiting for spring to come.

Froggy Se Viste- Frogs are not supposed to go out in the snow and play! A story filled with winter words (especially clothing).

Un Recorrido Por Las Estaciones- Scenes from all the seasons with an emphasis on each month.

A simple puzzle for younger kids.  Actually, this concept for be great for kids if you make flashcards. Can they put the objects in the right season?

Finally, I use this vocabulary sorting activity with older students. It's a great way to familiarize them with more words that they need to put into one of the four seasons.