Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


7 ways to incorporate your school garden in Spanish class

Does your school have a garden? Mine does. Parents, teachers, and students have put in countless hours and effort to create a bounty of flowers and veggies in our bus loop, with the hope and intention that classrooms will incorporate the garden into their lessons. And the possibilities abound! While you don't need to be a gardener yourself, there are many activities that bring the potential of the garden into your Spanish class and allow for authentic communication.

7 Ways to Incorporate your School Garden in Spanish Class

Here are some lesson ideas, both simple and more involved, to get the garden into your classroom and your classroom into the garden.
1) Team up with the art teacher and create fun plant markers in Spanish. Easy to make, plant markers create a Spanish presence in the garden and reinforce the vocabulary every time it's visited.
2) Have a color scavenger hunt. This is great when the kids come back in the fall and the garden is full of colorful flowers and vegetables. Create a list of things they need to find such as:
*algo azul
*algo rosado
*algo rojo y blanco
You can either have them draw and label what they see, or collect items in a paper bag to share back in the classroom. For older elementary students, you could make the scavenger hunt more challenging by embedding the clues as they go, rather than giving them the entire list to begin with. So, for example, each student gets an initial clue which leads them to a particular spot in the garden where they find the next clue, and so on. This requires a bit of preparation and coordination beforehand but is super fun!

3) Teaming up with the art teacher has so much potential! How about kiddos doing paintings of flowers in the garden and then labeling the colors in Spanish? Really cute and an easy activity to do with younger students whose vocabulary bank is still small.

4) Do an insect count! Teach your students the words for common garden insects such as 'mariposa', 'abeja', 'libélula', 'saltamontes', and 'mariquita', then head out to the garden with tally sheets. Set a timer for 5 minutes and have kids write tally marks next to each insect's name every time they see one. Back in the classroom graph the results and see who spotted the most of each insect. Great for number practice!

5) Plant a salsa garden! This is a wonderful way to incorporate culture into garden activities. Depending on where you live, you can grow most, if not all, of the ingredients needed to make traditional pico de gallo. The previous fall, make sure garlic is planted in the garden. Then, in the spring, kids can plant seeds for tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeños, and onions- get in contact with your garden coordinator- ours provides the seeds, soil, and seedling trays. If you don't have the room or time to doing the actual planting, ask the coordinator if they would be willing to include these seeds/seedlings in the garden plan. If the seeds are planted early, your students should be able to see the seeds sprout and begin to grow before school is out. In the fall, harvest the veggies and put together a yummy taste test for your students. Nothing beats fresh salsa! I do a whole theme around pico de gallo with my Fourth Graders and they love it! See my previous blog posts for the recipe and activities. And check out our printable minibook 'Olivia hace salsa' in our TpT store-it's a story and recipe in one!

6) Encourage good eating habits by enjoying a salad or salad ingredients from the school garden! At our school Open House in the fall, we always provide veggie cups- with carrot and cucumber sticks and cherry tomatoes fresh from the school garden. Why not have a "menu" in Spanish identifying the healthy snacks provided? Or a short presentation where the students teach the parents how to say the words in Spanish? My students learn this vocabulary with our printable minibook book & Theme Activity Pack 'La ensalada de Pepita', a fun way to incorporate garden and salad vocabulary into my class.

7) Send home recipes that can be made from a garden! There are loads of kid friendly authentic recipes from a variety of Spanish speaking countries that include veggies from the garden. Share with families and encourage them to try them at home! Check out our Pinterest board for ideas here.
We at Mundo de Pepita have a series of minibooks perfect for garden themes....check them out in our TpT store!

Spring Garden Theme Pack for Elementary Spanish Class
Click here to find in our shop

Olivia hace salsa in our TpT store!
Mariposas Minibook & Activity Pack

En la primavera in our TpT store!

New feature on our blog!

We are beginning to add extension activities related to our minibooks to our blog! Click on the tab at the top labeled 'Activities to Use With Our Minibooks' and check back regularly as we will frequently add new activities that go along with our minibooks!

Make a starfish wand!

All teachers need a wand, a pointer, to indicate words, pictures, follow a story....and adding a touch of whimsy sure makes it all the more fun! I was drawing pictures for a new product for our TpT store and realized that the starfish I had drawn would make a super cute wand and naturally I had to share it with you!

This is a very simple wand to make. You will need:
*A printout of our starfishes (download here)
*A bamboo skewer
*A piece of stiff paper, glue
*A length of ribbon
*A foam adhesive circle/square (the kind used in scrapbooking)

To make:
*Print out the starfish page and cut out both starfishes, leaving a bit of paper around it rather than trying to cut along lines
*Glue each to stiff paper, then cut out again. (Laminate if you wish)
*Adhere the foam circle to the back of one of the starfish in the center. Stick the back of the second starfish to the circle, which will leave a bit of space between them 

*Put a dab of Elmers Glue or craft glue onto the tip of the skewer and insert it into the foam circle. Let sit to allow glue to dry.
*Tie the length of ribbon into a bow directly under the starfish....and you are done! Kiddos will love using it during class, and you will, too!

Fostering authentic language use with treasure baskets

I have been very inspired by Spanish Playground's post showcasing Montessori treasure baskets and their potential for encouraging authentic language use. There's nothing like allowing little kiddos to play with a bunch of items and letting their imagination take hold and at the same provide some structure/guidance around the language...perhaps I should say provide content which they can actually talk about in the target language. Since most elementary foreign language students don't have a very large word bank, this can be challenging. However, with the right combination of items and language frameworks, these baskets of goodies can be a wonderful fast finisher activity or center!

 The above isn't really a basket :) but rather a collection of props my first graders used when we read and reenacted our book "Olivia hace chocolate caliente". All of the ingredients for making Mexican hot chocolate are included, along with the minibook and printable churros I made for another activity pack but which go perfectly with the theme. Kiddos are able to "make" chocolate caliente with the props and it's so cute to hear them singing the 'Bate Bate chocolate' song while they are playing! (the song can be found here on YouTube)

This one features our story 'Javi come mucho' and includes all the yummy desserts that Javi eats before he gets a stomach ache! It also includes clocks which are part of the story as the day progresses and Javi continues to could fill a basket with plastic fruits/veggies/foods along with some stuffed animals or stick puppets (like Javi and his mamá in the picture) to encourage the same idea.  And don't forget to throw in phrases and words like '¡qué delicioso!', 'mmmm', and 'ñam ñam' to add to the fun!

Our third example is a super easy one to create...number magnets, number cards, and a bunch of whatever you have to count...we've used dinosaurs which are always a hit! Great for little ones (and older ones, too! My fourth graders love to do simple activities like this one and add more language to it, naturally, than my Kinders...imagine the dinosaurs having a mini conversation while they are being counted!)

These baskets have lots of potential as long as the contents are vocab words your students know and they have phrases and/or stories which go along with the props. And, if a little English creeps in, no worries! It's an opportunity to teach a new word!

If you are interested in either of the activity packs shown, you can find them in our TpT shop:
Olivia hace chocolate caliente Minibook & Activity Pack
Javi come mucho Minibook & Activity Pack

Fridge Magnet Freebie!

We kick off National Foreign Language Week with this fun Spanish printable! Make Spanish part of every day with these cute foods you can make into magnets for your fridge...each time you and your children open the door, you will see and practice these common words. Encourage your children to say the word(s), especially if you/they are taking out one of the foods represented by the magnets! Print out, affix to stiff paper, and attach a magnet to back! ¡Es pan comido! Download them here
And don't forget to join us on our Facebook page as we share resources, ideas, freebies and more all week! 

WANT MORE PLAY FOOD? Visit our shop to get our Play Food Pack, with 58 printable foods & drinks along with a table setting (fork, knife, spoon, and plate)- perfect for imaginative play and practice with Spanish! Click here!

Join us on Facebook for National Foreign Language Week!

We are celebrating National Foreign Language Week (March 9-15) on our Facebook page! Freebies, special sales in our TpT store, resources for teaching and learning Spanish, and more! ¡No te lo pierdas! Mundo de Pepita on Facebook