Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


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