Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Bilingual Scavenger Hunt- What fun!

We are in the final stretch of school- the last week, yay! Our school has been spending this week experiencing a host of community activities, having suspended regular classes for the week. This has given me the opportunity to do some fun activities I don't normally have time for due to the schedule. So, off to the school garden with my Fourth Graders for a bilingual scavenger hunt!

I decided on a bilingual scavenger hunt instead of all in Spanish firstly because there was vocabulary I wanted to use that my students don't know yet but also because I wanted it to be fun and not feel like a "lesson"....easily accessible and understood and right to the garden! (You can download my list here. Cut down the middle for two lists on each page.)

Before the hunt, I went out to our school garden and hid a ton of objects that matched categories on the list....many of them were realia (molinillos, a Spanish fan, dolls from Perú and Bolivia, money, maracas and other instruments and more) along with a host of other stuff such as plastic food and animals, yarn skeins, baby clothes, and so on. This was so much fun! Some things I hid really well while others were out in the open. 

Prior to heading outside with the crew, we went over how to play and what would be appropriate behaviour while out on the hunt. This was important- I wanted to be sure kids weren't shouting "I see ___!" or telling others where things were hidden, nor did I want them running around the garden like crazies. As to the rules for the hunt proper, a few points were crucial: 
*One item per category (no doubling up/one item couldn't count for two categories)
*No destroying plants or trees
* If they could justify why something matched a category, go for it!
*In the allotted time, try to find as many things on the list as possible; if something can't be found, no worries!

I provided them with a pencil, clipboard and paper bag- and off they went! It was so much fun watching them finding all the things I had hidden. After 15 minutes or so, I called an end to the hunt and we went back to my classroom to see what everyone had found. The kids really got into sharing from their bags...many items were creative interpretations of the categories! Can't wait to do this again!

Have you ever done a scavenger hunt with elementary age students? If so, share!

Summer Reading List for your Elementary Spanish Students

Who doesn't want to encourage kiddos to read over the summer? As a Spanish teacher, I also want to encourage my students to have Spanish and/or culture be part of their summer experience. To that end, I send home a Summer Reading List featuring books kids can read that are fun and keep the Spanish learning going. I typically look for books in English with Hispanic themes- this allows parents to be involved in the reading, too, especially with picture books. Nothing like a good bedtime story! Here is this year's list:

 Picture Books
*Borreguita and Coyote- this trickster tale from México is an old favorite of mine, featured on Reading Rainbow many years ago. Lots of fun to read aloud!

*La Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos is a cute story written in the 'The House that Jack Built' style focusing on the ingredients for making arroz con leche. The recipe is at the end and is sprinkled with Spanish words throughout.

*Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds is a hilarious story about farm animals stealing ingredients from the garden while the farmer is away to make salsa.

*Mañana Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul is a take on 'The Little Red Hen'. Iguana wants to put on a fiesta but none of his friends will help. Spanish days of the week are part of the text and the illustrations are so cute! Whitford Paul has also written several other books in the same style, each as cute. They include Fiesta FiascoCount on Culebra,  and Tortuga in Trouble.  Families will certainly have fun reading these together!

*Playing Lotería-El juego de la Lotería by Rene Colato Lainez tells the story of Mexican Lotería... a great cultural find!

Books for Older Elementary Readers
*Who was Pablo Picasso? by True Kelley is part of a series of biographies written for young readers. Accessible and informative, this is a great book for kiddos who are interested in nonfiction. The series also includes Who was Frida Kahlo? by Sarah Fabiny and Who was Roberto Clemente?.

*The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan tells the story of Neftalí... who ultimately becomes Pablo Neruda. This is an illustrated novel perfect for older readers.

*Confetti Girl by Diana López tells the story of Apolonia Flores, a young Hispanic girl making sense of her life and the loss of her mother. Told in the first person, it is filled with Spanish words and dichos, a great insight into culture through a poignant and fun read.

 *The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez is the tale of Lucía, a 14 year old girl living in Cuba in the sixties who, due to the revolution, must move to the US without her family. A touching historical fictional perspective on Cuba, and very well written-loved it!

*Esperanza Rising  by Pam Muñoz Ryan.. we all know it and we all love it! This is a perennial recommendation of mine; it is an emotional story of coming to the US from México as a migrant worker. 

*The Circuit  by Francisco Jimenez is the beginning of a series of books chronicling Jimenez's life coming illegally across the Mexican-US border in 1947. 

*I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin is set in Valparaíso, Chile and is on MY summer reading list! Celeste, a sixth grader, finds her world turned upside down as the political situation in Chile takes a dramatic turn. I haven't read this yet, but has won the Pura Belpé Award! UPDATE: after writing this post, I read this book and to my pleasant surprise found it is also set in Maine, where I live, making it a extra special read. I LOVED this book!

Un buen libro es un buen amigo! Happy reading!

LOOKING FOR MORE RECOMMENDATIONS? See our list for 2017 here!