Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Activities to Introduce Venezuela into Your Elementary Spanish Class

LITTLE KIDS LOVE to learn about other places and I love to hear the enthusiasm in their voices when they say things like "I want to go to Perú!" or "I want to see Angel Falls!".  Living and teaching in a small town in Maine, bringing the Spanish speaking world to my students is doubly important because many do not get a chance to see or interact with people from other countries; part of my job as a Spanish teacher in the elementary school is to spark interest and enthusiasm for a window wide open to that world. To that end, over the years I have developed themes centered around various Spanish speaking countries, typically focusing on geography, natural wonders, food and/or traditional crafts.

ENTER VENEZUELA... I love this theme-though maybe not your typical country theme like México, España, or Perú, Venezuela is replete with neat features to excite and interest young students.    One of my favorite projects to get kiddos interested is making a paper collage of Salto Ángel, the world's tallest waterfall. After seeing pictures and watching this amazing video, each kiddo is inspired to create their own 'Salto' using construction paper.

EASY TO MAKE and a great representation of this natural wonder! Provide students with a brown background, along with pieces of blue and green paper in varying shades. Instead of cutting the

shapes, have them tear the paper to give it a more "leafy" appearance. Use crayons to add details like water falling down and rocks among the trees. I also provide a label that says 'Salto Ángel' to glue on last.  Kiddos love sharing with their families- often a fact that their parents don't even know- makes them feel like "big kids"!

AREPAS! These yummy treats are a perfect way to incorporate culture into any class, and for littles it is tangible and accessible. The easiest recipe is one with a cheese filling, and can be made in larger quantities without too much difficulty. This particular recipe is great and very kid friendly!

VENEZUELA ABC'S is a wonderful picture book just right for elementary students. Each letter of the alphabet highlights a fact about the country, including nature, history, food, geography and more. You can find it on Amazon here.

LOOKING FOR PRINTABLE ACTIVITIES to bring Venezuela to life? Check out our 'Pepita va a Venezuela' Printable Minibook & Activity Pack- a fun way to start the conversation about aspects of this amazing country! You can get it here. And don't miss our Venezuela Centers Activity Pack with even more fun activities! Click here.

Pepita va a Perú Printable Minibook & Activity Pack
And be sure to check out our growing selection of more countries in our CULTURE section by clicking here!

Como hacer la salsa pico de gallo- Una receta en video

HERE'S A GREAT VIDEO demonstrating a simple recipe for making pico de gallo- kiddos can easily understand the actions even if they don't understand every word. Well done!

AND DON'T FORGET, our very own Olivia illustrates making salsa in our printable minibook, 'Olivia hace salsa', perfect for elementary or middle school students! You can purchase it here!

Olivia hace salsa printable minibook

Tips to Get the Most Out of Four Corners Activities

GET YOUR KIDS MOVING with Four Corners Activities! I love seeing my elementary Spanish students moving about my room as they demonstrate comprehension of vocabulary...and they love the opportunity to get up out of their seats. Taking the traditional Four Corners Activity and adding to it to enhance comprehension brings it to a new level.

WAIT! HOW DO YOU PLAY FOUR CORNERS? Perhaps a review is in order.... choose 4 vocabulary items, either pictures or manipulatives such as plastic fruits, veggies, etc. Put each one in a different corner or place in the classroom... now, say a vocab word and direct students to get up and move to the corner where that item is. With more than 4 vocab words, change them out every few rounds to increase practice. (Be sure to review and model appropriate movement around your room prior to starting- this avoids running, pushing, and bumped heads!)

STARTING WITH THE WHOLE CLASS is fun, but you will soon see a few leaders emerge, while the rest of the class becomes the herd, following the piper as he or she heads off to the appropriate corners seconds before everyone else. Cull them from the crowd! Ok, let's not be that harsh- instead, try these tips to break the class up, thereby requiring those herd animals to concentrate harder on comprehending the vocab as they can no longer rely on the quick little hares.

*SEPARATE THE CLASS into boys and girls- divide and conquer! Once separated, instruct only one group at a time to go to a particular word- "Boys, find the apple!", "Girls, find the pear!". I love the added layer of having kids listen not only to the target vocab but also the distinction between 'niño' and 'niña'!

*MAKE EVEN SMALLER GROUPS- divide the class into groups of 4-5 kiddos, give them a number to name their group, and then instruct 'Team 1- find the watermelon!", "Team 2- find the orange!". Again, by breaking the class into smaller groups, more kiddos have to think rather than follow.

*PAIR THEM UP- separate the class into pairs and then instruct pairs to head off to a vocabulary item. Unless you keep this variation moving quickly, you will have a bunch of squirrels on your hands as the rest of the class is waiting their turn, so be prepared! You could change this up, if your kiddos have reading skills, by writing the vocabulary words on index cards (make multiples!) and handing them to pairs- a bit like a scavenger hunt. Remind kiddos how to move in your classroom (again!) to ensure safety. This version really gets down to the nitty gritty, without individuals being put on the spot on their very lonesome.

*MAKING YOUR PROMPTS LONGER: As your students gain more language, you can incorporate clues to the items as opposed to the vocabulary word. So, for example, if your words are fruits, you could state 'This fruit is red and round" instead of 'apple', or 'This fruit is yellow and long" instead of 'banana', which further develops listening and processing skills.

*PREFERENCES: This twist on the original game is a fun way to incorporate personal preferences, and can be used with any item, including works of art, a great way to bring in culture. As above, place four items in the corners, and then direct students to go to the one they like the most. You can debrief quickly, counting how many students in each corner, for example, before changing the items and starting again. I love doing this during our theme on Frida Kahlo- I pay close attention to the paintings that are getting the most "votes" and them put them all out at once- it's fun to see them trying to choose amongst several favorites!

HAVE FUN and watch your kiddos enjoy being out of their seats while demonstrating comprehension skills!