Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Incorporate the Spirit of Giving in your Spanish Classes

LOOKING FOR WAYS TO INCORPORATE the spirit of giving into your classes and still provide opportunities to use the target language? Here are a few ideas that can be modified to suit various grade levels:

Charity in the World Language Classroom

*ORGANIZE A FUNDRAISER and give the donations to a charitable organization that either targets a Spanish speaking country or incorporates culture. There are a myriad ways you can raise funds: from a bottle drive to making ornaments and selling them (or other items, like notecards, etc), to doing a penny drive, any money earned will be greatly appreciated by the organization of your choice. Here are some little kiddo friendly organizations I particularly like:

-THE HEIFER PROJECT Heifer International uses money donated to them to provide resources to needy families and communities around the world, allowing them to be self sustainable. For example, you can help Heifer International purchase a llama (or a share of a llama, which is great if you haven't been able to raise a lot of money) to be given to a family in Bolivia. They also have a 'Read to Feed' program with materials to help you organize this really neat fundraising method. You could have your students read books that have to do with Hispanic culture- talk to your school librarian about what is already in your school library!

Fundraisers for World Language Classes Spanish French German

-WORLD WILDLIFE FUND seeks to protect endangered animals around the world by supporting conservation efforts in a variety of countries. You can "adopt" an animal, earmarking your donation for that particular species. They have a number of animals in Spanish speaking countries, such as the Galapagos Tortoise, llama, three toed sloth, jaguar and many more. Little kids LOVE animals, so symbolically adopting one, or more, of these creatures is a huge motivator! And, if you adopt at the "higher" level, you will receive a stuffy of the animal adopted, which can become a great mascot for your classroom! Go straight to the symbolic animal adoption page here!

-MONARCH BUTTERFLY FUND supports educational & conservation efforts to create sustainable ecosystems for the Monarch Butterfly, both in México and the US. If you already do a theme on the annual monarch migration (or would like to), this is a great way to tie in the theme with a real world connection and make a difference kids can comprehend.

DOING A PENNY/COIN DRIVE & WANT YOUR KIDDOS TO COUNT IN SPANISH? Don't miss our FREE Coin Counting Mats-download here!

Coin Counting Mats in Spanish

I wanted to highlight the many, many organizations, big and small, which do amazing service for people and animals around the world- this is an ever growing list (click on their name to go to their page)... if you have a link you would like added, please let me know via the comments section below.

*DREAM: This organization works with educational institutions and communities in the Dominican Republic to improve the education of children.
*Safe Passage/ Camino Seguro: Volunteers work in Guatemala City to improve the lives of families whose primary source of income is the dump
*The Pulsera Project: Empowering and educating students via a project based fundraiser, proceeds improve the lives of children and families in Central America
*SPCAI: This is the international arm of the ASPCA, fighting to prevent cruelty to animals worldwide
*UNESCO: Seeking to build peace via education, science and research, this branch of the UN is active around the world.
*Whales of Guerrero Research Project: This project works to educate local populations in México about safe tourism practices and environmental issues related to the humpback whales which are endangered
*Jacques Cousteau Society: Working as custodians of the oceans, this organization continues Cousteau's mission to preserve and protect the sea
*Greenpeace: Works to make the environment healthier through advocacy and action. Here is the link to Greenpeace International 
*Global Dental Relief: Providing dental services in five countries on a volunteer basis
*Doctors Without Borders: Providing medical services around the world
*KonbitSante: Provides much needed health care to people in Haiti
*El Biblioburro: Luis Soriano delivers books via donkey to children in Colombia
*Vida Volunteer: Spanish teacher Minette Junkins has created this AMAZING fundraiser for animal veterinary services in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua. She was kind enough to send me an information sheet with all the information so you can ALSO join in helping this organization. Click here to read the info and get links to participate with your classes!
*World Animal Foundation: Supports efforts to save animals around the world
*Child Aid  is a non profit organization supporting children and families in Guatemala. Their mission includes providing books for schools, food for families and more.
*Mexipets : A foundation in Michoacán working to save homeless dogs and cats and find them forever homes, as well as provides medical care for these animals.
*LITLE MISS FLINT- Mari Copeny is a youth activist focused on clean water in Flint, Michigan and beyond.

More fun with pompoms! Two fun activities to practice colors

LAST YEAR I SHARED TWO ACTIVITIES using pom pons, a counting activity and one with colors. Fall is back and my Kindergartners are knee deep in our color theme once again. Since my classes had such fun last year, I naturally brought back the pom pons again this October, but some new ideas. UPDATED ACTIVITY FOR 2016! See below!

*'LISTEN & GRAB' is an easy listening activity which could work with any vocabulary set, provided you have enough manipulatives/objects/pictures to grab. Enter the pom pons, perfect for practicing color vocabulary! Having a large amount of them makes for quite an impact when you dump them all over your floor!  Materials & set up: a large bin of pom pons, a set of bowls or containers, and a label for each bowl or container.  As you can see in the above picture, I also put down an outdoor tablecloth- this makes for easier pickup with the pom pons and reduces the dirt and fuzz they collect if you dump them on your rug or bare floor.  Dump the pom pons in the middle of the space, and place the bowls strategically around the room as "stations". Assign 3-4 kiddos to each bowl and review each color word. I started with only 4 bowls so that groups would get turns every 30 seconds or so- antsy kindergarteners do not make your life much fun lol

NOW FOR THE FUN! Call out a color word and instruct kiddos whose station is labeled that color to come to the center and grab 1 pom pon of that color and put it in their bowl. So, if there are 4 kiddos at a station, there will be 4 pom pons in the bowl. Call out another color, and so on. Start predictably, going in order around then the stations, then mix it up, keeping them on their toes as they need to listen carefully to which color is being called. I love to call the same color twice in a row every now and again as they find that hilarious. Keep the pace moving to be sure kids are engaged and not sitting around- I have to remind kiddos to grab quickly, no searching endlessly for that one 'perfect' pom pon! I usually set a time limit for this activity- 10 minutes is just about right.

*Once kiddos have gotten the hang of the game, after a few rounds, switch the groups, moving them to another station and start again. This keeps them listening and practicing multiple color words!
*Have a tally sheet next to the bowl. Before you end the activity, have each group count (in Spanish, of course!) how many pom pons are in the bowl, write the number down, and then report out to the class.

*GRAB & SORT: This is an easy and fun activity to practice reading and speaking skills with a partner. Materials & setup: empty tissue boxes stuffed with pompons (they don't have to be full), color sorting page- you can download ours for free here. Hand out a box and a sorting page to each partner group (or groups of 3-4) and instruct them to take turns pulling a pompon (without peeking!) out of the tissue box and placing it on the correct star that matches the color. As they place the pompon, they need to say the color word out loud. Kids love the surprise element and the whole class is engaged at once! You can set a time limit at the end of which kids can report out how many of each color they have, or simply count together in their groups.

*PUT THOSE POMS IN YOUR CUP! NEW in 2016, spread out the pom poms (I recommend a tablecloth to corral them), hand out a plastic cup to each student, and instruct them to grab one green pom pom and put it in the cup- or two red ones, or five purple ones! Check the cups before starting another round for comprehension and have fun! Here is a short video of me giving instructions for this activity


 And, if you liked the fishy color cards shown in the first picture collage, you can get them along with our printable minibook & activity pack 'Arturo y la bota', perfect for teaching colors in context. You can get it in our store here.

Una Persona Misteriosa- Incorporate Writing into this Fun Game

WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR with the game 'Mystery Person' or 'Guess Who I Am'... students choose a person from a list (or one is chosen for them) and the rest of the class has to guess who they are... or alternatively the kiddo has to guess who he/she is by asking questions of the class, much like 20 Questions. My Fourth Graders start the year learning the sentence starter 'Yo soy' along with a set of adjectives to describe oneself (artistic, adventurous, musical, athletic, etc) and I love to give them fun ways to practice this in a contextual manner.

ENTER 'LA PERSONA MISTERIOSA', played, of course, by having students (or partners/teams) choose a person to describe with the intent of having the rest of the class try to guess who he/she is. Since I am also looking to give ample opportunities for my students to practice their writing skills, before they can present their description, they need to write it down. I have my Fourth Grade classes organized into teams, and I have them choose two people to describe from a list I put on the board- I have famous people from Spanish speaking countries that they are familiar with (this year it has been Frida Kahlo, Lionel Messi, Pocoyó, José Feliciano, Ratoncito Pérez) along with other Specials Teachers in the building (our Art, Music & Phys Ed teachers- which is hilarious all on it's own!). Using 'Yo soy...' plus our adjectives, each team needs to create a simple description of their two chosen people- I'm a big fan of the talking bubble so the activity page features two big talking bubbles for my students to write in and a space at the top of each bubble to write who "they" are. While students are writing, it gives me an opportunity to circulate around the room checking to be sure they have a full sentence and that they have matched the gender appropriately. This is a great reminder for kiddos to pay attention to adjectival endings, something we have been working on in various ways since Kindergarten.

LET THE GAME COMMENCE! Taking turns, students read the description to the rest of the class who then try to guess who it is. I will confess, winners receive gummy bears- I rarely give out candy in class, but the wild enthusiasm that ensues is just too priceless to pass up! Want a copy of the activity page? Download it free here! And, you can find our Yo soy.. Theme Pack by clicking here!