Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Spanish Idioms for the Classroom- Comprehensible Input in Context

BRINGING CULTURE TO YOUR CLASSROOM ON A DAILY BASIS can be a challenge, but idioms, sayings and proverbs are a great way to do just that! The trick is to find ones which make sense and are relevant to your students and can be used easily and in context. I've gathered together a set of 27 which I use regularly in my elementary classes (and would be good for any level!) which lend themselves particularly well to your ongoing interaction and conversation with your students. Many are common throughout Spanish speaking countries, while others are regionalisms I've picked up from my native speaking friends. You can download the infographic here.

MANY ARE READILY OBVIOUS IN THEIR USAGE, while others might benefit from some elaboration as to how I use them. Here are some ways I incorporate the less obvious ones:

*Limón, limonero, damas primero- If I have a mixed set of kiddos, boys and girls, who are receiving something (such as birthday pencils), I always say this refrán before passing out whatever it is.

*Silencio es oro- Seems obvious enough, right? We often have 'moments of silence' when kiddos are doing an activity in their folder, and if they start chatting away, I will remind them it's silent time and say 'Silencio es oro, niños.

*Sobre gustos no hay nada escrito-  I say this regularly when we are using 'me gusta, me gusta mucho,' etc. We all have our own tastes, don't we?

*Buñolero, ¡haz tus buñuelos!- When kiddos are doing too much tattling or can't stop getting in someone else's business, I say this.  A variation on this is 'Zapatero, ¡haz tus zapatos!

*¡Caracoles!- I picked this up from a Colombian friend many years ago- when playing a game it's like saying 'Shucks!' or 'Rats!.

*Tres, dos, uno...¡ignición!- I use countdowns a lot in class, and this one is just fun! Typically, I use this when we are about to start an activity, such as a movement activity, game, etc. You could also say 'Tres, dos, uno...¡despeguen!

*Preparados, listo, ¡ya!- Another way to countdown, or to get the attention of students. I frequently use this as a call and response, asking '¿Preparados? and my students answer 'Listos'.

And don't forget all those fun words like 'yupi', 'wepa', 'ay ay ay', 'eso', pum, catapúm, uf, uy, grrrr, and so on which are part of common conversation and are easily picked up by kids!

Making Paper Shoes for Three King's Day-DIY How To Plus Tips for the Classroom

SHARE THE TRADITION OF PUTTING OUT SHOES FOR THREE KING'S DAY with your students by making paper shoes! I found this pattern for a Dutch shoe which is fairly simple, though it does require a fair amount of folding. The tutorial thankfully has step by step instructions with photos- I put them up on my Smartboard while we made the shoes so my kiddos could both watch me and see each step.

AS YOU CAN SEE, I added a star sticker to each shoe, filled them with tissue paper, and then they will get a few pieces of candy (UPDATE: I can no longer put candy in the shoes, so I put a selection of small erasers, pompoms, play money, stickers, etc ) right before I put them out after school on January 5, Three King's Eve.

A FEW TIPS when making the shoes:
*Make sure your stapler is full of staples- I learned the hard way that running out of staples half way through making these is no fun. (I stapled the back flaps instead of using tape)
*Be sure you also have plenty of tape on hand- I wanted to staple the front as well, but couldn't fit my stapler in, so tape is a must for the front portion.
*Enlist the help of colleagues or a few parents to stuff the shoes with treats if you are doing lots of students- I have 378 students, so extra hands are a lifesaver!
*Trying on the shoes inevitably results in a shoe coming apart! (Yes, many of my students try this lol)
*Younger students are challenged by all the folding, especially if, like me, you teach 90% or more in the target language. I had my 4th Graders make a shoe for themselves, and then one for the Kindergartners. They loved it, and I avoided a potentially nightmare situation with a whole class of  Kinders asking for help for every step!
*This took me almost exactly 30 minutes start to finish, with on average 18 kiddos per class. This included having them select a color (in Spanish, of course), putting their name on the back, in the center, and then construction of the shoe. I put the star and tissue paper on/in after they left.
*If you are doing this project with multiple classes, have bags ready with labels on them for each classroom. This keeps each class together, and if you travel, makes it easier to store them until you are ready to put them out. I just stapled a piece of paper to each bag with the classroom teacher's name on it.

*Here are some visual supports that I make as we are constructing the shoes that help me stay in the target language AND help kids understand what to do during each step.

Three Kings Paper Shoes

*NOT SURE OF SOME KEY VOCABULARY for folding? Here are a few helpful words:
-hacia abajo, hacia arriba
-por la mitad
-volver a doblar
-marcar el doble

Want to see how I introduce a comparison of Christmas and Three King's Day completely in the target language? Here's my post with script!

And don't miss my fun Rosca de Reyes Game-easy for little kids, it is always a hit with my kids! Click here to grab it!

Juego de la Rosca de Reyes for Spanish Class

HAVE FUN and Feliz Día de Reyes!

Bringing Language and Culture Together- An Online Conversation

JOIN US MONDAY, DEC 28, 7-9:30 EST for a conversation on bringing language and culture together in the Foreign Language classroom. We know it can be challenging to incorporate culture into language instruction- we'll share tips, activities, resources and more to help you do just that! We look forward to your ideas and experiences, too! See you at the event on our Facebook page- click here to join!

Writing a Letter to Los Tres Reyes Magos- Support your Students with our Infographic

WRITING A LETTER TO LOS TRES REYES MAGOS is a fun way to incorporate language and letter writing skills while reinforcing culture at the same time. With an activity such as this, I like to give my students as much support as possible, especially since, for some, coming up with ideas can be a challenge. Enter our infographic! Geared for kiddos in elementary school (but certainly great for any age group!), I've included a number of things kids might put on their list to get their ideas flowing which can be used as a springboard for their own letter. Put the infographic up on your Smartboard or projector so the whole class can see the text- you can use this as a starter for a conversation around what they are asking for prior to writing letters; this also helps jog their memory of other vocabulary they know. You can also do a quick sí/no question and answer round asking your students if they would like each of the objects pictured on the infographic- an easy way to practice vocabulary and listening skills! Alternatively, you could get your students up and moving with a 'cross the line' activity- 'Cross the line if you want _____'. Once the brainstorming is over, off to writing letters! Click here to download the infographic below

tres reyes magos carta


three king's day letter template

AND, IF YOU WOULD LIKE A PRINTABLE MINIBOOK to go along with this theme, why not grab ours here!

Find it in our shop!

Paper Poinsettia Craft for Spanish Class

POINSETTIAS are a beautiful part of the Christmas season, and, given their cultural connection to México, they also are perfect to incorporate into Spanish class in December. Our PAPER POINSETTIA craft is easy for little hands to make and is just right for when kiddos are a bit squirrelly and need hands on, concrete activities to remain (somewhat) focused.

WE'VE INCLUDED a FREE downloadable template plus instructions for how to make poinsettias in your classes- download it here! Since the craft is quite simple in nature, it also lends itself particularly well to giving the instructions in Spanish. Recorta la flor. Recorta las hojas. Pega una flor a la otra...and so on.  Choosing activities which are easy and intuitive to follow facilitates us teachers keeping to that ongoing goal of 90% in the target language!

AND, WHEN INCORPORATING into your class, a great go along read is Tomie DePaola's 'Legend of the Poinsettia' which sets a wonderful backdrop and history around the meaning of the poinsettia. Don't forget to read the end notes as they contain history about poinsettias!

DON'T MISS OUR 14 PIECE POINSETTIA BULLETIN BOARD SET! Featuring components of both the history and legend of the poinsettia, this is a great way to support your teaching via our visuals! Click here to grab it!

Poinsettia History & Legend Bulletin Board Set