Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Students going on vacation? Give them a 'special mission' to accomplish while they're gone!

WE ALL HAVE THOSE GLOBE TROTTING STUDENTS who take off to wonderful destinations, spending their vacations in exotic locations or taking a few days off from school to enjoy a cruise or visit some fun theme park. Most exciting, of course, is when your student visits a location where the target language is spoken-as the teacher, you hope this sparks even greater interest in the language and culture. For years I have congratulated my students on their travels and welcomed 'Spanish shares' upon their return. But, I do admit, that's as far as I got, and it never felt very satisfactory.

IN THINKING ABOUT WHAT MY ELEMENTARY STUDENTS could reasonably do while on vacation to incorporate Spanish class, without it being like homework or a burden on parents, I was inspired by a fellow teacher who sends stuffies with her students when they go to countries where the target language is spoken. This got me thinking and I decided to create my own version featuring our very own Pepita and her friends, since they are such a large, beloved part of our class.

THE MISSION: This is how I am framing it with my students lol! Keeping it simple, I give the student the optional "mission" of taking a stick puppet of one of our characters and snapping a few photos of the puppet during their vacation. One of their parents then sends me the photos via email so I can project them up on our Smartboard when the kiddo returns. Couldn't be easier! The stick puppets are very transportable, meaning they can go just about anywhere via a pocket, purse, or backpack. And, the added benefit is that when we are looking at the pictures, the rest of the class is more engaged because they are excited to see one of our characters in the pictures, not just the student who went on the trip.

AS THE PHOTOS ARE SHOWN, I ask questions about the weather, colors, animals in the photos, etc using whatever vocabulary my students understand and can respond to. I try to keep as much of the "presentation" in Spanish as possible, which in large part depends on the grade level and the student. I then print out a couple of the photos and put them out in the hallway with a caption in Spanish so other classes can see them! UPDATE: When I started this activity, it was primarily to send the puppets to Spanish speaking countries, but my students have gotten so into it, the puppets now go all over the place, abroad and even on local trips. Each and every trip, near or far, provides opportunities for interaction in Spanish, so I welcome them all.

WANT TO SEND STICK PUPPETS with your students but don't have time to draw and create your own? Visit our shop to get our Masks & Stick puppets- click here!

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