Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Practicing Names in Authentic Activities in the Elementary Spanish Classroom

I'M GOING TO CONFESS, I am really bad about providing activities for my elementary Spanish kids to practice answering the question '¿Cómo te llamas?' and stating their names... think about it- kids know each others names, so introducing themselves over and over again doesn't make much sense- it's simply not authentic communication! But, I know that being able to answer the question ¿Cómo te llamas? or ¿Cuál es tu nombre? is a typical expectation, and I feel like I'm missing the boat. However, there are some activities that I do, and should do more of!, to provide more practice in answering these questions (NOTE: I teach my students 'Yo soy ____' as opposed to 'Me llamo' because I incorporate this phrase into so many other themes).

Here are some good authentically communicative activities that I do- please share yours in the comments!

*BRING IN YOUR STUFFIE DAY!: Invite your students to bring in a stuffie to class (you may want to provide guidelines around size of said stuffie, and be sure to let gen ed teachers know ahead of time so they know stuffies will be appearing)... you students become the "voices" of their stuffies, introducing them, or having mini conversations with '¿Cómo te llamas?' or ¿Qué es tu nombre?' or you could, as the teacher, ask the questions of the stuffies as a quick greeting activity. However done, the stuffies' names are generally unknown to everyone else in the class, so it becomes an authentic communication for them to "talk" and share their names. You could have more than one Bring in Your Stuffie Day in the year, with each time a different stuffie coming to school.

*NAME THAT STUFFIE!: If, like me, you have a grand collection of stuffies already in your classroom, you can pass them out to students who can then name them and, like above, be their "voices" to introduce themselves or answer questions about their name. If you don't have stuffies, use stick puppets, dolls, little animal counters, Lego figures...anything they can name will do!

*VOTE ON A NAME!: In some of the minibooks we read in class, there are additional characters or animals without names- turn naming the character into a vote! My students love to brainstorm names and then vote on them as a class; I typically keep the brainstorming to 4-5 names, then we vote. Once names are given, we have fun incorporating them into other activities and stories. Since I have multiple classes for each grade, if there are multiple characters to name I have each class name just one character, then I share with the other classes all the names chosen, which they also love.

*MAKE AN INTERACTIVE BOARD IN THE HALLWAY: If you've got space to put up a piece of chart paper, why not put a picture of a stuffie or animal with the header question ¿Cómo te llamas? for kids to answer when they enter in the morning or at recess time? Provide a pencil on a string (expect it to disappear so monitor it!) and see what your students come up with! Tell your students they have to start with either 'Me llamo __' or 'Yo soy ____' to practice those structures and then sit back and enjoy their creativity!

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