Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


How I Made a Take a Break Space for my Elementary Spanish Classroom

IN THE FALL, I SET ABOUT ESTABLISHING ROUTINES & PROCEDURES IN MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASSES, with an eye to classroom management being the glue that keeps us all together and moving forward smoothly. I am a Responsive Classroom teacher, which means I work hard at proactively modeling and practicing our expectations and building community in my room. A tenet of Responsive Classroom is the 'Take a break' space where students can go when they need to get themselves back in focus. Not a punishment, the Take a Break Space is a place to re set, calm down and get back to being ready to learn & contribute to the class community. Over the years, I have included a variety of things at the Take a Break space to help kids with this, rather than just have them sit there. I am continually refining what these are; a few years ago our entire staff made glitter jars during a staff meeting, which I then included and has been very successful! (Want to know how to make your own glitter jar? Click here)

How to Make a Take a Break Space in an Elementary Spanish Classroom

ALONG WITH THE GLITTER JAR, I have a stuffed polar bear to snuggle, pillows, and copies of some of our mini books for mental engagement, as well as a selection of hard and soft back books, which include I Spy, Spot the Difference, etc type books which are really helpful when kids are emotionally upset-it gives them a mental rest from their emotions which in turn helps them return to a more regulated state. Also, I include some Montessori inspired items, such as shells, acorns, rocks, which kids can look at, touch, and interact with. These help them calm down and refocus.

How to Make a Take a Break Space in an Elementary Spanish Classroom

THIS SPRING I DECIDED I NEEDED TO INCLUDE some sort of activity that would help really active bodies slow their motors down; we have a number of ADHD kids who struggle mightily to keep their impulsivity under control. This unfortunately results in a lot of distracting behaviors and classmates becoming frustrated with them, so finding ways to help them helps everybody. Although I do not practice yoga myself, I have heard and read so many good things about how it can be incorporated in the classroom, I thought I would give it try at the Take a Break space. I had created a set of yoga poses cards on the request of a fellow Spanish teacher and wondered if they could be used  at the Take a Break space. I decided to include them plus a little timer so my kids would know how long to hold the pose. Like all routines and procedures, it's important to introduce how to use the cards and the timer so that it will be effective and kids will know what to do. I would love to hear how you use yoga in your classroom!

How to Make a Take A Break Space in your Elementary Spanish Classroom

INTERESTED IN OUR YOGA POSES CARDS? We have them in Spanish, French, German, Russian, and soon in English!

UPDATE: Our school starting using breathing mat stations during lunch time to help students re-set via mindful breathing. It has been very successful, so I decided to adopt this idea for my classroom & take a break space. I have breathing mats at all my tables and around the room so kids can use them whenever they want to (or when I indicate they should). I also put one, along with headphones & a sand timer) in my Take a Break space for kids to use when needed. I have modeled how to use the mat & timer, and kids have responded really well to it! I have the mats as FREE downloads in my shop in the following languages: Spanish Russian  French English 

Breathing Exercise Mats for Mindfulness in World Language Class


  1. How do you keep kids from going to the "Take a Break" place and playing to avoid instruction?

    1. Hello Martha! This is a great question! There is always that one kiddo who eventually we discover is trying to avoid instruction, either with frequent bathroom breaks, trips to the nurse, or heading over to the take a break place. Usually, a kiddo is avoiding instruction because they find the instruction too difficult, and/or have low confidence and would prefer to not participate in order to stop those feelings. Most often, if I begin to notice a kid has had a few trips to the take a break place and that hasn't helped, I have a one on one conversation with the kid to try and discover what the underlying issues might be. If indeed it has to do with a kid feeling class is too hard, we then strategize some ways I can help (and he/she can help himself). I make sure to give lots of encouragement, and over the course of the next several classes in particular, I will be sure to point out successes, even the small ones. More often than not, this helps the situation greatly. I will note, I do not have kids self select to go to the take a break space- when I see they need a little time to refocus, I direct them there. Hope this helps! Julie

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