Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Narrating Your Actions in the Target Language to Provide Comprehensible Input

THERE ARE MANY WAYS WE PROVIDE COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT in the target language during our time spent with students. A simple way to do this that allows students to intuitively understand what you are saying, and over time they pick up vocabulary, is to narrate your actions as you do them. So, for example, if I am tying a kid's shoes, I narrate the entire process, step by step, in Spanish. Or if I am getting materials out, or helping a kid with an activity, whatever I might be doing, I narrate my actions. This input is not always the key vocabulary we are working on, but it fosters genuine communication in the language and creates an environment where the language is used all the time as the mode of interaction, just as you would talk to a child in any other setting- in a natural, interactive way that just happens to also provide loads of input.

Teaching with Comprehensible Input in the Foreign Language

A KEY PART OF TEACHING IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE is keeping up your own language skills- follow pages and accounts on social media that provide the kind of input that helps you provide this kind of 'narrative' input. For example, on Instagram, I follow a lot of primary teachers from Spanish speaking countries- I love reading their posts about activities they are doing in the classroom! Here are a few of the accounts I follow (and don't forget to follow us! @mundodepepita)
* @elauladecarla
* @letratouille
* @aprender_jugando
* @laclasede_elena
* @maestrasmolonas
* @maestras_activas
* @maestra.primaria
* @maestra_lis
* @candelaclase

Happy teaching!

Tips for Having Your High school Students Teach Spanish to Elementary School Kids

MY DISTRICT IS VERY LUCKY IN THAT WE HAVE AN ELEMENTARY SPANISH PROGRAM starting in Kindergarten (I started the program in 1998, if you can believe that!), but I know that many districts are not so fortunate. One way districts have found to provide a fun language connection in the elementary school is to have high school students come down to teach basic vocabulary to the littles. Here are some quick tips to make that a successful venture in your district (until there's enough funding to start a full on elementary program! :) ) :

*CHOOSE VOCABULARY SETS THAT ARE CONCRETE, such as numbers, colors, animals, foods, etc and that of high interest to little kids. These also provide a great base to work off of!

*KEEP THE ACTION GOING! Little kids have short attention spans, so having a variety of activities is key! Mix up the lesson with movement activities, songs, games, and LOTS OF HANDS ON activities. The average attention span in minutes is approximately the same as the age of the kiddo- so, a five year will be focused for about 5 minutes before he/she is heading to squirrel town... yep, I live this every day! Four Corners is a great activity to keep them moving and practicing vocabulary-here's how I get the most out of it!

*DID I MENTION HANDS ON? Toys, counters, cut out pictures, games that involve manipulatives, play food, etc are always going to increase the motivation of elementary students, so incorporating them in lessons will keep more focus on your budding teacher and less on the ant crawling across the floor. My students LOVE pom poms- click here to see a post I wrote on activities you can do with them!

*WHOLE GROUP ACTIVITIES are extremely helpful for class management, especially for the really young ones (Kindergarten and First Grade). Waiting to take turns is hard for littles, especially with their short attention spans (yes, I mention it again!), so songs, whole group games, stories, poems, etc are great ways to keep everyone together and learning. If your high school student does want to do a turn-taking activity, look for something that has a surprise within it, or something that the whole class can take part it even while one kiddo is taking a turn.

Go fishing game to practice numbers in elementary language class
Attach paper clips to pictures of fish (ours have different amounts of fish on each card) and have a kiddo 'go fishing' with a magnet attached to a ribbon or string... in our set we also have a shark- if he's caught, he eats all the fish already caught! Chomp! Part of our Numbers Activity Pack here.
*CUTTING AND WRITING ACTIVITIES are challenging for many little kids, especially the younger ones, so having fewer of these is probably a good idea. Five and six year olds often still lack in these skill areas, so it is best to steer clear... instead, gross motor activities like rolling a ball for a greeting activity, categorizing items by color, acting out/ following commands for actions, dancing, etc are great ways to keep kids engaged.

*PREPARE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS BEFOREHAND; they are not teachers, so giving them some guidelines and tips on how to behave with the elementary students is very important. Be sure they have prepared ahead of time what they will be doing, and double-check the content of what they will be teaching to ensure it is accurate. And it goes without saying you want to have students participate that are reliable, want to work with little kids, and are outgoing and cheerful :)

*NEED IDEAS FOR SONGS & GAMES? Click on our category 'Games' right here on this blog to find lots of games perfect for elementary school, and for songs, head over to our Pinterest board here!

Have fun!

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two, DAY 5- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

IT'S OUR FIFTH AND FINAL DAY OF SUMMER CAMP ACTIVITIES, and we hope you have found some great ideas, both on our blog and on Fun for Spanish Teachers! Be sure to visit Carolina's final post by clicking here! And, don't miss our activity below- a take on the traditional game 'I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing....

Activities for Summer Camp in Spanish

I ALWAYS HAD FUN WHEN I WAS A KID PLAYING the picnic game... I confess, I have a decent memory, so even when I was one of the last kids to have a turn, I could often remember what everyone else had put in the basket- but even when I could, it was still always a challenge (I LOVE challenges!). When playing with my students in Spanish class, I make a few modifications to make the task a little easier, primarily as a scaffold for vocabulary recall, which can be tricky for some kiddos.

I'm going on a picnic activity for Spanish class

BEFORE STARTING TO PLAY, I PUT OUT A SET OF FOOD IMAGES that represent vocabulary my students already know- these serve to jog the memory and help those kiddos who have a harder time coming up with a word without assistance. They also serve to corral the possibilities to those shown/ provided, which helps to move the game along.... no 'Señora, how do you say ____?' which can bog down forward movement, and the unfamiliar word is harder for the rest of the crew to remember since it is...well, unfamiliar. By scaffolding the game, everyone has a lot more fun! And, you can encourage kids to add adjectives or quantities to what they say, so instead of... 'I'm making a picnic and I'm bringing a donut', a kiddo could say 'I'm making a picnic and I'm bringing a huge, chocolate donut.' :)

Have fun!

And don't miss our other posts for summer camp activities!
*Make worry dolls with a clothespin
*Make agua fresca
*Mount a puppet play (with FREE downloadable script)
*Make a paper arpillera

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two, DAY 4- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

IT'S DAY 4 OF OUR COLLABORATION WITH FUN FOR SPANISH TEACHERS, highlighting activities for summer camp in Spanish...we hope you are finding some great ideas (I know I am- loving Carolina's posts!). Her post for today features a parachute-be sure to head over there and read it! Click here to read it! Today we bring you another fun traditional craft, la arpillera.

Summer Camp Spanish Activities

I LOVE ARPILLERAS, and they are a wonderfully tangible authentic example of culture that kids love, too. Since I am not overly excited about needles and thread with little kids, making paper arpilleras is the option of choice! Provide campers with a piece of blue paper for the background, along with lots of other colors they can use to cut out shapes (houses, trees, shrubs, mountains, a sun, clouds, hills, llamas, sheep, etc) and glue in layers on the background piece to make their own arpillera.

Make a paper arpillera

WANT TO BE SURE AND INCLUDE LANGUAGE ALONG WITH THE CULTURAL COMPONENT? Arpilleras are a perfect vehicle for talking about colors, numbers, and all the items one sees in an arpillera. Here's an example of me asking my class questions related to how many of each thing are in an arpillera to give you an idea:


*Make Worry Dolls with Clothespins
*Make Agua Fresca
*Put on a Puppet Play (with FREE script download!)
*Play I'm going on a picnic and I'm the target language

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two, DAY 3- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

WELCOME BACK TO DAY 3 OF ACTIVITIES FOR SUMMER CAMP! We are so thrilled to be teaming up with Fun for Spanish Teachers for this week of great ideas for summer programs, whether they be camps. Vacation Bible School, or even for after school! Be sure to head over to Fun For Spanish Teachers blog to see today's post!

Activities for Summer Camp in Spanish

HOW ABOUT MOUNTING A PUPPET PLAY? Stick puppets, shadow puppets, finger puppets, puppets made from paper is always fun to make a puppet and then put on a show with friends! Why not encourage your campers to act out a story or make up a short dialogue in Spanish to be performed with puppets? The backdrop can be as simple as some plants outside, or kids can illustrate their own to go along with the play. Need a simple script to use for camp? Click on this link for a free downloadable! (This script is part of a larger resource we have available in our shop- you can see the complete resource here!)

Put on a Puppet Show in Spanish for Summer Camp

 Make worry dolls with clothespins
Making Agua Fresca
Make a Paper Arpillera
Play I'm going on a picnic and I'm the target language

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two, DAY 2- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

IT'S DAY TWO OF OUR ACTIVITIES FOR SUMMER CAMP FUN! Be sure to visit FUN FOR SPANISH TEACHERS to see today's post on a fun beach ball game! And don't forget to follow us both on Facebook so you never miss another great event or post!

Activities for Summer Spanish Camp
Visit Fun for Spanish Teachers!
I LOVE TO COOK WITH KIDS AND SHARE CULTURAL FOOD AT THE SAME TIME! Since it's summer (well, almost here in Maine!) and the days are getting hotter, how about making AGUA FRESCA? This is a simple recipe that kids can help make (be sure they are old enough/ supervised when using a knife!) and is a yummy, refreshing treat on a hot day- our fox, Olivia, just loves it! 

Agua Fresca con Fresa Receta Recipe

1 pound strawberries, cleaned and cut in half- un medio kilo de fresas, lavadas y cortadas por la mitad
3/4 cup sugar- 3/4 taza de azúcar
6 cups water- 6 tazas de agua
slices of lemon- unas rodajas de limón 

Place the in a bowl and sprinkle them with the sugar and let them sit for about 15 minutes, then macerate them (crush them somewhat, they do not need to be mashed to a pulp!). Add them to a glass of water with ice, add a lemon wedge if you wish, and you are done! 

Colocar las fresas en un tazón (cuenco), agregar el azúcar y guardarlas por 15 minutos. Después, molerlas un poco, y verter la fruta molida en una jarra. Agregar una rodaja de limón y unos cubitos de hielo. ¡A disfrutar!

AN ALTERNATIVE to macerating is putting the strawberries, sugar, and water in a blender and blending the mixture, which gives you a completely different texture!

Making Agua Fresca con Fresa

STRAWBERRIES ARE BUT ONE FRUIT YOU CAN USE TO MAKE AGUA FRESCA! Try mangos, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, guava...or combine fruits for additional yumminess!


*Make Worry Dolls with a Clothespin
*Put on a Puppet Play (with free script!)
*Make a Paper Arpillera
*Play I'm going on a picnic and I'm the target language

Activities for Summer Camp Part Two- New Ideas for Camp Programs that Integrate Spanish Language & Culture

LAST YEAR Fun for Spanish Teachers and Mundo de Pepita (us!) teamed up to bring you some SUMMER CAMP ACTIVITIES and as this school year comes to an end it occurred to us to write a sequel! (Click here for last year's post!) EACH DAY this week we will post a new idea perfect for summer camps, Vacation Bible School, or an after school program! BE SURE TO VISIT FUN FOR SPANISH TEACHERS to see today's post, too! And follow us both on Facebook so you never miss another great event! :)

Spanish Language and Culture Activities for Summer Camp
Visit Fun for Spanish Teachers Blog!
One thing I love about summer camp is the extended time you have with students, especially younger ones with whom we elementary teachers often have only short bursts of time, which can really curtail the type of activities we can do. Here is today's activity that brings language and culture to your summer camp program:

*MAKE WORRY DOLLS: Use clothespins and yarn to make Guatemalan worry dolls... this project is best for older kids as winding the yarn can be a little challenging for small hands. I created a quick video tutorial which you can see here:

I think they come out pretty cute! Students can then describe them in Spanish, using colors and clothes vocabulary, or have them make up short dialogues with the dolls! And don't miss the opportunity to share a map of Guatemala or a wonderful video such as this one!

How to Make Worry Dolls with a Clothespin


*Making Agua Fresca
*Put on a Puppet Play (with free script!)
*Make a Paper Arpillera
*Play I'm going on a picnic and I'm the target language

A Simple Activity to Incorporate STEAM (STEM) in Your Elementary Foreign Language Classes

I AM A HUGE PROPONENT OF TEACHING CONTENT IN THE FLES CLASSROOM, teaching using the foreign language, rather than just teaching the language itself. This has traditionally taken the form of thematic units where science, geography, math, and more are explored and integrated into class- and kids LOVE it! So as STEAM/ STEM gather momentum in the educational arena, I am excited to reflect on activities I already incorporate into my classes, and to learn from others so I can integrate new ideas and activities. (NOTE: a cautionary thought of mine- like doing very involved craft or other types of projects in class, I want to be sure that with STEAM/ STEM I am keeping in mind that my ultimate goal is for my students to acquire language, so designing activities that foster lots of interaction with the language is key, rather than unintentionally set up unstructured situations for which my students do not have enough target language and therefore devolve to English).

EXPERIMENTATION IS A KEY COMPONENT in any science endeavor, and can be brought into the foreign language classroom in a variety of ways. A simple opportunity presented itself today in one of my Kindergarten classes, and though definitely not earth shattering in it's complexity, was rich with language while at the same time providing a fun way to do our greeting activity.

Simple STEAM STEM Activity for Elementary Spanish Class

ONE OF OUR GREETING ACTIVITIES WE DO IN KINDERGARTEN is rolling a ball to one another and greeting the person (see our post here on greeting games with a ball!). As the year progresses, I begin giving them choices of what type of ball we will use, voting on them and then using the ball that gets the most votes. Our last theme of the year is 'Julieta y Mateo hacen un picnic' which introduces fruits and the verb 'querer' be a little silly, I start giving fruits as a choice along with a couple of the balls. Today, I opted to have students choose the three items we would vote on, and 'queso' (cheese) was one of them- and won the vote!

HERE'S WHERE THE STEAM STEM comes in! As you can see in the photo above, I have a variety of play cheese, none of which roll very well! But, instead of me choosing one, I decided to have the students decide which rolled/ moved best by experimenting with each. I gave one cheese to five different students and instructed each (all in the target language, btw) to roll/ fling/ send the cheese across the circle. As each was tried, we all gave a thumbs up/ down as to whether we thought it worked well. As it turned out, the flat piece of swiss cheese slid very well across the carpet, so that became the cheese we used for our subsequent greeting!

AS I SAID ABOVE, this was an incredibly simple way to incorporate the concept of experimentation, but was full of language interaction and gave the students lots of chances to add their comments to the process. And, we had a blast!

SEE OUR POST ON A SANDWICH TOWER for another fun way to bring STEAM to your class!

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS YOU INCORPORATE STEAM STEM in your classroom? Please share in the comments!