Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Big List of Back to School Resources & Ideas for Spanish Teachers WLES

BACK TO SCHOOL IS COMING SOON and I know you are looking for ideas & resources to help you make the beginning of the year (and the rest of it!) a great experience for your students. To that end, I've collected together a BIG LIST OF BACK TO SCHOOL resources, both ours and links to other neat ideas to help you make the most out of those first days and weeks! These are geared primarily for elementary Spanish teachers, but many resources would be useful in middle and high school as well.  If you have more, please post in the comments!

Back to School Resources for Spanish Teachers


*First Days in my Classes
*7 Actividades para las primeras clases del año escolar
*¡Ya sabes español! A First Day in Kindergarten Activity
*First Week of School in the Target Language with Señor Howard (I saw this in action at the NNELL Summer Institute 2018-amazing!)
*Write a Postcard Back to School Activity
*Setting a Positive Tone in Special Area Classrooms- An article from Responsive Classroom
*Tips for Being a Traveling Teacher
*Building Community from the First Day- a post from Ashley Uyaguari


*Señor Howard's First Day of School
*My First Class with Kindergarten 2017 
*My First Class with First Grade 2017


*Buenos días song from Super Simple Spanish
*Hola Hola from Spanish Together
*Buenos días from Babyradio, España
*Adiós from Super Simple Spanish


*Vuelta al cole song from Babyradio
*Inicio del año escolar videos collection on my Pinterest Board
*El primer día escolar Minibook & Theme Pack
*Printable Name Tags + Five Games to Play
*Hola Mateo Greetings Minibook
*School Vocabulary Video from Tío Spanish
*Advertisement for School Supplies (Pin)
*Me gusta ir al cole song from Nene León
*Canciones para establecer la rutina- blog post from Recursos para educación infantil
*Escuelas Argentinas- A set of videos made by the Argentinian government to highlight different schools in the country
*Acompáñame a la escuela : a series of videos featuring kiddos going to school in Colombia
*A Cultural Comparison of School Lunches blog post


*Creating a Classroom Space that Supports Language Learning
*Organizing Your Classroom Space from Nathan Lutz
*Classroom Tour- 25 Classrooms+ from Spanish Mama
*Bulletin Board Sets (calendars, classroom supports, country themes sets)
*Super cute bulletin boards from Señora Speedy


*Isabel and her colores go to school by Alexandra Alessandri
*Alma and how she got her name by Juana Martinez-Neal
*René has two last names by René Colato Lainez
*The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
*Coquí in the City by Nomar Perez (good for new kids moving into the district)

10 Strategies for making the target language more comprehensible

ONE OF THE CHALLENGES I OFTEN HEAR FROM TEACHERS STRIVING FOR 90% IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE, as per ACTFL'S recommendation, is how to make vocabulary more comprehensible for students, especially NOVICE learners. Over the last few years, I've been creating a series of posts and tips in visual form to spark ideas and hopefully help in this process. I've collected many on my Pinterest board here and you can click on my blog category 'Teaching 90% in the Target Language" to see all of my posts. I thought it might also be helpful to create a bulleted list of the prime strategies as a quick reference guide, which you can see below! Underneath, I've expanded on some of them to give a fuller explanation.

I've also listed a series of sites and apps I use to help me make visuals at the bottom- hope they are of help, and if you know of others, please share!

Strategies to make target language comprehensible

*VISUALS: As an illustrator myself, I am definitely convinced that visuals, whether they be pictures, photos, or physical props, are a strong support in helping get meaning across. I do think some visuals are better than others- as a very simple example: if the word is 'five' but the visual only shows ONE thing, that can be confusing to a language learner. In my opinion, a visual should clearly ILLUSTRATE (in other words, represent visually the word or concept) the meaning. I wrote a post which expands on this-you can read it here :)

*GESTURES: We use a lot of familiar gestures in our day to day communication; utilizing those help  get the meaning across without translating. Pointing, cupping your ear, using two fingers to point to your eyes, clapping, thumbs up, ok sign, rubbing your belly, tapping the side of your forehead, holding up your hand for 'stop', putting a finger to your lips, making a heart with your two hands, etc are all familiar gestures we use in the US. Signs from Sign language can also be a great option, especially for us elementary teachers who work in schools where the homeroom teachers use them too. One of my all time favorites is this below:

Making language comprehensible for students

*DEMONSTRATE: I am a huge fan of demonstrating activities! By walking through an activity, even in an abbreviated fashion, provides our students with the overview of what is expected and how the activity is going to go. Some instances where I frequently use demonstrating: using our classroom materials, how to move about the classroom, clean up routine, games, partner activities, crafts, etc. A new strategy I am employing is creating videos of these demonstrations to show students when introducing games and other activities-this has been a great success!

*ACT IT OUT: Many words and situations lend themselves to being acted out- be creative! A prime example that almost stumped me last year: my classroom rug was being cleaned, so was out in the hallway. Using a piece of soap, I mimed cleaning it so my students could understand why it was out there and not in my room :)

*SIMPLIFY: Pare down what you want to say to the essential message. I think we, as teachers, unintentionally often add in more language than is really needed in the situation, making it more complicated for our students to comprehend. A perfect example I've shared many times before:

Simplify the target language to make it more comprehensible Spanish for Kids

*COGNATES: Cognates are interesting because they are often more obvious to adults (the teacher) than to our students. And for pre-literate & early literacy students, even more so. I do not rely on utilizing cognates as a verbal strategy-my students rarely 'hear' the similarity. Rather, I write the cognate on the board, and cover a portion of the word to "reveal" the English.

*OPPOSITES: Our brains naturally categorize concepts such as opposites...leverage this process for all kinds of vocabulary!

*BREAK IT UP: This is another particular favorite of mine, in part because it also supports our students who have challenges with processing, recall, and following multistep instructions or activities. Instead of delivering a series of instructions and/or information in one go, break them up into steps and deliver each step one at a time, pausing after each (and/or making that chunk comprehensible) before moving on to the next. I wrote a post on how to break up instructions this way here :)

*LEVERAGE KNOWN SCHEMA: Even little children are already familiar with a host of mental schema related to all kinds of things-when we leverage these, we allow the context to do a lot of the work for us. For example, most biographies contain predictable information: name, date of birth, location of birth and/or where he/she lived, their profession, etc. If you present this information in connection with a famous person, your students will be much quicker to intuit what you are talking about because they have a prior schema in their heads for this type of scenario. Non fiction is a bonanza for this! This also applies to all kinds of other things- known gestures, daily routines & activities, customs, images, etc. If I point to your shoelaces which are untied, and say in the target language 'tie your shoes', it is HIGHLY likely my kiddo will know what I am talking about because it's such a familiar context- there is no need for me to use English in this situation. If I show a heart next to a strawberry and put a big smile on my face, my kids automatically know I love strawberries!

*SPEECH & THINKING BUBBLES: I LOVE speech & thinking bubbles! One of the most effective ways I present the first person singular is through these visual supports. Like above, these are known schema-kids automatically know what they are for, so I don't have to explain this. I can then have the bubbles over their head, my head, a character's head, a classmate's head.... by moving the bubbles I can then reference what someone else is saying etc- and we all know that what's in the bubble is in first person.

There are many other strategies that work as well; I tried to take some of my most potent ones to share in this post. If you have others, please share in the comments!

SITES to help you create visuals for your classroom:

Cultural Comparison of School Lunches for a Back to School Activity

LOOKING FOR A FUN WAY TO MAKE CULTURAL COMPARISONS RIGHT FROM THE START OF SCHOOL in your Spanish classes? How about doing a comparison of healthy lunches? After doing an extensive search on both Pinterest and Youtube, I've gathered together a set of authentic resources that can be used with multiple levels, and are a fantastic way to also spiral food vocabulary back into your lessons as well- I've pinned them all in the section entitled 'Loncheras saludables' in my 'Teaching Culture in the Target Language' Pinterest Board here. Read on for ideas on how to use them!

Cultural Comparison of School Lunch Activity For Spanish Class

*CREATE A VENN DIAGRAM: Yes, you know how much I love the Venn diagram and there's good reason! Even novice learners, and all age levels, can access a Venn diagram as it is simple and requires basic language to complete. Choose an image to project on your smart board from the collection on my Pinterest board, and take a moment to talk with your class about what is packed in the lunchbox. For students who have more language, you can ask questions about the foods (do you like __?, have you ever eaten _____? Is ____ sweet or salty? Is _____ healthy? Is ____ junk food? etc) Now talk about what you might find in the lunch boxes of your students... have kids generate examples of what is in theirs. You can list these on the board (in the target language) if you like or reference your word wall if you have cards related to food. Now pass out a Venn diagram template and have kids fill it out based on the photo you provided and a typical lunch of theirs. Kids can then do a 'Turn and Share' activity where they share each others diagrams with a partner.

*PLAN A LUNCH MENU: As you may notice, several of the images I've pinned have days of the week on them (yay! a great way to practice days of the week in context!!). If you are able, you can print out the images (that are separate ones) with the days of the week on them, post them in the classroom or on the board (for you traveling teachers!) and talk about the lunches shown. Kids can then generate a description of their own lunches on each particular day. Again, you can ask questions about the foods pictures, as well as the foods yours students bring to school. (NOTE: I am always careful not to pass judgement on the lunches my kids bring, nor foster a discussion between students that might do the same, as my students do not have control over the dietary choices their parents make and I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable).

Cultural Comparison of School Lunches for Spanish Classes
This is a great one from Perú! Unfortunately, it did not have a back link so I can't credit the original creator.
As an alternative to this activity, you could use play food to "create" a lunch as a hands on activity, particularly great for little learners! We have two sets of Printable Play food that would be ideal for this: Printable Play Food Set and Make a Sandwich Printable Props). Kids could even prompt each other in a partner activity to "Build a lunch" using the props- a great speaking & listening activity, and would make a good centers activity, too!

EXTEND THE ABOVE CONVERSATIONS, depending on level, by making observations of what constitutes a typical lunch in each of the examples, including those of your students. Is there usually a "main food" such as a sandwich or other food, a fruit, a dessert, veggies? (I'm a big fan of not just showing differences but also highlighting similarities! I think it brings us all a little closer :) ). What foods are shown in more than one image or country? What would be your ideal lunch? What would you like to try that is shown in one of the images? There are lots of possibilities here! :)

Label photos of lunches around the world with the target language

*LABEL PHOTOS OF LUNCHES WITH WORD CARDS: This is a simple literacy based activity, matching words (labels) to items in photos gleaned from my Pinterest board mentioned above. Simply print out several photos of lunches along with word cards, then instruct students, individually or in pairs, to "label" the photos using the word cards. For an extended cultural comparison, select photos from the pins that contain lunches from around the world-tie in a world map for even more fun and geographical reinforcement!

LOVE THIS IDEA BUT WANT MORE? Grab our Mini Theme Pack 'El almuerzo de Pepita' which features a familiar scenario for kiddos- something that's packed in the lunchbox that they don't like, and so they trade it! Included in the mini pack is a Venn Diagram for comparing lunches, as well as story props including ones to extend the story, word cards, and more. AND, the food in both Pepita and Olivia's lunches are authentic- yupiii! I purposely designed the theme pack to go along with the above activities :)

School Lunch Activity Pack in Spanish for Kids
Click here to grab the Activity Pack in our shop!

Bastille Day Resources for Kids

BASTILLE DAY IS JULY 14TH and as part of my effort to learn more about the culture of French speaking countries, I decided to do a little searching on some fun resources for kids related to this holiday. This also connects to one of my goals for the upcoming school year-integrate more world culture, not just culture from the Spanish speaking world, in my elementary Spanish classes as a way to support my students who are heritage speakers of languages other than Spanish. Though we don't have a huge population of these learners in my district, we do have a fair number, and my room has been the primary place where they can share and talk about this heritage... but I want to bump it up some more! But I digress.... here are some fun links and resources I've found for Bastille Day, celebrated in FRANCE:

Bastille Day Resources for Kids

*PRINTABLE PAPER CITY: PARIS: Seriously adorable set of printable aspects of the city of Paris, a great way for little kids to engage in imaginative play. These could be used as a back drop for a fun skit, a mock tour, or as a prop to learn highlights of the city. You can download them here.

Bastille Day Resources for Kids Paper Paris Printable

*ADORABLE PARIS SIGHTS PRINTABLE CROWN: I am in LOVE with this crown! The illustrations are gorgeous, and what fun for littles to wear in class or at home! Download for free by clicking here. There are also cute printable invitations.

Bastille Day for Kids Printable Paris Crown

*CUTE VIDEO ABOUT PARIS: This is a lovely animated video about Paris in French.

*PLAY PÉTANQUE: Every year the language school I used to be Board Chair of organizes a fun game of pétanque as part of their Bastille Day celebration. Here is a video showing the rules:

*CELEBRATE FRENCH CUISINE WITH OUR PRINTABLE CRêPE PROPS: Featuring both sweet and savory toppings, these printable props are a fun way to practice vocabulary and culture at the same time! You can grab them by clicking here.

Make a Crêpe Printable Props French cuisine

*INFOGRAPHICS & MORE!: For cute infographics, images and maps of Paris, head over to our Pinterest Board here! Be sure to follow the board as I add new pins regularly :)

French Resources for Kids


Fleur va en France Theme Pack in French for Kids

What would you add? Please let me know in the comments!