Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Cheerios Bird Feeders: A Simple Outdoors Activity for World Language Classes

A POSITIVE ASPECT FOR ME OF TEACHING IN THE TIME OF COVID HAS BEEN THE IMPETUS TO INCREASE MY OUTDOORS LESSONS, which has been beneficial both for me and my students who love & look forward to these outings. While I have always taken kids outside at various points during the fall & spring, the greater safety of teaching outdoors during the pandemic has pushed me to search out new activities to get us out of the building all year round. 

BRAINSTORMING WARMER WEATHER ACTIVITIES has been relatively easy, but WINTER is long here in Maine, so I can't wait it out... ;) In thinking about what I could do with my students during the colder season, I took some moments to consider what we have available-we are lucky to have a stretch of woods through which is a nature trail. Inhabited by birds, squirrels, chipmunks and other critters, it is a great place to take students for all kinds of activities-this led to me try building a lesson around kid-created bird feeders. A search on Pinterest led me to Cheerios strung on pipe cleaners (see post here), appealing in their simplicity & likelihood to not be an issue for students with allergies (I did double check with our school nurse before making these). 

Because we are in the time of covid, I distributed Cheerios into small cups, one for each student so there was no need for sharing. 
I also went with colored pipe cleaners so I can find them easily later and collect them-they can be re-used by stringing new Cheerios on them, or be thrown away in the garbage rather than littering the forest.

*In class:
This activity is perfect for pre-school and Kindergarten, though I am sure even older kids would enjoy it! I passed out a cup and a pipe cleaner to each child. I use the slightly thicker pipe cleaners which helps the Cheerios from slipping off during stringing; you can also bend one end of the pipe cleaner to serve the same purpose. Once the pipe cleaner is full of Cheerios, twist the two ends together to make a circle, or even bend into shapes like a heart or star-I went with just the circle as it is the easiest! Because this is such a concrete activity, you can maintain the target language for virtually the whole time of construction, demonstrating how to assemble it & narrating as you move about the room assisting students. TIP: have one pre-assembled so they know what they are shooting for!

Heading outside: I decided to split this into two lessons, constructing the bird feeders one class and going outside during the subsequent one-this works well with my schedule but certainly can be done all in one longer class period if that's what you have. Because of two lesson periods, they hang A bird feeder, not THEIR bird feeder, since we don't put our names on them. Giving them the heads up at the beginning smoothes this over immensely! Outside, off they went to hang the feeder on a branch of their choice!

You can connect this activity to a variety of larger themes and topics-winter, woods/forest, animals in winter, birds, weather, etc OR of course, a combination of these! I used a two-pronged approach: birds in winter AND doing for others (like a mini service project) which allows for connecting to SEL & community building activities. I used a variety of photos showing birds in winter (in our area) to practice vocabulary like 'It's cold', 'It's winter', 'hungry/ I'm/they're hungry', 'eat', 'muchas semillas/pocas semillas' etc as well as reviewing colors & simple verbs, which established the need for us to feed the birds during the winter months. For more activities with backyard birds, check out our Activity Pages in FRENCH and SPANISH!


Tips for Sustainable December Celebrations -Bring an Eco-Verde Focus to World Language Classes

DECEMBER IS A PARTICULARLY GOOD MONTH TO COMBINE CULTURE & ECO VERDE ACTIVITIES in our world language classrooms as many celebrations unfortunately are marked by waste and excess. Educating our students at a young age to be more sustainable in their choices and actions is more important than ever, and allows us to integrate themes of social justice and environmental responsibility while also highlighting festivities in target language countries. Through out the month I will be posting photos to my Pinterest board 'Environment, Conservation & Recycling' under the section 'Eco verde Celebrations' which can be used to share as tips with your students & generate more conversation around this topic-I find my upper elementary students, in particular, are very interested and motivated to talk about ways to be environmental activists. Be sure to follow me on Pinterest & Instagram to see each tip as I post it!

Tips for Sustainable December Celebrations

Comer menos carne un diciembre sostenible

THE AMOUNT OF WATER needed to irrigate crops which in turn feed livestock is significant and causes regional issues and factions in various parts of the world. Reducing one's consumption of meat has a direct impact on the amount of water used in this industry. Here is a link to a great post on Instagram regarding how many showers are equivalent to sustaining one kilogram of meat.

Ideas for Teaching the Book ‘Aquí también’ by Paula Fränkel

AQUÍ TAMBIÉN IS A BEAUTIFUL BOOK BY ARGENTINIAN AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR PAULA FRÄNKEL, highlighting what we have in common, even when we are in different places. I love her illustrations, which I read in an interview she participated in, were inspired by art from El Salvador, and her simple storyline which is both sweet and sublime at the same time. I’ve decided to create a mixed post of text and video to provide explanation and ideas on how to teach this book in class. And for more information about developing a theme from a picture book, read my post here

Ideas for Teaching Aquí también in Spanish Class

MY PRIMARY GOAL FOR THIS BOOK IS DISCOVERY: Commonalities exist across places and peoples. My FRAME to start with is the question: I wonder if things are the same or different in other places? (Outside our town/state) Along with this goal, I intentionally create opportunities within this set of lessons to further representation & shift established concepts such as family via the visuals I've designed, just as I do in all of my lessons. See link below!

THOUGH THERE IS LIMITED TEXT IN THE BOOK, it still contains some low frequency vocabulary, which makes it more challenging to teach to novice learners in the target language as is. As I mention in the video, I have modified some of the text to be more comprehensible for my students, while still maintaining the message. Here are my modified storylines:

Modifying the text of Aquí también to make it more comprehensible

Page 1: Acá sale el sol. Aquí también.
Page 2: Acá sale la luna. Aquí también.
Page 3: I eliminated this page as it was challenging to make comprehensible & doesn’t detract from the message if not read
Page 4: Acá sopla el viento. Aquí también.
Page 5: Acá crecen las flores. Aquí también.
Page 6: Acá corre el agua. Aquí también.
Page 7: Acá todos somos familias. Aquí también.
Page 8: Acá hay amor. Aquí también.
Page 9: Pero señor, es imposible. Usted vive al otro lado del mundo. Usted también.

Here is the video with MORE TIPS:

NOTE: for heritage speakers, this book is obviously to be read without alteration in the text. If you have a mixed class of heritage and non heritage speakers, finding opportunities for heritage speakers to hear and/or read the original is definitely a goal- you might even consider having them listen to this version of the book shared as a song-click here!

DON’T FORGET TO SHARE A PHOTO OF PAULA when introducing the book! I believe it's so important for our students to see the faces of authors & illustrators when we are reading books, especially if they are #ownvoices. You can read more on my post here

FOR THE SET OF VISUALS TO AID IN TEACHING THIS BOOK mentioned in the video, click here!

Activities You Can Do with Social Distancing & No Contact Restrictions

TEACHING WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING and no contact restrictions in mind, though a challenge, does not necessarily mean we have to throw everything out and start afresh. Many of our old favorites (and new ones!) can be successfully done even with these restrictions in mind. Here is a list of my brainstormed ideas, please add yours in the comments!

Activities for world  language class with social distancing restrictions Spanish French
'Listen and draw' Activity
*Freeze Dance
*Simon Says
*What’s missing?
*What doesn’t belong?
*Where’s the ___? (Example on this post here)
*Listen and Draw
*Read and Draw
*Draw and label
*Picture book Walks
*Video Walks
*Four Corners (modify by labeling each corner with a number, kids then indicate the corner they want to “stand in” by showing the number)
*Reciting Poems
*Would you rather?
*Polls & surveys
*Color by number, dot to dots with numbers out of order
*I spy
*Guessing games of all kinds
*Crafts (have the materials organized in small paper bags & ready to go)
*Yoga, Brain Gym and Tai Chi (See my post The Calm Classroom)
*Meditation activities
*Live webcams
*Mini books
*Journaling activities
*Brackets such as those for March Madness

Many of these activities I am also including on my Youtube library of ideas which you can check out by clicking here!

As well, individual activities in folders (which they don’t share and keep with them) and online via platforms like Seesaw, Google Classroom, and the many Kahoot style games, are all ones that can form a portion of class (I am really eager to not rely solely on digital activities for class as I do still want kids to interact with one another).

Using Paper Activities during Social Distancing and Remote Learning

Let’s also not forget that all those routines we do on a regular basis, greetings, lost teeth, birthdays, daily news, weather commentary, etc can still, and should, be done. Putting a kiddo’s name on the Ratoncito Pérez or La Petite Souris poster after losing a tooth is still so important!

For more ideas related to re-opening, check out these posts:
*Outdoor Classroom
*Offscreen Activities for Remote Learning
*Photo Prompts for World Language Classes
*Tips for the Traveling Teacher

And a few Craft posts:

*Tissue paper flowers (to reduce movement & contact, have everyone make flowers the same color, such as yellow for marigolds, instead of choosing colors)
*Paper poinsettias
*Tiny Books

Highlight authors & illustrators of picture books

I LOVE PICTURE BOOKS - THEY CAN BE A VEHICLE TO BOTH LANGUAGE & CULTURE IN CONTEXT.... but it didn’t occur to me until recently how important it is to not just read the author & illustrator’s names, but to show photos of them as well to fully represent who they are. We often talk about how important it is for children to see themselves in the books they encounter-I think this should be expanded to include seeing themselves in the creators of these books as well.

SINCE PICTURE BOOKS DONT ALWAYS INCLUDE PHOTOS of the author & illustrator, you may have to do a little leg work and search them out yourselves. The collage I created above was easily put together via Google search-I typed their names as well and voila -a visual ready to accompany reading the story! :)

NOTE: You can also put a flag next to each indicating where they are from!

How to use a picture book when the text is too difficult for your students
How to develop a theme from a picture book step by step

The Outdoor Classroom for World Language Classes- A Round Up of Ideas

TEACHING IN THE AGE OF COVID BRINGS WITH IT UNIQUE CHALLENGES....and OPPORTUNITIES! For us teaching elementary world language, we are, I think, in a lucky position to be able to take on one approach that seems to be slowly gaining in interest... the OUTDOOR CLASSROOM. With the need for greater social distancing, being outside means you have more space, and of course ventilation is not an issue. There are also TONS of difficulties & drawbacks, I am fully aware, especially if you were to consider being entirely outside and most especially if you live in the north... weather conditions, access to the building for bathrooms, nurse, etc. That being said, there are some pretty cool pros also. I thought it might be helpful to outline some ways you can take your classes outside on a regular basis to reduce your exposure to Covid-19, and have fun in the process. NOTE: Many of these ideas have materials included in my theme packs to go along with the idea, or will, as I am working on them this summer :)

The Outdoor Classroom for World Language Spanish French

Like any setting, you need to think about what routines & procedures are going to make the most sense, and what ones you already do that can be adapted for the situation. Things like giving instructions, lining up, behavior expectations and physical boundaries (depending on the lesson you might consider putting out cones or another marker to define the space being used so you don't have a wanderer :) ), use and storage of materials, hygiene, etc. You might also need to consider how you will accommodate for sun, ticks, mosquitos, and other outdoor challenges. Lastly, all the activities below take covid-19 hygiene into consideration, meaning little to no sharing of items, and social distancing capability :)

Consider starting each lesson, as you would any lesson, with a greeting activity. You can then move into singing a song together, and then one or more of the activities listed below. Don't forget to bring everyone back together at the end for closing :)


*SCAVENGER HUNTS: A natural outdoors activity! You may have seen my colors scavenger hunt pages, which was a huge hit with teachers during the remote learning closure; keep in mind that you can also "stage" items to be found, not just have kids look for items already in place. See my post on bilingual scavenger hunts here for photos of how this can look! The modification to that one would obviously be not to collect any items in a bag as you don't want to then have to disinfect them :) A number of my theme packs include scavenger hunts, such as Pepita y el oso (Las estaciones), Uno, dos, tres (Numbers Theme Pack), amongst others. If you are using clip boards, I suggest you have kids use hand sanitizer before touching them and then again after use.

*TALLIES: Like scavenger hunts, tally activities require kids to observe what they see around them, using tally marks to record those observations. Put a time limit on the activity, then come together to share out each students' findings. I have a bunch of stand alone packs as well as tally activities included in larger packs, such as Backyard Birds (Spanish), Backyard Birds (French)Buenos días (Greetings)En el jardínDans le jardin and more.

Tally Mark Activities for World Language Outdoor Classroom

*I SPY: Like scavenger hunts, I spy is perfect for any setting, including outdoors. Have color cards ready as visuals, especially for your littles (remember, visuals are a go-to strategy for conveying meaning, and therefore not having to translate to English, regardless of being in a classroom or outdoors. Be sure to have those ready to go!) For your youngest students, in particular, to stay in the target language, you can have students POINT to what they think the object is if they don't know how to say it. This non verbal strategy allows all kids to participate.

*PLAYGROUND GAMES: There are tons of traditional games that can be played outdoors, providing both language and culture together. Choose ones that don't involve contact and support social distancing, such as Uno, dos, tres, calabaza (Red light, green light), Hopscotch, jumprope games & chants (students don't share jumpropes), Rock, paper, scissors, shoot with hula hoops (see idea here), Tierra y mar (de África), and so on. Another fun activity along these lines is to make paper airplanes, then have a contest to see whose flies the furtherest! TIP: If you are doing games like Hopscotch, be sure to have multiple boards created so kids do not have to wait long to take a turn.

WEATHER JOURNALS: Keeping a weather journal is a natural connection to being outside! Kids keep track of the weather over the course of a week or a month, creating drawings and/or writing phrases each lesson. You can combine this with tracking the weather in a target language country for cultural comparisons and content related instruction. We have monthly calendar pages included in our Weather Bulletin Board Kits for Spanish and French.

Track the Weather in World Language Classes Spanish French

*DROP EVERYTHING AND READ: My school has historically had DEAR time during the day for upper elementary where there is silent time for reading, what is often called FVR in world language classes. This can easily be incorporated outside, especially if you use our printable minibooks which kids can then take with them so you don't have to worry about disinfecting them like you would hard cover/paper back books. For younger kids, you could also do story time, reading a picture book to kids just like at circle.

*CHALK ART & MESSAGES: A perennial favorite, using chalk to write messages in the target language and/or draw is a winner every time. In order to make this feasible with covid-19 in mind, you would need individual sets of chalk. I would suggest checking out one of the dollar stores as they frequently have inexpensive sets; colors may be limited but for this purpose should be fine! :) NOTE: using chalk will definitely get hands messy. This activity will require wipes or a visit to the bathroom to wash hands so factor this in if you are doing it with classes :)

Chalk Messages for World Language Outdoor Classes

*PUT ON A PLAY! Plays tap into what little kids already do-imaginative play! They can also incorporate purposeful movement, which is extremely helpful, especially for those friends with focus issues. Consider simple plays that don't require a "stage" to perform-for example, in our Three Plays for Preschool (& early elementary!), for the play 'La lluvia' you can assign the weather props to kids without having them hold them, and they act them out as the play progresses. Being outdoors actually gives them more room to "act"! :)

Plays for Preschool Spanish Class that Can be Done Outdoors

PAPER AIRPLANE TRIALS: It is a rare moment that my upper elementary kids do not, finding themselves with a stray piece of paper, make a paper airplane-so why not harness this obvious interest?! Using playground chalk, mark off 1 foot intervals on the sidewalk before class-I create at least two so multiple kids can fly their planes at the same time, shortening wait time for each individual kid. In class, provide kids with a piece of paper & give them a set amount of time to construct an airplane of their choice. For instructions on how to make a variety of paper airplanes, check out this site! Also give them a flight distance recording sheet and a clipboard with pencil-these will be used to record their flights once outside. You can find a FREE downloadable recording sheet in Spanish, Russian, French and English by clicking here!
NOTE: For a STEM activity, kids can make different types of paper airplanes, record the flights, and compare-did a certain design fly better than another? Why or why not?

SPELL IT TOGETHER GREETING GAME: You can actually do this activity with lots of words; I love using it specifically as a greeting game :) Choose a word and print out multiples of the letters used to spell it-I try to choose words with a quantity of letters that allow all kids to participate. I put the letters in sleeves so they can be handled without being ruined. Have kids stand in a circle, give each kid a letter and when you say GO! They have to work together to form a group that spells the word in question. For littles, I have the word posted for scaffolding and support. You can download these letters for FREE here!

ALSO HAVE A BUNCH OF ACTIVITIES that work really well outdoors on my Off Screen Activities post here including using natural items to create pictures, people and more!

UPDATE: A number of people have been asking me, what about once it gets cold???? I, too, have been thinking about this, especially living here in Maine where winter lasts from the end of Oct right into April. Here are some ideas to get you & your classes outdoors even when it's snowy & cold:

*BUILD A SNOWMAN: Well, it's obvious right?! Give kids some parameters such as size & a time limit to create their snowman so that everyone has a chance to finish theirs. To add a listening component, you could direct them step by step-okay, lets make the body. Now, make the head. and so on. If you are really ambitious, you can bring in sticks, pebbles, carrots etc for decorating the snowmen :)))

>You can take this in a different direction by creating snow sculptures-another fun way to get creative with kids. If you are able, you can also photo their sculptures & upload them to the online platform you are using so kids can later annotate them, use them to create stories, etc. 

*BIRD FEEDERS: This activity would definitely benefit from some parent donations of bird seed! ;) Students can make bird feeders out of a variety of items, including stringing Cheerios on pipe cleaners, then bending into fun shapes (super easy, even for littles!), decorating a small milk carton and attaching a string for hanging, or stringing egg cartons on branches (you can break the bigger ones apart to make smaller feeders) and putting bird seed in the cups. Then head outdoors to hang them up in your school garden or grounds. Filling these can then become a regular occurrence, as well as observing who's coming to your feeders (see bird tallies above!) and/or checking the birdy feet prints on the snow below :) NOTE: If you don't want to do the craft part in your own class, esp the milk carton one, for ex, consider teaming up with the art or homeroom teacher!

*MINUTE TO WIN IT SNOWBALL CHALLENGE: No, this is not how many snowballs can you throw at another person lol Instead, it's how many snowballs you can make in a minute! Easy & fun!

*WINTER SCAVENGER HUNT (see my paragraph on scavenger hunts above-I have a winter one in my Pepita y el oso pack!)

*BE AN ARCTIC/ANTARCTIC ANIMAL: Use the weather to your advantage to act out animals that live in cold places, like polar bears, penguins, seals and more! Use visuals for unfamiliar animals and to support comprehension without having to translate to English/common class language. 

What ones have you thought of? Share in the comments! :)

Summer Reading List 2020 for Children and Tweens

HERE COMES SUMMER and time for my annual list of great reads! This year, as with every year, really, there are some AMAZING books with themes, protagonists, and connections to countries & peoples who speak Spanish and indigenous languages. These are a great way to foster a continuance of our Spanish classes beyond the school building, while also encouraging and supporting literacy for our kiddos. AND, I will add, supporting the authors and illustrators of these books means you are also placing value on having books published by #ownvoices and amplifying their voices and access to the publishing community. This year I am including their social media handles (if available) so you can follow them & spread the word!

Summer Reading List 2020 HIspanic Latino Bilingue


2019 Summer Reading List
2018 Summer Reading List
2017 Summer Reading List
2015 Summer Reading List 

*MI PAPI TIENE UNA MOTO by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña (also available in English): I love this touching story of the author's memories spent with her father. I was able to catch her live reading on Instagram in April-so wonderful! I also included Isabel's book, Ugly Cat and Pablo in my 2017 reading list. :) Twitter handle for Isabel Quintero: @isabelinpieces Zeke Peña @zpvisual

*SEÑORITA MARIPOSA by MisterG (Ben Gundersheimer) and illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero. A gorgeously illustrated book featuring la Mariposa monarca! Mister G follows a monarch butterfly on her journey of migration, while Almada uses his artistic talent to draw connections about friendship and community across borders-perfect for a theme on the monarchs, or any time! Twitter Handle for MisterG: @MisterGsongs

*JUST ASK!/ ¡SOLO PREGUNTA! by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and illustrated by Rafael López: I could go on forever about how much I LOVE this book-each child's voice depicting their particular uniqueness (race, Tourette's syndrome, ADHD, blindness, etc) is touching and completely relatable-so well written and accessible for kids. Rafael López Twitter Handle: @rafaellopezart

Summer Reading List 2020 Just Ask Sotomayor

*THE DAY YOU BEGIN/ EL DÍA EN QUE DESCUBRES QUIEN ERES by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López: this is an incredibly touching story of both feeling like an outsider and belonging. This is a great book to open/continue conversations about heritage in your classrooms. Twitter handle: @JackieWoodson

*JUANA Y LUCAS written and illustrated by Juana Medina: set in Colombia, where the author herself is from, this book features a sweet story highlighting aspects of being a kid, including the family pet, having a brother, yummy food, and more. Wonderfully written and filled with information about Colombia! Twitter handle: @juanamedina

*SAL AND GABI BREAK THE UNIVERSE by Carlos Hernandez: This sci-fi mystery, perfect for upper elementary/early middle school is on my own list to read this year and includes magic, Cuban food, and more! This is the first in a series, and as a mystery fan myself, I am looking forward to reading this! Twitter handle: @WriteTeachPlay

*WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT by Isabel Ibañez: I am currently reading this fantasy Young Adult book with significant Bolivian culture embedded throughout. Set in a mythical realm, political intrigue, mystery, magic and the challenges of personal journeys fill the pages- perfect for upper middle school & highschool students! Twitter handle: @IsabelWriter09

Woven in Moonlight Summer Reading List 2020 Hispanic Latino

*EACH TINY SPARK by Pablo Cartaya brings us Emilia Torres, whose father has returned home from deployment but remains distant and troubled. Emilia, who has ADHD, struggles to reconnect with her father, all the while her friendships are being challenged as she becomes more aware of the racial and cultural divides of her community. For a longer review of this book, see my post here. A must read! Twitter handle: @phcartaya

WANT TO RECOMMEND THESE BOOKS to your students and their families? Click here to download a pdf you can share!

How Visuals Can Support Students of Non Target Culture Heritage to Share Their Traditions

WITH THE DEARTH OF MATERIALS CONNECTING JEWISH, MUSLIM, AND OTHER HERITAGES IN SPANISH OR RUSSIAN, I have sometimes found it hard to incorporate traditions, celebrations and other perspectives of my students of these faiths without resorting to using English (as in, maintaining 90-100% in the TL is challenging). Over the past few years, I have been slowing trying to remedy this by creating illustrations and resources that bridge this gap. As I work towards broadening the horizons of my classes, a tweet by Rebecca Blouwolff in response to a request I made on Twitter helped me put into words what my heart was feeling but couldn't articulate well out loud... in asking her how to help me translate the foods on the Passover Seder plate, she mentioned that it was hard to find them in French, that "they are always referenced in Hebrew"...

Visuals for Sharing of Traditions like Passover in Target Language

THIS WAS THE KEY COMMENT I NEEDED, because of course this is true. Traditions, celebrations and the like have names in Hebrew, in Arabic, in Japanese, in Hindi, etc which are used even if the celebrant is not fully proficient in that language. And if a student was interested in sharing about a particular holiday or tradition, it would be natural for them to use that heritage language rather than the target language or even the common language of the group. HERE'S WHERE MY VISUALS COME IN.... my purpose in creating visuals in the target language for these traditions is to allow the sharer to connect the vocabulary of their heritage with the target language being taught in class, without having to resort to using the common class language (in many instances, English). After all, this is what visuals do-allow us to avoid translating to English (or class language) by representing the meaning we are trying to convey. However, for this purpose, I actually envision translation occurring BUT from the heritage language to the TL with the support of the visuals!

SO, FOR EXAMPLE, TAKE MY SEDER PLATE foods.... rather than a student sharing about the traditional foods eaten for Passover in English, he/she could use 'beitzah' in Hebrew and explain in the target language that this means 'huevo' or 'яйцо', and show the visual for a hard boiled egg-without having to say 'egg' in English. :))) (You can find this resource by clicking here!)

THE SECONDARY, AND AS IMPORTANT, purpose of the visuals I am creating is to provide representation, a presence, for ALL our students-even in the small town, close to rural, school I teach in has diversity of ethnicity, background, and heritage. Much like we say that our students should see themselves in the books we provide, too we need to have visuals and resources available for students so they see themselves in the regular flow and interaction of our classes. When a student can reach out and grab a set of cards representing Passover, imagine what that feels like to her or him!

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and perspective-my goal in these endeavors is to use my rudimentary artistic abilities to fill a gap I see, honoring all of our friends who come through our class doors :)

Side note: While you may not need/ want to teach 90% in the target language, I do think it’s important to honor the TL by using where possible, rather than the common class language, which frequently is Englishin the US. Hence my mention of a 90% classroom :)

Activities for Distance Learning That AREN'T Online

DISTANCE LEARNING CAN BE CHALLENGING, ESPECIALLY FOR ELEMENTARY WORLD LANGUAGE CLASSES where we are used to getting up and moving with our students, and doing lots of interactive activities with them. Many of us have moved to sharing links and resources online, but I've been also trying to mix those up with activities which don't involve a screen or have an off screen component. Here is a growing list of ideas you can add to a choice board or share with your students via your regular communication channels.

Off Screen No Tech Distance Learning Activities for World Language Class

*SCAVENGER HUNTS: My students love doing these in class, so why not encourage them to do one at home? Students can draw or put items on their scavenger hunt board, then have parents take a photo and share it with you. Here's the link to one for colors, in SIX languages, which you can download for free.

*EXERCISES IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE: Give your students an exercise regimen! Have them do 10 jumping jacks, bunny hops, burpees, skips, cartwheels, sit ups, etc and prompt them to count in the target language.

*PLAY UNO: A perennial favorite game at home, now they can say the colors & numbers in the target language! War, Go fish!, and Crazy 8s would all be great card games to play in the TL, too!

Play Uno en español Distance Learning Games in Spanish

*NATURE ART: Inspired by our art teacher, this is a simple activity that any age group can do. Simply provide a verbal or written prompt of what they should "draw" outside using natural elements, such as sticks, leaves, stones, and more. For example, right before school closed, my Kinders were finishing up our theme on El, one of their at-home activities is to choose one (or more!) of our zoo animals and "draw" it outside. I have paired it with a Youtube link to one of a series of videos we've already watched in class-they are awesome! Here's the one for el elefante And here is a video I took of me giving my students instructions for this activity :)

Give a Prompt in the Target Language to Create Nature Art

As a follow up to the nature art, depending on proficiency & age level, you can have kids label their art, take a photo & share with you. They can also provide a list of target vocabulary along with the photo instead of labeling it.

*CREATE & DESCRIBE: Inspired by a number of photos I saw on Pinterest, and along the lines of nature art, kids could also create a person out of objects, such as this leaf person, then provide a short description-could be a simple as just sharing a name & it's color, or could write or record additional details such as what the "person" eats, or likes to do, etc. You can also see my video introducing this activity to students by clicking here.

Create & Describe Activity for World Language Classes

*PLAYGROUND GAMES: I wrote a post a few years ago with games we can play OUTDOORS, which are perfect to share with students (who can play with their siblings & families!) Here's the link to that post.  Along with those FIVE TRADITIONAL games, you can also share how to create a traditional rayuela (hopscotch) and/or this cool African version frequently played in many Spanish speaking countries.

*HAND CLAPPING GAMES: Speaking of playground games, don't forget about Choco-choco-la-la and Mari-po-sa, amongst others that your kiddos may already know-have them teach a family member or pet!

*TRADITIONAL BOARD GAMES: Games, games, and more games! Another fun way to incorporate culture is with board games, such as the set I created featuring FIVE board games from a variety of countries. Share the rules as well as the boards with students-they can play at home! You can grab them by clicking here!

5 Traditional Board Games from Spanish speaking Countries

*WEATHER JOURNAL: Prompt students to start a WEATHER JOURNAL by drawing seven squares on a piece of paper, labeling each square for a day of the week (hey, calendar vocabulary, too!) and then tracking the weather each day by drawing icons to represent the weather and writing in the target language the associated phrases. BONUS FUN: Share with them a link to a weather website in a target language country and have them track the weather there, too! You can find calendar pages to create a weather journal as part of our Spanish and French Weather Bulletin board kids.

*BIRD WATCHING COLOR TRACK: I LOVE watching birds come to our feeders outside-even here in Maine, we have a large variety of birds that visit! Though the names of birds in the target language might not constitute high frequency vocabulary, colors are. Repurpose the free scavenger hunt page(s) above by having students use the one in your target language to tally the colors of birds they see outside-set a time limit of 10-15 minutes (or longer)... students put tally marks in the boxes representing the colors they see, then share with you/the class via the platform you are using. (The great part about this activity, as well as many in this post, is kids can do them multiple times! ;) )

*WRITE A POEM: I love the poems which utilize vocabulary words as the outline for a drawing. Provide your students with a set of vocabulary words (could be just one or a set) and prompt them to create a drawing using those words as the outlines-they can then share with you/the class :) The one shown below has just two words- flower & leaf.

Word Poems for World Language Class

*NATURE WALK: One of the activities I include in my En el jardín / Dans le jardin theme packs is tracking what one sees out in nature (worm, bird, flower, etc). Invite your students to do the same when they are out in their garden (if you already have the theme pack, awesome!), or on a hike. They can use tally marks to indicate what they see of each thing.

*SING WHILE WASHING HANDS: Challenge your students to sing a familiar song in the target language while they are washing their hands :)

*COOTIE CATCHERS: Many kids know how to make cootie catchers (they could teach me!)-prompt them to create a cootie catcher using the target language, either entirely, or as a bilingual one (numbers and colors for the initial two rounds, for ex, while fortunes are in the home language).

Using Objects at Home to Spell in the World Language

*FOUND OBJECTS SPELLING: A special shout out to Señora Dana who inspired me with her idea of leaving words spelled using sticks on hiking trails for her students to find... (how cool is that??!!) How about providing your students with a list of words they can choose from (or for older kids, the prompt can be "choose 'x number' of words") to spell using objects found in or around their home & yard. I love this because regardless of what type of socioeconomic group students are from, they have access to the activity, as can be seen in the photo below where I used carrots to spell 'Hola' and stones to spell 'Adiós'. I also love the idea of having the objects themselves connect to the word being spelled, such as in the foto above where I spelled 'rojo' using all red items :)

Use found objects to spell words in the target language

LET ME NOTE: I have been careful to not include activities like cooking and crafts because so many kids either may not have these materials at home and/or I do not want to encourage families to go out to stores during this #stayathome time.

Photo Prompt Activities for Remote School Learning with Pepita

MANY OF US ARE SUDDENLY IN NEED OF REMOTE LEARNING ACTIVITIES as our schools close for extended periods of time due to Coronavirus. I have created a set of 12 activity pages in Spanish you can send home with your students (click here to download for FREE), and thought that additionally some of you might want to keep connected with Pepita, the gang, and the themes from our resources. To that end, over the course of the next month (at least) I will be posting 2-4 picture prompts a week featuring our characters which you can share with your students.

Remote Learning Photo Prompt Activities for Elementary Spanish


*SHARE A PHOTO WITH STUDENTS-you can do this by downloading the photo from my drive (links will be updated on this blog post each week) and sharing it via the platform you are using to connect with students-just be sure to give photo credit where/if applicable.
*PROMPT STUDENTS to generate a list of vocabulary they see in the photo-could be one or two words, or could be many. These are geared for Novice students, so single words, chunks, & simple phrases are what one would expect at this level. You can have them record their words or type them (for upper elementary students). You can also pair the photo with a list of words they can circle virtually (such as on Seesaw)

So, for example, in the above photo, words generated could include:
rojo (a)
rosado (rosa)
cuatro frutas
Tengo hambre.
Me gustan las frutas
Me gustan las peras
No me gustan.....

I think you get the drift! :)

*SOME PHOTOS WILL CONTAIN PROMPTS-my plan is to have some of the photos come with prompts embedded in the image itself (for example, it could contain a question related to what is pictured) which I am hoping will provide extension for your students.

That's it- ¡pan comido! Here we go:

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En el zoo photo prompt for remote school learning
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Photo Prompt for Distance Learning Pepita Nest
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Picture Prompts for Distance Learning in World Language Spring Crocuses
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I love this one with the crocuses to foster seasonal vocabulary along with what's actually in the photo- spring, "it's warm out", "it's sunny", "I like spring"; you could also add the question Which is your favorite season? or Do you like spring? etc :)

Photo prompts for Remote Learning Picasso
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I was inspired by the person who did an art museum for their guinea pig! These are props from our theme pack Pepita lee sobre Pablo Picasso :) And below, for French teachers, Monet painting in a field :)

Monet Field of Poppies Picture Prompt
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Let's not forget about Frida Kahlo!! Here's a simple vignette with one of her paintings of fruit :) Some of the props come from my theme pack Pepita lee sobre Frida Kahlo :)

Frida Kahlo Photo Prompt for World Language
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