Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Ideas for Teaching the Book Si Quisqueya fuera un color by Sili Recio

THE BOOK SI QUISQUEYA FUERA UN COLOR is one to die for! Text & illustrations are both divine, and a perfect choice to bring culture, connections, and identity conversations to my ELEMENTARY SPANISH classes. I decided to use it in my 4th grade classes as part of a mini theme on REPRESENTATION-using color as a representation of a place, its peoples, and its cultures. As part of that, I also used it to dig deeper into perceptions & understandings of our state of Maine, which, while it does not have as much racial diversity as a lot of other states, does in fact have many communities of color, which deserve not to be erased by portrayals of Maine as just a 'white state'. Whether this is a goal for you as well or not, this book is beautiful and an essential resource for Spanish classes! Here are some activities I have done with & related to the book: 

Teaching Si Quisqueya fuera un color

FIRSTLY, A NOTE: Until reading this book, I did not know Quisqueya was another name for the Dominican Republic-learning new things every day!

*READ ALOUD: In order to make this book comprehensible without translating, I do simplify some of the text. I decided to follow the pattern sentence of 'Si quisqueya fuera un color, sería el ____ de _____' , inserting the color and what is illustrated on each page, rather than the exact words, as many of them are not high frequency. So, for example, on the first page, I substituted 'Si quisqueya fuera un color, sería el rojo de la puesta del sol' instead of the text you can see in the foto below. This is a first read through; coming back to add some of the details happens later (and most especially for heritage learners, for whom some of this text is great for vocabulary building of their own!)

As well, while I am reading aloud the first time, I have kids color in the circles & images on the first two pages of the free download I've included in this post (click here to download), pausing each time so kids have a few minutes to complete. I copy them double sided-you will notice not everything is represented on the two pages, but it gives good scaffolding for kids as I read.


*PICTURE LABELING: This simple activity allows for kids to interact at their proficiency level, which, at least in my classes, is a wide range by 4th grade (see my post on activity boards here for more on this) . Take a photo of a page spread in the book (I really like the one shown below) and upload it to Seesaw or Google Slides with the question ¿Qué ves?. Students use the text tool to "write" as many words as come to mind in relation to the photo. I find it super helpful to remind kids the quantity of words is absolutely not important! For the illustration below, it could be anything from 'dos abuelas' to 'sol' to 'azul' to 'feliz' or 'familia'... etc. The idea is there are no wrong answers-but it gives kids an opportunity to slow down and really observe the illustration. If you don't have 1:1 devices, an alternative could be to show the illustration and have kids write down their words on a piece of paper. 

*AS SEEN IN THE BOOK: the third page of the free download includes a table with three rows, each labeled. Students draw in the circles two each of things from the book representing the label of that row. For example, for 'la gente', perhaps they draw the authors' two grandmothers; encourage them to write underneath what each thing is (remind them they can potentially refer back to the pages they filled out when the book is first read!)

*VIDEO SLIDESHOW: I honestly have had a hard time finding videos on Youtube that are not so touristy; this one, though, shows some beautiful images of the coast, fishermen, and others. If you have good links, please put them in the comments below and I will add them to this post!

*BUILD CONNECTIONS: circling back to my introduction to this post, given that this book serves as a representation of the peoples & cultures of the Dominican Republic, it can be great to go the next step & brainstorm with your students how an author / illustrator might represent where you live. For my classes, this also entails taking some time to show them communities of Maine they might not even know exist, such as the Somali refugees that have found a home in our state, or the Cuban family that runs a restaurant right in our own town. In the free download are three pages that follow the same pattern as the book, encouraging kids to think about how the colors provided could be represented based on their state or country or even town/city.

AUTHOR READ ALOUD: I am a HUGE fan of showing (and watching myself!) read alouds done by the author and/or illustrator themselves-there are so many background and side details shared which give greater context and connection to the story-here is Sili Recio reading this book on Youtube

The book's notes are another great source of info, as well as following authors & illustrators on social media. Sili Recio's Twitter handle is @SiliRecio and the illustrator, Brianna McCarthy, is @macabrii. Within these, you will note that the main impetus of writing this book is to celebrate the beauty of being black & the beauty of this within the greater context of the Dominican Republic, itself often struggling with colorism & racism & it's history of slavery & colonialism. Using a Jamboard to solicit answers, you could pose the following questions:
'Why do you think the author felt it was important to write this book?'
Along with that, connecting to a quote from the author's note (en español): "Eres negra, que no se te vaya a olvidar", said by the author's father to her when she moved to NYC. "Why do you think her father asked her to always remember this?" 

and "How did the author & illustrator represent beauty?" 

I am happy to have kids answer in English, Spanish, or a mix-questions like these are critical for my students to consider; a Jamboard allows them to read each others answers (I usually give time during a subsequent class, during bell ringer time for ex, to read the current Jamboard). I feel that these also give kids practice in challenging conversations that they might not otherwise have-you can't get better at talking about race, social justice, cultures, etc if you never engage in them. These could also be questions that the homeroom teacher poses to the class as part of a collaboration.  

15 Activity Pages for Upper Elementary included in this resource is a color by number of a DR fisherman

and to read my post on Ideas for teaching the book Aquí también, click here

I would love to hear how you teach this book or plan to!

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