Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Teaching ¡Gracias, Omu! In Spanish Class

¡GRACIAS OMU! By OGE MORA IS A BEAUTIFUL BOOK CELEBRATING GIVING, COMMUNITY & GRATITUDE. It is both a lovely book to teach for it’s message, but is also ideal for world language classes in that there is repetitive action which can be capitalized on for language acquisition purposes. I paired it with my printable props for Kak’ik, a turkey soup from Guatemala to add to hands on activities for my elementary Spanish students-fun! Below are some of the activities that have worked well with my kindergarten students:

*OMU: I start by sharing with my students that Omu is the Igbo word for Queen; the author/illustrator Oge Mora used to call her grandmother Omu- asking my students what they call their’ Omu’ becomes a great opportunity for them to share and for each of us to develop connections with one another AND see how we are all both same and different at the same time. I use a large sheet of paper to record their answers. If Abuela does not surface in a class, I add that as a share to connect to Spanish. I love the chance this provides for multiple languages and heritages to surface during this!

*STICK PUPPETS: I have stick puppets of all the characters in the book ready and at the seats of my students before they enter-this increases their surprise and excitement when they come in! I use a color copier to print out scenes from the book itself, then mount them to stiff paper, cut them out, and mount them to popsicle sticks to make the puppets. I also make a “puppet” for ‘¡Gracias Omu!”, ¡Toc toc!, and the soup. These are used as I am re-telling the story-kids hold up their character when it is featured in the reading, which creates a more interactive experience for everyone.

*IDENTIFYING KEY CONTENT AND TEXT: In this post about teaching a picture book, I talk about how I look at the text of a book to determine what will be comprehensible, and how I can maintain the feel of the story while also making it accessible to my learners. In this instance, I have decided to focus on the vocabulary Omu/Abuela, Gracias, la sopa, toc toc, mmmm deliciosa, etc, rather than community members vocabulary (which could be another angle!). The relationship Oge Mora describes in the end notes with her grandmother resonates with me as someone who spent a lot of my childhood with both of my grandmothers, and felt like a great place to focus, and connects to SEL, representation and culture.

In that vein, I also noticed during the first telling of this story that onomatopeya could be incorporated to tell the story-toc toc, of course, along with snif, snif, mmmm and slurb, slurb (see Mafalda for this one!). As I tell the story, these are a really fun way to have all kids participating, even if they don’t have the puppet in action at the moment. 

*SOUP-LA SOPA: As I mentioned above, I use the printable props from my Kak’ik soup along with plastic vegetables & chicken to create a “soup” I can spoon out and put in bowls to “serve” while reading the story. I have the student who has the Omu stick puppet deliver the soup bowls to classmates as I read. I have to admit, this can get a little chaotic, but so worth it as the kids have such a good time!

*MAKE THE SOUP: During the following lesson, I have the soup ingredients out at the seats of my students when they come in-this immediately primes them to start talking about the book again. I act surprised and excited- what are these? Does anyone recognize what they are from? …Sí, la sopa!!! Who can help me make the soup again? I then go around the room randomly having kids put their ingredient in the soup pot AND saying ¡GRACIAS! Each time :) 

*SPELL IT OUT: Keeping with the idea of keeping it hands on, I hand out a series of sheets of paper, with one letter each from ¡GRACIAS OMU! -I then invite students to unscramble them to spell the phrase on our rug. I have the phrase up on the Apple TV so kids can reference it as they put it together. 

*DRAW YOUR OMU: I love opportunities for kids to personalize our learning; each student draws one or more of their grandmothers on an activity page, which I then bind into a class book for all of us to look at.

Don’t miss this resource from Jumpstart with more ideas (and that inspired me!). And the version in Spanish is here.

And for a set of FREE printables connected to this book in Spanish, click here

For more teaching ideas for picture books:

Un elefante se balanceaba STEM Activity for Elementary Spanish Classes

UN ELEFANTE SE BALANCEABA is one of my students' favorite traditional children's songs-and mine! Fun to learn and culturally authentic, it is the perfect addition to any elementary Spanish class. Along with singing it, creating hands on activities to go along with songs and poems provides extension and tactile experience, so important in our classes. Several years ago I included this centers activity in my monthly newsletter; here it is on my blog!

-a set of small elephants (I had ordered mine from Lakeshore Learning many years ago as part of a wild animal set)
-two cups
-strips of crepe or tissue paper
-a spider web drawn on black paper

Set the two cups a little ways apart, then drape the strip of paper over them to create a ‘bridge’

Introduce the challenge: how many elephants can you place on the paper before they fall off or the paper falls/rips?

Taking turns, kids place one elephant at a time, counting in Spanish as they go. Turns continue until the elephants fall or the paper falls/rips

Group records how many elephants they had placed. They can try again to beat their record :)

You can add our FREE coloring page to the center for more fun-click here to download !

And don’t miss our Spanish Song Props which include puppets for this song-grab them here!