Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Making an Instruments Center for Elementary World Language Class

INSPIRED BY OUR MUSIC TEACHER, I'VE BEEN TRYING INSTRUMENTS CENTERS with my elementary Spanish classes and they have been a hit!

AS CAN BE IMAGINED, KIDS LOVE TO PLAY THE INSTRUMENTS, which provides an authentic experience with a PRODUCT, and coupled with a song, also provides a PERSPECTIVE as kids can see the song in video format on an Ipad, being therefore able to see the people and/or scenery that makes up the video. 


-CHOOSE A SONG: This can either be a song they are familiar with and can sing along to OR a song that lends itself to keeping the beat with particular instruments-I have found both to be successful for kids. Sometimes I choose a song that features a specific instrument(s), sometimes one that connects to the theme we are engaged in. (See links at the bottom of this post)

-CREATE A BASKET OR CONTAINER with the instruments and the Ipad. This keeps materials together (and helps with transportation if you are on a cart). It also facilitates clean up which is helpful for multiple grade level transitions. I typically load the song video into a Google slide so that it is not playing directly on Youtube; this is pulled up and ready to go for the center activity. 

YOUR CENTER IS READY! It's really that easy, which I love-not a ton of prep for a fun and culturally authentic activity! 

NOTES: Because this is a very popular center, and I have kids move independently from center to center, I usually set the parameter of listening/playing to the song twice and then moving on so others can be at the center too. 
Also, this wording from our music teacher has been very helpful in terms of taking care of the instruments: "Instruments are not toys, they need to be used appropriately and carefully". I realized I needed to make this explicit after some maracas were banged on the table and broken :(

EXTENDING ACTIVITIES: I often also have additional activities to go along with the center, whether it be a book that connects, a mini book about the singer, such as my biography of José Feliciano 

Grab the mini book here!

or a connecting hands on activity such as this one for Ocho kandelikas

Menorah Activity Here


*Ocho kandelikas I love this version because of the many instruments played, not to mention the words being shown as the song is sung

*Canciones de lluvia- this one is great for rainsticks!

*Plic Plac this one can be used with a number of instruments, and of course can be used with mini whiteboards and dry erase markers as shown in the video

*Mother Earth If you have a zampoña and don't have an issue with kids putting their mouth on it, this is great OR they could just watch this video, it's beautiful

*La Tierra del Olvido- this is great for keeping rhythm with maracas, a güiro, claves, etc


*Chan Chan also great for rhythm