|PK||This month, students in PreK continued responding to action commands (cohete/rocket ship, baila/dance, marcha/march), following the gestures for the song Saco una manita, dancing to Rompe Ralph/Wreck-It Ralph, and watching relevant Pocoyo episodes (Pocoyo: La llave maestra; Pocoyo: Vamos de pesca; Pocoyo: Grande y pequeño). They also practiced requesting markers [colors] in the target language during project time. One week, for example, students made fishing poles with Pato out of Popsicle sticks, yarn, and tape. After decorating the poles, they were able to “go fishing” in a kiddie pool filled with pictures of sea creatures—the adhesiveness of the tape “caught” the paper fish! |
Another week, students played a hot/cold game while searching for tesoro-tesoro-tesoro-TREASURE! Inspired by their enthusiasm for treasure, the teacher presented two different types of treasure, divided by size—gigantic stuffed animals and tiny books, cars, and beads (grande/big; pequeño/small). Students then chose a size, and either 1) filled a box with very large or very small treasures; or 2) drew a very large or very small picture. Some pre-kindergarteners even taped multiple pieces of paper together to make their drawings even bigger—bravo! Later, students made an enormous car out of chairs in the classroom. Where will they go? Only time will tell. Gracias for a great month!
|K||This month, kindergarteners began an ocean unit. First, and whenever they wanted to go get a drink (Tengo sed/I’m thirsty), students were required to bring back a cup of water to the classroom from the water fountain. In this way, they managed to fill up a plastic container (más agua/more water); underneath the clear plastic was a printout of sea creatures, making it appear to be the ocean—especially after adding a few drops of blue food coloring. Later, kindergarteners hypothesized whether or not items would float or sink (flota/floats; se hunde/sinks), and later built group boats out of Popsicle sticks (barcos/boats), complete with paper flags! To test their craftsmanship, students put the boats in a bowl of water (2.A) and kiddie pool outside (2.B) and watched as they… ultimately sank, ¡qué problema! Students also made catalejos/spyglasses with orcas and octopi and fish at the end of the telescopes, pretending to be pirates, and saw a very relevant episode of Pocoyo: Pirates.|
To shift away from constant trips to the water fountain, a new song was introduced: “Tengo hambre” (I’m hungry). Afterwards, students broke off into groups and used tiny, lightweight, wicker-type balls to knock down “fish”, or GI Joe men standing on pictures of sea creatures. Then they shouted, “¡No me comas!” (don’t eat me!), and giggled as a ravenous tiburón/shark (read: manila folder with scary shark pictures) ate up all of the knocked down “fish”.
Kindergarteners also searched for “tesoro-tesoro-tesoro-TREASURE!” at the bottom of the sea; watched a few more episodes of Pocoyo; and, lastly, built a submarine out of chairs to keep them safe from any other hungry sharks (grande/big; pequeño/small). Gracias for a great month.
|1||This month, students in first grade continued acting out their password cards and reading the daily letter from Pato. By the end of September, students were able to recite the letter as a class group effort—bravo! First graders also watched a silly video called, “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?), and practiced naming Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay. |
They continued to add centers to the daily Letter from Pato as well (who managed to fit in a quick trip to Argentina while first graders were working hard and he was, ahem, hardly working). Centers—i.e., sight words—up to this point include: colorear/to color; jugar/to play; pintar/to paint; construir/to build; cantar/to sing; and the newest addition, hablar/to talk. To start building short sentences in the target language, first graders added, “Quiero” (I want/‘key-arrow’) when signing up for centers: for example, Quiero pintar/I want to paint.
As their list of centers begins to grow, students learn vocabulary specific and relevant to each center. For example, in one class, the porristas/cheerleaders learned a cheer for the soccer game (este partido, lo vamos a ganar/we’re going to win this game), whereas students more interested in coloring or painting learned words like papel/paper, cinta/tape, tarjetas/cards, marcadores/ markers, etc. As a result, and when first graders want to try a new center, they are encouraged to teach each other new words. That way, it becomes a genuine community of learners where knowledge is not hoarded but rather shared for the growth and advancement of all. Gracias for a great month.
|2||This month, students in second grade continued acting out their password cards, and added a few more centers (¡Mira!/Look!), paying special attention to the upside-down question marks in the target language when signing up for one (¿Puedo hacer un avión de papel?/Can I make a paper airplane?; “¿Puedo hacer un comecocos?/Can I make a fortune teller?). |
Later, they learned that their beloved stuffed animal duck friend, Pato, had been listening when they were jumping on the tape floor map in the Spanish room (naming Spanish-speaking countries)—and decided to travel to Argentina… without them! However, he was kind enough to send a text and video informing of his whereabouts, and claimed he would be back soon. He is currently exploring Iguazu Falls, or one of the world wonders, which is made up of an amazing 275 waterfalls! Song lyrics: “Where is Pato? Where is Pato? ¿Dónde está? ¿Dónde está? / ¡Dime, por favor! ¡Dime, por favor! Tell me, please! Tell me, please!”
Students also learned that their teacher hiked a famous 500-mile long walk in northern Spain this summer, called the Camino de Santiago, and decided to make their own Camino down the Lower School hallway (2.B) with flechas/arrows and conchas/shells—symbols of the actual Camino. Later, they walked it, complete with backpacks, walking poles (hockey sticks), and water bottles.
When Pato returned from his travels the following week, he had no interest in sharing stories about Argentina, but instead, was already planning another trip. Apparently, the stuffed animal duck is jetting off to España/Spain next to walk the Camino de Santiago (he must be telepathic, although neuroscientists need to explain this one to me). However, he personally informed that directions are not exactly his forte; and thus requested second graders’ help (2.A) in creating a faux Camino outside, with chalk arrows and shells, and piles of rocks to help guide him. Second graders even built a ‘chair mountain’ for him to practice climbing in the Spanish Cave. Later, they listened to a fast, upbeat song (in Euskara, a language spoken in Northern Spain) about the Camino as well.
In other news, students continued with their class story. Update as follows: the protagonist is upset that evil Pingüino has stolen his/her things, but decides to think before acting; in fact, s/he thinks and thinks (piensa y piensa) for ten years (2.A) and ten centuries (2.B). To represent this passage of time, students made paper beards and moustaches, at which point the main character finally comes up with step one of a brilliant plan: to build a bridge (construir un puente)—but the bridge is a trick. ¡Peligro, peligro! (Danger, danger!)
Students built said bridge in class with Kleenex, paper clips, tape, and many, many, many Popsicle sticks, and then watched a slow-motion video of Pingüino falling off the [intentionally] poorly constructed bridge… and then transforming into a fantasma/ghost (i.e., the teacher trying to introduce Halloween vocabulary before Halloween). Gracias for a great month.
|3||This month, students in third grade chose animal password cards and made sure to ask, “¿Qué es?” (What is it?/“K S”, pronounced like the alphabet letters) when they could not remember a word. If their password card was at the wrong seat, third graders responded, “¡Esta no es mi contraseña!/ This is not my password!, focusing on the “ñ” sound that requires your nose to crinkle a bit when you say it—‘nyah’, as in español, contraseña, baño, etcetera. 3.B got excited about their sound study and proceeded to work on a tricky tongue twister, just for fun: Pepe Pecas pica papas con un pico. Con un pico pica papas Pepe Pecas. (Pepe Pecas picks potatoes with a pick. With a pick picks potatoes Pepe Pecas.)|
Third graders also jumped on and named certain Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map before they sat down each day; a new country is added about once a week. To make this activity more meaningful, students created pasaportes/passports that are stamped as they enter and exit each country. They began their travels at the tip of South America with Chile and Argentina; more stamps will be added upon completing the continent. Now that they have finished working on the actual passports, students must show their booklets upon crossing the official frontera/border 0f the Spanish Cave every class (“customs”). No passport, no entry!
Later, third graders learned about Easter Island (Chile), and then created and painted replicas with air-dry clay of either the Moai statues or one of the undecipherable Rongorongo tablets (written in hieroglyphs and reverse boustrophedon). Students seemed to latch on to the idea that the tablets were engraved/carved using shark teeth and volcanic rock, but gracefully accepted that they would only be using toothpicks in Spanish class. Note to self: next year, I will not use the word ‘tablet’ to describe the wooden boards; in this digital age, third graders thought I meant that iPads were discovered on Easter Island. Ahem.
Third graders continued with their class stories as well. Updates as follows: In 3.A, the enemy forces—namely, a magic school bus/autobús mágico and train/tren—traveled from Egypt to Los Angeles, California to steal a famous actress’ money and pets, and then escaped with the goods to Hawaii, with an out of the way stop at Easter Island. The class went to Easter Island to fight the enemies—but tragically, students were hungry upon arrival, rashly touched a magical apple, and were turned into statues. Better luck next time? Note: If anyone reading this happens to be in possession of a large refrigerator box, I would gladly take it off your hands to build a time machine and change students’ luck.
In 3.B, and with Pato held captive as his prisoner, the evil pig (el cerdo malvado) decided that a delicious bocadillo de pato (duck sandwich) would really whet his appetite. The class voted by chanting either, “¡Ayúdame!” (Help me!, as the voice of Pato) or “¡Cómelo!” (Eat him!, as encouragement to the evil pig); when the votes were tallied, the evil pig was no longer hungry. *Sniff, sniff* However, students ended up making unicorn, witch, and wizard hats and turned our dear friend Pato into a ghost. Obviously, he has some unfinished business on Earth.
Last but not least, third graders were given the terribly onerous, yearlong task of collecting one fruit and vegetable sticker, label, and/or clothing tag, from each of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries. They were told to keep their eyes open particularly when grocery shopping; bananas, for example, are frequently from Spanish-speaking countries: if/when you buy them, students may add said sticker to their page (and eventually, passport). They are strongly advised to post a blank page on the refrigerator so as not to lose it! This homework assignment (and import/export study) will be ongoing throughout the year. If one country is particularly difficult to find, we will discuss as a class the “why” behind it. For now, please just encourage students to keep their eyes open! Gracias for a great month.
|4||This month, students in fourth grade made copies of their animal password cards for the Summit hallway bulletin board; sang along to a silly video called, “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?); and took a trip down memory lane by watching Pocoyo: Invisible in the target language. They also jumped on and named certain Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map before they sat down each day: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. For their Summit mini culture project for Chile and Argentina, students “built” the Andes Mountains in three minutes with building blocks, and then watched as a “terrible mudslide” destroyed the mountain range—so that the next group could have a turn to build. For Uruguay, they traced a painting of a famous Uruguayan artist who wanted to define and identify Latin American art on his own terms, instead of in relation to North America and Europe; ultimately, the painting of an inverted map is about taking new perspectives and questioning tradition.|
Fourth graders also continued their tomato saga, adding kings and queens of various planets (and even the galaxy!) to round out the story, and ended with a dramatic, slow motion, galactic force fight inside Taylor Swift’s jail cell—with Kung Fu Fighting playing in the background, of course. Taylor refused to hand over all of the tomatoes (todos los tomates), so really, there was no other option: “¡La fuerza!” (the force!). Since then, fourth graders have been working on a humorous script of their class story in Spanish—trying to memorize lines, coordinating words and movements onstage and, most importantly, making sure they know what they are saying! Gracias for a great month.
|5||This month, students in fifth grade practiced jumping on and naming Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map before they sat down each day (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay). For their Summit mini culture project for Chile and Argentina, students “built” the Andes Mountains in three minutes with building blocks, and then watched as a terrible “mudslide” destroyed the mountain range—so that the next group could have a turn to build. For Uruguay, they traced a painting of a famous Uruguayan artist who wanted to define and identify Latin American art on his own terms, instead of in relation to North America and Europe; ultimately, the painting of an inverted map is about taking new perspectives and questioning tradition.|
Fifth graders also continued working on their class stories. It is important to remember here that storytelling is the linguistic foundation of every culture: whether it is a simple conversation about where you bought your coffee this morning, or a more detailed narrative about how your two-year-old dumped juice all over the floor and then ran around the house screaming, we all partake in the timeless tradition of storytelling on a daily basis. Every conversation is a story—and sometimes the story leads where you least expect it.
That said, the story of 5.A. led to Señor Dorito escaping from jail with his two evil donkey friends in a broken down school bus (autobús roto). When fifth graders could not agree on an ending, they broke off into groups and wrote out their ideas—agreeing to disagree.
In 5.B, a slightly more realistic plot ensued, where Frito Bandito ‘rescued’ the imprisoned evil donkey and escaped, only to find himself in a courtroom in the next scene being tried for multiple crimes. In between the judge announcing, “Se abre la sesión” (court is in session), inkpad fingerprints presented as evidence, and an unexpected, but tearful confession, there was also a zumo y limonada/juice and lemonade break to ease the unspoken tension in the room.
Last but not least, students continued acting out their animal passwords, played Hangman/ Dunk Tank (tú ganas/you win), and learned part of the chorus to Pedro Infante’s famous “Cielito lindo” (ay yie yie yie, canta, no llores/ay yie yie yie, sing, don’t cry)—which managed to make its way into both class stories. They also watched the Frito Bandito commercial from the 1960’s, which can only be fully appreciated after you are familiar with the original [aforementioned] song. Gracias for a great month. For links, please visit my other website below and look under “Monthly Updates”.