October/Trimester 1: This trimester, students in second grade practiced acting out their password cards and naming the Spanish-speaking countries* on the tape floor map. While the map focused on South America, culture projects and discussions were not limited to these countries. For example, after learning about El Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, second graders created their own faux Camino both down the Lower School hallway as well as outside, with arrows, shells, and rock piles. They also acted out one of the chapters of Don Quijote, a renowned 900-page novel from Spain; spent a day talking about El Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead (Mexico); learned that children in Guatemala put Worry Dolls under their pillows at night to take away their worries while they sleep; and watched a video from Pato about his travels in Argentina.
In the linguistic realm, students began the term with a class story about an evil penguin who falls off a (student-constructed) paper clip and Popsicle stick bridge and transforms into a ghost after stealing from a student (what?!). Later, they signed up for centers, or sight words, which morphed into a class town. At this point in time, the town’s most popular destinations include the aeropuerto/airport (international flights available) and teatro/theater (watch mini Don Quijote and Coco plays performed). The dinero/money situation is developing, as second graders begin to demand compensation for products and services. One class also incorporated a cemetery and ofrenda after learning about the Day of the Dead, while the other started up a street market/mercado (without realizing that mercados are actually very culturally relevant and present in many Spanish-speaking countries). Gracias for a great first trimester.
*Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua.
September: 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).
August: This month, students in second grade chose individualized password cards, and then practiced thinking up ways to physically act out each one as part of their beginning-of-class routine. They also began rehearsing a class script for what will eventually be a news show, with famous, real-life Univisión anchors, Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas, as leads (all the boys played Jorge; all the girls were María).
Later, second graders worked on a teacher-asked, student-led class story: here, an evil penguin with an unbearably evil cackle flies to a student’s house and steals a sword (2.A) and hat (2.B) from the protagonist during a tremendous rainstorm; the two characters do slow-motion karate, but in the end, the enemy escapes—oh no! Obviously, this crime will make its way into the news show at some point in time. Last but not least, students read a letter from their trustworthy but silly, stuffed animal language-learning companion, Pato (duck), and signed up for centers in the target language—construir/build; pintar/paint. Each week, a new center (and sight word) will be added, so that by the end of the year, second graders will have a substantial word collection. Gracias for a great month.