|PK||This month*, students in PK worked on a variety of culture-based projects to point out that Spanish is spoken in many different places (and not “just” Spain and Mexico). For example, one day, they made and played güiros—an instrument from the Caribbean—out of paper and toothpicks, and tried to identify this unique sound in the song, La cucaracha (the cockroach). |
Another day, to connect with their classroom nature unit, they discussed where salt comes from, and then tasted salt and made watercolor reflections of the sky based on photos of the largest salt flat in the world, Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia); during the rainy season, a thin layer of water over the salt allows the sky to be reflected perfectly, which is especially gorgeous during sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights.
Pre-kindergarteners ‘traveled’ to Costa Rica the following week, and made Morpho butterflies with tissue paper, while listening to a song called Mariposita (little butterfly); these creatures are naturally bright blue in color and found in some parts of South America as well. Finally, students learned a popular rhyme from Mexico (Bate, bate chocolate, tu nariz de cacahuate/stir, stir the chocolate, your nose is a peanut!), and saw a video about how the tool used to stir the chocolate—un molinillo—is carved out of wood.
Students also played musical chairs, where the person who ‘gets out’ has to answer a question in Spanish; played duck-duck-goose (pato-pato-ganso); read Itzi Bitzi Araña (Itsy Bitsy Spider, to go along with the song); saw several new Pocoyo episodes (Pocoyó: Mercado; Pocoyó: Supermercado; and Pocoyó: La ducha de Pato); and continued with their regular classroom routine–i.e., passwords to enter the Spanish room, songs, action commands, and circle time.
*Note that my definition of “month” here is not necessarily aligned with society’s views on temporality…
|K||This month*, students in kindergarten were encouraged to add more depth to their center work. The sight word, i/to go (pronunciation: ‘ear’), for instance, became an entire week’s activity. Steps 1-5 as follows: build an airplane out of chairs (construir un avión); draw a plane ticket with name, destination, and a picture of the flag of said destination; pack a bag with clothes and toys; order jugo/juice, agua/water, and/or fruta/fruit from the stewardess (yours truly); and land after a tiny bit of [feigned] turbulence. Some students traveled to Mexico and the Alhambra in Spain (la fortaleza/the fort), while others ventured as far as China, and one even went to Colorado for the skiing—read: taped paper skis onto her sneakers and pretended to ski down the Lower School hallway.|
Another week, kindergarteners wanted to play with the [fake] dinero/ money in the Spanish classroom, but had to think up ways to earn it—money is not free for the taking; you must be willing to work/trabajar. As a result, some students tidied the classroom, while others felt inspired to set up small businesses after seeing photos of the popular street markets/mercados or ferias in Argentina. Students set out blankets on the floor, and sold everything from art supplies to stuffed animals. A few even started making paper wallets to hold their cash. Nice!
In the culture realm, kindergarteners made abanicos, or hand-held fans, and learned that due to the extreme heat, daily siestas/naps are part of the culture (Spain). They also practiced basic steps to the Tango. This is a ballroom dance from Argentina, but was taught with the American T-A-N-G-O style because the Argentine variations are too difficult for this age. Additionally, they sang along with and danced to A mí me gusta bailar el ritmo vuelta, a Merengue group dance, and took a day to play a game called Tingo-Tingo-Tango (Colombia).
Finally, students watched a few new episodes of Pocoyo (including Pocoyo: Despierta; Pocoyo: El baño de Loula); mimicked the movements in two silly videos about animal sounds in Spanish that have more than a billion hits online (Pollito Pío: Original/ Venganza); were intrigued by a calming flower/flor mindfulness activity; practiced saying, “¡Sorpresa!” (surprise) when their teacher came to pick them up; and worked to master their trickiest sight word yet: “y”—which means ‘and’ but is pronounced like the English alphabet letter “e”.
|1||This month*, students in first grade began class by putting their shoes in the center of the circle and tapping their feet to the names of each of the Spanish-speaking countries they knew (instead of jumping on the map, for a change). They also had fun singing the “Buenos días” song (good morning) and explaining how they were feeling that day. |
To enter the room, prior to any of this, they were required to repeat the fruit or vegetable password of the week (that is, naranja/orange, plátano/ banana, zanahoria/carrot, espárrago/ asparagus, melocotón or durazno/ peach, arándano/blueberry, cebolla/onion). Students’ end-of-class routine was to try and clean up before their teacher arrived and then wait, crouched down in line with the lights off, so that they could jump up and shout, “¡Sorpresa!” (surprise), once their teacher returned—the surprise being that they had cleaned up on time.
In the linguistic realm, in order to build their noun vocabularies, first graders focused on completing the sentence, “Necesito…” (I need). First graders presented at the class podium in front of their peers (¡Hola! Buenos días. Soy X. Hoy quiero X. Necesito X. ¡Próximo!/Hello! Good morning. I’m X. Today I want to X. I need X. Next!), and some of these new nouns quickly became class jokes. For example, one girl uses the word, “cobija” (blanket) at home with her Spanish-speaking nanny, and as a result, took this opportunity to teach it to all of her classmates, repeating, “Cobija-cobija-cobija-cobija-cobija” nonstop whenever anyone asked her.
In 1.A, the word, “Chocolate” (‘cho-koh-lah-tay’) reduced everyone to giggles. The ‘chocolate’ piece came about after learning a Mexican rhyme (Bate, bate chocolate, tu nariz de cacahuate/stir, stir the chocolate, your nose is a peanut!), and seeing a video about how the tool used to stir the chocolate—un molinillo—is carved out of wood. It is absolutely gorgeous.
After first graders asked how to say, ‘fox’ in Spanish, they learned that ‘zorro’, or fox, was also the name of a fictitious character who used to save people in trouble (that took place in the Mexico/California region), and would carve the sign of the “Z” wherever he went to let the villains know he had been there. Students watched the black and white introduction and theme song to this show from 1958; some were even overheard afterwards declaring, “¡Soy Zorro!” (I’m Zorro!).
Later, they played Musical Chairs and a game from Colombia called Tingo-Tingo-Tango, and calmed down with a “siesta” (nap) after hearing about this custom in Spain—all of the businesses really do shut down in the middle of the day! Last but not least, they enjoyed marching around to Spain’s National Anthem; watched Pocoyó: Piratas and El perro y el gato; and—as you already know—cooked and tasted fried plantains (patacones or tostones), which are eaten in many Spanish-speaking countries.
|2||This month*, students in second grade had fun adjusting to a new daily routine: at the door of the Spanish Cave, after one student says, “Dime la contraseña” (tell me the password), the other responds with the fruit or vegetable of the week (that is, naranja/orange, plátano/banana, zanahoria/carrot, espárrago/asparagus, melocotón, durazno/peach, arándano/blueberry, cebolla/onion). To start the month, they took a day to welcome seventh graders and listen to Powerpoint presentations of mini-stories that students had written in the target language. After phasing out their center work (e.g., quiero trabajar en la máquina del tiempo/I want to work on the time machine; quiero jugar baloncesto, ajedrez/I want to play basketball, chess; quiero ser una espía/I want to be a spy), second graders launched into several new culture projects with the question and song, “¿Adónde vas?” (Where are you going?).|
First, they “went” to Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia) and tasted sal/salt—and azúcar/sugar, just for fun!—because it is the largest salt flat in the world. The interesting thing, is that during the rainy season, a thin layer of water over the salt allows the sky to be reflected perfectly, which is especially gorgeous during sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights. Second graders recreated these symmetrical reflections with watercolors by folding papers in half.
Later, students began assembling paper cubes to build a replica of “El Castillo”, a pyramid in Chichen Itza (Mexico), which is famous for its extraordinary mathematical calculations: every year, exactly on the equinox, a shadow of a tail appears on the side of the pyramid, which aligns perfectly with a snake head. While recreating the shadow itself would be difficult, second graders worked together to try to build the pyramid as a class. They also tasted fried plantains (patacones or tostones) that first and third graders had made (a popular snack in many Spanish-speaking countries), and were encouraged to make them at home. Last but not least, they played a game called Tingo-Tingo-Tango (Colombia).
More recently, second graders have been building their vocabularies by playing Policías y ladrones (Cops and Robbers) outside: quiero ser un policía/I want to be a police officer; ¡a la cárcel!/go to jail!; no quiero ir/I don’t want to go; ayúdame/help me; soy inocente/I’m innocent; libertad/freedom; no evidencia/no evidence; juez(a)/judge). 2.A also took a day to act out a very exciting pirate play in the target language, with kings, queens, a boy named Target and a pirate named Jimmy, a shipwreck during a terrible storm/tormenta, and an evil forest allergic to maíz/corn. It has been an exciting few months.
|3||This month*, students in third grade had more than a few discussions about phonetics and language in a more general sense, as opposed to “only” Spanish. There are, after all, about 7,000 languages in the world! These conversations touched on word loans—tacos, tortillas, quesadillas, and deja-vu, for example, have all been borrowed from other languages; there is no word in English for “taco”. |
This led to more talk about untranslatable words; there are many words with no English equivalent, such as pisanzapra in Malay (the time needed to eat a banana), or 木漏れ日 (komorebi) in Japanese (the light that filters through the trees). It is easy to describe these concepts with English words, but there is not a single word that encompasses either concept. Third graders also watched a video by an actress, Amy Walker, who travels geographically around the world and says the same thing in 21 different accents—from England and Russia to New Zealand, South Carolina, and New York; they later practiced identifying languages on a “Guess the Language” online game to hone their ears. At one point, English was spoken with such an unfamiliar accent that students guessed it was Czech!
Third graders continued adding to their Spanish vocabularies via center work, and spent a chunk of time presenting in front of their peers in the target language in mini-speech form. Their confidence has grown tremendously since they began this practice near the end of January. They also heard several jokes in the target language, some of which were in Spanish and others with Spanish and English wordplays—e.g., Seven days without tacos makes Juan weak. Students are also required to say the password upon entering the Spanish Cave: after one student says, “Dime la contraseña” (tell me the password), the other responds with the fruit or vegetable of the week (that is, naranja/orange, plátano/ banana, zanahoria/carrot, espárrago/asparagus, melocotón, durazno/peach, arándano/blueberry, cebolla/onion).
In the culture realm, students learned a bit about El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile hike and pilgrimage across northern Spain (that their teacher completed last summer); cooked and tasted fried plantains (patacones or tostones), which are eaten in many Spanish-speaking countries; and used photos in the Spanish classroom to inspire various projects during center time. For instance, some students tried to create a replica of an underwater art museum in Mexico in a fish tank with florescent paper fish, rocks, and flowers, which was amazing… until the tank started leaking; others made dozens of Coquí frogs (Puerto Rico) out of green paper; and still others opted for pick-up soccer games (fútbol) outside, as soccer is a hugely popular sport in many countries.
|4||Apparently, did not write an update.|
|5||Apparently, did not write an update.|