Center Work & Chickens

We left off last time with Pato (my stuffed animal duck) going on a treasure map adventure with pirates, rough ocean seas, and baking soda & vinegar volcanoes (fuerza/force). The initial idea was that he was traveling from one Spanish-speaking country to another, but the conceptual piece of this took a bit of time to sink in.

Since then, we have moved on to center work, where students “sign up for” centers/activities in the target language. Because literacy levels vary significantly in kindergarten, their written work is very simple–one word, plus their name; but they can always write more if they so desire.

At this point, kindergarteners can sign up for one of five centers. They write one (or more) of the following– “jugar/ play (“who-gar”); colorear/ color; pintar/ paint; construir/ build; volar/ fly” –depending on what they want to do that day; and if they want to switch centers, they just have to ask in Spanish (we only write for the first center they choose). Each activity has materials, and students are expected to use and ask for those materials in Spanish, or ask me how to say the word of the thing they need if/when they forget.

For example, if students sign up for “jugar/play”, they play with stuffed animals and food or little puzzle games. For “construir/build”, kindergarteners use large boxes and pieces of cardboard to “build” houses, and then decorate the inside with colorful blankets and sarapes. If they want to bring comida/food or peluches/stuffed animals into their casa/house, they have to pay for it with fake dinero/money (by buying it at our Argentina-style outdoor markets).

This week, we added “volar/fly” to the list. Here, kindergarteners bring me papel/paper and while I am folding them a paper airplane, they pick a flag on the wall (from the Spanish-speaking world) of where they want to travel. I have emphasized a few countries this week–Costa Rica (jungle pic); Colombia (pink dolphins); Argentina (waterfalls of Iguazu); and Perú (tesoro/treasure)–but they can choose any of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries. Next, students have to draw a flag (e.g., una franja azul/a blue stripe) on their paper airplane of where they are going, and… well, fly there! This morning, to emphasize the countries, I was asking where they were going to build a house (construir una casa) or paint (pintar) or play (jugar): in Peru? Argentina? Colombia?

There are also whole group routines at the beginning of class (with student-teacher helpers) who lead the lesson (por favor/please; gracias/thank you; pizarras/whiteboards; marcadores/markers; borra/erase). One class this week has also become wholly obsessed with pollos/chickens, so much so that I have to ask if the chicken is going to build or play or paint or fly or color! We did add a tortuga/turtle to the mix this morning, so there is hope on the horizon to move on from this phase, ha!!

Point being, their creativity never ceases to amaze me… I hope you are having a great day!