Cardboard Cars & Table Trains

This morning, students in PK3 voted on which two songs to watch and dance to (from four options: Chumbala CachumbalaCorre, Pocoyó¿Te Gusta El Helado De Brócoli?; and Rompe Ralph/Wreck-It Ralph). While we normally proceed with a “How are you?” question and answer session following our songs, today there was a lot on the agenda, so we skipped over that part of the daily routine.

You see, in Spanish class, we start simple–building a foundation of basic words and phrases–but then continuously spiral and recycle the words in all different ways. For instance, the “luz roja, luz verde” (red light, green light) lessons led to naming and reviewing colors with games and word associations (there are four ways to say “red” in Spanish, depending on what you’re talking about- so this is ongoing and not mastered in a day).

The traffic lights, in turn, led to various modes of transportation. Our ‘cars’ are cardboard boxes and go both rápido/fast and lento/slow. When our ‘cars break down’, I attach masking tape to one end, and the student takes the roll part of the masking tape and ‘pulls’ the cardboard car to the garage/mechanic to be fixed. Obviously.

When we ran out of cardboard cars, I offered train rides (sometimes public transport is faster, anyway). Now just so you fully understand, ‘train rides’ have become ‘A THING’ in PK3 Spanish as of late. Students got free rides the first day, but since then, they have had to pay for their pretend tickets with dinero/money. Students climb on top of my long tables after paying–and we push the tables and students verrrrry slowly across the room. I say, “¡última parada!” (last stop!), and then they have to get off. The tables are on wheels, and make a very soft “hum” sound when moving, much akin to the soft hum of trams at airports.

This week, students were also able to purchase peluches/stuffed animals and comida/food with their dinero/money, along with the train tickets. As the number of passengers has increased, so have the number of stops on the route… meaning, one stop was at la playa/the beach!! Students got colorful blankets and sarapes, pretended to sun themselves, and played with their stuffed animals. Whenever they are on the train–zooming along at five feet per hour–they wave to their friends/amigos in the room, shouting, “¡Adiós!” and sometimes blowing kisses (besos), the latter of which is perhaps the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen!

Today, I started using sound effects and images on the Smartboard to enhance the linguistic experience. When they went to la playa/the beach, I projected a picture of white sands and the ocean–and played a sound effect of waves lapping at the shore. When they went to the jungle, I hung plastic green vines around the board, and showed and played THIS video. Our third destination was las montañas/the mountains. I’m still working on a sound effect for this one!

At this point, I quietly asked the assistant to lower the lights, and I explained that we had taken so many train rides, that it was already nightfall! So they took their formerly-beach-towels, now turned blankets, and chose either the “top” or “bottom” bunk of the bunkbeds in my room (aka train aka tables). Then I put on this 37-second SONG, with which they are very familiar and love, and cuddled up with their stuffed animals. They like to say, “¡Otra vez!” (again) and watch the song repeatedly some days. With the overcast sky and the lights off today, it felt so cozy in the Spanish room! I put on fairy lights sometimes as ‘night lights’ so they don’t get scared by the darkness. 🙂

Anyway, when it was finally time to wake up the ‘next morning’, I stretched–yawning–and said, “¡Buenos días!”. We were all pretty ravenous, so we took the train–which has now become more of a subway/metro–to a restaurant for breakfast (Tengo hambre/I’m hungry!). Then our 30 minute class was over and it was time to clean up and for them to be on their way.

If you have a student in PK4, you will note that there is definitely crossover in terms of content between the two grades, but PK3 has a different and much softer tone, in the sense that every experience is brand new and innocent. They are full of joy, in a way that’s hard to describe; and I truly cherish my time with them. Not every day is perfect by any means, but today the pieces all fell together and joy was had by all. Have a wonderful long weekend. I hope this gives you a peek into my/our little Spanish world.