A Condo Inside the Alhambra?

During the month of December, students in first grade have focused their attention on Spain, or España. While this is part of the first grade curriculum, I decided to introduce the unit before Christmas because Party the Partridge rehearsals resulted in a few double [combined] first grade Spanish classes, and a focused project seemed the best route to take.

Anyway, as with most of my lessons, I give students a little information the first day, and then just keep adding more details each subsequent lesson. Initially, students learned that La Alhambra is a fort/palace in Spain that was built a LONG time ago. It is a beautiful fortress, with hand-painted tiles inside and stunning architecture on the outside.

First graders had the option of building the Alhambra (out of cardboard and blankets, based on a model); or coloring in different outlines and perspectives of the fort and surrounding gardens, or the tiles inside. Several builders found printouts of the Spanish flag and pasted them on the cardboard walls–which was great, considering that 1) I didn’t know I had the printouts (they were mixed in with other coloring sheets); and 2) they [correctly] deduced it as relevant iconography!

The next layer was to talk a bit about the Arabic language, and compare and contrast it with Spanish and English. Spanish and Arabic have a rich linguistic history, primarily due to the fact that Arabs ruled the Iberian peninsula for around 700-800 years. Even today, Moorish culture is strongly present in Southern Spain.

Students were introduced to the Arabic script, learning that Spanish and Arabic share some 8,000 words. Wow! Some even practiced copying the foreign symbols [alphabet] as part of the “writing” center (escribir/to write), while others handed out tickets to visit La Alhambra and/or drive tourists there on the class trains.

Image taken from La Alhambra article on Wikipedia (you can change the language on the sidebar).

Today, I received confirmation that the cultural piece had settled into students’ vernacular, when I overheard two boys arguing. The subject of their argument? “No, you can’t live in a condo INSIDE the Alhambra! That’s not allowed!” #TrueStory

During our last class before break this afternoon, several first graders also took turns with a plastic fishing pole, trying to “fish” in the gardens surrounding the Alhambra. If my memory serves me correctly, I don’t recall anyone actually fishing there when I visited (haha!), but we combine play and reality in Spanish class; and, honestly, who wouldn’t want to go fishing with a plastic fishing pole, loads of tape, and plastic food in a fake pool? I mean, seriously. Unless, of course, you just want to watch from your condo in–that is, across the street from–La Alhambra. Ahem.

In other news, most students can also name and identify on a map at least five Spanish-speaking countries in South America at this point (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia).

And last but not least, if you would like to get a better feel for Southern Spain, you are welcome to check out my narrative prose piece/essay on the topic HERE. Thank you so much for reading and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS and Happy Holidays!! See you in 2022!!!