|1||This term, students in first grade learned about El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile hike across Spain that their teacher completed a few years ago. Students got their mochilas/backpacks, botella de agua/water bottle, plastic food/comida, and faux currency from Spain (dinero/money), and set out around campus–‘climbing mountains’ (stairs) and drawing shells and arrows with chalk to mark the trail. |
Each class, we added something new; for example, people who hike get their Camino passports stamped each night, so we did that one day; another time, students pretended to sleep in their bunks at the hostels (picnic table benches as bunks) with colorful sarapes as blankets. The scene was all too realistic, as one commented, “SHHH! We have to get up early to hike in the morning!” So true! A highlight was the day we talked about how much your feet hurt after 10 hours of hiking a day (for 30 days straight), but that a ‘foot pool’ makes everything better–first graders dipped their toes into a small bucket of cool water to simulate this.
After this introductory unit, students launched into center days–the heart of the curriculum. Here, they sign up for what they want to do each day (Soy __/I’m __. Quiero __/I want to __.), and then, well–do it! Some opted to continue hiking the Camino (caminar/to walk), while others were fascinated by Spanish currency and wanted to cut out bills (trabajar/ work). One week, many chose to ‘fly’ (volar) to different countries with paper airplanes outside. Whatever they choose, we incorporate language and culture into it all.
To make written work more interesting to six-year-olds, we rigged up a pulley system and basket (from the floor to the ceiling) to “send” me letters through the post (correos). Students also learned about Rainbow Mountain (Peru), and made their own tiny pieces of gold, with rocks, gold glitter, and a ton of glue! You can read more about this unit HERE.
Last but not least, Pato also made several appearances, one memorable afternoon being when he was casually floating on a raft in a bucket of water, when there was a STORM!!!! (¡tormenta!). Shhh! Don’t tell: it was first graders and yours truly turning on and off the water faucet! My poor stuffed animals…
|2||This term, first graders worked on developing a strong routine for their center work, incorporating new vocabulary and sight words each week (pizarras/whiteboards; marcadores/ markers; ¡Ya terminé!/ I finished!; borra, borra/erase, erase; sorpresa/surprise; ¿está aquí?/is she here? [the teacher]). They also chose Spanish names; took turns leading the class as ‘maestro(a)’/ teacher by asking, “¿Cómo estás?” (How are you?) to their peers; started class with a listening activity (¿Puedo ir al baño?/Can I go to the bathroom?; Botas perdidas/Lost Boots; Billy la bufanda/Billy the Scarf; or a 2-minute Bluey cartoon); and ended class with a clean-up song (Cada cosa en su lugar).|
A very popular center this term was Train Driving 101 (i.e., Quiero conducir/ I want to drive), where first graders signed up for and then ‘drove’ my tables [on wheels] around the room–passengers (dos pesos, por favor/two pesos, please!), stuffed animal pets, train sound effects on the board, and crayons and coloring sheets to work on while on the train, all included. Speed limits were enforced. And there was definitely a bell.
In the culture realm, students learned all about La Alhambra (Spain), a fort/palace in southern Spain. In case you missed my post, you can read a funny story about this HERE. First graders also began jumping on and naming all 21 Spanish- speaking countries on my gigantic floor map (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia), and took a few days to explore the Fun Spanish app on their iPads.
At this point in the year, many students are comfortable with words such as: Quiero (I want) colorear/to color, patinar/to skate, volar/to fly, limpiar/to clean, construir una fortaleza en España [La Alhambra]/to build a fort in Spain, cantar/to sing, bailar/to dance, hablar en inglés o español/to speak in English or Spanish, tomar el tren/to take the train, conducir el tren/to drive the train, escribir en árabe/to write in Arabic, dormir/to sleep, etc.
|3||This term, first graders learned about the cultural references in the fourth grader’s Spanish play [e.g., Don Quijote (Spain); reviewed Rainbow Mountain (Peru); Amazon River (Peru)]. They were especially taken by the Don Quijote song, and wanted to listen to it repeatedly. The class acted out the famous windmill chapter (from the 900-page Spanish novel), with Don Quijote and Sancho Panza as well.|
A highlight of the third term was the bullfighting unit. This began quite by chance, when I subbed for library one day and ended up reading The Story of Ferdinand. Students took turns pretending to be bulls and shouting, “¡Olé!” from the sidelines, while listening to Paso Doble music and imagining that they were in Spain. That real people and bulls can be badly injured or killed was not mentioned. Students were more invested in pretending to be toros/bulls, anyway. To read more about this lesson, click HERE!
To move on from the Train Unit, I brought in small tricycles from the playground to use as coches/ cars (¿el coche rojo/ negro /o azul?/ the red, black, or blue car?) that students could sign up to drive around the room (luz roja/ red light; luz verde/ green light). Students said, “¡Quiero conducir el coche rojo!” (I want to drive the red car!), and took turns driving, all while listening to this song on loop. Students definitely know the word coche/car now!
First graders also heard a Spanish read-aloud La primera luna llena de Gatita (Kitten’s First Full Moon); mastered jumping on and naming all 21 Spanish-speaking countries on the floor map; and worked on conversing more in the target language with one another (student> student, in lieu of only teacher>student). Gracias for another fantastic term!
|4||This term, students in first grade layered on more culture to their language study. Here, they learned about molinillos, a wooden tool used to stir chocolate, along with a “cho-co-la-te” clapping rhyme (Mexico); Worry Dolls when there was a massive tormenta/storm one day (Guatemala); and Sawdust Carpets for Easter (Guatemala).|
In the linguistic realm, first graders transformed the top of my tables into a ferry (crucero/cruise ship, which conveniently rhymes with dinero/money), complete with a ship bullhorn sound effect. They would shout things like, “¡Espérame! Necesito dinero!” (wait for me! I need money!) as the ferry horn started and students imagined pulling out to sea. Naturally, I put realistic videos of dolphins jumping on the board, so that it seemed like they were actually in the ocean!
The overarching goal here is to pair memorable experiences with language, so students will pick up vocabulary relevant to a variety of simulated situations. Recently, “¡Me encanta!” (I love it!) and “¿Por qué?” (whhyyy?) have been popular phrases amongst students. I will update once more as the year draws to a close.
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