Quarter Update, 22-23 (2)

1This term, students in second grade began with Daily Language Trivia outside of my classroom. (This is the official “English/ Spanish/ Spanglish” zone, as opposed to the “Spanish-only zone” inside my room.) Here, students learned a few basic facts (How many Spanish-speaking countries are there in the world? 21!; How many languages are there in the world? 7,000!); and then focused on memorizing common phrases: yo hablo español (I speak Spanish); yo hablo inglés (I speak English); yo no hablo español (I don’t speak Spanish); yo no hablo inglés (I don’t speak English); hablamos español (we speak Spanish).

Inside the classroom, second graders began a massive task: creating their own Spanish-speaking town. So far, there is el supermercado/ supermarket, el banco/ bank, el museo de arte/ art museum, la granja/ farm, la tienda de carteras/ bolsas (purse or wallet shop), el aeropuerto/ the airport, and a train station, for which you must have a train license and license plates (el tren/ train; Spain/ España) to drive. Students use euros in monetary transactions (as opposed to pesos from last year), and have discussed currency conversion rates–although this will be an ongoing conversation; it is challenging to understand why the rates can change every day, however slightly. Second graders decide quiénquiénquién/ “who-who-who” (owl mneumonic device!) is going to work at the supermarket, bank, etc. each day– and then get to work.

NOTE: Now that we have established a strong base, the overarching goal here will be to pair memorable experiences with language. Students will begin to pick up vocabulary such as, “Necesito eso” (I need that); or “Boleto, por favor” (ticket, please); or “Quiero ir a España” (I want to go to Spain); or “¿Dónde está la cinta?” (Where is the tape?); or “¿Qué? ¡No comprendo! (What? I don’t understand!) in meaningful contexts.

Students also had fun playing with the Duolingo and/or FunSpanish app, and learned a Q-U-E-S-O, or ¿Qué es eso? ¡Eso es queso! (What is that? That is cheese!) rhyme. To end the quarter, they had a comparative language lesson about Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and word loans to connect with their classroom unit on China. Gracias for a great term.
2This term, second graders continued learning basic phrases outside of my classroom, in the form of a fun “echo” dialogue. This is a simple warm-up exercise to start class, which helps students to work on expression and intonation. Hablamos español en la escuela. We speak Spanish at school. ¿Solamente español? Only Spanish? ¡Sí! Yes! ¿En serio? Seriously? Claro, mira el mapa. Of course, look at the map! Es obvio. It’s obvious. Estamos en España. We’re in Spain.

Next, they chose “where they wanted to live” each day on my carpet–a red square was a red house/ una casa roja; a blue square was a blue house/ una casa azul; etc.–and told me if they lived at the beach/la playa, or in the mountains, or in the jungle, in a big or small house, etc. The point here is to ask personalized questions, and then later build their answers into a creative storytelling unit. For the time being, students are gesture-telling a scripted (and ridiculously overdramatic) story about a wolf who keeps crying after “Evil Pato” steals his lunch and eats it (song: Canta y no llores/ “sing and don’t cry”).

After this “circle time group immersion” segment, Spanish class lessons rotated in our routine each day: sometimes, students reviewed the Floor Map (in preparation for the all-school map competition in May) and pretended it was “raining” in Spain (está lloviendo/ it’s raining– my mist spray bottle created this effect). Other days, they listened to a song in the target language (¿Puedo ir al baño?; Billy la bufanda; Me encanta), or recited a silly Spanish Halloween Rhyme. Other days, I spent a minute or two asking them tricky spelling questions (hace frío/ it’s cold– “AH-say FREE-oh”; ¡Mira!/ look!), oftentimes with a focus on words that are spelled like an English word, but have a different pronunciation and meaning (e.g., come/ eats– “KOH-may”; dice/ says– “DEE-say”). And last but not least, second graders practiced telling me sentences in Spanish of activities and things they loved to do (me encanta jugar al fútbol/ I love to play soccer; me encanta construir/ I love building; no me gusta el chocolate, me encanta/ I don’t like chocolate, I love it).

Students also talked about the World Cup (Los Estados Unidos/ USA) and Día de Muertos (Mexico); mimicked a Colombian street artist’s fingerpainting style (Quiero pintar/ I want to paint); and began turning in written requests for what they wanted to do each day for Center Work (“Hola, yo me llamo XX, quiero + infinitive + [something extra from my bulletin board]“). They were introduced to upside down question marks and exclamation points as well. Center Work and the town–(new businesses: el café/ cafe; el restaurante/ restaurant; el cine/ movie theater)–have expanded to include “licenses” for everything, which are basically sight word flashcards that students have to have near them when using my materials. For example, if they sign up to “drive the car” aka “Quiero conducir el coche negro” [I want to drive the black car, that is, my teacher chair on wheels], they have to have their “license” (el coche/ car or el camión/ truck card). It is a fun game we play to encourage contextualized, meaningful language in action.

Class ended with the line leader saying, “¿Está aquí?” /is she [the teacher] here? and peeking out the door. If they tidied up my room before she arrived, we celebrated with a “¡Lo hicimos! We did it!” dance and shouted, “¡Sorpresa!/ Surprise!” when she got there. Second graders are working with a wide pool of receptive vocabulary now in a variety of contexts, which is great to see. Gracias for another great quarter!
3This term, students in second grade reached Nicaragua on the Floor Map and stopped to learn about Volcano Boarding and Tightrope Walking. They identified cognates (words similar across languages) during these immersion lessons, and then had fun trying to reenact these extreme sports in the classroom (one class built a tightrope with boxes across two tables).

The “cognate” conversation led in nicely to pointing out the opposite–or trick words in Spanish (hay/ there is; come/ eats; dice/ says; mira/ looks; dime/ tell me; once/ eleven; etc.); and to extend the discussion about upside down question marks and exclamation points from last quarter, students also began noticing accent marks (Jesus vs. Jesús [“hey-SEUSS”]; Mexico vs. México [“MAY-he-koh”]).

For Center Work, instead of second graders simply stating what they wanted to do each class, they had to adjust to their teacher messing with them. Yours truly had entirely too much fun with this, pretending to talk on the phone with Pato and not listen when students were talking with me. This, of course, was for the sole purpose of pushing their Spanish forward, ever so slightly–¿Qué?/ what?; No comprendo/ I don’t understand–to which they would need to respond, “I sa-id…” (Yo dije…/”yoh DEE-hay”) and repeat everything all over again. The Center Work routine changed slightly partway through the term, to include “student teachers”, who interrogated their classmates in the target language: ¿Cómo te llamas? ¿De dónde eres? ¿Qué quieres hacer? Yo me llamo ___. Soy de ___. Quiero ___ (What is your name? Where are you from? What do you want to do? My name is… I’m from… I want to…).

The ultimate icing on the cake to this quarter were the three class periods where not only did the teacher stay 100% in Spanish during classtime, but all second graders had to as well. They were allowed to read any of my wall word signs and use any words they knew, just no English! (When they spoke in English, they had to go to the door and push their “reset/ español” button (on their foreheads). Second graders did a fantastic job with this!

On certain days each week, second graders worked on gesture-telling their class story about Bob the Beetle. Here is the story in Spanish: Hay un insecto. Se llama Bob the Beetle (el escarabajo). El insecto vive en un bosque en España. Su casa es más grande que cinco coches rojos. Bob the Beetle tiene una camioneta amarilla. No tiene un coche; tiene una camioneta. Le gusta comer chocolate. Dice, “No me gusta el chocolate. ¡ME ENCANTA el chocolate!” Una noche, hay una tormenta. Bob the Beetle tiene miedo, mucho miedo. Bob the Beetle (el escarabajo) corre y se esconde. Espera y espera y espera. ¡¡¡Pobrecito!!! Él dice, “Tengo frío. ¿Qué puedo hacer?” Pero clase, Bob el escarabajo no tiene su chaqueta. ¡Qué problema! El monstruo Fluphball tiene su chaqueta. De hecho, el monstruo tiene una colección de chaquetas.

Translation: There is a bug. His name is Bob the Beetle. The bug lives in a forest in Spain. His house is bigger than five red cars. Bob the Beetle has a yellow pickup truck. He doesn’t have a car; he has a pickup truck. He likes to eat chocolate. He says, “I don’t like chocolate. I LOVE chocolate.” One night, there is a storm. Bob the Beetle is scared, very scared. Bob the Beetle runs and hides. He waits and waits and waits. Poor little guy! He says, “I’m cold. What can I do?” But class, Bob the Beetle doesn’t have his jacket. What a problem! The monster Fluphball has his jacket. In fact, the monster has a collection of jackets.

Naturally, there were commercial breaks during story–this story brought to you by the PLANET MARS! (el planeta rojo, MARTE/Mars. “Martes” is TUESDAY in Spanish. So on Tuesdays we will have a commercial break about Mars, ha!”–and Mars became a “thing”, so much so that I hung a red Chinese lantern from the ceiling to represent the red planet.

Anyway, other than that, second graders took a couple of days to work on language-learning apps, namely Duolingo and Fun Spanish; were given a preview of the fourth graders’ Spanish Play (which they saw); practiced addition problems in the target language; and… well, the fried cricket lesson and International Studies skit were part of the fourth quarter. So be sure to tune in next time to read my ridiculously long summaries. Gracias for a great term.
4This term, second graders rehearsed and then presented a skit (in English and Spanish) for their International Studies program. Here, students showcased their bravery (soy valiente/I’m brave!) in four different ways: 1) they presented a short play in Spanish in front of an audience; 2) they shared about extreme sports–volcano boarding and 3) tight-rope walking over a volcano in Nicaragua (demonstrated with a slackline); and 4) they danced the Tango while wearing fancy red and black outfits! To jumpstart this unit and flex their courageous muscles, second graders learned about different types of food around the world (e.g., school lunches), and then had the opportunity to eat fried crickets (Mexico)!!

Following the performance, students reviewed currency conversions; practiced asking and telling the weather in Spanish; continued with center work activities (quiero/ I want vs. queremos/ we want); tried their hand at the Spanish Wordle (which they loved!); had an 1800s language lesson, to tie into the 1800s unit in their regular classroom; heard a famous “rodar y rodar” song, as well as the adaptation of It’s Raining Tacos; finished their BOB THE BEETLE class story (sé que puedo volar/ I believe I can fly! lessons); talked briefly about translations and song covers (i.e., Frozen and Behind the Mic); and worked as a team to outline the Andes Mountains out of dominoes on the Floor Map, to earn mint chocolate candies (brand: Andes). For the Spanish Teacher of the Day, second graders also raced Pato and Oso down a zipline in the courtyard, but that is another story. 🙂 Last but not least, we spent the last week talking all about hiking El Camino de Santiago (Spain). Gracias for an amazing year!


Objective: acclimating to daily routines, expectations, and an immersive Spanish environment!

  • Welcome Back!: intro to daily routine and general overview. Students will participate in a town simulation in a Spanish-speaking country; class activities; games; songs; videos; ‘free choice’ center work days; and also tell a semester-long story in Spanish.
  • What is that?: Daily Trivia. Classroom numbers. What is that? That is cheese! rhyme introduction. Mini activity to move tables for supermarket simulation. Establishing routines.
  • Supermercado: Daily Trivia. Setting up the class town. Supermarket and bank introductions. What is that? That is cheese! rhyme again with markers on fingers. Cut out euros and spend at town supermarket. “Paid” in euros when class cleans up/lines up in under two minutes (timer).
  • Let the Town Begin!: Daily Trivia. Setting up the class town. Supermarket, bank open today. “Paid” in euros when class cleans up/lines up in under two minutes (timer). Carrefour: Argentina:: Mercadona: España.
  • Euros vs. Dollars: Daily Trivia. Supermarket and bank are open today. Also begin a short discussion re: currency conversions- this conversation will be ongoing. Several made purses and wallets to store dinero/money.
  • Open or Closed?: setting up the class town. Supermarket and bank are open today. ABIERTO/ open (“ah-bee-AIR-toe”). CERRADO/ closed signs (“s[air]-RAH-doe”). Quién/ who-who-who is going to work at the supermarket, bank?


Objective: begin to work on verbal output, increase speaking confidence in the target language.

  • Double Class: Daily Trivia. ¡Es viernes! dance. “Hablamos español” practice. Double class. Establishing routines. Town was open today.
  • The Farm: Daily Trivia. “Hablamos español” practice. Tell me in English how you say… banco/ supermercado/ museo de arte. “Picasso” scribbles to demonstrate art museum. Quick chat: what is a bank? You don’t BUY money; you earn it. Where does the food/ comida from the supermercado come from? Several opened a farm/ la granja as a result of this conversation.
  • The Train: Daily Trivia. “Yo no hablo español/ inglés”. Tell me in English… is this a town/ pueblo or a city/ ciudad? Who-who-who is working at the farm, supermarket, bank, art museum, or wallet/ purse- making business? THE TRAIN returns. Taxes/ impuestos introduced. ¡Sorpresa! at end of class. One class also did the ¡Lo hicimos! dance for cleaning up before their teacher arrived.
  • Bathroom Song!: Daily Trivia. ¿Puedo ir al baño? video. Name wallet/ purse shop. Mapa- set locations for businesses- this part of the room, this part of the room. Train monitored closely. License plates and licenses to drive.
  • Non-Negotiable Vocab: Daily Trivia. ¿Puedo ir al baño? video. Business location review. Begin list of non-negotiable vocab (words you need to start replacing the English for Spanish!). Por favor/ please, gracias/ thank you, muchas gracias/ thank you so much.