Before PK4 enters my classroom each day, we sit in the hallway and say together in a sing-songy voice, “¡Yo hablo español!” (I speak Spanish), like the other grade levels do. We might chit-chat about this or that, but eventually put our hands in the middle (similar to a sports huddle), and shout, “¡Vamos!” (let’s go!).
Today was a special day and the culmination of several lessons: we went to Spain! Now, before I explain why we went there, let me point out that this process involved several steps. First, PK4 students chose where they were living on my carpet–in a red house? or a blue house? or maybe a green one? It’s a nice neighborhood, don’t you think? Could use some trees, though.
We started this a few weeks ago, but yesterday I was in a rather silly mood, so we said that the yellow lines represented the “roof” of the house. Who is sitting on el techo/ the roof of their house today?! You never really know what will become “a thing” with four-year-olds, but this did, and we ended up spending way too much time drawing on the board (stick-figure style), deciding who was inside the house and who was sitting on the rooftop.
The teacher part of me did this for two reasons: one, to have defined spaces on the carpet where students sit, and two, to begin teaching colors in context (don’t get too comfy with rojo/red! Sometimes it’s roja or rojas or rojos! E.g., una casa roja/ a red house). The rooftop piece was about directionals and spatial relationships. Or it might have been about the silliness that ensues when Pato turns on the “rain and thunderstorm” sound effects on the board, and everyone “rushes inside their houses” to avoid the fake agua/water. Teeheehee. I digress.
So after we talked about the casas/ houses, students built cozy 3D versions of them with chairs and blankets. They rested up, listening to a favorite from last year on loop– Los solecitos. But daylight came much too early: before we knew it, the tren/train was about to leave the station, which meant that we had to hustle, quickly packing a snack (comida/ food), their backpacks (that they had brought to class today for the special occasion), a stuffed animal from my toy bin, and dinero/ money. Plus scissors and more faux currency to cut out on the way. It’s a long trip, after all.
Now I must admit, there has been some Spanglish this week. Here and there, when I need students to fully grasp a concept (foreign currencies, geography, culture projects, etc.), I will incorporate some English/ Spanglish into the lesson. Students knew that we were going to a place called Spain because we had talked about it the other day. I showed PK4 students a map and pointed out how much ocean water is between us and Spain. Once they had that background knowledge, I started slipping back into Spanish– We’re going to Spain! We’re going to España! ¡Vamos a España! Yipee!
We took the train to the coast (teachers pushing tables on wheels across the room, with students and all of their stuff on top), to meet up with Pato on his [Popsicle stick] barco/ boat.
While yesterday I wasn’t certain how to differentiate the train from the boat, today I had a plan. The students stayed on the train as we pushed the two tables-on-wheels together, and voilà: we had a boat. Next, I put a loud ship horn sound effect on loop, along with a video of dolphins jumping. Look!! Dolphins, guys! So cool!! Did you get a picture? We took as many photos as we could on our pretend phones.
A minute after they all started getting antsy about being on the barco/ boat for so long, I said, “LOOK! ¡MIRA! I see land! It’s España!” In the dolphin video, you can see land at certain parts, so I waited until a good moment.
We got off the boat, left my room, walked down the hallway looking for the hotel in Spain, and then walked back to my room and pretended that their newly constructed casas were now, in fact, the hotel.
Phew! It’s amazing what you can do some days in thirty minutes. And what, now? Why did we go to Spain [other than to ascertain that the Popsicle stick boat floats]? Only Pato knows… 🙂