Masculine/ Feminine Words

In case you hear blips of this at home, today in Spanish class we talked about how some words are “boy” [or “el” words], and other words are “girl” [or “la” words]–in grammatical terms, we call these masculine and feminine articles, but students won’t know them as this. Third graders kept asking how to know whether it was an “el” or “la” word because they had to type it in on Duolingo; so we pushed pause on everything else and did a quick activity to help explain.

First, I scattered my flashcards around the room on the floor, and girls were allowed to pick up any of the “la” flashcards (la manzana/ apple; la casa/ house; etc.) and boys were allowed to pick up any of the “el” flashcards (el pan/ bread; el perro/ dog; etc.). We studied the words, and students discovered that most (but not all) “girl” words end in -a, and most (but not all) “boy” words end in -o.

At this point, I emphasized that the el or la has nothing to do with the noun in question (tables are not ‘girls’ because it’s la mesa/ table); but it is a fun trick to help you remember, especially if you pretend that girls “get” such and such (la pizza/ pizza) and boys “get” such and such (el helado/ ice cream, ‘el-LAH-doe’). We proceeded to divide up the universe (i.e., el universo/boy word) into its respective categories. “Who gets the planet?” El planeta (boys). “What about the earth?” La tierra (girls).

Third graders bombarded me with questions, and anyway, if any of this makes its way home, now you know! I don’t usually teach grammar explicitly in Spanish class, but this lesson is a classic and always gets them thinking!