Year 2019-20
LINKS: La Roja Baila, Landfill Harmonic, Carol of the Bells

February: Para enriquecer su experiencia en la clase de español y desarrollar sus habilidades escritas, hoy los hispanohablantes de 3.A que se sentían cómodos con la idea de escribir una página entera en la lengua meta recibieron un cuaderno. Este cuaderno se quedará en clase y será un tipo de RJ, o diario (diary) en español. Los niños podrán expresarse a través de los recuerdos, momentos inolvidables, prosa, poesía, cuentos de ficción, etc. Algunos días será una escritura libre, mientras en otros habrá una tarea específica. De esta manera, espero que sea más relevante y significativo el curso. Me dio mucho placer leer sus entradas hoy- desde lo que ellos hicieron anoche y durante el fin de semana, hasta sus deseos y aún un cuento de estilo leyenda sobre un jaguar y un loro. ¡Esto va a ser el principio de algo genial!

February: Después de votar, fuimos afuera hoy para jugar “Policías y ladrones” y “Corazón/dulce”, del estilo de Freeze Tag. Si alguien sabe una buena traducción para “Freeze Tag”, avísame! ¡Feliz día de San Valentín!

February (3B): Hoy hablamos en clase sobre cómo el aprendizaje de otro idioma abarca mucho- desde la lingüística hasta la cultura. Mientras que yo creo que TODO ES POSIBLE, también hay que tener expectativas razonables cuando nuestra clase se junta solo una o dos veces a la semana.

En el ámbito lingüístico, los diccionarios suelen tener unas 100,000 palabras. ¡Esto es MUCHO! Hay palabras activas (que usas con frecuencia) y palabras pasivas (que reconoces pero o no entiendes perfectamente o no usas mucho). Existen muchas capas y matices de un idioma.

Y en cuanto a la cultura, qué significa exactamente? Música, deportes, comida, historia, terreno, monumentos, tradiciones, costumbres, etc. Dicho esto, no resulta la música-deportes-comida-historia-terreno-monumentos-tradiciones-costumbres-etc. solamente de ESPAÑA, sino de todos los 21 países hispanohablantes. Se puede estudiar estos asuntos 24 horas al día, 7 días a la semana y no saberlo todo. Es una tarea imposible. O sea, casi imposible, ya que todo es posible.

En fin, quería darles a los estudiantes un poco de perspectiva esta mañana: la meta aquí no es la fluidez en sí (no somos una escuela de inmersión); la meta es, aprender algo nuevo cada clase. Algunos aprendieron sobre churros con chocolate hoy (cultura), mientras otros trabajaban en mejorar su vocabulario–o de fútbol o de expresar lo que querían o necesitaban. Paso a paso, poco a poco, se ve el progreso.

December: Hoy en clase hablamos de otras culturas, perspectivas y tradiciones. Como una analogía, nos ponemos de pie en nuestras sillas para experimentar otra perspectiva: resulta el mismo cuarto, pero notamos cosas diferentes, igual que en inglés o español; el enfoque se ha cambiado. Para probar nuestro coraje/valentía, probamos unos insectos fritos hoy; en Mexico, hay 549 insectos comestibles y es normal para muchos comérselos, especialmente para la proteína. ¡Iiik! Aparte: Se puede comprar más insectos fritos en el “Candy Shop”, si les interesa.

November: Esta mañana, los niños del tercer grado querían ser chinchillas y decidieron hacer una banda. Les mostré el enlace arriba y les dije que podrían hacer sus propios instrumentos hechos de basura, igual que los niños inspiradores de Paraguay. Salieron hoy con tanta energía sobre el asunto que tenía que compartirlo con ustedes!! Ellos están muy emocionados, así que si ustedes tienen basura (cajas, cuencos, hilos, imanes, latas, etc.) que no quieren en casa, favor de donarla a nuestra clase. Ya veremos qué podemos crear!

September: Tercer grado ha estado aprendiendo sobre la Isla de Pascua (Chile). Los estudiantes hicieron estatuas de arcilla y tablillas de Rongorongo, un sistema de glifos (o idioma) que nadie ha podido descifrar—¡es un misterio!

Aquí hay más fotos de las estatuas de la Isla de Pascua y del sistema de glifos, o Rongorongo. Se dice que Rongorongo fue escrito en una manera muy eficiente; la técnica que ves en la penúltima diapositiva se llama bustrófedon (pero al revés porque está volteado también el texto en la segunda línea). WOW!

September: La semana pasada, hicimos gazpacho en clase para celebrar La Tomatina (España). En las palabras de Parker, “¡Gazpachoooooo!”

August: Vidriera de una catedral en España.

August: Por si acaso les interesa, esta es la canción que han oído en clase esta semana. Me gusta mucho. Es de la copa mundial (FÚTBOL) de 2010.

Year 2018-19
February/March: This month*, students in third grade had more than a few discussions about phonetics and language in a more general sense, as opposed to “only” Spanish. There are, after all, about 7,000 languages in the world! These conversations touched on word loans—tacos, tortillas, quesadillas, and deja-vu, for example, have all been borrowed from other languages; there is no word in English for “taco”. This led to more talk about untranslatable words; there are many words with no English equivalent, such as pisanzapra in Malay (the time needed to eat a banana), or 木漏れ日 (komorebi) in Japanese (the light that filters through the trees). It is easy to describe these concepts with English words, but there is not a single word that encompasses either concept. Third graders also watched a video by an actress, Amy Walker, who travels geographically around the world and says the same thing in 21 different accents—from England and Russia to New Zealand, South Carolina, and New York; they later practiced identifying languages on a “Guess the Language” online game to hone their ears. At one point, English was spoken with such an unfamiliar accent that students guessed it was Czech!

Third graders continued adding to their Spanish vocabularies via center work, and spent a chunk of time presenting in front of their peers in the target language in mini-speech form. Their confidence has grown tremendously since they began this practice near the end of January. They also heard several jokes in the target language, some of which were in Spanish and others with Spanish and English wordplays—e.g., Seven days without tacos makes Juan weak. Students are also required to say the password upon entering the Spanish Cave: after one student says, “Dime la contraseña” (tell me the password), the other responds with the fruit or vegetable of the week (that is, naranja/orange, plátano/banana, zanahoria/carrot, espárrago/asparagus, melocotón, durazno/peach, arándano/blueberry, cebolla/onion).

In the culture realm, students learned a bit about El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile hike and pilgrimage across northern Spain (that their teacher completed last summer); cooked and tasted fried plantains (patacones or tostones), which are eaten in many Spanish-speaking countries; and used photos in the Spanish classroom to inspire various projects during center time. For instance, some students tried to create a replica of an underwater art museum in Mexico in a fish tank with florescent paper fish, rocks, and flowers, which was amazing… until the tank started leaking; others made dozens of Coquí frogs (Puerto Rico) out of green paper; and still others opted for pick-up soccer games (fútbol) outside, as soccer is a hugely popular sport in many countries.

**Note that my definition of “month” here is not necessarily aligned with society’s views on temporality…

December/January: This month, students in third grade worked on naming and jumping on all of the twenty-one Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map independently. Many have demonstrated complete mastery of this skill. It is almost overwhelming—when you hear them rattled off— to grasp that there are completely different Spanish accents, vocabularies, and cultures (music, foods, art, sports, customs, etc.) in each of these places. My goal as an educator is to provide a general overview here; now that students are familiar with the names of these places, they can associate cultural and historical events with said countries in a more meaningful context.

With that in mind, third graders spent a day trying to replicate the Nazca Lines (Peru) around the Spanish room. These are an ancient mystery: at ground level, they appear to be lines, or trenches, in the desert going in all directions; however, from an airplane, you see that they are in reality massive geoglyphs of animals and plants—and yet, these civilizations existed prior to the invention of the airplane! Hmm… Students also painted and colored tiles for the class fort, aka La Alhambra, which is based on an actual Moorish palace/fortress in southern Spain; ate twelve grapes to celebrate New Year’s Eve (tradition in Spain); learned that an ice cream shop in Venezuela holds the world record for the greatest number of flavors offered: 900 (3.B); and began building a model of Machu Picchu in Peru (3.A).

In other news, students wrote first and second drafts of their storyboard comic strip stories in Spanish, and then shifted from storytelling (Q&A in the target language) to centers, where third graders sign up for their center of choice each day (tweeting, writing a form letter, or speaking aloud), requesting any materials they need and explaining what they want to do in Spanish* (e.g., build roads to drive their Spheros (construir/build), play Twister or basketball (jugar/play), make slime (hacer baba/make slime), play the piano (tocar el piano), etc.). They have been listening to Tal vez me llames (Call Me Maybe) by Kevin Karla y la banda regularly as well; it is funny to hear the cover of a song you are already familiar with in another language! As always, feel free to visit my website below for links and more information. If you are intrigued or questioning the importance of play in the classroom, please visit the Language Blog* on my website and read my latest post entitled, “Just Play”. Last but not least, students chose Spanish first and last names in the target language, and had fun practicing writing their new signatures all over my whiteboards. As always, feel free to visit my website below for links and more information.

NOTE: Parents with children in multiple grades may notice that there has been some overlap in terms of content between the grades this past month and half. The purpose here is twofold. First, when children realize that they know the same Spanish vocabulary, a conversation begins—a door opens between grade levels where everyone is invited to the Party called Learning. If everyone in the world only knew segregated vocabularies, no one could talk to anyone!

 Second, in the cultural realm, and now that students have more or less mastered the map, projects have begun popping up all around the Spanish room. When a class enters and there are suddenly masking tape designs all over the floor and a cardboard box tower in the corner, they naturally want to learn why and who and where and how and what. Of course, lessons are differentiated and age-appropriate, but it is absurdly exciting to hear first and fifth graders reference La Alhambra (Spain) or ‘jugar’/play in conversation. I feel that it builds a more inclusive, Spanish language-learning community when there are a few common building blocks.

November: This month, students in third grade practiced saying the Pledge of Allegiance (Juro fidelidad a la bandera) to continue working on their phonetics study. They also sat according to their birthday months, made personalized passports—with miniature flags of all of the Spanish-speaking countries—and continued telling and acting out their class stories.

In 3.B, Pato was eaten by an evil pig, who is friends with a Powerful Notebook. Students paused here to brainstorm a list of powerful things and then drew a collage of said concepts around the word poderoso/powerful. Anyway, the fantasma/ghost of Pato wants revenge, and decides that because the evil pig is allergic to flan (a Spanish dessert), he will use it to get back at him and make him sneeze uncontrollably—there is a tradition of saying, “Salud, dinero, amor/health, money, love” when a person sneezes (Colombia). However, because the Powerful Notebook, or cuaderno poderoso has the flan, he will have to visit his home, a cobertizo/shed filled with cucarachas/cockroaches and other insectos/insects. Because the story centers around venganza/revenge, third graders watched a silly cartoon chicken video about animal sounds in Spanish, where the chicken gets strong and gets revenge against a truck (Pollito pío). Additionally, third graders took a day to made Popsicle stick sheds with paper insects. This class also went on a tangent one day—though I realize all of this sounds like a tangent!—and had a mature discussion about endangered languages and untranslatable words. Students tasted dulce de leche (not flan, but very sweet at least!) and fried crickets, too, as it was [mostly] relevant to their class story.

In 3.A, students only had four classes in November, due to Student-Led Conferences and Golden Guest Day rehearsals, and spent the time finishing their passport booklets and reviewing their class story: here, a policeman and dog chase after two enemies that have stolen money and stuffed animals from the main character. The enemies put dulce de leche (Argentina) on the ground, which slows down the police. Students were also able to taste this sweet, caramel-like spread in class.

October/Trimester 1: This trimester, students in third grade practiced acting out their password cards and naming the Spanish-speaking countries* on the tape floor map. They also acted out wildly creative story plots: from an evil pig, duck sandwich, powerful notebook, town named HairGel, and a ghost who wants revenge (3.B), to a magic school bus, stolen pets, daring enemy escape by plane, and musical keyboard accompaniment by talented student musicians (3.A), third graders began to grasp how to make the target language come alive in their minds. In addition, students had fun identifying ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ words (i.e., masculine and feminine nouns: el/la/los/las, or the four ways to say ‘the’ in Spanish), and ‘claiming’ them as their own property, respectively; began tuning in to pronunciation details and new sounds, such as “ñ” (nyah) and the forever silent “h” (hola); and took a few “Kindergarten/Activity Days”, where third graders painted, drew on the board, played fútbol/soccer, and explored their own personal interests via centers. Cultural projects and facts were sprinkled throughout the trimester: from sculpting Easter Island statues out of clay (Chile), coloring calaveras/skulls and making papel picado for Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead (Mexico), learning about the 900-page, world renowned novel Don Quijote and tracing Picasso’s painting of the main characters (Spain), to singing La cucaracha and hearing different types of güiros (Latin America), third graders’ interest and boundless energy continue to inspire.

*Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras.

September: This month, students in third grade chose animal password cards and made sure to ask, ¿Qué es?” (What is it?/“K S”, pronounced like the alphabet letters) when they could not remember a word. If their password card was at the wrong seat, third graders responded, “¡Esta no es mi contraseña!/This is not my password!, focusing on the “ñ” sound that requires your nose to crinkle a bit when you say it—‘nyah’, as in español, contraseña, baño, etcetera. 3.B got excited about their sound study and proceeded to work on a tricky tongue twister, just for fun: Pepe Pecas pica papas con un pico. Con un pico pica papas Pepe Pecas. (Pepe Pecas picks potatoes with a pick. With a pick picks potatoes Pepe Pecas.)

Third graders also jumped on and named certain Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map before they sat down each day; a new country is added about once a week. To make this activity more meaningful, students created pasaportes/passports that are stamped as they enter and exit each country. They began their travels at the tip of South America with Chile and Argentina; more stamps will be added upon completing the continent. Now that they have finished working on the actual passports, students must show their booklets upon crossing the official frontera/border 0f the Spanish Cave every class (“customs”). No passport, no entry!

Later, third graders learned about Easter Island (Chile), and then created and painted replicas with air-dry clay of either the Moai statues or one of the undecipherable Rongorongo tablets (written in hieroglyphs and reverse boustrophedon). Students seemed to latch on to the idea that the tablets were engraved/carved using shark teeth and volcanic rock, but gracefully accepted that they would only be using toothpicks in Spanish class. Note to self: next year, I will not use the word ‘tablet’ to describe the wooden boards; in this digital age, third graders thought I meant that iPads were discovered on Easter Island. Ahem.

Third graders continued with their class stories as well. Updates as follows: In 3.A, the enemy forces—namely, a magic school bus/autobús mágico and train/tren—traveled from Egypt to Los Angeles, California to steal a famous actress’ money and pets, and then escaped with the goods to Hawaii, with an out of the way stop at Easter Island. The class went to Easter Island to fight the enemies—but tragically, students were hungry upon arrival, rashly touched a magical apple, and were turned into statues. Better luck next time? Note: If anyone reading this happens to be in possession of a large refrigerator box, I would gladly take it off your hands to build a time machine and change students’ luck.

In 3.B, and with Pato held captive as his prisoner, the evil pig (el cerdo malvado) decided that a delicious bocadillo de pato (duck sandwich) would really whet his appetite. The class voted by chanting either, “¡Ayúdame!” (Help me!, as the voice of Pato) or “¡Cómelo!” (Eat him!, as encouragement to the evil pig); when the votes were tallied, the evil pig was no longer hungry. *Sniff, sniff* However, students ended up making unicorn, witch, and wizard hats and turned our dear friend Pato into a ghost. Obviously, he has some unfinished business on Earth.

Last but not least, third graders were given the terribly onerous, yearlong task of collecting one fruit and vegetable sticker, label, and/or clothing tag, from each of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries. They were told to keep their eyes open particularly when grocery shopping; bananas, for example, are frequently from Spanish-speaking countries: if/when you buy them, students may add said sticker to their page (and eventually, passport). They are strongly advised to post a blank page on the refrigerator so as not to lose it! This homework assignment (and import/export study) will be ongoing throughout the year. If one country is particularly difficult to find, we will discuss as a class the “why” behind it. For now, please just encourage students to keep their eyes open!

August: This month, students learned that they have been selected to join the world-renowned Spanish Acting Company. As participants, third grades will perform in multiple shows throughout the year, as main characters and audience members. The importance of each role was emphasized here. Performed as theatrical plays, each story will include both fiction (creative, student ideas) and nonfiction (cultural, historical facts).

The first story begins with the following: a famous actor with absurdly strong bodyguards—stuffed animals under students’ sleeves as muscles—must summon his courage to deal with a most calamitous situation: his arch-nemesis has stolen all of his money and pets (3.A) and car (3.B). How to manage? Only time will tell… particularly as the class stories are teacher-asked but student-led. In addition to storytelling, third graders also chose individualized password cards, and then practiced thinking up ways to physically act out each one as part of their beginning-of-class routine; responded to action commands; and danced to the song Madre Tierra during brain breaks. Gracias for a great month.

Year 2016-17

September: This month, students in third grade learned that they have been selected to join the world-renowned Spanish Acting Company.  A quick tour of the Walk of Fame—Hollywood squares with students’ names printed in the stars—confirmed this fact.  As participants, third graders will perform in multiple shows throughout the year, as main characters and audience members.  The importance of each role was emphasized here.  Performed as theatrical plays, each story will include both fiction (creative, student ideas) and nonfiction (cultural, historical facts).  The first story begins with the following: Evil Orange lives in Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany (Deutschland/Alemania).  One night, he laughs his notorious, evil cackle, and sails to Puerto Rico.  The adorable Pato lives there and is nestled in bed with his favorite stuffed animal, Patito, dreaming of raindrops on roses and everything nice, when Evil Orange proceeds to kidnap Patito.  Oh no!  Evil Orange brings Patito back to Neuschwanstein Castle, and… you’ll have to tune in next month to find out what happens next.  “Duh-duh-duhhhhh!”  Third graders also practiced acting out their passwords in a timed setting, trying to associate a specific action with each word; began recording key vocabulary in their Spanish notebooks; and saw pictures of bioluminescence—their nonfiction fact of the month.

Year 2015-16

Quarter 1: This term, students in third grade discussed how ‘language is a sport for your mouth’, as phonetics is a major part of the third grade curriculum. Students also worked on memorizing several tongue twisters in the target language; chose Spanish names and Inside-Out passwords; made replicas of Easter Island Moai statues out of clay; told two class stories with student-actors; saw pictures of La Alhambra in Spain and Iguazu Falls in Argentina; and were delighted by a video about accents (Amy Walker). Gracias for a great quarter.

Quarter 2: This term, students in third grade chose new animal and button passwords; practiced action commands; rehearsed and presented dialogues in the target language; learned about the history of churros and then had a ‘churro party’; built impressive fortalezas/forts during structured free-play lessons, while responding to the teacher’s interruptions with cued responses (flip-cards); discussed untranslatable words; were presented with a country-sticker challenge (imports/exports focus); prepared for the Spanish portion of students’ second semester speeches; and continued with their yearlong storytelling unit. The latter included several hands-on projects, including a roller-coaster building session, designing a Telescope version 2.0, and a three-story long yarn-pulley that hoisted Pato away from an Evil Flower.  Gracias for another amazing quarter.

Quarters 3 & 4: This semester, students in third grade began by helping the rest of Lower School build an impressive 3-D model of part of Chichen Itza out of colorful paper cubes (Mexico). One particular cube managed to attach itself to a Popsicle stick and grow a face—and thus was borne Cubby el cubo cubano (Cubby the Cuban Cube). In order to tell the story of present-day Cubby, however, it was necessary to travel back in time; through role-playing, third graders learned about the lost treasure and Spanish Fleet of 1715, and then used this story (nonfiction) as a point of origin for their own original story (fiction). Their adventure involved intimidating bodyguards, good and evil forces (e.g., the girl who poured a milkshake on Cubby, the paper cube!), the fact that Cubby lives in a printer and therefore could photocopy and clone himself, and a ridiculous and messy finale of soap and marshmallows that expanded in the (yes, real) microwave. Later, students went on another historical voyage to learn about endangered languages and how creoles/languages are formed, and as an extension, worked to create their own languages. Knuffle Bunny added some good food for thought here—is thinking language, pre-language, or merely wordless emotional stuff? Lastly, third graders chose class (food) nicknames; had a ‘masculine and feminine nouns’ competition; learned about Cinco de Mayo, and began their final class story of the year. Gracias for a fabulous year.

Year 2014-15
Quarter 1: This term, students in third grade discussed how ‘language is a sport for your mouth’, as phonetics is a major part of the third grade curriculum. Students then worked on memorizing several tongue twisters in Spanish so as to over-exaggerate the mouth-moving process: Pito, pito colorito; Pepe Pecas; A-E-I-O-U, el burro sabe más que tú (the donkey knows more than you); otorrinolaringólogo/ ENT doctor; Q-U-E-S-O, or ¿Qué es eso? ¡Eso es queso! (What is that? That is cheese!); and ¿Qué te pasa, calabaza? Nada, nada limonada (What’s up with you, pumpkin? Nothing, nothing lemonade). Third graders earned a class reward for all of their hard work—to make a donkey piñata in class. Later, and as part of an ongoing conversation unit, they worked on asking and answering two basic questions in the target language: ¿Qué quieres hacer?/What do you want to do?; Quisiera jugar…/I would like to play…; ¿Qué haces?/What are you doing?; Estoy jugando/I’m playing. Finally, students practiced their lines in a Spanish mini-play; watched several videos from the Señor Wooly site as a Halloween treat (El banco, Las excusas, and ¡PAN!); and began a storytelling unit about Pato el actor famoso/Pato the Famous Actor and an evil flower/flor malvada. Third graders had fun responding dramatically to certain key phrases in the story. Gracias for a great start to the year.

Quarter 2: This term, students in third grade continued developing their class stories. Plot: Pato is flying to the torre/tower in either Romania (Petersheim) or Croatia (Naso) in order to rescue his kidnapped stuffed animal Patito from la flor malvada/the Evil Flower. Unfortunately and en route, his avión/airplane crash-lands in the mar negro/Black Sea (Petersheim) or the mar mediterráneo/ Mediterranean Sea (Naso). In said body of water, Pato sees a multitude of sea creatures (estrellas de mar/starfish, medusa/jellyfish, etc.) and a yellow submarine, or submarino amarillo ♫. In one class (Petersheim), the submarine was not a threat to Pato; in the other (Naso), it was… uh-oh! Later on, third graders used some of this common pool of [story] vocabulary to create their own original comic strips. The final drafts were laminated for students to take home. Additionally, they listened to the catchy song Botas perdidas (Lost Boots) from last year; took some time to dance the Merengue in a circle with their peers (Bailar el ritmo vuelta), and compared and contrasted it with both the Salsa and Tango; and tried dulce de leche, a well-known milk caramel type of spread from South America. As a tangential conversation, students also learned about La Copa Mundial/World Cup and what the celebrations were like in Argentina this summer (non-stop horns for 24 hours straight!).

Quarter 3: This term, students in third grade accomplished a great deal. For starters, they finished their class story about Pato, a stuffed animal who became impatient with Señorita one day and decided to jump into a five-gallon bucket of real water when she wouldn’t stop talking on the phone. Next, third graders told a story not about Pato [gasp]. While the characters and locations varied from class to class, here is a general outline of the plot (Naso): One afternoon/una tarde, a mouse is eating cheese when an evil doctor grabs the cheese (una doctora malvada agarra el queso) and replaces it with mostaza/ mustard. The doctor drives a red Mustang to his secret cave underneath the Eiffel Tower. By means of “the force”, or la fuerza, the cheese also arrives in the cave. Mientras/meanwhile, the mouse sneezes and laments his string of bad luck. Both classes had fun using ‘la fuerza’ to levitate a short table and later a ping-pong ball (with a hairdryer). Third graders also watched the song-video “¿Qué dice el zorro?” (What Does the Fox Say?); practiced answering the question, “¿Cómo te sientes?” (How do you feel?); completed several translation exercises, and then identified how those verbs and nouns related to their class stories (conjugation patterns; masculine/feminine nouns); jumped on and named the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map in the Spanish Cave; and finally, began researching one of these countries on the school iPads. Gracias for a terrific quarter!

Quarter 4: This term, students in third grade spent the first half of the quarter creating their last class story of the year.  Plot (Petersheim): Wilbur the Pig lives in Mexico.  Student X lives in a mansion in Spain (La Alhambra) and is very rich because he is a famous soccer player/futbolista.  Student X is in possession of a magical necklace that Wilbur wants.  In front of the mansion, however, are four knights/caballeros.  Wilbur decides to ask his friends for help to get past the knights guarding the mansion. As a result, Pato sneezes on the first knight, causing him to leave to get a tissue.  Bob, the second knight, is invisible and asleep, and therefore not too much of a concern.  The third knight loves squirrels/ardillas, so when an audience member shouts, “Look!  A squirrel!” he enthusiastically chases after it. The fourth knight slips on a banana peel that a nearby monkey places in front of him… and voilà: the line of defense no longer seems so intimidating.  In addition to storytelling, third graders made flag booklets, and were encouraged to collect stickers or tags on fruits, vegetables, and articles of clothing from Spanish-speaking countries (imports/exports).  Later on, students learned more about La Alhambra, and then built a replica of the fortaleza/fort out of cardboard boxes and tables and colored in Moorish tiles with beautifully intricate geometric designs and patterns. Finally, they listened to Hai Kur Mamashu Shis (Yagan/English) and Tour the World (geography RSA animate video).

Year 2013-14
Quarter 1: This term, students in third grade practiced a new routine to begin class (Luces, cámara, acción, redoble por favor/Lights, camera, action, drum roll please); learned three Spanish tongue twisters (Pito, pito colorito; Pepe Pecas; and Q-U-E-S-O/cheese); and worked on pronouncing a very long word in the target language: Otorrinolaringólogo/ENT doctor. Third graders also made comecocos, or fortune tellers, for the twofold (yes, a very bad pun!) purpose of using numbers out of order and reviewing infinitives from last year, and later created flip cards that said, “¡Estoy jugando!/I’m playing” on one side and “¡No me molestes!/Don’t bother me!” on the other. After verbally answering the question, “¿Qué quieres hacer?/What do you want to do?”, students proceeded with the activity of their choice (e.g., jugar/play, pintar/paint). Within a matter of seconds, however, they were ‘interrupted’ by the teacher, who asked repeatedly and nonstop, “¿Qué haces?/Whatcha doin’?”, until said student answered the question aloud. Students pushed this comparative investigation of infinitives and gerunds even further via Play Days and translation exercises. Because third graders referenced the walls of the Spanish Cave when they got stuck, the latter seemed tantamount to being literally inside a word search… talk about a virtual experience. They wrapped up the quarter with several songs, new and old—Yo me llamo, El banco, Botas perdidas. Last but not least, students chose Spanish names. Gracias for a great start to the year!

Quarter 2: This term, students in third grade had fun studying the metamorphosis of shapes that the mouth undergoes when pronouncing Spanish vowels. After trying to enunciate a few lengthy but vowel-rich words—such as electroencefalografista—students tried their hand at an even more challenging rhyme (A, E, I, O, U, ¡el burro sabe más que tú!/A, E, I, O, U, the donkey knows more than you!). When the sounds began to mush together, third graders just laughed, content with their theoretical understanding of Spanish phonetics. Students also rehearsed and presented several humorous dialogues, which led one afternoon to a tangential discussion about the term Spanglish. For whatever reason, third graders became fascinated with the idea of mixing languages, so much so that they insisted on [repeatedly] practicing the lines of their class mini-play in English, Spanish, and Spanglish. When they were not engrossed in a world of meta-linguistics, students reviewed passwords from previous years (e.g., animals, foods, months of the year); ‘passed notes’ to their neighbors to practice their writing skills; created a Class Wordle of all the words they know in the target language; read ¿Quién está durmiendo? (Who Is Sleeping?); and learned about La Tomatilla, a huge tomato fight and tradition that takes place in Spain every August. Gracias for another brilliant quarter!

Quarter 3: This term, students in third grade presented scripted partner-dialogues; learned two more rhymes in the target language, to add to their collection (“¿Qué te pasa, calabaza? ¡Nada, nada, limonada!” and “Espejito, espejito, que está en la pared, ¿quién es el hada que más le gusta a Usted?”/Mirror, mirror on the wall); tweeted their favorite books, movies and activities on the faux Spanish twitter page outside of the Cave (e.g., @señoritapato; me encanta bailar); circled words that they recognized in the Spanish version of Pepita Talks Twice (Pepita habla dos veces), which students had already read in their regular classroom; posted a ‘brick’ to the Word Wall Castle; compared the difference between “¿Qué quieres [hacer/jugar/comprar]?” (What do you want to do/play/buy?), and then had fun ‘purchasing’ items with fake dinero/money from the toy shelf; watched a multi-lingual video of Let it Go (in 25 languages), as well as the translated version of “What Does the Fox Say?” (¿Qué dice el zorro?); discussed the term gibberish after seeing a short clip of a girl speaking gibberish in multiple languages; and made Fold-It Books, where they literally folded a book out of colorful paper, pasted in paragraphs in the target language of a silly Pato story, and then illustrated each page with relevant drawings. In spite of all the snow days, it has been a busy quarter!

Quarter 4: This term, students in third grade practiced answering questions in the target language (e.g., ¿Te gusta comer hamburguesas con queso o con cebollas o con queso y cebollas?/Do you like to eat hamburgers with cheese or with onions or with cheese and onions?); learned about the history behind Cinco de Mayo, and then acted out the story with live actors and actresses (colina/hill; lodo, mud); held a mini-auction (Note: Popular items included Waddles, the stuffed animal duck that sings lullabies, and a chicken that zips up into an egg and unzips back into a chicken [what?]); created a crazy class story about two witches who turn a famous dancer’s next door vecino/neighbor into a Monstruo de papas/Potato Monster; did a book word search, recording all of the words they recognized in the target language and tabulating the results; wrote and illustrated their own comic strips, making certain to include at least one word or phrase in Spanish in each box; had a ‘kinesthetic discussion’ about el/la/los/las (the) categories and deduced that most el words end in -o, while most la words end in -a; and finally, practiced naming all of the Spanish-speaking countries in the world by jumping from one to the next on a tape map on the floor of the Spanish Cave. Gracias for a beautifully creative year filled with laughter and fun.