Yes to Pizza.

Once upon a time, there was a Spanish teacher who awakened very early one Friday morning and knew–without a doubt–that it was going to be an amazing day: no ifs, ands, or buts. As if cyberspace wanted to confirm this fact, by 5:30am the algorithms had led her to perhaps the #BestSongEverWritten.

She left the room and nearly missed the surprise ending, but ran back just in time to see it (watch to the end!). She felt an immediate and strong urge to share it with everyone who crossed her path that day; fortunately, she would meet with eight classes, so that wouldn’t be too difficult. It didn’t exactly align with the curriculum, but… yes to pizza. Always yes to pizza.

Then again, did it align? Could it? She wracked her brain. Classes were studying the Nazca Lines– massive geoglyphs in the Peruvian desert that appeared to be roads or trenches in every direction at ground level, but from the air… holy guacamole! They were designs of plants and animals, the longest a whopping 12 miles (20km) long!

The crazy thing was that they had been around for 2,000+ years, but weren’t really discovered or documented until aircrafts were invented. She imagined what it would have been like: “Flying over Peru, Roger that. Wait! A giant hummingbird, there is a giant hummingbird! And a spider! Mayday?!” [pause] “No, I don’t believe they intend to eat me.” “Should we send backup?” “No, I repeat–they do not appear to be an immediate threat. Over.”

In fact, drones and AI are helping to uncover new lines, previously gone unnoticed. In October of 2020, as explained by this article, a faint outline of a huge cat was discovered on the side of a mountain. 143 new geoglyphs have been discovered in the past two years, including one of a humanoid.

Students had been having difficulties imagining just how large these images were, so she planned to have them find the vehicles in the following photo. That would surely impress upon classes the immensity of their size. Wow!

Image Credit

So, pizza. Hmm. There had to be a way in; the song was just too good to hide away in a metaphorically dusty folder in the cloud. Another algorithm led to an animated gif, with a monkey, hummingbird, spider, and a… pizza?! Bingo!

The results of this Spanish lesson about pizza, ahem, Peru, speak for themselves, but she, for one, was very impressed.

Third graders tried making their own miniature deserts and geoglyphs with real sand and red paint (to mimic the reddish desert sand), but it was messier than anticipated: she wound up with red paint IN her hair, students all had red hands from dyeing the sand red, and thus the class switched from The Pizza Song on loop to Elmo’s Para bailar la bamba (because Elmo is red, in case you didn’t follow that non sequitur train of thought).

And since they were all in Peru, it felt like spending a moment at the sand dunes would be an inspired end to the week (best footage starts @3:09 below). After all of that virtual sand dune skiing, who’s hungry for pizza? Happy Friday! ¡Feliz viernes!

Teachers: Here is a more authentic/ traditional soundtrack for background music as students work if *gasp* you don’t like the pizza song.

Hibernation

A thick fog hangs like Spanish moss in the air. The air is cool; blurry palms stand quietly in the distance. Winter. Hibernation. Emerging from the cave–my cave–I squint as the first rays of dawn light up the horizon. How long have I been asleep? What did I dream?

We hibernate for myriad reasons. Sometimes this hiding away is a natural state: our energy slows with the seasons as we slide into a deeply restful period, refreshing and rejuvenating body and soul. Other times, we use hibernation as a means for safety or self-preservation, a sort of escapism, where–mandated or not–we become recluses to the world, avoiding and turning off a part of lives until we feel strong enough to reawaken, until we can face whatever it is we were running away from.

“Hibernation: a dormant state in which no food is taken; here, there is no need to nourish ourselves; we are already full and recognize the necessity to take time to digest thoughts, feelings, our past, present, and potential future. As animals- only occasionally rational, I would argue- hibernation is healthy; but rising from the ashes, like the mythical phoenix, remains imperative, a vital, compulsory, requisite aspect of living. So rest and recuperate, and hide away from the world- just don’t forget to come back! We return to the same place, but it is suddenly brand new, brilliantly alive and sparkling like the ocean waves on a hot summer’s day.

I stretch, and memories frozen in a past long ago begin to melt, ice sculptures suddenly visible, now vanishing: Platonic Forms. Bears are both powerful, herculean creatures and cuddly soft, a beautiful tension and delicate balance. Good morning, world.

“We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.”

-T.S. Eliot

Peru- Nazca Lines

PERU: The Nazca Lines are a group of ancient geoglyphs in Peru. They are made out of naturally occurring elements, like rocks, stones, or earth. These trenches–running in all different directions in this part of Peru–appear to be roads from ground level. However, from an airplane, you can see that they are actually huge designs depicting anything from hummingbirds and lizards to astronauts and spiral shapes. Drones are helping to uncover even more in recent years.

HERE is one activity you can do in class or at home. Because my classroom was carpeted last year, students recreated these designs with masking tape on the floor.

LINKS: Nazca Lines Craft for Kids (Peru)New Nazca Lines Found (Peru), Nazca Lines Geocaching (Peru), Ancient Drawings Discovered (Peru)


Guatemala- Sawdust Carpets

GUATEMALA: Thousands of Catholics in Antigua, Guatemala join together during Lent each year to make colored sawdust carpets in preparation for Semana Santa, or Holy Week. In 2014, they broke the Guinness Book of World Records and made the longest sawdust carpet ever, at an astounding 6,600 feet.

In class, the art teacher drew stencils in pencil on colored bulletin board paper, and then students filled in the designs with colored sand. For more images of the real thing, see HERE. Student work from home (Continued Learning) is below.

LINKS: Sawdust Carpets-More (Guatemala)Sawdust Carpets- Video (Guatemala)Sawdust Carpets- AMAZING, Sawdust Carpet Stencil Patterns, Easter in Guatemala

This video shows what the process looks like (note: there is no sound).

Colombia- Guatapé

COLOMBIA: Is this the world’s most colorful town? Last year, students painted colorful buildings and houses on tri-folds, and set up the cardboard in two lines so that they could ‘walk’ through town, stopping at various businesses and mercados along the way. The Señor Wooly song, “¿Adónde vas?” worked well with this unit.

This year, students also learned about finger painting street art in Colombia, and then mimicked the style on their whiteboards. *Image Credit Jessica Devnani


In Guatapé, Colombia, there is also the famous Peñón de Guatapé–a 70-million-year-old rock that stands 656 feet high. Students did a long-division problem to figure out how many of them standing on their clones’ heads would be that tall, and then used Popsicle sticks to build the staircase up the side of the rock (or, in our case, the side of the classroom wall).

Felipe Salgado, Peñon de Guatapé, Colombia

Paraguay- Landfill Harmonic

PARAGUAY: Cateura is the name of a landfill in Paraguay where a town of people have taken a difficult situation–living in, quite literally, a dump–and made the best of it. They began by taking trash and repurposing it to build instruments, and now have an orchestra called Landfill Harmonic.

In class, students extended their study of forces, causes and effects to create their own instruments out of recycled materials. What sounds can you make with boxes, rubber bands, and a few old beads (or beans!)? Let’s get creative!

ASIDE: While Spanish is one of the official languages of Paraguay, Guaraní is as well–and, in fact, more people in Paraguay speak Guaraní than Spanish. It is very important to the life and culture there. Listen to the videos to hear what Guaraní sounds like. Mixing Spanish and English is often referred to as Spanglish, but mixing Spanish and Guaraní is called Jopara.

LINKS: Landfill Harmonic (Paraguay)Landfill Harmonic- Amazon (Paraguay), Landfill Harmonic YT (Paraguay)

“There’s a saying in Paraguay that people who visit always cry twice – once when they arrive and once when they leave.”


Brazil

If this is of interest, also be sure to check out the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz’s art HERE. He makes massive works of art all created from garbage. To give you an idea of the size, the pupil of her eye might be a tire. There is a film about it as well, called Wasteland, but I haven’t seen it yet, so be sure to preview before watching with children. He also does a peanut butter and jelly Mona Lisa, which is very cool!

Summer Language Camps

I am sure that some of you are already making summer plans. How time flies! With that in mind, for parents and/or students seeking a fun and educational language camp over the summer, I highly recommend Concordia Language Villages. Languages offered include Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish for pretty much every age, but there are also family camps as well as adult programs. While the prices are on the higher end, the program is highly renowned, 100% cultural and linguistic immersion, and well worth the cost. There are also scholarships available and virtual village experiences (TBD). Please visit their site for more information.

Continue reading “Summer Language Camps”

Puerto Rico- Coquí Frog

PUERTO RICO: Students were so fascinated by the tiny size and loud voice of the Coquí frog (native to Puerto Rico), that they wanted to create a whole unit out of it. Diving into history, they learned that a long time ago, the Taíno people carved petroglyphs into rocks and caves, including a special symbol for the Coquí frog. To apply what they had learned, some students gathered natural materials outside and then drew the coquí symbol on the leaves and bark; others created a diorama with real dirt, sticks, and leaves (but fake frogs!); and others opted for the tree frog coloring page. Many were enchanted by The Legend of the Golden Coquí, and listened to the story repeatedly. THIS is also a fun story/description for kids about the idea that it “rains coquís“.

“In El Yunque National Rainforest, people claim that it rains coquís. This is somewhat true, but not technically accurate. The frogs are actually jumping out of the tree for reasons of survival. At certain times of the year, when the humidity is high, coquís climb up the tall trees of the forest.

As with many journeys, there are perils, and for the coquí the main danger is the tarantulas who lie in wait to eat them. They are smart little creatures, so to avoid the spiders, they jump from the trees instead of climbing back down, because they are so light that they just float to the ground. So if you are under a tree when they decide to descend, you could get caught in a coquí shower.” (Source)

Puerto Rico- Bioluminescence

PUERTO RICO: Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon where “living organisms emit light”, oftentimes when disturbed. You have probably seen this on land–fireflies lighting up the night–but it can also occur in the water. Mosquito Bay in Vieques Puerto Rico is the brightest glowing bioluminescent bay in the world.

If you scribble on your hands with yellow florescent markers and put them under a blacklight, it produces a similar effect. Note: This made my hands itchy, so be sure to wash up immediately afterwards. There are also Bioluminescent Kayaking Tours available in some parts of the country to see it IRL.

LINKS: Bioluminescence1Bioluminescence2Bioluminescence3, Bioluminescence4Bioluminescence5Bioluminescence- Moana (Puerto Rico), Puerto Mosquito, Vieques Puerto RicoThe Glowing Bio Bay in Vieques (Puerto Rico)NY Post: Magical Bioluminescence (Australia; Puerto Rico)Six Places to Witness Bioluminescence (Puerto Rico)An Ocean Full of Stars (Puerto Rico)

Bioluminescence2Bioluminescence3, The Glowing Bio Bay in Vieques (Puerto Rico)NY Post: Magical Bioluminescence (Australia; Puerto Rico), Six Places to Witness Bioluminescence (Puerto Rico)An Ocean Full of Stars (Puerto Rico), Bioluminescence- Moana (Puerto Rico)

Sparking the Imagination

Good evening,

LET ME BEGIN with a general (but sincere) apology for not sending out thank-you notes yet to acknowledge your incredible generosity throughout the holiday season. Below please find a detailed list of excuses for the time lapse, along with a multi-step, absurdly elaborated enumeration of thought processes of fantastical concoctions of the imagination. #TooManyPrepositionsAlready #ForYourEntertainmentOnly

PART I: Detailed Excuses

1) So I went to the store to buy new thank-you notes because the ones I had weren’t artistically sufficient, but

2) I was running late as it was and then

3) my Train of Thought took me to other places and I missed the actual exit and

4) then there weren’t any parking spaces available and I couldn’t believe my eyes when

5) I saw a Bear–a REAL BEAR–but it was only as real as the VR videogame portrayed it to be (they say HD is clearer than real life, right?) and anyway, the bear appeared out of nowhere when I started playing on my phone while I was waiting for the guy to leave his parking spot and

6) then somebody honked at me and I got all flustered and stressed out and ate a chocolate bar and remembered that I needed milk at the grocery store so I pulled away but

7) then the gas light came on and I went to the station but it only took cash and so I went to the ATM and took out a few bucks but

8) by that time it had gotten dark and I decided that it was time to get going but then out of nowhere

9) I got caught in some quantum weirdness of a wormhole–a temporary condition?–and

10) a Grammarian Cop stopped me for writing this insanely long run-on sentence and then I finally made it home but

11) for the fourteenth time since the day before yesterday, I forgot to buy thank-you notes.

PART II: Absurdly Elaborated Thought Processes

(Several weeks later, after finally purchasing a set of cards to express my deepest gratitude.)

Step 1: I sit at my desk, pen in hand, and start, quite simply, with a handwritten note. Genuine, meaningful, and from the heart:

                           Mon Cher Ami (My Dear Friend)… 

Step 2: And then think– No! I need a better idea, a fun idea, something that the students will appreciate. Yes, that’s it! A 3D (4D?) pop-up Scrabble board type thank-you note that spells out “Thank you!” in 14 different languages!

Step 3: … that is covered in glitter and Dr. Seuss zig-zag staircases…

Step 4: … and is attached to a balloon that inflates by an automated voice command control when said family receives the package in their mailbox…

Step 5: … but that has a dart included to throw so that it doesn’t float away

Step 6: with all the safety precautions in place, of course.

Step 7: And maybe a drone could live-stream their reaction!

Step 8: And we could have a contest in real time of who throws the dart the fastest to pierce the balloon that was inflated by an automated voice command control to lower the package containing a card covered in glitter and Dr. Seuss zig-zag staircases that pops up into a 3D (4D?) Scrabble board that spells out “Thank you!” in 14 different languages.

Step 9: Hmmm, I wonder if I have the necessary coding skills to program an automated voice command. [Inner voice: Absolutely not.]

Step 10: BRRRRRING!!!!! The alarm clock sounds. It is 5am. Again. 

(Loud, automated voice over the intercom system): “Attention, all Gift Givers and Genuinely Thoughtful People. There will be a significant delay in the arrival of your personalized thank-you notes. They most certainly will not arrive on time. There is a slight chance that they may not arrive at all. With a swirl of hope and pixie dust, however, they may possibly arrive in the coming decade, in the time zone of Soon-ish. Again, we are not making any promises. Have a lovely evening.”

All kidding aside, your thoughtful gifts and kind words brought me much light and love, and for that I am inexpressibly grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Virtual Hugs to All,

-Srta. M.

Bolivia- Salt Flat

BOLIVIA: Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat formation in the world. During the rainy season, a light coat of water creates a perfect reflection of the sky–from sunrises and sunsets to beautiful starry nights. Students used watercolors to paint a sunrise on half of a sheet of paper, and then folded it over while still wet to create fun mirror-images.

Later, we all tasted a lot of salt and contrasted it with azúcar/sugar, and discussed how salt is a natural resource. HERE is a good read (with photos) called “Walk the Salar”. For more images, click this LINK.

LINKS: Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)Reflections from Uyuni Vimeo, World’s Largest Mirror (Bolivia)

Argentina- Southern Lights

ARGENTINA: Ushuaia, Argentina is the southernmost city in the world, and also a great place to view the Southern Lights. We tend to hear more about the Northern Lights simply because more people live close to the North Pole than the South Pole, but in the south they are just as beautiful!

In class, students created their own version (see LINK) of the “Southern Lights” out of black and white paper, chalk, and sparkles to further their color study. Here is the link we watched in class- skip to minute 1:49. The video is from Iceland, but it is the same atmospheric phenomenon in the south. Read more scientific info HERE.

Southern Spain ~ Andalucía

The unrelenting Spanish sun beat down on me as I wiped the sweat from my forehead for the umpteenth time, wondering what in the world 44*C was in Fahrenheit. [It turned out to be 110*F.] So this is why they have the siesta, I thought. My brother and I were the only ones walking around the city streets of Granada that afternoon, foolishly searching for tapas and a place to spend the night, when everything was very clearly closed. Scholar-me knew that the siesta existed, knew that it was a part of Spanish culture, but to live it was something entirely different. The “CERRADO” (closed) signs weren’t really necessary: heavy iron doors and gates prevented anyone from even looking inside.

Continue reading “Southern Spain ~ Andalucía”

Argentina- Yerba Mate

ARGENTINA: Yerba Mate Tea (“MAH-tay”) is the ‘friendship drink’ of South America, especially Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Paraguay. You drink the tea out of a gourd, and keep refilling it with hot water all day long to sip. The tea leaves are loose (not in a tea bag). It can be quite strong to some people. Students tasted it today and heard the Guaraní legend of how Mate came to be. A slightly different version of this legend in video form can be seen at this LINK. If you want to make more Mate at home, you can find it at most large grocery stores and also on Amazon HERE.

LINK: About Yerba Mate Tea (Argentina)

Short version of legend: The Goddess of the Moon comes to earth as a human, finding herself in the middle of the jungle at night and face to face with a ferocious jaguar that is ready to attack. She closes her eyes–expecting the worst–when she hears a man whispering to the jaguar in an unfamiliar language. The jaguar relaxes and does not attack the woman. The man says that the jungle is dangerous at night, and to come to his family’s hut and sleep there until morning. The man dreams that night that the woman leaves him a plant to thank him for saving her life. The plant’s leaves are meant to be ground into a tea and shared with friends to “[recreate]… the joy that is born when humans discover divinity in everyday life. When he awakens the following morning, the woman is gone but a plant is on her cot, as his dream foretold (source).

Long version (taken from this page HERE):

“A Guaraní legend has it that, once upon a time, there was a beautiful goddess with long black hair and skin as white as snow, who was so in love with human beings that she would spend hours and hours watching in fascination their every move from the skies above.

It was on a summer afternoon, at the scorching time of siesta, that she succeeded in convincing her father, the God of all gods, to let her walk at least for a few hours, secretly, through the infinite paths of red earth that go deep into the huge and thunderous waterfalls of the jungle in Misiones (2). Right there, humans, whom the goddess admired so, lived happily in huts made of straw and mud, in community and in contact with Mother Nature.

So it happened that, jumping for joy, that very night the goddess finally descended onto planet Earth. Her eyes wide open, like a little girl, and barefoot, so she could move more freely through the deep harmony of the thick vegetation, she ran gracefully like a gazelle, plunging herself into the scent of wild ferns and all sorts of herbs, smiling when listening to the many mysterious nocturnal sounds that inhabit the jungle.

It was while she was mesmerized with the buzzing sound that surrounded a beehive that, all of a sudden, a jaguar crossed her path. It stared and roared at her menacingly, with fierceness, getting ready to attack. The goddess was paralyzed with terror. Having become a human, she had lost all the powers that could have saved her from such a threat. She closed her eyes and mouth, expecting the worst. Yet, she heard a voice murmuring some meters away from where she was standing. Plucking up enough courage, she opened her eyes. And she saw a dark-skinned and brown-haired young man, dressed in a loincloth, who was on his knees close to the animal, whispering to its ear words in a strange language, which the goddess had never heard before. After a while, the jaguar eventually sat on its hind legs. Yawning, it shamelessly opened its mouth wide, inadvertently showing its ferocious teeth. It started to play with the lianas that hung in front of its head. The goddess understood that peace had been restored to the jungle.

“My name is Arami,” said the young man, while he petted the appeased feline and, at the same time, bowed before the girl.

“I thank you, Arami, for your help. I am Jasy, and the heavens will be eternally grateful to you for having saved my life,” replied the goddess, feeling a sudden rush of emotion.

“The sunrise is still some hours away, and it is not a good idea to walk in the jungle at this time of night. Let alone tonight, since darkness is deeper as there is no moon. If you wish so, you are welcome to rest in my family’s hut, Jasy.”

Hardly had Arami finished pronouncing the word “moon,” than the goddess had let slip the hint of a smile. Blushing, she had lowered her head and she had taken her hand to her mouth.

“Who might this strange and beautiful girl be?” wondered Arami, deeply intrigued.

Later that night, while he was sleeping, he dreamed the weirdest dream he had ever dreamed. He was floating over a huge, white and silvery lush forest. From behind, pale and extremely high despite towering trees, Jasy was watching him and smiling, with the same eyes and the same smile he had appreciated so much, hours before, while he was petting the jaguar. She was undoubtedly the same girl. Except that, in the dream, she was taller, so, so much taller, that her face rose above the jungle, reflecting on it a soft, brilliant and whitish light; and her hair was longer, so, so much longer and blacker, that it spread over the whole sky like a jet night where few stars shone. In a moment of clarity, Arami realized that, in truth, he was not floating but gliding over the white darkness while sitting comfortably on the palm of Jasy’s hand.

“As a reward for having saved me from the jaguar,” said Jasy to him, “tomorrow, when you wake up, you will find a new plant in the middle of your garden. Its name is Caá and, after toasting and grinding its leaves, you will make with it a special blend of tea you will come to call mate. You will share the drink with those people to whom your heart is attracted. With each sip that you and your friends drink, you will be recreating and manifesting the joy that is born when humans discover divinity in everyday life, a discovery that is as sacred and perfect as the roundness of my body navigating among the constellations.”

The next morning, Arami did not find Jasy on the improvised straw bed where she had slept. He did find, though, in the middle of his garden, the plant of yerba mate. He followed the instructions he had received in the dream and, finally, at sunset, he sat on the emerald-green grass growing from the red earth, and poured the ground leaves into a hollow, small gourd. He added hot water, slowly, very slowly. One, two, three and four sips, through a thin cane straw. As soon as the beverage began to enter his body, Arami thought he heard Jasy’s smile echoing in the fresh breeze that surrounded him. He raised his eyes, as if he wanted to find her. It was dusk. The whisper of the smile began to vanish, jutting into the night that was arising, towards the extreme East horizon. There, from behind thin clouds, the sharp reddish thread of a dazzling New Moon was beginning to shine its light over the lively green and thick jungle in Misiones.”

Holiday Packet 2020

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and much merriment. Hopefully, amidst the frantic shoppers and bumper-to-bumper traffic, you are able to relax and find some peace and joy in the season.

That said, learning does not stop or stagnate just because there are no classes; we learn constantly throughout our lives, and these breaks remind us that education takes many forms. While vacations are definitely for relaxing and spending time with loved ones, 20,160 minutes [two weeks] is a long time without a language, and parents frequently ask me what they can do at home to supplement their child’s language study. With that in mind, I have curated a list of cultural and linguistic activities that you and your children are welcome to explore over the break. Feel free to pick and choose what works for you and your family, but know that all of these activities are 100% optional.

CULTURE: Holiday Traditions from Spanish-Speaking Countries to Try

1) Cuba: For New Year’s, many Cubans mop their houses from top to bottom, and fill up a bucket with the dirty water. Next, they dump this water in the street, as a symbolic gesture to “throw away” all of the bad stuff from this past year and begin anew. Later, they walk around the block with a suitcase, waving goodbye to their neighbors. This is meant to ensure a trip abroad in the coming months. A staple Cuban event is the pig roast (click on the link, if you dare), but they also will eat black beans and rice, plantains, and buñuelos for dessert for the Christmas Eve meal. A pig roast takes a long time, but the water-dumping and suitcase jaunt seem manageable!

2) Venezuela: “For locals in the capital of Caracas, it is customary to strap on your roller skates and glide to Christmas mass. As legend has it, children go to bed with a piece of string tied round their toe and the other end dangling out of the window. As skaters roll past, they give the string a tug and children know that it’s time to, well, get their skates on” (source). The streets are actually blockaded off each year so that families can roller-skate to Midnight Mass safely. People say this began as an alternative to sledding, since Venezuela is right on the equator and therefore quite warm in December. While I would not recommend roller-skating in the middle of the street in this country, you could go to a rink to skate!

3) Spain: Eat twelve grapes at midnight on December 31, to welcome in the New Year and for good luck for each month of the coming year. People also wear red clothing (and underwear!) for extra good luck. There is also a highly anticipated, three-hour long Christmas Lottery called, “El Gordo” that Spaniards watch on television December 22nd. Children from the San Ildefonso School practice all year long to announce the winning numbers in song. THIS is what it looks like. (Note: The grape-eating tradition has been adopted in many other Spanish-speaking countries as well, and not just Spain.)

4) Mexico: “Families begin the nine-day observance of las posadas by reenacting the Holy Family’s nine-day journey to Bethlehem and their search for shelter in a posada, or inn. In some parts of Mexico, for the first eight evenings of las posadas two costumed children carry small statues of Mary and Joseph as they lead a candlelight procession of friends and neighbors from house to house. They sing a song asking for shelter for the weary travelers. When at last they find a family that will give shelter, the children say a prayer of thanks and place the figures of Mary and Joseph in the family’s nacimiento. Then everyone enjoys a feast at the home of one of the participants.

For the children, the piñata party on the first eight evenings is the best part of las posadas. The blindfolded children are spun around and given a big stick. They take turns trying to break open the piñata with the stick while the piñata is raised and lowered. Everybody scrambles for the gifts and treats when the piñata shatters and spills its treasure” (source). Here, you could act out las posadas and make or buy a piñata.

Oaxaca, Mexico also hosts a very unique radish-carving festival called, “Noche de los Rábanos” (Night of the Radishes) every December. The radish carvings are extremely detailed, intricate sculptures–see pics HERE and HERE–which wilt quickly; timing here is everything. See if you can carve a miniature radish sculpture at home with your parents.

5) Guatemala: Here, “Guatemalans use colored sawdust to construct their nativity sets, and create characters with indigenous features to represent their ancestors” (source). While these nativity scenes are very beautiful, perhaps even more impressive are the sawdust carpets Guatemalans create for Holy Week (Easter). Check out a few pictures HERE to learn more and read about the 6,600 foot long sawdust carpet–a world record. It might be fun to create a miniature sawdust carpet model, but using colored sand and a stencil outline instead. Take a picture so that it lasts forever!

People in many Latin American countries also prepare Christmas tamales, although the recipes differ from place to place and culture to culture (e.g., Mexicans tend to wrap them in corn husks and Guatemalans in banana leaves).

LANGUAGE: Spanish Language Activities

1) Watch a movie in the target language, with Spanish voiceover and English subtitles. If you have not seen Coco or Ferdinand, now would be a great time, but any movie works! NOTE: you are welcome to change the voiceover AND subtitles to Spanish, but quite often, the translations are done in different countries: what you are hearing is not what you are reading. This can be confusing for a beginner; it is more important right now for students to listen to the language: input, input, input! If your family does not want to watch the movie in Spanish with you, ask to invite some friends over. ¡Fiesta!

2) Find a Spanish radio station on your car radio and listen to it either driving around town or on a long road trip. Dance along to the songs and try to pick out a few words you know!

3) Schedule a family night out at a local Mexican/Cuban/Venezuelan/Spanish-speaking restaurant. Then, either order in Spanish (if you already know how), or ask the waiter a few questions and learn how! Most people are more than willing to share their linguistic knowledge. Be courageous and try something new you have not had before. If you go to multiple restaurants, make a photo slideshow of Food from Different Countries!

4) Prepare a traditional recipe with your family from a Spanish-speaking country. Make it interesting and try something new that you have never had before. Tortilla EspañolaBocadilloChurrosFlanDulce de leche? Tamales? Guacamole? Patacones? Tres leches cake? Gallo pinto? Horchata? Enjoy the process of searching for a recipe (appetizer? drink? main course? dessert?), buying ingredients you may have never heard of before, and then preparing it as a family. There tends to be a big focus on family and community in Latin American households, so make sure that everyone helps out. The more, the merrier!

5) Not traveling this vacation? Plan an imaginary trip to a Spanish-speaking country. Pretend you have $10,000. But wait! Other countries do not all use the dollar. Google what type of money your country has. HERE is a currency converter to play around with. Then, decide where you want to go in said country. If you type in the search bar, “points of interest Spain” [or the country you are interested in], you will get photos and names of landmarks, palaces, monuments, beaches, etc. that may be of interest.

6) Find a Spanish language-learning app that you like, and then level-up three levels to complete this challenge. Grades 3&4 have been working on Duolingo this year, so they are welcome to ‘level up’, or explore another app for fun. Here are a few suggestions: MindSnacksDuolingoMemriseFluentUand/or Epic. Or play the Guess the Language game and see if you can beat your score. Please note that the latter is highly addictive!

7) It is very common in many part of Mexico to eat, well, bugs. Really! From worms and creamy winged-ant salsas to stink bugs, chapulines, and 88 species of beetles, “Mexico is the country with the greatest variety of edible insects: 549 species, according to the 2013 report Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security.” To test your courage, visit the Candy Store locally (ask me where!) and buy a few fried crickets, or try Amazon. There are even fun flavors to whet your appetite, such as: Bacon & Cheese, Salt & Vinegar, and Sour Cream & Onion.

8) Start looking for fruits, vegetables, boxes, cans, clothing, etc. that come from Spanish-speaking countries, and try to collect stickers and/or clothing tags from all 21 countries (e.g., clothes “Made in Guatemala”, bananas from Costa Rica, avocados from Mexico; that is, imports/exports). This was a Spanish Challenge, but many Lower School children (grades 2-4) can already name a majority of the Spanish-speaking countries**, and are encouraged to keep their eyes open.

**Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic (La República Dominicana), Puerto Rico (technically a territory), Spain (España), and Equatorial Guinea.

You’ve read this far and still want more? First, thank you for taking the time to read it; it is greatly appreciated. Second, feel free to check out my Summer Packet 2017 and Summer Packet 2016 for more ideas. For any fellow linguists, the Articles drop-down menu and corresponding pages have enough links to last a lifetime. In between your Google Rabbit Hole/Alice in Wonderland virtual searching, enjoy the time off, “sprinkle kindness like confetti“, and have a magical and very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays. See you in 2021!

Fondly,
-Señorita M.

Black Sands

THE SADNESS rolls over me in waves, intermittent pulses gradually washing away the shoreline. I reach down for a handful of the volcanic black sand, and marvel at its odd grainy texture. Farther on, the sand turns pebbly—small, smooth stones pepper the ground mosaic. It is difficult to grasp how this ash was once part of a mountain: hot vapor, rock fragments, lava, and gas have transformed it into a bewitchingly beautiful landscape.

And yet, I also understand completely. It isn’t merely a matter of transportation, that of moving from one place to another—magma inside to volcanic ash outside; but rather this activity of an internal explosion, a pregnancy of creation, a fiery process turned cooled product. These constant bursts are my ultimate composition and makeup at my deepest level. They are me.

I cannot move away from or flee the sadness, for it will remain a part of me always in varying forms–memories etched into basalt columns of the heart; but I can transform the ache into something beautiful. Drowsy numbness, Keats? Begone! As the sadness cools to ash, I feel stronger. Lighter.

Nearing the shoreline, white frothy ocean spray nearly knocks me down this time; but I respond gleefully now, jumping in the waves.

The day is a cold, smoky gray, but I am warm inside. Just like the mountain.

Favorite Shirt

RAINY DAYS usually felt cozy, comforting: grayness squeezing her in a tight metaphorical hug, drops pelting the windowpane in a steady rhythm, staying inside with people she loved. But today was different. She was frustrated. Overwhelmed, perhaps. And for a seemingly nonsensical reason: her favorite shirt didn’t fit anymore. But everyone had one. You know the kind. It was the soft, stretchy, steel blue one, the one made of rayon that never wrinkled or shrunk in the dryer. It was the one that had a history all its own—one that had survived spaghetti sauce, Sharpie markers, long runs through the woods, and even a short bout with a toner cartridge that exploded when she shook it one summer afternoon (whoops). It was the one that made her feel loved, even when times got tough—one that helped her through tears from ex’s, a hypochondriac phase, and infuriating drama-filled emails and texts. And it never made her feel fat, even after she gorged herself on Chipotle and a pint of ice cream. No matter what day it was, she always felt good in it. That’s what made it her favorite shirt.

Except that now it was getting a little tight, and it itched sometimes, and even though it was her favorite, she had worn it to shreds. She needed a new one. Badly. But she didn’t want to let go. She needed to; she just didn’t want to.

The grayness squeezed her with doubts, consuming and strangling her thoughts: what if she couldn’t find a good replacement? What if the new one was only good, and not great? She had already gone shopping at several stores, but returned home exhausted and miserable. She couldn’t find what she was looking for.  Everything paled by comparison. Perhaps she didn’t know what she wanted. And yet, she knew that when she saw it, there would be no indecision, no question, simply a gut feeling and intuition that this was her new shirt. Sighing, she surrendered to the metronome-like pulse of raindrops outside, and decided to hope for the best. She would find a new favorite shirt. She had to. She would still keep the old one forever, and always remember it as her favorite shirt, but she had to go find a new one now.

My throat is parched and dry.  I thirst for adventure. مكتوب (Maktub, “It is written”).

Newsletter 20-21, Oct. (2)

WEEKS 3-4: Just so you are aware, any lesson involving Pato tends to grow and evolve and become an all-out saga that goes on and on because–as the PSA (Professional Stuffed Animal) of a linguist (yours truly)–he has inherited a love of words and language. In other words, these Spanish updates will not be strictly aligned with society’s definition of “every week”, but rather, whenever a lesson circles back around and all of the dots are connected. At times, even Pato is unsure of where all of this is going–metaphorically stumbling through the fog–but in the end, the sun brings a clear sky, everything makes sense, and it all works out (“In the end, it all works out. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end!”). Fortunately, this happened today. But let me rewind a few classes and start from the beginning.

After discussing how many Spanish-speaking countries there are in the world (21), second graders adjusted to starting class with “El mapa” (the map). Here, all of the countries of South America are outlined with masking tape on a 6’x9’ canvas painter’s drop cloth, so that students can simultaneously jump on and name the places (one at a time). The first week, we started with España/Spain, then added Chile and Argentina, and this morning we added Uruguay. We are moving from south to north, but since we had already talked about Spain in conjunction with the Camino (the long hike), students ‘swim’ or ‘fly’ across the room to a corner designated as España.

Today began with students spreading out the tape floor map silently–no words or sounds allowed! I explained in English afterwards that while it always shows good character to be quiet and considerate of other classes, the reason for this activity was primarily linguistic: if you are dropped in a foreign land and do not speak the language, you will rely heavily on gestures and body language. These are all clues and should not be disregarded! I socially distanced myself from them, slid down my mask, and made an angry face, crossing my arms. How am I feeling right now, class? Mad! Did you need to know the word, “enojada” (angry) to understand that? I want to give students tools to navigate another language, and being observant can be enormously helpful when it comes to comprehension.

Anyway, while second graders jumped on the map, I showed those waiting in line a slideshow of photos highlighting said countries, and answered their questions, adding personal travel anecdotes when relevant or necessary. What are those animals? A capybara and a coati! Is that Easter Island (Chile)? Yes! Can you play that video? The video was actually a song of classic Argentine and Uruguayan Tango music, to which students listened and then did the basic T-A-N-G-O step. (For any ballroom dancers out there, Argentine Tango is beautiful but too complex for our purposes, so I teach the American Tango step to students.) 

We connected this to our previous conversation about the “angry face” because the character of the Tango dance is angry and hostile, with sharp movements and defined steps. It is a great dance to do when you are mad!


Switching to Spanish, we continued recounting The Adventures of Pato. Here, I was nervous that the story was losing a bit of steam, so I knew we had to spice it up and connect all of the dots. You see, each lesson, second graders are excited to see and ‘talk’ with Pato. He visited second grade last week and was sopping wet (it literally took three days to dry him out) and they all wanted to know why. As a result, he began to explain the–as one student so eloquently phrased it–“grossly exaggerated” tale. Embellishment might as well be his middle name.

In 2-1, it was a scorchingly hot summer day (hace calor/ “AH-say kah-LORE”), and Pato could not tolerate the heat: he jumped into the ocean (agua/water), feeling the cool waves beneath his wings, and smiled–until a huge shark zoomed into the picture (literally: I created a slideshow after we came up with the story), with a voice booming four malevolent syllables, “TENGO HAMBRE” (I’m hungry). Thought-bubbles of a scrumptious “duck sandwich” came to mind as he swam closer and closer. Clearly, we had a situation.

In 2-2, a similar plot ensued, except that Pato was peacefully sleeping in his bed, dreaming of an ice cream cone with not one, but TWO scoops of chocolate (helado de chocolate), when all of a sudden, a group of shark-ghosts/tiburónfantasmas (and shark-foxes and shark-black cats/tiburones-gatos negros (what?!), etc.) snuck into his dream, ravenous as all get out and ready to chow down on a duck sandwich. (We won’t get into the logistics of what happens when the dreamer who initiated the dream gets eaten. Does everyone disappear? And if so, was the dreamer really eaten, when none of it is reality to begin with? I digress.)

Point being, both classes ended up on the same page re: a duck sandwich, so it seemed an appropriate time to insert a smidgen of cultural knowledge about food: “bocadillo” (sandwich/ “bow-kah-DEE-yo”) and “tapas” (snacks or appetizers in Spain/ “TAH-pahs”). Students pretended to physically become “bocadillos” or “tapas” around the room here (stretched out or curled up). We also played a “tiburón” (shark) vs. everyone game several lessons ago, where the “everyones” had to say, “¡No me comas!” (don’t eat me) as a response to, “Tengo hambre” (I’m hungry).

Students also listened to their class songs, namely, Rompe Ralph/ Wreck-It Ralph and La Roja Baila, and 2-1 made sure to voice their–mostly fabricated–complaints (once they realized that I was over exaggerating absolutely everything to elicit a “Me duele/it hurts” response from them). They also practiced writing a few sight words in the target language.

BUT BACK TO the story! Pato decided that the only way he was going to be able to escape was by flying. However, flying is an art–even for a young duck–and he needed some assistance here. Second graders helped rig up a string zipline in the classroom for the stuffed animal and away he flew, out of danger’s grasp.

When you hear about each day individually from your child, it might be difficult to follow all of this; but when the lessons invariably come together and the pixelated view becomes a panoramic view one magical, cloudy Tuesday morning, my hope is that you see where we are going. To sum up, in Spanish class our goal is to incorporate both language and culture.


The end beginning. Have a great week and thanks so much for reading!

Newsletter 20-21, Oct. (PK)

UPDATE: Students in PK-4 have been experiencing a 100% immersive classroom environment in Spanish class. We begin each day with a song, followed by knocking on the “door” (read: ground) to see if Pato is ready to visit them. I ask them where he is (¿Dónde está?) and they point to my small backpack (mochila). When they have a lot of physical energy, we do action commands (corre/run, salta/jump, marcha/march, baila/dance, etc.).

The reminder of class tends to be presentational-conversational, meaning that I am presenting a lesson and constantly asking questions in Spanish, but students are also responding in English or with body language (e.g., thumbs up or down). This is called the “silent period” in language acquisition; learners are absorbing, absorbing, absorbing. They are absorbing the cadence and rhythm of the language, and they are intuiting, comprehending, and internalizing contextualized language and new vocabulary. I gesture, I change the intonation of my voice, I use props, I turn on and off the lights (we have a ‘class game’ where I ask a student to turn off the lights, they respond and everyone else pretends to fall asleep–buenas noches/good night!); I do pretty much everything I can think of, but I do not pressure students to produce language at this stage in the game. If they want to, fantastic; but if not, that is perfectly natural (think of a baby learning his/her native tongue– you don’t force them to speak day #2 out of the womb!

Anyway, PK-4 students were exceptionally in the zone this morning, and so our general conversation with Pato turned into a gripping story about a gato/cat who wanted to eat Pato (a duck). The cat did not want pizza, strawberry or chocolate ice cream, or a banana; however, it considered cat food and four fish. Ultimately, the cat chased after Pato (who put a tissue over his head, pretending to be a fantasma/ghost), but a student suggested that I use the three stuffed animal dogs I bring to class to bark and scare away the cat. Thankfully, this scared away the cat. Phew!

The suggestion was–ironically–very similar to a Cuban tale about the importance of learning another language (in the story, a mouse barks to scare away a cat; video ends at 4:21). Gracias and have a great day!


VIRTUAL STUDENTS are strongly encouraged to get as much linguistic input as possible– watch cartoons in the target language, listen to the radio in Spanish (even if you don’t understand!), just listen-listen-listen! Your child’s brain is doing a ton of work, even if they can’t verbalize or articulate it quite yet.

Newsletter 20-21, Sept. (1)

September of 2020

My Dearest Pato:

You are very sweet to write. Your penmanship, however, seems to have regressed. Then again, I am not as fluent in Duck as in years past; it is likely this was a factor in my overall comprehension. But yes, I am doing well and greatly enjoying my new adventures. Thank you for asking. The candy heart drawing was beautifully done.

I was pleased to hear that you eventually made it to Stain Spain. But what a trip! The colorful Popsicle stick boats first graders made sank; the paper airplane was not quite robust enough to support a stuffed animal of your generous proportions; and the miniature zip-line inside the classroom lacked, well, length. Thankfully, you had the foresight to bring the latter outside and (whoosh!), landed north of Madrid. I won’t harp on the time you wasted jumping into a pool (agua/water) before your trip–we both know that you know better–but I understand the temptation, given the recent high heat index and humidity.

And, yes! Imagine your surprise upon learning that first graders had painted you a house. You must have been delighted when [one class] shouted, “¡Sorpresa!” (surprise!). I knew that they had consulted the world renowned Duck Designs, Inc. to match your particular tastes and preferred color schemes. Naturally, then, the house was covered in beautiful splashes of color, but it was also a PHOTO you saw, which would explain the bump on your head as a result of trying to enter the 2D image. For future reference, you must venture outside to move into the actual house (casa).

But look, I get it. You want to go away for the weekend and catch a quick flight south to that famous palace/fort. The house can wait. The paint is barely dry, anyway, and you deserve a vacation. The life of a stuffed animal can be trying at times. There are so many things to deal with: getting dizzy going ’round and ’round in the machines at the laundromat (surely a traumatic ordeal); receiving numerous air-hugs (abrazos/hugs) from students simultaneously (does that hurt?); and dealing with transportation mishaps (boat sank; airplane crashed; zipline wasn’t initially long enough).

I still think you’re loco (crazy) for not wanting to rest up, but you are permitted to go at your own pace. That is what the Camino teaches us: one step at a time. Be well, stay out of trouble, and keep me posted on your adventures.

Much love,

-Señorita M.

Newsletter 20-21, Oct. (K)

WEEK 5: On Monday, students used paper telescopes to look for tesoro/treasure, practicing the phrase, “¡MIRA!” (“MEER-rah”/Look!). Later, they watched Pocoyo: Piratas to understand these words in context. This was also the first time this year they’ve heard someone else speaking Spanish, other than their maestra.

To extend our class story, kindergarteners traveled outside this morning to help Pato search for ‘real’ tesoro/treasure. (It is assumed that he got past the alligators safely.) Students practiced saying, “¡Mira!” (Look!) again while picking up shells and small rocks and pretending that they had discovered TESORO (“tay-SORE-oh”)/treasure.


VIRTUAL LEARNERS are welcome to make paper telescopes (roll up a sheet of colored paper) and then create their own treasure hunt (real or imagined) at home! Painting rocks gold and then hiding them might be a fun activity. Drawing a treasure map on the inside of the telescope is another idea.


WEEKS 3-4: After spending one lesson last week identifying objects that float and sink–and adding food coloring to plain water/agua (not vinegar/vinagre) to observe the ‘lava lamp’ effect–Pato decided that the day had come to learn to fly. He felt ready. Prepared. Brave. Courageous! A pulley system was therefore erected in class (arriba, abajo, de lado a lado/up, down, side to side), and kindergarteners helped him get over his fear of heights (¿Listos?/Ready?). At a certain point, he would shriek that he didn’t like it, and we would let him down; but he soon became accustomed to the idea (Sí me gusta/no me gusta/ para nada; yes, I like it, no I don’t, not at all). A series of P.E. lessons in Spanish class then ensued (combining action words from our beginning-of-class routine with other exercises to help increase the duck’s upper body strength). He was able to lift a marker by the end of the lesson, bench-press style. ¡Muy bien!

Today in class–and building on a genius idea from second graders–students helped hold up a zipline for Pato, so that he could practice flying while harnessed in. After a few runs, he had had enough; and so we returned to the class’s first mini-story of the year. The goal here is to combine vocabulary from all of the lessons, in a comprehensible and interactive way. The story included Pato floating on a boat in the water (read: a box big enough to fit one student) with caimanes/alligators all around. Students shouted, “¡Mira!/Look!” when they saw one (other students acting), as the teacher dragged the box-boat across the ocean, err, room. Rain, thunder, and wind sound effects were added in the background via noisli.com and a portable Bluetooth speaker, to complete the scene.


VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to rig up their own string zipline at home, and harness in their favorite stuffed animal to practice directions/action commands (arriba/up, abajo/down/“ah-BAH-hoe”, and ¡vuela!/fly!) in the target language. Materials needed: string (a taut line) and a cylindrical piece of pliable cardboard, such as a paper towel or toilet paper roll. They are also welcome to build their own cardboard box boat/barco with a sign that says, “BARCO/BOAT”, and continue practicing colors and numbers (0-10, forwards and backwards) in Spanish.

Newsletter 20-21, Sept. (4)

Week #2: This week, students in fourth grade had another dance party–see video below–making sure to sing, “Es viernes (‘bee-AIR-nace’)/It’s Fri-day” as they settled into their seats. The former is our “class song” and was the official anthem for the 2016 European Championship (soccer/fútbol). By Friday, fourth graders began to take a look at the lyrics and delve a bit deeper, learning that while rojo means red in Spanish, in the song, “La Roja” refers to the soccer team because Spain’s flag is red (and yellow).

Before jumping into the lesson, however, I wanted to take a moment to explain why I’ve repeated, “¡Camino!” four million times throughout the past few classes. The Camino is a long hike, yes–but it is also a metaphor. Simply put, language-learning is a journey. The Weekly Spanish Challenges (paralleling the 500-mile Camino de Santiago hike in Spain) are meant to reinforce that fact.

You see, some days feel like we’re walking straight up a mountain. Life is one problem after another–interjection: no! There are no problems, only solutions!–and all of our studying feels for naught. How come I’m not fluent yet? Other days, we are coasting. Spanish makes sense; there is growth: I remember that word! It is crucial to understand here that fluency does not occur overnight. It is a process where, after many successes, failures, and moments of uncertainty, coupled with much determination, grit, and hard work, progress is made. Plateau-ing is normal at a certain point. But don’t give up, ever!

The important thing is to keep going–just keep walking. You are making progress, even if you can’t articulate it quite yet, even when you don’t feel like it. If the class is going too slowly for you, then hike faster!: ask the teacher questions, explore Duolingo (a language-learning app already on your iPads), look up words in a Spanish dictionary, listen to music in the target language. There are myriad opportunities!

After this pep-talk of sorts (and encouragement to complete the Weekly Challenges)–along with a brief reenactment of La Tomatina, the tomato-throwing festival in Spain–students continued with their storytelling/ theater unit. Here, the teacher provides the bare-bones outline of a scripted story, and asks questions to personalize and cater the story to each particular class. My goal is to ingrain certain vocabulary structures in their minds each day through memorable experiences, comprehensible input–students understanding/ intuiting what is being said, even if they don’t know the words yet– and repetition (the average learner requires 70-150 repetitions of a word and/or phrase before it is stored in long-term memory).

NOTE: As I touched upon last week, the stories are grounded in actual cultural facts and places, but the idea is to layer imagination and creativity over them to create a personalized play with student actors and actresses. The stories tend to grow from class to class, but on occasion they will reach a “No Outlet” sign and we will begin anew (the phoenix re-birthed!). New vocabulary is constantly presented and old vocabulary is constantly spiraled and recycled. A full report on each class plot will be forthcoming: we are in the midst of the creative process!

One final note–students are gradually being exposed to the written word, but the focus right now is on listening and aural comprehension. This will be our next step (on the Camino… ha!).

VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to print and cut out their own euros in color from the template below. Next, if you have any change in your piggy-bank, count all of it, and then type that number into this online currency converter to see how much it would be in a Spanish-speaking country**. For example, $100 US dollars today is about 84€ euros in Spain, but 365,645 pesos in Colombia. WOW! (Students did this in class last week.)

**Spanish-Speaking Countries: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (technically a territory), Spain/España, Equatorial Guinea.

If there are any vocabulary words I would like you to focus on this week, they would probably be dinero/money (‘dee-N(AIR)-row’), la casa de _____/so-and-so’s house (‘lah KAH-sah day ________”), and tengo mucha hambre/I’m really hungry (‘tango MOO-chah AHM-bray’). HERE is a great song (though admittedly a bit silly…) to get tengo hambre stuck in your head forever and ever. Make sure to say these words aloud with a lot of EXPRESSION! and in context at mealtimes, too. Hope you’re having a great week!

Newsletter 20-21, Aug. (3)

Week #2: This week, students in third grade entered the wonderful world of storytelling. Here, the teacher provides a bare-bones outline of a scripted story, and asks questions to personalize and cater the story to each particular class. My goal is to ingrain certain vocabulary structures in their minds each day through memorable experiences, comprehensible input–students understanding/ intuiting what is being said, even if they don’t know the words yet– and repetition (the average learner requires 70-150 repetitions of a word and/or phrase before it is stored in long-term memory).

NOTE: The stories are grounded in actual cultural facts and places, but the idea is to layer imagination and creativity over them to create a personalized play with student actors and actresses. If, for example, we learn that student “Fred” hates tomatoes in real life, then we would fit this into the story somehow. The stories tend to continue and grow from class to class.

The story today began in Spain/España, but started with a few questions and answers, game-show style (tú ganas/ you win), and–after voting–the class had a brief dance party. The song is our “class song” and was the official anthem for the 2016 European Championship (soccer/fútbol). Students in the second class delved a bit deeper, learning that while rojo means red in Spanish, in the song, “La Roja” refers to the soccer team because Spain’s flag is red (and yellow).

Both classes had to use “La fuerza” (‘fwear-sah’), or “the force” to get my Bluetooth speakers to work for the song. It only works it everyone says the word in Spanish and outstretches their hands toward the device, sending energy to the technology. Obviously.

With respect to storytelling, 3-1 focused on the logistics of the trip: Where are we going? Spain! How do we get there? Plane! What do we need? Backpacks/mochilas, water/agua, money/dinero (I handed out color copies of euros). Later, students proceeded to grab their stuff, boarded a socially-distanced airplane (chairs rearranged in the room), took an eight-hour flight, passed through customs (passports/ pasaportes), and hiked for about two minutes on the Camino before someone started complaining that they were hungry (maestra, tengo mucha hambre) and we had to stop at a restaurant (i.e., class was over).

3-2 went on a bit of a linguistic/travel tangent when someone asked if we could study Brazil. (I love when these conversations invariably pop up in third grade; there is something about this age that makes them so curious about the world on a global scale.) Anyway, we talked about how Portuguese and Spanish are closely related (I can understand a good deal of the former even though I don’t speak it), but that while there are 21 Spanish-speaking countries–and while they do speak Spanish there–Brazil is not officially a Spanish-speaking country. However, we will focus on the other 21 countries this year.

The story in 3-2 went as follows: Lights/luces, camera/cámara, action/acción, drum-roll/redoble… a famous actress is hiking the Camino de Santiago but gets really hungry (tengo mucha hambre). She wants a pizza and so calls Domino’s. The delivery guy drives his super fast red car to Spain to deliver the pizza. BUT, his car tips over, he gets hurt (¡AY!) and he has to call an ambulance. The doctor comes and stitches him up. PHEW! (Students were tickled pink that ambulances say, “Ni-no-ni-no” in Spanish, not “Wooo wooo wooo”. Gotta love onomatopoeia.)

ASIDE: these stories take place in the target language, but students should not be expected to produce all of this language independently at this point. The goal right now is comprehension and following along in class. Acquisition takes time: patience, my little grasshoppers!

VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to print and cut out their own euros in color from the template below. Next, if you have any change in your piggy-bank, count all of it, and then type that number into this online currency converter to see how much it would be in a Spanish-speaking country**. For example, $100 US dollars today is about 84€ euros in Spain, but 365,645 pesos in Colombia. WOW!

**Spanish-Speaking Countries: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (technically a territory), Spain/España, Equatorial Guinea.

If there are any vocabulary words I would like you to focus on this week, they would probably be dinero/money (‘dee-N(AIR)-row’), agua/water (‘AH-gwah’– but you may already know this!), and tengo mucha hambre/I’m really hungry (‘tango MOO-chah AHM-bray’). HERE is a great song (though admittedly a bit silly…) to get tengo hambre stuck in your head forever and ever. Make sure to say these words aloud with a lot of EXPRESSION! and in context at mealtimes, too. Hope you’re having a great week!

Newsletter 20-21, Aug. (K)

Week #2: This week, students in kindergarten experienced 95% immersion in the target language. They usually begin class with some sort of movement warm-up, either dancing as a group to the Wreck-It Ralph/Rompe Ralph song, or copying action words as the teacher does them (e.g., run, jump on one foot, raise your hand, etc.).

Next, they chat for a few minutes with Pato, my stuffed animal duck who–yes–wore his mask this week and–no–was not wearing his sock pajamas (like on the first day of school). He was still not wearing a school uniform, but at least he had on a yellow knit sweater as more appropriate attire. Several students complimented him today in Spanglish–“¡Pato is so GUAPO today! [handsome]”. One class also practiced counting to ten in Spanish (which most of them seem to already know how to do). The other class wants to teach Pato how to fly… [COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU!].

Then, we launched into the project of the day with a song to review colors: “Azul, blanco, rojo, violeta, amarillo, anaranjado, verde y rosa [rosado]“. I pointed to crayons as I sang, so as to associate the proper color with each word, and then referenced the food coloring bottles that we had used last class with the coffee filters.

After smelling seemingly identical cups of clear liquid–water/agua and vinegar/vinagre [‘bee-NAH-gray’]–students responded in Spanish with either, “Sí me gusta” or “No me gusta” (I like it/I don’t like it/’no may GOOSE-tah’) and proceeded to ooooh and aaahhh when Pato added baking soda, droplets of food coloring, and vinegar to a bowl–resulting in a colorful volcanic eruption!

We repeated this experiment several times. Each time, I narrated what was happening and asked questions continuously; the class voted on which color should be added next, how many droplets, etc.

They ended class by writing their first Spanish sight word of the year on their whiteboards: Hola. Thanks for a fabulous week!

VIRTUAL LEARNERS, HERE is a video narrated in Spanish to help you follow along. Be sure to gather the materials for the coffee filter project (see below) and perhaps a bit of baking soda, vinegar, and a bowl so that you can do the experiment along with me!


Week 1: This week, students in kindergarten learned that “Señorita” speaks Spanish, which sounds a little different than English. They were not sure at first that they could follow the strange mix of sounds, but after a few “tests”, (toca la cabeza/touch your head, salta/jump, etc.), students realized it was not so difficult–even if it still sounded funny!

In terms of content, the class dove right in to reviewing colors and numbers in new contexts. Most knew that “uno-dos-tres” (etc.) and “rojo, azul, verde, amarillo” were Spanish words, even if they couldn’t all produce them. (NOTE: This is perfectly normal and a great place to start the year. The average person requires 70-150 repetitions to acquire a word or phrase before it goes into their long-term memory.)

All students followed along–frequently repeating words and phrases they heard in the target language–as we began a brief class activity. Here, students were individually asked a series of questions in Spanish about which food coloring “Señorita” should open first (azul/blue; rojo/red; amarillo/yellow; verde/green); how many drops she should add to the coffee filter (uno/one; dos/two; tres/three); and where the drops ought to fall (“over here or over there”/¿Por acá o por ahí?). They also met a Professional Stuffed Animal (PSA) named Pato, who is a silly duck with a very big personality; and listened to a song from Wreck-It Ralph in Spanish (see embedded video below).

To continue reinforcing colors and numbers in a meaningful context, kindergarteners will begin their own coffee filter project next class.

VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to do the following:
1) listen to the Wreck-It Ralph/Rompe Ralph (‘rom-pay Ralph’) song in Spanish;
2) get a head-start on next week by checking out THIS POCOYO episode exploring the opposites big/small (grande/pequeño); and 
3) gather materials for the individual project next week. You will need: one white coffee filter and a box of food coloring (red, yellow, blue, green), and something to protect the table (from food coloring stains). I will be creating a step-by-step video for virtual learners this weekend to guide them through the process in Spanish.

*The Weekly Spanish Challenges are also an option for anyone feeling extra motivated!

Newsletter 20-21, Aug. (4)

Week #1: This week, fourth graders embarked on a whirlwind adventure of language and culture. The first class was spent almost entirely in the target language: here, students traveled to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago (a 500-mile hike that will directly correspond with the Weekly Spanish Challenges). Fourth graders began ‘hiking’ around the room as they watched THIS VIDEO I made (“Spain, Part 1”), but quickly realized they needed their backpacks and water bottles–the Spanish summer sun is very similar to Florida’s, with 110*F temps!

As they walked over mountains and through valleys, their guide would periodically get lost. Students learned that the trail is marked by [scallop] shells and arrows. When you see one, you know that you are on the right path. Phew!

Whether students realized it or not, there were constant comprehension checks along the way: “What is this in English? How do you say this ___?”. I am throwing A LOT of Spanish at them in the first few classes, to gauge exactly where they are linguistically (including how many minutes they can actively listen to the language before their brains tune out!) and move forward from there. If your child is newer to Spanish and feels lost, please reassure them that I am only testing where the class is right now and to try their best to watch and follow along. It is okay if they don’t understand every word! Part of the language-learning journey is to RELAX when hearing another language. The brain actually does a lot of work subconsciously when students are actively listening. We will talk about all of this next week.

Anyway, students began creating a “Camino” around campus by drawing shells and arrows with chalk. We hiked up and down a few mountains (read: staircases) with our bags and water bottles, and then decided to retire to the hotel/hostel (their classroom!) for the evening. One section was able to do more of this than the other, due to time constraints.

The following day, students learned that Spanish classes will bounce back and forth between 1) learning about real places/monuments/ history/ traditions/realia–that is, culture–in the Spanish-speaking world; and 2) imagination, where we take pieces of this real culture and combine it with other fantastical ideas, in order to create personalized plays and tell stories in the target language. They also began class with a Friday dance party (Merengue!) to THIS SONG. Note that the English translation here is not a professional translation, but you get the general idea. It was the official anthem to the 2016 European Championship, and a great song!

On Friday, fourth graders launched into a storytelling/theater unit. I did not tell them any of the rules of Spanish storytelling because I wanted to see how they would respond; we will go over these next time. The gist of it was that a famous actress–walking the red carpet–starred in a movie about THE CAMINO (the 500-mile long hike in Spain). Luces, cámara, acción, redoble, toma uno /lights, camera, action, drumroll, take one!

In 4-1, the actress walked and walked and walked, was famished (tengo hambre/I’m hungry), and wanted to go to a restaurant to eat (she had three choices). This part of the story was put on hold or pause as students were given dinero/[fake] money and talked for a minute about euros vs. dollars and different conversion rates.

In 4-2, three famous actress auditioned for the main part. However, it was soon discovered that they were mortal enemies/enemigas. The class voted on this and then paused at a crucial moment when the girls were walking THE CAMINO and realized that their arch-nemesis was behind them. FIGHT?! Oh no! What a problem!

The goal for both classes was to jump into storytelling. We will hone in on specific vocabulary next week and ‘how to play the game’; the goal for this week was simply to listen to a lot of Spanish and gauge what students did and did not understand.

VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to check out the video and photos at THIS LINK, and to create their own “Camino” at home. The arrows and shells are oftentimes made out of things in nature as well. You might outline an arrow using some rocks or palms, or simply draw arrow and shell signs and hang them up around your house. Make sure they are all pointed in the same direction, so that you don’t get lost. Feel free to send pictures, if you like!

For language input, virtual learners may also 1) participate in the Weekly Spanish Challenges; 2) sign up for a Duolingo account and do a lesson or two; and/or 3) watch a movie or cartoon in the target language (Spanish voiceover and English subtitles). Just get used to hearing a lot of Spanish!

Newsletter 20-21: Pato Who? (1)

This week, following introductions, students in first grade named as many words that they could think of in the target language (e.g., red/rojo, blue/azul, green/verde, uno-dos-tres, dog/perro, etc.), and then listened to their get-up-and-dance CLASS SONG. Not long after, they transitioned into an immersive Spanish classroom environment, and realized that they could understand and intuit a lot simply by watching. You see, when their teacher snaps, she magically begins speaking Spanish. If she snaps again, she turns back into an English-speaker. Very strange. Magic is everywhere.

“AH-HEM!” [A loud, shrill voice from the corner pipes up.]

“Yes, I know. I’m sorry, Pato. I know I should have introduced you first, but–“

NO EXCUSES!” The voice is coming from a stuffed animal duck. His name is Pato (which conveniently means duck in Spanish). He was grumpy, but there was no need for disrespect. “I do not like your tone, young man duck!”

As you may have already heard, Pato is quite the character. He has a big heart but frequently interrupts (we’re working on that) and is always getting into some sort of harmless mischief. He claims to know how to speak Spanish, but bops back and forth between English and Spanish so quickly that there might as well be a ping-pong game going on in his head. He also forgets where he is; arrives late to first grade on a regular basis (after Señorita M.–and sometimes on a red-eye flight from Brazil); wears sock pajamas to school; and takes a nap/siesta in the middle of class (which is what happened today).

Either Pato has no idea what’s going on, or he lives in his own world, or maybe he knows what’s going on and is intentionally doing the opposite of what he ought to, most of the time. I’m guessing the latter is probably closest to the truth, but with him you never know.

GRIFFFSNSHFKDJSFIBDSTH“. The normally shrill voice was muffled behind his mask.” “¿Qué? (“K”)/ WHAT?” He took off the mask.

“I SAID, I’m taking a nap/siesta because we’re in Spain. Don’t you know? The restaurants are all closed, so I’m going to sleep.” [proceeds to snore obnoxiously to make his point]

Aha, now I was beginning to understand. First graders did make a banner of colorful, glittery shells, as scallop shells are used to mark the 500-mile hike across northern Spain that Lower School has been talking about this week. (This trek will correspond with the Weekly Spanish Challenges.) And Señorita M. did use an abanico/ fan from Spain to cool him down when he was wearing his iconic yellow knit sweater and Christmas scarf (Come on, Pato! It’s summer in Florida! TOO HOT! This led to a conversation about ice-cream/helado, which was ironic, considering that I ate A LOT of ice cream while actually hiking the Camino de Santiago.) And she was speaking in Spanish. Maybe we were in Spain. Or maybe we should go?

We decided that his reasoning was valid. There was just one problem. “Where did you say that you think we are, Pato?”

“Stain.” [Ventriloquism requires that certain consonants be slightly mispronounced, so as not to move the lips. P’s become t’s, m’s become n’s–you get the idea.]

“You mean Spain.”

“That’s what I said.”

“No, you said ‘Stain’.”

I DID NOT!” The high pitched, going-to-throw-a-temper-tantrum pronto voice had returned. This was not something I wanted first graders to witness on the third day of class. Why couldn’t he just behave?

“Let’s try it in Spanish: España.”

“ES-TAHN-YAH.”

“Never mind. Let’s just go there instead.” And so we did.

After a quick flight–arms outstretched in airplane mode (there’s a pun in there somewhere)–first graders spent the remaining 5-10 minutes of class outside, placing tiny [real] shells in the mulch patches of the courtyard, marking the Camino de Santiago trail and creating our own little Spanish paradise.

And as for Pato, well, he found a large piece of bark and has decided that his mission in life is to build a boat and actually sail to Stain Spain.

To be continued…

PATO: “Senorita M., why can’t you just write normal newsletters?”

ME: “I honestly have no idea…”


VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to check out the video and photos at THIS LINK, and to create their own “Camino” at home. The arrows and shells are oftentimes made out of things in nature as well. Students may color or paint the shell template below; outline an arrow using some rocks or palms; collect shells at the beach; or simply draw your own arrow and shell signs and hang them up around your house. Make sure they are all pointed in the same direction, so that you don’t get lost. Feel free to send pictures, if you like!

For language input, virtual learners may also 1) participate in the Weekly Spanish Challenges and/or watch a movie or cartoon in the target language (Spanish voiceover and English subtitles). Just get used to hearing a lot of Spanish!

*ONE FINAL NOTE: To clarify, the bulk of classes have been in the target language, but I wasn’t sure how many of you would keep reading if I sent the original transcript. I do switch to English periodically, but mostly to communicate more abstract, cultural points where visual cues don’t do the trick.

Newsletter 20-21, Aug. (PK)

Week #1: This week, students in PK-4 were officially introduced to Pato, a stuffed animal duck who has a big heart but always seems to be getting into mischief. The first day of school, he overslept. When students tried to wake him up around 12:30pm– AHEM, THE AFTERNOON?! (toca a la puerta/ knock on the door)–he was wearing his sock pajamas and had little to no interest in changing into his uniform. This argument conversation in the target language continued for some time. He finally settled on a yellow knit sweater and, after much persuasive talk, removed his nightcap. When Pato began complaining–almost immediately–that he was too hot in the sweater, the teacher pulled out an abanico (special fan from Spain) to cool him down (hace calor- ‘AH-say kah-LORE’/it’s warm/hot).

PHOTOS & STAGES OF NEGOTIATION: First choice (pajamas). Second choice (nightcap and sweater uniform). Third choice (sweater uniform and mask). #notfair

The following class, he was more prepared–and wearing a mask, as per another class’s insistence that he follow the rules. However, he was still complaining pretty incessantly about the heat. This probably had something to do with him trying to wear his sock pajamas underneath his real clothes. (Aside: are they real clothes, when he is a stuffed animal? Hmmm.) Anyway, following an ice-cream (helado) break, he wanted to learn how to fly. This led to a variety of trial-and-error type attempts to lift the stuffed animal high-high-high up into the sky.

Flapping his wings was to no avail. The poor stuffed animal became so exhausted from the huge effort that he had to take a mini-siesta (nap) during class time to recover. The second attempt seemed more realistic: build up your speed, run as fast as you can towards a small ramp runway (aka a tilted book), and let the wind take you: lift-off! ¡Vamos, vamos! #FAIL.

Round three of PATO versus GRAVITY had something to do with a paper airplane and a one pound stuffed animal. Let me repeat: a PAPER airplane and a ONE-POUND stuffed animal. Newton and all of his silly laws. Attaching paper wings likewise proved ineffective.

The fourth attempt dealt with tying a harness around his belly and hoisting him up, pulley-style, to get him used to being so high up in the air. (Could he be afraid of heights, I wonder?) PK-4 students provided much-needed assistance in this last endeavor in particular (arriba, abajo/up, down).

Methinks we are getting closer.

Along the way, students responded to action commands in the target language (e.g., stand up, sit down, run, march, spin around twice, walk on your tiptoes, [pretend to] drive a car, etc.); giggled when Pato did something silly; and demonstrated comprehension through both words and expressions.

Kudos to your children for listening to nonstop Spanish babble and dealing with all of my stuffed animal’s crazy antics. They are sweethearts and their listening skills are top-notch!

VIRTUAL LEARNERS are strongly encouraged to watch a few short cartoon episodes in the target language this week. THIS and THIS are excellent choices, but more options can also be found HERE. The goal for the first few classes is not necessarily vocabulary-oriented; it is more adjusting to the idea of staying focused while hearing a stream of [currently] unintelligible babble. Meaning will come in time. We must be patient, above all else!

Newsletter 20-21, Aug. (3)

Week #1: Today in third grade, students first told me about their favorite places, and then I shared about one of my favorite trips, during which I hiked a famous 500-mile (877 kilometer) trek across northern Spain. The hike is called the Camino de Santiago, and takes about a month to complete (hiking about 10 hours a day). 

Students began ‘hiking’ around the room as they watched THIS VIDEO I made (“Spain, Part 1”). Naturally, they had to get their backpacks and water bottles–the Spanish summer sun is very similar to Florida’s, with 110*F temps!

Next, third graders learned that the trail is marked by [scallop] shells and arrows. When you see one, you know that you are on the right path! Students began creating a “Camino” around campus by drawing shells and arrows with chalk. We hiked up and down a few mountains (read: staircases) with our bags and water bottles, and then decided to retire to the hotel/hostel (their classroom!) for the evening.

Just for fun, their word of the day was, “La fuerza” (‘fwear-sah’), or the force, which third graders say to magically make the Promethean boards turn on again after they have fallen asleep (they time out periodically).

NOTE: Just so you know, we will be easing into an immersive Spanish classroom very soon, but I wanted to start the first day in English to get to know the students and for them to feel comfortable with me. Learning a language can be overwhelming, and experience has taught me that in a low-stress [but engaging] environment, students are more likely to want to learn and produce language. Learning should be a healthy combination of hard work and great fun!

VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to check out the video and photos at this link, and to create their own “Camino” (‘kah-ME-know’) at home. The arrows and shells are oftentimes made out of things in nature as well. You might outline an arrow using some rocks or palms or grass, or simply draw arrow and shell signs and hang them up around your house. Make sure they are all pointed in the same direction, so that you don’t get lost!

Virtual learners are also welcome to share with me via email their favorite place in the world (the beach, a city or country they’ve traveled to, a tree fort, their room, etc.). We will include this information in a project later on.

Newsletter 20-21, Aug. (2)

Weeks 1-2: This week, students in second grade–along with several other classes–met a stuffed animal duck named Pato (which conveniently means duck in Spanish). Pato has a big personality, and immediately made his presence known by wearing sock pajamas to school the first day of class. He also likes to sing the classic song “Feliz Navidad” while wearing his Christmas sweater and scarf, regardless of the fact that it is August (and not December) and a million degrees outside.

By the third day, Pato was dressing more appropriately for school but insisted on wearing his mask on his head/cabeza because, in his words, “No me gusta” (‘no may goose-tah’/I don’t like it). After looking around and seeing that everyone else was wearing one–and being told sternly that he would have to go home (read: get stuffed in my backpack and not hang out with the cool second graders) if he did not wear it–he decided to follow directions. He was much too excited about the class project to bother arguing, anyway (thank goodness!).

PHOTOS: Pato not wearing his mask. Pato wearing his mask.

The class’ project began with students learning about a 500-mile hike through northern Spain called El Camino de Santiago (see link for video and photos). Grades 1-4 are starting with this because students will be able to earn miles on the hike all year long by completing Weekly Spanish Challenges. The trail is marked by arrows and shells, so second graders grabbed their backpacks (mochilas) and water bottles (agua/water!), walked up and down mountains (read: stairways) all over campus, and helped the older grades draw chalk shells and arrows on the ground. To ascertain that they would not get lost in the dark, students also colored in shells (on paper), painted them with glow-in-the-dark paint, and added glitter. We will obviously add more glitter next time. (…because Pato likes glitter. A lot.)

While listening to THIS SONG and THIS SONG in Spanish as background music, they noticed that their markers had Spanish translations on them in tiny print (red/rojo, blue/azul, etc.). The official colors of the Camino are blue and yellow in real life, which are also the school colors– perfecto!

Silliness with Pato and launching straight into a hands-on (and masks-on) cultural project have allowed for a [mostly] Spanish-immersion type of classroom environment–which is the goal. I want students to begin the year by listening to a lot of the target language, recalling any passive vocabulary from previous years, and getting excited about learning Spanish. We will be focusing in on specific words and phrases soon.

Whether they realize it or not, I am also constantly testing students in class simply by asking questions in the target language: Which color paint do you want to use next? Can you shake off the glitter over the trash can, please?! What do we do now? Cut out the shells and paste them on this strip of paper. Pato is thirsty– could you bring him a water bottle? (Students pretend to give him water.)

Many second graders are answering all of these questions and more. When a question is too abstract or the class gets lost, I return to English to clarify. This does not mean that students are already fluent or can translate all of these questions; it merely indicates that the language is comprehensible and that they are intuiting what I am saying in the moment by the context and visual cues. Language acquisition is a fascinating combination of science and art, with a slice of magic on the side! I don’t know exactly how or why this happens; I just know that it does. By the end of the year, students will be able to follow the same conversation but this time, it will be because they have acquired the vocabulary.

Long story short–short story long!–I am looking forward to an amazing year!

VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to check out the video and photos at THIS LINK, and to create their own “Camino” at home. The arrows and shells are oftentimes made out of things in nature as well. Students may color or paint the shell template above; outline an arrow using some rocks or palms; collect shells at the beach; or simply draw your own arrow and shell signs and hang them up around your house. Make sure they are all pointed in the same direction, so that you don’t get lost. Feel free to send pictures, if you like!

For language input, virtual learners may also 1) participate in the Weekly Spanish Challenges; 2) sign up for a Duolingo account and do a lesson or two; and/or 3) watch a movie or cartoon in the target language (Spanish voiceover and English subtitles). Just get used to hearing a lot of Spanish!

Mexico- Hammocks

MEXICO: The Yucatan in Mexico is known for its hammock culture. Here, 2/3 of children sleep in hammocks instead of beds, and there are even hammocks in hospitals! For this challenge, string up your own DIY hammock with a sheet and twine/rope. Attach it to your bedpost, a chair, or even a tree outside. Be sure to ask your parents first so that you choose a safe place.

River of Joy

She took one last, lingering look around, slipped into the canoe, and pushed off. Aside from a few light water ripples, it was quiet that morning. The birds must be tired. She was tired. A coral sunrise painted wide brush strokes over the placid waters, bringing tears to her eyes. The woman wouldn’t admit to crying, though; she preferred thinking of it as, “liquid sunshine” [rain] rolling down her cheeks. It had been a wildly memorable year thus far, with extreme emotional roller-coaster rides for even the most even-tempered of characters. The quarantine seemed to have sped up life’s timeline, urging people to make difficult decisions and pursue projects they had been delaying or procrastinating on. It was probably for the best, this urgency, albeit an odd way to push the universe forward.

As she paddled, a light breeze wafted past, clearing the thick molasses of air for a moment; this was a humidity southerners knew all too well. She was going to miss this place. But in time, she had realized that she would miss the people much more: and yet, people didn’t simply frequent a place, they became the place, and the place became them. It felt like pieces of her were simultaneously spread out all over the world and also held deep inside. She kept a piece of everyone she had ever met in her soul, and she also left a piece of herself everywhere she traveled, somehow. It was an oxymoron of sorts, a puzzle–but also a comforting thought, that she was never very far away, and neither was anyone else.

In fact, she was exactly where she needed to be, and always would be, flowing on the river of joy. The stop on the bank had been longer than expected, but now the winds were picking up; it was time to get going. But oh, what a lovely place! Blue skies, fields of green. A true gem. A diamond. A rose. She would never forget. How deep the river runs…

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” -Rumi

Songs & Rhymes (PK-2)

SONGS & RHYMES

Songs- Cuba, DR, PR

CUBA


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC


PUERTO RICO

Songs- Translated Fun

TRANSLATED FUN

The Struggle

I stared at it from across the room. It stared back, refusing to blink, trying to lure me into the game, stubborn as all get-out. Why were we at odds again? The gray mist had descended a few days back: tornado skies, sucking me into the center of their dangerously calm vortices: like the penny chutes at the airports, round and round went the coins, sans control and yet perfectly controlled, under the power of centripetal force until pfff–they were spat out, minus their dignity but exiting the funnel at last. Except that I was still swirling, furious at it. Emotions rocketed through my body. I won’t. I shan’t. I can’t. I refuse.

Continue reading “The Struggle”

Winter in Brussels

The flakes fell fast and heavy, quickly transforming the city skyline into an incomprehensible, wintry blur. She stood still inside the moving tram, watching silently; there were no words in her mind; she was absorbing the scene into her being.

Icelanders called this, “window-weather” (gluggaveður)—beautiful from a distance, provided the distance was indoors, adjacent to a fireplace, and within arm’s length of a hot mug of cocoa, of course. 

Continue reading “Winter in Brussels”

Summer Packet 2020

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

This year’s summer packet for Spanish is a list of 50 ideasboth online and offline–that you are welcome to reference when your child invariably complains, “I’m bored!” during the summer months. Have them choose their favorite number (or use the Random Number Generator LINK –> input a range of 1-50), and then do the corresponding activity on the list.

Continue reading “Summer Packet 2020”

Minimalism

There has been an effort in recent years to quash inaccurate definitions of minimalism–to streamline, to declutter, to get to the heart of what exactly this movement and philosophy are all about. While extreme minimalists and ultralight packing lists may be awe-inspiring and provide shock-value, true minimalism is about one thing: getting rid of the superfluous in your life so that you can concentrate on what is most important.

Continue reading “Minimalism”

Peru- Amazon River

PERU: Ed Stafford walked the entire Amazon River on foot. It took him 860 days, or almost 3 years, to complete the walk. He faced every kind of imaginable danger, and oftentimes had to machete his way through brush, while wading up to his neck in water. Unbelievable but true! Watch the videos to learn more, or check out his book about the Amazon on Amazon HERE.

Remote 19-20, T3 (1-3)

Continued Learning Assignments below.

Spanish Activity, 5/21/20- 1,2,3

  1. Zoom Party! Check Seesaw for login info.
  2. Do one of the optional activities on the Summer Packet 2020.

HAVE AN AMAZING SUMMER!!! ❤


Spanish Activity, 5/14/20- 1,2,3

  1. Watch this video on Seesaw.
  2. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #9.
  3. Choose your favorite exercise or activity that makes you feel STRONG/fuerte.
  4. Video yourself saying, “¡YO SOY FUERTE!” (I’m strong!) as you are doing that exercise or activity. Be dramatic and make sure to say it like you mean it!
  5. Post video on Seesaw.

EXTRA CREDIT–

  1. Get a head start on next week by checking out the SUMMER PACKET LETTER 2020 here. All activities will be optional.
  2. Click on the Random Number Generator Link, input your range (1-46), and then click on the button. It will randomly choose a number for you; and you can do the corresponding activity. If you don’t like the activity, repeat the process to get a different number–or just pick your favorite number!

Spanish Activity, 5/7/20- 1,2,3

OBJECTIVE: This is a CULTURE week! Today we are visiting Mexico.

  1. Click to watch both videos on Seesaw: PART 1 and PART 2.
  2. Put on some traditional Mariachi music, and then–
  3. Post a video/photo/craft on Seesaw. HAVE FUN!!!

EXTRA CREDIT–

If you want to listen to more Spanish–since there is not a new episode of THE PATO SHOW this week–here is a fun video.

Hear/read more stories at THIS LINK.


Spanish Activity, 4/30/20- 1,2,3

  1. If you haven’t seen THE PATO SHOW, #7, watch that first.
  2. Next, watch THE PATO SHOW, #8.
  3. Choose your favorite line in Spanish from the video.
  4. Video yourself saying it in Spanish VERY DRAMATICALLY!
  5. Respond to this activity with your video.

Spanish Activity, 4/23/20- 1,2,3

OBJECTIVE: This is a CULTURE week! Today, we visit the Dominican Republic.

  1. Watch the instructional video.
  2. Dress up in a fancy outfit and put on some Spanish music.
  3. Practice dancing the Merengue.
  4. Make a tres leches cake (or any kind of cake) OR record a short video of yourself dancing to a Spanish song and post to Seesaw.
  5. BE HAPPY!

Spanish Activity, 4/16/20- 1,2,3

OBJECTIVE: This is a LANGUAGE week (next week will be CULTURE), so the goal is to listen to as much Spanish as possible! The videos are both under 5 minutes.

  1. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #4.
  2. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #5.
  3. Watch them again, and write down 5-10 words that you understood. Spelling does not count, don’t worry! Just try your best!
  4. Take a picture of your paper and respond to this activity on Seesaw.

***And let me know if you liked the videos!!***


Spanish Activity, 4/9/20- 1,2,3

**Scroll down on THIS PAGE to see the amazing work students produced for the Continued Learning activity described below.

  1. First, watch the video on Seesaw—but note that Seesaw cut me off! People are not allowed to make the sawdust carpets out in the streets this year because of the current situation. Instead, people are making their own miniature sawdust carpets at home.
  2. Next, watch the short video to the right. There is no sound, but it gives you a really good idea of how much patience and what a long and beautiful process it is to make these carpets.

Look at the links below:

3) Now, choose an image you like and make your own! You can use candies, fruits, plants, flowers, blocks, frosting, or paint or color one. I would recommend one the size of a sheet of paper (8.5×11), but you are welcome to make one bigger than that! I added a few stencils below to give you ideas for a design.

4) When you are finished, respond to the activity on Seesaw with a picture of your creation. Take your time, be patient, do your best work, and have fun!!


Spanish Activity, 4/2/20- 1,2,3

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. From the list below, choose 3-5 items to label in your house—or do all 15 just for fun!
    • Mi ropa/my clothes
    • Mis zapatos/my shoes
    • Mis libros/my books
    • Mis peluches/my stuffed animals
    • Mis juguetes/my toys
    • Mis cuadernos/my notebooks
    • Mi comida/my food (could be fake food)
    • Mi dinero/my money
    • Mis marcadores/my markers
    • Mis lápices/my pencils
    • Mi cama/my bed
    • Mis juegos de mesa/my board games
    • Mi mochila/my backpack
    • Mi escuela/my school (your learning space)
    • Mis papeles/my papers
  3. Post a picture on Seesaw of your COLORFUL signs in English and Spanish before you hang them up.

Extra Credit, 4/2/20- 1,2,3

  1. Cook a Spanish omelette, or tortilla española. Listen to MUSIC IN SPANISH while you are cooking!
  2. Choose a different recipe from THIS PAGE if you don’t have those ingredients.
  3. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #2 just for fun.
  4. Watch the “Baila con Cosmos” song for fun.

Spanish Activity, 3/19/20- 1

  1. Watch the Pato video on Seesaw.
  2. Choose your favorite Spanish-speaking country.
  3. Make a sign label for your bedroom with that country.
  4. Add TWO activities you like to do to your sign (jugar/play, construir/build, colorear/color, dibujar/draw, hablar/talk, comer/eat, pintar/paint, dormir/sleep, trabajar/work, etc.).
  5. Take a picture of your sign and post it to Seesaw.
  6. Read THIS POST with your parents, and consider doing one of the culture projects.

Extra Credit, 3/19/20- 1,2,3

If you choose to do one of the culture projects, PLEASE share a video or photo here with our community to inspire everyone! The projects are from Spain and Mexico this week:

  1. Hang up a hammock in your house
  2. Make an amate bark painting
  3. Grow your own crystals
  4. Make/cook tapas in your kitchen
  5. Build a fort in Spain with pillows and blankets
  6. Go on a hike, Camino-style

**More information on all projects can be found HERE.

Also, please respond to the activity when submitting any work. This helps keep everything organized. Thank you!

Other Notes, 3/19/20

Grades JK-2

**Students in JK-2 should watch two 4-7 minute cartoons in the target language this week–preferably on separate days. HERE is a list of links, including Pocoyo, Perro y Gato, and Caillou in Spanish. Listening to SONGS in the target language counts, too. Just make sure you don’t sing the English lyrics over the Spanish if it is translated!

Note that it would be beneficial to build into your home schedule that children watch these shows at a specific day and time, for example, 2x per week, when you are preparing breakfast or dinner and need a few minutes alone. The more predictable the routine, the better.

Remote 19-20, T3 (5)

Continued Learning Assignments below.

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/19/20

  1. Watch the VIDEO!!!
  2. Do one of the optional activities on the Summer Packet.
  3. Come to the Specialist Zoom party on Thursday, from 10-10:30am. Look for the invitation in your email and on Seesaw.

HAVE AN AMAZING SUMMER!!!!!!! ❤


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/12/20

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #9 and leave a comment on Seesaw about your favorite part.
  3. Keep working on Duolingo.

EXTRA CREDIT-

  1. HERE is a sneak peek to optional summer activities.
  2. Click on the Random Number Generator Link, input your range (1-46), and then click on the button. It will randomly choose a number for you; and you can do the corresponding activity. If you don’t like the activity, repeat the process to get a different number!!

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/5/20

OBJECTIVE: This is a CULTURE week! Today we are visiting Mexico.

  1. Learn about Cinco de Mayo from my videos: PART 1 and PART 2.
  2. Put on some traditional Mariachi music, and then–
  3. Post a relevant video/photo/craft on Seesaw.

EXTRA CREDIT–

If you want to listen to more Spanish–since there is not a new episode of THE PATO SHOW this week–here is a fun video.

Hear/read more stories at THIS LINK.


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/28/20

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. This week, your assignment is to do something Spanish-related for FIVE (5) days in a row. You can do the same activity each day for five days, or you can mix it up, and choose a different activity each day from the list below.
  3. Have your own ideas? Let me know! You can post EACH DAY on Seesaw what you did (on the journal feed), or wait until the end of the week to respond to this activity and share a slideshow of all of your activities. Good luck! ¡Buena suerte! YOU CAN DO IT!!

Here are A FEW IDEAS:

  1. Write out 10 sentences in Spanish each day. They can be silly or serious!
  2. Cook/bake/make/eat a Spanish recipe.
  3. Work on Duolingo (or Memrise) for 10 minutes each day.
  4. Watch another movie with Spanish voiceover and English subtitles.
  5. Listen to the entire Spanish Summit playlist of songs HERE. You can’t leave the room–actually listen!!
  6. Video yourself shouting, “¡El chico come manzanas!” (the boy is eating apples!) or another sentence you know, and post it to Seesaw.
  7. Change the language of your iPad, phone, computer, and all of your devices to Spanish for 24 hours. Can you survive??!
  8. Count to 20 in Spanish (in your head!) when you’re brushing your teeth every morning. Look up the numbers if you don’t know them.** (See note below)
  9. Watch this inspirational Salsa VIDEO (and the dog dancing Salsa). Next, put on some fancy clothes, blast your favorite Spanish music, and make a short video of you dancing/jamming out to the song! The kids in the video are only 6 and 8 years old. Wow!
  10. Play the Language Game, and try to get a score higher than 50. Too easy? The best score for Summit so far this year has been 325. Try to beat it! Spend 20-30 minutes working on this. It will really improve your ear for language.
  11. Watch all of the Pato videos, and email me a paragraph describing which episode was your favorite and why.
  12. Learn about Worry Dolls from Guatemala in this short but cute VIDEO, and then try to make your own.
  13. Watch this video of the Camino de Santiago (a 500-mile hike through northern Spain) to see what it is like, and then go on a 20-minute hike outside. Think about how you learn Spanish best. What works for you? What doesn’t work? Do you learn best by listening, writing, or doing? Or something else?

**Too easy? Count backwards. Still too easy? Skip count forwards and backwards. Do mental math. Don’t just memorize numbers in order; make them meaningful. How do we use numbers in the real world? Count change in Spanish, say the total of the restaurant bill in Spanish, jump rope or play hopscotch in Spanish.  Numbers are everywhere…!


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/21/20

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. Keep working on Duolingo! You guys are rockin’ it!
  3. Watch a movie in Spanish (Spanish sound/voiceover and English subtitles) this week.
  4. Post the name of the movie to Seesaw AFTER you watched it, and add a comment about what you thought.
  5. Be sure to check out “The Pato Show” if you haven’t yet, and SEND ME a short video of you doing something in the distance (doing a cartwheel, kicking a soccer goal in your backyard, etc.) if you want to be featured in future videos!!

HAVE AN AWESOME WEEK!!!!!!

Click on video below for The Pato Show playlist. Enjoy!


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/14/20

Respond to the activity on Seesaw. The Spanish Activity below will be posted on Seesaw at 8am Tuesday morning. Please log in to Seesaw to view and click on the “Activities” tab. NOTE: When I say, “Duolingo”, I am using that interchangeably with “Memrise”. I mean, whichever language-learning app you are using!

  1. Complete at least 9 lessons on Duolingo this week.
  2. Respond to this activity with a screenshot of your progress at the end of the week.
  3. Watch the Pato video below.

SPANISH EXTRA CREDIT- 4/14/20

  1. Play the language-identification game 2 or 3 times. See if your ear has improved since we played last year in class.
  2. If you haven’t played this game before, choose the “easy” level and just have fun!
  3. Post a screenshot of your highest score to your journal feed.

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/7/20

Thank you to those of you who did your assignments last week! Instead of emailing, from now on I would like you to submit your work by responding to the activity on Seesaw. The TWO Spanish Activities below will be posted on Seesaw at 8am tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Please log in to Seesaw to view and click on the “Activities” tab.

Do your best work. Not your fastest work. Not your laziest work. YOUR BEST WORK!!! ***And keep working on Duolingo (or Memrise) 3-4 times a week!

QUICK LINKS:

Activity #1- Videos

Activity #2- Songs

**Spanish Activity, 4/7/20- VIDEOS (Part 1)

  1. You have two assignments to complete this week. This is only ONE of them.
  2. Record another video (no letters this week).
  3. Be sure to introduce yourself (examples: Hola, yo soy ____ / Yo me llamo _______ / Mi nombre es______).
  4. Include TWO sentences with “Me gusta” and “No me gusta”.
  5. Include TWO more sentences with “Me gustan” and “No me gustan”.
  6. Add something extra that you just learned from Duolingo this week (not Google Translate).
  7. Post your video under this activity on Seesaw.

Remember, you can always do MORE than this!! “Connecting words” like because (porque), with (con), and more can be found on Veracross for Continued Learning. Above is just a guide to help those of you who do not know what to say, or who are tempted to use online translators to do your work for you (please do not–this is dishonest and against our Core Values of integrity and independence).

If you have questions about the assignment, please email me. If you have questions about Seesaw or technology not working, please email the Technology Department. ¡Gracias!

**Spanish Activity, 4/7/20- SONGS (Part 2)

  1. Listen to at least 3 FULL SONGS in Spanish on the ‘Songs Page‘ of my website.
  2. Choose your favorite.
  3. Respond to this activity with the link.
  4. Listen to this song at least 3-4 times a week, to get the lyrics stuck in your head!

**The goal here is to create a personalized class playlist of everyone’s favorite songs in Spanish. If you choose a song that was not on my website, you need to be very MINDFUL of the lyrics and images in the video. If the lyrics are not happy/good/ positive or the images are inappropriate, the video will be deleted. So choose a good song that has a fun beat!


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 3/31/20

LESSON OBJECTIVES
1. Describe likes and dislikes.
2. Introduce negative sentences.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Work on Duolingo (or Memrise) at least 3 times per week.
  2. Watch the video.
  3. HOMEWORKDo one of the following activities.
    • HANDWRITE me a letter in Spanish of 50 words or more and take a photo of it, OR
    • Video yourself speaking in Spanish to me for 20-30 seconds (like a letter, but spoken).
  4. For the letter or video:
    1. Include vocabulary from Duolingo (or Memrise).
    2. Include a “Me gusta” (I like) or “Me encanta” (I love) sentence.
    3. Include a negative sentence. For example:
      • No quiero = I don’t want
      • No necesito = I don’t need
      • No me gusta = I don’t like
      • No puedo = I can’t
    4. Connecting words:
      • pero = but
      • y = and
      • con = with
      • porque = because
      • también = also
  5. For the video, 10 seconds of talking and 20 seconds of “ummm” or silence does not count!! Try to make it flow. You can write it out and then video yourself reading it if that is easier.
  6. EMAIL MUST INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
    1. Send it from your school email address.
    2. Include your grade level in the subject line of your email.
    3. Attach photo or video.
    4. Click “Send”.

And HAVE FUN! If you love drawing, decorate your letter with doodles and make it colorful. Or be creative with the video. Zoom has an option to video like a green screen, so you could ‘video’ from outer space, if you wanted! For tech questions, email Mr. Santos. Remember, learning should be a combination of hard work and fun. If it’s not fun, you are doing it wrong. 🙂


7. DUE DATE/DEADLINE
:

  • Your letter OR video is due within 48 hours, meaning by THURSDAY, APRIL 2nd @11am
  • If you are not happy with your work, you can always re-do your letter or video and re-send it, but I will not accept any more work after Friday, April 3rd. Please explain in your email that it is a ‘re-do’ or ‘video #2″ if you choose to do this.

SPANISH EXTRA CREDIT- 3/31/20

  • Still want more Spanish??! YAY! Check out the link to my website and–
    • email me your favorite song in Spanish;
    • cook something from the “Recipes” page
    • create your own country project based on something from this page HERE–also look on the sidebar or at the very bottom of the page (depends on what device you’re on) where it is organized by country
    • Catch Esteban or myself on Duolingo. I have almost 12,000 XP. He has 14,657 XP.
    • Check out BrainPop in Spanish below. Be sure to add subtitles in English for any videos.
  • For anyone interested who has read this far, here are two BrainPop links:

OTHER NOTES, 3/19/20

**Grades 3-5 should continue working on Duolingo at least three times per week, for 10 minutes a day. Students– there will be prizes for anyone who has earned more than 10,000 XP when we return back to school!

Advanced students who want a challenge may do any of the “Native Speaker” work HERE as well. Be sure to add English subtitles on BrainPop and “Pollito Tito” (CC/closed captioning in bottom right hand corner).

Remote 19-20, T3 (K)

Continued Learning Assignments below.

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/19/20- JK, K

  1. Zoom Party! Check Seesaw for login info.
  2. Check out the Spanish Summer Packet 2020 for 50 ideas of what to do over the summer, especially when your kids start saying, “I’m booooored!”
  3. HAVE AN AMAZING SUMMER! ❤

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/12/20- JK, K

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #9.
  3. Build a castillo/castle out of any material, and then post a photo of it to Seesaw.

EXTRA CREDIT-

  1. HERE is a sneak peek at optional summer activities.
  2. Click on the Random Number Generator Link, input your range (1-46), and then click on the button. It will randomly choose a number for you; and you can do the corresponding activity. If you don’t like the activity, repeat the process to get a different number!!

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/5/20- JK, K

REQUIRED–

  1. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #8.
  2. Video your child saying, “¡No comprendo!” OR
  3. Make a sign that says, “¡No comprendo!” (I don’t understand!) and hang it somewhere in your house.

EXTRA CREDIT–

Join Lower School and Summit in learning about Cinco de Mayo this week!

  1. Watch my videos on Seesaw: PART 1 and PART 2.
  2. Put on some traditional Mariachi music, and then–
  3. Post a video/photo/craft on Seesaw.

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/28/20- JK, K

REQUIRED–

  1. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #7.
  2. Video your child saying, “¡No quiero!” (“no key-arrow“) OR
  3. Make a sign that says “¡No quiero!” (I don’t want to!).

EXTRA CREDIT–

  1. Visit THIS LINK (see “Spanish Activity, 4/23/20- 1,2,3“).
  2. Do the same dance video activity as Lower School last week.
  3. Email me or post your dance video to the journal feed on Seesaw.

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/21/20- JK, K

OBJECTIVE: This week, the goal is to include both language and culture. If this feels like too much for your family, please email me!

REQUIRED–

  1. LANGUAGE: Watch the THE PATO SHOW, #6. It is about bread and butter and more low-key than other episodes. If it is adventure you seek, watch Episode #5 (see Extra Credit below)!
  2. This video has more instructions, with my smiling face. 🙂
  1. CULTURE: There is a mountain/montaña in Peru near Machu Picchu that looks like a rainbow! It is called Vinicunca, which means “Rainbow Mountain”.
  2. Respond to the activity on Seesaw with a photo of your rainbow creation.

EXTRA CREDIT–

****If you want to know what happens next to “Evil Pato”, you can watch this video here: THE PATO SHOW, #5. If you did not like “Evil Pato”, you may skip this.


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/14/20- K

  1. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #4.
  2. Watch it again and this time, count how many times you hear the word, “policía” (police).
  3. Finally, send me some feedback by describing your favorite part of the video!

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/7/20- K

  1. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #3.
  2. Make a big, colorful sign that says “Fiesta” (party) and on the other side that says, “Siesta” (nap), and take a picture of what you feel like doing now.
  3. Finally, send me some feedback. You can:
    • Record them when they watch the video.
    • Send messages of what they learn from the video (e.g., FIESTA/party is not the same as SIESTA/nap!).
    • Predict what is going to happen next.
    • Ask your child to find something s/he knows in Spanish from the house (might be harder–production is the last step in language acquisition).


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 3/31/20- K

  1. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #2.
  2. Listen for the question, “¿Dónde está Pato?” (Where is Pato?)
  3. Choose ONE thing that you are always losing.
  4. Make a short video of yourself looking for that thing in your house and/or outside.
  5. Make sure you ask, “¿Dónde está……………?” at least three times in the video. You can say it in a normal voice, a loud voice, a soft voice, a silly voice, or a lot of different voices… really, any kind of voice you like! Have fun!

**You can extend this activity by playing Hide and Go Seek with someone–counting in Spanish (uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco) and then asking aloud, “¿Dónde está…………… [John, Fred, Lisa, etc.]?”


SPANISH REQUEST, 3/19/20- JK, K

If you choose to do one of the culture projects, PLEASE share a video or photo here with our community to inspire everyone! The projects are from Spain and Mexico this week:

  1. Hang up a hammock in your house
  2. Make an amate bark painting
  3. Grow your own crystals
  4. Make/cook tapas in your kitchen
  5. Build a fort in Spain with pillows and blankets
  6. Go on a hike, Camino-style.

More information for all projects can be found HERE.

Also, please respond to the activity when submitting any work. This helps keep everything organized. Thank you!

SCHEDULE NOTE, 3/19/20- JK, K

Spanish classes will be held on Tuesdays during Continued Learning. Because we did not have class this week, I have written a LETTER WITH SOME IDEAS of how to continue your Spanish study. Everything is optional. Please enjoy!

OTHER NOTES, 3/19/20-JK, K

**Students in JK-2 should watch two 4-7 minute cartoons in the target language this week–preferably on separate days. HERE is a list of links, including Pocoyo, Perro y Gato, and Caillou in Spanish. Listening to SONGS in the target language counts, too. Just make sure you don’t sing the English lyrics over the Spanish if it is translated!

Note that it would be beneficial to build into your home schedule that children watch these shows at a specific day and time, for example, 2x per week, when you are preparing breakfast or dinner and need a few minutes alone. The more predictable the routine, the better.

Remote 19-20, T3 (4)

Continued Learning Assignments below.

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/19/20

  1. Watch the VIDEO!!!
  2. Do one of the optional activities on the Summer Packet.
  3. Come to the Specialist Zoom party on Thursday, from 10-10:30am. Look for the invitation in your email and on Seesaw.

HAVE AN AMAZING SUMMER!!!!!!! ❤


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/12/20

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #9 and leave a comment on Seesaw about your favorite part.
  3. Keep working on Duolingo.

EXTRA CREDIT-

  1. HERE is a sneak peek to optional summer activities.
  2. Click on the Random Number Generator Link, input your range (1-46), and then click on the button. It will randomly choose a number for you; and you can do the corresponding activity. If you don’t like the activity, repeat the process to get a different number!!

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/5/20

OBJECTIVE: This is a CULTURE week! Today we are visiting Mexico.

  1. Learn about Cinco de Mayo from my videos: PART 1 and PART 2.
  2. Put on some traditional Mariachi music, and then–
  3. Post a relevant video/photo/craft on Seesaw.

EXTRA CREDIT–

If you want to listen to more Spanish–since there is not a new episode of THE PATO SHOW this week–here is a fun video.

Hear/read more stories at THIS LINK.


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/28/20

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. This week, your assignment is to do something Spanish-related for FIVE (5) days in a row. You can do the same activity each day for five days, or you can mix it up, and choose a different activity each day from the list below.
  3. Have your own ideas? Let me know! You can post EACH DAY on Seesaw what you did (on the journal feed), or wait until the end of the week to respond to this activity and share a slideshow of all of your activities. Good luck! ¡Buena suerte! YOU CAN DO IT!!

Here are A FEW IDEAS:

  1. Write out 10 sentences in Spanish each day. They can be silly or serious!
  2. Cook/bake/make/eat a Spanish recipe.
  3. Work on Duolingo (or Memrise) for 10 minutes each day.
  4. Watch another movie with Spanish voiceover and English subtitles.
  5. Listen to the entire Spanish Summit playlist of songs HERE. You can’t leave the room–actually listen!!
  6. Video yourself shouting, “¡El chico come manzanas!” (the boy is eating apples!) or another sentence you know, and post it to Seesaw.
  7. Change the language of your iPad, phone, computer, and all of your devices to Spanish for 24 hours. Can you survive??!
  8. Count to 20 in Spanish (in your head!) when you’re brushing your teeth every morning. Look up the numbers if you don’t know them.** (See note below)
  9. Watch this inspirational Salsa VIDEO (and the dog dancing Salsa). Next, put on some fancy clothes, blast your favorite Spanish music, and make a short video of you dancing/jamming out to the song! The kids in the video are only 6 and 8 years old. Wow!
  10. Play the Language Game, and try to get a score higher than 50. Too easy? The best score for Summit so far this year has been 325. Try to beat it! Spend 20-30 minutes working on this. It will really improve your ear for language.
  11. Watch all of the Pato videos, and email me a paragraph describing which episode was your favorite and why.
  12. Learn about Worry Dolls from Guatemala in this short but cute VIDEO, and then try to make your own.
  13. Watch this video of the Camino de Santiago (a 500-mile hike through northern Spain) to see what it is like, and then go on a 20-minute hike outside. Think about how you learn Spanish best. What works for you? What doesn’t work? Do you learn best by listening, writing, or doing? Or something else?

**Too easy? Count backwards. Still too easy? Skip count forwards and backwards. Do mental math. Don’t just memorize numbers in order; make them meaningful. How do we use numbers in the real world? Count change in Spanish, say the total of the restaurant bill in Spanish, jump rope or play hopscotch in Spanish.  Numbers are everywhere…!


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/21/20

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. Keep working on Duolingo! You guys are rockin’ it!
  3. Watch a movie in Spanish (Spanish sound/voiceover and English subtitles) this week.
  4. Post the name of the movie to Seesaw AFTER you watched it, and add a comment about what you thought.
  5. Be sure to check out “The Pato Show” if you haven’t yet, and SEND ME a short video of you doing something in the distance (doing a cartwheel, kicking a soccer goal in your backyard, etc.) if you want to be featured in future videos!!

HAVE AN AWESOME WEEK!!!!!!

Click on video below for The Pato Show playlist. Enjoy!


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/14/20

Respond to the activity on Seesaw. The Spanish Activity below will be posted on Seesaw at 8am Tuesday morning. Please log in to Seesaw to view and click on the “Activities” tab. NOTE: When I say, “Duolingo”, I am using that interchangeably with “Memrise”. I mean, whichever language-learning app you are using!

  1. Complete at least 9 lessons on Duolingo this week.
  2. Respond to this activity with a screenshot of your progress at the end of the week.
  3. Watch the Pato video below.

SPANISH EXTRA CREDIT- 4/14/20

  1. Play the language-identification game 2 or 3 times. See if your ear has improved since we played last year in class.
  2. If you haven’t played this game before, choose the “easy” level and just have fun!
  3. Post a screenshot of your highest score to your journal feed.

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/7/20

Thank you to those of you who did your assignments last week! Instead of emailing, from now on I would like you to submit your work by responding to the activity on Seesaw. The TWO Spanish Activities below will be posted on Seesaw at 8am tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Please log in to Seesaw to view and click on the “Activities” tab.

Do your best work. Not your fastest work. Not your laziest work. YOUR BEST WORK!!! ***And keep working on Duolingo (or Memrise) 3-4 times a week!

QUICK LINKS:

Activity #1- Videos

Activity #2- Songs

**Spanish Activity, 4/7/20- VIDEOS (Part 1)

  1. You have two assignments to complete this week. This is only ONE of them.
  2. Record another video (no letters this week).
  3. Be sure to introduce yourself (examples: Hola, yo soy ____ / Yo me llamo _______ / Mi nombre es______).
  4. Include TWO sentences with “Me gusta” and “No me gusta”.
  5. Include TWO more sentences with “Me gustan” and “No me gustan”.
  6. Add something extra that you just learned from Duolingo this week (not Google Translate).
  7. Post your video under this activity on Seesaw.

Remember, you can always do MORE than this!! “Connecting words” like because (porque), with (con), and more can be found on Veracross for Continued Learning. Above is just a guide to help those of you who do not know what to say, or who are tempted to use online translators to do your work for you (please do not–this is dishonest and against our Core Values of integrity and independence).

If you have questions about the assignment, please email me. If you have questions about Seesaw or technology not working, please email the Technology Department. ¡Gracias!

**Spanish Activity, 4/7/20- SONGS (Part 2)

  1. Listen to at least 3 FULL SONGS in Spanish on the ‘Songs Page‘ of my website.
  2. Choose your favorite.
  3. Respond to this activity with the link.
  4. Listen to this song at least 3-4 times a week, to get the lyrics stuck in your head!

**The goal here is to create a personalized class playlist of everyone’s favorite songs in Spanish. If you choose a song that was not on my website, you need to be very MINDFUL of the lyrics and images in the video. If the lyrics are not happy/good/ positive or the images are inappropriate, the video will be deleted. So choose a good song that has a fun beat!


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 3/31/20

LESSON OBJECTIVES
1. Describe likes and dislikes.
2. Introduce negative sentences.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Work on Duolingo (or Memrise) at least 3 times per week.
  2. Watch the video.
  3. HOMEWORKDo one of the following activities.
    • HANDWRITE me a letter in Spanish of 50 words or more and take a photo of it, OR
    • Video yourself speaking in Spanish to me for 20-30 seconds (like a letter, but spoken).
  4. For the letter or video:
    1. Include vocabulary from Duolingo (or Memrise).
    2. Include a “Me gusta” (I like) or “Me encanta” (I love) sentence.
    3. Include a negative sentence. For example:
      • No quiero = I don’t want
      • No necesito = I don’t need
      • No me gusta = I don’t like
      • No puedo = I can’t
    4. Connecting words:
      • pero = but
      • y = and
      • con = with
      • porque = because
      • también = also
  5. For the video, 10 seconds of talking and 20 seconds of “ummm” or silence does not count!! Try to make it flow. You can write it out and then video yourself reading it if that is easier.
  6. EMAIL MUST INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
    1. Send it from your school email address.
    2. Include your grade level in the subject line of your email.
    3. Attach photo or video.
    4. Click “Send”.

And HAVE FUN! If you love drawing, decorate your letter with doodles and make it colorful. Or be creative with the video. Zoom has an option to video like a green screen, so you could ‘video’ from outer space, if you wanted! For tech questions, email Mr. Santos. Remember, learning should be a combination of hard work and fun. If it’s not fun, you are doing it wrong. 🙂


7. DUE DATE/DEADLINE
:

  • Your letter OR video is due within 48 hours, meaning by THURSDAY, APRIL 2nd @11am
  • If you are not happy with your work, you can always re-do your letter or video and re-send it, but I will not accept any more work after Friday, April 3rd. Please explain in your email that it is a ‘re-do’ or ‘video #2″ if you choose to do this.

SPANISH EXTRA CREDIT- 3/31/20

  • Still want more Spanish??! YAY! Check out the link to my website and–
    • email me your favorite song in Spanish;
    • cook something from the “Recipes” page
    • create your own country project based on something from this page HERE–also look on the sidebar or at the very bottom of the page (depends on what device you’re on) where it is organized by country
    • Catch Esteban or myself on Duolingo. I have almost 12,000 XP. He has 14,657 XP.
    • Check out BrainPop in Spanish below. Be sure to add subtitles in English for any videos.
  • For anyone interested who has read this far, here are two BrainPop links:

OTHER NOTES, 3/19/20

**Grades 3-5 should continue working on Duolingo at least three times per week, for 10 minutes a day. Students– there will be prizes for anyone who has earned more than 10,000 XP when we return back to school!

Advanced students who want a challenge may do any of the “Native Speaker” work HERE as well. Be sure to add English subtitles on BrainPop and “Pollito Tito” (CC/closed captioning in bottom right hand corner).

No Numbers or Worries

Deep in the Amazon Rainforest lives an indigenous tribe called the Hi’aiti’ihi, who speak the Pirahã language. This language is unique in several ways, but primarily world-renowned in linguistic communities because it contains no numbers. Not a single one. Not even one.

Can you imagine such a world? I look at the clock, and see digits. I do my taxes, and write numbers. I use an iPad, cell phone, desktop, laptop–essentially any device–and know that somehow, “01010101” and an enormous amount of coding lets me communicate with nearly anyone in the world. A world without numbers? What about synesthetes? What about birthdays? What about money? Or addresses? What about time? Does no time means no past or future? How many jobs would not exist if there weren’t numbers? I am speechless, wordless, number-less…

To clarify, these hunter-gatherers** do have smaller or larger amounts (the concept of more or less), but no numbers. I have read before that in order to barter, one might turn a palm skyward to indicate more, and downward for less–but there are no numbers, either to quantify what is being bartered or to exchange currencies.

If people without numbers are not enough for you today, the Moken Tribe–living near Thailand and Burma–will fix that. They do not have a word for “want” in their language (details on page two of link). Likewise, “worry” is not a concept in their language. This is the same tribe that knew a deadly tsunami was coming in 2004 and saved themselves. Aren’t languages fascinating? What we understand as reality is not always the case for the rest of the world. No numbers, no wants, no worries…

**Some have suggested in recent years that our cyber habits closely parallel hunter-gatherer societies and thought, in the sense that we skim information quickly, only searching for what we want to catch, or gather. Hmmm.

FEATURED IMAGE: Myanmar sea-gypsies, the nomadic hunter-gatherers of South East Asia harpooning in the traditional way, leaping off a boat. Image taken 2007.

Despacito and Dr. Seuss

Nowadays, the song Despacito is probably as well known as Dr. Seuss. What you might not think about are the translation jobs that allow this information to circulate worldwide. People dedicate their lives to adapting and translating books, songs, and more into other languages, which takes time. For example, they say that Red Fish, Blue Fish took over a year to translate into Mandarin Chinese, mostly because Dr. Seuss had a habit of making up words: how do you transfer fictitious phonemes into another language? How do you make lines rhyme, when two words–directly translated–do not rhyme in another language?

Continue reading “Despacito and Dr. Seuss”

Translations Gone Wrong

Students have been talking about translation (written) and interpretation (spoken) in Spanish class recently. This week, they focused more on translation, after taking a moment to differentiate the two. You see, translation and interpretation are often confused and used interchangeably. However, they are two very different professions. In a nutshell… Translation is written. You translate documents from one language into your native tongue, and have time to write multiple drafts of a document. Interpretation, on the other hand, is spoken. You interpret on the spot, and there is no going back. Precision in the moment is key. Interpreters often work in politics, and thus must be informed about current events, slang terms and new expressions. Today, we will focus on the job of a translator and the unanticipated ramifications of poorly translated signs and documents.

Continue reading “Translations Gone Wrong”

Privacy & Tech

I have a very strained relationship with technology. On the one hand, and in light of the current circumstances, we are very fortunate to have this tool with which to communicate and share information around the world. And in general, I enjoy blogging and researching, and appreciate having an infinite number of resources at my fingertips. It is amazing what humankind has been able to accomplish.

On the other hand, there are several serious societal ramifications that keep me up at night. I put them here in list form to pose questions, not solve the world’s problems. They are simply to consider.

Continue reading “Privacy & Tech”

Continued (Remote) Learning

Radio Broadcast- Summary

CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN!

NOTE: It is in both Spanish and English!

This week, I will give a variety of options for grades JK-5, to ease into the idea of continued learning. While students are required to complete the Spanish language assignment below (independent work), they are also encouraged to try one of the optional mini culture projects. The latter are fun, hands-on, offline activities that families can work on together.

This is not meant to be a burden on you, but rather to emphasize the importance of family in the Hispanic community, and to remind us to be grateful for this extra time we have together.

Language

Grades JK-2

**Students in JK-2 should watch two 4-7 minute cartoons in the target language this week–preferably on separate days. HERE is a list of links, including Pocoyo, Perro y Gato, and Caillou in Spanish. Listening to SONGS in the target language counts, too. Just make sure you don’t sing the English lyrics over the Spanish if it is translated!

Note that it would be beneficial to build into your home schedule that children watch these shows at a specific day and time, for example, 2x per week, when you are preparing breakfast or dinner and need a few minutes alone. The more predictable the routine, the better.

Grades 3-5

**Grades 3-5 should continue working on Duolingo at least three times per week, for 10 minutes a day. Students– there will be prizes for anyone who has earned more than 10,000 XP when we return back to school!

Advanced students who want a challenge may do any of the “Native Speaker” work below as well. Be sure to add English subtitles on BrainPop and “Pollito Tito” (CC/closed captioning in bottom right hand corner).

Native Speakers

**NATIVE SPEAKERS in ALL grades can watch the “Pollito Tito” video below for pura diversión. In addition, native speakers in grades 3-5 should watch a BrainPop video in Spanish on a topic of their choice this week. (Be sure to add subtitles to read along.) In their Spanish notebook, students can journal about the video they saw, or do a free write (e.g., continue a story they were writing, write about how they’re feeling, etc.).

Hear/read more stories at THIS LINK.

Culture

Each week, I will highlight a few different Spanish-speaking countries in my posts, with accompanying facts and mini-projects. Read through the ideas, see what materials you have on hand, and have fun! For all culture projects, be sure to find a good song on THIS PAGE to listen to while you are working/playing!

If you want to “create a country” in a corner of your house–bedroom, playroom, part of the living room, your closet, etc.–like I have in my classroom, make sure to add a big sign with the country name, and check out THIS PAGE for more cultural ideas. Post on Seesaw (grades JK-3) or email me a photo (grades 4-5) if you want to share.

Mexico

Project #1: HAMMOCKS!

The Yucatan in Mexico is known for its hammock culture. Here, 2/3 of children sleep in hammocks instead of beds, and there are even hammocks in hospitals! For this challenge, string up your own DIY hammock with a sheet and twine/rope. Attach it to your bedpost, a chair, or even a tree outside. Be sure to ask your parents first so that you choose a safe place.

Project #2: AMATE PAINTINGS!

Amate bark paper is a traditional folk art and beautiful type of paper made from the bark of fig trees in Mexico. An easy way to create one at home is to crumple up a brown paper bag and use colorful paints to create something like THIS. Scroll down here for step-by-step instructions. If you have any figs to chew on, eat some while you are painting!

Project #3: GROW CRYSTALS!

The Giant Crystal Cave is a cave connected to the Naica Mine in Mexico with massive crystals. The average person can only stay inside for ten minutes because there is 99% humidity, whoa! For this challenge, grow your own crystals at home with Epsom salts, food coloring, and a bowl. Turn off the air conditioning if you want to enhance the cave simulation, haha! Skip to 5:23 in the video below to learn more.

Spain/España

Project #4: MAKE TAPAS!

An exciting part of traveling is getting to see and try different types of foods. What is “normal” to you is “strange” to others, and vice-versa. In Spain, tapas—also called pinchos when pierced with toothpicks—are found in many restaurants. They are snacks arranged in small dishes, and have an interesting history: a long time ago, many people were illiterate, so travelers going from one inn to the next could not read the menus; instead, they were given little plates to sample different types of food before ordering their meal.

Pretend you are in Spain and recreate tapas in your own kitchen. There are countless options, so find a few that you like, and have a little fiesta, or party. Some ideas include mixed olives and cheese; skewers with pickles; fried baby squid; mushrooms sautéed in garlic and oil, etc.—see more options HERE. Enjoy!

Project #5: BUILD A FORT!

La Alhambra is a famous fort/palace with beautiful gardens in southern Spain. Many students enjoy trying to build this fort during class time out of cardboard, so why not make one at home? Build a huge fort tent out of blankets, pillows, and chairs, based on La Alhambra. Ask your parents where in your house would be a good place to build it (so that you don’t have to take it down right away or get in trouble).

Draw or print out a Spanish flag to wave, put on Spain’s National Anthem or your favorite song in Spanish, and get to work! This could become a really comfy place to watch Spanish cartoons or study Duolingo. NOTE: The video is historically-based, and more for older students.

Project #6: GO ON A HIKE!

The Camino de Santiago is a 500-mile hike across northern Spain. It takes about 30 days to complete on foot. You carry everything you need in a backpack, and follow the arrows and shells so you don’t get lost. For this challenge, put arrows and shells all over the house, leading to your learning space or bedroom, like it is the Camino de Santiago. Feel free to pack a bag and go on a mini-hike with your parents walking around the block, if you feel like it. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

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Thank you so much for reading! Hope you are having a great week.

Fondly,

-Señorita M.

Costa Rica- Rainforest

COSTA RICA: Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity–flora and fauna abound. 18% of the world’s butterflies, for example, are found there. Multiple Lower School classes helped to create their own rainforest in my classroom closet last week, printing out photos of realistic wildlife, hanging green streamer vines, artificial flowers, and relevant stuffed animals (no giraffes!) in unexpected places, and planting cucumber and petunia seeds in flower pots (currently in the greenhouse); hopefully, there will be REAL plants in the rainforest in a few weeks. I added Christmas lights and a howler monkey soundtrack to enhance the general ambiance and magic of it all. Did you know that howler monkeys are among the loudest animals on Earth?

As a final touch, several fifth graders mixed blue food coloring and water in a bowl to replicate the famous Río Celeste (Blue River), a definite must-see if you travel there! Note that nearly all Lower School classes have been exploring and sightseeing in the rainforest this week. Some even bring their iPads to take Insta-worthy nature pics. If you would like to extend this project at home, HERE is one idea.

LINKS: Make a Tropical Blue Morpho Butterfly (Costa Rica), Mariposa Morpho Abriéndose, Río Celeste (Costa Rica)

Garoch

Featured Image Credit to Tommy Krombacher

Just Play

As a child, I played “school” a lot. My mother says that in kindergarten, I would coerce others to be my students and scribble lessons on a Raggedy-Ann chalkboard. Even as a teenager, I lived in a world of ideas. I remember wanting to figure out how to convert the human body into pure electrons so that I could travel over the phone wires (circuit) to visit my friend in a town twenty miles away. For the record, I never figured that one out, but school was rarely boring; there was always more to learn and do. If anything, I felt overwhelmed at times with the quantity of information available and a serious surplus of interests. Suffice to say, teaching has always been in my blood.

Continue reading “Just Play”

Spain- Tapas

SPAIN: An exciting part of traveling is getting to see and try different types of foods. What is “normal” to you is “strange” to others, and vice-versa. In Spain, tapas—also called pinchos when pierced with toothpicks—are found in many restaurants. They are snacks arranged in small dishes, and have an interesting history: a long time ago, many people were illiterate, so travelers going from one inn to the next could not read the menus; instead, they were given little plates to sample different types of food before ordering their meal.

Pretend you are in Spain and recreate tapas in your own kitchen. There are countless options, so find a few that you like, and have a little fiesta, or party. Some ideas include mixed olives and cheese; skewers with pickles; fried baby squid; mushrooms sautéed in garlic and oil, etc.—see more options HERE. Enjoy!

Mexico- Crystal Caves

MEXICO: The Giant Crystal Cave is a cave connected to the Naica Mine in Mexico with massive crystals. The average person can only stay inside for ten minutes because there is 99% humidity, whoa!

For this challenge, grow your own crystals at home with Epsom salts, food coloring, and a bowl. Turn off the air conditioning if you want to enhance the cave simulation, haha! Skip to 5:23 in the video below to learn more.

LINKS: Cueva de los Cristales- Naica (Mexico), Naica Mine (Mexico)

Image Credit

Spain- La Alhambra

SPAIN: La Alhambra is a famous fort/palace with beautiful gardens in southern Spain. Many students enjoy trying to build this fort during class time out of cardboard, so why not make one at home? Build a huge fort tent out of blankets, pillows, and chairs, based on La Alhambra. Ask your parents where in your house would be a good place to build it (so that you don’t have to take it down right away or get in trouble).

Draw or print out a Spanish flag to wave, put on Spain’s National Anthem or your favorite song in Spanish, and get to work! This could become a really comfy place to watch Spanish cartoons or study Duolingo. NOTE: The video is historically-based, and more for older students.

LINKS: La Alhambra (Wikipedia)La Alhambra (Spain)La Alhambra, Fotos (Spain)La Alhambra (languages)

Aymara & Quechua

I love that learning about other languages and cultures always gives us new perspectives. It is like when you stand on a chair: the room is still the same room, but you notice different things about it. As we deepen our language study, we will begin to notice new perspectives embedded in other languages and cultures. The Aymara and Quechua languages (spoken in South America) introduce us to a new perspective this week. What? Keep reading!

In other words, everything we can see is considered the past, and therefore in front of us; everything we cannot see and is therefore unknown, is the future and behind us. This is actually very logical when you think about.

Until next time, remember that, “We should learn languages because language is the only thing worth knowing even poorly” (-Kató Lomb, hyperpolyglot).

Photo credit HERE; featured image at top of page of Quechua woman and child.

Wukchumni

There is an endangered language in the US called Wukchumni, that only has one living speaker remaining. Intent on preserving her language for future generations and documenting it for linguists, Marie Wilcox is working on writing a dictionary to compile all of the words in her language. Can you imagine such a task? Our challenge is ‘merely’ to download all of the words in a language into our brains; her job is upload them, eek! For more information, see the video below and this Ethnologue link.

Imports & Exports

The current political/media state has brought to the world’s attention how incredibly dependent and interdependent we–along with millions of people–are on other country’s products and services. An Apple iPhone does not just magically make its way into our hands: the physical hardware comes from somewhere, along with the intelligence, coding, encryption, and software inside the device. And what about the box it is shipped in? Or the paper label on the box? Where was that paper made? What forest did it come from? Which tree? How long ago did this process begin?

Continue reading “Imports & Exports”

Peru- Boiling River

PERU: Deep in the Amazon there is a river… that actually boils. You can fill an empty mug with a teabag and have instant hot tea. Animals that fall in are instantly boiled. The average coffee is 130*F; this river has been measured at 210*F. Yikes! It is an awesome thing to behold- just don’t get too close. For more information, check out the videos below. Students boiled water in class, measured the temperature with a glass thermometer, and then converted the degrees from Celsius to Fahrenheit.

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Andrés Ruzo– Photo from his book

Mexico- Chewing Gum

MEXICO: Making natural chewing gum is a fascinating, time-consuming, and dangerous job that dates back to the Mayas in the Yucatan. Chicleros climb high up to slash zig-zag patterns in the sapodilla trees with a machete, let the sap drain out, and then boil it until it turns into a thick paste, stirring all the while. They must be careful to avoid jaguars in the forest and falling machetes. Watch the videos below to learn more about this process.

Newsletter 19-20, T2 (2)

Second graders have done an excellent job this trimester of combining language and culture. For starters, the majority can write and say the following:

Hola, ¡buenos días! Yo me llamo ______. Yo quiero _____ y _____ [jugar y colorear] con mis amigos. Yo necesito ________ [marcadores, cobijas, peluches, comida, ropa, libros, etc.]. Yo voy a _________ [Chile, España, Argentina, etc.].”

(Hello, good morning! My name is ______. I want to _______ and __________ [play and color] with my friends. I need ________ [markers, blankets, stuffed animals, food, clothing, books, etc.]. I am going to ________ [Chile, Spain, Argentina, etc.]).

The phrase, “Yo voy a _______” (“I’m going to ________) came about for two reasons. First, there is a Señor Wooly song called, “¿Adónde vas?” (Where are you going?) which became a major hit among second graders, so obviously we needed to take that and run with it–and learn how to answer the question. Second, the class wanted to create a pueblo/town, and well before we began designating certain parts of the Spanish room as different countries (our current reality), second graders had divided the space into sections–el gimnasio/the gym, el teatro/the theater, la fábrica/the factory, el hotel y restaurante/the hotel and restaurant, el cine/the movie theater, etc.

When students signed up to jugar voleibol/play volleyball, they would have to explain that they were going to the gym to do said activity. Likewise, the factory was for arts and crafts, or building pretty much anything; the theater was for singing, playing the piano, dressing up, and performances; the movie theater was for watching Pocoyo shows or Señor Wooly songs; and the hotel & restaurant were for sleeping and eating. As time went on, we began saying that the gym was located in Argentina, the hotel in Peru, the theater in Colombia, etc. It was actually a very neat (and unforeseeable) evolution of a project!

Moreover, all of these activities recycled and built on vocabulary from last year–e.g., jugar/to play, pintar/to paint, construir/to build, tocar el piano/to play the piano, comer/to eat–and students began expanding their sentences. It was no longer just “I want to play”, but rather “I want to play soccer with my friends outside” (quiero jugar al fútbol con mis amigos afuera), or “I want to build” became a little more polite: “May/Can I build a fort? I need blankets and the clothes and books.” (¿Puedo construir una fortaleza? Necesito cobijas y la ropa y libros.)

As a final linguistic note, second graders also integrated their suffix and prefix study from their regular classroom with the target language, learning that there are “boy” (masculine/el) and “girl” (feminine/la) words in Spanish, and that this can be determined by studying the suffix. The class had fun discovering which words were on the “boy team” or “girl team”. We get ice cream (el helado)! But we get cake (la torta)! And so on… The point here is for students to begin to notice details about Spanish. This will help their study later on.


In as far as culture goes, second graders truly outdid themselves. They saw what older students were doing, jumped on board the train, and then, in addition, proposed their own projects. Here are a few examples.

  1. Students noticed an image of the Noche de los Rábanos/Night of the Radishes festival (Mexico), and then took a day in December to carve actual radishes into beautiful creations, copying what they saw.
  2. Second graders made a truly outstanding iMovie of the Camino de Santiago 500-mile hike through northern Spain.
  3. Several students helped cover a soccer ball with gold paint, and then built a trophy stand for it out of Popsicle sticks and hot glue, for Messi and to represent the importance of fútbol/soccer in many Spanish-speaking countries.
  4. Other students contributed to the fourth grade project of sunken Spanish treasure, dying paper with coffee and blowdrying it to make it look old, and drawing treasure maps on it.
  5. Others were inspired by the third graders’ presentation on instruments made out of trash in Paraguay, and made their own maracas, drums, and more for the LS Spanish Museum.
  6. Second graders were VERY EXCITED about minerals and gems for a long time. Here, they spent time learning which minerals come from South and Central America, and then painted rocks to create amethysts and lapis lazuli look-a-likes. Several filled little cups of water and dyed the water various shades with food coloring.
  7. 2B began ‘selling Cuban coffees’ (café cubano), made by filling mini cups with jabón/soap and water, and then painting rainbows on top of the soap bubbles. When the business started taking off, we would stop the soccer game across the room for halftime, so that the players could come ‘buy’ and ‘drink’ the Cuban Coffees from the café.
  8. Second graders learned about Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua, and declared whether or not they would be brave enough to participate in such an extreme sport. Eeek! Not me!
  9. Last but not least, students were given assigned centers one week, along with first graders. The choices were as follows: 1) Argentina, set up, buy, and sell items at an outdoor mercado/market with Argentine pesos: no American dollars accepted!; 2) Peru, build one of the highest cities in the world out of blocks; 3) Dominican Republic, play dominoes, a national pastime; 4) Bolivia, paint the beautiful sky reflections of starry nights and sunrises and sunsets over the largest salt flat in the world (and also taste more salt!); and/or 5) paint a famous Xul Solar Argentinian painting, mural-style, on the bulletin board outside of the Spanish room (*in progress!).

Second graders have also traveled outside several times to play Policías y ladrones/Cops and Robbers (a la cárcel/go to jail, no quiero ir/I don’t want to go, libertad/freedom), in addition to a Freeze Tag version of queso, helado (cheese, ice cream). Bits and pieces of these games and cultural projects may have made their way home, so hopefully this gives you a bigger picture and panoramic view of what students have been learning in Spanish class.


Year Recap

READING & WRITING:

¡Hola! ¡Buenos días! Yo me llamo ______. Yo quiero _____ y _____ [jugar y colorear] con mis amigos. Yo necesito ________ [marcadores, cobijas, peluches, comida, ropa, libros, etc.]. Yo voy a _________ [Chile, España, Argentina, etc.].

(Hello! Good morning! My name is ______. I want to _______ and __________ [play and color] with my friends. I need ________ [markers, blankets, stuffed animals, food, clothing, books, etc.]. I am going to ________ [Chile, Spain, Argentina, etc.]).

*CENTERS: jugar, colorear, pintar, construir, tocar el piano, volar [un avión de papel], limpiar, dibujar, cantar, hablar, dormir, bailar, trabajar, ver; con/with; y/and.

CULTURE:

  • Spain- El Camino de Santiago (iMovie & presentation)
  • Mexico- Day of the Dead; Night of the Radishes; Cinco de Mayo
  • South America- gemstones/minerals
  • Nicaragua- volcano boarding
  • Argentina- outdoor markets/mercados; Xul Solar painting; soccer (Messi)
  • Cuba- ‘café cubano’
  • Peru- build highest city in the world (La Rinconada)
  • Dominican Republic- play dominoes; dancing Merengue
  • Bolivia- paint Salar de Uyuni reflections & taste salt
  • Guatemala- Sawdust Carpets (Easter)

OTHER VOCABULARY:

  • Policías y ladrones (Cops and Robbers) & Freeze Tag: a la cárcel = go to jail; no quiero ir = I don’t want to go; libertad = freedom; queso, helado = cheese, ice cream
  • ¿Adónde vas? = where are you going? (song); Tengo hambre = I’m hungry (song)
  • Pueblo/town– el gimnasio/the gym, el teatro/the theater, la fábrica/the factory, el hotel y restaurante/the hotel and restaurant, el cine/the movie theater

Newsletter 19-20, T2 (3)

Third Grade- This trimester, third graders in 3B chugged along steadily with their Duolingo work, while 3A decided to take a break from the app back in December (but picked it up again in February).

3.A CHAMPIONS: Aylani, 694 XP; Celia, 507 XP; Marijka, 500 XP; 3.B CHAMPIONS: Kaden, 1197 XP; Zafirah, 1127 XP; Sebastian, 871 XP.

Culturally speaking, third graders divided into groups based on student interests. Here is a list of both class and individual projects they have worked on this trimester.

  1. Third graders inspired all of Lower School by transforming my closet into a Costa Rican rainforest, complete with green vines galore, Christmas lights, photos of animals that actually live there–and currently, REAL plants in the campus greenhouse. That are growing! In real life! Whose seeds third graders planted!
  2. Students in both classes were given the opportunity to eat a fried cricket. They had a mature class conversation about other cultures, perspectives, and traditions. In Mexico, there are 549 edible insects, and it is common to eat them and see them in markets.
  3. After watching this clip of the Landfill Harmonic documentary about a town in Paraguay, 3.B decided to make their own instruments out of trash and recyclable materials, and proceeded to share this information with the community at FMM.
  4. Third graders made a Popsicle stick model of the Train to the Clouds in Argentina (skip to 3:45 in video), for the LS art/science/history Spanish Museum.
  5. Students learned how natural chewing gum/chicle is made from the Sapodilla tree (Mexico), and then considered opening their own business; here, they tried melting Starbursts to create a similar, gooey chicle-like substance. Several students even painted criss-cross x’s on real bark to replicate how chicleros slash the trees to let the sap drain down. Ultimately, copyrights, patents, and other legal practices got in the way of an actual start-up–but it was fun while it lasted!
  6. Two students made a diorama museum exhibit of Yungas Road in Bolivia, one of the most dangerous roads in the world, out of natural materials.
  7. Another group got very excited about Worry Dolls, after listening to THIS short story, and not only made their own dolls to bring home, but also created houses and furniture for them!
  8. One student made a model of the Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico, and had fun creating eruptions with baking soda and vinegar.
  9. Three boys learned about the Boiling River in Peru. Afterwards, to see if water actually boils at 100*C (212*F), they used a tea kettle and glass thermometer. And yes- it does.
  10. Students tried to create a life-sized model of the Galapagos turtles (Ecuador). The turtles are HUGE!
  11. Third graders also talked about different currencies, and used an online currency converter to see how much their American dollars were worth in other countries.
  12. Back in November, students also looked at clothing tags and food labels, to see if they were made in a Spanish-speaking country. They found bananas from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, avocados from Mexico, shirts from Honduras, apples from Chile, and more. Feel free to keep the conversation going whenever you are grocery shopping or in your kitchen cooking. It is fascinating to note how global we really are.

Finally, third graders focused on team-building skills and building a stronger class community, by participating in both the Marshmallow Challenge as well as Policías y ladrones/Cops and Robbers games outside (from last year). While learning a language takes a tremendous amount of grit, strength of character, and independence, it is always more fun with other people!

*ASIDE: As you may already know by this other post, native speakers were recently given a list of ideas to supplement their language study. They also have personal journals/diarios in which they are aiming to write a page entry each class day, in lieu of the regular written work. So far, they are doing really well!

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.


Year Recap

CULTURE:

  • Spain- Gazpacho & La Tomatina; cathedrals/stained glass windows
  • Chile- Easter Island
  • Mexico- eating fried crickets
  • Paraguay- Landfill Harmonic (recycled instruments)
  • Argentina- Train to the Clouds
  • Costa Rica- rainforest
  • Bolivia- Yungas Road diorama
  • Peru- Boiling River
  • Guatemala- Worry Dolls; Sawdust Carpets (Easter)

Newsletter 19-20, T2 (4)

This trimester, Summit students began with a “News Show” in Spanish–“En vivo, desde México” (Live, from Mexico)–where they took turns being reporters, working tech, and dramatically presenting the weather (¡El tiempo!/the weather). Each week, they added a new commercial, which was usually a translated slogan of a well-known brand (WalMart: save more, live better/ahorra más, vive mejor; Nike: Just do it/Sólo hazlo; McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it/Me encanta; etc.). Once fourth graders felt comfortable with their script, each class transitioned to a more in-depth project, that was going to make national news. Well, that was the plan, anyway! Let me explain.

4A voted that they wanted to travel to and focus on Spain, while 4B chose Mexico. Both classes brought their backpacks to Spanish class; removed their shoes when passing through security; boarded the airplane; graciously accepted Cheez-Its and water from their stewardesses; took advantage of the in-flight entertainment (iPads); and after a long flight, finally landed.

Next, wearing backpacks, they followed a QR code hunt around campus, learning about famous monuments and cultural tidbits. Right when they thought things were winding down, their teacher hailed a taxi and they drove around the neighborhood, seeing the sights of [either] Madrid, Spain or Mexico City, Mexico from a cab. [Note that your children were safe at all times here–Ms. Berry was the “cab driver” of the school van!]

Students in 4A drove past the Prado MuseumEl Prado in Madrid, Spain is one of the most famous museums in the world, housing over 27,000 objects and artworks. In fact, it was the Google Doodle [the week students learned about it], which celebrated the museum’s 200th anniversary! For this project, students took an 8.5×11 copy of a well-known painting and transferred it by eye to a large trifold, trying to imagine how artists filled such massive canvases. For images of their work, please visit THIS LINK.

During the painting process, one student learned that the Prado was actually robbed in 2014— of a shocking 885 artworks. As a result, more than several classes were spent trying to merge their Spanish news show with an iMovie green screen breaking news “robbery” of their paintings in the style of Oceans 12. Ultimately, the project lost steam, but it was fun while it lasted! Here is the soundtrack we used.

Students in 4B drove past the Museo Soumaya, a Mexican museum with completely different exhibits. Here, fourth graders learned that in 1715, a fleet of Spanish ships sank off the coast of Florida, en route to Spain and loaded with treasure from the new world. Modern treasure hunters have discovered some of this lost treasure–one family made $4.5 million dollars in 2017!–but much still remains on the ocean floor. Students acted out this story as a class (with Spanish dialogue, of course), and then created artifacts for a faux museum display. After painting the Spanish crest and flag on them, students broke a few of the plates intentionally to make it seem more realistic!

Both classes tried to make a green screen iMovie for their News Show, but meeting only once or twice a week caused the process to lose steam. That said, they ALL did an amazing job with this! I wish we could have had a final product, but… c’est la vie!

Throughout these projects, students worked on Duolingo (or Memrise) every day. At some point, they became über-motivated and completely addicted to the app. This was and is great to see. The top scores right now are as follows:

4.A CHAMPIONS: Ilaria, 4879 XP; Audrey, 2800 XP; and Gabby, 2077 XP. 4.B CHAMPIONS: Adam, 13902 XP; Jai, 5717 XP: Lyla, 5635 XP.

Additionally, fourth graders had several conversations about language on a more philosophical level this trimester. They learned about hyperpolyglots, or people who speak an extreme number of languages; explored books from my personal collection that are in multiple languages; and discussed several statistics, such as 1) that there are 7,000 languages in the world, but that it is hard to define what exactly a language is, especially when compared to something like Spanglish; and 2) it is funny that we think of the internet as so ‘global’, when 52% of its content is in English (1 out of 7,000 languages). In that light, the web seems pretty limited, in terms of perspective taking.

As the trimester came to a close, students requested center work again. Here, they sign up via letters for what they want to do each day. While this is remarkably similar to last year and what other grades do from time to time, I have to emphasize here that their written work has grown tremendously as a group. Last year, their letters were all the same, very uniform. Now, I am reading all different types of letters–some are serious, others silly, and others a combination of the two. They are a delight to read each day. Keep up the excellent work, fourth grade!


February: Hoy les felicité a los de 4.A por ser mi clase más ‘global’ o mundial de Lower School, en términos de querer aprender tantos idiomas… y en actuar sobre esta pasión. Muchos están tomando más de un curso en Duolingo, en adición al español: mandarín, francés, ruso, polaco, japonés, etc. Hay unos 7.000 idiomas en el mundo ahora, y con solo nueve o diez años, los niños ya saben mucho del ámbito lingüístico.

Por ejemplo, me dijeron esta mañana (correctamente), que en orden de millones o billones de gente, el mandarín es primero, el español segundo y el inglés, tercero. Pero en línea, el inglés domina, con 52 por ciento de la Red.

Les expliqué que hay “unos” 7.000 idiomas y no resulta una ciencia exacta por falta de una definición nítida o precisa: es el “spanglish” un idioma? Qué tal Chinglish (chino/inglés) o Greeklish (griego/inglés)? Hablamos de las capas y el desarrollo de los idiomas en sí. Por ejemplo, el “japoñol” es la mezcla de japonés y español, cuando unos inmigrantes se fueron de Japón a Perú y la segunda generación aprendió español y empezó a mezclarlo con el japonés en casa. A qué punto se convierte en otro idioma, además de la jerga/lunfardo*? ¡Avísenme en los comentarios abajo si tienen una opinión! [*jerga/lunfardo significa “slang” aquí]

Como que la clase ya tenía interés en el asunto, llevé desde mi casa unos libros míos, escritos en otros idiomas. Los niños trataban de descifrar cuál era cuál. Al notar un idioma que no podían identificar, era “aymará”, una lengua indígena de Sudamérica. Un hecho interesante aquí es que, en nuestra cultura, para hacer referencia al pasado, uno señala hacia atrás (“Ayer yo fui…”) y un gesto adelante para significar el futuro. En aymará, resulta el opuesto: uno señala hacia adelante para referir al PASADO porque es lo que se ve y por tanto, lo que uno conoce; uno señala hacia atrás para referir al PORVENIR, ya que no se ve y uno todavía no lo conoce.

Al final de la clase, hablamos de frases (y palabras) intraducibles (“untranslatable”), como deja-vu, tortillas, tacos, etc. y “word loans” (préstamos). Era un día muy académico y lingüístico, pero aprecié tanto el interés y la madurez de la clase. ¡Cuarto grado es genial!

Newsletter 19-20, T2 (PK-5)

OVERVIEW: Students in Lower School have spent a good chunk of time this trimester immersed in cultural projects and ideas. Some projects have spanned multiple levels and lasted several weeks, while others have been grade-specific and only taken a day or two to complete. These projects emerge due to student interest, but also when a visual product (painting, tower, image, etc.) in the room sparks a conversation.

While I initially fell in love with Spanish via linguistics (and philosophy)–you can’t get much deeper into words and language than that–I have come to value culture just as much in recent years. After all, as the saying goes, you don’t learn to speak a language; you learn to speak a culture. ASIDE: The tricky part with Spanish is that we are not talking about one culture here, but rather myriad cultures and subcultures of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries.

*I would love for everyone to read through everything that I’ve written below, but I realize that is not realistic. As a result, I have added headings per grade level to facilitate in the scrolling process. I recognize this is a lengthy post.

Junior Knights

Junior Knights- Many of these cultural projects you have already read about on Seesaw: folding abanicos/fans out of regular and then very large paper (Spain); making miniature güiros with toothpicks (instruments from the Caribbean); watching a video on how a wooden molinillo is made (the thing you use to stir the chocolate in Mexico); and, much earlier in the year, making Worry Dolls out of felt and Popsicle sticks (Guatemala). Most recently, students are fascinated by our Freeze Dance song from Wreck-It Ralph/Rompe Ralph.

In the linguistic realm, students have tapped into their classroom project on expression, whether or not they recognize it on a conscious level. You see, every new word or phoneme they bring home carries with it a new set of sounds, another way to express something (an object, action, or idea) with which they are already familiar. “Duck” in one classroom setting becomes “Pato” in another.

They have also been exploring storytelling in the target language. Here, Pato and friends play with language to create a scene in students’ minds. One day, for example, the famous (infamously mischievous?) stuffed animal came to class soaking wet. The obvious question was, “Why?” To answer that, we begin: “Una noche…” (one night)–here, I model turning off the lights with comprehensible language, and by the third class, I can ask students in Spanish to do this independently. We proceed to sing our goodnight songs and whisper “Buenas noches” (good night), when ALL OF A SUDDEN! a loud crash of thunder awakens us from our sleep: there is a storm outside! Oh no, ¡qué problema! (What a problem!) Students volunteer to play various roles (e.g., sitting on a barco/boat made out of chairs in class) and/or assist with sound effects (e.g., la lluvia/the rain).

Eventually, Pato gets to the point and answers the question–or doesn’t, and wants to reenact the “how I jumped into a pool” part of the story with students just for fun. One of the most adorable moments of this past month was when one class started chant-whispering [unprompted], “¡AG-UA, AG-UA, AG-UA!” (Water, water, water). Gracias for a great term.

Kindergarten

Kindergarten- Trimester 1 ended with a conversation about Day of the Dead in Mexico. Students were so interested in this that we continued our ‘culture trip’ around the Spanish-speaking world. When, for instance, students signed up for the ‘volar/fly’ center, I made them paper airplanes, on the condition that they brought me the color paper and size they wanted, and told me where they were going.

Initially, the options were only España/Spain and Mexico, and they had to draw the flag colors on their planes, but we branched out after that. Where will you be flying today? Argentina? We added Bolivia after a brief cultural lesson on the largest salt flat in the world there, Salar de Uyuni, and to clarify to Olivia (as opposed to Bolivia) that I was not making fun of her name! Venezuela was added to the list when students wanted to contribute something to the LS Spanish museum; that day, we went outside and collected pebbles, leaves, and sticks, and made a mini replica of Angel Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the world. The other class wanted to print out pictures of lightning for a center (imprimir/to print), so I showed them Catatumbo Lightning in Venezuela. K.A ended up seeing the images, and asked about it the following day.

Costa Rica became a fad after classes contributed to the rainforest simulation in my closet. All of these countries are labeled and have specific locations in my room now, so students can ‘travel’ to Bolivia to paint (pintar) or simply fly their airplane/avión in said direction and shout out key words like, “¡Mira!” (Look!) or “¡Ayúdame!” (Help me!) when it does something neat or lands up too high to reach. Granted, not all students have taken to plane-flying, but there is a high percentage of both classes that participate and/or have participated this trimester. These countries are all sight words as well.

While kindergarteners do not necessarily have a conceptual grasp of what a country is, they do know that people in faraway lands like Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia speak Spanish. This is the overarching goal. Any extra facts they recall or bring home are icing on the cake. (NOTE: As a bonus, many also know that they do not speak Spanish in Polonia/Poland– thank you/dziękujęAlejandro, aka Alex!) Last but not least, and at some point back in the fall, students also made their own piñatas and abanicos (fans).

In the linguistic realm, it should be noted that as a group, students’ reading and writing skills are improving daily. They read to me in Spanish on a regular basis, and most can write at least several words in the target language now without consulting any reference materials, i.e., sight word cards. Kindergarteners enjoy pointing out similarities and differences between English and Spanish, especially with regards to phonetics. Great work this term!

First Grade

First Grade- As many of you know from SLC’s, first graders have become Map Masters. Their country-name recognition skills and ability to locate these places on a map are excellent. Currently, students are comfortable naming the majority of the following countries: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Students have had mini-lessons about many of these cultures–from Worry Dolls (Guatemala) to making natural chewing gum (Mexico) and tracing Mola designs (Panama)–as well as a week of assigned centers for first and second grades, where they chose a culture project of interest.

The assigned centers looked like this: 1) Argentina, set up, buy, and sell items at an outdoor mercado/market with Argentine pesos: no American dollars accepted!; 2) Peru, build one of the highest cities in the world out of blocks; 3) Dominican Republic, play dominoes, a national pastime; and/or 4) Bolivia, paint the beautiful sky reflections of starry nights and sunrises and sunsets over the largest salt flat in the world (and also taste more salt!).

A memorable day was when students tried selling their artwork (paintings of Bolivia) at the outdoor market in Argentina, but listed a painting as 20 pesos. I suggested that we look up how much that was, and when the student learned that 20 Argentinian pesos was only equivalent to $0.32, she changed the price, adding a few more zeros (2000 ARS = $32.00).

A few students could not decide where to go, so I gave them an alternate project: recreate a textured model of La mano de Punta del Este in Uruguay with paint and sand (it is a famous sculpture of a hand on the beach).

Both classes were also introduced to and acted out the most famous windmill chapter of the 900-page world-renowned novel, Don Quijote, back in the fall. Picasso made a sketch of the two main characters (Don Quijote and Sancho Panza) to commemorate the novel’s 350th anniversary. First graders put a photocopy of this up to the window, placed pastel-colored paper on top of it, and then trace-scribbled the drawing with a Sharpie to create a two-tone replica. The class joke and icing on the cake was to cross out Picasso’s name and replace it with their own!

Because first graders are becoming so knowledgeable about the Spanish-speaking world, and also because they were wholly inspired by the second graders’ iMovie about the Camino in Spain back in October, students are currently making their own pasaportes/passports. Passports are necessary to visit the Costa Rican rainforest in my closet. Obviously. Great work this term.

Second Grade

Second grade– Second graders have done an excellent job this trimester of combining language and culture. For starters, the majority can write and say the following:

Hola, ¡buenos días! Yo me llamo ______. Yo quiero _____ y _____ [jugar y colorear] con mis amigos. Yo necesito ________ [marcadores, cobijas, peluches, comida, ropa, libros, etc.]. Yo voy a _________ [Chile, España, Argentina, etc.].”

(Hello, good morning! My name is ______. I want to _______ and __________ [play and color] with my friends. I need ________ [markers, blankets, stuffed animals, food, clothing, books, etc.]. I am going to ________ [Chile, Spain, Argentina, etc.]).

The phrase, “Yo voy a _______” (“I’m going to ________) came about for two reasons. First, there is a Señor Wooly song called, “¿Adónde vas?” (Where are you going?) which became a major hit among second graders, so obviously we needed to take that and run with it–and learn how to answer the question. Second, the class wanted to create a pueblo/town, and well before we began designating certain parts of the Spanish room as different countries (our current reality), second graders had divided the space into sections–el gimnasio/the gym, el teatro/the theater, la fábrica/the factory, el hotel y restaurante/the hotel and restaurant, el cine/the movie theater,etc.

When students signed up to jugar voleibol/play volleyball, they would have to explain that they were going to the gym to do said activity. Likewise, the factory was for arts and crafts, or building pretty much anything; the theater was for singing, playing the piano, dressing up, and performances; the movie theater was for watching Pocoyo shows or Señor Wooly songs; and the hotel & restaurant were for sleeping and eating. As time went on, we began saying that the gym was located in Argentina, the hotel in Peru, the theater in Colombia, etc. It was actually a very neat (and unforeseeable) evolution of a project!

Moreover, all of these activities recycled and built on vocabulary from last year–e.g., jugar/to play, pintar/to paint, construir/to build, tocar el piano/to play the piano, comer/to eat–and students began expanding their sentences. It was no longer just “I want to play”, but rather “I want to play soccer with my friends outside” (quiero jugar al fútbol con mis amigos afuera), or “I want to build” became a little more polite: “May/Can I build a fort? I need blankets and the clothes and books.” (¿Puedo construir una fortaleza? Necesito cobijas y la ropa y libros.)

As a final linguistic note, second graders also integrated their suffix and prefix study from their regular classroom with the target language, learning that there are “boy” (masculine/el) and “girl” (feminine/la) words in Spanish, and that this can be determined by studying the suffix. The class had fun discovering which words were on the “boy team” or “girl team”. We get ice cream (el helado)! But we get cake (la torta)! And so on… The point here is for students to begin to notice details about Spanish. This will help their study later on.

In as far as culture goes, second graders truly outdid themselves. They saw what older students were doing, jumped on board the train, and then, in addition, proposed their own projects. Here are a few examples.

  1. Students noticed an image of the Noche de los Rábanos/Night of the Radishes festival (Mexico), and then took a day in December to carve actual radishes into beautiful creations, copying what they saw.
  2. Second graders made a truly outstanding iMovie of the Camino de Santiago 500-mile hike through northern Spain.
  3. Several students helped cover a soccer ball with gold paint, and then built a trophy stand for it out of Popsicle sticks and hot glue, for Messi and to represent the importance of fútbol/soccer in many Spanish-speaking countries.
  4. Other students contributed to the fourth grade project of sunken Spanish treasure, dying paper with coffee and blowdrying it to make it look old, and drawing treasure maps on it.
  5. Others were inspired by the third graders’ presentation on instruments made out of trash in Paraguay, and made their own maracas, drums, and more for the LS Spanish Museum.
  6. Second graders were VERY EXCITED about minerals and gems for a long time. Here, they spent time learning which minerals come from South and Central America, and then painted rocks to create amethysts and lapis lazuli look-a-likes. Several filled little cups of water and dyed the water various shades with food coloring.
  7. 2B began ‘selling Cuban coffees’ (café cubano), made by filling mini cups with jabón/soap and water, and then painting rainbows on top of the soap bubbles. When the business started taking off, we would stop the soccer game across the room for halftime, so that the players could come ‘buy’ and ‘drink’ the Cuban Coffees from the café.
  8. Second graders learned about Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua, and declared whether or not they would be brave enough to participate in such an extreme sport. Eeek! Not me!
  9. Last but not least, students were given assigned centers one week, along with first graders. The choices were as follows: 1) Argentina, set up, buy, and sell items at an outdoor mercado/market with Argentine pesos: no American dollars accepted!; 2) Peru, build one of the highest cities in the world out of blocks; 3) Dominican Republic, play dominoes, a national pastime; 4) Bolivia, paint the beautiful sky reflections of starry nights and sunrises and sunsets over the largest salt flat in the world (and also taste more salt!); and/or 5) paint a famous Xul Solar Argentinian painting, mural-style, on the bulletin board outside of the Spanish room (*in progress!).

Second graders have also traveled outside several times to play Policías y ladrones/Cops and Robbers (a la cárcel/go to jail, no quiero ir/I don’t want to go, libertad/freedom), in addition to a Freeze Tag version of queso, helado (cheese, ice cream). Bits and pieces of these games and cultural projects may have made their way home, so hopefully this gives you a bigger picture and panoramic view of what students have been learning in Spanish class.

Third Grade

Third Grade- This trimester, third graders in 3B chugged along steadily with their Duolingo work, while 3A decided to take a break from the app back in December (but picked it up again in February).

3.A CHAMPIONS: Aylani, 694 XP; Celia, 507 XP; Marijka, 500 XP; 3.B CHAMPIONS: Kaden, 1197 XP; Zafirah, 1127 XP; Sebastian, 871 XP.

Culturally speaking, third graders divided into groups based on student interests. Here is a list of both class and individual projects they have worked on this trimester.

  1. Third graders inspired all of Lower School by transforming my closet into a Costa Rican rainforest, complete with green vines galore, Christmas lights, photos of animals that actually live there–and currently, REAL plants in the campus greenhouse. That are growing! In real life! Whose seeds third graders planted!
  2. Students in both classes were given the opportunity to eat a fried cricket. They had a mature class conversation about other cultures, perspectives, and traditions. In Mexico, there are 549 edible insects, and it is common to eat them and see them in markets.
  3. After watching this clip of the Landfill Harmonic documentary about a town in Paraguay, 3.B decided to make their own instruments out of trash and recyclable materials, and proceeded to share this information with the community at FMM.
  4. Third graders made a Popsicle stick model of the Train to the Clouds in Argentina (skip to 3:45 in video), for the LS art/science/history Spanish Museum.
  5. Students learned how natural chewing gum/chicle is made from the Sapodilla tree (Mexico), and then considered opening their own business; here, they tried melting Starbursts to create a similar, gooey chicle-like substance. Several students even painted criss-cross x’s on real bark to replicate how chicleros slash the trees to let the sap drain down. Ultimately, copyrights, patents, and other legal practices got in the way of an actual start-up–but it was fun while it lasted!
  6. Two students made a diorama museum exhibit of Yungas Road in Bolivia, one of the most dangerous roads in the world, out of natural materials.
  7. Another group got very excited about Worry Dolls, after listening to THIS short story, and not only made their own dolls to bring home, but also created houses and furniture for them!
  8. One student made a model of the Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico, and had fun creating eruptions with baking soda and vinegar.
  9. Three boys learned about the Boiling River in Peru. Afterwards, to see if water actually boils at 100*C (212*F), they used a tea kettle and glass thermometer. And yes- it does.
  10. Students tried to create a life-sized model of the Galapagos turtles (Ecuador). The turtles are HUGE!
  11. Third graders also talked about different currencies, and used an online currency converter to see how much their American dollars were worth in other countries.
  12. Back in November, students also looked at clothing tags and food labels, to see if they were made in a Spanish-speaking country. They found bananas from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, avocados from Mexico, shirts from Honduras, apples from Chile, and more. Feel free to keep the conversation going whenever you are grocery shopping or in your kitchen cooking. It is fascinating to note how global we really are.

Finally, third graders focused on team-building skills and building a stronger class community, by participating in both the Marshmallow Challenge as well as Policías y ladrones/Cops and Robbers games outside (from last year). While learning a language takes a tremendous amount of grit, strength of character, and independence, it is always more fun with other people!

*ASIDE: As you may already know by this other post, native speakers were recently given a list of ideas to supplement their language study. They also have personal journals/diarios in which they are aiming to write a page entry each class day, in lieu of the regular written work. So far, they are doing really well!

Fourth Grade

Fourth Grade- This trimester, Summit students began with a “News Show” in Spanish–“En vivo, desde México” (Live, from Mexico)–where they took turns being reporters, working tech, and dramatically presenting the weather (¡El tiempo!/the weather). Each week, they added a new commercial, which was usually a translated slogan of a well-known brand (WalMart: save more, live better/ahorra más, vive mejor; Nike: Just do it/Sólo hazlo; McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it/Me encanta; etc.).

Once fourth graders felt comfortable with their script, each class transitioned to a more in-depth project, that was going to make national news. Well, that was the plan, anyway! Let me explain.

4A voted that they wanted to travel to and focus on Spain, while 4B chose Mexico. Both classes brought their backpacks to Spanish class; removed their shoes when passing through security; boarded the airplane; graciously accepted Cheez-Its and water from their stewardesses; took advantage of the in-flight entertainment (iPads); and after a long flight, finally landed.

Next, wearing backpacks, they followed a QR code hunt around campus, learning about famous monuments and cultural tidbits. Right when they thought things were winding down, their teacher hailed a taxi and they drove around the neighborhood, seeing the sights of [either] Madrid, Spain or Mexico City, Mexico from a cab. [Note that your children were safe at all times here–Ms. Berry was the “cab driver” of the school van!]

Students in 4A drove past the Prado MuseumEl Prado in Madrid, Spain is one of the most famous museums in the world, housing over 27,000 objects and artworks. In fact, it was the Google Doodle [the week students learned about it], which celebrated the museum’s 200th anniversary! For this project, students took an 8.5×11 copy of a well-known painting and transferred it by eye to a large trifold, trying to imagine how artists filled such massive canvases. For images of their work, please visit THIS LINK.

During the painting process, one student learned that the Prado was actually robbed in 2014— of a shocking 885 artworks. As a result, more than several classes were spent trying to merge their Spanish news show with an iMovie green screen breaking news “robbery” of their paintings in the style of Oceans 12. Ultimately, the project lost steam, but it was fun while it lasted! Here is the soundtrack we used.

Students in 4B drove past the Museo Soumaya, a Mexican museum with completely different exhibits. Here, fourth graders learned that in 1715, a fleet of Spanish ships sank off the coast of Florida, en route to Spain and loaded with treasure from the new world. Modern treasure hunters have discovered some of this lost treasure–one family made $4.5 million dollars in 2017!–but much still remains on the ocean floor. Students acted out this story as a class (with Spanish dialogue, of course), and then created artifacts for a faux museum display. After painting the Spanish crest and flag on them, students broke a few of the plates intentionally to make it seem more realistic!

Both classes tried to make a green screen iMovie for their News Show, but meeting only once or twice a week caused the process to lose steam. That said, they ALL did an amazing job with this! I wish we could have had a final product, but… c’est la vie!

Throughout these projects, students worked on Duolingo (or Memrise) every day. At some point, they became über-motivated and completely addicted to the app. This was and is great to see. The top scores right now are as follows:

4.A CHAMPIONS: Ilaria, 4879 XP; Audrey, 2800 XP; and Gabby, 2077 XP. 4.B CHAMPIONS: Adam, 13902 XP; Jai, 5717 XP: Lyla, 5635 XP.

Additionally, fourth graders had several conversations about language on a more philosophical level this trimester. They learned about hyperpolyglots, or people who speak an extreme number of languages; explored books from my personal collection that are in multiple languages; and discussed several statistics, such as 1) that there are 7,000 languages in the world, but that it is hard to define what exactly a language is, especially when compared to something like Spanglish; and 2) it is funny that we think of the internet as so ‘global’, when 52% of its content is in English (1 out of 7,000 languages). In that light, the web seems pretty limited, in terms of perspective taking.

As the trimester came to a close, students requested center work again. Here, they sign up via letters for what they want to do each day. While this is remarkably similar to last year and what other grades do from time to time, I have to emphasize here that their written work has grown tremendously as a group. Last year, their letters were all the same, very uniform. Now, I am reading all different types of letters–some are serious, others silly, and others a combination of the two. They are a delight to read each day. Keep up the excellent work, fourth grade!

Fifth Grade

Fifth Grade- This trimester, Summit students began with a “News Show” in Spanish–“En vivo, desde México” (Live, from Mexico)–where they took turns being reporters, working tech, and dramatically presenting the weather (¡El tiempo!/the weather). Each week, they added a new commercial, which was usually a translated slogan of a well-known brand (WalMart: save more, live better/ahorra más, vive mejor; Nike: Just do it/Sólo hazlo; McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it/Me encanta; etc.). The goal here was mostly to work on basic facts, such as days, dates, weather, but also to recognize how many things in our world have been translated.

The bulk of time leading up to winter break, however, was spent on museum exhibits. Here, fifth graders proposed an idea to research re: a cultural aspect of a Spanish-speaking country–and then got to work. Here is a list of sample projects. For student work, see THIS LINK.

  1. Alebrijes– Mexico
  2. Bullfighting– Spain
  3. Vinicunca/Rainbow Mountain– Peru
  4. Andean Condor– Andes Mountains, South America
  5. Marble Caves– Chile
  6. El Morro– Puerto Rico
  7. Nazca Lines– Peru
  8. Basilisk Lizard– Costa Rica
  9. Underwater Museum– Mexico
  10. Catatumbo Lightning– Venezuela
  11. New Year’s Eve– Spain
  12. Joan Miró artwork– Spain

Following this independent work, fifth graders came back together as a class and were introduced to a play in the target language. Here, they rehearsed lines, worked on expression (both stage placement as well as intonation), and practiced presenting to the class. One class, they even tasted Yerba Mate, a special tea from Argentina, because it was mentioned in the play. The goal each day was to work on Duolingo, split into groups for quality rehearsals, and then play “Spanish Soccer” outside, where students are only allowed to shout/speak in the target language (instinctive response). This rhythm was interrupted with field trips, assemblies, and more, however, which disrupted the class’s general flow and progress. As a result, fifth graders requested center work similar to last year.

It i