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Argentina- Southern Lights

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 (back in […]

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 […]

Those Dusty Old Tomes

THOSE DUSTY OLD TOMES haunt me, inspire me, enrage me, calm me: they are my best friends and my arch-nemeses. I turn the pages quickly, then slowly–slowly, then quickly–skimming the words and frequently returning, crunching on and digesting them one by one as they nourish my heart and soul.

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 […]

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 […]

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 ideas—both 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 […]

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 […]

Peru- Amazon River

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

When Will My Child Be Fluent?

With all due respect, this question and its answer are not as simple or black-and-white as some would want to believe.  Let’s consider its three main flaws. 1) This is not an immersion school.  While its language classes may be taught 95-100% in the target language, these classes are language-specific, and not the medium of instruction […]

Costa Rica- Rainforest

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 […]

Mexico- 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 […]

Spain- 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 […]

Mexico- Crystal Caves

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 […]

Spain- La Alhambra

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Trimester 2- Update

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 […]

Bolivia- Salt Flat

BOLIVIA: Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat formation in the world. If you travel there, you can even stay in a hotel made out of salt! During the rainy season, a light coat of water creates a perfect reflection of the sky–from sunrises and sunsets to beautiful starry nights. Some students used watercolors to […]

Memoir Excerpt

In what seems like a lifetime ago, I used to take ballroom dance lessons. This “phase” lasted for close to seven years. While my dance journey began gracias a mi padre—“You really need to know how to Salsa if you speak Spanish!”–my takeaways were much more than just proficiency in rhythm and smooth dances. What I […]

Heritage Survey Results

**Interactive Map** For the 100th Day this year, we wanted to see if students in Lower School represented 100 or more countries, by heritage. By “heritage”, we mean any country in your bloodline: where are you from? Where are/were your parents or grandparents from? What about your great-grandparents? While we did not reach the 100th […]

Nicaragua- Volcano Boarding

Do you know what snowboarding is? Well, volcano boarding is just like that… except that you slide down the side of a volcano. Really! This is an extreme sport that began in Nicaragua fairly recently (2005). It is considered extreme due to the 40% gradient of the volcano–you are going straight down–but also because of […]

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 […]

Panama- Mola

The Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands off of Panama are famous for a specific type of art, called mola. Mola means ‘blouse’ (or clothing) in the Kuna language. While women used to paint geometric designs on their bodies, nowadays the patterns come from nature—or, plants and animals—and are created with layers of fabric. […]

Native Speakers

Recently, I have had several questions about native (and heritage) speakers and how to improve their reading and writing skills in the target language. In list form, here are a few ideas:

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 […]

Dominican Rep.- Defy Gravity

“Defy gravity in Barahona! In the southwestern part of the Dominican Republic, there is a town called Polo. There you can go challenge gravity at the Magnetic Pole (El Polo Magnético). If you stop your car in neutral gear downhill, your car will roll up! As cool as it sounds, this is what’s called a gravity […]

Fried Plantains- Patacones

Students made tostones or patacones (plantain chips) to taste in class, which are a very popular snack in Spanish-speaking countries. If you would like to make this delicious snack at home, HERE is a recipe. Another way to prepare them is for breakfast, as mangú (eaten especially in the Dominican Republic)–recipe HERE. See below for the etymological origin of this […]

Cuba/Spain- 1715 Shipwreck

CUBA/SPAIN: It is the year 1715–King Felipe V wants his treasure, and he wants it now. As a result, he demands that his Spanish fleet (of 12 ships) makes its way back from Cuba to Spain, even though it is hurricane season in the Caribbean. The 1715 fleet gets caught in a terrible storm and […]

Cuba- Cuban Cars

Cuban cars: the who, what, when, where, and why below!

Venezuela- Lightning

VENEZUELA: Catatumbo Lightning is a naturally occurring phenomenon in Venezuela. Here, lightning strikes continuously above Lake Maracaibo for 140-160 nights per year (some sources say up to 300) for 10-12 hours straight each night. This can produce up to 40,000 strikes per night! To learn more, read this article HERE!! Or, to make lightning in […]

Mexico- Underwater Museum

MEXICO: In 2005, someone noticed that tourists, anchors, snorkelers, and divers were damaging the coral reefs in Mexico–in particular, the Manchones Reef. By 2013, an underwater museum (MUSA/Museo Subacuático de Arte) had been created around the reef, in order to help protect it. Currently, there are about 500 sculptures that have been placed in the […]

Argentina- Iguazu Falls

I saw these little (and big!) guys when visiting Las Cataratas de Iguazú/ Iguazú Falls in Argentina. It is a baby coatí and they were running around everywhere. Iguazú Falls is the largest set of waterfalls in the world. They are amazing- my friends and I even took a speedboat under the falls! Here is […]

Spain- Bullfighting

Pamplona, Spain is perhaps most famous for its celebration of San Fermín and the annual Running of the Bulls. This tradition, although a huge part of Spanish culture, is highly controversial. To learn more, read this Wikipedia or Scholastic article, and watch the YouTube video below about the Running of the Bulls. Next, try debating […]

Ecuador- Sneezing Iguanas

ECUADOR: There are sneezing iguanas that live here… and actually sneeze! HERE is a hilarious video to put on loop. We blend cultures by using the Colombian practice of saying, “Salud, dinero, amor” (health, money, love) every time someone sneezes in class, and then listen to a classic song about “Las tres cosas” by Cristina […]

Museum Exhibits

*To see the digital collection and your child’s work, please visit THIS LINK. Students in Lower School have been working for the past few weeks on creating a Spanish museum with a wide variety of science, art, and history exhibits in preparation for GGD. In some classes, children are working individually or with a small group, […]

Mexico- Chichen Itza

MEXICO: This pyramid is called “El Castillo” in Chichen Itza (2:19-2:36). It was built hundreds of years ago by the Maya civilization, but the amazing part here is that twice a year, exactly on the Spring and Fall equinoxes, a shadow appears that aligns perfectly with a serpent’s head. How did the Maya figure this […]

Paraguay- Landfill Harmonic

Paraguay After watching the following clip of the Landfill Harmonic documentary, students decided to make their own instruments out of trash in the classroom. 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 […]

November Update- JK

Junior Knights– Because children are experiencing immersion in the target language, it is difficult to know when to send an update. They respond to me in class but may not bring home words to you; while frustrating, this is also completely natural: why would they speak to you in Spanish if you don’t speak it? They […]

Colombia- Guatapé

COLOMBIA: Is this the world’s most colorful town? 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?” works well with this unit. In Guatapé, Colombia, there […]

Bolivia- Yungas Road

Yungas Road is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It is only 12 feet wide, and the elevation varies from 4,000 to 15,000 feet high. Yikes! Students made a miniature diorama of this road.

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 […]

Guatemala- Worry Dolls

GUATEMALA: These tiny Worry Dolls are from Guatemala. Children make them and put them under their pillows at night to take away their worries (e.g., monsters, nightmares). Students were fascinated by these. They took a day to glue small pieces of fabric to mini Popsicle sticks, added a face, and soon afterwards, had their very […]

Mexico- Día de los Muertos

El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is a day to honor family members who have passed away. This tradition dates back to the Aztecs. People believe that spirits come back to visit us from Oct. 31-Nov. 2nd. The skeletons you see are very happy to be reunited with their loved ones. […]

South America- Condor

SOUTH AMERICA: The Andean Condor is the largest flying bird in the world. It weighs up to 33 pounds and can have a wingspan of nearly 11 feet. Students tried to make a life-size replica of this massive bird with paper feathers, but ultimately tired of cutting them out. So many feathers!! Perhaps in the […]

Spain- El Camino

SPAIN: 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. Second graders made a green screen video (click HERE) showing us their journey. For this […]

Chile- Marble Caves

CHILE: Chile’s Marble Caves are a truly beautiful natural wonder. Students mixed teal and green paints to capture different shades, and later added true-to-life purples and yellows to their paintings to accent the vibrant backdrop. The author of the video below describes the caves as “like being inside the Aurora Borealis”. Wow!

Argentina- Yerba Mate

ARGENTINA: Yerba Mate Tea 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. […]

Peru- Rainbow Mountain

PERU: Rainbow Mountain, or Vinicunca in Quechua, has a unique composition–14 different, colorful minerals–that makes the mountain range appear like the inside of a jawbreaker. Students used the amazing, paint-pouring video below to make a model of the mountain. It was very messy but great fun! For more information on Rainbow Mountain, visit this link. Here […]

Ecuador- Christmas Iguana

The Galápagos Islands off of Ecuador are known for their diverse range of wildlife, including iguanas. The photo above shows a Christmas iguana, but there are many other types of marine iguanas. Check out the “Godzilla” Iguana in the video below!

Spain- Don Quijote

SPAIN: Don Quijote de La Mancha is a world-renowned, 900-page novel from Spain, written by Miguel de Cervantes way back in the 1600’s. Centuries later, Picasso made a sketch (see below) of the two main characters to commemorate the novel’s 350th anniversary. Students put a photocopy of this up to the window, place pastel-colored paper […]

Chile- Easter Island

CHILE: Easter Island is an island located in the South Pacific. There are hundreds of massive statues and wooden tablets scattered over this landmass, but no one knows how they got there–it is a mystery! The tablets have a mysterious language written on them (called Rongorongo) that no one can read. Third graders carved 3-D […]

Language Challenge

Week #5: Numbers WEEK #5: Learning a language is not an overnight project. It is not even a project where there is a clear telos, or end point. You just keep chipping away at your own pace, and the graph naturally swings up and down: you make a lot of progress, a little progress, plateau, and then […]

Spain- Gazpacho

SPAIN: Gazpacho is a delicious soup from Spain, and the perfect cold tomato dish to enjoy on a hot summer day. Third, fourth, and fifth graders took a day to celebrate La Tomatina, or tomato-throwing fight in Spain, by making Gazpacho in class. This is the recipe we used.

August Update

Since you cannot see your child’s digital portfolio (Seesaw) for another few weeks, I thought I would give you a brief update about the goings-on in Spanish class so far this year. For an explanation of the photos, keep reading. And to learn about La Tomatina, the tomato-throwing holiday festival in Spain this past week, check […]

Welcome Back!

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World: Welcome back! I hope you are having (and have had) a wonderfully adventurous summer. As we look forward to the start of another school year, there are a few things I would like to share with you. For any new families, I am Señorita M., […]

Summer Packet 2019

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World: WE LIVE in a World of Words, where every conversation, every interaction, everything we read and hear is, ultimately, a story of our lives. Some are stories of heartbreak, others of adventure, wonder, or joy; some are apathetic, others filled with purpose and intention. Our […]

Country Presentations

Today, kindergarteners and third graders had a special presentation about Mexico [from Regina and Isabella’s mom and grandmother]. In it, students learned that the Aztecs were warriors, or guerreros, who needed to eat very good food to keep them strong. Corn tortillas provided just the strength they needed, and this food acted as their main source of […]

May Update- Projects

Patacones/Fried Plantains This morning in Spanish class, third graders started a cooking project that first graders ended up finishing (because Señorita overloaded the electrical circuits… whoops! and had to restart, ahem). As serendipity would have it, the end product was even better than planned: a beautiful mix of first and third graders working and cooking side-by-side. […]

Mexico- Amate Paper

This is amate bark paper from Mexico. The Kid World Citizen blog has an article about amate paper and a great project how-to. Read below for a quick history of the art.

Invitation for Speakers

As the year has progressed (we are already in the third trimester!), I have learned that many families have a connection with one or more of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries in our world. Some of you speak only Spanish at home with your children, others speak a mixture of Spanish and English, and others have […]

About Me

Hi, I’m Señorita M.! I have taught Spanish for 12 years, and as a true language-enthusiast, enjoy researching and writing about a wide variety of topics. That said, most of my posts focus on language(s), minimalism, travel, culture projects, and online privacy, along with a sprinkle of prose on the side. Share, comment, like, and subscribe if you enjoy reading!

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