Car Rides to the Jungle


The day begins sitting outside my classroom in the hallway. “This is English,” I say. “I am speaking in English right now, but when I–*clap, clap*–yo cambio de un idioma a otro [I change from one language to another]. *Clap, clap.* Strange, isn’t it?!

This game progresses a bit farther each day. We look at our shoes, the colors of our shirts, the spider crawling up the wall. “You say, ‘blue’–clap, clap–yo digo, ‘azul’ [I say azul]”. All classes are learning to say, “Yo hablo español” (I speak Spanish), so that we can compare/contrast it with “Yo hablo inglés” (I speak English). After a minute or two of chitchat, we stand up, put our hands in the middle and say, “¡Vamos!” (let’s go!) like we mean it, and then travel into my room. Inside, everything is narrated and taught in Spanish.

Students sit in their assigned seats, and I ask the three-year-olds how they are: ¿Cómo estás? There are funny emoji faces on the board, and they come up one at a time and point to how they are feeling. I acted out the faces very dramatically the first few days for PK3 (feliz/happy, triste/sad, enojado(a)/mad, tengo frío/I’m cold), and we were very silly! So now it is a joke, and they will respond, “enojado(a)” (angry/mad) when I ask them, just to be silly, and with a huge grin on their face.

We move on to a song break at this point, usually one in particular from Encanto, or their newest favorite, Los solecitos (put it on loop!). They can move and dance around here, but some just watch–a bit fixatedly, trying to figure out how it is that the screen speaks the same language their Spanish teacher does. Hmm…

The first few classes, we did a science/ group activity on the carpet following the song. These lessons were sensory-happy, meaning that I brought in a hairdryer to levitate a ping-pong ball and teach the word, “caliente” (hot), and students got to feel the hot-hot-hot air; we melted a few crayons with the heat to “paint” a picture; I brought in ice cubes the next class to contrast and connect with, “frío” from above; and we put white plastic [temperature- activated] spoons in the cold water/ice cubes, which then ‘magically’ turned blue.

After the mini-lesson, students take turns ‘riding’ in my teacher chair (which is on wheels), and I sing a calming song, “Va-mos a España, va-mos; va-mos a Nicaragua, va-mos,” etc. as I push them across the room in the chair. I ring a windchime, we admire the beautiful sound, and then I push them back; but this time I ask if they want to go rápido/fast or not. The answer is, invariably, YES!

As we have settled into this routine, the ideas have started to expand. For example, in lieu of a science lesson et al, someone might say that they are “tired” (cansado/a) during the how-are-you Q&A, so we all take a 10-second nap with the lights off. Then I turn the lights back on, and announce that wow am I hungry. Hey! We should have a picnic! So we go to the carpet with a few blankets on the floor as a table, and pretend to eat the plastic food. I announce that there is a storm coming (I put rain sound effects on the board)–oh no!–so we have to go somewhere else. Then we take the “car rides” to the beach/ la playa or the jungle (la selva/la jungla), and students get to decide which video I put on the screen to enhance the general ambiance–tranquil waves, or howler monkeys in the rainforests of Costa Rica!

When our thirty minutes together is over, we say that the “train” is leaving, and students line up. I’m writing this now a bit out of guilt, because I never know how to put this in a nice, neat lesson plan on Veracross. We do a lot of fun things in Spanish every day, and the lessons are always evolving; but I wanted to give you a quick update before any more time passed. Otherwise, I would have started with the howler monkeys and chair cars two months from now, and you wouldn’t have known what I was talking about!

ASIDE: Your children may or may not bring home Spanish words; do not worry either way. The focus at this point is comprehension and following along in class. If you want to support/ encourage your child’s linguistic journey, feel free to watch cartoons or listen to music in Spanish with them at home. Don’t worry if you don’t understand; just watch/listen and have fun, and their brains will do the rest!

A Far Away Galaxy

Drone footage credit to mixkit.co, but I made the video. 🙂

The Firefly

Language has always been a story for me. You can go macro, the story of the world–or micro, the history of a single word. Or you can travel to another galaxy! With 7,000 languages on our planet, the possibilities are endless. My dissertation actually traced the evolution of the word, “luciérnaga” (firefly/ ‘lou-see-AIR-nah-gah’) in dictionaries, from its first appearance in 1251 through present day.

The definitions varied over the centuries, dependent on our collective scientific and cultural knowledge. Before we knew much of anything about entomology, many believed that those tiny lights flashing on and off in the night were… magic or sorcery. When there was a mini ice age in Europe for a few hundred years, a huge gap ensued: luciérnaga was absent from Spanish dictionaries, presumably because the lightning bugs all traveled closer to the equator, and were no longer a part of daily life.

Point being, I love language(s) and I love sharing my joy for words and communication with students. The cinematography above is meant to emphasize that your children do not merely study language in my class: they live it. They experience words and immersion and culture and all of the things. Words are everywhere, and it is my job to help them discover the *magical or linguistic/scientific* (however you view language) light and spirit within each child.

The firefly’s light flashes on and off, but it is always there.

Resumen, 22-23 (Grade PK)

QUARTER SUMMARIES will be posted here at the end of the term. Until then, this page will be a scrambled egg mess of notes.

Term
1This term, students in PK3 & PK4 began with daily language warm-ups outside of my classroom. (This is the official “English/ Spanish/ Spanglish” zone, as opposed to the “Spanish-only zone” inside my room.) Here, students focused on memorizing basic phrases, such as: yo hablo español (I speak Spanish); yo hablo inglés (I speak English); and separating English and Spanish words (rojo/ red, hola/ hello, etc.). Before going in each day, everyone puts their hands in a circle– akin to a sports huddle– and we say, “¡Vamos!” all together.

Inside the classroom, students take a seat and I ask them, “¿Cómo estás?” (How are you?). We act out little scenarios- what would make you triste/sad or enojado(a)/ mad? Are you feliz/ happy right now? ¡Yo tengo frío! (I’m cold!), etc. For PK3, this is all new; for PK4, this was an easy vocab review to start the year. Next, students listen to a song (Encanto; Los solecitos; Rompe Ralph; Con un beso gigante), and either dance or pretend it’s naptime– the “Solecitos” song!

For the first month at this point in the lesson, students would meet on the carpet and do some sort of science experiment together. This was anything from levitating a ping-pong ball with air from a hairdryer (caliente/hot), to submerging temperature- actived white spoons into ice cubes and cold water so that they turned blue (frío/ cold), to melting crayons (PK3), to miniature baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring volcanoes in a bowl (PK4).

Here, the two grades diverge a bit: PK3 takes “car rides” across my room in the teacher chair on wheels (coche/ car; rápido/ fast), and pretends to go to the beach/ la playa or jungle/ la selva; while PK4 taps into this fun every once in a while, but mostly chats with Pato about his latest adventure. In fact, PK4 recently helped color Popsicle sticks to build a barco/ boat for the stuffed animal duck, and we are all on pins and needles to find out where he is going. He has packed… everything, so it must be a long trip! Gracias for a great term. *For more info, please read Car Rides to the Jungle (PK3).
2
3
4

August

Objective: acclimating to daily routines, expectations, and an immersive Spanish environment!

  • Welcome!: intro to daily routine and general overview. We will tell a semester-long story in Spanish, adding only a sentence or two each day. The words in the sentence will be reinforced via class activities; games; songs; videos; and more. NOTE: On the first day, PK3 students visited my room and got accustomed to the space. Formal lessons begin next week. We compared English and Spanish as languages, and then sang a song about going places “¡Vamos!” (let’s go!).
  • The Car: review- English vs. Spanish. Sing going places song. Practice following directions. Color in a picture of a car. Paint with crayons. Listen to a song in Spanish. (lesson flowed beautifully and was much more organized than it sounds here!)
  • Ping-Pong Ball!: review- English vs. Spanish (two quick claps, and I change languages!). VAMOS!, hands in center. Transition inside. How are you today? Happy, sad, angry. Practice following directions. Hairdryer and ping-pong ball- caliente/hot. Sing going places song with car rides. VAMOS! Line up.
  • Blue Spoons!: review- English vs. Spanish/espa-NOL (two quick claps, and I change languages!). Rojo/red. Azul/blue. VAMOS!, hands in center. Transition inside. How are you today? Happy, sad, angry, (cold). Practice following directions. Repeat hairdryer and ping-pong ball- caliente/hot. Ice cubes and temperature- activated spoons. Sing going places song with car rides. VAMOS! Line up.

PK4

  • Welcome Back!: intro to daily routine and general overview. We will tell a semester-long story in Spanish, adding only a sentence or two each day. The words in the sentence will be reinforced via class activities; games; songs; videos; and more. NOTE: On the first day, PK4 students visit my room and get accustomed to the space. Formal lessons begin next week.
  • The Return of Pato: intro to daily routine and general overview. As per usual, Pato (my stuffed animal duck) has something up his sleeve, involving a miniature beaker, miniature spoon, miniature funnel, and a whole lot of vinegar, baking soda, and food coloring. Uh-oh…
  • More Science: review- English vs. Spanish. Sing ‘Where is Pa-to?’ song. How are you today?! Pato blows them all kisses (we try not to eat too many). Practice following directions. Watch song in Spanish (from Encanto). Transition to carpet. Science experiment repeat/extension lesson from yesterday (at students’ request).
  • I’m Cold!: review- English vs. Spanish (espa-ñol!). How are you today? Tengo frío (I’m cold!). Took blankets and danced to song from Encanto and Rompe Ralph. Sing ‘Where is Pa-to?’ song. Transition to carpet. Ping-pong ball with hairdryer (caliente/hot). Ice cubes (frío/cold). Temperature-activated spoons (azul/blanca). ¡SORPRESA!/ Surprise!
  • Swimming Pool: review- English vs. Spanish (hablo espa-ñol!). How are you today? Tengo frío (I’m cold!). Took blankets and danced to song from Encanto and Rompe Ralph. Sing ‘Where is Pa-to?’ song. Transition to carpet. Review: Pato, blue volcano science experiment is not a swimming pool! Hairdryer and ice cubes: will the agua/water be hot or cold? Traveled outside to faucet to fill 5-gallon bucket with water for Pato to jump into. We also splashed a bit, too. 🙂 Watered the plants. Came back. Lined up. SORPRESA!/ Surprise!

September

Objective: begin to work on verbal output, increase speaking confidence in the target language.

  • Drama- Paper: Daily routine, espa-ñol (outside). ¡Vamos! ¿Cómo estás? Acted out words dramatically, if you took the paper from me I would be…. happy/ sad/ angry/ etc. Song- Encanto. Dance time! Hairdryer at the carpet, caliente/hot and frío/cold.Where are we going? The beach? I sing, vamos a la playa, vamos. Car rides there. Is the agua at the beach caliente o fría? Is that the train? Time to go! Line up at door.
  • Beach or Jungle?: Daily routine, espa-ñol (outside). ¡Vamos! ¿Cómo estás? Q&A inside. Acted out words. Song- Encanto and Los solecitos. Dance time! Hairdryer at the carpet, caliente/hot and frío/cold. Where are we going? The beach or the jungle? I sing, vamos a España, vamos. Car rides there. Is that the train? Time to go! Line up at door.
  • Picnic, Day 1: Daily routine- yo hablo español (outside). ¡Vamos! ¿Cómo estás? Q&A inside. Most are pointing now; I am providing the verbiage. Song- Los solecitos. Nap time! ¡Otra vez! Again! Good morning! We should have a picnic! Let’s go! Do you want sopa? It’s caliente/ hot! Oh no, there’s a storm! (rain and thunder on board) Quick, get in the car! ¡Suban al coche! (chairs in a row) Where should we go (to get out of the storm)? Vamos a la selva. Let’s go to the jungle. Car rides there. Red light/ green light. Is that the train? Time to go! Line up at door.
  • Picnic, Day 2: Daily routine- yo hablo español (outside). ¡Vamos! ¿Cómo estás? Q&A inside. Most are pointing now; I am providing the verbiage. Song- Los solecitos. Nap time! Jobs for lights and board today. ¡Otra vez! Again! Good morning! We should have a picnic! Let’s go! Do you want sopa? It’s caliente/ hot! Oh no, there’s a storm! (rain and thunder on board) Quick, get in the car! ¡Suban al coche! (chairs in a row) Where should we go (to get out of the storm)? Vamos a la selva. Let’s go to the jungle. Car rides there. Red light/ green light. Is that the train? Time to go! Line up at door.
  • Red/Green Lights: Daily routine- yo hablo español (outside). ¡Vamos! ¿Cómo estás? Q&A inside. Song- Los solecitos. Nap time! Jobs for lights and board today. ¡Otra vez! Again! Good morning! We should have a picnic! Let’s go! Do you want sopa? It’s caliente/ hot! Oh no, there’s a storm! (rain and thunder on board) Quick, get in the car! ¡Suban al coche! (chairs in a row) Where should we go (to get out of the storm)? Vamos a la selva. Let’s go to the jungle. Car rides there. Red light/ green light activity today. Is that the train? Time to go! Line up at door.

PK4

  • The Boat, Day 1: review- English vs. Spanish (hablo espa-ñol!). How are you today? Tengo frío (I’m cold!). Took blankets and danced to song from Encanto and Rompe Ralph. Sing ‘Where is Pa-to?’ song. Transition to carpet. Pato wants to go in the water but doesn’t know how to swim and doesn’t want to get wet. How about a boat/ barco, Pato? Students colored in Popsicle sticks and used tape to put them together. Will continue with this next class. Lined up. SORPRESA!/ Surprise!
  • The Boat, Day 2: review- English vs. Spanish (hablo espa-ñol!). How are you today? Tengo frío (I’m cold!). Took blankets and “slept” during Los solecitos song. Sing ‘Where is Pa-to?’ song. Transition to carpet. Students colored in more Popsicle sticks and used tape to put them together. We have two sides of the boat now! Will continue with this next class. Lined up. SORPRESA!/ Surprise!
  • The Storm: Daily routine- yo hablo español (outside). ¡Vamos! ¿Cómo estás? Q&A inside. Song- Los solecitos. Nap time! Jobs for lights and board today. ¡Otra vez! Again! Good morning! We should have a picnic! Let’s go! Do you want sopa? It’s caliente/ hot! Oh no, there’s a storm! (rain and thunder on board) Quick, pack up the food! Where should we go (to get out of the storm)? Everyone huddled under the tables, as if it were their “house”. Phew, the storm is over! And we have time to work on our boat/ barco for Pato. YAY! Colored Popsicle sticks (fine motor). End of class, ¡SORPRESA! Surprise!
  • Class Story, Day 1: review- English vs. Spanish (hablo espa-ñol!). How are you today? Estoy cansado(a) (I’m tired!). Took blankets and danced to song from Encanto and Rompe Ralph. Sing ‘Where is Pa-to?’ song. Transition to carpet. Students colored in more Popsicle sticks and used tape to put them together. We start our first class story of the year. Lined up. SORPRESA!/ Surprise!

October

Welcome Back 2022-23!

Image Credit: Xomatok

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

Welcome back! As we look forward to the start of another school year, I thought I would share a quick post of frequently asked questions. For any new families, I am the Spanish teacher for grades PK-4.

NOTE: Students typically address me as “Maestra” (‘my-ACE-trah’/teacher) or Señorita M., (Miss M), but I am also called “Spain” and “Español” (Spanish) from time to time. Feel free to clarify this at home with your child.

  1. What is the painted staircase image about?
  2. Why did you start with that?
    • I wanted to start here because if there is any conversation that you have with your child(ren) about Spanish class before school begins, please remind them that–much like climbing an enormous staircase or mountain–language-learning is a journey. 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. If your child can learn just one new thing each day in class, they will be well on their way.
  3. What curriculum do you use?
    • I use a variety of curricula to teach language. From gesture- based storytelling methodologies (such as AIM and TPRS), to culture projects, geography, center work, science experiments, soccer games, theater, and more, we cover a lot of territory in Spanish class. For more info, see THIS PAGE.
    • ASIDE: You may also hear about “Pato” (duck), a mischievous stuffed animal duck of mine with a big personality (and squeaky voice), who is always on some silly adventure.
  4. How much Spanish do you speak in class?
    • My goal is to speak Spanish 95-100% of the time; however, I can get sidetracked with sharing cool culture projects in English and adore goofy English/ Spanish wordplays (especially as mnemonic devices to ingrain vocabulary!). This year, we are physically dividing the space, so “English” tidbits will be taught in the hallway outside of my classroom, and everything else inside my room will be in Spanish.
  5. Do you only teach about Spain?
    • Definitely not! There are 21 official Spanish-speaking countries. Students in grades 1-4 become familiar with these country names and participate in Culture Projects throughout the year.
  6. What can I do at home to help support my child?
    • Encourage, encourage, encourage!
      • Point out the names of Spanish- speaking countries on t-shirts tags, fruit stickers, can labels, warranties, manuals, and bilingual signs out in public.
      • Make/ bake RECIPES from Spanish-speaking countries.
      • Visit the children’s world language section at the library.
      • Listen to Spanish tv and radio, for the sole purpose of appreciating foreign sounds– no comprehension necessary.
      • Change the voiceover on movies to Spanish (and subtitles to English).
      • Explore Little Passports & Universal Yums!, which are fun, educational, world-culture subscription boxes that your child might enjoy.
      • Incorporate the language and culture into your daily life!
  7. If I want to learn Spanish alongside my child, what resources do you recommend?
    • More than anything, learning another language is about developing the habit. Working on an app regularly is a great way to start. Last year, I organized an independent study “Adult Class” for parents and faculty. Feel free to check out those resources and posts HERE.

And last but not least, for anyone wondering why you should learn another language, please read THIS for a hearty laugh.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and see you soon!

Fondly,

Your Resident Linguist ❤

~aka Maestra aka Señorita M. aka Spain


Spanish Class: The Return of Pato

Summer Packet 2022

PREVIOUS YEARS: Summer Packet 2021Summer Packet 2020Holiday Packet 2020Summer Packet 2019Summer Packet 2017Summer Packet 2016

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

Summer is a great time to get out of the routine — to refresh and reenergize the mind, body, and spirit. That said, parents frequently ask me what they can do at home to supplement their child’s language study, particularly during the summer months and if they don’t speak the language themselves.

Before getting started, it is important to recognize that reaching a level of true proficiency in a language takes time. As a result, I strongly urge you to make sure that any enrichment activities you do at home are more fun than not: language-learning is a joyous process, and motivated, excited kids will accomplish more than you ever thought possible when they want to do something.

Second, in lieu of babbling on for ninety-seven more paragraphs, I am going to give you a roadmap to my website, so that you can find and explore exactly what you are looking for. If you need an actual roadmap/ travel guide and are planning to visit a Spanish-speaking country, check out THIS PAGE (my latest project, still in its infancy!).

Part 1: Resources

Not sure what your child learned this year in Spanish class? Check out the following links! Each page has resources by grade level of songs/ projects your child has worked on in Spanish class, as well as Quarter Summaries of the year.

  • Adult ClassDuolingo Language Challenge Posts
  • To read about my professional interests, click HERE.

Part 2: Language

Input is absolutely CRUCIAL here! If you don’t hear any Spanish, it is very unlikely that you will learn how to speak it. This input can come in countless forms. You can do the same activity every day (e.g., wake up and listen to ONE song in Spanish before breakfast); or keep it fresh, mix it up, and do something different every day. Either way, build the language into your daily routine, so that something feels “off” when you don’t do it. This input can be:

  • listening to songs, either playing in the background on your device while you do another task, or actively listening for words you know;
  • watching cartoons/movies or TV shows in your target language (Spanish voiceover with English subtitles);
  • working on an app, the Spanish Wordle, or a Guess the Language game for a few minutes every day;
  • playing a scavenger hunt out in public, noticing bilingual signs and Spanish translations when you go shopping;
  • traveling to the library to check out the world language section (go to the kid’s one! the adult one is full of grammar books! boring!! LOL);
  • traveling virtually —
    • for a playlist of Scholastic read-alouds in Spanish, click HERE;
    • for fairy tales in Spanish and English, click HERE;
  • traveling in real life, either to a Spanish-speaking country or to a restaurant or city with a lot of Spanish speakers.

Part 3: Culture

A friend once taught me that you don’t just learn to speak a language, you also have to learn to speak the culture. Bilingual speakers (and hyperpolyglots, of course) do not merely code-switch; they also culture-switch when bopping between languages. To that end, students can expand their perspective taking in countless ways, including but not limited to the following:

Conclusion

Wow! There are so many pieces that go into learning another language and culture! If you are looking more for themed activities, feel free to check out the Spanish Summer Packet from last year, LINK HERE.

And if your family would rather focus on, well, Family!, know that as in past years, all activities above are 100% optional. Have a wonderful summer, and I can’t wait to see you in the fall!

Gracias,

-Your Resident Linguist ❤

Resumen, 21-22 (Grade PK)

Term
1This term, students in PK began with the same stop/go color game as kindergarten. Here, students whispered “[luz] verde-verde-verde” (green light) and simultaneously tip-toed around the courtyard, gradually increasing in volume and speed to end with “¡[luz] ROJA!” (red light); later, we added azul/blue, at which light we danced (bailamos). The next day, classes watched in awe as white spoons–upon being submerged in ice cubes and cold water–turned blue [temperature activated].

We extended this color game by balancing ice cubes on the spoons, while responding to traffic light command colors at the same time. Students also colored with markers and added different colored ink stamps to their drawings; played a ‘find the color’ game in my classroom; paired action commands with the colors; colored paper airplanes different colors; and tried to do anything and everything we could think of!

In Storytime Land, PK students began hearing mini stories about The Adventures of Pato, my stuffed animal duck. One day, he was so hungry that he tried to ‘eat’ all of my plastic food and fit it inside his sock pajamas (#fail). Another day, he wanted to learn how to fly, so we rigged up a small zipline from one corner of my room to the other, and students took turns letting him ‘fly’. When that didn’t work, he switched to [paper] airplane travel, and flew to the beach for a picnic with his friends. Students even built him a house out of blankets and chairs one day. How sweet! Last but not least, they listened to Rompe Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph) and watched a few cartoons in Spanish (Pocoyo: Tráfico; Perro y Gato: Favoritos) for comprehensible input. It was a great start to the year!
2This term, after taking time to ease into an immersive classroom experience, PK students practiced acting out daily routines in the language. Here, everyone took turns answering the question, “¿Cómo estás?” (How are you?) by pointing to emoji faces on the board. I narrated and repeated everything they said and did in Spanish–and naturally, as the class caught on to my sense of humor, they would answer, “¡Cansado(a)!” (tired!), so that they could pretend to go to sleep and start “the routine”.

This routine began very simply, with PK students “falling asleep” to a 37-second song, Los Solecitos. The first day, I passed out blankets and stuffed animals to students to cuddle up with, turned off the classroom lights, and sang lullabies in Spanish. I turned on the fairy lights, of course, so as not to frighten anyone. When it was “morning”, I turned back on the classroom lights and gently woke everyone up.

The next day, we added breakfast to the routine. The next day, we added “cars” (coches), in the form of chairs and cardboard boxes, to get to work. But they would break down– cardboard can only take so much– and there was so much traffic, that we decided to take the train instead (i.e., my tables on wheels)! Tickets did cost a little money, but it was worth it. (Read more about PK3 HERE and PK4 HERE.)

Students decided where they wanted to go each day, either la playa/the beach, la playa de noche/the beach at night, la selva/the jungle, or las montañas/the mountains; the links lead to relevant sound effects that I played on the board for each locale. Perhaps one of the most precious, adorable, and memorable moments this quarter was watching students “run away from” the waves at the beach [i.e., the wave video on my board]. For a week or two, the toy store was also open, where students could “buy” stuffed animals to bring to the beach at night and cuddle up with while they listened to Spanish lullabies.
3This term, students in PK added a Storytime component to their class routine. They also continued expanding upon the daily routine. For example, after taking the train to the jungle and mountains, they would go to the beach at night, fall asleep, wake up for breakfast, practice their good manners at the table while eating [plastic] food (por favor/please; gracias/thank you), pray before the meal, realize that they were all late to school, brush their teeth, run to the car, run back to get their backpacks/ mochilas and lunches, go to school, and listen to the teacher greet them and ask them how they were (review from second term), and then start to gesture-tell a story in Spanish.

Each week, we added a sentence or two to the story, and would do projects or short activities around the vocabulary to ingrain the new words in their minds. The first class story was about a pato/duck, gato/cat, and zapato/shoe, mostly for the fun rhyming, but also because it was key vocabulary in the fourth grader’s Spanish play (that students attended later in the term). The second class story was about a Coquí Frog named Carlos, who discovers a lost fish in his Bread Castle. Yes, students helped to build a bread castle in my classroom. For PK3 and PK4, this was to teach the word pan/bread in a very interactive way; for older classes, it was to teach the country name Panama as a class joke. Click HERE for photos and to read more.
4This term, students in PK dove headfirst into Culture Projects. In addition to the Coquí Frog and Bioluminescence in Puerto Rico from the third quarter, students also learned about Worry Dolls and Sawdust Carpets in Guatemala, and hammocks and Cinco de Mayo in Mexico. In fact, for Cinco de Mayo, students got to decorate Sombrero-Piñata Cookies after taking time to act out the history of the holiday in class. The following week, students listened to songs from Encanto and learned that the movie takes place in Colombia, which is Spanish-speaking; as a short project, they had fun finger painting like this [extremely talented] street artist from Colombia.

Students also had fun guessing where Pato was each class. To the tune of Frère Jacques, I would sing: Where is Pa-to, where is Pa-to? / ¿Dónde está? ¿Dónde está? ¡Dime, por favor! / ¡Dime, por favor! / Tell me, please! Tell me, please! And then ask follow up questions in the target language: is he in the Bread Castle? In Puerto Rico? In Mexico? His house? Do you think he will be despierto/ awake or dormido/asleep when we knock on the door?

One day, he wasn’t in su casa/his house, and we ended up taking the train (my table on wheels) OUTSIDE and DOWN THE HALLWAY! to the bus station (aka lunch tables near the courtyard), at which point everyone paid for a ticket, and we complained about traffic as yours truly drove the bus and made engine revving sounds, ha! Next, we walked to the parque/park (aka playground), and finally found Pato! In one class, he was in the office playing with his friend the dog [named] Chocolate/el perro Chocolate, and in the other class he was in the marsh grass beside the park; in both instances, he had no idea how to get back to my classroom, so it was good we found him! *No stuffed animals were harmed in this lesson.*

Naturally, Pato being perdido/lost related to our second class story, where a pececito/fish from Mexico gets lost in the Bread Castle which, of course, belongs to Carlos el coquí. (Fish song HERE.) As I write this, I am so sorry that I can’t figure out a way to summarize this more succintly. Somehow this makes sense to students… in Spanish… which is what I speak with them 98% of the time.

Anyway, it has been a truly AWESOME year, and I am so excited by how much Spanish your children are comprehending and producing! Do not worry if they are not speaking it to you (they probably don’t associate you with the language, unless you speak it yourself), but feel free to watch cartoons with them in Spanish and just generally encourage. Your support of the language program is greatly appreciated!

More popular song links: ¿Te Gusta El Helado De Brócoli?; ¿Te Gustan Los Milkshakes De Lasaña?; Pollito Pío: Venganza; Chumbala Cachumbala; Feliz Navidad; Contando del 1 al 20

Cartoons: Pocoyo: Misterio del monstruo; Pocoyo: La llave maestra; Legend of Golden Coquí

Cardboard Cars & Table Trains (PK3)

This morning, students in PK3 voted on which two songs to watch and dance to (from four options: Chumbala CachumbalaCorre, Pocoyó¿Te Gusta El Helado De Brócoli?; and Rompe Ralph/Wreck-It Ralph). While we normally proceed with a “How are you?” question and answer session following our songs, today there was a lot on the agenda, so we skipped over that part of the daily routine.

You see, in Spanish class, we start simple–building a foundation of basic words and phrases–but then continuously spiral and recycle the words in all different ways. For instance, the “luz roja, luz verde” (red light, green light) lessons led to naming and reviewing colors with games and word associations (there are four ways to say “red” in Spanish, depending on what you’re talking about- so this is ongoing and not mastered in a day).

The traffic lights, in turn, led to various modes of transportation. Our ‘cars’ are cardboard boxes and go both rápido/fast and lento/slow. When our ‘cars break down’, I attach masking tape to one end, and the student takes the roll part of the masking tape and ‘pulls’ the cardboard car to the garage/mechanic to be fixed. Obviously.

When we ran out of cardboard cars, I offered train rides (sometimes public transport is faster, anyway). Now just so you fully understand, ‘train rides’ have become ‘A THING’ in PK3 Spanish as of late. Students got free rides the first day, but since then, they have had to pay for their pretend tickets with dinero/money. Students climb on top of my long tables after paying–and we push the tables and students verrrrry slowly across the room. I say, “¡última parada!” (last stop!), and then they have to get off. The tables are on wheels, and make a very soft “hum” sound when moving, much akin to the soft hum of trams at airports.

This week, students were also able to purchase peluches/stuffed animals and comida/food with their dinero/money, along with the train tickets. As the number of passengers has increased, so have the number of stops on the route… meaning, one stop was at la playa/the beach!! Students got colorful blankets and sarapes, pretended to sun themselves, and played with their stuffed animals. Whenever they are on the train–zooming along at five feet per hour–they wave to their friends/amigos in the room, shouting, “¡Adiós!” and sometimes blowing kisses (besos), the latter of which is perhaps the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen!

Today, I started using sound effects and images on the Smartboard to enhance the linguistic experience. When they went to la playa/the beach, I projected a picture of white sands and the ocean–and played a sound effect of waves lapping at the shore. When they went to the jungle, I hung plastic green vines around the board, and showed and played THIS video. Our third destination was las montañas/the mountains. I’m still working on a sound effect for this one!

At this point, I quietly asked the assistant to lower the lights, and I explained that we had taken so many train rides, that it was already nightfall! So they took their formerly-beach-towels, now turned blankets, and chose either the “top” or “bottom” bunk of the bunkbeds in my room (aka train aka tables). Then I put on this 37-second SONG, with which they are very familiar and love, and cuddled up with their stuffed animals. They like to say, “¡Otra vez!” (again) and watch the song repeatedly some days. With the overcast sky and the lights off today, it felt so cozy in the Spanish room! I put on fairy lights sometimes as ‘night lights’ so they don’t get scared by the darkness. 🙂

Anyway, when it was finally time to wake up the ‘next morning’, I stretched–yawning–and said, “¡Buenos días!”. We were all pretty ravenous, so we took the train–which has now become more of a subway/metro–to a restaurant for breakfast (Tengo hambre/I’m hungry!). Then our 30 minute class was over and it was time to clean up and for them to be on their way.

If you have a student in PK4, you will note that there is definitely crossover in terms of content between the two grades, but PK3 has a different and much softer tone, in the sense that every experience is brand new and innocent. They are full of joy, in a way that’s hard to describe; and I truly cherish my time with them. Not every day is perfect by any means, but today the pieces all fell together and joy was had by all. Have a wonderful long weekend. I hope this gives you a peek into my/our little Spanish world.

Train Rides (PK4)

This morning, students in PK4 danced to our newest class song called Chumbala Cachumbala, and then went through the “How are you?” daily routine. Next, I asked in Spanish, “What is this?”, pointing to images of different currencies from various Spanish-speaking countries (but also including the US dollar as a reference point). After several responded “money”, I then asked, “And what is money for?” One brilliantly intuitive soul shouted out, “To buy stuff!”, and following a half second of complete shock–[they just understood what I said in Spanish! Holy Moses, that’s awesome!]–I proceeded to give a few examples. 

This is where the fun actually began. I called a student over, and gesture-narrated that they were allowed to choose a stuffed animal from a bin. Just when they were about to walk away, I said, “No-no-no!” and gesture-explained [this all happened in the target language] that s/he needed to go to the ‘bank’ and pay me dinero/money to purchase said stuffed animal. (I had a ton of faux bills that we had seen the previous week.)

After everyone had had a turn and began playing with the little animals and finger puppets, I slyly asked a student if he would like to buy a car (our ‘cars’ are cardboard boxes and go both rápido/fast and lento/slow). When our ‘cars break down’, I attach masking tape to one end, and the student takes the roll part of the masking tape and ‘pulls’ the cardboard car to the garage/mechanic to be fixed. Obviously.

Anyway… said student bought the car (after going back to the bank to take out more faux money), and the others quickly began to understand what was happening: EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE TODAY!!! 

When we ran out of cardboard cars, I offered train rides (sometimes public transport is faster, anyway. All of those red lights and traffic, you know; you can start to see, perhaps, why we started with red and green lights back in August).

Now just so you fully understand, ‘train rides’ have become ‘A THING’ in PK4 Spanish as of late. Students got free rides the first day, but since then, they have had to pay for their pretend tickets. Students climb on top of my long tables after paying–and we push the tables and students verrrrry slowly across the room. I say, “¡última parada!” (last stop!), and then they have to get off.

Today, this idea was extended: as the train had a maximum of four passengers (plus the stuffed animals), we ended up making multiple runs… meaning, one stop was at la playa/the beach!! Students got little colorful blankets, pretended to sun themselves, and played with their stuffed animals. Whenever they are on the train–zooming along at five feet per hour–they wave to their friends/amigos in the room, shouting, “¡Adiós!” and sometimes blowing kisses (besos).

One student was not interested in la playa/the beach, and I whispered in English, “Do you want to go back to the toy store?” He said yes, so the train–which is now becoming more of a subway/metro–traveled back to the toy store (with the stuffies). At some point, our 30 minutes was up, and I began wondering how to make a bell sound to ring for next week so that students could indicate where on the tram line they want to get off with pull-cords. Hmmm. They might need to be Pull-Cords of the Imaginary Variety.

Point being, I hope this gives you a glimpse into The Microcosm/ World Known As Spanish Class. Not every day runs quite so smoothly, but today the pieces fell together quite nicely, experiential learning was had by all, and your children spoke gobs of Spanish to me. Kudos! Have a lovely evening!

P.S. Yesterday, we watched a very silly Pocoyo cartoon about monsters. Your child is welcome to watch it again at home HERE.


PK- Links

  • For a playlist of Scholastic read-alouds in Spanish, click HERE;
  • For fairy tales in Spanish, click HERE.

Year 2020-21


Song Links

Summer Packet 2021

PREVIOUS YEARS: Summer Packet 2020, Holiday Packet 2020, Summer Packet 2019, Summer Packet 2017, Summer Packet 2016

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

This summer, students are encouraged to continue their Spanish study by living the language, through whichever ‘access point’ they deem most exciting. It is important to tap into students’ interests here.

For example, if they like tech, work on a Spanish app consistently; if they like music, listen to songs in the target language; if they like art or science, check out the updated Culture Projects; if they like geography or travel, look at tags and stickers on clothing and fruits, and see how many Spanish-speaking countries they can find; if they like PE, complete the Camino For Good Summer Challenge (where you walk/bike/swim across Spain virtually and log your progress in an app, unlocking all sorts of fun along the way!).

Spanish class is all-encompassing, and as such, the goal is to make it fun so that students stick with it: language acquisition is a long journey, and it is important to enjoy the ride. For a plethora of links, resources, and ideas, keep reading!

NOTE: While the activities below are 100% optional, it is my hope that you and your family begin incorporating Spanish into your daily lives: small, frequent doses are the most potent and effective!


SPANISH & PE

  1. Camino For Good App– [virtual hike across Spain]
    • The idea is that you walk/swim/bike in your local area and each day you log your distance into the App. You will see your equivalent progression along the Camino Frances on the interactive map where you can get a real feel for the landscape and village life of the regions you pass through. The total distance of the Virtual Camino Frances is 485 mi/ 780 km.
    • As a way of keeping you motivated, the App has rich content in the form of over 2,000 photos, audio stories, local history and motivational quotes that get unlocked as you virtually travel through the 207 destinations along the way.”

SPANISH & FOOD

SPANISH & ART/SCIENCE

SPANISH & TECH

  • Work on a language-learning app consistently this summer. Make goals for yourself about how many points you want to earn, or how many levels you want to level-up, or how many days a week you will practice. Switch your device’s language to Spanish if you want to!
  • Watch cartoons and movies in the target language; the brain does an incredible amount of work when it is given the opportunity to sit back, listen, and absorb. Do not downplay the importance of this when it comes to language acquisition!

SPANISH & WRITING

  • Keep a Spanish journal!
    • Doodle words you remember in the target language. Write the words or sentences in different colors and with different pens/ pencils/ markers/ paints/ gel pens/ etc. each day.
    • Tell the weather: hace sol (it’s sunny); hace mucho calor (it’s hot); está nublado (it’s cloudy); está lloviendo (it’s raining). Temperatures in Spanish-speaking countries are often in Celsius (use an online converter to see what 98*F equals!).

SPANISH & DANCE/MUSIC

SPANISH & MATH

  • Cut out different currencies (money from other countries), and compare and contrast. Use a currency converter to see how much it would be worth in US dollars.
    • Make your own business! Decide what you will sell, and for how much (in pesos, euros, etc.). Display the items you create, build, or cook in a decorative way, so that your family will want to “buy” them.
    • Make a cash box and organize all of the money by country and by amount.
  • Learn to count to 20 in Spanish with this video.
  • Learn to count to 100 in Spanish with this video.

SPANISH & GEOGRAPHY

  • Look for names of Spanish-speaking countries on tags and labels of items around your house and at the store. Can you fill in the rest of the chart below?
    • Spanish-Speaking CountriesChile, 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.
    • Older students can read this Imports & Exports post to think about the journey of a product and how it got to you.
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SPANISH & NATIVE SPEAKERS

  • If you are a heritage or native speaker
    • Watch movies in Spanish and add the Spanish subtitles– it can be interesting to compare the translations, which are oftentimes done in different countries. For example, you might hear, “¿Cómo estás?” but read, “¿Qué tal?“. You can even guess the country with some vocabulary and phrases.
    • Keep a Spanish journal and write a paragraph or two about what you remember the most from each day.
    • Make a “NO ENGLISH” rule at home with your family. Anyone who breaks the rule (intentionally or inadvertently) has to put a penny (or dollar?!) in a communal jar, or do everyone else’s chores for the next 24 hours. Make it a game!

SPANISH & SUMMER CAMPS

  • Read this post about Summer Language Camps.
  • Or, alternatively, turn a section of your home into a Spanish-speaking country!
    • Choose a Spanish-speaking country.
    • Research, print out, and hang up colored images of your country’s flag, plus famous places, animals, and foods from there. Ask to paint a tiny flag of your country on your hand or cheek!
    • Label five items in your room with bilingual (Spanish & English) signs–you can use WordReference or Google Translate.
    • Make it fun! Last year, we built a rainforest in Costa Rica in my classroom, complete with jungle sounds playing on an iPad in the background. This year, we built the Alhambra fort in Spain out of cardboard we had painted red. Add music, food, different currencies, and more- see other categories for more ideas!

Spanish is more than a class; it is a journey, and I cannot emphasize this enough. While the destination–fluency–is ultimately our telos, or end goal, the journey is equally important, and we want this journey to be filled to the brim with experiences and memories, so that language has meaning embedded in the words. Because that is the point, right?!

That said, it is important to recognize that when hiking (~our language-learning metaphor), there is value in both moving and standing still: sometimes you need to keep moving–and learning–filling up your tank with new experiences and new information; other times, you need to stop, pause, and be still while the world keeps moving. And sometimes, you meant or wanted to keep hiking, but didn’t get to it. That is okay!

Sometimes life throws us curve balls. Sometimes the world seems crazy. Sometimes our plans go awry. But a friend recently reminded me that through it all, we are responsible for how we respond: we can always choose joy. Whether ‘moving or standing still’ on your metaphorical hike, focus on what you love and make joy a priority this summer. It is time for a much needed respite now, but I also can’t wait to see you again in the fall! Have fun and be well.

Gracias,

-Your Resident Linguist


Happy Summer!

Siempre hace sol / cuando hablas español” (it’s always sunny when you speak Spanish).

Resumen, 20-21 (All Grades)

This year, I changed schools and began writing blog posts about lessons, as opposed to quarter summaries. Our school also did a mix of hybrid learning, with some students 100% on campus and others learning virtually from home.

As a result, I struggled with finding the best way to organize my curriculum on paper, as well as trying to blog regularly and post for virtual students: much like the fireworks image above, my thoughts were everywhere. It was a year of intense professional growth. Below, you can read blips about what we did. My two favorite posts are at the top, namely, Yes to Pizza and Pato Who?.

Did the Gato eat Pato? (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, Oct.

Pato Vs. Gravity (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.

Remote 19-20, T3 (PK, 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.

Continued Learning (Remote)

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.

Resumen 19-20, T1-T2 (PK)

Trimester Summary

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.


August Summary

Junior Knights– Students have settled into a routine of songs to begin and end class (most notably, Yo me llamo, Buenos días, and Te amo, me amas); met several famed characters from the Spanish Cave, including Pato, Oso, and Changuito/Mono (a duck, bear, and monkey, respectively); and begun to adjust to the fact that I speak Spanish. Which is not English. Which sounds a bit different. They were tickled pink this week upon seeing the cartoon Pocoyo in Spanish, and hearing familiar words like “¡Hola!” and “¡Adiós!“. Please visit this page for more episodes, if you would like to watch at home with your child.


Trimester 2: Please see THIS POST for a medley recording of all the songs students sang and/or heard this year.

February: We had a great Spanish class this morning–jamming out to Wreck-It Ralph in Spanish via freeze dance (link above), reviewing songs and rhymes, and giggling hysterically to a Pocoyo episode, link HERE. ¡Feliz día de San Valentín! Happy Valentine’s Day! Your children comprehend and produce SO MUCH Spanish, it is awesome! For example, I have started replacing the lyrics of songs they know: instead of “Estrellita/Twinkle, twinkle little star”, today the star became a heart/corazoncito, and somehow, a tiburón/shark also snuck its way in… which had them all laughing! Have a great long weekend.

February: Cuando yo voy a España, siempre-siempre-siempre ha hecho calor. ¡MUCHO calor! Se ven señoras en todas partes con sus abanicos y pues, ambos son una parte de la cultura, sin duda. Hoy en clase traté de crear una correlación lógica en las mentes de los niños a través de una serie de preguntas: cuando hace frío afuera, qué nos hace falta? Una chaqueta, un abrigo, una bufanda? Por qué? Para protegernos y calentarnos, verdad? Igual que cuando hacemos ejercicios. Y qué tal el calor? Cuando hace calor, necesitamos un… abanico, verdad? para crear una brisa y enfriarnos. Demostré el calor aquí con una secadora de pelo (enchufada y prendida!)–¡me encanta el calor!–y cada uno se turnó con el abanico mío de España. De esta manera, estoy tratando de conectar ideas y vocabulario, no solo para experimentar [experience] sino también para empezar a desarrollar ideas de causa y efecto y correlaciones lógicas en la lengua meta.

Dicho esto, hemos pasado dos días en clase ahora haciendo nuestros propios abanicos de papel. Pero ¡cuidado! Los niños no saben muy bien el nombre del artefacto [artifact] porque, en mi opinión, esto no resulta una palabra de alta frecuencia (para un principiante). Piénsalo así: si tuvieras que elegir las 100 palabras MÁS IMPORTANTES en inglés–lo más útil, lo más eficaz en cuanto a comunicar cualquier mensaje–cuales elegirían? Serían las únicas con las que podrías comunicarse. Es por eso, que el enfoque esta semana ha sido expresiones como “¡Mira!” y “¡Ayúdame!” Mientras que “abanico” es una palabra hermosa lingüísticamente, es mucho más práctico aprender frases que los niños van a poder usar con más frecuencia y en otros contextos. Espero que esto te haya dado una ventanilla para poder entrar en la clase de español. Avísame si prefieres este tipo de actualización en Seesaw en vez de mi publicaciones/correos a través de Veracross!!

Por último, si bien no menos importante, iba a mandarte las canciones y rimas que cantamos y decimos en clase, pero en total ahora hay 18!!! Sigo pensando en la manera más eficiente de comunicar esta información.

January: Esta mañana, los del preescolar aprendieron sobre el güiro–un instrumento del caribe–y luego hicieron su propio instrumento (de papel, escarbadientes y palos) para llevar a casa. Se oye el güiro en la canción famosa, “La cucaracha”, enlace AQUÍ y el güiro aquí. Ayer, tocaron una campana tibetana para empezar su estudio de sonidos. Su comprensión del idioma es increíble.


October: La canción empieza al minuto 0:40. La hemos cantado varias veces en clase, pero hoy cambié la letra para que diga “[Un pez] estaba jugando cuando XXX [estudiante] lo atrapó, te voy a comer y se lo comió” mientras pescaban con la caña de pescar y unos peces magnéticos. ¡Qué divertido!

October: Students made Worry Dolls in class. In Guatemala, these dolls are traditionally placed under the pillow at night to take away one’s worries. The children were intrigued by these tiny dolls.

September: Hoy, los del preescolar vieron un MAPA de tesoro por primera vez por dos razones: 1) para hacer una conexión a lo que hacen con mapas y la comunidad en su salón; y 2) para seguir con las aventuras de Pato. Habrá varios problemas con los que se enfrenta Pato en su camino al tesoro—para empezar, un tiburón bailarín que tiene mucha hambre (después de haber bailado un montón). Pato ya sabe volar, o sea, ha aprendido a volar (para escaparse del tiburón), pero ahora su amigo Oso quiere acompañarle y por eso, habrá que usar un paracaídas, hecho de un filtro de café. Esto lo haremos la semana que viene. ¡Hasta la próxima!

September: Hoy en clase, Pato se encontró de nuevo en una situación difícil: el tiburón (que ves arriba) tenía mucha hambre y quería comer un sándwich de Pato. Las opciones de espaguetis, pizza y fruta no le apetecían a él para nada. Pero un pez (o sea, pescado!) y un pato, ¡qué rico! Como consecuencia, Pato siguió aprendiendo a volar para poder escaparse y huir del tiburón. Como que solo saben nadar los tiburones y no volar, Pato aquí tenía una ventaja, gracias a sus alas. Sin embargo, una herramienta no vale nada si no sabes cómo se usa. Por tanto, lo atamos a un hilo y practicaba hoy, el arte de volar. Mañana, planeamos en expandir su envergadura (“wingspan”) para que Pato pueda volar aun más lejos.

August: Hoy en clase, preescolar vio Pocoyo por primera vez. Este programa/ serie ha sido traducido en más de veinte idiomas, pero empezó originalmente en España. Había comentarios esta mañana así: “¡Pocoyo habla igual que tú!” Es bueno que empiecen a entender que yo no soy la única que habla español en este mundo.

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 remember most, perhaps more than gliding around the floor in a Viennese Waltz or sweating profusely from an impossibly long eight-minute “Proud Mary” Jive, was the poise and class of it all. I appreciate and admire everything classy, from the wisdom of our elders and ages gone by, to black and white Audrey Hepburn/George Peppard films and Jane Austen novels. As much time as I have dedicated to this site, I also long for those pre-Internet days where life had a much slower and enjoyable pace.

Continue reading “Memoir Excerpt”

The 15-Minute Class (PK)

November: 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 probably do not associate you with the target language. I hesitate in sending home word lists because in an immersive environment, each child will pick up something different each day. That said, I wanted to give you a general synopsis of what a day looks like for JK.

The 15-minute long class starts with a beginning-of-class song–Yo me llamo; Buenos días; or La araña pequeñita/Itsy Bitzy Spider; and as of this week, Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas) and Mi hombre de nieve (Frosty the Snowman); progresses to actions (stand up, sit down, run or spin around, jump, etc.) and rhymes–Arriba, abajo, de lado a lado; Sí me gusta, no me gusta, para nada/Yes I like it, no I don’t, not at all–where we discuss things they like or dislike (e.g., fruit, ice cream, pizza) and do a quick weather report (this emerged because of the Itzy Bitzy Spider and sun/rain vocabulary); and then there is a magical chant–Abracadabra, pata de cabra, ¡chiquitipuf! I will call on a student to bring me a magic wand, and then we transform into various animals.

Some days, I choose the animals; other days, I will ask for suggestions/sugerencias. If they answer in English, I am happy they comprehended; if they answer in Spanish, I know that they have fully internalized the vocabulary and it is time to move on (too easy!). For example, at this point they have ALL mastered “tiburón“, or shark, and I have to think of creative ways to avoid this word or else the entire lesson reverts back to hungry sharks (Tengo hambre is another song here). When they can’t agree on an animal as a class, we will do a “lotería/lottery”, and they can do any animal they want (for about three seconds). I count up or down from five and they have to get back to their letter or animal on the carpet by the last number (cero/zero or cinco/five).

At this point, we are about halfway through the lesson, and it is time to continue our Adventures in Stuffed Animal World with their stuffed animal friend, Pato (a duck with a strong personality and ridiculous squeaky voice). Pato is always getting into some sort of mischief, and while not every lesson has a “moral of the story”, I try to lead it in that direction. The stories range from mini-stories, where I introduce new vocabulary, to full-on five-minute long sagas where I leave the JK room sweating from having exerted so much energy (between ventriloquism for the various stuffed animal characters and what can only be described as “extreme adventures”).

For example, I had been trying to shift their focus away from sharks to fish/pececitos, and so we went fishing with magnetic fish last week (another song here: Diez pececitos nadando en el río… link on Seesaw). The fish lesson led to water, where I sprinkled droplets of water/agua on their head/cabeza or hands/manitas (they chose), which led to me bringing an ice-pack to pass around and Pato taking on and off his sweater and scarf/bufanda because he couldn’t decide if he was hot or cold (tengo frío/tengo calor). I also brought a hair dryer so that they could feel the heat and experience the contrast between hot and cold.

Naturally, there was a Pocoyo cartoon episode about fishing–and one about pirates–and the pirate one was such a big hit that JK-A began a story about a pirate who lived on a boat and Pato needed help because he was swimming in the water but there was a ravenous shark nearby (which he saw through a telescope/catalejo)–and then I randomly received a phone call during the lesson (#truestory)–and claimed that it was the pirate calling me on his cell (of course!), and we took Saywer’s boot and used it as a boat for Pato to swim back to the main ship with his mapa/map–which tied in nicely with their map and community study in their regular classroom (*breath*). There was also a tesoro-tesoro-tesoro-TREASURE, but we have yet to flesh out that part of the story.

Students have been requesting to draw parts of the story on the board, so I will ask them tons of comprehension questions (Does he live in a big house or small house/casa grande o casa pequeña? Are there turtles/tortugas and snakes/serpientes and fish/pececitos in the water? Where is the pirate/pirata?, Is the house red/roja or azul/blue?, etc.), and they get to decide. Again, whether they respond in English or Spanish determines where we go. That said, comprehension is the most important thing right now, not production or output of the target language (though obviously, that makes my day when it happens).

Note: In JK-B, we have not gotten to a full story (only mini-stories), but we have started playing with names and nicknames because they wanted to know what their names were in Spanish. Some names translate directly–Josephine to Josefina–while others are actual words: Isla means “island” in Spanish. And some are just silly class jokes–fresa/strawberry for the Berry boys.

Anyway, at the end of class, we sing another song–Te amo, me amas and now this week, Estrellita/Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star–and then the children sit up straight and tall with their hands in their laps and we whisper to their classroom teacher, “Sorpresa” (surprise!) because they are so quiet and ready to continue with their day.

Are you beginning to understand how it would take me three hours every day to explain what has happened in our 15-minute Spanish class? I do apologize for the lack of Seesaw posts, but I tend to feel overwhelmed when trying to explain it all. Each day, I focus on recycling or spiraling old vocabulary and feeling out where they are and what they know, connecting new and old vocabulary, and/or adding brand new information. The latter can be in the form of a mini-story, science experiment, book, or Pocoyo cartoon. HERE is the Pirate episode link.

ASIDE: I do not like teaching colors, numbers, etc. explicitly in the traditional sense because it does not feel natural. You did not test your baby out of the womb on a list of colors, so neither will I. I will describe what is happening and what we are doing, and tell stories and ask questions in the target language, just as you spoke to your children before they knew how to talk. If your child is not bringing home words yet, please be patient.

We have had 39 classes so far this year, which is equivalent to 585 minutes, or 9.75 hours. Do you remember pressuring your child to speak less than 10 hours after they were born? I’m not trying to be cheeky here, just realistic. Remember to put things in perspective and celebrate anything they bring home! If you want to supplement their language study at home, make a habit of watching a Spanish cartoon every day for five or ten minutes with your child.

Whew! If you have read this far, thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to do so. And please let me know if you would like me to start putting recordings from time to time of songs we are working on in class, or vocabulary videos. Thanks and have a WONDERFUL WEEKEND!

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 energy, especially when combined with chili, meat, beans, and vegetables. They also saw a short video about Mexico that you are welcome to revisit at home.

Students learned that making homemade tortilla shells is very easy. All you need is warm water and ground corn (flour) to create the dough/masa. Knead it together into small rounded balls, press it flat in a tortilla press, cook it on a cast-iron skillet, and… time to eat!

During the presentation, childen ate quesadillas, and then balled up the dough and put it in the press (one at a time) to make (and eat) their own Mexican tortillas. Later, they were given a surprise treat of Mexican candy, Paletón de Cajeta (a goat milk caramel lollipop). What a lovely and informative presentation–thank you so much for your time! ¡Mil gracias!


HONDURAS

This morning, first graders heard a special presentation about Honduras [from Marcelo’s mom]. She intertwined authentic realia and artifacts, photos of the colorful guacamayo and orchid (national flower), and videos of Tegucigalpa and Lenca weaving to give insight into this beautiful Central American country.

She also told a Mayan legend about the hummingbird; explained the flag’s significance (blue represents the water on each side of the country; the five stars are for the five original Central American countries); talked about the Mayan calendar (see photo of glyphs below); and ended by teaching a Honduran folkloric dance to students. There was a brief Q&A as the class came to a close. Thank you so much for your time! ¡Mil gracias!


VENEZUELA

Yesterday, Junior Knights had a combined art and Spanish class so that they could hear a special presentation about Venezuela [from Eva’s mom]. Class began with a brief discussion about, “What is culture?” and children deduced on their own that they speak Spanish in Venezuela (quote: “I think they speak Spanish there because Eva speaks Spanish, and that is Eva’s mom!”). Excellent!

In the presentation itself, students learned about animals native to Venezuela, including the cabybara and the most poisonous snake in the world; saw a video emphasizing how tall the famous waterfall Angel Falls actually is; made arepas; heard about the water balloon fight tradition for Carnaval; folded their own paper hats and reenacted a parade to celebrate their own mini Carnaval; and received a goodie bag of Venezuelan treats. Thank you so much for your time. ¡Mil gracias!

Resumen, 18-19 (PK)

Term
AUGThis month, students in PreK learned that “Señorita” speaks Spanish, which sounds a little different than English.  They were not sure at first that they could follow the strange new mix of sounds, but after a few “tests” (toca la cabeza/touch your head, salta/jump, etc.), Junior Knights realized it was not so difficult—even if it still sounded funny!  In terms of content, students heard and followed gestures for the song Saco una manita; responded to action commands; met a stuffed animal duck named Pato, who will be their trusty companion all year long; made monsters out of paper, cups, and green pipe cleaners; and took a ‘Field Trip’ down the long Lower School hallway to identify all of the puertas/doors (note: there are quite a few). 

They also jammed to the theme song from Rompe Ralph/Wreck-It Ralph, and watched two episodes of the cartoon Pocoyo in the target language.  Many lessons this year will be built around Pocoyo: students will do a class project or hear a story, and then watch a cartoon that follows the same theme and vocabulary. Gracias for a great month!
SEPTThis month, students in PreK continued responding to action commands (cohete/rocket ship, baila/dance, marcha/march), following the gestures for the song Saco una manita, dancing to Rompe Ralph/Wreck-It Ralph, and watching relevant Pocoyo episodes (Pocoyo: La llave maestra; Pocoyo: Vamos de pesca; Pocoyo: Grande y pequeño). They also practiced requesting markers [colors] in the target language during project time. One week, for example, students made fishing poles with Pato out of Popsicle sticks, yarn, and tape. After decorating the poles, they were able to “go fishing” in a kiddie pool filled with pictures of sea creatures—the adhesiveness of the tape “caught” the paper fish!

Another week, students played a hot/cold game while searching for tesoro-tesoro-tesoro-TREASURE! Inspired by their enthusiasm for treasure, the teacher presented two different types of treasure, divided by size—gigantic stuffed animals and tiny books, cars, and beads (grande/ big; pequeño/ small). Students then chose a size, and either 1) filled a box with very large or very small treasures; or 2) drew a very large or very small picture. Some pre-kindergarteners even taped multiple pieces of paper together to make their drawings even bigger—bravo! Later, students made an enormous car out of chairs in the classroom. Where will they go? Only time will tell. Gracias for a great month!
T1This trimester, students in PK responded to action commands (baila/dance, toca la cabeza/touch your head, salta/jump, da la vuelta/turn around, etc.); sang along with Saco una manita; followed the gestures to Estrellita (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star); danced to Rompe Ralph/Wreck-It Ralph; and watched relevant Pocoyo episodes—see my website for links. Basic skills such as color and number practice were incorporated into project days, of which there were many.

From making monsters out of paper, cups, and green pipe cleaners and taking a ‘Field Trip’ down the long Lower School hallway to identify all of the puertas/doors, to fishing with Pato for sea creatures in a kiddie pool, searching for tesoro-tesoro-tesoro-TREASURE!, painting cohetes/rocket ships, building towers out of cups, blocks, and markers, getting stuck in traffic with ‘car-chairs’, playing Luz roja, luz verde (Red Light, Green Light), and marveling at the sound and feel of maracas, students adjusted well to being immersed in the target language. Gracias for a great first trimester.
NOVThis month, students in PK only had two classes, due to the Thanksgiving break and Trim the Towne celebration. (This is why the Spanish Seesaw Corner has been virtually silent [bad pun] as of late.) In one class, they made spiders and spider webs out of a variety of materials to make connections with the nature unit in their regular classroom.

The following week, they practiced saying and acting out the lyrics to a clapping rhyme in the target language—Jorge robó pan en la casa de San Juan/quién, yo/sí, tú/yo no fui/entonces, quién? (lit., George stole bread in Saint John’s house/who, me/yes, you/it wasn’t me/then, who?)—where “Jorge” becomes each persons’ name in the circle. It is a difficult rhyme to catch on in one class, but students did quite well with the challenge. As always, feel free to visit my website below for links and more information.
JANThis month, students in PK continued experiencing the target language in context with more project days. For example, one week, they stretched the creative part of their brain by seeing what they could make with a single sheet of paper—no other materials allowed! Initial frustration—no scissors? no markers?!—turned into something beautiful by the end: from treasure maps and a shirt to telescopes, the letter “r” and a pizza, students’ imagination shined. Another week, they painted tiles for the Alhambra fort that other Lower School students had built for the Spanish room, and then had fun taking a “siesta” (nap) inside the cardboard construction.

Pre-kindergarteners also practiced singing along with the Buenos días (good morning) song and answering the question, “¿Cómo estás?” (how are you?) with muy bien/very good, bien/good, mal/bad, or tengo sueño/I’m sleepy. Students kept track of who said what, and then counted how many of each response there were as a class (uno-dos-tres, etc.). They were encouraged to not spit out a series of numbers and instead focus on relating number values with individual digits.

While learning how to count to ten is valuable, it is more meaningful to understand that “tres” is “three”. In the culture realm, they heard the Legend of the Poinsettias (Mexico) for Christmas, and then ate twelve grapes to celebrate the New Year (tradition in Spain).
MARThis month*, students in PK worked on a variety of culture-based projects to point out that Spanish is spoken in many different places (and not “just” Spain and Mexico). For example, one day, they made and played güiros—an instrument from the Caribbean—out of paper and toothpicks, and tried to identify this unique sound in the song, La cucaracha (the cockroach).

Another day, to connect with their classroom nature unit, they discussed where salt comes from, and then tasted salt and made watercolor reflections of the sky based on photos of the largest salt flat in the world, Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia); during the rainy season, a thin layer of water over the salt allows the sky to be reflected perfectly, which is especially gorgeous during sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights.

Pre-kindergarteners ‘traveled’ to Costa Rica the following week, and made Morpho butterflies with tissue paper, while listening to a song called Mariposita (little butterfly); these creatures are naturally bright blue in color and found in some parts of South America as well. Finally, students learned a popular rhyme from Mexico (Bate, bate chocolate, tu nariz de cacahuate/stir, stir the chocolate, your nose is a peanut!), and saw a video about how the tool used to stir the chocolate—un molinillo—is carved out of wood.

Students also played musical chairs, where the person who ‘gets out’ has to answer a question in Spanish; played duck-duck-goose (pato-pato-ganso); read Itzi Bitzi Araña (Itsy Bitsy Spider, to go along with the song); saw several new Pocoyo episodes (Pocoyó: MercadoPocoyó: Supermercado; and Pocoyó: La ducha de Pato); and continued with their regular classroom routine–i.e., passwords to enter the Spanish room, songs, action commands, and circle time. 

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

Resumen, 16-17 (PK-5, Q2)

Grade
PKThis month, students in PK met several of the most beloved stuffed animals from the Spanish room, including Pato/Duck, Oso/Bear, and Tiburón/Shark.  Getting down to business right away, it became apparent that Pato needed to learn how to fly, as any young duck ought to.  Running up a ramp [book on an angle], jumping, and lifting off did not go as planned, however, since Pato has the attention span of a fly—[not entirely his fault, as the space between his nonexistent ears does consist of fluffy white stuffing]—and, in the case that he did lift off, got scared and failed to flap his wings.  A pulley system was therefore erected, easily hoisting our hero off the ground and high, high, up to the sky. 

Tired of the yarn harness cutting into his feathers, Pato opted to go sailing after a while, only to encounter a terrifying, four-foot-long shark in the ocean—who was ravenous for a “sándwich de pato”.  While seriously distressing, this proved a wonderful impetus to learn how to fly—as in, immediately—or: to build a house at the bottom of the ocean, cover it with a blue blanket, and hope that the shark mistakes it for a lumpy wave.  Right…  In the end, the two become amigos/friends, and the shark wants to learn how to fly (since Pato is obviously an expert in this field). 

Adventure #2 begins with Pato lifting weights (read: a pencil, then a marker) in order to increase his wing-strength (fuerte/strong) and be able to lift his new friend, the shark.  In addition, students also hummed along to the beginning and end-of-class songs, responded to basic action commands, and said how they were feeling each day in the target language.  Gracias for a great month!
KThis month, students in kindergarten reacquainted themselves with several of the most beloved stuffed animals in the Spanish room, including Pato/Duck, Oso/Bear, Conejito/Bunny, Patito/Ducky, and Ardilla/Squirrel.  After a summer of scrounging on crumbs in the Spanish room, Pato was, not surprisingly, beyond famished, and discovered in a gigantic bag full of plastic eggs.  Because the eggs happened to fit his head quite perfectly (just like a helmet), he decided to build a tobogán/slide with the class and cruise down at top speed—with the helmet, of course: safety first.  Conejito likewise nestled himself inside a plastic egg, and whoosh, down the slide he went! 

It should be noted that he kept a miniature cell phone inside the egg in case of an emergency, and did call initially because it was rather dark inside the shell and he was a bit scared.  All of this led to Pato covering himself with plastic eggs (armor, obviously), jumping aboard a stuffed-animal-sized winter sled with Oso, and requesting that kindergarteners pull the sled across the table—there was a long piece of yarn attached to the sled—so that they could “go skiing”. 

In-between these wild adventures in the target language, kindergarteners practiced acting out their password cards, made duplicates of said cards for their lockers, and held onto their sombrerosPato is bound to be up a tree or scuba-diving at the bottom of the ocean the next time you see him.  Life is far from boring with bilingual stuffed animals roaming the Spanish room…
1This month, students in first grade chose individual professions passwords, and then practiced acting out each one.  Later, they read the daily letter from Pato, wrote what they wanted to do on the miniature whiteboards (Quiero colorear, Quiero jugar//I want to color, I want to play), and then traveled to said isla, or island.  First graders will continuously add new islands—aka sight words—to their repertoire throughout the year.  These ‘play days’ will also be interspersed with ‘project days’, which build community, expose students to other cultures and perspectives, and/or reinforce sight words with a fun, hands-on assignment. 

The first project day was based on Don Quijote, the 900-page, 400+ year-old Spanish literary masterpiece by Cervantes.  In a nutshell, the adventures begin when Don Quijote goes crazy from reading too many books and decides to become a knight in shining armor like the ones he reads about.  First graders became so excited about the novel that one project day turned into a week—and the Spanish classroom transformed into a stage, where student actors and actresses acted out multiple chapters.  They even made a two-tone copy of Picasso’s famous black and white painting depicting the two main characters.  Impressive!
2This month, students in second grade chose new identities, that is, Spanish names.  Because a majority of students wanted the same names, they had to choose a second name to help differentiate one from another.  This means that not only is there a “Sofía Isabel” in class, but also an “Isabel Sofía”—just to keep us all mentally on our toes (neurons?).   Second graders were also given cuadernos/notebooks in which to record important vocabulary, such as their new names and individual passwords.  It should be noted that the latter are primarily sea creatures, but with a dinosaur, bumblebee, and fox thrown in there just for fun. 

In fact, “fox” is “zorro” in Spanish, which led to a fun mini-lesson about Zorro, the fictional character from Mexico (now California) who “defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains” (Wikipedia), and makes sure to mark the letter “Z” wherever he goes.  Second graders seemed to get a kick out of the black-and-white 1958 theme song introduction to the show.  Finally, students practiced and presented a silly dialogue with puppets in the target language, which emphasized the importance of expression: ¡Oye-oye-oye-oye!/¿Qué?/Pues, nada/¡¿En serio?! (Hey-hey-hey-hey you!/What?/Well, nothing/Seriously?!).
3This month, students in third grade learned that they have been selected to join the world-renowned Spanish Acting Company.  A quick tour of the Walk of Fame—Hollywood squares with students’ names printed in the stars—confirmed this fact.  As participants, third graders will perform in multiple shows throughout the year, as main characters and audience members.  The importance of each role was emphasized here.  Performed as theatrical plays, each story will include both fiction (creative, student ideas) and nonfiction (cultural, historical facts). 

The first story begins with the following: Evil Orange lives in Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany (Deutschland/Alemania).  One night, he laughs his notorious, evil cackle, and sails to Puerto Rico.  The adorable Pato lives there and is nestled in bed with his favorite stuffed animal, Patito, dreaming of raindrops on roses and everything nice, when Evil Orange proceeds to kidnap Patito.  Oh no!  Evil Orange brings Patito back to Neuschwanstein Castle, and… you’ll have to tune in next month to find out what happens next.  “Duh-duh-duhhhhh!”  Third graders also practiced acting out their passwords in a timed setting, trying to associate a specific action with each word; began recording key vocabulary in their Spanish notebooks; and saw pictures of bioluminescence—their nonfiction fact of the month.
4This month, students in fourth grade learned that they will be participating in a yearlong town simulation.  Their first stop was Argentina, where fourth graders explored the history of Yerba Mate, or ‘the friendship drink’ of South America via photos and physical cultural artifacts, and later were able to taste the strong, somewhat bitter (but delicious!) tea.  Then, it was time to travel again: after grabbing their passports, boarding passes, and luggage from the Locker Bay; removing their zapatos/shoes for the infamous TSA security screening process; watching a bilingual ‘safety instructions’ video; enjoying snacks—goldfish and water—from the stewardess during the flight; and experiencing a tiny bit of turbulence, students finally arrived in Madrid, the capital of Spain. 

Then, it was only a matter of deciphering the puzzling (but authentic) city map, a quick trip on the Metro (Subway) and a three-hour train ride (Renfe) through the Andalusian countryside (see all the olive trees?!), before students settled in what is to be their new home: Granada, España/Spain.  The intense summer heat of southern Spain was reflected (bad pun) in the covered streets—colorful sheet canopies high above protect the city from the urban heat effect.  Students left their baggage at the hotel, noticed the famous Moorish palace (La Alhambra) across the street (beautiful!), and set about their first set of business: deciding where to live and drawing up floorplans of the inside of their new homes.  Yay!  Fourth graders also practiced acting out their passwords, in order to associate a specific motion with each word.
5This month, students in fifth grade learned that their end-of-the-year Spanish Program will actually take place in February this year.  As a result, fifth graders launched into full-fledged rehearsal mode.  Their first play begins with two news reporters.  To make this more culturally authentic, students learned about and watched a short video clip of two famous reporters from the Spanish-speaking television network, UNIVISIÓN—Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas.  From there, they proceeded to unravel the complex mess of new Spanish vocabulary, stage directions, and what is hidden between the lines yet nevertheless crucial to express on stage. 

For example, when Pato poisons Dora the Explorer on live television and the news reporters are undecided as to whether or not they should cut to a commercial, fifth graders must create an intense, unspoken tension in the room.  What?!  Daily oral assessments and weekly written quizzes ensured that students stayed focused and on top of the material.  Additionally, fifth graders randomly chose a number from 0-105, which became their age and consequent ‘role’ (i.e., mother, father, grandfather, cousin, etc.) in the Class Family.  This was to emphasize the importance of working together as a team and family, particularly in light of the aforementioned theatrical debut, scheduled for February 17, 2017.  Can’t wait to see you there!

Grade
PKThis term, students in prekindergarten learned several songs in the target language (Buenos días; Tengo hambre; La araña pequeñita; Sí me gusta/No me gusta; Te amo; Adiós, amigos); were introduced to numerous stuffed animals from the Spanish room; practiced responding to action commands; listened to stories; made miniature piñatas; and participated in class conversations.  Because the class is 100% immersion, each student picks up different vocabulary each day, and may or may not share those words at home.  Please keep in mind that the focus at this stage is comprehension—any verbal production is going above and beyond!  Gracias for a great quarter.
KThis term, students in kindergarten reacquainted themselves with several of the most beloved stuffed animals in the Spanish room, including Pato/Duck, Oso/Bear, and Ardilla/Squirrel.  Over time, kindergarteners began to understand that the stuffed animals are quite silly, and as a result, most classes begin with a humorous mini-story that naturally leads into a hands-on class activity—e.g., vinegar volcanoes, disappearing ink, food coloring, dyed paper, fort-building, etc.  In-between activities, students jam to the theme-song from Rompe Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph) and watch PocoyóGracias for a great quarter.
1This term, students in first grade read and translated the daily letter from Pato (at times needing to correct the duck’s careless grammar); submitted written requests expressing what they wanted to do in the target language; and listened to two very silly songs… repeatedly: “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?) and “La invitación” (The Invitation).  First graders also spent a good portion of September studying and acting out various chapters of the 900-page, 400+ year-old, Spanish literary masterpiece, Don Quijote de la Mancha by Cervantes, and even made a two-tone copy of Picasso’s famous black and white painting depicting the two main characters in the novel (i.e., Don Quijote and Sancho Panza).  Gracias for a great quarter.
2This term, students in second grade chose new identities, or Spanish names, as well as sea creature passwords; rehearsed and presented silly mini-conversations in the target language with puppets; danced to Madre Tierra by Chayanne; and learned about Zorro, the fictional character from Mexico [now California] who “defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains” (Wikipedia).  Later, second graders created a class story with Zorro as the main character.  The story required full audience participation—choral responses, gestures, actions, and student actors—and took over a month to tell.  Gracias for a great quarter.
3This term, students in third grade learned that they were selected to join the world-renowned Spanish Acting Company.  A quick tour of the Walk of Fame—Hollywood squares with students’ names printed in the stars—confirmed this fact.  As participants, third graders fact in multiple shows throughout the year, as main characters and audience members.  Each story, or theatrical play, includes both fiction (creative, student ideas) and nonfiction (cultural, historical facts) elements.  The first story of the year was about Evil Orange, who lives in Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, and kidnaps Patito, the adorable stuffed animal belonging to the equally adorable Pato.  Hence began nine weeks of Adventures in Stuffed Animal World!  Gracias for a great quarter.
4This term, students in fourth grade learned that they will be participating in a yearlong town simulation.  After a brief layover in Argentina—primarily for the purpose of tasting Yerba Mate, or ‘the friendship drink’ of South America—fourth graders grabbed their passports, boarding passes, and luggage, and finally arrived in Madrid, the capital of Spain, following a somewhat turbulent flight.  Then it was only a matter of a quick trip on the Metro (Subway), and a three-hour train ride (Renfe) through the Andalusian countryside (see all the olive trees?!) before students settled in what is to be their new home: Granada, España/Spain.  Later, they bought houses, and, well… got to work!  Gracias for a great quarter.
5This term, students in fifth grade learned that their end-of-the-year Spanish Program will actually take place in February this year.  As a result, fifth graders launched into full-fledged rehearsal mode, first familiarizing themselves with each of the three plays as a class.  Next, fifth graders split off into groups, and began focusing in on their assigned play.  Specifically, students have been working on using appropriate vocal intonation and expression; facing the audience; memorizing their lines; and beginning to brainstorm prop, music, and costume ideas.  Gracias for a great quarter.

Resumen, 16-17 (PK-5, Q1)

Grade
PKThis term, students in prekindergarten learned several songs in the target language (Buenos días; Tengo hambre; La araña pequeñita; Sí me gusta/No me gusta; Te amo; Adiós, amigos); were introduced to numerous stuffed animals from the Spanish room; practiced responding to action commands; listened to stories; made miniature piñatas; and participated in class conversations.  Because the class is 100% immersion, each student picks up different vocabulary each day, and may or may not share those words at home.  Please keep in mind that the focus at this stage is comprehension—any verbal production is going above and beyond!  Gracias for a great quarter.
KThis term, students in kindergarten reacquainted themselves with several of the most beloved stuffed animals in the Spanish room, including Pato/Duck, Oso/Bear, and Ardilla/Squirrel.  Over time, kindergarteners began to understand that the stuffed animals are quite silly, and as a result, most classes begin with a humorous mini-story that naturally leads into a hands-on class activity—e.g., vinegar volcanoes, disappearing ink, food coloring, dyed paper, fort-building, etc.  In-between activities, students jam to the theme-song from Rompe Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph) and watch PocoyóGracias for a great quarter.
1This term, students in first grade read and translated the daily letter from Pato (at times needing to correct the duck’s careless grammar); submitted written requests expressing what they wanted to do in the target language; and listened to two very silly songs… repeatedly: “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?) and “La invitación” (The Invitation).  First graders also spent a good portion of September studying and acting out various chapters of the 900-page, 400+ year-old, Spanish literary masterpiece, Don Quijote de la Mancha by Cervantes, and even made a two-tone copy of Picasso’s famous black and white painting depicting the two main characters in the novel (i.e., Don Quijote and Sancho Panza).  Gracias for a great quarter.
2This term, students in second grade chose new identities, or Spanish names, as well as sea creature passwords; rehearsed and presented silly mini-conversations in the target language with puppets; danced to Madre Tierra by Chayanne; and learned about Zorro, the fictional character from Mexico [now California] who “defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains” (Wikipedia).  Later, second graders created a class story with Zorro as the main character.  The story required full audience participation—choral responses, gestures, actions, and student actors—and took over a month to tell.  Gracias for a great quarter.
3This term, students in third grade learned that they were selected to join the world-renowned Spanish Acting Company.  A quick tour of the Walk of Fame—Hollywood squares with students’ names printed in the stars—confirmed this fact.  As participants, third graders fact in multiple shows throughout the year, as main characters and audience members.  Each story, or theatrical play, includes both fiction (creative, student ideas) and nonfiction (cultural, historical facts) elements.  The first story of the year was about Evil Orange, who lives in Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, and kidnaps Patito, the adorable stuffed animal belonging to the equally adorable Pato.  Hence began nine weeks of Adventures in Stuffed Animal World!  Gracias for a great quarter.
4This term, students in fourth grade learned that they will be participating in a yearlong town simulation.  After a brief layover in Argentina—primarily for the purpose of tasting Yerba Mate, or ‘the friendship drink’ of South America—fourth graders grabbed their passports, boarding passes, and luggage, and finally arrived in Madrid, the capital of Spain, following a somewhat turbulent flight.  Then it was only a matter of a quick trip on the Metro (Subway), and a three-hour train ride (Renfe) through the Andalusian countryside (see all the olive trees?!) before students settled in what is to be their new home: Granada, España/Spain.  Later, they bought houses, and, well… got to work!  Gracias for a great quarter.
5This term, students in fifth grade learned that their end-of-the-year Spanish Program will actually take place in February this year.  As a result, fifth graders launched into full-fledged rehearsal mode, first familiarizing themselves with each of the three plays as a class.  Next, fifth graders split off into groups, and began focusing in on their assigned play.  Specifically, students have been working on using appropriate vocal intonation and expression; facing the audience; memorizing their lines; and beginning to brainstorm prop, music, and costume ideas.  Gracias for a great quarter.

2016-17

September: This month, students in first grade chose individual professions passwords, and then practiced acting out each one.  Later, they read the daily letter from Pato, wrote what they wanted to do on the miniature whiteboards (Quiero colorear, Quiero jugar//I want to color, I want to play), and then traveled to said isla, or island.  First graders will continuously add new islands—aka sight words—to their repertoire throughout the year.  These ‘play days’ will also be interspersed with ‘project days’, which build community, expose students to other cultures and perspectives, and/or reinforce sight words with a fun, hands-on assignment.  The first project day was based on Don Quijote, the 900-page, 400+ year-old Spanish literary masterpiece by Cervantes.  In a nutshell, the adventures begin when Don Quijote goes crazy from reading too many books and decides to become a knight in shining armor like the ones he reads about.  First graders became so excited about the novel that one project day turned into a week—and the Spanish classroom transformed into a stage, where student actors and actresses acted out multiple chapters.  They even made a two-tone copy of Picasso’s famous black and white painting depicting the two main characters.  Impressive!


September: This month, students in second grade chose new identities, that is, Spanish names.  Because a majority of students wanted the same names, they had to choose a second name to help differentiate one from another.  This means that not only is there a “Sofía Isabel” in class, but also an “Isabel Sofía”—just to keep us all mentally on our toes (neurons?).   Second graders were also given cuadernos/notebooks in which to record important vocabulary, such as their new names and individual passwords.  It should be noted that the latter are primarily sea creatures, but with a dinosaur, bumblebee, and fox thrown in there just for fun.  In fact, “fox” is “zorro” in Spanish, which led to a fun mini-lesson about Zorro, the fictional character from Mexico (now California) who “defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains” (Wikipedia), and makes sure to mark the letter “Z” wherever he goes.  Second graders seemed to get a kick out of the black-and-white 1958 theme song introduction to the show.  Finally, students practiced and presented a silly dialogue with puppets in the target language, which emphasized the importance of expression: ¡Oye-oye-oye-oye!/¿Qué?/Pues, nada/¡¿En serio?! (Hey-hey-hey-hey you!/What?/Well, nothing/Seriously?!).

Resumen, 15-16 (PK)

Term
1This term, students in prekindergarten learned several songs in the target language (Buenos díasTengo hambreQueremos bailar; Te amoAdiós, amigos); were introduced to numerous stuffed animals from the Spanish room; practiced responding to action commands; listened to stories; and participated in class conversations.  Because the class is 100% immersion, each student picks up different vocabulary each day, and may or may not share those words at home.  Please keep in mind that the focus at this stage is comprehension—any verbal production is going above and beyond!  Gracias for a great quarter.
2This term, students in prekindergarten practiced singing songs in the target language and responding to new action commands.  They also listened to increasingly creative class stories involving Adventures in Stuffed Animal World.  For example: once, the ever- mischievous Pato managed to get stuck in-between the windowpane and the screen, and complained for days afterwards about how cold he still was; after surviving that drama, he built a pulley-system to learn how to fly properly (as young ducks ought to), but ended up making a rocket ship to aid in the process; next, he brought a snowball to class but couldn’t understand why it kept getting smaller and smaller; and one day, he even started speaking in English to make sure that everyone was paying attention! 

It should be noted that he now has VISA (Very-Important-Stuffed-Animal) status as a newly inducted member of the Wishing Well, complete with photo.  [That said, taking attendance led to an interesting philosophical conversation about the Smartboard—if you are there on the board, then who is in front of me?  Zoikes!]  In addition to imaginative stories and class conversations, pre-kindergarteners also worked on several mini-projects (with shapes, animals, index cards, glue, dominoes, and cards), and continued building their vocabularies at an impressive rate.  Gracias for another fantastic quarter!
3&4This semester, students in prekindergarten built the night sky—size-appropriate for stuffed animals—out of glow-in-the-dark moon and star stickers on blue paper; chose a stuffed animal to cuddle with under a huge blanket/manta; had the class electrician/electricista turn off the lights; whispered buenas noches/goodnight to their peers; and then pretended to fall asleep as they listened to Pato sing Estrellita (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star). 

When the sun rose, students stretched, chatted, and then started the bedtime routine all over again!  They also met Stan, the pet dog of Pato—“Why is he named Stan, Pato?”  “Because he speaks Stan-ish!”—and played a few sports games together.  In addition, students spent a week decorating their very own mini-piñatas; read Corre, perro, corre (Go, Dog, Go) and several David Shannon books, among many others; classified and sorted toys by color and size; and even ventured outside (yes, Spanish exists there, too!).  Gracias for a fabulous year.