Newsletter 20-21, Oct. (K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newsletter 20-21, Aug. (K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remote 19-20, T3 (K)

Continued Learning Assignments below.


  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!”


  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.


  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!!



  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.


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.



  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!).


  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.


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


  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.


****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.


  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!


  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).


  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.]?”


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!


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.

Newsletter 19-20, T1-T2 (K)

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

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

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

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

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

February: Palabras de alta frecuencia para kínder: pintar, tocar el piano, volar [un avión de papel], limpiar, dibujar, colorear, cantar, jugar, construir, hablar, dormir, bailar, trabajar, ver. Pregúntele a su niño(a) cuál es su actividad favorita en la clase de español. Aparte: “trabajar” y “ver” son nuevos, o sea, la mayoría no sabe pronunciarlas de momento.

November Update/Trimester 1: Los del kínder han logrado un montón este trimestre: desde un gran empiezo al año escolar con objetos que flotan y se hunden y volcanes con bicarbonato y colorante alimentario, hasta pintar, construir barcos, ver episodios de Pocoyó, jugar y aún darle un baño a Pato hoy (juego de palabras aquí–quieres lavar los platos o lavar a Pato?? jaja), volar a México y España, limpiar las mesas y la pizarra, colorear, tocar el piano, escuchar y bailar a música española, aprender sobre El Día de Los Muertos y escribir cada día en la lengua meta… ¡guao! Sigo estar impresionada con 1) la rapidez con la cual los niños aplican el idioma a la vida cotidiana y 2) su habilidad de crear en general: siempre hay más ideas para explorar. ¡Gracias!

Year Recap

PROJECTS: floating and sinking objects; volcanoes with baking soda and food coloring; building Popsicle stick boats with flags; watching Pocoyo; paper airplanes flying to Spanish-speaking countries; pirates and searching for treasure; coffee filter design project with food coloring; choice centers; copy Spanish sight words; favorite colors; numbers 0-10; country recognition; THE PATO SHOW; optional culture projects during Continued Learning.

READING/SIGHT WORDS: jugar, colorear, pintar, construir, tocar el piano, volar [un avión de papel], limpiar, dibujar, cantar, hablar, dormir, bailar, trabajar, ver, hola, clase, soy, quiero.

WRITING: Hola, clase. Soy ____. Quiero ____. (Hello, class. I am/this is ____. I want to ____.)


  • Argentina- food poster/flags/soccer & Southern Lights
  • Spain- abanicos & siesta
  • Mexico- Day of the Dead & piñatas
  • Costa Rica- rainforest
  • Venezuela- Catatumbo Lightning & Angel Falls
  • Bolivia- Salar de Uyuni
  • Puerto Rico- Coquí frog
  • Peru- Vinicunca/Rainbow Mountain

Newsletter 18-19, T2 (K)

February/March: This month*, students in kindergarten were encouraged to add more depth to their center work. The sight word, i/to go (pronunciation: ‘ear’), for instance, became an entire week’s activity. Steps 1-5 as follows: build an airplane out of chairs (construir un avión); draw a plane ticket with name, destination, and a picture of the flag of said destination; pack a bag with clothes and toys; order jugo/juice, agua/water, and/or fruta/fruit from the stewardess (yours truly); and land after a tiny bit of [feigned] turbulence. Some students traveled to Mexico and the Alhambra in Spain (la fortaleza/the fort), while others ventured as far as China, and one even went to Colorado for the skiing—read: taped paper skis onto her sneakers and pretended to ski down the Lower School hallway.

Another week, kindergarteners wanted to play with the [fake] dinero/money in the Spanish classroom, but had to think up ways to earn it—money is not free for the taking; you must be willing to work/trabajar. As a result, some students tidied the classroom, while others felt inspired to set up small businesses after seeing photos of the popular street markets/mercados or ferias in Argentina. Students set out blankets on the floor, and sold everything from art supplies to stuffed animals. A few even started making paper wallets to hold their cash. Nice!

In the culture realm, kindergarteners made abanicos, or hand-held fans, and learned that due to the extreme heat, daily siestas/naps are part of the culture (Spain). They also practiced basic steps to the Tango. This is a ballroom dance from Argentina, but was taught with the American T-A-N-G-O style because the Argentine variations are too difficult for this age. Additionally, they sang along with and danced to A mí me gusta bailar el ritmo vuelta, a Merengue group dance, and took a day to play a game called Tingo-Tingo-Tango (Colombia).

Finally, students watched a few new episodes of Pocoyo (including Pocoyo: Despierta; Pocoyo: El baño de Loula); mimicked the movements in two silly videos about animal sounds in Spanish that have more than a billion hits online (Pollito Pío: Original/ Venganza); were intrigued by a calming flower/flor mindfulness activity; practiced saying, “¡Sorpresa!” (surprise) when their teacher came to pick them up; and worked to master their trickiest sight word yet: “y”—which means ‘and’ but is pronounced like the English alphabet letter “e”.

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

December/January: This month, students in kindergarten continued with their free play unit, with a special focus on math in the target language. Here, class begins with a Buenos días (good morning) song and answering the question, “¿Cómo estás?” (how are you?) with muy bien/very good, bien/good, mal/badtengo sueño/I’m sleepy, tengo sed/I’m thirsty, tengo hambre/I’m hungry, or me duele/it hurts (~head, knee, etc.).

Next, kindergarteners make a class bar graph of who wants to do what—colorear/color, jugar/play, pintar/paint, dormir/sleep, construir/build, or leer/read—and practice counting the votes (from cero/zero), working to isolate numbers and identify them out of sequence. Students note which is the tallest column, and sometimes even try to add all of them together to see the total. Granted, this number is slightly skewed and does not represent the number of students in class because they are allowed to choose more than one activity. Next, kindergarteners proceed to write their preferred sight word on the board before launching into said activity. Students heard Corre, perro, corre (Go, Dog, Go) over several classes as well (¿Te gusta mi sombrero?/Do you like my hat?; Sí me gusta/yes, I like it; No, no me gusta/no, I don’t like it).

Students also hum and sing along with Feliz Navidad, Rompe Ralph, and Para bailar la bamba playing in the background, many times without even realizing they are doing so! Please feel free to add these songs (links above) to your car playlist and see if your children notice, just for fun!

November: This month, students in kindergarten spent a class learning about El Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead, and were thoroughly fascinated by a silent film about the holiday—so much so, in fact, that each class ending up watching the three-minute video on repeat for a minimum of thirty minutes. To tap into the essential question of their regular classroom, kindergarteners made superhero masks to demonstrate their own personal poder, or power; learned a po-der-o-so/powerful clapping rhyme; and built card houses, until the power of various forces (esp. air and breath) knocked down the delicate constructions. Students at first thought that agua/water was not powerful, until they considered hurricanes.

K.B also made a planetarium of stars underneath one of the tables in the Spanish room—the power of the beauty of the night sky? Finally, they began a structured free play unit, where students chose and wrote down a Spanish sight word; this determined their activity for the day (e.g., colorear/color; jugar/play). Many kindergarteners tilted their heads, a bit perplexed, when trying to match the “who-garr” pronunciation with a word that starts with “j”; their understanding of the phonetics world has officially been turned upside-down!

Newsletter 18-19, T1 (K)

October/Trimester 1: This trimester, students in kindergarten experienced immersion in the target language through a variety of multi-sensory and scientific activities. From hoisting their stuffed animal friend Pato up-up-up to the sky on a yarn pulley so that he could learn how to fly; to crinkling their noses at the smell of vinegar and gasping as baking soda turned it into a foamy, volcanic eruption mess; to a design project that involved food coloring, paper, and coffee filters; to building group boats out of Popsicle sticks, complete with paper flags; to floating and sinking objects and pirate adventures with spyglasses; to searching for treasure, swimming away from hungry sharks, building submarines, singing along with Elmo to Para bailar la bamba and making sailor hats and boat steering wheels; to fort building, fruit markets, and writing Spanish sight words for the very first time; and finally, to making a class video of their ocean unit and learning about the molinillo, a wooden tool used to stir chocolate in Mexico (bate, bate chocolate, tu nariz de cacachuate/stir, stir the chocolate, your nose is a peanut!), kindergarteners certainly gave it their “all”. Gracias for a great first trimester.

NOTE: If you would like to reinforce Spanish at home, one of the best ways is to watch cartoons and listen to songs (with your child) in the target language; their brains do an incredible amount of work subconsciously just by listening to comprehensible input. Click below for links, and feel free to scroll down on this page HERE for Disney favorites translated into Spanish.

KEY VOCABULARY: tengo hambre/I’m hungry; tengo sed/I’m thirsty; el cacahuate/peanut; el tiburón/shark; no me comas/don’t eat me; yo no soy marinero, soy capitán/I’m not a sailor, I’m the captain; el barco/boat; el submarino/submarine; Pato/duck; el tesoro/treasure; flota/floats; se hunde/sinks; la fortaleza/fort; la fruta/fruit; los pececitos/fish; más agua, por favor/more water, please; bate, bate, chocolate/stir, stir the chocolate (rhyme); and much, much more.

September: This month, kindergarteners began an ocean unit. First, and whenever they wanted to go get a drink (Tengo sed/I’m thirsty), students were required to bring back a cup of water to the classroom from the water fountain. In this way, they managed to fill up a plastic container (más agua/more water); underneath the clear plastic was a printout of sea creatures, making it appear to be the ocean—especially after adding a few drops of blue food coloring. Later, kindergarteners hypothesized whether or not items would float or sink (flota/floats; se hunde/sinks), and later built group boats out of Popsicle sticks (barcos/boats), complete with paper flags! To test their craftsmanship, students put the boats in a bowl of water (2.A) and kiddie pool outside (2.B) and watched as they… ultimately sank, ¡qué problema! Students also made catalejos/spyglasses with orcas and octopi and fish at the end of the telescopes, pretending to be pirates, and saw a very relevant episode of Pocoyo: Pirates.

To shift away from constant trips to the water fountain, a new song was introduced: “Tengo hambre” (I’m hungry). Afterwards, students broke off into groups and used tiny, lightweight, wicker-type balls to knock down “fish”, or GI Joe men standing on pictures of sea creatures. Then they shouted, “¡No me comas!” (don’t eat me!), and giggled as a ravenous tiburón/shark (read: manila folder with scary shark pictures) ate up all of the knocked down “fish”. Kindergarteners also searched for “tesoro-tesoro-tesoro-TREASURE!” at the bottom of the sea; watched a few more episodes of Pocoyo; and, lastly, built a submarine out of chairs to keep them safe from any other hungry sharks (grande/big; pequeño/small).

August: This month, kindergarteners met “Pato”, a very lovable and silly stuffed animal who speaks Spanish but forgets how to say a lot of things… a lot of the time. However, he always has a new idea up his sleeve (wing?). For example, one week, kindergarteners took turns hoisting him up-up-up to the sky on a yarn pulley so that he could learn how to fly. This skill became particularly relevant and useful after a tremendous [baking soda and vinegar] volcanic eruption forced him to flee for safety. Kindergarteners crinkled their noses after getting a chance to smell the vinegar and then gasped as the powder turned into a foamy mess.

Students also had fun lining up as a class “tren/train”, repeating “el cacahuete/peanut” and dancing to the beat (part of a rhyme kindergartners will learn later on), and stopping periodically to fill up the gas tank. They also learned how to say, “Tengo sed/I’m thirsty” to get a drink from the water fountain; responded to action and animal commands in the target language; giggled as they read the translated version of ¡No, David! by David Shannon, responding “¡Qué problema!” to each page when David misbehaves; and worked on a design project that involved food coloring, paper, and coffee filters. Gracias for a great month.

Newsletter 16-17, Sept. (K)

September: This month, students in kindergarten reacquanited 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…

Newsletter 15-16, Year (K)

Quarter 1: This term, students in kindergarten met several of the most popular stuffed animals in the Spanish room, including Pato/Duck, Oso/Bear, and Changuito/Monkey. Over time, kindergarteners began to understand that the stuffed animals are silly—quite silly, indeed: Changuito is constantly hiding, Pato wears a sock for pajamas and a nightcap, and Oso tries to sneak in a nap whenever possible. As a result, most classes begin with a humorous mini-story that naturally leads into a hands-on class activity—e.g., disappearing ink, vinegar volcanoes, dyed paper, a real egg whose fate was to be smashed, floating and sinking objects, monsters, art projects, etc. In-between activities, students jam to the theme-song from Rompe Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph) and watch Pocoyó. Gracias for a great quarter.

Quarter 2: This term, students in kindergarten began learning the names of all the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape-floor map. However, because Pato insisted on teaching, there were constant wordplays and distractions. For example, after tasting a [plastic] pear in Peru, he decides that he doesn’t like it, exclaiming, “EKK! [wah-door]” (Ecuador), and then traveling through the door/puerta to the next country. Later, he doesn’t know which way “Venez-WAY-lah” (Venezuela) is, and gets thirsty in Nicaragua (“knee-car-AGUA”). In the end, kindergarteners were teaching Pato. In addition to el mapa, students responded to action commands in the target language; began recognizing sight words in Spanish; learned about Angel Falls in Venezuela; and worked on student-led, multi-disciplinary projects (e.g., building life-size forts and art museums, sledding indoors on large plates, or bracelet and quilt-making). Gracias for another memorable quarter.

Quarters 3 & 4: This semester, students in kindergarten let their imaginations run wild. What began as responding to action commands (verbs)—“Run! Jump! Fly!”—gradually evolved into acting out any word, from keys and vegetables to a blossoming class flower (aerial view, with shoes in the center and reverse sit-ups). Later, verbs and nouns were tied together via reenactments of the daily morning routine—brushing teeth, putting on clothes, washing face, riding or biking to school, greeting teacher, and even earning stickers for completing math problems in the target language! In Project Land-ia, kindergarteners combined droplets of food coloring to create beautiful designs; had fun with more floating/sinking experiments; went on a plastic insect treasure hunt; created a life-sized spider web out of yarn; pulled Pato up and down on a pulley system; ‘traveled’ to Spain/España in a boat (i.e., a box dragged across the ocean—rather, floor—on the tape floor map by yours truly); were introduced to the Salsa (dance); created a school, movie theater, and house for Pato, and a hospital for Stan (a paper pet dog of Pato, who speaks Stan-ish, and was injured [crumpled] one day when he tried to run away and someone grabbed at him). Finally, students have been working on both reading and writing Spanish sight words. Gracias for a fabulous year.

Newsletter 14-15, Year (K)

Quarter 1: This term, students in kindergarten let their imaginations run wild. Straightforward, one-dimensional stories evolved into highly complex sagas, growing longer and more complicated from one week to the next. A new week merely indicated a new chapter. From magia/magic on the SMART board (the rubber-duck witches/brujas took full responsibility), to disappearing and reappearing fantasmas/ghosts, to a scary dragon who kept threatening our hero Pato with updates on the state of his voracious appetite, to a spinning disco ball with colorful lights that created exciting shadow effects on the auditorium ceiling and make the oscuridad/darkness not so terrifying, to a treasure map that led to a box filled with balloons, to a real egg whose fate was to be smashed, to a cluster of grapes that turned out to be a bottle of purple paint—so that’s why Pato is sporting a purple beak these days…—the linguistic journey [clearly] never ceases to be original. In addition to storytelling, kindergarteners also played Roca-papel-tijeras (Rock-paper-scissors) in the target language, watched the theme song video from Rompe Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph), and read a special book for Halloween: Bruja, bruja ven a mi fiesta/Witch, Witch, Come to My Party. Gracias for beginning the year on such a fast-paced and wonderfully creative note.

Quarter 2: This term, students in kindergarten listened intently as their dear friend Pato took on more of a leadership role, for better or worse. His first idea for a project actually turned out quite well. One afternoon, he invented a game: after drawing a rectangle on a piece of paper, dividing the shape into columns and filling in the mini-rectangles with bold, vibrant shades, he stood up the corresponding markers on each narrow quadrilateral. A single spurt of water resulted in an impressive domino effect of the markers, and left an even more impressive design on the paper: smeared colors, lines, and water all mixed together. Later, kindergarteners had the opportunity to create their own beautiful marker/water patterns, and then cut out snowflakes from the dyed paper. His second idea—to learn the names and locations of Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map in the Spanish Cave—was successful for kindergarteners, but not necessarily for the highly unfocused [divergent thinker?!] duck. Chile? Well, it’s a good thing I’m wearing my warm Christmas sweater! Argentina? Arrr, I’m a pirate! No, Pato, in Spanish it’s pronounced ‘Ar-hen-TEE-nah’. A pirate (arr) and a chicken (hen) drinking tea (tee)? Cool! (Nah.) What about Uruguay? You mean the circle? I got an A+ on shapes in Math class: triángulo, círculo… Well, at least kindergarteners understand!

Quarter 3: This term, students in kindergarten continued learning the names of all of the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map. However, because Pato insisted on teaching, there were constant wordplays and distractions. For example, after tasting a [plastic] pear in Perú, he decides that he doesn’t like it, exclaiming, “EKK! [wah-door]” (Ecuador), and then traveling through the door/puerta to the next country. Later, he meets a bee in “Colom-BEE-ah”, doesn’t know which way “Venez-WAY-lah” (Venezuela) is, and gets thirsty in Nicaragua (“knee-car-AGUA”). In the end, kindergarteners were teaching Pato… When they had mastered the bulk of the map, students transitioned to acting out their individualized password cards—“Hmm… how can I become a basket/cesto? A fort/fortaleza? A fairy/hada?”—and enjoyed ‘stopping’ in the country of their choice when it was time to change action commands. In-between the numerous snow and cold days, they also learned a song about ten little fish/diez pececitos; read Los hechizos de Chela La Lela (Batty Betty’s Spells); played Spanish Bingo; watched Pocoyó: El gran tobogán/Pocoyó: Loula huele mal; and elected either to play/jugar or color/colorear on activity days (juguetes/toys, peluches/stuffed animals; papel/paper, marcadores/markers, crayones/crayons). Gracias for another memorable quarter.

Quarter 4: This term, students in kindergarten circled back to the class stories from the beginning of the year, but this time, focused on incorporating student actors and actresses into the plots. The quarter’s most exciting story stretched itself out over the course of several classes: as our rubber-duck protagonist finds himself face-to-face with a giant knight in shining armor, he must think quickly to devise a plan of escape. How about hiding out in his very own house? In theory, this was an ingenious idea, but in practice, he found his house—aka an empty box—already inhabited by kindergarteners… who refused to let Señor Bearington/Paddington in when he knocked! Eventually, a compromise was reached: the ‘house’ was flipped upside down and transformed into a boat, whose skipper invited the duck-fugitive aboard. Amidst background waves crashing against the sides of the ship (, the Uruguayan flag waving back and forth, and a determined teacher dragging the box-turned-boat across the room (with kindergartener and Señor Bearington/Paddington inside), the characters finally arrived on the coast of Uruguay. Phew! Later on, students the Rompe Ralph and Pollito pío songs; heard a new song in honor of the baby chicks that lived in their regular classroom (Los pollitos dicen pío pío pío); read the book Crow and Hawk; and practiced reading and writing Spanish sight words for their Play Day options. Gracias for a terrific year.

Newsletter 13-14, Year (K)

Quarter 1: This term, students in kindergarten let their imaginations run wild. Straightforward, one-dimensional stories evolved into highly complex sagas, growing longer and more complicated from one week to the next. A new week merely indicated a new chapter. From a loud alarm clock brriiiiing that catapulted Pato across the Spanish Cave, to disappearing ink on the SMART board, to rubber duck witches materializing out of thin air, to an evil bat-ghost kidnapping a flower and bringing her to a tower in a faraway land (and, of course, the quest to rescue said flower), to Pato conquering his fear of heights and fear of the dark, to a short video about castañuelas/castanets, to hungry dragons, parachute fun, leaf collecting, Shadow Tag, and a cluster of grapes that turned out to be a bottle of purple paint—so that’s why Pato is sporting a purple beak these days…—the linguistic journey [clearly] never ceases to be original. Gracias for beginning the year on such a fast-paced and wonderfully creative note.

Quarter 2: This term, students in kindergarten continued creating wildly imaginative stories. However, instead of just passively listening to the comprehensible input, they began playing a more active role in the plots. For instance, in one adventure, the suspense of a crocodile on the point of devouring Pato led to a tangential activity, where students had fun simultaneously opening and closing hard cover books at different speeds, mimicking the scary jawbone action (abre/open; cierra/close). The consequent delay of his demise allows our beloved stuffed animal to discover a treasure chest full of balloons, and as a result, proudly parade around with a green bag of air—until he chances upon a box of thumbtacks. He is wisely advised by the anxious kindergarteners to not touch, but in the end, curiosity kills the source of entertainment. Students also drew out the sequence of events in La casa adormecida/The Napping House; played a detective hide-and-seek game; traveled outside to the playground, shouting, “¡Tobogán!” as they slid down the slide; and [repeatedly] listened to the theme song from Wreck-It Ralph, ¿Cuándo te volveré a ver? (When Will I See You Again?), after Pato decides to head south and escape the polar vortices. Finally, kindergarteners had several activity days, in which they could either jugar/play or colorear/color. Gracias for another brilliant quarter!

Quarter 3: This term, students in kindergarten learned that while Pato flew south for the winter, Oso had no intentions of leaving whatsoever; in fact, he was quite content to hibernate in his cueva/cave until the warm temperatures returned. While he slept, kindergarteners imagined what types of provisions he might be storing with him. Oso took a break one day from his busy schedule of siestas to report that he ate REAL eggs for his winter breakfasts. Students did not believe at first, and thus a thorough inspection took place. From shaking and then hearing the yolk jiggle inside, to cracking the eggshell and seeing a beautiful spider web pattern form, to finally smashing it, at last kindergarteners realized that it was most definitely not de plástico (¡Rompe el huevo!/break the egg!). Later on, students compared and contrasted the size and color of US money with Euros, and then ‘bought’ juguetes/toys, peluches/stuffed animals, or comida/food with their earnings; heard Ven a la carrera (Pocoyó) and Suéltalo (Frozen); and finally, received a real, live phone call one day, which informed that Pato was on his way home and eager to share his adventures with everyone. From talking parrots and not-so-scary dragons, to erupting volcanoes, magical lightning bugs and a shark that ended up eating the treasure, Pato had quite the story to share. What a great quarter!

Quarter 4: This term, students in kindergarten experienced the world from a duck’s perspective. However, it should be noted that this is not merely any duck, but rather the world-renowned, forever young, mischievous yet adorable stuffed animal Pato. Examples detailing his thought processes as follows: When Patito noisily sipped a large glass of water (consequently filling the plastic rubber duck cavity with liquid), Pato invented a game that resulted in a domino effect of markers, and beautiful water patterns and designs (chorro de agua/spurt of water). When Pato learned how to play Roca-papel-tijeras (Rock-paper-scissors) and Pollo-pollo-arroz/Chicken-chicken-rice, he asked to combine the two activities by making a mini-menu booklet, which later inspired an in-class restaurant simulation. When Pato tripped over a hairdryer and—believing it to be a monster caught in a spider’s web—began running for dear life, kindergarteners began to understand his unique point of view. Oh Pato, we love how you think! In addition to the lessons in perspective-taking, students also heard a new song in honor of the baby chicks that lived in their regular classroom (Los pollitos dicen pío pío pío); played Spanish Bingo; watched a few Pocoyó episodes; and read a book called El artista que pintó un caballo azul in order to inspire their own charming drawings. Gracias for an amazing year.