February/March: This month*, students in kindergarten were encouraged to add more depth to their center work. The sight word, ir/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/bad, tengo 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!
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.
September: This 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 sombreros—Pato 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…
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.
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.
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 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.