LINKS: Rompe Ralph
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.
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.
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–Josephineto 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!
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.
February/March: This 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: Mercado; Pocoyó: Supermercado; and Pocoyó: La ducha de Pato); and continued with their regular classroom routine (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…
December/January: This 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).
November: This 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.
October/Trimester 1: This trimester, students in PK responded to action commands (baila/dance, toca la cabeza/touch your head, salta/jump, da la vuelta/turn around); 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. 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 colorful 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.
September: This 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.
August: This 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!