Inside: Calendar songs in Spanish, including months, seasons, and days of the week songs in Spanish.
Here are some of our favorite picks for calendar songs in Spanish– canciones about days, months, and seasons. Whether you’re homeschooling or in a classroom, calendar time is perfect to work in some Spanish naturally.
My students love to express opinions. I play a simple game in which we review any vocabulary by marking one side of the room as “Me encanta” and the other as “No me gusta.” I just call out words (could be foods, hobbies, classes– anything!) and they move to the side of the room that matches their feelings about it. It’s always a hit and a great filler for those times when you finish early or need a brain break. (more…)
Inside: A free printable participation rubric for language classes
Here’s a great tool for your interactive notebooks and for the proficiency-based classroom: a weekly rubric for target language use. I’ve been following Joshua Cabral from World Language Classroom and his videos and posts on proficiency-based teaching have really changed my thinking. I had already been moving toward CI-based instruction, but his insights have helped me re-work my goals and choose a framework for where we are going/ why we do the things we do in class.
Before, I had some strategies in place for getting students to speak in the TL, and some strategies in place to keep them accountable. But grammar, or accuracy, had ultimately been my end goal. And my grading system reflected that. As I shift toward proficiency and structuring my teaching around the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines I have appreciated every single concrete posting I can find. This one is a gem!
I adapted this rubric from his post Target Language Use: Teacher Support and Student Accountability and in just a few weeks I can already see the light bulbs going off in my students. They have responded really well already to working toward proficiency goals instead of merely accuracy goals, or content goals. They also like that this rubric clearly explains how to be successful while growing in proficiency: not through perfect speech and impeccable grammar, but more deeply by taking risks, using what they know, and staying committed to Spanish even when they are beginners. This year has been chaotic, it feels, as I’ve had one foot in the textbook, and one out. I can’t wait to start well next year, and use this from Week 1!
I adapted Joshua’s 20-point system to a printable format easy for interactive notebooks. Four areas are explained and “graded:” community, commitment, proficiency, and preparation.
Since this is a weekly rubric, I still use my Euros system, usually when students are in groups playing games with a monitor, or during certain times to keep track of students who are frequently resorting to English. Let me know what you think
Inside: Learn the numbers in Spanish with the game Mano Nerviosa.
I moved to the Peruvian jungle at 22, without really knowing Spanish. I learned on the fly: getting a mototaxi, or hanging out with friends after a day of teaching. We’d sit around the kitchen table playing cards, late at night– all the young people in the house.
I knew the least Spanish out of anyone. This was unfortunate, especially when someone said something clever or cracked a joke. The rest would be crying from laughter, while I waited for the translation (usually to be told it didn’t translate!).
It was also very motivating, as I learned Spanish. One of the games we played was Mano nerviosa, a numbers-based game. My future husband was super-competitive like me, and would always win. You better believe I studied those numbers on the side, just to beat this annoying creído.
And this is all part of why I love games in the classroom. When I teach, I’m always reaching for that kitchen table.
I’m thinking of how to create that feeling of some great inside joke happening; that there’s magic on the other side. I want them to feel that by learning Spanish, they’ll access that other side and feel the world open up too.
For me, the perfect lesson happens when the task is so engaging everyone forgets we’re there to “learn” Spanish. Some games have every single person engaged, practicing exactly what you want them to practice. Mano Nerviosa is one of those game, and my students beg for it! Once everyone has the hang of it, use it as a brain break, class reward, or for Spanish club.
When I started teaching, I realized it was perfect for learning numbers 1-13– and actually knowing them. Most students come to me being able to count, or learn 1-10 fairly quickly. If you ask them what seven is, though, they can only get there by counting.
This game fixes all that, and works for any topic students learn by chanting or recitation (months, days, ABC’s– you would just need the cards for it).
How to Play Mano Nerviosa:
(My Peruvian friends in the video said “una” instead of “uno”– a regionalismo you might need to explain to your class.)
Divide the students into groups of 4-6. (Can be played with 2-3 if needed.)
Ace = 1
2 – 10 = 2 – 10
Jack = 11
Queen = 12
King = 13
(Optional- use the Jokers and write 14 on them)
Divide all of the cards evenly among the players, and use two decks if possible. One person starts by laying a card face up, in the middle, and saying uno (or one— any language works!). The play continues clockwise, laying down cards and counting. When everyone counts to 13 (or 14), they start back at 1 and count up again. Anytime a number is placed in the middle that matches the number spoken, the players can slap the pile. The first person to hit the card gets the entire pile to keep. The first person to get all the cards in the game wins.
ALSO– and this is cool– if anyone loses all their cards, they can still slap in. Everyone is involved and engaged with a chance to win, right until the end!
Here’s a another (older!) video showing the game being played:
A few more caveats/notes:
Give a strict lecture about losing turns, being out of the game, etc. by being too rough. They REALLY get into this one!
If you have super-shy, sensitive kids, make sure they are in a less competitive group. It can be helpful to group loosely by ability, so the competition is even.
If you have students slapping every time– or to up the competition– tell them they have to deduct ten of their own cards and place them in the middle pile for each false slap.
Do a class tournament. Put the students in groups of 4-6, and then have the winners, 2nd place, 3rd place, etc, move to the same tables and compete against each other. This is fun because everyone has the chance to beat their group (on their own level), to the end.
Inside: A list of the best Spanish lullabies and folk songs on YouTube, for babies and toddlers.
When we decided to raise bilingual kids, it wasn’t just a matter of speaking two languages. We wanted our babies to be bi-cultural: to move freely between the Latino and U.S. cultures, to feel connected to both.
And of course, there’s no better place to start than with music and poetry. Music is deeply entrenched in the Latino experience, and there’s a rich tradition to pass onto our kids. As a non-native speaker, myself, I learned my favorite childhood nursery rhymes in Spanish, and studied up on traditional Spanish lullabies that were new to me.
Unexpectedly, we ended up moving back to Peru when our kids were 2 and 4. It was such a delight to watch them sing along with their tías and primos, without missing a beat. I’m so grateful they got the best of both worlds, from the start.
Spanish Lullabies and Folk Songs
There are so many good folk songs, it was hard to choose! These are my top picks, though– the ones you just can’t miss. We love these for learning culture and learning Spanish. You can find all my theme lists for Spanish children’s songs and Spanish poems as well, if you want more!
1. Arrorró mi niño
2. Los pollitos dicen, pío pío, pío
3. Arroz con leche
I like the drawings in the first one better, but the lyrics are what we sing in the second.
4. Cucú cucú cantaba la rana
5. De colores
Love both versions!
6. Que llueva
7. A la nañita nana
8. Pin pón
9. Naranja dulce
10. La cucaracha
11. El barquito chiquito
12. Un elefante se balanceaba
Make sure you check out my Pinterest board for música infantil too!
Inside: Ideas for playing Bingo in the Spanish classroom and a free printable Bingo board.
It might seem odd to dedicate an entire post to the humble game of Bingo. Bingo is traditionally a game for developing listening skills and recognizing words, a staple in almost any language classroom.
Don’t miss the versatility of this game, though!: it’s always been popular from my little ones to the high schoolers. Anytime I can turn an activity into a game, I do. Here are some quick ideas for getting the most out of Bingo in the foreign language classroom.
Bingo in Spanish Class
Use pictures instead of words.
When possible, look to buy or make games that use pictures as clues instead of English. There’s not reason to match el gato to cat when an image would keep everything thinking and operating in Spanish.
Have the students draw.
Consider giving the students a blank Bingo board to draw the terms themselves. Pre-printed Bingo games can be great for quick practice, but when students draw, it creates a stronger connection to the vocabulary word. I do sometimes get complaints about this one. Something to consider, though: the ones who love this are often the less traditional learners who might struggle with the regular exercises.
Assign Bingo illustrations as homework.
Print out a Bingo board with words or phrases listed. As homework, the students read and draw the terms. It’s super-easy to check who did their work, and you can play the game in immediately or store the games to periodically review. I include assignments like this in my game packs.
Use more than just a word.
Make the terms more complicated than “la mesa,” or “el libro.” Describe a scene using whatever vocabulary they know: el libro verde está encima de la mesa. It’s always best to use language in context, whenever and wherever you can.
Use the Bingo games for writing.
After using the games for a few days, tell the students to cut their boards into vertical strips. Paste them into interactive students notebooks or onto pieces of paper. Then, have the students write a sentence or two describing each scene or object.