Learn Spanish with Kids: How to Start at Home

Learn Spanish with Kids: How to Start at Home

Inside: How to learn Spanish with kids, at home.

“Oh, I would love for my kids to learn Spanish. Your kids are so lucky!”

I hear this one often. Really, ask anyone if they’d like their kids to speak a second language and the answer will be YES. Of course we would. But then-

We barely remember high school Spanish. I took German. We can’t afford a tutor. I have no idea where to start. 

Don’t let excuses like this stop you from learning Spanish with your kids! The goals can be simple: exposure, fun, some new songs and new words. The earlier you can start, the better.

 

How to teach to teach your kids Spanish at home

 

Beginning early attunes the ear to new soundshard-wires the brain differently, and sets words and patterns into the long-term memory. It is one of those few things where the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to learn. Most students in the U.S. show up to their foreign language class in high school with zero practice– and what could be their most enjoyable, practical subject becomes something they are scared of and forget two years later. It’s never too late, either: learning a foreign language has amazing effects on adults as well.

Before I share my ideas, here are some don’ts.

  • DON’T be self-conscious. Learning a language for adults can feel awkward, but set a relaxed, fun tone anyway.
  • DON’T give up if you miss a week or two. Those songs and words stay in little minds longer than we think.
  • DON’T make perfection the goal. Do what you can. A little bit every day is great.

So, where to start? Here are some simple, easy ideas to teach your kids Spanish at home without spending money!

 

1. Learn Spanish with Kids Through Songs

 

If you only take one thing away from this post, it should be this one: learn and sing songs in Spanish. Songs are the BEST way for non-fluent parents and children to learn, and will keep sounds and phrases in the long-term memory longer than any App or game could. I have lists of songs on YouTube by theme, and recommend these CDs:

Diez Deditos/ Ten Little Fingers

De Colores and Other Latin American Folk Songs

You can know zero Spanish yourself, and still learn words, pronunciation, and phrases along with your kids. It’s much more important for children to know the sounds of the language than how to read it (Spanish phonetics are far easier than in English) and this is the very best way for them to develop an ear for the language. If you learn one song a month, you will have over 10 songs memorized in a year. Watch them together, and sing them in the car or as part of bedtime.

 

2. Find Spanish Resources Online

 

Use free apps and websites to learn and practice. DuoLingo App  is great for older students who can read and perfect for busy adults, in case you want to stay one step ahead. I’ve also collected awesome lists of free online Spanish resources for kids, free online Spanish resources for older students and adults.

 

How to teach kids Spanish at home

 

3. Go By Topics in Spanish

 

It can be overwhelming not knowing where to start. Choose a theme that interests you (food, colors, animals) and learn the words that go with it. It’s okay if you only do 3 or 4 topics a year! Learn some greetings, numbers 1-10, colors, and some foods. I have boards by topic on Pinterest so you can find links, activities, printables, and more by theme. Lingo Hut is a free site where you can search by topic, and at Quizlet you can make study lists and hear the pronunciation.

 

4. Learn Through Spanish Children’s Books.

 

Invest in some books or check them out from the library. If you took some high school Spanish but don’t feel comfortable producing language on your own, books are a good start. These two are my favorites:

Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever / El mejor libro de palabras de Richard Scarry

¡Pío Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes (Spanish Edition)

You could also check out my list 50 Authentic Books in Spanish for Kids:

 

And 50 Bilingual Books in Spanish for Kids:

 

Picture Books for Kids in Spanish and English

 

5. Set Specific Language time to Speak Spanish as a Family

 

Pick a certain time during the week (maybe dinnertime on Thursday nights), where the whole family is specifically trying to practice what they’re learning. It could mean saying please, pass me, and thank you in Spanish, and using the food terms you know. Don’t wait to use Spanish because you aren’t fluent! Use what you know.

 

6. Use Props to Learn Spanish with Kids

 

Kids learn best when using real objects. If you are learning fruit, practice with the real thing. Another way to use props is to get a new stuffed animal or puppet, and introduce it as a Spanish-speaking ________. Have conversation or puppet play this way. This can sometimes help with a resistant learner or shy student who would rather act out speaking Spanish than speaking it directly.

 

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7. Play Games in Spanish

 

I love games! Learning Spanish with young kids should be a pleasant, successful experience, not stressful. I like using picture cards so English isn’t even part of the game. Play Bingo, Go Fish, or Memory. I have some game sets by theme for sale here, or free download here. If you feel uncomfortable saying the words in Spanish, practice your pronunciation at Lingo Hut, or cue up the words at SpanishDict. For extra practice, call out the words and have your kids draw the pictures themselves.

 

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8. Teach Your Kids Spanish with My Free Lessons

 

So far I have created three units in a series I names Español in the Jungle (I set the characters and stories in the Amazon rainforest). I designed these for parents (homeschoolers or families supplementing school) who are not native speakers, but remember a bit of high school Spanish or are willing to do a little prep of their own. Remember, speaking a foreign language is good for us adults too!

I have fables told in simple Spanish and also have a Preschool Spanish Series with plenty of links and freebies.

 

 

9. Make a Notebook to Track New Words

 

Let your kids make notebooks where they store what they’re learning, if they’re old enough. Use a composition notebook or three-ring binder and record new words and activities so it’s all together. I also have a Blank Pictionary and Illustrated Words Book that you can purchase to create personalized illustrated dictionaries.

 

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10. Learn Spanish with Kids through Movies and Shows

 

Sarah from A Life with Subtitles explains how to set your Netflix to Spanish, and I have a list of shows in Spanish on Netflix for kids.

 

Netflix Shows in Spanish for Kids

 

I hope this helps! It takes some work to get a Spanish routine going in your family, but it’s worth it. Learn Spanish with your kids, and you’ll never regret your decision to get started!

Like it? Pin it!

 

learn Spanish with Kids

Our Favorite Greetings Songs in Spanish

Our Favorite Greetings Songs in Spanish

Inside: Spanish greetings songs for kids, with “Hola, ¿cómo estás?” and other greetings.

 

If you’re wondering where to START in teaching your kids Spanish, almost every teacher starts with greetings. If you only make it through one topic in learning Spanish as a family, learn greetings. Your students will go into Spanish 1 with at least one week they can feel confident in! The songs this week teach things like “good night,” “good morning,” “how are you?” and “what’s your name?”

 

 

Spanish Greetings Songs

 

 

These are perfect phrases to work into your family vocabulary when you say hello in the morning and kiss goodnight.

 

1. Buenos días / Good Morning

 

 

2. Buenas noches / Goodnight

 

 

3. Buenos días, ¿cómo estás? / Good Morning, How are You?

 

 

4. ¿Cómo te llamas?

 

 

5. ¿Cómo te llamas? / What’s Your Name?

 

 

Don’t forget that I have created complete units that cover greeting and beginning Spanish! Also, check out my greetings Pinterest board below. I’ve created theme-specific boards in case you are looking for anything particular.

 

Follow Spanish Mama’s board Los saludos / Greetings on Pinterest.

Read more posts like this one:

Fun Spanish Learning Games for Kids (Preschool & Early Elementary)

Inside: Spanish learning games for kids (preschool and elementary).    I have a ton of Spanish learning games I've collected over the years. But I've been missing a list just for younger kids!  Here are games that are easy to explain, not-too-competitive, and require...

Cinco Monitos Song Lyrics and Free Printable

Inside: Lyrics and activities for the song Cinco monitos. Cinco monitos-- Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed-- is a fun song for little (or bigger!) Spanish learners. Use it to teach numbers 1-5, and beginning phrases like la cama, no más, la cabeza, and se cayó. ...

Back to School Spanish Activities: The Ultimate Round-Up of Plans and Ideas

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50 of the Best Authentic Spanish Books for Kids

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The Best Spanish Numbers Songs for Kids

The Best Spanish Numbers Songs for Kids

Inside: Spanish numbers songs for kids.

 

I’m starting a series of posts about favorite songs and videos in Spanish by topic– numbers, colors, animals. etc. I use songs in my classroom a lot, but this series is geared to parents looking for songs to use at home. When non-native or non-speaking parents ask me where to start, I recommend starting with songs! Here’s why:

– Songs make learning fun and memorable.

– Songs are even easier than books because you pronunciation is included.

– They are free online!

– I consider this a wise use of screen time because you can continue to sing the songs elsewhere: in the car, at bedtime, etc.

If you never get around to the fancy language programs or classes, learning lots of songs in Spanish throughout the preschool and elementary years WILL PAY OFF, even in high school! As they learn vocabulary and phrases in context, it will make high school Spanish easier one day.

 

Our Favorite Spanish Numbers Songs

 

Los números 1-10

We love Toobys for the slow, simple illustrations and great music!

 

Los números 1-20

(About a monkey, coconuts, and numbers in Spanish.)

 

Toobys Cinco Monitos

(Traditional 5 Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.)

 

Los números 1-100

Not a song, but shows counting from 1-100 if you get ambitious.

 

Una vez pesqué un pez

(Numbers in context of a classic Spanish song)

 

 

Diez en la cama

 

Numbers in Spanish 1-20


What songs in Spanish does your family love for numbers? Did I miss any good ones? Leave in comments below or on my Facebook page so other readers can enjoy too!

 

spanish numbers songs for kids

Printable Thanksgiving Mini-book

Printable Thanksgiving Mini-book

Update: Since writing this post (years ago!), I’ve written a HUGE Thanksgiving post with all kinds of free ideas and resources. Be sure to check it out and save yourself some planning time. 

Thanksgiving in Spanish Class


I am a Johnny-come-lately to the Fall/Winter blog hop for Spanish teachers, but better late than never, right?! There is only one day left, but be sure to check out the sale on TpT! I found some great deals for my interactive notebooks and already used them this week. Use the hashtag #fallwinterspanishsale for some great deals!

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Thankfulness is such an important concept for our students. For my older students, I’m planning a “Doy gracias por…” display, where they each include what they’re thankful for. As much as it’s important to remind them to BE thankful, I think exposure to the world around them is a more lasting method. Good books, videos or the news can give us those kind of personal connections and highlight all the things we take for granted. My printable is for younger students and is a mini-book for elementary students to trace, color, and read.

Thanksgiving

Mi libro de gracias

Español in the Jungle, Unit Three

Español in the Jungle, Unit Three

 

And… Español in the Jungle Unit 3 is ready! This free 20-page unit builds on Units One and Two and includes flashcards, bingo, a word search, stories and comprehension worksheets, games, and more! Read more here about using these units at home or in the classroom. The Español in the Jungle series from SpanishMama uses games, crafts, songs, and TPR/TPRS storytelling methods to learn beginning Spanish. Unit Three introduces:

– Classroom objects and vocabulary

– New verbs: dice, toca, abre, escucha

– New adjectives: feliz, enojado/a, grande, pequeño

Here are some helpful links for supplementing Unit Three:

En Mi Mochila Roja (GREAT song for practicing classroom objects! Contains more objects than are covered in the unit, and uses “bolígrafo” instead of “pluma” for “pen.” Also helpful for practicing making nouns and adjectives agree.)

Real Spanish Classroom (Video of teacher introducing classroom objects and colors– may be helpful if you are not a fluent speaker.)

Classroom Objects and Colors Booklet

Classroom Objects Pronunciation (Youtube video)

Classroom Objects Pronunciation (Click to hear)

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