The Ultimate Guide to the Best Authentic Spanish Books for Kids

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Authentic Spanish Books for Kids

Inside: Authentic Spanish books for kids.

Reading to our kids is one of the most important things we parents can do. And if you’re raising bilingual kids, good books in Spanish are a must! While I dearly love our stash of picture books in Spanish and English, I love finding original Spanish titles, written by native-speaking authors. 

As a non-native Spanish speaker myself, raising bilingual kids, I love knowing these books will expose my kids to that authentic voice and culture I can’t always provide. We can curl up with a good book, and all of us pick on the rich language together. 

Even though many translations from English are excellent, some aren’t. Authentic picture books tend to have a more lyrical, natural feel to them. It’s not always easy to find authentic Spanish titles, but with lots of digging, I’ve found quite a few treasures here. Many books listed here are bilingual, but you’ll see that they were Spanish first, by a native author. 

Because this is such an extensive list of children’s titles in Spanish, I’ve broken it into sections. You can crab a coffee or tea and browse away, or click on a title below to jump directly to that section. 

 

picture books in Spanish for children

 

Authentic Spanish Books for Kids

 

For more book lists and suggestions, be sure to see my Spanish children’s books page. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

Authentic Poetry/Music in Spanish for Kids

 

1. ¡Pío Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes – This is just our favorite collection of traditional rhymes and illustrations in Spanish, and an essential for every Spanish-language kids’ library. The English translations are beautifully arranged as well. 

2. De Colores and Other Latin American Folksongs for Children – From the beloved children’s singer José Luis Oroczo, here you’ll find the best songs, hand games, and rhymes in Spanish. 

3. Arrorro, Mi Nino – A sweet collection of lullabies and rhymes for bedtime, compiled from 14 different countries. 

 4. Mama Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury – This is a collection of 68 rhymes, jump-rope songs, fingerplays, proverbs, riddles, birthday songs, and more that can go along with Pío Peep, from the same author and illustrator. 

5. Little Chickies / Los Pollitos – Perfect for little hands, this lift-the-flap board book from Canticos recounts the beloved song Los Pollitos Dicen

6. Little Elephants / Elefantitos – From the same Canticos series, this board book is a sweet introduction to the classic song Los Elefantes Se Balanceaban. 

7. Muu, Moo!: Rimas de animales/Animal Nursery Rhymes – Another treasure from Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, this collection features animal rhymes and poetry, both traditional and originals from the authors. 

 8. Todo es canción: Antología poética – Featuring all original poetry, this delightful collection is organized by themes that will be helpful for teachers, especially (numbers, vowels, food, nature, etc.)

 

9. Arroz con leche: canciones y ritmos populares de América Latina – This is another collection of Latin-American rhymes and songs for children, with gorgeous illustrations for children. 

10.  Little Mice / Ratoncitos – Another sweet board book from Canticos, introducing babies to the fingerplay Cinco ratoncitos de colita gris.

11. De Colores – This board book is a gentle introduction to the traditional song. Although the text is bilingual, this is from the Lil Libros series, which feature authentic Spanish-language picture books for kids. 

12. Chumba la Cachumba  – An old song about skeletons who come out of their graves at certain hours during the night. 

 

Alphabet Books in Spanish 

 

1. Guatemala ABCs – This is just one book from a delightful series that introduces different Spanish-speaking countries through the alphabet. 

2. Mi primer abecedario – Designed for young pre-readers to learn about the alphabet and its sounds, with a page for each letter. 

3. ABeCedarios: Mexican Folk Art ABCs in English and Spanish – The bold, beautiful illustrations in this board book feature one animal per letter of the alphabet, in the style of traditional folk art. 

4. De la A a la Z Peru – From another wonderful series that tells about Latin American countries through the ABCs in Spanish. 

5. Olinguito, de La A a la Z! – An introduction to the ABCs, in the context of a cloud forest in the Andes. 

6. El Abecedario De Don Hilario – This is a tradtional authentic book in Spanish for the ABCs.

7. Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet In Spanish And English – Told through poetry and the ABCs, this beautiful book invites us into the day-of-day of farm-workers. 

8. ¡Todos a Comer! A Mexican Food Alphabet Book – Learn the alphabet in Spanish through an exploration of Mexican food and cooking. 

 

 

Fiction Books in Spanish for Kids

 

1.  Última parada de la calle Market – CJ wonders why he and grandma ride the bus instead of having a car, or why they get off on the last stop- the “dirty part of town”? Grandma’s beautiful answers, along with award-winning illustrations, make this a must-read for kids.

2. La luz de Lucía – The youngest in a family of fireflies, Lucía is too little to shine like the others – until one night in the dark forest. 

3. Juan Bobo Busca Trabajo – A funny book about a famous Puerto Rican folk hero who goes out to look for work. 

4. Raúl y la iguana – Raul finds an iguana and wants to keep him as a pet – but is that a good idea?

 

5. Alma y como obtuvo su numbre – Alma has a lot of names and wonders why, until her dad sits down to tell her the story behind all her names.

6. La jaula dorado – A boy searches for just the right gift for his grandmother. 

7. Tejedora del Arcoiris – Ixchel tries to learn her family’s long-held tradition of weaving on her own, when her mother is too busy to teach her.

8.  Viva la tortuga! – The journey of a mother sea turtle, who crosses the ocean to lay her eggs on a faraway beach. 

9. El papalote – A mother and her children find out that making and flying a kite isn’t so easy!

10. El Flamboyán Amarillo – From celebrated author Geogrina Lázaro, this classic tells about a flowering walk and a boy who discovers it. 

11. Nochecita – A sweet bedtime story about searching for night-time. 

12. Instrucciones para que el hipopotamo duerma solo – What if you had a pet like a hippopotamus, and he wanted to sleep on your bed? This funny story is a gentle way to talk about being big enough to sleep in your own bed. 

 

13. Me gustaria tener… – A story with rhyming text about silly things animals might do. 

14. Mango, Abuela, y Yo – When Mía’s grandmother comes to live with her family, she finds they speak different languages. Slowly, they each begin to learn a little bit of Spanish and English, with the help of a pet parrot. 

15. El mejor es mi papá – In a faraway land, the animals say why their dad is best, in this warm story about fathers and their children. 

16. Coco: Miguel y la gran armonía – Newberry author Matt de la Peña brings us an original story based on the characters from the movie Coco

 

 

Folktales, Classics, & Legends

 

1. La Lagartija y el Sol – Once in Ancient Mexico, the sun disappeared. All the animals must search the land looking for it, but only one small animal would not give up.  

2. Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas – A collection of 12 classic folktales from the Spanish-speaking tradition and world. 

3.  El gallo de bodas – in this Cuban folktale, a rooster gets dirty on the way to a wedding, and enlists the help of everyone to get clean again.

4. Los perros mágicos de los volcanos – The Magic Dogs of the Volcanos show up wherever people tell stories in El Salvador, and this is an original story for children about them. 

 

5. Ratoncito Perez, Cartero – In the Hispanic tradition, Perez the Mouse visits children when they lose their first tooth. 

6. El sombrero del tío Nacho – When Uncle Nacho receives a new hat, he wants to get rid of the old one. But it won’t stay away! (Nicaragua)

7. De oro y esmeraldas: mitos, leyendas y cuentos populares de latinoamérica – Another beautiful anthology of classic tales from Lartn America, from award-winning illustrator and author Lulu Dalcre. 

8. De como dicen que fue hecho el mar – How the ocean was made, from an old Taino myth. 

 

9. La flor de oro: Un mito taíno de Puerto Rico – a retelling of an indigenous creation myth, about the birth of Puerto Rico. 

10. María tenía una llamita – An endearing retelling of Mary Had a Little Lamb, set in the Andes mountains. 

11. El rey colibri: una leyenda Guatemalteca – A Guatemalan legend about a young chief who is transformed into a quetzal. 

12. El secreto de la llama: una leyenda Peruana – A Peruvian retelling of the Great Flood story, in which a llama saves the people. 

 

Related: Spanish Christmas Books for Kids 

 

Celebrations & Traditions

 

1. Los tamales de Ana – Ana and her family make tamales every year, for Christmas. Throughout the years, even as Ana gets older, her older sister still gets to do the hardest parts- will Ana ever get to be in charge?

2. El espíritu del Tío Fernando – A boy remembers his favorite uncle as he prepares for Day of the Dead with his favorite uncle. 

3. La Guagua de Pan de Manuela – Manuela is an Ecuadorian Indian who is preparing typical foods with her mom to celebrate All Soul’s Day. (Includes recipes.) 

4.  Piñatas y flores de papel: Fiestas de las Américas en inglés y español – A bilingual overview of holidays children celebrate across the Americas

 

5.The Birthday Book / Las Mañanitas – Introduce the traditional birthday song in Spanish with this lift-the-flap board book. 

6. ¡Ya llegan los reyes magos! – An introduction to the Christmas tradition of the Three Kings, from the perspective of a child. 

7. ¡Qué montón de Tamales! – As María’s family prepares tamales for Noche Buena, she accidentally loses her mother’s ring in the masa. The kids decide the only way to find it is by eating their way through all the tamales!

8. ¡Qué cosas dice mi abuela! – A little tells about his day, which turns out to be a delightful introduction to classic Spanish-language sayings. 

 

 

Immigration-Related Spanish Picture Books

 

1La Frontera: El viaje con papá – A young boy and his father make the difficult journey from Mexico to cross the border into the US, where they hope to make a new life. 

2. Xochitl, la Nina de las flores – Xochitl missed her garden in El Salvador, and begins a nursery with her family to sell the flowers on the street. 

3. Del norte al sur – José and his father going to Mexico to visit his mamá after she had to move back to México. This book covers a very difficult subject with a tender book, perfect for kids. 

4. Soñadores – Caldecott-winning artist Yuyi Morales recounts the story of leaving her childhood home in Mexico to make a new life in the United States, as a young girl.  

 

Related: Peru Books for Kids

 

Picture Books in Spanish About Culture & Geography 

1. En Alas del Condor – Stories about the history and culture of Spanish-speaking places, for children. 

2. El Chocolate de Abuela– When abuela visits from Mexico, she always brings stories and treasures from her travels, which share rich traditions and customs of Mexico. 

3. Esperando el Biblioburro – A true story of a teacher and librarian who created a mobile library on two donkeys to travel through the mountains and bring books to children in rural Colombia. 

4. La Isla – Rosalba goes on an imaginary journey to the Caribbean with her grandmother, who takes her through a tour of old stories and places on the island. 

 

5. Mi isla y yo – A beautiful introduction in Spanish for kids to island biodiversity, through an exploration of Puerto Rico. 

6. Vuelo del quetzal – Learn about the land, places, and animals found throughout Latin America, through the eyes of the quetzal, and with beautiful illustrations. 

7. Cuadros de Familia – An introduction to Mexican-American culture, through the day-to-day life of the author’s family. 

8. Ojos del Jaguar – Learn about the pre-Colombian civilizations throughout Latin America, written in a way that kids will understand and enjoy.

 

9. La Ñusta Diminuta – A tiny Incan princess tries to save her people from a terrible drought, and introduces us to Incan culture and history along the way. 

10. ¿Qué puedes hacer con un rebozo? – Learn about the traditional Mexican shawl as a young girl plays with one and imagines all the things she can do with one. 

11. Cuauhtémoc: Shapes – Formas – For very young readers, this is a board book that teaches shapes through the context of the city of Tenochtitlan, along with Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor. 

12.Un día más y otras historias – Indigenous tales about about now-endangered animals throughout South America. 

 

Note: Maguaré is also an amazing online resource for authentic online books in Spanish for kids!

Authentic Picture Books in Spanish for kids

 

 

Free Downloadable Authentic Picture Books in Spanish for Kids

 

Biographies in Spanish for Kids

 

1. Anti Princesas 1: Frida Kahlo para chicas y chicos – A colorful combination of illustrations and photos explores of the life of Frida Kahlo, for children. 

2. Viva Frida – A Caldecott Honor book that introduces young readers to one of the most famous artists, Frida Kahlo. 

3. Conoce a Pablo Neruda – Learn about the famous poet and politician, including a look into his playful childhood. 

4. Pasando páginas: La historia de mi vida – An autobiography written by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latino on the U.S. supreme court.

 

5. Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo – A colorful overview of the life of musician Tito Puente. 

6. Me llamo Celia – Young readers can get to know Celia Cruz’s life story in this vibrant picture book. 

7. Me Llamo Gabito – The life of renowned author Gabriel García Marquez, told through imagery borrowed from his own works. 

8. Guadalupe: Primeras Palabras – Very young readers can learn about famous Hispanic people as well! This is just one biography in board book form, available from the Lil’ Libros series. 

 

9. Violeta Parra para chicas y chicos

10. Lado a lado, La historia de Dolores Huerta y Huge Chávez – Discover the two important people who fought for farmworkers’ rights, and how their early lives led into their life work. 

11. Conoce a Gabriela Mistral – Learn how a quiet young girl grew up to be first Latin American writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

12. Me llamo Gabriela – Another beautiful and inspiring look into the childhood and life of Gabriela Mistral. 


What other authentic Spanish children’s books do you love? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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the ultimate guide to authentic books in spanish

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Spanish Mama Newsletter

Books in Spanish for kids

songs in Spanish

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Authentic Spanish Songs for Teaching Preterite and Imperfect

Authentic Spanish Songs for Teaching Preterite and Imperfect

Inside: Spanish songs for teaching Spanish 2 classes, with an emphasis on the preterite and the imperfect.

 

Who else loves teaching through music? It’s one of my favorite parts of being a Spanish teacher. 40 Authentic Songs for Spanish I has consistently been one of my top hits. I figure it’s time for Spanish 2 to get some love! Here are 30 authentic Spanish songs with preterite and imperfect verbs throughout the lyrics.

Of course, the content of Spanish 2 varies. In my classes, I look for lots of input in the past tense as we’re looking to communicate about past events. Our music, stories, and novels are preterite and imperfect-heavy, and I use many of the songs from this list. Let me know if I missed any of your favorites, or should be aware of lyrics or parts of videos I may have missed! Always, always, preview of course. 

Check out my other posts on music if you are wondering how to teach Spanish through authentic songs, or want to browse my collection of Songs in Spanish by theme and category.

 

Songs for Teaching Spanish 2 Classes

 

This post contains songs featuring mainly preterite verbs, mainly imperfect verbs, and then a mix of both tenses. You can browse the whole list, use the Spotify list, or jump directly to the section you need:

If you want activities to go with the songs here, I have an activity pack with some of the songs featured in this post:

 

Spanish Songs for Teaching the Preterite

 

Here are my picks for songs with lots of repetitions of preterite verbs in Spanish. You’ll notice that most of them have romantic themes, especially break-up undercurrents– it’s been really hard to find past-tense songs with any other theme! 

 

1. Fuiste Tú – Gaby Moreno y Ricardo Arjona

 

Lots of reps of fuiste, complete with gorgeous scenes of Guatemala.

 

2. Consejo de Amor – TINI, ft. Morat

 

Reps of pude, robó, pensé, se escapó, llegó, pasó, in the chorus, with more preterit verbs throughout the song. Even though it’s a broken-heart song, the music and video are upbeat and catchy.

 

3. Un Año – Sebastián Yatra, Reik

 

This catchy song is lighter on preterite verbs, but highly comprehensible and has fueron in the chorus, with some other preterite verbs sprinkled around the song. It also reviews several seasons and months, and present-tense phrases, and might be a good to use at the beginning of Spanish 2, as you welcome students back and ease them into class with some new past tense verbs!

 

4. Ayer – Gloria Estefan

 

This classic is a good choice to exposing your students to a famous Latina singer, with good reps of tú and yo preterit verbs as well. 

 

4. Corazón en la Maleta – Luis Fonsi

 

 Another break-up song from the now world-famous Luis Fonsi,  this song has tons of preterit yo reps, especially the phrase me fui. The original video shows alcohol and some romance I wouldn’t show, so I recommend this video or the lyric video with the original music.

 

5. La Selva Negra – Maná

 

With mostly 3rd-person preterit reps (lots of ¿Qué pasó?), this classic from Maná has themes of environmentalism and a different sound than most of the sounds on this list. 

 

6. Nada Fue Un Error – Coti, Julieta Venegas, Paulina Rubio

 

This is a comprehensible, repetitive song with lots of fue reps. 

 

7. Amor Con Hielo – Morat

 

Yet another break-up song, but this it has a good mix of Spanish preterite verbs (1st, 2nd, and 3rd person) and is really catchy too. If you paint it as an anti-love song, your students might have lots of fun with the lyrics. 

 

8. La Historia de Juan – Juanes

 

Told in something like a story format, this is a sad but famous song that deals with childhood poverty and social justice. The lyrics contain lots of 3rd-person repetitions, along with direct object pronouns. 

 

9. Reggaéton Lento – CNCO

 

If your students love some reggaetón, here’s one from the hugely popular band CNCO that includes tons of preterite in the chorus (la miré, me gustó, la invité, me pegué). The lyrics are fairly sensual, so read through them thoroughly before seeing if it works in your setting, though the video itself is super clean. 

 

10. Bachata en Fukuoka – Juan Luis Guerra

 

This bachata has lots of regular preterit verbs- viajé, canté, pintó, caminé, escapó, enseño, llegó, etc. 

 

11. Ella Es Mi Fiesta – Carlos Vives, ft. Maluma

 

Carlos Vives does a little storytelling-singing with this tale of falling in love, that also includes lots of past, especially fue, fui, and conocí. The song is fast and super upbeat, so you may need to slow the audio on YouTube if you do a listening activity. There are two videos below– one featuring Maluma and one with just Carlos Vives. 

 

12. Todo Cambió – Camila

 

If you don’t mind a super-sentimental ballad, Camila has lots of tú and yo reps in the preterit, plus vi and di in this slow song (helpful for listening activities!). 

 

 13. La Gozadera – Gente de Zona, Marc Antony

 

This has been a super-popular song across Spanish classrooms, with its scenes featuring Latin American flags and people from all over (though be sure to preview for the dancing). You’ll find lots of 3rd-person preterit in the lyrics. 

 

 14. Ya No Sé Que Hacer Conmigo – El Cuarteto de Nos

 

I hesitate to include this one since it’s fairly negative and includes not-for-school phrase like “fumé, tomé. However, it’s always comes recommend by teachers in Spanish groups, with tons of reps of first-person preterite, and so I’m sharing in case someone can use it. 

 

 15. No Tuve La Culpa – ChocQuibTown

 

I know it’s another break-up song, but I love to find songs that feature female artists, and this is a great one features a ton of verbs in the tú y yo form. 

 

Spanish Songs for Teaching the Imperfect

 

 

1. Los Caminos de La Vida – Los Diablitos

 

A gorgeous classic, this one is full of imperfect verbs in the chorus.

 

 2. Soy El Mismo – Prince Royce

 

So many imperfect verbs here: hablaba, llamaba, escribía, pintaba, daba, salía, robaba. Really good examples of talking about habitual past actions and characteristics. 

 

 3. Puerto Rico – Jerry Rivera

 

Scenes of Puerto Rico and examples of talking about one’s childhood. 

 

 4. El Perdón – Enrique Iglesias y Nicky Jam

 

Lots of examples of estaba + ando, iendo (beware the “tomando como un loco” line).

 

 5. Tarde Para Cambiar – Amaral

 

 

 6. El Barco Chiquitito-Traditional Children’s Song

 

 

 

Spanish Songs with Preterite and Imperfect Together

 

 

 1. Llegaste Tú – Jesse y Joy

 

This is a really good song with lots of opportunities to contrast the two tenses side by side. 

 

 

 2. En El Muelle de San Blas – Maná

 

Another good chance to compare the tense, I like using this song because it tells an interesting story, told in Mexico, and has lots of classroom possibilities. 

 

 

 3. Desde El Día En Que Te Fuiste – ChocQuibTown

 

Ok, so the official music video for this song is not school-friendly. Personally, I try not to use songs that I wouldn’t want them looking up at home in case it looks school-endorsed. However– if you are good showing lyric videos in school, this is a great song your classes will love, with awesome examples of preterite and imperfect. 

 

 

 5. El Amor Que Perdimos – Prince Royce

 

A popular song, the romantic themes may or may not work for your classroom– be sure to preview. 

 

 

 6. Piso 21 – Te Vi

 

I would NOT use the original video in class (and the lyrics are a little sensual), but this one is super-catchy and packed with 1st-person preterit verbs (seriously– your students will never forget the phrase te vi after just a few listens!). 

 

 7. Sofia – Alvaro Soler

 

Although this song isn’t as packed with preterite and imperfect, it is really catchy and the lyrics are easy to understand. (The dancing in the music video is really fun, but does contain a lot of belly- be sure to preview!).

 

 

 8. ¿Qué Hiciste? – Jennifer Lopez

 

There is SO MUCH preterite and lots of imperfect in this emotion-packed break-up song! 

 

 

 9. Tu Mirada – Reik

 

This song has a clear contrast of the preterite and imperfect, with an example of giving background information, followed by specific, completed action. 

 

 

What other Spanish songs with preterite and imperfect do you like? Leave your recommendations in the comment section!


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Spanish songs for teaching Spanish 2

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Spanish Mama Newsletter

Books in Spanish for kids

songs in Spanish

movies and shows in spanish

Spanish Games for Class You Need To Know About in 2019

Spanish Games for Class You Need To Know About in 2019

Inside: A library of top Spanish games for class, that are fun AND provide quality comprehensible input. 

Most of us know by now that games are essential for every language classroom. We get it: games get our students moving, make class fun, promote higher engagement, and create those happy vibes we all want, as teachers. 

And don’t believe for one minute that games are “fluff” or a distraction from learning: they can be as integral as stories and music in the language classroom!

“Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain—unless it is done with play, in which case, it takes between 10 and 20 repetitions!”—Dr. Karyn Purvis, Texas Christian Univeristy

I already have a big collection of Spanish learning games, but today I’m pulling together a general library that focuses on input-heavy games. When we’re teaching to proficiency, through comprehensible input, we always want to maximize our class time and provide lots of input.

This giant collection features some of my favorite Spanish class games over the years, and what games are hot right now in the proficiency-based world. I’ve gathered as many videos as I could find for those of you who love to see ideas in action. 

IMPORTANT: I decided to keep the explanations of each game very brief, and link to videos or more detailed explanations. If a game interests you, you can quickly learn more without getting bogged down in long explanations as you scroll. 

 

Input-Heavy Games for Spanish Class

 

If I’m missing some must-use games, videos, or demos, please pass them along and let me know about them in the comments. I do my best to credit games where I can, but most of these have been recycled and reinvented so many times over the years it’s difficult to know. Always give me a heads up if a correction is needed!

 

 

Listening Spanish Games

 

We’ll start off with generic listening games that work for any level (novice – advanced), with any topic. Keep a few of these in your back pocket, and you’ll always be ready for an extra five minutes or surprise observation. The games here depend mainly on input from the teacher, so you adapt the language to what each class understands. 

Don’t forget these oldies but goodies:

  • Bingo
  • Telephone
  • Simon Says

And here are some that require some explanation:

1. Word Chunk Game

Invented by Tina Hardgaden and Ben Slavic, this can be year-long competition between teams. Briefly:

  • Divide students into groups of three. Each group chooses a gesture. 
  • Teacher says a word chunk or full sentence. 
  • Group decides what it means, raise hands, and cannot discuss further.
  • Teacher calls on first group, who does their gesture in unison. 
  • First group gets a chance to translate chunk and must answer in unison. Points are awarded for correct answers. 

Or, pair the game with trashketball and get more details at Totally Comprehensible Latin

Cyber Profe explains how her classes play. 

Tina Hardgaden explain how to play the word chunk game to her class. 

2. ¿Qué es?/ ¿Quién es?

I’ve seen many different twists on this, but here’s my version:

  • Students brainstorm and write down terms on pieces of paper (people, places, things, characters, etc) OR create your own cards. Stick to proper names or terms in English with lower levels.
  • Teacher describes the term on the card without saying the actual name. 
  • First student to correctly guess the term gets the card. 
  • Student with the most cards wins. 

You can add parameters such as giving a signal before allowing guesses to begin.

Señora Chase demos her version, The ¿Cómo se dice? game

Dreaming Spanish demos with guessing animals through descriptions.

Here’s another way to play if you need to review vocabulary in Spanish.

3. Change Seats If…

This one is fun and doubles as a good brain break if you have the space.

 

  • Students sit in a circle. 
  • Teacher calls out “switch seats if…,” followed by something relevant to her class (if you’re wearing white socks, if your birthday is in June), in the TL.
  • Students for whom the “if” applies must get up and find a new seat. 
  • You can leave it competitive, or have one less chair than people. The last person will be left without a seat– you can have them do something in the TL (count 1-10, etc.) or do something funny.

Quick and easy demo.

See how Señora Chase does this, with rich input throughout the game.

4. El Marcador

I like this one for small groups. Sometimes it can be hard to come up with good games that only require 2-4 players! This is a quick review that works for any topic.

  • Put students in pairs, across from each other, with a marker in the middle. 
  • State something– true or false. 
  • If it’s false, students should leave the marker alone. (If they touch it: -1 point.)
  • If it’s true, first student to grab the marker gets 1 point. 

 

Pro tip: make sure your students are sitting in such as way that they don’t bump heads when grabbing the marker! Here’s how Mis Clases Locas plays

5. Pop-Up

This quick quiz game is from Señora Chase and genius because it gets everybody listening closely. See her post for all the helpful details if you want to know more. 

  • Number the students so everyone has a pair (1-1, 2-2, 3-3, etc.). (Pair similar-leveled students if possible.)
  • Line students up across from each other. 
  • Ask a question or state something in the TL. Then call a number. 
  • The first student to answer or translate correctly gets a point.

 

Señora Chase demos the Pop-Up! game. 

6. Slap-It

Also known as flyswatter when using images on the board, I prefer to play Slap-It with picture cards, as every student is engaged.  

  • Put students in pairs or groups (2-4 is best). 
  • Give each group the same set of picture cards, face-up on the table.  
  • Call out the word, or say a sentence that describes it/uses it. 
  • First student to slap the card gets to keep it.
  • At the end, students with the most cards in each group wins. 

 

7. The Reading Game

Another genius game from Señora Chase, this one gets students reading texts several times.

  • Put students in small groups and give them a text to read. 
  • The group should work together to make sure everyone understand the whole text. 
  • Students take turns being the representative for their group, going to the front, and answering questions about the text. 
  • Students who answer correctly get to draw a card for random points, which keeps the game interesting and competitive to the end. 
  • Group with the most points wins. 

 

Be sure to check out the full details on The Lucky Reading Game, where Señora Chase has slides to assign points for the deck of cards. 

 

Collaborative Writing Games

 

These Spanish games for class require some writing from the students, which is used throughout the game and read by other students. Scaffold as needed by giving prompts, outlines, or even letting students copy phrases from texts you’re using in class. With more advanced students, you can give them more creative freedom!

Most of these games are low-prep or no-prep, perfect for those days when you’re not feeling well. They also work well when your administration or parents are looking for more output and collaboration between students. 

8. Two Truths and A Lie

You’ve probably played this popular game in English, but it’s a great one for Spanish class too!

  • Model first, by writing down two true things and one false thing. Let the class guess which one is false. 
  • Have the students write their own sentences (and make an answer key). 
  • Gather the students’ writing, read aloud, and the class guesses the answers. 
  • You can declare a winner by whomever’s sentences stumped the class the most.

 

Sarah Breckley has a great version here, that involves more interpersonal communication and a super-creative point system.

 

9. Draw, Write, Pass

This is another fun party game than translates perfectly to the language classroom. 

 

  • Put students in groups of 4-6.
  • Students make up or copy a sentence on the top of a paper. Then, directly below it, they illustrate their sentence.
  • Students fold the paper so only the drawing is visible. Pass papers to the right. 
  • Students look at the drawing, and write a sentence that describes it. Pass papers again. 
  • Students read, and do their best to draw what they read. 
  • Repeat until everyone has their original papers back. I usually have the groups vote on funniest evolution and most accurate beginning-to-end progression. 

It sounds hard to understand, but if you watch the video it’s really simple! Think the game telephone, except through writing and drawing.

 

10. Memory

Memory is a great quiet game that works with any age. If you are working with high school students, here’s a way to take it up a notch with richer language. And for the teacher, it’s no-prep!

  • Put students in groups of 4-6 and pass out paper squares.
  • Students create matching cards. These could be questions and answers, Spanish and English translations, or sentences and illustrations. (You set the parameters: students should copy text from a novel or story, use info from a certain lesson, etc.)
  • Students check cards with teacher when ready. Early finishers do extra cards. 
  • Then let them play in groups! The activity should be self-monitoring since the students themselves made the cards.

Señora Chase has a way to play this whole-class you might want to check out!

 

Collaborative Speaking Games

 

These games require some speaking from the students, or create a context for more interpersonal communication. When we are ready for students to produce output, Spanish games for class are a wonderful way to do that.

Although there are lots of games that require students to speak (i.e., get up, find a partner, speak for two minutes, switch), they can sometimes feel artificial. My favorites are activities that naturally require communication in order to advance or win. These games are a more natural context to communicate and negotiate meaning.

 

11. Mafia

Mafia is the darling of the CI community right now, and for good reason: it’s SO engaging. It can last an entire period, so it’s perfect for those days when you have an odd day before spring break, or when half the class is out sick. The only catch? It takes a while to understand and explain. I’ll describe it briefly, but checking out the attached videos and links should help you get this one. 

  • Play whole class. You are the director of this role-playing game. 
  • The gist: the mafia is trying to eliminate all the citizens, especially the police. The police want to save the town. The citizens want to survive and eliminate the mafia. 
  • Tell the class to “sleep” and secretly assign roles to the class: mafia members, citizens, police, doctor. (See Martina Bex’s printable for this and to understand the role of police and doctor.)
  • Class sleeps, the mafia choose their first victim to eliminate. That student is out. 
  • Tell the class to wake up. Make up an entertaining/interesting narrative about the poor victim’s demise. 
  • This is where it gets fun: after each “murder,” you allow a few accusations. If a student accuses another students as being mafia, they must state why. The accused get the chance to defend themselves. Everyone still in the game votes on who they think is mafia, and the person with the most votes is out. 
  • Class sleeps again, the mafia eliminates another player, and another round of accusations/defenses begins. 
  • Game is over when all Mafia has been eliminated OR all citizens/police/dr. have been eliminated. 

Whew. There’s more nuance than I included, but hopefully you get the idea. My students LOVE THIS GAME, and there are endless twists.

Good Mafia explanation from an ESL context. 

Setting up Unicornio Malo for the first time, with La Maestra Loca.

Setting up Mafia with La Maestra Loca. 

Full game of Mafia, with a small group. 

12. 20 Questions

This game is a nice way to let the students communicate with questions. The teacher can facilitate and re-state as needed to make sure students are getting quality input. 

  • Choose one student to sit in front of the class and choose a person/thing/animal, whatever you allow.
  • The class asks yes or no question to guess the answer. 
  • More than 20 questions- student wins, class guess in less than 20- class wins. 

You can switch this up by taping a famous character or person onto students’ back and they have to walk around asking each other questions, to figure out who they are. 

Alternatively, you could let the students tape something onto your back (maybe pick a trusted student to be the appropriateness judge), and you ask the class yes or no questions to figure it out. 

Dreaming Spanish demos a guess-the-character game.

Señora Chase shows us 20 Questions in a whole-class setting.

13. Guess Who?

Guess Who is really similar to 20 Questions, except played with a board. If you make your own board, you can put anything on it- people, objects, animals, etc. 

  • Put students in partners, each with matching boards. 
  • Each player secretly chooses one image/square. 
  • Players take turns asking yes or no questions, to eliminate possible squares. 
  • First player to correctly guess the opponents’ selection wins. 

 

If you don’t mind signing up for my newsletter, I have free templates you can use for this!

14. Charades

Charades doesn’t involved much speaking, but it is lower on the input-scale and students have to speak to answer. Charades is especially good to use if you do a lot of TPR, and have lots of motions the kids all recognize. There are LOTS of version!

  • Divide the class in 2 or 3 teams and prep pieces of paper with words or phrases. 
  • Bring a representative from each team to the front.
  • Each team takes a turn guess terms. Give the representative 30 seconds, for example, to pick papers and act out as many terms as possible.
  • When the team guesses correctly, he/she picks another paper. Each paper counts as a point. 
  • The next team gets a turn.

You can reverse this by having the teams act the phrases out, and the representative must guess. Another option is to have one actor all the teams watch, and the first team to write the answer on a whiteboard and show it gets a point. 

See how Sarah Breckley plays reverse charades. 

Up the target language with a combo of taboo and charades!

15. Mano Nerviosa

It’s common for students to be able to mindlessly chant lower numbers, but not recognize them out of context. Fix that with Mano Nerviosa! Is this game input-heavy? Not exactly, but it is very fun and effective. 

  • Put students in groups of 3-6 and give decks of cards.
  • Students begin laying down cards in the center, in a circle. They recite numbers 1-14, one-by-one.
  • If the number said matches the number laid, the first person to slap the cards in the center gets them all.

 

See the video to understand the game in a snap, or to show your students how to play.

Like it? Pin it!

Spanish Teacher Videos and Demos

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Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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Cultural Brain Breaks for Spanish Class

Cultural Brain Breaks for Spanish Class

Inside: Cultural brain breaks for Spanish class, perfect for kids in elementary classes. 

Today I’m welcoming Carolina Gómez, an elementary Spanish teacher from Colombia. She is the blogger behind Fun for Spanish Teachers, a space where she shares teaching tips and resources. She loves spending time with her family and two dogs.  In this post she shares three Brain Breaks to use right away with your students!

(Looking for older student and more game ideas? See brain breaks to use with high school Spanish classes or a big list of Spanish learning games!)

 

Three Cultural Brain Breaks for Spanish Class

 

Brain breaks are quick activities meant to re-energize or focus the class, and they last no longer than 5 minutes. I like using Brain Breaks that are low prep and engage the whole group. I teach elementary school, and brain breaks come in handy usually with my afternoon classes or when I see the class is low in energy and children seem sluggish or less likely to engage in class.

Here are three cultural brain breaks for Spanish class I have used successfully, and are definitely student approved!

 

energizers for Spanish class

 

Pares y nones

 

This is based on a traditional Latin American game. Assign a student to call out the numbers.  Students make a circle and sing a simple chant that goes like this:

A pares  y nones  To even and odd numbers

vamos a jugar,         we will play.

El que quedo solo, The one who ends up alone,

solo quedará. alone will stay.

When the group is done chanting, the  designated student will call a number and everyone else has to make groups according to the number. I usually suggest they call numbers lower than eight, but it all depends on the size of the group. The students who are left without a group will be out of the game. Continue playing the game until the group is down to two people standing up.

 

Tierra y mar

 

This is a great game to practice left and right in Spanish. The class makes a line. Anytime you or a designated student says “tierra” o “mar” the students in the line must jump. Let’s say you’ve assigned tierra on the left and mar on the right. The students in the line will have to jump to the correct side. The students who jump on the wrong side will be out of the game.

 

El director de la orquesta

 

The orchestra conductor, a game that can also be played under the name “el líder,” is a fun game where everyone participates. The class makes a circle. One student leaves the room. While the student is out of the room, another student gets appointed to be conductor of the orchestra. The conductor is in charge of making movements or sounds that the other students will imitate. The student who has left the room is called back in, and his/her task is to figure out who the conductor is. They normally get three turns (but you can modify the number) to guess who is “conducting” the class. Once the student finds the conductor, choose a new student to leave the room as well as a new conductor. You and the class can decide when to end the game.

Ready to try these brain breaks for Spanish class next time you see your students? I promise your class will have a lot of fun!

Check out Carolina’s posts on energizers, chants, and breaks for even more ideas!

 

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Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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Spanish Easter Traditions: Ideas & Resources for the Classroom

Spanish Easter Traditions: Ideas & Resources for the Classroom

Inside: A round-up of classroom iresources for Spanish Easter traditions.

 

La Pascua– Easter in Spanish– is a big deal across the Spanish-speaking world, whose history is closely connected to the Catholic church. The month of Lent culminates in Semana Santa, which commemorates the last week in the life of Jesus. In Spain and many Latin American countries, Easter is a bigger deal than Christmas, with deeply rooted traditions.

I’ve included a mix of religious and non-religious activities. In my opinion, it’s important to acknowledge the religious roots because they makes sense of many cultural traditions. I think you can do this without pushing religious beliefs, but I’ve tried to include non-religious options if you have to be careful to stay secular. 

Let’s not re-invent the wheel for ideas in the classroom! I’ve gathered some awesome resources, for all ages. 

 

Spanish Easter Traditions & Activities

 easter in Spanish class

Here’s an overview of ideas for teaching about or celebrating Easter traditions in Spanish. As you scroll down, you’ll see the videos, links, and expanded resources you might want to use. This is just the condensed version:

  • Learn about cascarones (eggs) by making them, watching how-to videos, or seeing how they’re made and used throughout Latin America.
  • Re-use those plastic eggs for a variety of activities! Do scrambled sentences inside, use for maracas, or make a matching activity.
  • Read infographs and watch videos to learn about the cultural traditions surrounding Pascua. Compare/contrast traditions with those in the US. 
  • Tell or storyask a story based on Easter themes: cascarones gone wrong between friends, something Spring-based (mention that in South America seasons are reversed).

 

If you are here looking for specific information and activities for Spanish Easter traditions, you can jump to specific sections here:

 

Otherwise, keep scrolling and browse away to learn more!

Spanish Easter Activities

 

Books About Pascua


Printables

 

Printable vocabulary coloring sheet from Spanglish Baby:

Conejo Finger Puppets (scroll alllll the way down to the songs section to see the Conejito song!)

Conejo Finger Puppets Search from Spanish Playground

Conversation Questions from Spanish Playground

Semana Santa Coloring Pages (Religious)

 

#Authres for Easter in Spanish

 

There are lots of infographs you can use with Easter. These are fun to to prompt discussion and give the students a chance to see what they can understand from an authentic resource.

This is only a portion of the original infograph. See the original here

 

Visit my Easter in Spanish board on Pinterest to find lots more realia!

Credit: Twitter

Videos on Spanish Easter Traditions

 

The following videos are designed for Spanish learners who want to know more about traditions in Spain and Latin America.

 

Easter Holiday

Dreaming Spanish delivers interesting, novice-level language that’s perfect for beginners!

 

 

An Interactive Video on Semana Santa

This one is so cool! You’ll learn all about foods and celebrations all over the Spanish-speaking, and the students get to pick which ones to study first. 

 

Semana Santa, Spanish Easter 

 

 

Procesiones y Semana Santa

 

 

Bilingual Intro to Holy Week

 

 

Activities with Eggs

 

Make cascarones! You can have your students paint them or color with markers, fill them with confetti, and maybe even take everyone outside to break them on each other.

Throw Away Your Textbook has some good tips for doing cascarones, as does Mundo de Pepita

Use plastic eggs to do this scrambled sentence activity from Señora Chase. The nice thing about this one is that you can tie the sentences into whatever theme/story/song you are working on, but it feels Easter-y/Spring-ish because of the eggs.

Use another version of scrambled sentences Totally Comprehensible Latin, with whole sentence strips inside the eggs. This is a dictation & listening activity that can be done in pairs. It takes a little work upfront, but then you only have to supervise once it get going!

5 Ways to Use Leftover Plastic Eggs from Secondary Spanish Space: lots of fun ideas here!

Make maracas from plastic eggs with this SUPER-EASY craft. 

 

 

Videos on Cascarones (Eggs for Easter)

 

See how cascarones de huevos are prepared in a Mexican market. 

 

 

How to make confetti eggs, in Spanish (from an adult and from a kid):

Semana Santa Classroom Resources

 

Make alfombras with DIY Sand Alfombras 

Browse these photos of real-life Guateman alfombras

Semana Santa vocab at a glance. (Visiting this site downloads an audio file– you can choose to block it.)

Semana Santa Webquest in English

La semana santa en Guatemala from Estudia Feliz. This story includes preterite and imperfect as a teacher recounts her experience while traveling there, and she has more printable resources on her site. 

 

Authentic Videos on Semana Santa

 

Here are authentic videos that introduce Semana Santa celebrations in different parts of the Spanish-speaking world. 

 

Semana Santa in Peru

 

 

 

Semana Santa in Guatemala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Semana Santa in Spain

Be aware that the outfits worn on these processions look like the KKK. The capes are meant to symbolize rising to heaven. You will definitely want to preview, and discuss with your classes before using them. (Good opportunity to discuss how culture shapes our reaction to images and symbols.) 

 

 

Semana Santa in Guatemala

 

Videos On Alfombras

 

Las Alfombras en Honduras (introduced in English):

 

 

Detailed video of the Alfombras de Aserrín process:

 

Alfombras from Guatemala:

 

Easter Songs in Spanish

 

De Colores

A famous & traditional song that works well with spring vocabulary. 

 

El Conejito Blanco

So cute, and non-religious for those who need that!

 

 

Easter MOVIETALKS or Videos for Kids

 

Hope these activities and resources have helped you learn more about Spanish Easter traditions, and given you new ideas for classroom activities. If I missed a favorite resource, let me know about it in the comments below!

 

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Spanish Mama Newsletter

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