PRESCHOOL SPANISH LESSONS

Need some guidance for teaching preschool Spanish? You’re in the right place! Here you can find advice and resources for teaching Spanish to toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary.

Many parents and teachers are looking beyond lists of isolated words to memorize. We want to teach real, living language! At the same time, just turning on a Spanish song or TV show sounds like noise to beginners. It’s not enough to simply expose our kids to Spanish.

I’ve been busy creating preschool Spanish materials that teach real language in context, so you can feel confident about teaching Spanish. They rely heavily on hands-on activities, songs, games, and stories. 

If you’d like to see those specific lessons and my curriculum, click here to skip ahead! For those who want general tips on teaching Spanish and creating lessons for younger kids, read on. 

Spanish for toddlers

 

Teaching Spanish to Toddlers & Preschoolers: Tips

 

Young children learn a second language much the same way they learn their first: through songs, stories, talking, and playing. However, it’s important to remember that studying Spanish a few hours a week or less can’t compare to the thousands of hours of input that a child experiences in their first language (or first two languages, for bilingual kids). 

What does that mean? Mainly:

  • Be realistic about how much language your kids can pick up through lessons. Just like babies and toddlers, they will be able to understand more than they can produce. That’s normal and okay!
  • Be intentional about the language you use in your “Spanish time.” If you are raising bilingual kids, you can simply speak naturally throughout the day. With limited class time, it’s best to plan out the words you want to teach.

We want activities that are highly engaging and age-appropriate. Kids learn best when it feels like play! Whether you’re teaching your own kids or a group, keep these tips in mind:

  • Incorporate movement wherever possible. Attach motions to words, and use brain breaks that help get the wiggles out.
  • Keep activities short and plan to switch activities every 5-10 minutes if needed.
  • Use real objects and visuals to make it hands-on and always stay comprehensible. 
  • Build in a variety of activities: songs, stories, games, chats, play, and videos. It’s best to have combination of calming activities and movement-based activities. 
  • Create routines that help the kids know what to expect.
  • Be silly and fun! 
  • Review, review, review. Little ones like repetition, and doing familiar activities is easier when they know what to do. 

 

Teaching Language to Little Ones:

 

The most important thing when teaching Spanish is this: provide lots and lots of comprehensible input, in context. Comprehensible input is simply language they understand. You want to fill their little minds with Spanish, but not simply “flood” them with it. What does this look like?

  • Start with a few phrases and words they understand, and build from there. Always recycle and review what they know! 
  • When introducing new words, have real objects or visuals on hand to point to, so the kids understand you. After a while, they won’t need the supports. 
  • Provide the language in many different contexts: in a song, make up a little story, play a game using those words. Repetition is key if they’re going to remember it! 
  • Don’t expect them to speak too early, unless they want to. At the beginning, ask questions that only require one word answers: Do you like apples or bananas? (“Bananas” or even pointing- which will later turn into “I like bananas.”) Is this apple red? (“Yes” or “No”– later they can learn to say “No, it’s green!”)
  • Simplify materials if needed. You might want to teach with the book The Hungry Caterpillar. Even though it’s written for children, the language is complex for learners. You can still use it, but try narrating in a way your students can understand. 

If you have eager parents or children who want more, definitely encourage them to read books, change screen time to Spanish, and listen to music! It won’t hurt to hear a “flood of Spanish,” it just isn’t the most efficient way to make use of class time. 

 

Example Spanish Class Routines:

 

Here are some example set-ups to help you figure out what is best for your situation. Kids, schools, and families are so different that you’ll want to always be observing and making adjustments as needed. 

30-Minute Lesson With a Group:

  • Welcome and warm-up (review greetings, do the Buenos Días song, quick review like numbers 1-10). 5 minutes. 
  • Mini-lesson (input: introduce new words, short story, teach a new song, or make a class graph, etc.) 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Brain-break if needed (song, act out words like run, jump, dance, etc.) 2-3 minutes.
  • Follow-up activity (game like Bingo, Go Fish, etc., craft, coloring, etc.) 5-10 minutes. 
  • Wrap-up (watch a video song, good-bye song, review song, or quick game like Simon Says, etc.) 5 minutes.

20-Minute Lesson at Home, 2x a Week:

  • Welcome and warm-up (Buenos Días song, quick review like numbers, colors, etc.). 5 minutes. 
  • Mini-lesson (input: introduce new words, short story, read a book, etc.) 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Follow-up activity (game like Bingo, Go Fish, etc., craft, coloring, etc.) 5-10 minutes. 

I like to plan like this, with lots of activities in my back pocket. If something bombs or finishes early, I move right along to the next one.  

Bottom line: know your classes and do what works. if you have a group with longer attention spans, go for it! If you are telling a story and totally have their attention, don’t stop just because 5-10 minutes are up. If you’re playing a game and they’re begging for another round, why not? If they are obsessed with “Where’s the Button?” or Bingo, finish every class with that as a treat.

 

 

The Spanish Mama Preschool Curriculum

 

Each unit contains three lessons, which can be spread over multiple class sessions. I sell the complete units in my TpT store, but offer lots of free ideas and resources in the blog posts below. You can find free stories in the posts as well, starting with lesson 4.

I am currently doing a series of FB lives that give extra tips for teaching preschool Spanish. They are each embedded in the lesson post they correspond to. Be sure to check them out if it helps you to see ideas in action!

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

Lesson 1: Buenos días (I can greet my friends.)

Lesson 2: Me llamo & dice (I can say my name.)

Lesson 3: La granja (I can name some farm animals.)

Lesson 4: La comida (I can name some foods.)

Lesson 5: Me gusta (I can say I like/ don’t like something.)

Lesson 6: Los colores (I can name some colors.)

Lesson 7: Los opuestos (I can describe a little.)

Lesson 8: Los días de la semana (I know the days.)

Lesson 9: Eres/Soy (I can ask/ answer a few questions.)

Lesson 10: Goodnight in Spanish (I can talk about sleeping and waking up.)

Lesson 11: Numbers in Spanish (I can count 0 -15.)

Lesson 12: Review Activities (I can understand an authentic song.)

Orugas y Mariposas:
A unit to go with La oruga muy hambrienta

This unit is a basic intro to numbers, colors, fruits, days of the week, and high frequency verbs. It’s also a GREAT review for Aug/Sept, when you want to review from Los pollitos dicen AND get your new students up to speed. 

A Mi Burro Unit 1:

This unit builds upon the Los Pollitos Dicen curriculum and recycles much of the vocabulary from those units. It teaches parts of the face, the five senses, parts of the body, saying when something hurts, and going to the doctor. 

Interested in More?

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