Spending safe quality time off-screen, either outdoors or indoors, is essential these days. That is why I created 9 scavenger hunts en Español (nature walks/I spy) that you can either print or take on your device next time you go for a walk. Walking around to complete these checklists gives us a great chance to practice vocabulary while moving around.
In various Spanish speaking countries, we play a game called ‘Veo Veo’ similar to the game ‘I spy’ (check the hyperlinked video to see how it is played).
It is one of my students’ favorites!
So even if your child has to miss a Spanish class via Zoom, or you just decide to take time off from screen to strectch your body, you don’t have to stop learning vocabulary!
This can also turn into a counting activity. “Yo veo cinco mariposas/ I see five butterflies”
The checklist can also be turned into a photo challenge and you can ask your students to pin their pictures in a Padlet board (check the hyperlinked video to see a tutorial)
You can also share your pictures with the hashtag #buscandotesorosconprofefran on Instagram or in this Padlet board.
Let’s create community by sharing our finds!
The ones about colors and shapes can be played anywhere. Las posibilidades son infinitas!
I’ve been doing colores and figuras scavenger hunts during my Zoom meetings with Pre-K and K and they love them. I give parents a heads up in the Zoom description and voilà, we are all ready to play during Zoom class.
PS: ¿mi aporte? Están a mitad del precio que el trabajo puesto en su creación amerita 💛
We are living difficult times, mi gente. There is no denying what’s happening today.
We are overwhelmed. We are scared. We are anxious. We are not at ease.
This is why, this should be a time for healing, building community and comforting those friends who are feeling it the most, children and adults equally.
This should not a time for wild expectations of rigor or to talk about grit/growth mindset. Our student’s community physical and emotional well-being should be the priority. Equity should be our priority.
I used to be a hyperactive, anxious child, full of energy and therefore punished for not being quiet with frequency. Now, I’m an adult with a hyperactive mind and anxiety that I’ve learned to regulate somehow (not completely) with lots of self-knowledge and soul-searching. I’m not going to give you details about the benefits of mindfulness and yoga here because those are one quick Google search away. I can’t tell you though, that these two practices have been my lifesavers for years.
Empathize with your students
Five years ago, I watched the idea of the glitter jar (aka mind jar) in an inspiring episode of Super Soul Sunday. The episode couldn’t have shown up at a better time. The video featured in the episode, showed young children with whom my students could easily relate. Serendipity?
It was the end of the year and I had a particularly energetic class that was struggling at the moment so I decided to start using the jar metaphor and setting a mindfulness routine at the beginning of the class – immediately. The breathing exercises (mini-meditation) routine with my students were a success from the get-go. We even got to do short guided meditations lying down on the rug, during the chaotic last month of school.
I made my own jar to have a real-life representation. It is always there in my classroom as I reminder. During stressful times, I just remind my students to make our sparkles (thoughts and feeings) settle.
Inhala-exhala. My students hear those magic words and begin taking deep breaths immediately.
As I became more aware of how mindfulness could be used in the classroom, it eventually turned into a cherished ritual and part of our class culture. I have gotten to introduce different breathing exercises and mudras. Some times I use a chime, a rainstick, or a Tibetan bowl.
There is always different meditation music or mantras playing as they enter my space. This practice is something that my students take beyond our walls and into other classes and houses.
Our routine is simple. We begin each class with a meditation that is lead in Spanish by students now. At the beginning of each year, we discuss mindfulness and watch the #SuperSoulSunday video about mindfulness and the glitter jar. We discuss feelings healing, mudras and the importance of settling one’s brain and body to learn and how this tools can be used in different situations.
How do you cultivate mindfulness in your classroom? In your house?
Here is a description of the mind jar by Dr. Lori Boothroyd that I loved
“A Mind Jar is a tool for helping kids (and adults) appreciate mindfulness. A mind jar can be shaken, and it is filled with glitter. The glitter represents how busy our mind and body can be with thoughts and physical sensations. For kids, shaking up the mind jar is a way of expressing how they feel. Watching the glitter slowly settle and noticing the breath while doing so teaches kids a way of self-regulating their emotions, and allowing thoughts or reactive tendencies to settle…..just as the glitter settles. Eventually, we can see more clearly through the jar, just as we teach ourselves to allow the mind to settle, we “pause” and learn how to respond to a situation more skillfully, rather than impulsively react.”
I’ve been a yoga practitioner on and off for 20 years now. I know how the practice benefits me , and I have read extensively on how it benefits children. This is why I created a Pinterest board with meditations and yoga for kids in Spanish. This was one of the first links I sent home when we started the quarantine. One of the Pre-K mothers even sent me pictures of her practicing the exercises with her little one. As I said, the benefits of yoga for children can be found in many books and posts out there so I’m not going to write about it here.
I will though – offer you links to two of my dearest, most admired colleagues websites Mundo de Pepita and Fun for Spanish Teachers who created yoga cards in Spanish. I’ve been using these in my classes as well. Since the way I teach Spanish is through the natural exchange and negotiation of language in context. I truly believe these videos would not only help you stretch, focus, center or relax.
Holding you all in the light in these times of uncertainty and hoping all of us are giving ourselves time to breathe, regroup and stay healthy.
Below you will find a post with links to other amazing educator’s posts who have also been working hard to provide resources for remote teaching.
So bear with me because this post will be like a nesting doll – One big post with different little posts inside.
“It’s what’s inside that counts”
Resources and tips to extend and support children’s learning of the Spanish language and Cultures at home – Elementary/ Novice level
Part 1 apps, websites and books
Read or let your children read bilingual books. It is important that the book is the sort of book that comes in both languages or that is in English with inserted words in Spanish. A book that is above your child’s Spanish proficiency level would not make the learning experience meaningful unless it is read by a native speaker who is translating the text to the reader or who is reading it comprehensibly in order for it to make sense.
Below, you will find a link to a reading list that has a little bit of everything. There are books to share as a family, books for personal reading and books for children to try. There are books about culture and also about language. They all come with links where you can find a preview of them and also the age recommendation.
Disclaimer: This list was made in Amazon but you can buy these books in the platform of your preference
Gift your child an Illustrated Spanish dictionary. There are many different options when it comes to illustrated Spanish dictionaries for kids. I love the ones that are called “My First Words.”
These books can cover from 20 to 100 words. Both the picture books and the illustrated dictionaries can be part of the daily night time readings. Needless to say, the more they are read, the better the vocabulary is memorized.
Apps and websites – Below you’ll find a compilation of lists made by three amazing colegas who are passionate advocates for Multicultural and Multilingual learning
This is another app (not included in the lists) that I have used in class for vocabulary building. It is great for beginners/ novice students to the language.
Categories include Food items, Animals, Alphabet, Transportation, Numbers, Colors & Shapes, Clothing, Household items, Body Parts, Outdoor items, Music Instruments/Arts & Learning.
Link to the video explaining how to use the app below
Get access to a Spanish Children’s Channel with your cable subscription or get Spanish speaking movies. You’ll be amazed by the amount of vocabulary learned by just watching movies, cartoons, or a children’s TV show in Spanish.
“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
For the purpose of clarity La Navidad and all the important Christian based traditions from Spanish speaking countries such Día de reyes, Las Posadas, etc, are still part of my curriculum in different grade levels.
The difference is that these traditions are now part of a bigger picture instead of the center. Inclusivity is key to the creation of an anti-bias curriculum and since I want to offer my students a more diverse view of Spanish speaking countries, and the world, they are exposed to different perspectives and information.
Amongst my students there are kids who celebrate Navidad, Janucá (or both) Winter Solstice, Secular Navidad or nothing at all.
In my school we honor everybody. We practice inclusion by not decorating our campus with any religious specific decor.
My classes are history driven. I grew up with Christmas traditions and I’m super fond of the rituals (mostly originated from winter solstice pagan celebrations anyway) and it would be easier for me to just teach about t what I know most. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that building bridges of understanding contributes (even if it sounds clichè) to world peace.
Just because I’m Latinx it does not mean I’m Catholic or Christian. This is one of the stereotypes that has become one of my pet peeves, especially when people try to lure me back to the “buen camino”
quoting myself here
My students know that the way I connect to the divine has drifted from organized religion, and they also know that I’m an innate researcher and read about everything and everybody.
In my classes we respect and enjoy learning about different spiritualities. We look at the world with the curiosity of a historian or an anthropologist and always, always with an open mind and heart.
How I got started?
Definition of decenter: to cause to lose or shift from an established center or focus
especially: to disconnect from practical or theoretical assumptions of origin, priority, or essence – MERRIAM-WEBSTER
It has been quite an interesting journey working on decentering Christianity for my Spanish Program. As many of the conscious changes in my curriculum, it all started with a conversation. This time with one of my students granfathers’ who also happened to be a Rabbi. As you might already know, I work at a Quaker School and I have a large group of students who identify as Jewish. This grandfather, who also happened to be of Shepardi origin, planted the seeds to start a personal research about the Jewish community in Spanish speaking countries (see my Janucá post)
It was amazing to see my Jewish students connecting with these units in such a meaningful way!
Winter Solstice Celebrations
My next step was creating a historical unit about pre-christian winter solstice celebrations in Europe, especifically Saturnalia and Yule. My former 4th graders, who are super informed and interested in science and mythology loved this unit (thank you Percy Jackson and so many other YA books) ⚡️🧜🏼♂️ and it was especially meaningful to those students who celebrate secular Christmas.
We wore wreaths and Norse helmets. We cheered with apple cider, listened to Roman music and compared/contrasted the old traditions with the new ones. This was a history lesson, and it included the etymology of the word Pagan because I wanted my students to reflect on the pejorative way of its origin (during Christianity) and see how the word has been reclaimed (and capitalized) by different spiritual movements of European origin and the reconstructors of pre-Christian European religions to identify themselves proudly. Most of these communities practice earth-based spirituality and mágico-religious traditions nowadays.
This unit was quite a language acquisition success, and also a delightful critical thinking activity, that I decided to teach it this year again. My current group of 4th graders are such history lovers and they screamed when I told them we would be learning about this in December.
This is how we do it!
The goal is to develop an understanding of the multicultural, and interfaith correlation of ancient winter solstice celebrations and modern winter celebrations by facilitating classroom discussions about it.
This unit begins with a presentation I created with simplified but key information about the solstice from a scientific perspective (longest night, the return of light, hemispheres etc) and the ancient celebrations of Yule and Saturnalia.
The presentation contains information about the symbolism common in these ancient celebrations and modern ones (tree, candles, log, fruit cake, wreaths, hams, holly, mistletoe, etc)
It includes strong visual support and cognates for understanding
After discussing the presentation, we then proceed to sit on a talking circle and compare and contrast using hula hoops (Venn Diagram) and place the key vocabulary flashcards collaboratively inside each field.
The students then record all the information in their own Venn diagrams and add emojis for understanding.
One of the most entertaining discussions we had was around the character of Santa. There were so many evident similarities between Saturn, The Holly King, Odin, and Santa – but their absolute favorite was definitely the Norse goat who delivers presents.
Que tengan un feliz solsticio de invierno, colegas.
Food for thought
How are you decentering Christmas in your classroom?
How inclusive are your classroom activities this month of Decemeber?
Are you letting your bias run your curriculum?
How capitalistic is your Navidad celebration?
Do you take into consideration your students’ current economical status? (Talks about Santa and gifts might feel excluding)
Are you respectful of all spiritualities in your school community?
“Gracias a las fiestas el mexicano se abre, participa, comulga con sus semejantes y con los valores que dan sentido a su existencia religiosa o política. Y es significativo que un país tan triste como el nuestro tenga tantas y tan alegres fiestas. Su frecuencia, el brillo que alcanzan, el entusiasmo con que todos participamos, parecen revelar que, sin ellas, estallaríamos. Ellas nos liberan, así sea momentáneamente, de todos esos impulsos sin salida y de todas esas materias inflamables que guardamos en nuestro interior.” Octavio Paz
Whenever I plan a unit I do it keeping in mind that the ultimate goal is that my students will be able to communicate (at their proficiency level) with native speakers. We often discuss this in class, that a language is not a list of words that you memorize, and neither is a trophy to put on your bookshelf. Language is alive, and you keep it alive by using it.
Children, in general, are very open to this idea, and after a class, we had about proficiency, they have been making a conscious effort to add more ingredients to their proficiency sandwich (further explanation in a future post.)
They know also, that communicating successfully in a second language requires more than knowing words and sentences. It also requires being able to empathize with a speaker by bringing respect and cultural understanding to the mix.
I love teaching Dia de los Muertos because it offers, not only a unique opportunity to tour an interesting perspective rooted in an ancient Mesoamerican belief about the cycle of life, but also an excellent chance for a deeper understanding of the diverse and rich culture of Mexico.
Since it is also one of my students’ favorite units, it provides a great chance for the acquisition of vocabulary within context, and opportunities for spontaneous language practice.
I’m Chilean so did not grow up celebrating this holiday, but I have learned so much about it from the Mexican students I once had, my Mexican friends, and the Mexican-American community in general.
Personally, I’m tremendously grateful for this new perspective on life and death. It has allowed me to switch the pain I used to feel about the death of my cousin and transform it into a celebration of her life by remembering all the happy moments we lived together.
This is the perspective I expose my students to, that Dia de Muertos is a wonderful opportunity to keep their dear departed and ancestors memories in their heart ♥️
To assess learning in the past, I usually had my novice-mid and novice-high students write informative pieces about the holiday. This year though, I wanted my students to take a sensory virtual trip so I could introduce them to new verbs related to the senses. We had been using ver and escuchar for a long time, but this was the perfect chance to introduce saborear and oler.
I created these two fichas that sort of look like graphic organizers, to help my students take the trip. I played “La Llorona” by Angela Anguilar and asked them to close their eyes. Then I said ” Es 2 de noviembre, estamos en Mexico!” “¿Qué ves?” They are used to play Veo, Veo so they started naming things right away.
Then I shared the ficha on the Promethean board and we brainstormed sentences before writing. I spread all the vocabulary flashcards on my rug. Each student grabbed a clipboard and a pencil and joined us in the rug. I played Angela Aguilar playlist (per request of my students) as they wrote. Click on the picture to access the playlist on Spotify.
Here are the two fichas. Feel free to share, download and spread the word by reposting and tagging friends. They will be freebies for a week only.
Please do not remove the authorship mark when you use them and do not forget to tag me if you use it with your students.
Eleven years ago I taught ESL in Gwinnett county, Georgia. I did not only belong to best team of ESL teachers, but I also taught wonderful students, and was supported by hard-working, caring families. My students were immigrants.
I was an immigrant. I still am.
My students and their parents, carried on their shoulders a heavier burden than mine though. I could write a book with all tales told by my students during our readers and writers workshop time together. Tales of cold nights spent at the desert. Tales of uncertainty. Tales of escaping danger. Tales of parents working four jobs. Tales of sharing a bed with five siblings. Tales of nostalgia for warm abuela’s cuddles. Tales of hope and resilience.
My heart has felt tight since I first heard about the separation of families at the border. I kept on picturing my back then kindergarteners in those scared faces I saw in the news. I thought to myself, what can I do besides donating money and weaving this theme into my curriculum as I have done before? (see below – pictures of the immigration project we did in 4th grade inspired by the Arpillera Women’s Movement in Chile)
Amidst this pondering, a good friend of mine, Carolina Gomez, a fellow educator, and source of inspiration, asked if I wanted to collaborate in the creation of resources related to the topic. Resources that not only teachers, but homeschool guardians and parents can use with their kids.
Literature has the power to convey different aspects of the human experience, it can help us see life from a different perspective. It offers vivid images that makes us feel we are part of the story. There are studies that have proved that the empathy we feel for characters, wires our brains to have the same sensitivity towards real people.
Therefore, reading can help banish the fear rooted in the human soul caused by the lack of familiarity and understanding of others. The type of fear that feeds stereotypes, racism, and hate.
Keeping all that in mind, I created a simple graphic poem.
I am an elementary Spanish teacher, so the resources I create, need to be developmentally appropriate for that age and also comprehensible for non native speakers.
This poem, though in both versions ( English and Spanish), can be used with children of different ages.
I also created Spanish and English worksheets for the kids to write about or illustrate each stanza. You will find all the attachments below this post.
Feel free to share, download and spread the word by reposting and tagging friends.
Do not forget tag me if you end up using it with your children.