This story can be used any time during the school year, however it is a good beginning of year lesson. The story focuses on high-frequency questions and structures such as “¿Cómo te llamas?” and “Me llamo.”
How to Start With This Story?
Start by introducing yourself, for example saying “Hola, me llamo_____”. I suggest you use a name tag with your name and point at it when introducing yourself to the class. Introduce Osito, the main character in the story by saying “Este es Osito. Se llama Osito, yo me llamo (your name)”, model it a few times and ask your students their names by saying “¿Cómo te llamas?” Your students might answer with just their name or using the sentence “Me llamo”. I have shared a few more name activities on my blog. Click HERE to read them.
Before Telling the Story
You can either use the flashcards or props to introduce the characters. These are animals that live in the Andes and the story takes place in Colombia. Use the real pictures to match them to the illustrations so students can see how the real animals look. You may want to show short clips of the animals, but this is optional and can be done before or after telling the story.
Place different flashcards on a table or the floor. Describe one of the flashcards. For example, It’s a big animal, its colors are black and white and it says “moo”. After the description, have one of your students tap or slap the right card using a fly swatter.
Place 3 to 5 flashcards on a table or on the floor. Look at them with your students and name each of them. Have one of your students close his/her eyes while you hide one of the cards. Have your student open his/her eyes to guess the name of the card that is missing.
The jumping game
Place a line of flashcards on a table or the floor. Call out some of the vocabulary placed on the line and have one of your students jump next to the correct card.
This is a game of pantomimes. The rules for this game are simple. No words or pointing at anything, just acting it out for other students to guess. Choose one student to act out one of the animals.Have the student act out the animal and give students turns to guess. Whoever guesses first will become the next acting person.
Have a student close their eyes. Show a card to the class. The class will show the gesture for the animal. The student has to guess the name of the animal. Give that students two to three turns to guess. I usually help if they are having a hard time guessing. You can decide on the amount of turns or opportunities you give the student to guess.
I like playing this game by replacing the name “Simon” with my name or the name of the student leading the game. Assign a sign, gesture or sound for each animal in the story. Have your students make a circle. You (the teacher) or one of the students should be the caller for the game. The caller has to say “______ dice, “Hay un oso” and everyone in class will do the gesture for oso. If someone does something different, then that person will be out.If the caller says “gua, gua, hace el perro” without saying “Simón dice” and someone still does the gesture, then that student will be out of the game. The game continues going until there is one player left. Most of the time I play this game without sending students out. It removes the stress over making mistakes.
Get Ready to Tellor Read the Story
You can project the story or print it to read it aloud to your students. Another idea would be to tell the story just using the props and then project or print the story to read it together.
Ask your students about their favorite animal in the story. Count the results along with your class!
Act It Out
Print out the props and give turns to your students to act out the story. This is a wonderful way to provide repetition.
More Extension Activities
Have your students color the mini books and take them to share with their families. No scissors are required for this mini-book. Just color and fold!
Have your students fill out and decorate their name tags. Depending on the time of the school year you might to keep them and use them to learn your students’ names and use them during class to give turns or play games!
Knowing how to pronounce your students’ names correctly is one of the most valuable things to start connecting with your students from day 1. Below you will find some tips that might help:
Get Ready in Advance
Take a look at your class lists. Don’t assume that you already know how to pronounce your students’ names.
Investigate prior to your class the name each student goes by or their preferred name.
On The First Day in Class
Ask each student to say their name. Repeat their name back by saying “Hola, (insert student’s name). ¡Mucho gusto!”
Let your students know that is ok for them to correct you if you mispronounce their names.
You might want to make a video of your students saying their names, recording their voice on a device, or ask them to use platforms such as Seesaw for them to record themselves saying their names. Use the recordings or videos to practice your students’ names.
This will require a little preparation on your part.
Once you know your student’s preferred name, create a document where you type your student’s name in a rectangle not bigger than 2 inches wide.
Cut each nameplate out.
Give your students time in class to decorate their nameplates.
Keep the nameplates in your classroom. You can use them for grouping activities, keeping track of turns, for other name activities, and so on!
This actually works better than the numbered sticks and students love seeing you use something that they worked on!
I just started teaching many of my students in person. I didn’t even know some of them because I was just assigning lessons to their grade through Seesaw and Otus (the Learning Management System used by the school where I teach). I have seen others quite a bit during our Zoom classes, as they have been participating in the home learning program which includes live (synchronous) classes.
When I started teaching more of the students in person in January, I had the opportunity to rethink many of my lessons and also connect to what the homeroom teachers have been doing in their classes. Students across several grades have read the book “Your Name is a Song” by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, and I have seen it frequently in the library. I have always loved the title of this book and decided to read it myself and find ways to incorporate it in class. I’m sure what I’m sharing here is not new and that many teachers inspired by the title of this book have asked their students to create songs with their names. I have used this activity with grades K through 5, and, to my pleasant surprise, the upper elementary students really enjoy singing their names.
I never change my students’ names in Spanish class for various reasons: (1) I want them to be respectful of other people’s names and not using them as something they can appropriate; (2) I love hearing my students say their names; and (3 because our names are part of who we are!
I must confess that I sometimes have a hard time pronouncing some of my students’ names, but I let them know that I need to hear them say it again and try really hard to say their names the way they pronounce them. This can be especially challenging for me because I tend to use my (occasionally thick!) Spanish accent while pronouncing their names. But I think it is really important for them to hear me facing a challenge and for them learn to hear my Spanish accent with English words, and to make a special effort to listen and understand English that has a different cadence and sound. I think that maybe it even builds greater empathy and tolerance.
I have been using a simple activity where I choose a student volunteers, and, as a group, we ask the question in the picture using some American Sign Language (ASL) from YouTube tutorials.
What’s your name?
For the part that says “¡Me gusta tu nombre!”, we make the heart shape with our hands.
And for the part that says “¡Es una canción!,” we use the following sign:
And then the student sings a song with his/her name.
Using this activity has been beautiful and a great way to connect with students!
Last December I had the opportunity to attend the PoCC conference, and, on my second day, I found a session that was about exploring race and identity in early childhood. This session was filled with beautiful ideas that can be adapted to Spanish class. I really loved this idea that I have been using during the first weeks of school with my second graders. Some of them get excited when the class said “Me gusta, me gusta, me gusta tu nombre”. This is a simple activity that doesn’t require a lot of preparations, and it’s great to celebrate your students’ names and identities! This activity is also a great opportunity to learn how to pronounce your students’ names correctly. Don’t be afraid of asking your students to say their names again for you.
You will need:
A jar or container
Color pencils or markers
Give your students a piece of paper, big enough to place in the jar or container.
Have your students write their names on the paper or write it for them if needed. They can use different colors and decorate them.
If teaching virtually, you can still ask your students to decorate their name at home and send you a picture that you can later print or place in a slide to use during class.
This can be used during circle time or as part of the routine in your class. This is not a one-time activity. You can take as long as you and your students need and spiral back anytime during the school year.
Place all the names in the container or jar.
The teacher or a volunteer in class takes one name at a time and asks “¿Quién es (complete with the name)?
Your students can raise their hands and/or respond by saying “yo” if they are ready for output.
Then the class responds “Me gusta, me gusta, me gusta tu nombre.”
If teaching remotely, use the wheel name website to create a roulette wheel with names and then ask your students to show their names when you call them.
Conversaciones de maestros en nuestra página de Facebook
Fun for Spanish Teachers asked the following question based on an article published by Education World.
“Should Teachers Assign Target-Language Names?”
Joe: I teach approximately 300 students and try to make positive contact with every child and her/his family every year. I cannot imagine trying to remember every child’s given name AND target language name.
Erin: I agree with Joe. I teach a large number of students so I don’t give them Spanish names. I know they would live it though. unsure emoticon
Danyell : I have over 500 and I don’t give them target language names either.
Jeffrey: Same here. I teach 700 kids a week.
Sarah: Sometimes I will call a student using Spanish pronunciation or add “-ito” or “ita” like Briannita for a girl name Brianna, or Rosita for a girl named Rose. It makes it feel more like how a Spanish speaker would possibly address them and can be fun and endearing. I have a student named “Religion” and sometimes I say her name as it is in Spanish Religión… However, I am opposed to children choosing a new”name and especially do not want them to feel like they are “acting”… I want it to be authentic communication as their own identity and self.
Fun for Early and Elementary Spanish Teachers: Same here! I don’t give them names in Spanish. I have too many students and it doesn’t feel natural to me to call them by a different name.
Danyell: I have a Simon, Carolina, Brianna, and a few others that I use more of an accent with, too. I love this idea!
Simone: I have given Spanish names to my students who are new to the study of Spanish each fall. I use the Spanish version of their name or a name with many of the same letters, when necessary. Most of these children are first graders. They are normally thrilled with their new “Spanish names,” but occasionally I offer an alternative or two to a child who doesn’t like the sound of my first choice. I find it is useful in teaching them some of the basic pronunciation rules and correspondence to spelling in the beginning.
Brigette: I only teach 2 classes at the moment. We are in an area that is majority Hispanic, so Hispanic names are normal here and there is nothing to be learned from adopting one. I give my students a list of animals and plants. They choose from there or can choose any “kind” vocabulary word from the glossary of the text. They learn their classmates’ new names fast and therefore have 25 or so new words they know if Spanish. I did not do this when I had 250 students a day.
Mundo de Pepita: I give my kiddos Spanish names when they get to 2nd grade (I teach K-4)…they clamor for them like mad! BUT, I explain the difference between their real name and the one we use for Spanish class, which is like a ‘code name’, and that they would absolutely need to introduce themselves to a native speaker using their real name. I have to say that it continues the sound of Spanish throughout the class, and they so enjoy it. They are also useful when we start introducing the alphabet (3rd grade) and rudimentary reading skills… especially letters like ‘j’, ‘ll’, and ‘ñ’… they are able to make the connection between the Spanish sound and the letter because they have seen and used it with their name.
Caroline: Short I do give them Spanish names and they love it! They laugh at their new names and love hearing their names being called out in class.
CrianzaBicultural: I don’t think you need to change their names, but it is important to show them the equivalent of their names in the language they are learning. And the idea of using it and ita or even pronunciation in the target language is great for immersion purposes.
SeñoraSpeedy: I don’t give my students names either since I can barely remember their real names! I saw a great idea on the Nandu listserv through – a middle school teacher had students choose adjectives to go with their names. They learned descriptions and she had a way to help remember all their names.
Margaret: I did this one year with second grade, they were also studying Mexico in class. I spent hours on a Spanish baby name site trying to find names as close as possible to real names. We also made the name “necklace” tags, helped us all remember. The kids enjoyed it.
Janina: I teach PK to 8th. Only the 3rd graders get to pick their Spanish names from a list of 100 most common Spanish names. They make their own name tags. This way I can call them by their new name. They have a blast, especially because they are the only ones in school allowed to do so.
¡Hola! I am Carolina, a Colombian elementary Spanish teacher based in Boston, MA. Fun for Spanish Teachers is the result of my passion for teaching Spanish to children and my desire to inspire collaboration and creativity in a vibrant teaching and learning community. It’s the perfect stop if you are looking for songs, games, teaching tips, stories, and fun for your classes.