BUTTERFLY LIFE CYCLE – GAME

BUTTERFLY LIFE CYCLE – GAME

If you are like me, and you enjoy incorporating the monarch butterfly in your classes, you will love this adaptation of the evolution game. I call it “El ciclo de la mariposa.”

Before playing this game, students need to understand how to play the rock, paper, scissors game in Spanish. I use a visual like the one below and play the game to make sure that students understand it and also to give them vocabulary in Spanish.
Once students know how to play the piedra, papel, tijeras game, I proceed to show the instructions to add the El ciclo de la mariposa game.  I only use three stages of the life cycle, which are oruga, crisálida, and mariposa.
Playing the game:
  • Each student will find a classmate to play piedra, papel and tijeras.
  • Everyone starts out as an oruga, which is a kind of seated snuggle up.
  • After playing piedra, papel, tijeras, whoever wins will move to the next stage or one stage up,  which in this case is crisálida. For this position, students put their arms up like making a house.
  • At this point, orugas can only play with orugas, and crisálidas can only play with crisálidas. Play piedra, papel, tijeras, and, once again, whoever wins will move one level up. If a crísalida loses, that student will go back to being an oruga.  For the butterfly stage, students move around the room flapping their arms and pretending to be butterflies. Now, orugas play with orugas, crisálidas with crisálidas, and mariposas with mariposas. Whoever loses will always go back to being an oruga.
  • You can decide how long to play the game. Whoever gets to be a mariposa wins the game. (There can be multiple winners)

 

Click HERE to download the game!

You might like these resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers

 

 

TIPS FOR FIRST YEAR SPANISH TEACHERS – PART I

TIPS FOR FIRST YEAR SPANISH TEACHERS – PART I

This year I have been receiving more messages than ever from new Spanish teachers, so dear new Spanish teacher, this post has been written with you in mind. I completely get it! With the current situation and all the uncertainty for the fall, it’s completely normal for any teacher (no matter how long you have been teaching) to feel nervous, but especially for our colleagues who are new to the profession.

I try to put myself in the shoes of a new teacher during COVID times, and I can’t imagine the frustration that some of you might be feeling. Thinking about starting the new school year in a virtual classroom environment makes me feel butterflies in my stomach,  but I am also grateful that at least there are digital tools and platforms to support our teaching. I am aware that those tools might not be accessible for every student or teacher, which I can’t wrap my head around because I don’t live in a third world or developing country, yet the inequities of this system are real and more visible during COVID times.

Because I don’t have experience starting the school year in a virtual way, I can only go back to my feelings during my first years of teaching and rely on what has worked for me under “normal conditions” while adapting for what I have learned more recently and giving it my best shot.

Support System

Something that I remember was very valuable as a first time Spanish teacher in the United States was the group of teachers who were supportive and open to be my shoulder to cry on when needed. We were seven Latinas in a very white school system in suburban Boston. They were welcoming and happy to share all their knowledge with me. This was almost 20 years ago, so no Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter were there. I do remember some Yahoo Groups and a website run by a veteran Spanish teacher called “Anacleta’s World Language and Cultural Resources” that I frequently visited to get inspired.

After teaching in that school system for 4 years, the district held a property tax override vote, and guess which program got eliminated first? You guessed right! The Spanish program 🙁 . After that, I moved to a private school and there I was the only PreK-3 Spanish teacher. The school also had a French program for grades 4-6 alongside the Spanish program, so the French and Spanish teachers worked together, and I was kind of on my own. It felt very lonely, and that’s what inspired me to start my blog. I wanted to be able to connect virtually with other teachers who were teaching the same early grade levels as I was. I also contacted other elementary Spanish teachers in my area and hosted monthly meetings to exchange ideas and vent if needed. In the school where I currently teach, I have two colleagues, and we teach the same levels, so it’s nice to have someone to exchange with and learn from for professional growth. Along with this, I belong to a few Facebook groups for Spanish teachers and also am part of a small WhatsApp group with two other Colombian teachers (Profe Valentina and La Profe de Español) where we frequently communicate to share ideas and support each other.

Why am I telling this whole story? Well, just to invite you to find your support system. It could be colleagues in other schools close to you or a teacher who can serve as your mentor in your own school. If you use social media, I recommend identifying a few Facebook groups or teachers on Instagram that you can follow and learn from. I do advise starting with just a few because it might be overwhelming with tons of information and little time to process while navigating a new profession.

Understand in Which Type of Program You Will Be Teaching

Knowing the type of program you will be teaching in will help you think about the short and long term goals for your program. So much depends on the amount of contact time you will have with your students. The program may be FLES* (Foreign Language in Elementary School), FLEX* (Foreign Language Experience), a Content-Based program, or a number of other program types, but just by knowing the type of program will help you identify some of your goals and keep a nice balance between ambitious idealism and being practical within the limitations of the program’s boundaries. Visit this link to understand more about the various different types of programs. And if you need to play a sort of public / stakeholder relations role, knowing the type of program will also help you to educate your administrators, school community, and parents (and nicely but firmly help them temper or gear their expectations for the language acquisition process, pace, etc.). I’ll say it again, knowing what type of program you have will also help you create short and long term goals for your program – for students, for yourselves, and for key players in the wider community in which your work is situated.

*FL should be changed to WL!

Get To Know Your School Community

The first year is hard for any teacher in a new school. You are trying to understand the school community and culture, getting to meet and name the different people in your school, understanding what each acronymous means and so on! The most important people, apart from your students are the custodians and the school administrative staff. They will be the ones who will help you first! Our school secretary sometimes covers our classes when we need to do quick things in school. So keep their names in your head and make sure to thank them with a big “GRACIAS” all the time!

KISS, KISS, KISS= Keep It Simple Sweetie!

If this is the first year for your program, you might have to teach the same units or stories to every grade level while you build up your curriculum. You might need to developmentally adapt the content to make it fit for every grade. You will find yourself creating materials, so keeping it simple is the best way to go. I have found that because the needs of elementary language programs can vary so much, it’s hard to stay with just one “commercial” or “off the shelf” curriculum.

Identify some themes or stories you want to teach and take it from there. You might want to do a cursory internet search and explore what other teachers have shared. Something to take into consideration is making sure the curriculum is not perpetuating stereotypes about Latinos and their different cultures while also making sure that it shows how super diverse the world’s 21 Spanish speaking countries are.

Here are some curriculums shared by other elementary Spanish teachers:

  1. Fayette County WL Curriculum Documents (Señora Speedy’s blog)
  2. Midland Park Public Schools 
  3. Scarsdale Public School

Relationships First!

Something that I really like doing at the beginning of the school year is sharing a short PowerPoint presentation or video about me. I shared where I was born, my likes and dislikes, and I find ways to make connections with students while sharing about me. Students really like knowing something about their teachers and connecting with us as people.

Here are some examples of what I have done in the past to start building relationships:

  1. An idea for the First Day of School (includes a PowerPoint presentation)
  2. A video about me (see below)

 

I have also used “El estudiante misterioso” with students in second grade and up! Other teachers also do “La estrella del día” – simple activities to help you work on relationships.

Singing to celebrate birthdays is extremely important for some elementary students, especially in the younger grades. If children have summer birthdays, I recommend you do one summer birthday celebration for all the children with summer birthdays early in the school year or, if they would prefer to be special and have a day just to themselves, celebrate half birthdays (just watch out for December vacation …). I like starting each month talking about the calendar to include holidays, special events at school, and birthdays! Luckily this is something that can be done virtually or in the classroom.

There is a part II for this post! There I share about the use of the target language, classroom routines and norms, links to language organizations, and more!

Sending you a lot of love!

 

You may like these resources available in Teachers Pay Teachers:

 

SEÑORITA MARIPOSA: RESOURCE TO INTRODUCE BUTTERFLY MIGRATION

SEÑORITA MARIPOSA: RESOURCE TO INTRODUCE BUTTERFLY MIGRATION

I couldn’t have gotten this book at a better time! With the monarch butterfly migration heading south, this book is the perfect way to introduce it. Señorita Mariposa was written by Mister G, Latin GRAMMY award-winning children’s musician who currently lives in Massachusetts. Señorita Mariposa is a short but engaging bilingual picture book. The story is catchy and truly represents the journey of the super generation of monarch butterflies. In this book, Señorita Mariposa is traveling south in search of a warmer place. While making the journey south, Señorita Mariposa brings joy to many lives. While reading the book, the reader can easily put him or herself in Señorita Mariposa’s shoes (very small shoes!) and feel what she goes through while she embarks on her journey.

The book’s illustrations are appealing, and many readers will be able to see themselves represented in them. In the book, Señorita Mariposa travels through different landscapes to show and prove how strong a little butterfly can be. Señorita Mariposa is a beautiful tribute to the monarch butterfly.

 

After reading the book with your students, I would suggest you and your classes join the Symbolic Butterfly Migration hosted annually by the organization Journey North. What a great way to send many paper butterflies to accompany Señorita on her journey.

Señorita Mariposa was just released, and it’s now available on Amazon. It would definitely make a great addition to your school or classroom library!

Have fun reading Señorita Mariposa!

“DAY OF THE DEAD” BOOKS FOR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS

“DAY OF THE DEAD” BOOKS FOR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS

I have these Day of the Dead books in my classroom and have seen how my students get motivated to look at them to read and look at the art. In the elementary Spanish program at the school where I teach, the Day of the Dead is one of the cultural explorations we do to help our students to understand what this celebration means to many communities in Mexico. We are not celebrating it, but we aim to show appreciation of a tradition that’s important to another culture. The Day of the Dead is not related to Halloween. The Day of the Dead is a two-day celebration to remember loved ones who have passed away. This is a happy and colorful celebration. Here are my five top book picks:

Día de los Muertos (Celebrate the World) introduces children to the meaning of the celebration in a fun and dynamic way. Students are also exposed to Spanish vocabulary related to the celebration.

The Day of the Dead / El Día De Los Muertos: A Bilingual Celebration (Spanish Edition) is by far my favorite. I love all the art in the book. The book is bilingual, so you can choose in what language you want to read it. If you get the audio, you will love the music. The book was narrated by Rita Moreno.

Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead has a beautiful story that shows the importance of Monarch butterflies in this celebration. In some places in Mexico, it is believed that these butterflies carry the souls of loved ones who have passed away.

I feel that these next two books need teachers to provide a little bit of background about this celebration before sharing them with the children.

Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family (First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art) is a fun and short book for younger students. Great to introduce and review family members in the context of El Día de los Muertos.

 

Clatter Bash!: A Day of the Dead Celebration is a vivid book! There is not much text, but it’s great to use to describe the pictures. The illustrations will keep your students engaged. At the end of the book there is plentiful information about the Day of the Dead celebration.

Last, but not least! HERE is a banner to decorate your classroom!

Have fun!

MONARCH BUTTERFLY MIGRATION FOR SPANISH CLASS

MONARCH BUTTERFLY MIGRATION FOR SPANISH CLASS

A few years ago the science teacher at my school approached me with an exciting idea. It was September, and she started the year off teaching about the Monarch butterfly migration. She wanted to create a cross-curricular connection and shared with me the idea of joining a symbolic butterfly migration through an organization called “Journey North.”  It was the best idea ever!

She taught the butterfly life cycle in her science class, which included raising the butterflies in her classroom. She also taught the Monarch migration and why they are important connectors of ecosystems and landscapes. 


In our Spanish class, we learned about the butterfly migration traveling from north to south because it was the fall. These are some of the questions we used and might help you start a conversation in class. Having a map and a paper butterfly helps a lot!

¿Dónde vivimos? ¿Vivimos en Colombia o en Estados Unidos?
¿Cuál es la estación? ¿Es el verano? ¿Es el otoño?
¿Qué animal es? ¿Es un perro? ¿Es un gato? ¿Es una mariposa? ¿Es un gato o una mariposa?
¿Qué clase de mariposa es?
¿Por qué van las monarcas al sur?
¿Adónde van las monarcas?
¿Adónde en México van las monarcas?
¿Cuándo van las monarcas a Michoacán?
¿Qué se celebra en México el 1 y 2 de noviembre?
¿Qué representan las monarcas para las personas en Michoacán?

Each student decorated small paper butterflies and wrote basic information such as:
Yo me llamo _________.
Yo tengo ______ años.
Yo vivo en __________.
Mi color favorito es___________.



We also decorated a bigger butterfly the size of a filing folder and added a picture of our class in the middle. We also needed to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (10” X 13”) in order to get our butterflies in the spring. I uploaded a picture of a big butterfly to the Journey North website and shared it with parents. On the map, we were able to see the schools that were participating in the country, as well our big butterfly.

We also read a story called “Monarca va a Michoacán” to introduce and review high-frequency vocabulary.


We made a connection with the homeroom teachers. During their reading time, students had different books related to butterflies and also to “El Día de los Muertos.” It’s believed that Monarchs are the souls of the departed and loved ones, and they arrive in Michoacán to join the celebration. Students read “Uncle Monarch” in their classrooms, and that helped us make a connection to explore the Day of the Dead celebration.


We also got to say “adiós” to our real butterflies before they embarked on their journey south.  

In Spanish class, we read a bilingual book called “El Día de los Muertos.” It led us to make a comparison between Halloween and this beautiful celebration for them to understand the meaning of the Day of the Dead and why it’s important to the Mexican people – and how it differs from Halloween.

This beautiful video is also great to support this unit!

Here is a story a wrote to use in my classes. You can find the packet that goes along with it on Teachers Pay Teachers.

When the spring came, we had an awesome surprise! We got mail from Journey North with beautiful paper butterflies made by children in Mexico and other parts of the United States. This was an amazing experience not only for the teachers who got to work together but also for the children who were excited about their paper butterflies. This is also an opportunity to raise awareness about Monarchs and what could happen if they go extinct. 



Thinking about joining the journey this year? 
Click here to visit the link to learn how to participate and download the “Teacher Packet” with all the steps to join the symbolic migration. The deadline to join is around the first week of October, so make sure you don’t miss the date. 

Visit Señora Speedy’s blog  to read what she has done in her class with the Monarch butterfly migration. Also, visit Mundo de Pepita’s blog to read up on her experience too! 

Last, but not least, I recorded this song with some friends in 2012 to use in my classes. I am not the best singer but had a lot of fun recording this song. 

 

Have an awesome journey!