There are different alternatives to the regular or commonly used Valentine’s Day activities. One of them is to invite your students to think about what fills their hearts and brings joy. This heart mapping activity has been designed with novice proficiency levels in mind but can certainly be adapted for other levels by prompting students to delve deeper into their thoughts and either write or present their reflections.

Students are prompted to create a visual representation of their inner world, mapping out the aspects that bring them joy and love. It serves as a personal exploration of the diverse aspects of one’s life and the connections we might have.Through engaging in this activity, students can reflect on what matters to them and express gratitude for the relationships, activities, and experiences in their lives. This activity offers an opportunity to celebrate love in all its forms!

To bring this activity into your classes, you’ll first need to download the template here, Additionally, be sure to bring along your own example to share with your class. As language teachers, it’s important to model the activity for our students to facilitate comprehension. After presenting your model, a suggestion would be to brainstorm the different components of the activity with your students. Once you have done this with your students, invite them to work on their own heart activity. The results will make it a wonderful product to share with caregivers and the school community.

Con cariño,

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This has to be one of the most engaging activities that I have used with my early elementary students. With the support of technology, I have animated their drawings, and this has consistently surprised them each time we reach this point. I followed the steps below:

  1. Asked my students to make a drawing of one character using a pencil. I also instructed them to trace them using a black pen and then add color.
  2. Digitalized their drawings by taking pictures or scanning them.
  3. Used the website Animated Drawings to animate the drawings.
  4. Downloaded the videos.
  5. Created a presentation using Canva, with one slide displaying the drawing and the next slide showcasing the animations.
  6. During class, projected the presentation and asked the illustrator or owner of the picture some questions about it (name, favorite color, favorite animal, and fruit) to create their personalities. Typed their answers.
  7. While in Canva, searched for pictures to support the answers.
  8. Clicked “Present” on Canva, and read aloud the information about the character.
  9. Revealed the animation.

This activity has been great for asking questions and having my students respond to them. Since I only focus on one character per class, it provides repetition in a fun way. This requires low preparation since I only digitalize and animate one character before each class, taking about three minutes. It’s worth the giggles and joy!



The Affective Filter is one of Dr. Stephen Krashen’s hypotheses for language acquisition. It refers to the learner’s emotional state when learning a language. If a student is feeling stress during class, this could generate a mental block and cause them to feel overwhelmed, making the affective filter go high. The best approach for students’ acquisition process is to keep the affective filter low by fostering a positive and relaxed learning environment that motivates students to engage, stay motivated, and remain open to input.

Here are some suggestion to help keep that affective filter low:

Mistakes Are Ok!

Make sure your students understand that it is totally fine to make mistakes. When students make errors while communicating in the target language, it is best not to interrupt. Instead, as a teacher or instructor, engage with the students by modeling the correct way to express the idea. For example, if a student says, “This is a car blue,” the teacher would respond, “Yes, this is a blue car.” This approach ensures the student does not feel corrected and allows them to hear the correct form in context. Encouraging students to take risks in this way helps to keep the affective filter low.

Make Sure You are Using Comprehensible Language

Something that can quickly generate stress is a learner who doesn’t understand what’s being said to them. This will generate the affective filter to elevate. The best way for teachers to lower stress in the classroom is to always use comprehensible language and ensure that students understand the messages in the target language. It’s important to understand the proficiency level of our students, use visuals and body language to support the messages, as well as pause to check understanding

Games, Games And More Games!

Use non-competitive games. Participating in non-competitive games is an excellent way to minimize the affective filter, especially with activities such as memory games and bingo that involve vocabulary, phrases, or sentences from stories.These games don’t require a lot of preparation; some of them can even be created with your students. Games that incorporate movement are also great, such as Four Corners or A mí también. Total Physical Response (TPR)-based games, such as Follow the Leader, Simon Says, and Charades, work great too!


Stories are valuable tool for language teaching as they engage learners emotionally, provide contextual learning, expose them to natural language patterns, help them create emotional connections, and present a variety of language use. All these factors contribute to a positive learning environment with a lower affective filter. After telling or reading a story, you can extend it by having students engage in role-playing or acting out the narrative.

Less Is More!

When structuring lessons, consider the “less is more” approach to prevent overwhelming your students. Providing a manageable amount of new vocabulary and language structures helps maintain a low affective filter. Focus on quality over quantity, allowing students to thoroughly internalize the language before introducing new concepts. This contributes to a sense of achievement, reducing stress and anxiety for the learner.

An environment that promotes a low affective filter prompts learners to be more successful at acquiring a language!




A short story can be used in more than one class! There are many activities you can engage in after telling or reading a short story. Here are ideas some that will help you maximize short stories:

Start by Introducing the Characters of the Story: If possible, print the characters and discuss details such as sizes, colors, ages, and so on. Create gestures for each character and use TPR to introduce them if the characters are animals.


Tell the Story: There are various ways to narrate a story. You can draw the story, use props, or read it aloud.

Retell the Story: Utilize pictures from the story to recount it, and pose questions about it. Depending on your students’ proficiency levels, you can ask yes-or-no questions like “¿Hay un cerdo? ¿Sí o no?”, make statements where students complete your sentences, such as “El muñeco de nieve está ______.” or ask open-ended questions like “¿Por qué está triste el muñeco de nieve?”


Play Games That Connect to The Story: Incorporate guessing games, memory games, and more! For instance, in the case of this story, students can find under which number there is a nose for “el muñeco de nieve.”

And Don’t Forget to Play Matamoscas: “Matamoscas,” or “flyswatter” in English, is an easy game to play. Divide the class into two teams and give each team a flyswatter. Display words or pictures related to the story on a board. Speak a word or describe a picture in Spanish, and players must quickly find and hit it with their flyswatter.

Act it Out: Print out props and take turns allowing your students to act out the story. This is a fun and engaging way to provide repetition. With elementary students, it works best if the teacher narrates the story.

Use Mini-Books: Have your students color the mini-books and share them with their families and/or caregivers, or simply keep the story to read it.

Storyboards: Storyboards are excellent for helping students understand the main ideas of the story. They not only reinforce vocabulary but also check comprehension.

What other activities would you add or use when incorporating short stories into your classes?

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Returning to school after the winter break can be a challenging experience, not only for teachers but also for students, as both  often feel fatigued and out of their regular routines. My recommendation is to keep it simple and introduce engaging activities that can be completed within a single class period.

Here are some ideas for what you can do on the first class after the break:

Roll a Story: The “Roll a Story” activity is an engaging and easy-to-use activity that is excellent for providing input at the novice or beginner levels.  You can download it here.

Roll a Monster: Your students just need dice, a template with different parts for the monster, a page for students to draw and color, pencils, and to get ready to roll the dice to create monsters. Find it here!

Colgadores para puertas: It’s a simple and relaxing activity for the first days of the new year. Just print it and give it to your students for coloring and cutting out. Download it here

Color by Code Winter Pages: This is one of the most low-key activities. Just print the pages and let your students color! Find this resource on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Calendar Talk: Download this calendar template and use it to fill out with your students the different holidays and celebrations in January. Don’t forget to add birthdays!


Wishing you a smooth transition back to school!

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