Story asking is a teaching strategy that can be applied in the classroom with zero to low preparation. It involves the teacher asking a series of questions in the target language to help students collaboratively create a story.
To implement story asking, the teacher begins by introducing a theme or topic for the story, such as “Los animales” (Animals). This establishes a framework for the students’ storytelling. The teacher then proceeds to ask the students questions in the target language about the setting, characters, and plot of the story. These questions can vary depending on the students’ proficiency level and the desired language skills to be practiced. For example, the teacher might ask questions like “¿Qué animal es?” (What animal is it?), “¿De qué color es?” (What color is it?), or “¿Cuántos años tienes?” (How old is it?).
As the students provide their answers, the teacher can write them down on the board or a piece of paper to visualize the evolving story. This visual aid helps students see the progression and coherence of their collective narrative. The teacher can also ask follow-up questions to deepen the students’ ideas and encourage further development. For instance, if a student mentions a cat, the teacher might ask, “¿Cómo se llama el gato?” (What is the cat’s name?) or “¿Qué le gusta comer?” (What does it like to eat?).
Once the story has been co-created, the teacher can read it back to the class in Spanish, incorporating details provided by the students. Once the story is ready, the teacher can ask questions about the story to engage the students further and assess their comprehension. The results with elementary students are usually a few paragraphs.
Story asking not only promotes language acquisition but also fosters important skills such as collaboration and active listening. By working together to construct a story, students learn to value each other’s contributions, build on ideas in the target language.
Incorporating calendar time into your classroom routine provides ample opportunities to engage and educate your students. I typically begin introducing the calendar in my first grade classes, focusing on numbers one to thirty-one, days of the week, months, and weather. As students progress to second and third grade, we expand our discussion to include temperatures in our school’s city and other places worldwide, not just Spanish-speaking countries.
At the start of each school year, we establish a “birthdays of the month” routine, assigning different days on the calendar for students with summer birthdays. Additionally, we add school events and holidays and discuss who is being honored or recognized each month.
What sets my calendar routine apart is that I allow my students to put their unique spin on our classroom calendar. At the beginning of the year, students decorate the calendar, which they enjoy seeing come to life.
While it’s essential to incorporate different parts of the calendar routine into your lessons, it’s not necessary to do everything in every class. It’s okay to skip certain parts occasionally, such as discussing the weather.
Here are some examples of how you could incorporate calendar time in an elementary Spanish class:
Counting in Spanish: Begin by counting from one to thirty-one in Spanish. This can help students learn the numbers in Spanish and practice pronunciation.
Days of the Week: Teach the names of the days of the week in Spanish. You could have students recite the days of the week in order, and also discuss what each day means or represents.
Months of the Year: Teach the names of the months in Spanish. Similar to discussing the days of the week, you could have students recite the months in order and discuss what each month represents or what holidays fall within it.
Weather: Discuss the weather for the day and week in Spanish. You could ask students to describe the weather in Spanish, or ask them to guess what the weather might be like in different parts of the world where Spanish is spoken.
Holidays and cultural events: Incorporate holidays and cultural events that are celebrated in Spanish-speaking countries or holidays that are important for your students and school community. You could discuss the meaning and significance of these holidays, as well as traditions that are associated with them.
Seasons: Discuss the different seasons of the year in Spanish. You could have students talk about what they like to do during each season, and discuss how the weather changes throughout the year. You can also talk about weather and seasons in other parts of the world.
Birthday Celebrations: Discuss how birthdays are celebrated in Spanish-speaking countries. You could ask students to talk about their own birthday traditions or share stories about how they’ve celebrated birthdays in the past.
Poem of the Month: Incorporating a monthly poem into your elementary Spanish class is a simple but effective way to introduce new vocabulary, improve reading comprehension, and teach cultural significance. By selecting a poem that relates to the season or a particular holiday, you can engage your students in a fun and educational activity that helps them improve their Spanish skills.
I hope these examples have given you some ideas on how to incorporate calendar time into your elementary Spanish class. Remember to make it interactive and engaging for your students, and tailor it to their Spanish proficiency level.
A parallel story is a powerful tool that language teachers can use to engage their students and reinforce language learning. By taking an existing story and modifying it slightly, teachers can create a new and exciting experience for their students that still retains the language patterns and vocabulary of the original story.
After using the book “La vaca que decía oink” by Bernard Most in class, I decided to create a parallel story for my kindergarten students. Though I worried they wouldn’t enjoy listening to a similar story, my students surprised me by engaging with it and recognizing familiar language patterns. I made some modifications, such as shortening the story and changing characters. We even plan to act it out and sing “La granja” to accompany it.
Parallel stories offer a time-saving approach, allowing you to reuse language patterns and recycle familiar vocabulary with minimal changes. Revisiting the same story also gives students an opportunity to process and predict what comes next. Occasionally, I like to add a surprise by altering the ending.
To create a parallel story, find a story familiar to your students and adjust it to their language level. Use props or Story Listening to tell the story, then create the parallel story by changing the characters, setting, and adding your twist. Finally, share the parallel story and prepare for your students to make connections!
Parallel stories are a fantastic way to engage language learners and reinforce language learning!
Spring is here! The season of colors, butterflies, and also allergies, but it’s nice to feel that the heat is gradually coming on. If you have the chance to get outside with your students, nature walks are a great way to spend time outdoors after a long winter. You can use this walk as a space to continue giving input to your students. Simple activities like talking about colors, animals, counting objects in nature or just reading a story outdoors. Talk to your students as they walk and point out things they see or may not have noticed before. It is an opportunity that really helps to clear your mind and relax.
If it is not possible for you and your students to have this opportunity at your school, give your students a copy of the “Una caminata en la naturaleza” page and invite your students to look around their home or community to find some or all of the things on the list. Invite them to take the sheet back to Spanish class and use it to talk about what they saw on the walk. Use questions to motivate your students to participate. For example, what color was the butterfly? how many butterflies did you see? who found a squirrel? Your students must answer according to their language level. This can be done orally or in writing.
Invite your students to participate through the movement. For example, jump if you see a yellow butterfly or run if you don’t see a butterfly.Use this page to create a survey. Ask them about their favorite animal and write down their answers. Share the answers and talk about the animal that had more or less votes.
One last idea is to invite your students to look at the clouds and draw what they see in them. Use these drawings to continue giving input and also to generate interaction in your classes. Talk about the different shapes, shapes, colors, etc. Your students can also collect materials from nature to create their own. Depending on the language level of your students, you can invite them to describe their art orally or in a written composition. Display their work around the round and do a gallery walk with your students. I hope you and your students enjoy these activities to welcome spring.
Looking to grow your library with easy readers? Here is an idea!
You can use “story asking” to create the stories along with your students. The sample you see in the video was done with a second grade class. In this case my role was to guide my students with the story. I asked questions such as ¿Qué animal hay? Two students proposed the animals, we voted , chose an answer, and then moved on to the next question. The last part was to come up with a title for the story, which we also did together.
There are different ways to ask your students details to add to the story. You can use images, story dice, story mats, and so on, but the basic way I described above has worked just great in my second grade classes!
Writing the story only took about 10 minutes. I read the final story to my students and then asked questions about it again.
In preparation for the next class I typed the story on different pages and printed it out. I asked some students to volunteer to read the story. Students chose the part of the story they wanted to illustrate.
In this case I only had ten students, but if you have more than ten, my suggestion is to print two sets of the same story and have your whole class illustrate the same story.
I also took a picture of the class, and I added it as the last page of the story which says “Autores,” and each student got to write their name in the picture.
Last, I laminated, bound the story, and added it to our small classroom library.
A quick note! The video is set at a faster speed so I could show you the process.
¡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.
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