ACTIVITIES TO FOSTER MINDFULNESS IN THE SPANISH CLASSROOM

ACTIVITIES TO FOSTER MINDFULNESS IN THE SPANISH CLASSROOM

Incorporating a centering or mindful activity at the beginning, middle, or end of each class is a great way to create a focused and calm learning environment. What’s even better is that you can start incorporating them at any time during the school year. Here are some simple ideas to bring to your classes:

Deep Breathing

Start by asking students to close their eyes and breathe deeply. You can start with simple inhale and exhale exercises. This is not only helpful for students but also for us as teachers. There are times in my classes when I pause and let my students know that I need to take a breathing break, and they are welcome to accompany me. This is also a way to model for our students that it’s okay to take a break when we need it, and to start cultivating the importance of listening to our bodies.

Guided Visualization

Guide students through a peaceful visualization exercise. Have them imagine a serene place, such as a beach or a forest, and describe its details, encouraging exploration through their imagination. This practice helps reduce stress and nurture creativity. You can enhance the experience by using pictures and describing them in the target language to your students. Canva for Educators (which is free) offers beautiful scenes from different places around the world that you can utilize.

Positive Affirmations

Share a series of positive affirmations with students, such as “I am unique,” “I believe in myself,” or “I am enough.” Ask them to silently repeat these affirmations several times to establish a positive mindset. You can begin by printing the cards below, and then introduce an affirmation per class. Download them here!

I also recommend this book! It’s simple, beautiful, and serves as a great introduction to positive affirmations.

Click here view the Amazon Affiliate link!

Free Drawing or Writing

Provide students with paper and pencils and give them time to draw or write freely. This allows them to express their thoughts and emotions and can serve as a relaxing activity during class. I find that instrumental Andean music works great with this activity.

Nature Sounds

Play gentle nature sounds, like birdsong, the flow of a stream, or the rustling of the wind. Ask students to close their eyes and focus on these sounds, setting aside distractions. You can find great ones on YouTube.

 Free Meditation Apps for Educators

There are some companies that offer free subscriptions to mindfulness apps. I myself have a free subscription to the Calm app and love it! Headspace also offers free subscriptions for educators. Please note that I am not associated with any of the apps mentioned here!

Introducing centering or mindful activities cultivates focus and calm in class. They work at any class point, meeting student needs, and easily fit into the school year. Trying these ideas aids concentration, emotion management, and awareness.

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TIPS FOR DECORATING YOUR CLASSROOM

TIPS FOR DECORATING YOUR CLASSROOM

Whether you’re a new teacher or have been in the classroom for a while, there are simple yet powerful tips for decorating your classroom that can save you time and transform your classroom into a hub of creativity and teamwork.

Imagine stepping into your classroom on the first day of school. The walls are adorned with bright decorations, everything neatly organized, and inspiring quotes displayed everywhere. Many teachers aim for this kind of inviting setup to grab students’ attention from the start. But what if there’s a different way that not only saves you time and stress but also brings your students together and gives them a sense of belonging? This approach involves keeping things minimal and letting your students take the lead in decorating. Personally, I prefer using whites and earth colors, and I also recommend adding plants to create a more relaxing atmosphere.

Instead of spending hours making everything look perfect, provide the basics and let your students get creative. When students help decorate, they feel like they’re part of the classroom. They understand that the classroom isn’t just your space; it’s a shared area where their ideas count. Keep your classroom decoration simple and minimalist. 

In the first few weeks of school, involve your students in decorating tasks. For example, they can color the calendar, create signs, and discuss and put up class agreements together. This teamwork not only saves you time but also fosters a sense of community right from the beginning. Additionally, consider that most of the visuals in your room should serve the purpose of supporting your students’ language acquisition process.

Also, set up a spot on the walls or bulletin boards to showcase your students’ work. As you do different projects throughout the year, displaying what they create boosts their confidence and makes them proud of what they achieve.

Besides the basics, think about adding a few things that represent your students’ different cultures. Talking about these items can start interesting conversations and help your students learn about each other. By going for a simpler look and letting your students join in decorating your classroom, you’ll have more time and energy to focus on your lessons and what you want to achieve during the year.

In the end, whether you decide to go all out with decorations or keep it simple is up to you. As you get ready for the new school year, remember the great potential of letting your students create a welcoming space where everyone’s contributions are valued.

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ENHANCING COMPREHENSION THROUGH COGNATES

ENHANCING COMPREHENSION THROUGH COGNATES

Teaching a new language using cognates can be an effective and engaging approach, especially when dealing with languages that share a significant amount of vocabulary due to common origins. When introducing cognates to your students, it is helpful to start by creating a list. Here are some tips to consider when incorporating cognates into your class:

1. Find Similar Words: Look for words in the new language that look or sound like words in a language your students already know. These are called “cognates.”

2. Write the word: Something that’s helpful is writing the cognate for students to see the similarities.

3. Start Simple: Begin with basic words that people use a lot. These words are easier to learn and will give your students a strong start.

4. Show the Likeness: When you teach the cognates, point out how they look or sound alike in both languages. This makes it easier to remember them.

5. Use Pictures: Make learning more fun by using pictures. Show the words in both languages with their meanings and pictures that show what they mean.

Playing with Cognates in Spanish Class

This is a game that I use in my classes, and my students love it, so I thought I would share it with the teaching community. In preparation for this game, you will need to print at least 6 sets of the cards, and if you can, laminate them for durability. Review or introduce the concept of cognates before playing the game. I always like to start by talking about what a cognate is. Show your students the image with all the pictures and read them to your students. You can also use the small cards to review or introduce the vocabulary. Ask them if they know about other cognates to share with you. Then, talk about the rules of the game. This game is based on a few games known in the market. There are different versions, but I really wanted and needed one focusing on cognates. I have named this one “Busca.” Discuss the rules with your students.

The main goal of the game is to be the fastest to identify a matching cognate between cards. To get ready for the game, print a few sets, shuffle the cards, and give each student a card. Next, they will need to find a partner in the room. Both should cover their cards and say “1,2,3, ¡busca!” Then, they show the cards to each other and try to find the matching image. The student who finds the image first gets to keep the other student’s card. The student left without a card should get a new one. I’m usually the person passing out the cards. The game continues until you run out of cards, and one student is left with many of them. For a shorter or more challenging game, you can set a specific time limit for each round (e.g., 10 seconds).

Ready to play it in your classes? Click on the picture to download the 36 cards for the game!

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BEYOND VOCABULARY LISTS IN AN ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASS

BEYOND VOCABULARY LISTS IN AN ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASS

Have you ever wondered why your students seem to struggle with retaining the vocabulary you teach them? Or why they sometimes lack interest and motivation when learning new words in your classes? You’re not alone in this struggle. In the exciting world language teaching, making vocabulary come to life can be both an intriguing and achievable challenge. This webinar was hosted and made possible by Klett World Languages. My colleague and friend, Valentina Correa, and I share some tips that have helped us support our students in their language acquisition journey.

In this webinar, we offer practical tools and creative approaches to make vocabulary an integral and exciting part of the language acquisition process. Effective vocabulary teaching goes beyond the simple memorization of words; it’s about arousing curiosity, presenting content that your students can connect with, and promoting communication while respecting their individual process of acquiring the target language. If you’ve felt frustrated due to your students’ lack of retention and motivation, this webinar will provide you with some tools that will assist you in tackling these challenges.

I invite you to relax and enjoy this webinar, which will help you gain new ideas or refresh past ones!

 

Enjoy!

Don’t have time to watch it right now? Click on the picture to save it for later!

FOUR CORNERS: FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL VERSION

FOUR CORNERS: FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL VERSION

After the long summer, it’s likely that our students haven’t had the opportunity to listen to or practice the target language. This four corners game is perfect for the first weeks of school because it serves as a means to rekindle your students’ acquired language skills. The four corners game is a simple game played in a room with four corners. One person stands in the center of the room while the others choose one of the corners to stand in.

 

The person in the center closes their eyes and counts to a certain number, then calls out one of the corners. Anyone in the called corner is out of the game. The game continues until only one person is left or until players tire of playing. It’s a fun and interactive game that involves movement! I like to change the rule of the game a little but not asking anyone to leave the game.

 

This time the players in the corner with the called number become “it” and help the original caller in the next round. The original caller can join the group, and one of the newly chosen “its” becomes the new caller for the four corners game. Repeat the process with the new caller counting and calling out a number. This way, all players get to be involved without being eliminated. Additionally, if you have a new student in the language, this can be an approachable method to help them integrate into your class.

Let me save you some time so that you don’t have to create the game from scratch. Click on the picture below to download 12 slides and blank templates to use for this game the next time you see your students!


Have fun!