The Andean weather bear, also known as the osito de anteojos del clima, is no ordinary bear. It brings a delightful twist to my classes, where my students can engage in interactive learning by dressing up the bear to match the weather of the day or reflect the changing seasons.
In my kindergarten and first-grade classes, we have incorporated the osito de anteojos into our routine. Every class, we look through the window to observe and discuss the weather conditions for the day. The bear acts as a visual representation of the seasonal changes we experience. Through this activity, we not only explore the weather in our local region but also delve into the concept of seasons in both the northern and southern hemispheres. For example, I pull out a map and share with my students that while it is summer in the United States, it is winter in Argentina.
Beyond our classroom walls, the osito de anteojos encourages broader discussions with students of other grades. We engage in a fun guessing game where we estimate the temperatures in different countries, leading to conversations about varying climates and corresponding seasonal attire. As we dress the osito de anteojos to match these far locations, we describe in the target language what the bear is wearing. This simple tool has become a way to give input and start simple conversations in a natural way, and it helps the class flow.
This summer, I am thrilled to be participating in different professional development opportunities for world language educators, where I will be one of the presenters. These sessions are organized by two renowned organizations, Klett WL and the World Language Teacher Summit, and will focus on aspects of world language teaching.
One of my presentations, titled “A Back-to-School Checklist for Elementary Teachers,” will be hosted by Klett World Languages, a leading educational publisher. I have the honor of presenting alongside Valentina Correa, also known as Profe Valentina. This session aims to provide elementary teachers with a comprehensive checklist to help them effectively kickstart the new school year. We will cover various essential elements, including classroom setup, curriculum planning, and instructional strategies. Participants will learn how to create a student-centered environment that fosters language acquisition and engagement. We will discuss the importance of creating a welcoming classroom atmosphere, organizing materials and resources, and establishing routines and procedures. This presentation will equip teachers with practical tools and strategies to ensure a successful start to the academic year.
In my second presentation, titled “Empowering Early Language Learners Through Engaging Topics and Activities,” I will be collaborating with The World Language Teacher Summit. This session will focus on enriching the language learning experience for young students by incorporating engaging topics and activities into the curriculum. By selecting topics that resonate with young learners, teachers can create meaningful connections and facilitate language acquisition. I will also demonstrate a range of engaging activities suitable for different age groups. Participants will leave with a repertoire of creative ideas and resources to engage and empower their early language learners.
The conference will take place from July 17th to 21st. Each presentation will be free for 48 hours. However, if you are unable to attend during that week, don’t worry! You have the option to upgrade to the All-Access Pass, which provides unlimited access to the entire event and exclusive bonuses. If you register for the free conference using my link and later decide to purchase the All-Access Pass, I will receive a portion of your purchase.
Furthermore, I will be presenting at the upcoming MaFLA (Massachusetts Foreign Language Association) conference in the fall. The session I will be leading is titled “Beyond Vocabulary Lists: Meaningful Topics for Early Language Learners.” This presentation will delve into aiding language acquisition beyond traditional vocabulary lists. I will discuss the importance of incorporating meaningful and relevant topics into the curriculum to engage early language learners. During the session, I will showcase practical strategies and activities that promote vocabulary acquisition through authentic and engaging experiences. I am looking forward to the conference and the opportunity to connect with educators who share the same passion for being language educators.
I hope you can join in my in any of these conference or in all of them!
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!
¡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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