This is one of the most relaxing activities I have used with my fifth graders. We are close to the break so they really enjoyed learning about Año Viejos. I gave them a little introduction about this tradition and its meaning (see post from previous years). We also watch a video of a girl making an Año Viejo in Colombia, and this leads to a small discussion about the materials needed to make an Año Viejo. Although the girl in the video doesn’t use firecrackers, most people put them in their Años Viejos.

We watched a video of the actual tradition. In the video we saw the excitement on the streets of people counting down. And we could hear the fire crackers and the sounds of a radio station playing the national anthem, a song which is always played on December 31st at midnight:.

After watching the video we read the story “Corre Año Viejo, Corre” which is available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

After reading the story each student decorated a paper Año Viejo, which you can also find in my store. I also gave each student a small magnet to stick it on the back of the Año Viejo.They placed their Años Viejos on the magnetic board I have in my classroom while I played a video of a Christmas fireplace I found on YouTube.


I also played the traditional Año Viejo song while the students where coloring their Años Viejos.

Last but not least, I placed the Año Viejos on one of the bulletin boards in my room. I used as a title for the bulletin board the name of the song “Yo no olvido el Año Viejo”. Click HERE  to download the letters.

More end-of-year traditions in Spanish speaking countries:

  1. Yellow underwear game
  2. 12 grapes
  3. Suitcase

¡Feliz Año! 



A few years ago I wrote a short story to use with my students to make a curricular connection with the butterfly life cycle in second grade science class. It is a twist on ” The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, which many of my students are already familiar with, and it’s also a popular title in kindergarten. This new version I created of my own story has more repetition and simple structures.

Before teaching the story you might want to pull out a map and point at the different countries mentioned in it: Colombia, México, La República Dominicana, Cuba, Argentina, and Perú. There are some traditional dishes mentioned in the story. You might want to talk about them. This will also be a great opportunity to talk about your students’ favorite food.

Pre-teach some of the vocabulary using TPR: va, tengo hambre, come, canta, duerme and dice.

Read the story to your class. Some questions you might want to consider while reading the story.

¿Dónde está la oruga? ¿Está en Colombia o Bolivia?

¿Qué come la oruga en Colombia? ¿Come pizza? ¿Come sancocho?

¿Qué hace la oruga? ¿La oruga duerme o corre?

¿La oruga es un perro ahora ? ¿La oruga es un perro o una mariposa?

¿La oruga dice “hola”? ¿La oruga dice “hola” o “adiós”?

After reading the story I like going back and talking about each picture. Talk about the colors in the different flags included in the story.

Act it out! You can have individual actors or have different groups going to different places. Print some masks, pictures of the different foods and flags of the countries included in the story.

Click HERE to download the story “La oruga va Latinoamérica.”

Download the rest of the story HERE!

This story is a great follow up of the story I do during the fall called “Monarca va a Michoacán.” I also use this story to create a connection with their science curriculum, as well as to create a cultural connection with “El Día de los Muertos” celebration in Mexico. Read more on how I use “Monarca va a Michoacán” here!

Have fun!

You might like these resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers:



To be able to talk about the integration of culture in a Comprehensible Input class, it is first necessary to define “Comprehensible Input” and “culture.”

The “Comprehensible Input” theory is one of the theories of language acquisition proposed by the American linguist Stephen Krashen. In his hypothesis, Dr. Krashen explains that there can only be the acquisition of a language when the input, linguistic component or message is understood by the learner, but in addition to being understandable it should be of interest to the learner and that it be about an issue with which the learner can relate and connect. Visit Comprensible.com  to learn more about CI.

Culture is a term that has been defined by different authors in different fields. The definition most commonly used and that challenges people in different fields is that of Clifford Geertz (cited in Ortner, 1999) who defines culture as “a system of values ​​and beliefs that represent a group, as a network of meanings within which people live. Meanings encoded in symbolic forms (language, artifacts, etiquette, rituals, calendars, etc.)” (p.3).

Taking into account the definitions of “Comprehensible Input” and “culture,” I will explain a little the process of how I integrate these two elements in practice and offer you some advice, too.

I find it helpful to start with the goal or the objective of the topic. Why do I want to share this topic in my class? Where do I want my students to arrive with the exploration of this topic in class?

Then I think about the developmental stage and the linguistic level of the students. Is it a topic that is easily understood with the level of L2? Is the subject relevant to the students’ age?

I suggest you consider this approach:

Define the theme or cultural content that will be shared with the student. Once the theme is defined, make sure that the content that is going to be shared is true and does not fall into the perpetuation of stereotypes. If possible, check that information with someone from the culture. Another important aspect to take into account, especially at the beginner levels or early grades, is whether it is a specific issue and whether it allows generating connections and space for comparisons. The cultural theme should not be limited only to the culture of L2.

Determine the input: In this case, it is not important for the students to understand each word, but the input must be by context and the use of cognates.

Determine what type of material can be used to support the topic: Photos, videos, songs, artifacts or authentic resources, etc.

It is possible to teach culture in a world language class, but in this case, it is very important that this input is understandable so that there is a success in the fusion of culture and Comprehensible Input.

Here are some resources that might help you get started with this topic. Ready, set, go!

La Noche de las Velitas

Llegó el Biblibioburro

¡Viva Colombia!

Frida Kahlo for Elementary Students

Reasons to Share About El Día de los Muertos in Spanish Class


Orter, S. (1999). Introduction. The fate of “culture”. California, University of California Press, p.1.

Have fun!



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!



If you explore my blog, you will find a few posts related to The Day of the Dead. This celebration takes many forms in Spanish speaking countries, and it also changes names and meanings in the different countries. In some countries, it’s just one more name on the calendar. In others, it is celebrated in some parts of the country, which is the case of Guatemala and Colombia. While in Mexico, it is an important celebration across the country that has been included by UNESCO on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

While incorporating this tradition in your curriculum, it’s important to clarify with school administrators and parents that you are not celebrating this as a holiday in your class, you are just sharing about a cultural celebration that others celebrate (i.e. you’re exploring and honoring others’ traditions, not appropriating them as your own). You might like to read the following posts. Just click on the pictures to read them all!



More Resources

Los barriletes de Sumpango en Guatemala

 El Día de los Difuntos en Bolivia

 Songs and Videos for Elementary Spanish

 Free PowerPoint: El Día de los Muertos

Build Your Own Online Altar


You might also like these resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers:




Every year since 1988, when President Ronald Reagan first implemented Hispanic Heritage Month, the United States recognizes September 15 to October 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s a month to celebrate the different Hispanic cultures and their contributions to the United States. 

What a great opportunity to highlight the diversity of the different Spanish Speaking countries! Here are some recommended resources for elementary Spanish:

Hispanic Heritage Month video by PBS.


Download this presentation I created for my classes. It’s all in Spanish. Some of the pictures are linked to videos on YouTube and Vimeo.

Last, but not least, if you are looking for a project for the month, here is a simple one that I have used in the past with my students.

¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana!

Available on  Teachers pay Teachers