Teaching in a place where long winters prevail has instilled in me and my students a deep appreciation for every moment we can spend outdoors. As Spring has finally bloomed in Boston, I’ve made it a personal commitment to use the initial five to ten minutes of class as a warm-up to play games with my students outside. Not only do we relish the fresh air, but we also use language in context while having fun. Additionally, some of the games are traditional, thus introducing cultural elements into the class.
Here is a list that includes some of the games I have been teaching my students. Click on the links to learn about each game. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the fresh air!
Playing outside is not only fun but also beneficial for our physical and mental health. Enjoying some fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for our mood and energy levels. So, take a break from screens and technology, and have some good old-fashioned fun outside!
It’s amazing how many free resources for learning and teaching languages are available at no cost. Many of these websites can be used during class with your students or as support to your program at home. I recommend, however, that you take the time to explore the sites before using them with your students or recommending them to your students’ parents. Here are the ones I have found are suitable for the elementary level.
This is a simple idea to keep track of all the games and songs you teach during the school year. I use different containers and baskets for each grade level. I use clothespins and glue happy faces on the top to make them cute and give them some character. I use permanent markers to write the names of the songs and games we’ve learned during the school year. You could do this during the school year and gradually add the clothespins to the basket.
I use this idea at the beginning of the class as a warm up, for game day, or simply to end a unit. Before using this activity I collect all the props necessary for each game or song: bingo, memory games, balls, or any material needed to make this happen.
Playing the game
I do this in two different ways. Sometimes I just call a volunteer to pick a random clothespin. I also have the class sit in a circle and then pass a ball in the circle while playing music. I close my eyes while stopping the music, and whoever has the ball at that time will choose the activity from the basket.
To keep track of the games and songs we’ve done, I just place the clothespin on the top of the container just as you see it in the picture below.
Give it a try, and you will be amazed to see how much you have done with your classes.
I grew up playing this game in Colombia and had tons of fun with it. I recently used it in a unit on clothes with my second graders. We have played the game outside when the weather is nice, and we’ve also played the game in the classroom with a wolf made out of felt. The children enjoy each of the versions – indoor or outdoor.
The game is simple, just pick a wolf and have everyone else sit in a circle. The wolf will stand up in the middle of the circle while the rest of the class chants.
I made the props for the song using felt (see picture below). We use it to dress the wolf while singing the song. My students love it!
Class: Juguemos en el bosque mientras el lobo no está. ¿Lobo estás? Lobo: Me estoy poniendo los pantalones.
Class: Juguemos en el bosque mientras el lobo no está. ¿Lobo estás? Lobo: Me estoy poniendo el chaleco.
Class: Juguemos en el bosque mientras el lobo no está. ¿Lobo estás? Lobo: Me estoy poniendo el saco.
Class: Juguemos en el bosque mientras el lobo no está. ¿Lobo estás? Lobo: Me estoy poniendo el sombrero (or sombrerito)
Class: Juguemos en el bosque mientras el lobo no está. ¿Lobo estás? Lobo: ¡Sí! Y salgo para perseguirte / ¡Sí! Te voy a comer / ¡Sí! Corre
In preparation for this game you will need felt, pictures of soccer balls, pictures of famous soccer players from different Spanish-speaking countries, and a glue gun to put the felt pieces together.
Once the game is all put together, get ready to play it with students. The idea is to simulate a soccer game in class. Divide the class into two groups and assign a fútbol player to each time. Before playing the game introduce each famous player, and use this opportunity to show their countries of origin on a map and also the names of their teams.
The rules of the game are very simple. Each group will get set on the side of the “field” (cancha) that corresponds to their players. Invite one volunteer from each group to come to the middle. You can use flash cards or a bag filled with objects to represent vocabulary that you have previously explored in class. Show a card or object and ask a question related to it. For example: “¿Qué es? or ¿De qué color es la vaca?”
Whoever answers first will mark a “gol” for his//her team. Invite the class to shout together “¡goooooool!“. If they both answer at the same time or the game ends in a tie (empate), then they will have to go into overtime, referred to as “penaltis,” which in the case of this game means they will get a another turn. To keep track of their scores, I place pictures of a soccer ball on their side of the field each time they get a goal.
I love teaching this unit in my classes. I especially love teaching names of fruits that are endemic to Latin America, mostly from Colombia, the country where I am from.
In preparation for this activity you will need to create a monster prop, similar to the one in the picture below, which is very simple to make – with no sewing involved. I used felt fabric of different colors, glue, staples and wiggly eyes. Make sure to put a space in the mouth so the children can feed the monster. The monster I made is big, and my students enjoy its visit to class. I use a hanger to carry it from classroom to classroom. You will also need plastic fruits or pictures of different fruits, depending on the ones you would like to introduce.
Once the monsters and fruits are ready I like to introduce them using Total Physical Response (TPR). I often use American Sign Language (ASL) because I don’t think it makes sense to spend time creating my own gestures when I can use the beautiful ASL that children may already be familiar with or encounter later in life. Plus, ASL is a language in and of itself, so my use of it just provides another advantage for my children and their multilingual brains! My favorite resource on the Internet is Signing Savvy. On this site, you just have to type a word, and then you get a video showing the corresponding sign.
I use a magic box or bag and introduce the name of each fruit with the sign. I review each fruit by asking the children to show me the sign while saying the name in Spanish. Then we go over each fruit and describe it by colors and sizes. I will also ask my students questions like “¿te gusta comer manzana?” and then have them respond back to me by saying “sí, me gusta”, “no, no me gusta”, or “me encanta.”Since my students are young and many don’t have experience in the language, I ask questions in a way that models the answers so they feel confident about it: Me: ¿Qué es? Es una manzana. ¿Qué es? Student: Es una manzana.
After students have learned the vocabulary, I use other activities to complement and assess the topic. Here are some examples:
Place a fruit into a bag or box. Ask a student to follow commands: Encuentra la manzana, pásale la manzana a Peter.
Give a fruit (picture or plastic) to every student. You need to have a flash card or picture of each fruit. Ask “¿dónde está la manzana?” The student who has the fruit must answer “¡Aquí está la manzana!” (Don’t forget to model the question and the answer).
Check for TPR gestures for each fruit showing the sign you taught for each fruit.
Ask students to draw pictures of the fruit you name. Erasable white boards are great for this activity!
Charades: A student makes a TPR gesture and the rest of the class has to guess it.
This is where the monster you made comes alive. Tell the story while feeding the monster.
El monstruo se come un banano.El monstruo se come una piña.El monstruo se come una pera.(Do the same for each fruit you have decided to include in your unit)¡El monstruo se engordó! Ask questions after telling the story:¿El monstruo come piña o pan?
¿Qué come el monstruo? ¿Te gusta comer piña? ¿El monstruo se engordó o se durmió? ¿Qué le pasó al monstruo?
Act it out!
Play with the story before you let students act the story out. Pick some students to retell the story.
You will need a narrator, and to make it more fun and interactive, you can give a play microphone to the narrator. Choose other students to put the fruits inside the monster’s mouth. They should say the word aloud and make the appropriate TPR gesture.
¡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.
To provide the best experiences, we use technologies like cookies to store and/or access device information. Consenting to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behavior or unique IDs on this site. Not consenting or withdrawing consent, may adversely affect certain features and functions.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.