Bring La Feria de Cali to your Spanish class!

Monday, December 12, 2011

At this time of the school year we are looking for fun and quick lessons to use in our classrooms. This is very simple and provides you and your students with a window on a small piece of a very diverse culture.

Many towns and cities in Colombia have their own celebrations during the year. The last celebration of the year happens in Cali, the city where I grew up. Every year from December 25th to 30th the city hosts "La Feria de Cali", a big celebration - like a carnival - that attracts people from different parts of the world. It is a celebration where the Caleño culture is on exhibit.  From Salsa singers to horse lovers, there are many types of people and activities to celebrate, and it appeals to people of all ages. The city is decorated with big and beautiful lights, and every neighborhood gets ready to party and celebrate before the year ends. The first day of the Feria opens with a big Cabalgata (horseback parade)When the Cabalgata ends, people fan out to different spots in the city to dance and be with friends.

Bring la feria de Cali to your Spanish class:

1. Use a map to find Colombia and then Cali. If you have access to the internet, use GoogleEarth to make it more fun and show actual pictures of Cali.

2. Show actual pictures of the Feria and the Cabalgata.
3. Invite the children to create their own horses using a coloring page or using paper to create their own.
4. Have your own Cabalgata in your classroom.
5. End the class with a Salsa lesson!

Links with information for teachers

Have fun dancing!

El Día del Amor y la Amistad en Colombia (Colombia's Day of Love and Friendship)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Every third Saturday in September,  Colombia celebrates "El Día del Amor y la Amistad". It’s a day to let family and friends know how much you love them and appreciate them. People usually give chocolates, cards, and flowers to friends and family members. In other cases, it’s also an excuse to party and get together  to celebrate (Colombians tend to be pretty good at finding reasons to enjoy each other's company!). 

What a great moment to bring a cultural celebration to your classroom. I have created a coloring page with a heart ready to use in your classroom this week. For this activity,  bring a map to your class, and invite your children to find the country where they live, and then to find Colombia. Introduce the colors of the
Colombian flag and then color in the heart using those colors.

Click on picture to print coloring page

You can take this as an opportunity to introduce simple sentences to express gratitude and love:
Feliz Día del Amor y la Amistad
Amigos por siempre
Tú eres mi mejor amigo/a.
Te quiero 
Learn a song in Spanish!

¡Feliz Día del Amor y la Amistad!


La caja mágica

Friday, September 9, 2011
Magic boxes are always fun to have, and they are an amazing teaching tool and classroom ritual (college professors of education might even classify them as excellent to use as an "anticipatory set.") My students, from the youngest to the oldest grades, enjoy guessing and imagining what could be inside the box. Magic boxes are great for describing objects and brainstorming with the children using a wide range of vocabulary.

This year I decided to create a new magic box which I will customize little by little using some objects that I have collected in different countries, lending a bit of cultural spice. I used fabric with sparkles to let the magic flow, and added the questions marks in Spanish to make it more appropriate for class.  

What do I include in the box?

I include flash cards related to what we are learning in class, stuffed animals and other kind of props I can find in it. Sometimes I just include one thing and give them clues for them to guess what could be inside the box.

I always sing this song when I use the magic box:

¡En la caja mágica encontrarás
Una sorpresa que te encantará! (3 times)
Click here to sample/buy song on Amazon

We also chant:
¿Qué hay, qué hay en la caja mágica?
¿Qué hay, qué hay en la caja mágica?

After singing the song,  I will also give them clues. I usually put something related to what we have been doing in class in the box. For example,

1. Hay un animal.
2. Hay un animal verde.
3. Hay un animal verde que tiene ojos grandes.
4. Hay un animal verde que tiene ojos grandes y salta.

Then I count to three and start taking guesses. Once I reveal the the secret, I ask questions about it again and use a lot of gestures. These are some of the questions I would ask:

1. ¿Es un animal o una persona? ¿Qué es? ¿Qué animal es?

2. ¿De qué color es? ¿Es verde o amarillo?
3. ¿Tiene ojos grandes o pequeños?
4. ¿Nada o salta?
5. ¿Te gustan las ranas?

I really love this teaching strategy because it gets the children engaged.  I now have two cajas mágicas.

Please see the pictures below. In the first picture, you see a shoe box that I open to reveal "el secreto."
The box in the second picture is "la caja mágica sensorial." I place objects in them, and children can take a guess by telling me "es grande," "es pequeño," "es suave," "es duro," and so on. If the children say the words in English, for example by saying "it's soft," I would say "sí, es suave," "¿clase, es suave?" Get ready for some noise and for everyone to expect (or demand!) a turn.

Have fun teaching!

Teaching Spanish to Parents and Tots

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I have been teaching parent - child classes for a while and parent involvement is the key to these kinds of programs.

Our sessions run for 8 to 10 weeks depending on the season. At the beginning of each session we provide parents with information about the program, the benefits of exposing their children to a new language at an early age, rules in the class, the importance of their active participation in class and what it means for their child's learning process. I don't use posters with lyrics because I observed that some parents were focusing their attention on trying to understand every single word and also more likely to mispronounce them.

I currently create the music and curriculum for the program because I find that many of the traditional songs don't provide enough space for repetition or have the target vocabulary that I need in context. At the beginning of the session I provide parents with a music CD that contains all the songs and games for the session along with lyrics and translation. You can also look for songs that parents can purchase to support what you do in your classes, extend the learning at home and keep those little ears and mouths listening and singing outside the class.

There are also many online resources you can create such as creating a blog where you can upload small audio files (that can actually be recorded with a small digital camera for pictures) for parents to listen to the songs you sing in class and sentences to use at home. From my experience I advise you to write the sentence in Spanish next to the audio file and to avoid using the phonetic spelling to avoid mispronunciations (especially of vowel sounds and "rr")

It is also useful to have some props such as a parachute, bubbles (to count) and objects that are colorful and appropriate for little hands to handle, e.g. finger puppets to accompany a song. Movement is also important when teaching toddlers - that's how they grow and learn. Make sure they have space to run, jump and enjoy the class, but at the same time make sure you have a transition song to bring them back to the circle. I also use ASL with some of the songs; there are many resources on the Internet to find the signs.
At the end of the class I provide a few minutes for parents and children to socialize. Parents take advantage of this time to meet other families and also to ask you how to say phrases and sentences in Spanish.

Sing, sing, sing! Songs for the otoño!

Thursday, August 18, 2011
I know many of you are getting ready in advance for your lesson! Here is a group of videos that I have created and hope help you get ready for the fall! Have fun singing in Spanish!

Hojas, hojas (Leaves, leaves)

Cinco Calabazas (Five Pumpkins)

Yo soy un pavo ( I am a turkey)

Have fun singing in Spanish!

Our Music on CD BABY!

Friday, July 22, 2011

A song to introduce the "RR" sound: Rosa la “RR”

Friday, July 1, 2011
La "RR"

Rosa la “RR”
Salió a caminar,
Arriba en la montaña
Rosa va. (Repeat)

Materials: Small plastic cars with a paper or fabric mountain as a background 
Introduce the sound by using small cars, saying “es un carro. Rran, rran, rran”,   and pass the car around the room. Play with the “RR” sound a lot.
Show a picture of an “RR” and have it walk up to the mountain.
You can sing this song at different paces and corresponding pitches (fast – high to slow –low).

Fun For Spanish Teachers


Friday, May 27, 2011

The weather is finally awesome here in Boston! With the end of the school year approaching so quickly I have decided to take advantage of "el clima" and dedicate the last few days to play outdoor games to review and support some of the units explored in class this year.

I took my kindergarteners outside to play a game that we had learned before in the classroom. It was a lot of fun, and everyone wanted to participate. The game is very simple and is accompanied by a chant. The class makes a circle, and once in the circle everyone starts chanting and moving and dancing according to what the chant says:

Un pato,
un pato con una pata,
un pato con las dos patas,
un pato con las alitas,
un pato con la colita
y ahora te toca a ti!
Then we invite a child to dance in the middle of the circle while the rest of the class chants "pato, pato, pato!"
This is a never-ending game because everyone wants a turn being "el pato." It's so much fun, and the children get to enjoy the beauty of being outside while chanting in Spanish.
Feel free to give it a try, and let me know how it goes!!!!

Have fun!
Fun For Spanish Teachers

A song to say “Buenos Días”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Buenos días by 1-2-3 Spanish Together by SpanishTogether

Buenos días,                                    Good morning,
Buenos días                                     Good morning,
Buenos días que bonito día              What a beautiful morning!
¿Cómo estas?                                   How are you?
Muy bien                                         Very well
Bienvenidos, bienvenidas,                Welcome,
La, la, la                                            La, la, la

Teaching tips

·      Show the picture of a moon and the picture of the sun. Ask them which one is the appropiate one for the morning. Explain to them that in Spanish you say “buenos días” to say good morning and “buenas noches” to say good night.

·      Have them pretend they are sleeping and then have them wake up by saying “buenos días”.

·      As in the “Hola” activity, have them use puppets to greet each other by saying the full sentence.
          Puppet A : Buenos días, ¿cómo estás?
          Puppet B: Muy bien,  gracias

·      Have students present the puppet show to the class.

·      Have students sing the song while playing instruments. Divide the class in two groups. Ask one side of the class to sing “hola, ¿cómo estas? And have the other group respond “muy bien gracias”.

For more fun music and teaching tips visit

A song to teach names of fruits in Spanish

Friday, March 18, 2011

¿Cuántas manzanas hay?
Vamos a contar cuántas manzanas hay,
vamos a contar cuántas manzanas hay.
¿Cuántas manzanas hay?
Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez.
¡Diez manzanas!

Learn other names of fruits in Spanish and replace the word manzanas for another fruit.

banana - banano
 pineapple - piña
avocado -aguacate
pear - pera
strawberry - fresa

This site has more names of fruits in Spanish and you can listen to the pronuciation! How awesome! 
1-2-3 Teach Me

For fun music to teach Spanish visit

A simple and short song to end class : "Adiós mis amigos"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
I always end my class with a song. This song is very simple and short and gets everyone moving in class!

Have the children say good- bye to each other using hand motions.

Create a paper bag puppet and have the children say good- bye to each other while singing the song.

Use ASL to say Adiós:

This video was created by Online Free Spanish. You can find more find ideas in their website!

Happy Singing!
Fun For Spanish Teachers

Sí, no

Sunday, February 20, 2011
Si, no

This song is very short but catchy. Children really enjoy sing this song  a lot!

Materials needed

Teaching tips

  • Use a similar procedure to the one used in the previous activity “Las vocals”
  • Ask the puppets different questions, and if possible, use pictures. For example:
            Ask the puppet
                   ¿Te gusta comer brócoli con chocolate?
            Have the puppet answer:

  • Use similar and simple questions. Then have the puppet ask the children the same.
  • Introduce the song and have the children sing along with the puppet.

¡Feliz Día de San Valentín!

Saturday, February 5, 2011
Two fun and easy activities. Just click on the picture, drag it  to your desktop and enjoy it!

Juego de Memoria
Dado de San Valentín

The Groundhog will be out soon!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Click HERE to find more activities on TpT

The Groundhog will be out soon and we need to get ready to say "hola" in our classes.  You might like to try this in your classes:

Teaching Tips

Materials: In preparation for this activity, you will need to use a groundhog coloring page and paste it on a piece of black construction paper and cut it out, letting them see the shape of the groundhog. You will also need a set of flashlights.

Use the flashlight to project the groundhog's shadow and have the groundhog hide from it.

With older children, tape a piece of white paper on a wall and project their shadow using a flashlight. Have the children take turns and trace a few shadows.

Have a set of flashlights and have one part of the class chase the other part with a flashlight. In family classes, parents or caregivers can play with the shadows along with their child.

Hide the groundhog in the room and have the children find it.

Dance to the rhythm of "La Marmota" song. Sample the song on Amazon.

Have fun playing the game!

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