I'm sure that all teachers can relate to the craziness of Halloween...the costumes, the classroom parties, and the candy! I've finally learned that it is best to embrace the excitement that comes with this day. Pick activities that will match your student's excitement! Below are some ideas for activities that I do with my students to celebrate Día de los muertos.
We read Rosita y Conchita by Erich Haeger aloud as a class. The book is in Spanish and English but I rewrote the text using simple Spanish that I know my students can understand. Some details of the story are lost when you simplify the text, but the basic plot line stays the same and the language becomes comprehensible for your students. One of the best advantages to rewriting a text is that you can target specific language that each grade level is working on. On a side note, the Kindle version of Rosita y Conchita includes a game where students click and drag items to make their own ofrenda. After reading the book we make ofrendas together on the SmartBoard--so fun!
I also love the book Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston. This book is in English so I rewrote a simplified version of the text in Spanish to make it comprehensible for my students. This book hits on a lot of traditional foods and symbols for Día de los muertos and it is easy to rewrite in simple Spanish for lower level students.
After introducing my students to Día de los muertos we usually do a simple art project to celebrate this special day. My 1st graders use pictures from Día de los muertos celebrations as inspiration to decorate their own skull masks. After decorating the face they cut out the faces (I usually help them cut out the eyes) and tape a popsicle stick at the bottom to make a mask. Below are the templates I use for the masks.
My 2nd graders make skull faces out of paper plates. A co-worker cut out the idea from a magazine and they look awesome! Again, we look at images from Día de los muertos celebrations for inspiration on how to decorate the faces.
The 3rd graders make papel picado. Here are some simple instructions--it is basically the same process as making cutout snowflakes. I usually have my students make 3 or 4 panels and then send the panels home with a string to hang them (I fold a piece of construction paper in half and put the papel picados inside to keep them from getting torn on their journey home). Insider tip: having the students glue at home is key--when they glue in class the tissue paper always manages to get stuck to another student's project, creating a sticky mess.
My 4th graders make calaveras de azúcar. Here is my tried and true recipe. The students decorate with the pre-made cake icing that comes in tubes (I limit each student to only 3 colors of icing in the hopes that it will still resemble a skull when they are finished). We usually spend one day making the skulls and one day decorating them. While my students are waiting to be called up to make/decorate their skulls they complete reading activities on Textivate!
Check out the finished products!
The majority of you have probably already heard about the animated short Día de los muertos. If you haven't then you should watch it right now because it is fabulous for a MovieTalk! In her Día de los muertos packet on Teachers Pay Teachers Martina Bex uses another animated short entitled Día de muertos by Sofía Aviles. Both are great videos, although the second video is probably better suited to older students (I'll let you watch them both to figure out why). After watching the video there are a lot of different activities you could do to reinforce the key vocabulary structures...
What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate Día de los muertos with your students?
This week in my never ending quest to keep my class novel I stumbled across an amazing tech tool called EDpuzzle. I know that I am probably late to the EDpuzzle party, but that doesn't make me any less excited!
So what is EDpuzzle and how did it completely save my classes this week? EDpuzzle allows you to upload and edit video clips. You can search from clips on YouTube and Vimeo or you can upload your own video. Once the video is uploaded there are endless ways that you can manipulate it to meet your classroom needs.
I found EDpuzzle easy for my students to use. Students either login using their Google email address or they create an EDpuzzle account (all of the students in my district have Google email addresses so I had them login using their Google+ accounts to avoid having to remember yet another password). Once they are logged in they enter a class code--this is a code that EDpuzzle sends the teacher when they create a class. The fact that you can create different folders for each individual class makes it easy to organize your content on EDpuzzle. After the students completed the EDpuzzle assignment I logged in and navigated to the class folder to view each student's individual scores. This was a really quick way for me to assess student comprehension and they felt like they were getting a treat by getting to watch a video. It's a win-win situation!
I created an EDpuzzle video for my Cade meu Rango MovieTalk lesson. My students loved watching the video again and I got great feedback on their comprehension from the multiple choice questions that they answered.
But how can you use EDpuzzle when your lesson doesn't involve a video? This is where you have to get creative...to create a movie from a book I wrote using Storybird I took screenshots of the illustrations in the book. Next I uploaded the screenshots into iMovie to create a video. I added sound effects and music to make the movie more exciting and then uploaded the finished product into EDpuzzle. And there you have it...another way to make re-reading a text novel and engaging for the students!
What tech tools are you using to help keep your class novel and your students engaged?
Teaching with Comprehensible Input (T/CI) is at its peak when you have a group of students that are willing to play "the game". By playing the game I am referring to having a group of students that come up with funny story suggestions, enthusiastically play along with said suggestions, and love to dramatically act out stories. I hit the jackpot with my fourth graders this year! They are constantly raising their hands with interesting story suggestions (in Spanish nonetheless), and they all love to act stories out. We are having so much fun!
Last week I did a mini story with my fourth graders to prep them for my Cade meu Rango? MovieTalk. My plan was to tell the mini story for around 15 minutes and then start the MovieTalk, but my students were so involved in the story that it lasted for the entire 30 minute class period. It was awesome to watch all of my students participating and engaged in the story asking process!
This mini story preps the students for the MovieTalk by focusing on the following words/structures:
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Many of my students referred to my classroom word wall to create endings for this story. Watching my students refer to the word wall made me think of a thread I read on the moreTPRS listserv debating the usefulness of word walls. Some teachers argued that having a word wall was pointless because you are posting words that the students should have acquired, thus they shouldn't need to refer to them. Other teachers argued that they served as a reminder to recycle vocabulary throughout the year. My word wall has been up for less than a year, so I am still experimenting with its usefulness in my classroom. I have found that when I ask my students for ideas on what happens next in a story the word wall helps them take their complex thoughts and articulate them using language they know. Even though most of the words are structures that they have already acquired, the word wall serves as a great tool for students to focus their thoughts in Spanish.
Do you have a word wall in your classroom? If so, do you find it useful? I would love to hear other teacher's ideas on the usefulness of word walls in the T/CI classroom.