Looking for a comprehensible and worthwhile way to practice numbers with younger children? Look no further. Since becoming a T/CI teacher I have been ditching all of the thematic materials that I had been using in my classroom for years. The other day I came across a stack of bingo cards for #1-10. I thought of the hours I had put into creating and laminating these materials and I couldn't bring myself to pitch them so I decided to repurpose them.
Activity: I told simple mini-situations using tiene, quiere, come, tiene hambre, va a, and #1-10. I picked students in my class to tell stories about.
Example: Alfonso tiene hambre. Alfonso quiere 9 pizzas. Alfonso va a Dominos. Dominos tiene 10 pizzas. Alfonso come 7 pizzas. Alfonso está enfermo y vomita. Alfonso quiere medicina y va a Walgreens. En Walgreens Alfonso come 3 medicinas. Ahora Alfonso está bien.
While I am telling this story the kids are marking every number they hear me say on their Bingo sheets. For the younger grades (1st and 2nd) I repeated each sentence several times and then also posted the number up on the board so they could check themselves, but with the upper grades I would let the students be accountable for hearing the correct number. It was a successful activity because it gave my squirmy young learners something to do while they were listening. They loved hearing silly stories about their classmates and were invested in listening because they wanted to get a Bingo.
What my students didn't know was that the numbers were not the main focus of the activity. Sure it is great to know numbers in the target language, but what I really want my students to acquire are high frequency vocabulary structures in the target language. Using the numbers was just a way to provide a novel context to get more repetitions of the high frequency structures that we are working on.
Extension: I did this activity with per-literate learners (1st grade) but you could change out the structures for what your students are working on and then add a drawing component to show comprehension. Just tell the students to flip their papers over and re-tell some of the stories and have them draw a quick sketch to show they understood the story. You could then put their pictures under the document camera and re-tell the story again (my students love to see their classmate's drawings, so this is another novel way to provide them with comprehensible input).
My students have been learning se pone (puts on) to talk about clothing. First I had different clothing items hidden in my Caja mágica (magic box) and I narrated the students taking the clothing items out and putting them on. In addition to circling se pone to get many repetitions I also asked questions that elicit higher order thinking such as: Why did he/she put that on? Where is she/he going? Would Taylor Swift like that? I also added variety by asking the students for ideas on how they should put on the clothing item. Did he put it on like a zombie or like an elephant?
We also looked at these pictures of zoo animals dressed up in human clothes. The students heard a multitude of repetitions of se pone while we looked at all of the different outfits the animals were wearing and we all had a good laugh. I taught the students some phrases such as ¡Qué guay! ¡Qué ridículo! ¡Qué bueno! so that they could share their reactions to the different outfits.
After my students heard a lot of repetitions of se pone I used puppets to tell the story of Carlos, a boy who wants to go to a concert. I wasn't sure how the puppets would go over, but my kids loved acting out the story with them. I don't use the puppets all that often, so it is a novel way to provide them with comprehensible input. Anyways, here is the script of the story. I used a plastic container for the closet and bought doll sized clothes that the students could physically put on the puppet (most of the clothes are extremely ugly which makes this story work). I also let the actor choose what the puppet was trying on.
El chico se llama Carlos. Carlos quiere ir a un concierto muy especial. Quiere ir al concierto de Taylor Swift. Carlos necesita ropa fantástica para el concierto. Carlos abre su closet y busca ropa.
It is finally Thanksgiving week! The students are excited about spending time with their families for this holiday, so I decided to embrace their excitement and do a fun mini-story about Thanksgiving. I found the book El Pavo de Acción de Gracias by Cassie Williams on Amazon. I love instant gratification, so I downloaded the book onto my iPad for only $2.99 and it immediately showed up on my Kindle app (you can download this app for free in the iTunes store, all you need is an Amazon account to purchase books).
This book was a great find because, in addition to recycling high frequency vocabulary like quieres and te gusta, it is very entertaining. There are so many wonderful Spanish children's books, but often the language is too complex for my students to comprehend and I end up rewriting the story. This book was a great find because it was already written at the level of my students.
Lesson: I started out my lesson by talking about what my students eat during Thanksgiving. I put of pictures of different Thanksgiving foods and asked them questions (all in the target language of course).
I then picked a few actors for my story. I had all of the actors sitting at a table with plates in front of them. My students had been working with pone (puts) so I had the actor playing the roll of the mom put different foods on each person's plate to get some more repetitions of this high frequency structure. Once everyone had food on their plates I told them to start eating and the dad put his knife in the turkey. Just before the knife went into the turkey the actor that was playing the turkey screamed. The turkey stood up and said "Espera" (wait). I then read the book where the turkey is trying to convince the family to eat other foods instead of him.
Duerme (sleeps) is one of my favorite words to work with in the language classroom because it provides many possibilities for compelling input. My favorite way to introduce this word is to tell stories about students sleeping in school. Students love to talk about this idea because they relate to it (we have all had some long blinks in math class) and because it is taboo. I introduce dureme and se despierta (wakes up) at the same time through TPR (total physical response). This technique was created by Dr. James Asher and engages students in responses to commands using whole body actions. When I am using TPR I only focus on 3 words (one of the words is usually recycled). There are no language chunks or question words in TPR, there are only commands that students are responding to. The secret to this technique is to combine the commands in novel ways. You want to paint pictures in the student's heads and get them thinking outside of what is expected. Maybe the hand sleeps on the nose, or the class wakes up like a zombie...do the unexpected to keep them listening and engaged. One way to keep students listening is to vary the grouping of the commands. Have both the entire class and individual students respond, or divide the class into two different groups and have each group respond to different commands.
After introducing duerme and se despierta through TPR I put up pictures of different animals and people sleeping (I add pictures of people doing activities other than sleeping to add variety). I always get my pictures from Google images, so unfortunately I can't post my slideshow here because of copyright issues, but the key is to find pictures that are funny for the students. Pick famous people that they recognize or look for animals that are sleeping in strange places. The more absurd the image, the better the students will remember them and the language that you are using to describe them.
I also create a slideshow with personal questions about the student's sleep habits. I have a Sí (yes) and No (no) signs hanging in my room and as I go through the slides and ask students the questions they stand by 'Sí' if their answer to the question is 'yes' and 'No' if their answer is 'no'. In the target language I ask questions such as "Do you sleep in Target? Do you sleep a lot/little? Do you sleep with a stuffed animal? Do you sleep in the basement? Do you like to sleep on the couch? Do you ever sleep in class?". The students are hearing a lot of the 'you' form of the verb, and it gives you an opportunity for some great PQA (Personalized Questions & Answers).
After all of this great input of duerme we act out a little mini story in class. I ask them who is tired and pick the student who is most tired to be my actor (make them audition for the part to recycle the structure 'is tired'). I then put that student in a chair at the front of the class and tell the students that the actor is really tired and falls asleep in Spanish class. I then physically leave the room and dramatically open the classroom door. When I see the student sleeping in my class I act appalled and stomp over to the student to make sure that he is indeed asleep. I then ask other students in the class if the actor is asleep, as if I can't believe that someone would fall asleep in my class. I then scream and pretend to go crazy but the student continues to sleep. My students always end up laughing hysterically! If there is time I have them repeat the scene with different actors and a different class, and this time I let a student play the role of the teacher.
I originally saw Karen Rowan act out the story below when she came to do a workshop in Winnetka Public School District 36 (if you don't know Karen you should follow her on twitter and check out her website - she is amazing). The actor that you have play the role of the lunch attendant should have a small glass of water in her hand. Really build up the part before the lunch attendant throws the water at the student. Ask the class several times if she really should throw the water to create a lot of tension. Right before she throws the water I take it and drink all of it so that there is only a small amount left in the cup.
Es el almuerzo y Sally va a la cafetería. Sally tiene pizza en su plato pero no tiene hambre. Sally no come la pizza porque está muy cansada. ¡Sally duerme en la pizza! De repente, Ms. Schultz (pick a lunch attendant that works in your school) entra en la cafetería. Ms. Schultz ve a Sally y está muy enojada. ¡Sally no come la pizza, Sally duerme en la pizza! Ms. Schultz tiene un vaso de agua en la mano. Ms. Schultz tira agua en la cara de Sally. Sally se despierta y está muy enojada.
At this point I stop and let the students decide the ending. I will ask "¿Cómo reacciona Sally?". Students can give me any suggestions using anything that they know how to say in Spanish or 2 words in English. Popular endings include:
I found a great animated short called Cade meu Rango? to use for MovieTalk. If you are not familiar with this technique you can read more about it here. This animated short is about a man that falls asleep and every time he wakes up different foods from his fridge are missing. He comes up with plans to try and catch whoever is stealing his food, but there is a great twist ending (I'll let you watch it to see what it is).
There are lots of possibilities with the language that you could use to narrate this animated short. I like that there is a pattern in the actions of the main character because it provides great repetition for the students.
Activities: When you are finished narrating the video here are a few ideas...
1. Take screen shots of the video and have the students sequence the story. I will orally re-tell the story and when students see a picture that matches with what I am saying they sequence the pictures on the SmartBoard. You could also print the pictures out of order and have the students individually sequence the story using numbers.
2. Print pictures from the story and a short description for each picture. Have students match each picture to the correct description.
3. Type the story and have students change 5 details in the story. Then switch stories with a partner and read each other's stories.
4. Type the story into several paragraphs. Have the students draw a picture next to each paragraph to show that they understood what they read.
5. Play the Flyswatter game! Print the screenshots from the movie and orally describe what is happening and have the students swat the picture that you are describing with the flyswatter. This way students are hearing and comprehending entire sentences and not just individual words. First person to hit the correct picture earns a point for their team. This is a great way to play this game because students have to process language chunks and not just individual words.
My fourth graders are currently working with the structures huele bien/huele mal (smells good/smells bad). Although these are not high frequency structures they are compelling and talking about how things smell can provide great context for reviewing other high frequency words.
Intro: I started out my lesson by having students pull items from my Caja mágica, or magic box, and then telling them to smell them. The box contained items such as pizza, noses, eyes, rats, donuts, and anything else that would get their imaginations working. They got to decide if the item smelled good or bad and I was able to do a lot of great circling and Personalized Questions and Answers (PQA) with their responses. This is an important step because it allows the students to hear and contextualize the new vocabulary word in a simple context. Having the students pull items from the magic box is great because it provides excitement and suspense...nobody knows what is coming next!
The basic premise of the story below is that one of the students in class is having a party and is inviting all of his interesting friends.
Structures in this story:
I raided my prop closet and found 5 outfits for characters that could come to the party, so feel free to substitute any of the characters that I used for your own. I introduced the actors one at a time to help build suspense. Once a character was introduced I dressed them up and instructed them on how to open the door to the party. This was a fun and novel way to review abre/cierra. The doctor opens the door and enters like a zombie, but the monster opens the door slowly and enters like a ballerina. The more details you can add the more interesting it becomes to the students. Plus they love to see their classmates galavanting around the classroom like ballerinas (note that I didn't include the repetitions of abre/cierra in the reading). Once everyone is at the party the host notices that it smells bad. He then goes around the party smelling the guests and trying to figure out who the culprit is. In the end it is the princess that stinks because she is carrying a cat around in her purse. The host runs to the cabinet and grabs Febreze and sprays the cat with Febreze. After the cat smells good everyone dances and has a great time at the party.
Reading: The next class period I had my students read the story. I told them to draw a picture next to each paragraph that shows that they understand the meaning of the text. I included footnotes for words that they didn't know and wouldn't be able to figure out using context clues. After they were done drawing the pictures I had them turn the paper over and write a new ending to the story. I gave them the staring sentence of Carlos está furioso, and then they had to come up with the rest. I have a word wall in my classroom that lists lots of great action and connecting words and the students used these words to write their endings. I told the students that I wasn't going to tell them how to say anything, they just had to focus on what they already knew. After they were done writing their endings (around 5 min) they traded papers with a partner and drew their partners ending.
The next class period I had typed all of their endings to fix any grammar or spelling mistakes and I put them on the SmartBoard and read them aloud to the class. The students had a sense of accomplishment to see their name attached to something that they wrote in Spanish on the board. Plus a lot of their endings were way more creative and funny than mine!
This story was a complete home run in my class! I introduced trae (brings) to my students through having students pick items from the Caja mágica or Magic Box. I then described the items and told the class that the student brought the item to Spanish class. Then in Spanish I asked them "Why did you bring _______ to Spanish class?". My students are allowed to offer suggestions using anything that they know how to say in Spanish or using two words in English. When a student starts to give me a long idea in English I hold up two fingers (to signal that I will only take 2 words in English) and I call on another student. At this point in the year they have become great about following this rule which helps to keep them speaking and hearing the target language. Students pulled eyes, pants, coffee, rats, and ears out of the box. It was fun to hear the students come up with ideas as to why these items were brought to Spanish class. This activity was a great way to provide repetitions of trae and recycle old vocabulary words.
Next, I asked the students questions with ¿Traes? (do you bring). I asked them if they brought chocolate to their mom, coffee to the music teacher, cars to the school principal and they had to stand by a sign that says Si if their answer was 'yes' and a sign that says No if their answer was 'no'. I then asked PQA (personalized question & answer) questions to get even more repetitions of trae.
The next day I did a lot of TPR practice with 'le da' (gives to him/her). The class then acted out mini stories where a student brought items to different teachers in the school (great reps of trae) and gave them the item (more reps of le da). After the student gave the item to the teacher I asked for suggestions on how the teacher reacted.
The students loved giving their input as to how the teachers reacted to these strange gifts. After we acted out several mini stories, I put the following story on the SmartBoard screen to read to the students. I read the story out loud and the students followed along with me. There was an actor at the front of the room that acted out each sentence after I read it.
Hay una princesa. La princesa se llama Isabela. Isabela es la princesa de Winnetka.
The following class period we did a technique called ''All the World's a Stage" (I first heard about this from Karen Rowan, but I know that it originally came from someone else). In this activity the entire class acts out the story in groups of 2. One person in the group plays the part of Isabela and the other person plays the part of everyone else. It is important to set some ground rules with so many people moving around, so make sure you make your expectations clear before you get started.
Next, I orally re-told the story in small language chunks (I chose 12) and the students drew a comic to demonstrate their understanding. I orally read each language chunk several times while the students drew a sketch of what I was saying. When I moved on to the next language chunk the students drew in the next box, etc. In the end the students used their comic pictures to orally re-tell the story to their classmates.