Tuesday, October 13, 2015

That's Not My Pumpkin: A Spanish Story to Learn Spanish Colors

Buy these here!

What Could Be So Hard About Learning Colors?  

During a conversation with my sister-in-law the other day, I realized learning colors in Spanish presents some problems I had forgotten about.  She said, "I noticed when we were watching a video on YouTube that sometimes the color word will end in o and then other times the same word ends in an a."  That got me to thinking.  How could I explain this concept to parents so they can understand it, and in turn teach their children?  When it comes to learning, my perfectionism really kicks in, and I get frustrated easily if I come across something that I do not understand, or that takes some time to unpack.  I always keep that frustration in the back of my mind when trying to find way to help parents help their children learn Spanish.  I want to help the learning go as smoothly as possible.


Why Are Spanish Colors So Complicated?  

After a few weeks of that conversation hanging around in my head, this pumpkin story idea struck me.  I actually had written a pumpkin story to practice adjectives like bumpy, scratchy, rough, smooth, big, tall, small, and the like.  Then I realized--that is exactly why Spanish colors can be tricky to learn: sometimes they are adjectives.  For example, on the one hand you have the noun yellow--it's a thing, you know?  The color yellow.  And on the other hand, the color yellow can also describe something.  And that's where we run into trouble with Spanish.  Because gender.  Wait.  What does gender have to do with describing something?  



Unless you have studied or speak another language besides English, you're probably thinking, "What?! Why is gender an issue when learning Spanish?"  Well, because somewhere along the way, somebody or something decided that Spanish nouns (persons, places, things) needed to be classified, or sorted, into two groups: feminine and masculine.  So before we can describe a noun in Spanish, we have to know if it is feminine or masculine, because there are feminine and masculine adjectives as well.


How Pumpkins Can Help  

If you are still with me, print out the pumpkin story below, and let me explain.  If a Spanish word ends in o, that usually means it is masculine.  If a Spanish word ends in a, that usually means the word is feminine.  In related news, if a Spanish color word ends in o, we simply change it to an a if we are describing the color of a feminine noun.  If you're thinking, "Kali, I hate you. You make no sense," no worries.  I know you don't hate me, and I know you will get it!  Just print out the story below.  I did all the changing for you.  All you have to do is follow my lead.

To Print

Everyone's printer is different, but what I did was print the story two pages per sheet.  When you click print, your computer should give you an option like this.  That way it comes out in a booklet size.

Next, cut the pages in half like so, and staple together.

In the story, the colors are in rainbow order.  You can leave them like this, or mix them up.  Just make sure the last page is the orange page.  This story follows the pattern of those cute little Usborne books like "That's Not My Train!" (one of my boys' favorite books when they were little).  It begins, "That's not my pumpkin.  It is _____."  Fill in the blank with any color word that's not orange.  This story line works great for learning how to describe things in any language because of the repetitive pattern. It will also work well to help you get used to hearing the feminine version of the Spanish colors.

I chose to staple our book together first.  Then I creased each page so it would stay open well for coloring.  You can do this for each of your children so they each get their own book.  Or you could wait to staple the book until the end, and give each child only a few pages to color--making one book together as a group.  This would work well for a classroom setting too--give each student one page to color--and cut down on time spent coloring.  One last option would be to color only one page per day, learning one color a day at a time, until you have completed the book and can read it to review the colors all together.

There is a color guide at the end of the story to explain the different feminine and masculine versions of each color word.  You will notice that some of the color words stay the same for feminine and masculine nouns.

Each page begins with:

Ésta no es mi calabaza.

Translation: That's not my pumpkin. 

Pronounced, "EH-stah no ehs mee cahl-ah-BAH-sah."

And then:
Es azul. 

Or whatever the color may be. Es (pronounced "ehs") means "it is."  The word that comes after "Es" is the color word.

Lastly we have the last page that says:

¡Ésta sí es mi calabaza!
Es anaranjada.

Pronounced: "EH-stah see ehs mee kahl-ah-BAH-sah.  Ehs ah-nah-rahn-HAH-dah."
Translated: "That one, yes, is my pumpkin!  It's orange!"

Remember the story has a chart that helps you pronounce each color word.  I hope you all have fun putting this story together and reading it over and over again!

Feliz coloring!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

B de bruja {The Letter Bb in Spanish}

Next up! The letter B. Two letters in, I'm still finding words that can relate to the fall theme; today that's bruja and búho, or witch and owl.  At our house we'll be using some drawing tutorials to learn the new letter and words.  (For help with pronouncing Spanish letters go here.). Once you have drawn the pictures, you can write the phrase "Bb de bruja," or "Bb de búho."  Keep these pages and at the end of the alphabet, hopefully we will have one for each letter to make an alphabet book your kids can read!

For some vocab cards and matching word/picture games, consider this post from Spanish Playground.  The printable is free and includes other fun Halloween-themed words besides witch.

---> HOW TO DRAW AN OWL <---

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Learn Spanish With Kids: Week One

Don't Give Up.

Before reading any further: go buy yourself this mug.  Drink your morning coffee or tea or lemon water from it each day for a reminder that--you got this!  (If you haven't been following along lately go here to see what I mean by "this.")  I thought you might appreciate this bit of encouragement before I mentioned the phrase "lesson plans."  What?  You do not have time to plan out Spanish lessons for your kids?  That is exactly why I made some for you. Easy peasy. 

Buy it here!

Are Your Excuses Better Than Mine?

Might I ask, How's it been going finding a time each day to practice Spanish with your kidlets?  Honestly speaking, we have only listened to the Alphabet Playlist once around here because a) I took the YouTube app off my phone to make room for more photos and b) our speakers went out that I hook my phone up to which means we have to listen to the music on the computer in my tiny office which means we don't.  I'm sure you have plenty of excuses like mine, so let's challenge each other this week to say NO. MORE. EXCUSES.  (If you need to get them out of your system, comment below with the things that are holding you back from doing Spanish each day, and we can encourage each other to not give up.)

What You Need for This Week

Here is my idea for this week.  How about we focus on listening to at least ONE Spanish alphabet song each day?  For the playlist go here ---> Learn Spanish with Kids ABCs.  My oldest son's favorite so far is song #4.  it's pretty catchy and also a little creepy!  After the song we will play one quick and easy alphabet game.  You can either come to this post each day to follow along with the plan, or print out the guide I have below.  The guide also has the alphabet chart with a pronunciation guide which would be helpful for the parents to have on hand as you play the games.  Try to do any prep before the week begins so you can just grab and go on each day.

Lesson 1

Song #1
Older Kids: Have the kids come up with an action or sign with their body that looks like the letter.  Listen to the song again and when you sing the letter, make the letter with your body.  This might be too tricky for littler kids to remember and might frustrate them, but I have done it with students ages 7 through high school and it has been a hit!
Younger Kids:  Write each letter of the Spanish alphabet on a piece of paper or index card.  Lay out each one on your floor in a circle.  As the song plays, have your kids jump from letter to letter.

Lesson 2

Song #1
Game: Same as Monday.

Lesson 3

Song #2
Game: Write out each vowel on a piece of paper or index card.  Tape them in various places throughout the room.  Yell out a random vowel and have the kids race to where that vowel is hanging in the room.  Repeat until the kids are out of breath.

Lesson 4

Song #2
Game: Same as Wednesday, but this time have the kids take turns yelling out the letters.

Lesson 5

Any Song
Game: Grab a ball.  Toss it around to each other.  As you toss it, say the alphabet together.

Lesson 6

ABC Playlist
Game: You'll probably be on the go, so listen to the play list in the car. Or just take turns saying a letter of the alphabet until you have recited the whole thing a few times.

Lesson 7

Favorite Song
Game: See if you can say the alphabet backwards together.  Keep trying until you can do it without mistakes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

When You Read You Begin With ABC

I started a series recently of blog posts for parents who do not speak Spanish, but want their children to learn it.  I am pretty excited about it really.  That is one of the big goals/reasons/motivations for this blog actually.  My first post addressed the "How To" of helping your kids learn Spanish--like where to start with your mindset and goals and expectations.  You will definitely want to go read it here if you have not already.  Here is a summary of our plan of attack for those of you who have read it:

1.  Do it everyday.
2.  Have one "lesson" a week.
3.  Don't give up.
4.  Make it fun.
5.  Set goals.
6.  Think like a baby.

Today I want to address number one.  Before you even start worrying about "lesson plans" (review here what I mean by "lesson"), you will want to make Spanish a part of your daily routine.  "How can I make Spanish a part of my day without having a lesson?" you ask?  With music!  Of course there are other things like games, activities, finger plays, but in my humble opinion music is the easiest, most fun way to begin learning a foreign language.

You and your children can benefit from listening to music without having to "learn" anything.  Do not worry about understanding all the words you hear.  Just have fun and let your ears and brain do the work.  You will begin to pick up on things like pronunciation, rhythm of the language, and even a few words--especially if you watch a music video with visual cues.  Here is a playlist of fun songs I put together covering the Spanish alphabet.**  We all have different music tastes so I tried to find a wide variety.  You will not hurt my feelings if you choose to skip over a few.  Some kid songs can grate on my nerves a little, you know what I mean?

Now jump right in!  Find a time each day and try to listen to at least two or three of these songs.  It might even be best, once you find a few "faves," to listen to those same ones each day until you have them memorized.  Enjoy!

**Note to Parents:  The Spanish alphabet has changed over the years and varies by region.  Some of the songs actually include letters that are no longer in the Spanish alphabet, and you will notice some of the songs have different names for a certain letter than other songs.  The Royal Spanish Academy has published an "official" list of names for each letter.  I would say, don't fret too much about that right now and just learn the variations.  You can refer to the chart below for how to pronounce each letter, or check out this video on YouTube.

FYI I tested this song list out on my kiddos and they liked it.  It kept the attention of my 5-year-old for about twenty minutes.  He replayed the song with the puppets about five times (which was probably one of my least favorites haha!)  Let me know how it goes for you and your family and if you have any questions that come up!  I may not have the answer but I would love to help you find it.  Feliz alphabeting!

Spanish Letter
Official Letter Name
Alternate Names
How *I* Write the Pronunciation for English Speakers


bay (beh)

say (seh)
no longer a letter
chay (cheh)

day (deh)

ay (eh)

AY-fay (EH-feh)

hay (heh)

AH-chay (AH-cheh)

ee (like in feet)



AY-lay (EH-leh)
no longer a letter
AY-yay (EH-yeh)

AY-may (EH-meh)

AY-nay (EH-neh)

AYN-yay (EHN-yeh)

oh (like in open)

pay (peh)

coo (like a baby coos)

AY-ray (EH-reh)
no longer a letter
AY-rray (EH-rreh)

AY-say (EH-she)

tay (teh)

ve (bay/beh)
OO-bay (oo as in boo)
uve doble
doble ve, doble u
OO-bay DOH-blay

AY-keys (EH-keys)
i griega (ee gree-AY-gah
yay (yeh)

SAY-tah (SEH-tah)
a, Ab, Bc, Cd, De, Ef, Fg, Gh, Hi, Iabecedeeefegehacheij, Jk, Kl, Lm, Mn, Nñ, Ño, Op, Pq, Qjotakaeleemeeneeñeopecur, Rs, St, Tu, Uv, Vw, Wx, Xy, Yz, Zerreeseteuuveuve dobleequisyezeta - See more at: http://www.rae.es/consultas/un-solo-nombre-para-cada-letra#sthash.3MZqybLR.C86eablA.dpuf