Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spanish Now! Level 1 // My Review

I know that many of you are probably gearing up for a new school year!  In the spirit of "Back to School" I have some vlog and blog posts planned to help you out.  Today on the vlog I review my old and trusty Spanish Now! Level 1 book that I have used for almost four years teaching high school Spanish.  One of the reasons I love this textbook is that I feel it lends itself well for use in the home school.  Being a home school graduate and now teacher of home schoolers I know how hard it can be to find a way to offer a foreign language option to your students without spending hundreds of dollars.  So check out my reasons why this might be the book for you.  **Please note: This is not a paid or sponsored post...it's just me talking about a book I really like and think you might like too!**

1)  This book is affordable at the marked retail price of $18.99, but you can get it even cheaper online or at your local used bookstore.  Since it is a consumable text (students write their answers directly in the book), be sure to find one with little to no markings if you are going the used route.

2)  The answers to all of the exercises are in the back of the book.  Students can check their work after each work unit (chapter) and not be left to wonder if they are "getting it" or completing the exercises correctly.

Source
3)  Every new concept or grammar point is bite-sized and introduced with clear and thorough written explanations--as well as followed up with many practice exercises to put your new knowledge to the test and solidify the information in your brain.

4)  Most books come with a CD set that includes native speakers reading part of each story that comes at the beginning of each work unit.  Hearing a native speaker is a great way to reinforce comprehension.  Students can also use the CDs to practice their own pronunciation by repeating after the native speaker as he or she reads.








Check out the video on my YouTube channel to hear more about my reasons for using this book in my own high school Spanish classes.  Have you used this book?  What do you like or dislike about it?  Leave your comments below

 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Learn Spanish Through Play: Sorting Toy Animals

I am always looking for ways to teach my kids Spanish using items we already have on hand.  This sorting activity that we did below is SUPER simple and free!  All you need are some bins for sorting, tape, paper, and a Sharpie for labeling.

One day as we were putting our Beanie Baby toys away for the hundredth time it dawned on me that the animals could be sorted by habitats.  Then of course I started thinking about how to turn that idea into a Spanish lesson.  You can use any group of toys for a sorting activity like the one below, and use it to learn Spanish!  Group your toys by shapes, colors, size, beginning letter sounds, whatever subject you are currently teaching your kids or students.

We started by placing all of our Beanie Babies in a pile next to the toy bins they belong in.  (These bins are actually stacking bins for lockers I purchased at Wal-Mart last Back-to-School season.)
 

Next, I made some labels with the names of different habitats in which all the animals live.  I simply used scrap paper, a Sharpie and some tape.  We did this activity a while ago, and the labels are still there!


Your labels may look different than ours, depending on the toys you decide to sort.  If you need help finding the Spanish word for your sorting categories, just go to www.wordreference.com and use the English-Spanish dictionary to help you out.  Our sorting categories were: 

la granja = the farm
la casa = the house
la selva = the jungle
el bosque = the forest
el campo = the countryside/meadow
el aire = the air
el agua = the water

And since this picture was taken I have added a couple to the last label:
la hierba = the grass
la playa = the beach


You can see that I drew little picture clues next to each word label.  My boys are not of reading age yet, so this is a must for us.  



The great thing about this activity is that it can be repeated and adapted each time you put your toys away!  Do not be afraid to break the learning into small bits.  For example, the first time we played this sorting game I only made the labels and then our conversation went something like this: 

Me: "What animal do you have there?"
Jovencito: "A HORSE!"
Me: "Where does he live?"
Jovencito: "On the farm."
Me: "You are right!  Look, here (pointing to the label) is the farm, in Spanish we say la granja.  Can you put the horse in his home, en la granja?"

I might have them repeat the word after me, or even teach them the word for horse (el caballo) as well.  Right now my Spanish goal for my boys is exposure.  I want to try to expose them to the language as much as possible.  If our Spanish play feels too much like a lesson they get overwhelmed with what they do not know or cannot understand.  However if we are having fun and I play games with them, their little brains do the learning for them.


That's why, if you feel comfortable, you can model phrases like this as well (bold print is what you say out loud):

(Holding the animal yourself and speaking in a funny voice) "Hola!  Soy un caballo!  Yo vivo en la granja!"  That means, "Hello!  I am a horse!  I live on the farm!"


Then have the horse go cloppity-clop to the farm bin.  Simple as that.  


Here's my little jovencito finding where the dog (el perro) lives.


We also played the game like this: 
Me: ¿Dónde vive el perro? (Where does the dog live?) ¿Dónde vive...? means Where does it live?
I made the "I don't know" shrug and then pointed to the animal when I said its name.
Next my little jovencito walked the animal to its rightful home.  
Playing like this does not require any "work" from the kiddos and feels more like a game to them, yet they are able to hear, and understand the context of, full Spanish phrases.


You can also just make simple statements and point to where the animal goes:  "La cebra vive en el campo."  In this instance I had to simplify some habitat names.  Zebras live in the savannas but that is so specific so you can use the word prairie or plain, which translates to la pradera in Spanish.  I chose el campo because that means field, countryside, or meadow.  Or to make things even easier, make one label that says zoológico, and any animal that you cannot observe near where you live can live at the zoo.


Depending on the labels you make, here are some example phrases you could use for the photo above:

"El gavilán vive en el aire." = The vulture lives in the air.
"El pájaro vive en el aire." = The bird lives in the air.
"El pájaro vive en el árbol." = The bird lives in the tree.


Remember you will get the chance to try this activity each time you put the toys away, so don't get too overwhelmed with all of the possibilities.  Start simple.  Even if you just learn a few animal names to start out and do the rest in English!  And as you get more comfortable, add more words or phrases each time you put the toys away.


A bonus is that your kids won't feel like they are cleaning up, but that they are playing a game.


So you can learn Spanish and have a clean play area when you're finished!  No matter what, just make sure you are having fun!  I'd love to hear what games you have come up with to learn Spanish with your toys at home.  Leave a comment or a link below to share.  Feliz sorting!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Activities for the Spanish Classroom


Looking for a fun way to introduce St. Patrick's Day vocabulary?  Try this fun handmade memory match game.  It takes less than fifteen minutes to make and works great in any Spanish classroom from beginning readers to high school.

To begin, I grabbed a couple packages of these sparkly foam shamrocks from my local Deals.  At home, I got out my Word Reference app to double-check spellings and look up words I didn't know...for example I didn't know the Spanish word for Leprechaun!  Here is the list of vocabulary words I chose:

trébol (TREH-bohl) = clover/shamrock
trébol de cuatro hojas (...day KWAH-troh OH-hahs) = four-leaf clover
duende (DWEN-day) = leprechaun
olla de oro (OH-yah day ORE-oh) = pot of gold
arco iris (AHR-koh EE-rees) = rainbow
suerte (SWEHR-tay) = luck
suertudo (swehr-TOO-doh) = lucky
afortunado (ah-for-too-NAH-doh) = lucky
Irlanda (eer-LAHN-dah) = Ireland
irlandés (eer-lahn-DEHS) = Irish
verde (BEHR-day) = green

Once you have your list of words chosen, simply write each Spanish and its corresponding English word on the back of each clover.


To play the game, lay out each clover face-down.  Have students take turns turning over two clovers at a time.  If they turn over a Spanish word and the matching English word they have a match!  After finding a match they can have another turn.  The child with the most matches wins!


I played this game with my brother and sister, both of whom are in high school, and we had a blast.  Obviously the game is geared more towards children, but since the vocabulary was new to them it was still a challenge.  This game can be used with any set of new vocab and works great for those students who prefer not to practice vocab with flashcards.  

With my little kiddos at home, I chose ONE new St. Patrick's Day word to teach them and made a coloring sheet for it.  You can print one for your own kiddos here.  This new word is also in our Color of the Month book, which you can also print out and color.  Below is the one my two-year-old colored.  He really enjoys coloring these days and works to stay in the lines (on his own accord).  I let him choose his own colors and medium.  It is fun to see his creativity at work.  If your children or students color one I'd love to see a picture of it!  You can post it to my Facebook page to share here.



If you would like more St. Patrick's Day activities in Spaish check out these awesome resources!

Check out these bilingual activities for celebrating St. Patrick's day from Mommy Maestra.
Spanish Playground has a great list here of FREE St. Patrick's Day printables.
Modern Mami has also compiled a great list of activities and crafts for St. Patrick's Day here.







Arco Iris Activities & Free Printable

It wouldn't be spring without a few rainbow activites, right?  There are so many great rainbow activities out there to try with your kiddos or students, and of course they provide great opportunities for learning colors in Spanish.  Arco iris (AHR-koh EE-rees) is the word for rainbow in Spanish.  You can check out some of my favorite rainbow activities on my rainbow pinterest board, and see below for the rainbow activities we have been doing as of late.  Don't forget to print out the free printable at the end!

This first project is one that I have wanted to do for a while now, and am finally getting around to it.  You can use the concept for any new vocabulary you are trying to teach or learn in Spanish that is relatively simple to draw.  If your kiddos are learning their colors in Spanish, have them practice with this fun activity:

Start by drawing a rainbow with seven arcs.


Next, write out a Spanish color word guide for your child to reference.  Listed here are the color words in Spanish, and you can check out this chart I made for pronunciation help.

ROJO--red
ANARANJADO--orange
AMARILLO--yellow
VERDE--green
AZUL--blue
MORADO--purple
VIOLETA--violet

Have your child write out the word in its own color for each arc.  This repetition will really help them practice the meaning and spelling of the word; and since it's art it won't seem tedious, but fun.


Have them try lowercase, uppercase, cursive, or a mixture.


When it is all finished, you will have a great visual reference for Spanish colors to hang in your home.  Put it close to where you have Spanish lessons so the kids can use it when they need to remember the names of colors.




Here you can print the rainbow coloring sheet you see in the picture.  You can use it for the color word project above, or just a fun coloring sheet for younger children.  The letters are great to use for handwriting practice too. 

We have been watching this fun Spanish song about the colors of the rainbow, be sure to check it out.  If you are having trouble viewing it, you can watch it here on YouTube.














Friday, March 14, 2014

Color of the Month Activities: Verde

We have had fun this month exploring the color green.  Here is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to practice talking about the color green in Spanish.


Collect some newspaper ads.  Grab a pair of scissors and tape.  Hang a big sheet of paper or posterboard on your refrigerator.  With your child spend time looking through the ads for things of the color green.


Here are some great phrases you can use in Spanish:

¿Dónde está algo verde? (DOHN-day eh-STAH AHL-goh BEHR-day) = Where is something green?
Veo algo verde aquí. (BAY-oh AHL-goh BEHR-day ah-KEE) = I see something green right here.
¡Busquemos el color verde! (boo-SKAY-mohs AHL-goh BEHR-day) = Let's look for the color green!
Lo pegamos aquí. (loh pay-GAH-mohs ah-KEE) = We will glue/tape it here.

¿Te gusta el color verde? (tay GOOS-tah ehl koh-LOHR BEHR-day) = Do you like the color green?
¿Cuál es tu color favorito? (kwahl ehs too koh-LOHR fah-bohr-EE-toh) = What is your favorite color?
¿Qué color es? (kay koh-LOHR ehs) = What color is it?

¿Es esto verde? (ehs EHS-toh BEHR-day) = Is this green?



El rubio and I did this activity the other day after breakfast.  What's fun is that the green collage can stay there all month for us to add to.  We can see it from our kitchen table and continue to talk about it and the things we have glued to it.  Just like the phrases in the color green book we read at circle time, we can talk about the things on the poster.  For example we have a green fish glued up there and we can say: "El pez es verde."  (The fish is green.)  Or while I am fixing dinner I can hand el rubio a green crayon and say: "Dibuja algo verde."  (Draw something green.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

SER vs ESTAR Practice Exercises, Paragraphs, Worksheets

If you are in high school Spanish, or if you have taken it before, you know that SER vs ESTAR is one of the tricky grammar points to master.  In English, there is only one "to be," and it comes in the forms of am, is, or are.  We say:

I am tired.
He is from San Diego.
We are going to the store.
They are tall.
I am nice.
It is two o'clock in the afternoon.

However, in Spanish there are TWO ways to say "to be."

SER means "to be" when we are talking about personality, physical characteristics, time, origin, nationality, or profesion.  Looking at the sentences above, with which ones do you think we would use SER? *answers below

ESTAR means "to be" when we are talking about feelings, emotions, temporary states (like being sick or happy), location (like Where is the bathroom?), and reactions (like, Wow that coffee is hot!).  We also use ESTAR to form the Present Progressive tense (-ing sentences like, He is working), and we use it when we have a past participle we are using as an adjective (like, That seat is taken).  Can you identify which sentences above would use ESTAR? **answers below

Check out these videos for more grammar explanation and practice!

And here are some online quizzes and paragraphs that will check your answers for you so you can see how well you are understanding the concepts!

*(2, 4, 5, & 6)**(1, 3)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Color of the Month: Verde

March is here!  Where we live, we gain sixty-nine minutes of daylight by the end of the month.  I am pumped.  Even though our temperatures for this time of year have been way below average, we still have had fun crafting and coloring all things spring.  Goodbye hearts, hello shamrocks!

We chose green for our color to learn this month. And by we I mean me.  But hey, if I don't get excited about the color of the month, who will?  I thought it would be fun to write a story to read each day at our circle time.  Yes we have circle time with just the four of us.  I guess it seems a little silly, but the routine and repetition has really helped some of the Spanish stick in my kiddos' heads.  I love to hear them walk around singing songs from our circle time routine.  Just tonight I heard el rubio singing, "tengo veinte años."  Which means, "I am twenty years old."  He's three.  But he thinks it's funny to say he's twenty.

I digress.  Soon I should blog about what we do at circle time, until then, here is just a part of our morning routine: our color of the month story.  Below is a video (and here is a {FREE Printable} for you) so you can read along with us!  In some ways I am reluctant to put videos out there of me speaking Spanish--but I want other non-native Spanish speakers to know that we can do this.  Even if your accent is not perfect, if you mess up on gender, or if you don't know a word, just HABLA!  Your kids won't learn Spanish if they do not hear it spoken.  I keep reminding myself: better for them to hear a funny accent in Spanish than no Spanish at all.

I would love for you to link up your own activities and ideas for learning the color VERDE!