Friday, August 24, 2012

Ethnic Enrichment Festival 2012

The weather could not have been more perfect last weekend for enjoying the Ethnic Enrichment Festival.  If you missed out this year, here are some pictures from our visit to enjoy until you get the chance to go yourself!  You can also read here about our trip to the festival a few years ago.

Flags from all the countries represented at the
Ethnic Enrichment Festival greeted
everyone that gathered at the entrance.

Can you guess which Spanish-speaking
counry this flag is from?

How about this one?

Can you find any Spanish-speaking
countries represented here?

After seeing all the flags, we got our Passport and
set out to "travel" to all the countries (booths).
We were greeted by a Leprechaun in "Ireland!"

Then we were "kinged" in "Scotland."

They had a fun place for kids to play
called "Children's World."

We got to do fun stuff there like paint on our faces!

And make bracelets.

In "Israel" we had our names "engraved"
 on some rocks from the Holy Land.

What did you do at the Ethnic Enrichment Festival?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

You need a "Brown-Haired Dictionary"

So you want to learn Spanish, huh?  That's awesome!!  Wondering where to start?  The first thing that probably pops into your head is Rosetta Stone, right?  (Makes sense considering how much advertising they do!)  So what IS the best way to learn a foreign language?  When I was younger I wanted to learn French...what young girl doesn't want to learn French--it's romantic!  So I went to French class with my friend, which was actually tutoring sessions with her neighbor who had fought in some war (sorry History and Timelines are not my strong suit) and had been stationed in France.  Long story short, he tried to explain to me that words had gender, which I didn't understand right away, and in those days (where my perfectionism had not gotten the best of me yet) if I didn't understand and master something right away (without having to work at it and practice) I quit--like clarinet, violin, piano, gymnastics, dance, performance, you get the idea. 

My next attempt to learn French was with a set of cassettes (yes I am old enough to know what those are) and books and a dictionary.  I think I maybe listened to it twice, thumbed through the book, was totally overwhelmed, and yes, you guessed it: quit.  Who wants to learn a language when you start with boring stuff like the alphabet!?

So I gave up on foreign languages--trying to learn them that is.  I always went around with dreams of knowing five foreign languages before I died (still a dream of mine), but I never put forth any effort to make those dreams a reality (it humbled me to have to work at something).  I didn't know how to get from being totally overwhelmed and scared at the idea of beginning to learn a new language, to being fluent like those Lee's Summit High School students that all came over and hung out with the German foreign exchange students (one of whom we were hosting at our house).  How cool was it that they got to speak another language to people from a foreign country, and then they got to travel and stay with those same students they were visiting with!  I wanted to do that!!

In high school I chose Spanish as my foreign language of choice.  I used one of those conversational, "immersion" type programs like Rosetta Stone called Power Glide.  It taught me vocabulary with pictures instead of text; it came with lots of CDs I listened to and followed al)ong with for each lesson; but all I can remember learning is how to say: “El rey y la reina están cantando en la torre.”  (Translation: The king and queen are singing in the tower.")  Not very helpful.  Author's Note: This does not mean those programs are not good, or that they do not work; I lacked the dedication and interest it took to learn a new language. 

It was not until college that I found the secret to learning a foreign language: you need to get a "Brown-Haired Dictionary."  Those are the famous words of the World's Best Spanish Professor: Dr. Brown.  What do they mean, you ask?  Well, it means you need to fall in love--now don't quit reading if you've already fallen in love.  What I mean is this.  If you want to learn a language you have to be excited about it--whether it's the culture, the food, the art, the people, or a "Brown-Haired Dictionary" (aka boyfriend or girlfriend that speaks Spanish as his or her native tongue), or just the plain love of learning.  You won't learn the language if you don't have something that you love that is driving you to do the hard work of grammar, memorization, vocabulary, and practice, practice, practice!

So when this girl says that Rosetta Stone sucks...and this guy says that Rosetta Stone won't help you read or write the foreign language you're learning (or even be fluent)...the truth is they are right.  What will help you learn a foreign language is you finding a good reason, a reason that motivates you to learn.  So go fall in love today--fall in love with some awesome Mexican food (have you tried Guadalajara Cafe? Or some great recipes from Rick Bayless?); fall in love with some good Spanish music (maybe some Latina Jazz? Or some Latin music from Putumayo?); fall in love with the Spanish-speaking peoples and cultures of the world (if you can't travel by plane, travel with Rick Steves on your couch! Or strike up a conversation with someone who speaks Spanish and "travel" to his or her hometown through stories!); fall in love with some great art (like Frida Kahlo, Diego Velazquez, or Picasso).  Just like language comes naturally to babies who are excited to explore their new world, language is much easier to learn if you have a reason to learn it. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Meet Pin-Pon

Before I had my two sweet boys and became a stay-at-home mom, I used to work at a local Early Childhood Center.  I loved that job.  The staff there was so welcoming and supportive; I gained a ton of important knowledge about early childhood development; and my position as an interpreter provided me with so much opportunity to practice my Spanish skills, expand my vocabulary, and deepen my understanding of diversity and culture.  I do not think a day goes by in which I do not use some tid-bit of wisdom, some educational tool, some piece of encouragement, or some child-training tool that I gleaned from my time there--and I would like to share some of that with you!

If you have not heard of Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, I encourage you to check it out today. For teachers and parents alike of pre-K through fifth grade children, they offer resources, tools, and curriculum to help your children or students through learning to write and all that entails.  One of their hand-on tools called "Mat Man" is a song and set of manipulatives to teach body awareness.  This activity is for pre-K children, and helps them to become aware of body parts and how to translate that onto paper.  Just like young children in the grammar stage of learning, those learning Spanish as a foreign language also begin with a foundation of grammar and vocabulary--so many times, pre-K activities work great for learning Spanish.

A few weeks ago at Spanish camp, I tried out a version of the "Mat Man" song I had written with the students.  It was so much fun I wanted to share it with you.  Here is a video of the "Mat Man" song so you can see how and what it teaches in English.  Then below, you can see how I applied the Handwriting Without Tears idea to Spanish. 

For our Spanish version, we named the character PinPon from a popular Spanish children's song.  The song sings about Pin Pon, a little doll made out of cardboard; I had collected cardboard pieces and tubes to build "Pin-Pon" so I thought the name fit perfectly.  Not only were we able to use this song to develop body awareness in Spanish (learning the names of body parts in Spanish), but we also had the opportunity to learn some great Spanish verbs.  Here is a picture of our Pin Pon and the lyrics (with a glossary below):

Pin Pon tiene cabeza, cabeza, cabeza
Pin Pon tiene cabeza...para pensar
Pin Pon tiene ojos, ojos, ojos
Pin Pon tiene ojos...para que pueda ver
Pin Pon tiene nariz, nariz, nariz
Pin Pon tiene nariz...para oler
Pin Pon tiene boca, boca, boca
Pin Pon tiene boca...para comer (y hablar y cantar)
Pin Pon tiene orejas, orejas, orejas
Pin Pon tiene orejas...para oir
[I thought it was clever to use an "O" for each ear: "O" for "oreja"]
Pin Pon tiene cuerpo, cuerpo, cuerpo
Pin Pon tiene cuerpo...para todo adentro
Su corazón, su estómago, sus pulmones
Pin Pon tiene brazos, brazos, brazos
Pin Pon tiene brazos…para abrazar
Pin Pon tiene manos, manos, manos
Pin Pon tiene manos…para escribir (y aplaudir)
Pin Pon tiene piernas, piernas, piernas
Pin Pon tiene piernas…para parar
Pin Pon tiene pies, pies, pies
Pin Pon tiene pies…para caminar (y correr y brincar)

tiene—he has
para—in order to/for
pensar—to think
para que pueda—so that he can
oler—to smell
comer—to eat
hablar—to talk/speak
cantar—to sing
oir—to hear

adentro—inside (of something)
abrazar—to hug
escribir—to write
aplaudir—to clap
parar—to stand
caminar—to walk
correr—to run
brincar—to jump

You can get creative with the materials you use to make "Pin Pon."  We used paper towel tubes for his arms and legs, toilet paper tubes for his feet.  His eyes are bottle caps; his nose is a duplo; and his hands and mouth are cut from construction paper.  We used foam letter O's for ears (orejas).  You can add yarn for hair (cabello or pelo in Spanish), or maybe use baby shoes for feet--the possibilites are endless, just grad a Spanish-English dictionary and the sky's the limit.  Have fun!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Until Next Time… (Hasta la próxima vez…)

Thank you to all of the wonderful families that made Spanish Camp 2012 (first Se Habla Spanish Camp ever!) such a success.  It was MUY fun, and we learned MUCHO!!  Here is a recap in photos of the great week...

LUNES(Monday)--Los colores
We learned the colors of the ARCO IRIS (rainbow)--rojo, anaranjado, amarillo, verde, azul, morado...and more!
Eating the rainbow
MARTES (Tuesday)--Los números
We learned how to count to ten when we read the book Los diez puntos negros.  We also had a visit from BoPeep who helped us practice counting with sheep.
We made play dough of different colors.
MIÉRCOLES (Wednesday)--Letras y comida
We went to el restaurante and made the letters of our names out of play-doh.

JUEVES (Thursday)--El cuerpo
We learned our body parts by making life-size portraits, and with the help of our special guest Pin-Pon.  We also made miniature "Pin-Pons" for snack!

VIERNES (Friday)--La familia y los opuestos
We read the book La casa adormecida, and then had fun looking for our friend "el pato."

See you next year at Spanish Camp 2013!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

¿Tiene hambre? (Are you hungry?)

Lo pasábamos bien en el Campamento del español hoy. (We had a good time at Spanish Camp today.)  ¡Aprendimos mucho sobre los vegetales y las frutas! (We learned a lot about vegetables and fruits!)  Aquí están unas fotos del día y las actividades que hicimos. (Here are some photos from the day and activities that we did.
First, we cut out some pictures of our favorite foods.
Next, we went to el restaurante.
The camarero took our order.

Then the cocinero made our food.

Luego, miramos este video para aprender las letras del alfabeto.  (Later, we watched this video to learn the letters of the alphabet.)

Después formamos nuestros nombres de plastillina para practicar las letras.  (After that we formed our names out of play dough to practice our letters.)

¿Cómo se escribe su nombre? (How do you spell your name?)