Sunday, December 27, 2015

Practice with the Verb SER

It seems somewhat backwards that students of a foreign language tend to learn about the grammar of a language before they can actually speak the language.  With our first language, we learn how to speak words first as a baby, then sentences as a toddler, until finally we begin learning about grammar as six- or seven-year-olds.  This natural order is why many teachers of a foreign language are using the TPRS method, or in other words a story-based way of teaching.  A great place to see this type of Spanish instruction in action is on Señor Jordan's YouTube channel.  He tells a series of stories about a monkey on an island that are interactive and target specific grammar structures, so you will find yourself picking up some Spanish grammar without having to study it formally.  Eventually though, if you want to become proficient at a language you will need to study the grammar.  Most students don't find this appealing, and that is why I always look for new, interactive ways I can teach grammar structures to my students without it feeling like a lesson.

No More Textbooks

I came up with this "Build a Verb" series for my brother.  I have been teaching him Spanish since he was around seven years old.  We have focused mainly on learning words and phrases.  I tried doing a formal textbook with him one year and he hated it, so we quit.  He loves learning and speaking Spanish, and I was not about to let a textbook stop him!  We later tried a workbook that he did okay with, but it still bogged down his learning pace and took the fun out of Spanish for him.  So we quit that too.  This year I created a video-based curriculum for him from things I found on YouTube.  After the New Year, I plan to introduce a few grammar "lessons," and they of course will be interactive and fun.  

To Be or To Be

Our first grammar point to tackle will be the verbs SER and ESTAR.  Both of these verbs mean "to be," and are used frequently in everyday conversation.  We will use this "Build a Verb" game first to  practice saying the verb ser with different subjects (conjugation).  I made a printable for you too, so you can follow along.  First, print off the printable from the link below.  If you haven't learned about this verb at all, go here next.  Then have fun building the verb for practice.

I will be keeping all of our Build a Verb sets in Ziplock baggies like this.

Included in the set you will find: all English phrases with the to be verb.  For example, "I am," "You are," "S/he is," and so on.  Then also a set of Spanish subjects (the person or persons doing the action of the sentence), and a set of letters used to build the verb ser for different conjugations.

I made a grid out of tape to divide the different conjugations. You may have seen something like this before.  If not, let me explain.  The left side is for singular subjects: I, you, he, she, and it.  The right side is for plural subjects: we, y'all, you all, and they.

yo = I
él, ella
ellos, ellas

I started by laying out the English phrases first.

Next match up the singular Spanish subjects...

...then plural.

Then lay out all the single letters and start building the Spanish verbs.  There are a few extra letters you won't need to make it a little extra challenging.

The end product should look like this.

This exercise would be good to do more than once in a single sitting, as a team, or you could even have students race against each other or the clock.

Feliz verbing!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Tree Ten Frames in Spanish

Much of what I do for Spanish lesson ideas consists of scouring the internet for meaningful learning activities in English, which I then translate into Spanish.  When I began researching math curricula for my Kindergartner, I came across the word subitize, which to my knowledge means "to recognize a number without counting."  I had never heard of it, and had no awareness of it being a necessary math skill.  Spanish is my forte, remember?  Since then, I continued my research on how to teach numbers to kids and built my collection of math resources and ideas.  For example, I bought this extensive Numbers 1-20 Mega Bundle from "A Spoonful of Learning."  And that is where I came across ten frames.  For a while I used the ten frames without thinking about it,  trusting that the math-teaching experts had me covered.  Then one day while reading more materials about teaching math to kids (I have to do a lot of research on teaching math!) I discovered the ten frame tool is used to help kids learn how to subitize!  Finally I understood why I kept seeing them EVERYWHERE.  And like all good things I find on the internet, I make sure we have a SPANISH version to go with it.  One of my favorite ten frame resources is this fun Pumpkin Ten Frame game from Playdough to Plato.  It inspired the Christmas tree ten frames I made here.  (You can download the printable with the link at the end of this post.)  Make sure you visit Playdough to Plato for the instructions on how to play.

For Beginners

Focus on practicing how to say the number in Spanish.  When you roll the dice, say the number in Spanish.  If your child doesn't know the number right away, all the better!  You can count in Spanish to find out what it is.

I did this with my four-year-old who is beginning to recognize some of his numbers.  I let him do it in English, and then reminded him of the name for the number in Spanish.  He is my little buddy that always likes to do activities with me.  He sat and did this sheet on his own after I modeled a few.

For Intermediate Learners

Play the game using as many Spanish phrases as you can.  Here is a chart to help:

echa los dados
EH-chah lohs DAH-dohs
“roll the dice”
te toca
tay TOH-kah
“it’s your turn”
me toca
may TOH-kah
“it’s my turn”
¿A quién le toca?
ah kee-EHN lay TOH-kah
“Whose turn is it?”
te toca lanzar
tay TOH-kah lahn-SAHR
“your turn to roll”
“How much/many?”
count (the command)
"let’s count"
¿Dónde está ése número?
DOHN-day eh-STAH EH-say NOO-mehr-oh
“Where is that number?”
¿Dónde está?
DOHN-day eh-STAH
“Where is it?”
¿Qué número es?
kay NOO-mehr-oh ehs
“What number is it?”

Feliz subitizing!

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: This is 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: "This 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!!