Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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

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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!!

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 <---

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A de araña {The Letter Aa in Spanish}

For the last two Octobers we have done letter-focused learning along with many others around the internet as part of 31 Days of ABCs, hosted by All Done Monkey, and this year it's on a hiatus.**

In its place, I thought we could have fun learning the Spanish letters with a fall theme.  Currently we are practicing the Spanish alphabet as a whole in the Learn Spanish with Kids series, and focusing on one letter a day will help reinforce that learning.  I do not know if I will be able to think of something fall-ish for each letter, but I am going to try!  Up first is A de araña (ah day ah-RAHN-yah), that's how they say "S is for spider" in Spanish.

For Beginners

To keep things simple for beginners I made some fun and easy printables that focus solely on the letter and the chosen fall word.  You can print one for your family from the link at the end of this post.  My kids are my test market and the data came back as a thumbs up for this one.  (We have done fun projects like this in English with this printable from TheMeasuredMom.com)  The printable I made has a lowercase and capital letter to choose from, and a sheet of spider images. 

My four-year-old is just beginning to learn his letters and my five-year-old is practicing the formation of the lowercase letters, so I printed one of each.  I love Spanish lessons that incorporate more than just Spanish, so I modeled the letter formation with the glue bottle as my "marker" for each of the kiddos, then asked them to put the glue on like they were writing the letter.

While the kids are gluing on the spiders, you can say things like "The word for spider in Spanish is araña," or "In Spanish this is the letter a." (Pronounced ah.)  Have the kids take turns practicing saying the new letter and the new word.  We even sang the letter A to the tune of "Jingle Bells," you know, like Elmo does at the end of Elmo's World?

In addition, I wrote the letter A on a sentence strip and glued one of the extra spider pictures next to it.  This will hang above our kitchen table so we can practice it and see it each day as we eat.  Then I can add to it for each letter that gets introduced.

I have these clipboards Velcroed to the wall above our school desk and we use it to hang our most current project that needs to dry.  Ta-da!

More Preschool & Elementary Age Ideas

Click this link to print out a fun counting story I made about spiders, or you can also hop on over to Spanish Playground for some free Itsy Bitsy Spider Sequencing Cards in Spanish.  When you click over, you will also find a YouTube video that sings the song for you.  You can listen to the song and have your kids tell the story with the pictures as it plays.

More Ideas for Older Students

Check out these interesting facts about spiders--all in Spanish!  This would be a great article to have your junior high or high school students read.  Then ask them to summarize some facts for you in a short oral report.
Or here is a video with some horrific facts about spiders in Spanish.  Please don't click through if you don't like spiders.  I'm sure some of my boy students would think this video is pretty interesting.

More ABC Fun

For more ideas and a fun FREE printable to practice the letter "A" in Spanish, check out my post: La letra A!  And be sure to peruse the treasure trove of alphabet activities from each year of 31 Days of ABCs over at All Done Monkey.
Feliz spidering!