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!