Monday, February 29, 2016

Multicultural Toys & Activities for Kids - Leap Day Spanish Skip Counting

I'm getting together with my blogging buddies Kay and Maria again to bring to you all some fun multicultural activities for kids.  Today we are celebrating Leap Day!

Maria has a 2016 Leap Day Journal for you, and

Kay has prepared a fun Arabic alphabet coloring page of the leaping Antelope for you!

Skip Counting on Lily Pads for Leap Year
One Saturday a month we have some friends over for a Spanish play date.  Between the five kids (ages 2-7) and two babies things can get a little rambunctious!  I have to pick lessons that are short, fun, and super engaging.

Two early childhood teachers I follow on Instagram (Deb and Lauren) inspired my activity for this month.  Deb has been creating fun frog activities all month in celebration of Leap Year; Lauren posted a video of her class learning to skip count by tens while jumping on the numbers.  I thought it would be fun to follow the frog theme and skip count on lily pads!

How to Skip Count in Spanish
Once your kids learn how to count to 20 in Spanish, counting by tens to 100 is a great next step.  We've been hanging out with this playlist on YouTube for a while to learn our numbers and colors.  This song in particular teaches how to "Contar por decenas" (Count by tens). Scroll to the end of this post for a skip counting chart in Spanish (complete with pronunciation guides).

Making the Lily Pads
You of course don't have to make lily pads in order to do this activity, but it does add some extra opportunities for language (like talking about the word for lily pad, frog, the color green).  For our play date I prepared the paper plates beforehand by cutting out the triangle shape and writing the numbers 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100.  I set the plates out on the table with green crayons and markers for the kids to color as they arrived.

When Things Don't Go As Planned
You may be wondering, "Then why do I see pictures of the plates being painted?"  Like with any lesson I plan, this one didn't go as planned.  Coloring did not interest the kids as much as jumping.  Who knew?  So we jumped on white lily pads with a few green scribbles.  Everyone loved it enough to stay engaged for about 10-15 minutes which is quite a long time for these ages!  After the play date I got out the green paint and my boys helped me finish decorating them.  Now they are ready to re-use all Leap Year long.

How to Adapt for Different Ages
For the oldest child I had the numbers placed in order in a diagonal pattern (like you can see in Lauren's video on Instagram).  I would call out the number in Spanish and he would jump to it.  The younger kids, however,  had a little trouble knowing which number to jump to next, so we moved the lily pads into a straight line.  As they jumped I would say the number in Spanish.

Learning While At Play
It makes my heart so happy to find these simple and easy-to-throw-together activities that the kids love.  This will be one of those "games" they request to get out again and again without realizing they are learning!


Nerdy Notes
Just a quick note about the number 100.  As you can see in the chart, the word for 100 is cien.  That's only when you are saying the number 100.  Any number in the 100s after that you will say ciento....  The "to" added on to the end is almost like saying and.  For example 101 is ciento uno 120 is ciento veinte.  Go here for a great video that teaches number 100+ if you are interested in learning more!

Also!  You may wonder why it would be important to teach your child a foreign language.  Why go to all this bother of learning how to count in Spanish?  How is counting by tens in Spanish a multicultural activity?  How I see it, is that introducing the concept of a foreign language to children exposes them to the idea that there are groups of people in the world that are different than them.  Foreign language learning opens a door to the world that invites them to ponder and explore the world at large, not just the one they are used to.   I read this week in Be Bilingual by Annika Bourgogne that, "speaking and understanding several languages helps children become more open towards different cultures and contributes to both the tolerance and the appreciation of difference." By teaching them this abstract concept that one object can be called by many different names, we are also planting the idea that there are many ways to live and do things--not just one way.

You May Also Like...
Spring Time Nature Scavenger Hunt in Spanish

Learn the Color Green in Spanish

Free Printable Book to Learn About Green in Spanish
Free Frog Printables fromLiving Montessori Now

Monday, February 22, 2016

What's a High School Homeschool Student To Do? // 7 Tips for High School Homeschool Spanish

Learning a foreign language without immersion is somewhat like trying to put together a puzzle without the original picture--you have no bigger picture to look at to reference where all the pieces go.  Or maybe it's somewhat like walking through a life-size maze--you can't see the aerial view.  There's probably going to be lots of trial and error, frustration, confusion, and moments of "This isn't worth my time," especially if you are learning on your own without a guide or program to lead you.

My hope is that this blog can help those of you who find yourself in that situation.  That's where I found myself years ago as a homeschool student.  Neither of my parents spoke a foreign language--in fact, I don't think they even took a foreign language class in high school.  As I began my high school years of school my mother and I chose a Spanish program designed for self-study similar to Rosetta Stone.  I read the lessons and listened to audio prompts and stories, and tried to memorize an assortment of vocabulary.  I ended the course knowing how to say "The queen is singing in the tower!"

Fast forward ten years or so, to me as a Spanish major graduate trying to teach my siblings Spanish, who were being homeschooled at the time.  Knowing Spanish by that point, I still found it hard to find resources for homeschoolers who wanted to learn Spanish without forking over lots of dinero.  That discovery led to me starting this blog.  I wanted to help people like the high school me needing help with Spanish, or grown-up me trying to help my siblings learn Spanish.  I figured there are probably many homeschool parents out there who took Spanish themselves, maybe know a little vocabulary, but don't have the time/energy/passion/money/resources to help their children learn it.  Of course you can take a Spanish class or hire a Spanish tutor, but usually funds for those things are used on Math tutors or Debate classes, or sports.  My advice to you, homeschool student or parent, is this:

1) Be patient with yourself.
You may not understand everything the first time, or second time, or third time.  That is not because you're dense, it's because language is a difficult thing to learn and it takes lots of hearing it, lots of speaking it, and lots of reading it to have it mastered.

2) Be patient with the process of learning a language.
You may have to learn the language in what feels like bits and pieces that don't seem to go together.  You may feel like the language is this huge puzzle and you don't know what it's supposed to look like in the end.  I promise, if you keep trying, things will start to fit together in a way that makes sense. (And following tip #4 will help with this.)

3) Don't worry about being perfect.
It's okay if you mess up.  Don't let that keep you from using what you have learned!  Native speakers might see you making mistakes, but most likely they speak a second language too, and so they know what you're going through!  Mistakes are one of the best teachers.

4) Take good notes. 
Write everything down!  If there's a word you don't know in Spanish, write it down to look up later!  If you learn a new word, write it down!  If you have a question about something, research it, look up a video and write down what you learn.  Take notes from your text book.  Whatever you may be learning in Spanish, make sure you are writing it all down.

5) Speak OUT LOUD.
You may feel silly, but this is huge!  Your mouth and brain need practice actually speaking Spanish OUT LOUD.  Find a story or a poem or a paragraph in Spanish.  Read it out loud.  Look up the words you don't know, and read it again out loud.  Or if you have a Spanish textbook that gives a list of vocab to go along with a story--memorize that vocab and practice it OUT LOUD.  Then read the story to yourself or someone in your family or a friend OUT LOUD.

6) Have a plan.
It is a good idea to have a plan for anything in life you want to accomplish.  Without a plan where will you start?  How will you know where you want to end up?  I really like the book Spanish NOW! Level 1 for high school students or even adult students.  It's very repetitive, has a nice slow pace, and introduces lots of vocabulary with word lists and stories.

If you don't have a book or curriculum to guide you, consider finding a YouTube channel that you like and watching the videos they provide in the order they have them organized.  Two great ones I can recommend are Señor Jordan Spanish 1 and Spanish Dict Learn Spanish Volume One.

7) Do it daily.
Even if it's just making flashcards for your vocabulary words, re-reading the story at the beginning of the chapter, practicing saying your vocabulary words out loud, or answering only three questions from the practice exercises--make sure you engage your brain with Spanish everyday.  Keeping Spanish fresh in your mind will make it easier and easier each time.  Think of it like staying fit--you want to get your heart rate up every day even if it's just for ten minutes!  And to take the exercise metaphor even further, put your "learning muscles" in groups and rotate them to give them a rest.  So on Mondays exercise your vocab muscles, on Wednesdays exercise your grammar muscles, and on Fridays exercise your speaking muscles.  Just keep the most daily and consistent schedule you can.  Studying a little bit each day goes much further than binge studying once-a-week.  And it's more fun that way too!

Keep it simple, keep it fun, and keep learning!

If you have any other tips, ideas, or resources that you have found to be helpful please leave a note in the comments below!  I'm sure others reading this post would appreciate it so much.  TIA

Thursday, February 11, 2016

10 Minute Spanish Lesson for Kids--Valentine's Day

My toddler and I made this fun Spanish Valentine's Day story to have fun practicing the colors in Spanish.  He is two and had a blast with it.  You can print a copy for yourself from the link at the end of this post.  And for those of you who are learning Spanish with your kids, there is a pronunciation guide in it as well.  If you saw this post you know how much I love those little Usborne books that say, "That's not my ____."  They make for such a fun and simple way to learn new words in story form.  I feel like learning the color words by themselves is less meaningful, than if you put them in a simple story line.

That's what I did with this story.  Each pages says in Spanish, "That's not my heart.  It's ____."  For example, "That's not my heart.  It's blue," or "That's not my heart.  It's yellow," until finally on the last page it says, "That's my heart yes! It's red."

I simply printed two pages per sheet to get the booklet size.  Then I cut all the pages in half and put them on a clipboard for him.  You'll want to gather a coloring marker or crayon for the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, black, white, gray, brown.

He wanted to jump right in and start coloring, so I handed him the color the page called for, and said that color in Spanish.  So for this page below I said: Anaranjado! and handed him the orange marker and let him at it!  In classic two-year-old fashion he colored for five seconds and was ready for the next page.

Originally I thought I might color the pages myself, and then read the story to him.  But this turned out so much better.  He really enjoyed it, and it makes the story "his" so he's more inclined to want to read it with me as well.

For older kids, you might even want to have them circle the color word with the marker or crayon to reinforce learning that specific color word.  Or if you are printing this story for students, circle each color word yourself before handing out the pages to be colored.  You could give one page to each student and make the book as a class.

A couple of pages have more than one color on them because I was moving too slow for his liking!  Like I said, this is a QUICK and easy activity for two-year-olds.

You can put the pages in any order you choose, just make sure the last one is the red one.  Once you finish coloring all the pages, staple the book together and read!  The link below has a pronunciation guide for all the words in the story if you need help reading it in Spanish.

The repetition in this story is great, because the kids can memorize it and "read" it with you, helping them practice simple sentence structures as well.  Read it with enthusiasm and inflection for the best language-learning results.

Feliz hearting!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Simple Preschool Lesson Plan for Spanish Colors

You may have read in my recent post The Truth About Learning Spanish with Kids, that sometimes things seem harder than they really are.  When it comes to learning Spanish with my kids ages 5, 4, and 2 the learning can be fun and simple, and it doesn't have to be hard.

Since September, I have tried to remind myself of this.  I try to look for opportunities to easily add Spanish into our normal, daily routine.  One trick to doing this, is to make simple activities from supplies around your house that you can leave out and use to engage your kids in Spanish when they are "in the mood."  Sometimes I will create an activity that will sit there for days before someone naturally gets interested in it.

Today I cut out paper hearts from construction paper--one of each color--and taped them around our house.  I did this during quiet time, so it will be interesting to see what happens when, or if, the kids notice them.

My plan is to use them for a simple game that goes like this:  I yell out a color in Spanish and they run to the heart of that color.  Easy-peasy, right?!  I will probably even use the phrase "Toca el corazón _____," and then fill in the blank with one of the color words.  If you want to play this game and need pronunciation help, see the chart at the end of this post.

The fun thing about this activity is that I can leave it up all week (for Valentine's Day), and then I can re-hang the hearts above our kitchen table with the color words written on them.

Then we can continue to learn and practice the colors together all month.

My oldest son knows how to say most of the color words in Spanish, so adding the print to the hearts will help to introduce how to spell/read the colors words in Spanish as well.

I have found that the more I work to have Spanish print, materials, games, and activities at my kids' disposal the better.  That little effort keeps us all aware of the second language and reminds us to engage in the language more frequently.

You can even play this game without making hearts and simply yell out colors in Spanish and have your kids or students run around the room and touch something of that color.  Remember--keep it simple, keep it fun!  Feliz heart week!

Spanish Pronunciation
touch (the command)
el corazón
ehl kohr-ah-SOHN
the heart