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…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)
para—in order to/for
para que pueda—so that he can
adentro—inside (of something)
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!