Learn Spanish through Literature // The Napping House

by | Sep 3, 2013 | Uncategorized

Every time we read a good book, I try to think of fun activities to extend what we have read–even if that means we just pretend play or reenact the story together.  One of my favorite children’s authors is Audrey Wood.  Her book The Napping House tops the list of my favorites of her’s, so I was happy to find the Spanish version at our library, La casa adormecida.  It is a fun and playful story about a house full of sleeping people and animals that are asleep all in one big pile on one big bed . . . until a little flea comes along!  The illustrations by Don Wood are delightful and add humor to the already hilarious tale.

What makes this book perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, is also what makes it great for learning Spanish: repetition.  Each page follows the same narrative pattern making it easy to follow along and learn new vocabulary.

Asleep in the house on a warm bed, rests a grandmother.  Next comes a boy, then a dog, then a cat, then a flea, each one piling up on top of the other.  As you can see this story provides great fun for learning about sequencing and prepositions.  I found some clip art to match the story and printed them out.  You can download it for FREE here and do the same.  First, we colored in all the pictures, then we used them to tell the story over and over.  I printed ours on card-stock which made them sturdier, but looking back I wish I would have laminated them too–boys can be so hard on things!

Be sure to get a copy of the book (even if in English) and then use example phrases below when retelling the story with your picture cards.  The story has lots of fun adjectives and descriptions, but as we retold the story together, I shortened the phrases to focus on the sequencing and the preposition sobre (on top of).

Here is an example of things I said as we put the cards in order:

“Hay una casa.” (eye OOH-nah KAH-sah)  //  There is a house.
“En la casa hay una cama.” (ehn lah KAH-sah eye OOH-nah KAH-mah)  //  In the house there is a bed.
“En la cama hay una abuela.” (ehn lah KAH-mah eye OOH-nah ah-BWAY-lah)  //  In the bed there is a grandmother.
“Sobre esa abuela, hay un niño.” (SOH-bray EH-sah ah-BWAY-lah eye oohn NEEN-yoh)  //  On top of that grandmother, there is a boy.
“Sobre ese niño hay un perro.” (SOH-bray EH-say NEEN-yoh eye oohn PEHR-roh)  //  On top of that boy there is a dog.
“Sobre ese perro, hay un gato.” (SOH-bray EH-say PEHR-roh, eye oohn GAH-toh) //  On top of that dog, there is a cat.
“Sobre ese gato hay un ratón.”  (SOH-bray EH-say GAH-toh eye oohn rah-TOHN) //  On top of that cat there is a mouse.
“Sobre ese ratón hay una pulga.”  (SOH-bray EH-say rah-TOHN eye OOH-nah POOHL-gah)  //  On top of that mouse there is a flea.

For Younger Kids
With my Little Guy I handed him each card with tape on it to tape to the wall as I said the phrases above.

For Older Kids
With Jefe I modeled it first, then I laid out all the cards and asked him to try it on his own.  As he put them in order, I would say the phrases above.

For Older Students
If you are using this story for a Spanish class, suggest that the students retell the story using the sequencing and ordering vocab below.  Note that the ordinal numbers have a masculine form (e.g. primero) and a feminine form (e.g. primera).  When forming sentences about the characters in the book, pay attention to their gender.  Here is a list of the characters and their gender:

la abuela—feminine
el niño—masculine
el gato—masculine
el perro—masculine
el ratón—masculine

la pulga—feminine
Words that have la as their definite article are feminine, and words that have el as their definite article are masculine.  If you wanted to say, “The grandmother is first,” you would use the feminine ordinal number (which functions like an adjective, describing the abuela):  La abuela es primera.  
Check out these videos for more on ordinal numbers:

1 a 10 Números ordinales en Español Ordinal Numbers in Spanish

first (before a masculine singular noun)
third (before a masculine singular noun)
el siguiente
ehl see-gee-EHN-tay
the next
la siguiente
lah see-gee-EHN-tay
the next (feminine)
a continuación
ah kohn-tee-noo-ah-see-OHN
finally, lastly
el último
ehl OOL-tee-moh
the last
la última
lah OOL-tee-mah
the last (feminine)
al fin
ahl FEEN
at the end


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