Whenever fall rolls around, I always get in the mood to plan alphabet learning activities for my kiddos. One year Cheerios (or maybe General Mills?) did this thing where the surprise toy in their boxes of cereal where actually books. And better yet, they were bilingual books! We love books around here, and I especially love any Spanish books I can get my hands on.
During the fall time that year the lovely book “Bear Says Thanks,” by Karma Wilson, happened to be the book we found in our Cheerios box. If you haven’t read the book, be sure to borrow it from your library this fall. It’s a great one! You can use it to learn about animals, what animals eat, friendship, hibernation, thankfulness, and the list goes on! The book lends itself so well to learning activities I couldn’t help but make some Spanish ones to do with my kids.
I printed off real-life pictures of all the animals mentioned in the story and wrote each of their names on an index card. We used these as we retold the story. We matched each animal with the food they brought to bear’s feast.
Then we zeroed in on learning the word for bear in Spanish: oso (OH-soh).
I dug out an old bear stamp from the rubber stamp collection I had from my high school days. I drew an “O” on a paper and had my oldest stamp bears around it. He was working on learning how to form his letters at that time.
Next, I also drew a block letter “O” because I thought that might be prettier to see the bears without a line through them.
We hung the “O” on our fridge and practiced spelling the word “oso” with our magnetic letters.
Finally we did what I call a “chalk talk” activity where I draw a picture piece by piece and the kids follow my instructions without knowing what we are drawing. This is a great way to incorporate practicing Spanish shapes as well.
When we finished drawing our bears we wrote the word bear underneath. Easy peasy learning fun, and all thanks to Cheerios!!
We still get this book and the pictures out each year and read the story together. What other things can you think of that would be fun to learn about the letter “O” in Spanish? I’d love to hear your ideas! Be sure to check out all the alphabet fun going on this month over at All Done Monkey.
After taking a break last year due to the arrival of Baby #3, we are back with one of my favorite series, the 31 Days of ABC! You can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet. I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their amazing ideas with us in the coming days. And this year for the first year we are also adding a giveaway, so be sure to scroll to the end and enter for a chance to win! So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October! Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!
Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win this great prize package, open internationally! 3 month subscription to the Kidloland app, which includes 575+ interactive nursery rhymes, songs, stories, and educational activities to help children learn ABCs, animals, fruits, vegetables, shapes and more!
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.
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.
Before reading any further: go buy yourself this mug. Drink your morning coffee or tea or lemon water from it each day for a reminder that–you got this! (If you haven’t been following along lately go here to see what I mean by “this.”) I thought you might appreciate this bit of encouragement before I mentioned the phrase “lesson plans.” What? You do not have time to plan out Spanish lessons for your kids? That is exactly why I made some for you. Easy peasy.
Might I ask, How’s it been going finding a time each day to practice Spanish with your kidlets? Honestly speaking, we have only listened to the Alphabet Playlist once around here because a) I took the YouTube app off my phone to make room for more photos and b) our speakers went out that I hook my phone up to which means we have to listen to the music on the computer in my tiny office which means we don’t. I’m sure you have plenty of excuses like mine, so let’s challenge each other this week to say NO. MORE. EXCUSES. (If you need to get them out of your system, comment below with the things that are holding you back from doing Spanish each day, and we can encourage each other to not give up.)
What You Need for This Week
Here is my idea for this week. How about we focus on listening to at least ONE Spanish alphabet song each day? For the playlist go here —> Learn Spanish with Kids ABCs. My oldest son’s favorite so far is song #4. it’s pretty catchy and also a little creepy! After the song we will play one quick and easy alphabet game. You can either come to this post each day to follow along with the plan, or print out the guide I have below. The guide also has the alphabet chart with a pronunciation guide which would be helpful for the parents to have on hand as you play the games. Try to do any prep before the week begins so you can just grab and go on each day.
Song #1 Older Kids: Have the kids come up with an action or sign with their body that looks like the letter. Listen to the song again and when you sing the letter, make the letter with your body. This might be too tricky for littler kids to remember and might frustrate them, but I have done it with students ages 7 through high school and it has been a hit! Younger Kids: Write each letter of the Spanish alphabet on a piece of paper or index card. Lay out each one on your floor in a circle. As the song plays, have your kids jump from letter to letter.
Song #1 Game: Same as Monday.
Song #2 Game: Write out each vowel on a piece of paper or index card. Tape them in various places throughout the room. Yell out a random vowel and have the kids race to where that vowel is hanging in the room. Repeat until the kids are out of breath.
Song #2 Game: Same as Wednesday, but this time have the kids take turns yelling out the letters.
Any Song Game: Grab a ball. Toss it around to each other. As you toss it, say the alphabet together.
ABC Playlist Game: You’ll probably be on the go, so listen to the play list in the car. Or just take turns saying a letter of the alphabet until you have recited the whole thing a few times.
Favorite Song Game: See if you can say the alphabet backwards together. Keep trying until you can do it without mistakes.
I started a series recently of blog posts for parents who do not speak Spanish, but want their children to learn it. I am pretty excited about it really. That is one of the big goals/reasons/motivations for this blog actually. My first post addressed the “How To” of helping your kids learn Spanish–like where to start with your mindset and goals and expectations. You will definitely want to go read it here if you have not already. Here is a summary of our plan of attack for those of you who have read it:
1. Do it everyday. 2. Have one “lesson” a week. 3. Don’t give up. 4. Make it fun. 5. Set goals. 6. Think like a baby.
Today I want to address number one. Before you even start worrying about “lesson plans” (review here what I mean by “lesson”), you will want to make Spanish a part of your daily routine. “How can I make Spanish a part of my day without having a lesson?” you ask? With music! Of course there are other things like games, activities, finger plays, but in my humble opinion music is the easiest, most fun way to begin learning a foreign language.
You and your children can benefit from listening to music without having to “learn” anything. Do not worry about understanding all the words you hear. Just have fun and let your ears and brain do the work. You will begin to pick up on things like pronunciation, rhythm of the language, and even a few words–especially if you watch a music video with visual cues. Here is a playlist of fun songs I put together covering the Spanish alphabet.** We all have different music tastes so I tried to find a wide variety. You will not hurt my feelings if you choose to skip over a few. Some kid songs can grate on my nerves a little, you know what I mean?
Now jump right in! Find a time each day and try to listen to at least two or three of these songs. It might even be best, once you find a few “faves,” to listen to those same ones each day until you have them memorized. Enjoy!
**Note to Parents: The Spanish alphabet has changed over the years and varies by region. Some of the songs actually include letters that are no longer in the Spanish alphabet, and you will notice some of the songs have different names for a certain letter than other songs. The Royal Spanish Academy has published an “official” list of names for each letter. I would say, don’t fret too much about that right now and just learn the variations. You can refer to the chart below for how to pronounce each letter, or check out this video on YouTube.
FYI I tested this song list out on my kiddos and they liked it. It kept the attention of my 5-year-old for about twenty minutes. He replayed the song with the puppets about five times (which was probably one of my least favorites haha!) Let me know how it goes for you and your family and if you have any questions that come up! I may not have the answer but I would love to help you find it. Feliz alphabeting!
Official Letter Name
How *I* Write the Pronunciation for English Speakers
no longer a letter
ee (like in feet)
no longer a letter
oh (like in open)
coo (like a baby coos)
no longer a letter
OO-bay (oo as in boo)
doble ve, doble u
i griega (ee gree-AY-gah
a, Ab, Bc, Cd, De, Ef, Fg, Gh, Hi, Iabecedeeefegehacheij, Jk, Kl, Lm, Mn, Nñ, Ño, Op, Pq, Qjotakaeleemeeneeñeopecur, Rs, St, Tu, Uv, Vw, Wx, Xy, Yz, Zerreeseteuuveuve dobleequisyezeta – See more at: http://www.rae.es/consultas/un-solo-nombre-para-cada-letra#sthash.3MZqybLR.C86eablA.dpuf
Letter-focused lessons tops the list as one of my favorite ways to teach Spanish to my kiddos! Participating in the 31 Days of ABC makes for a great way to get letter-learning ideas from parents and educators living around the globe. Be sure to check out the 31 Days of ABC home page over at All Done Monkey (link above). Then look up the words in Spanish, and use the activities to learn the Spanish letters as well!
For the letter A at our house (pronounced “ah” in Spanish) we did some funaraña (spider) activities. First we made a little spider story to practice counting and asking “How many?” I have shared the story below so you can print one out too and follow along at your house! Since the holiday Halloween is upon us where we live, I thought spiders would be a nice and spooky place to start with our alphabet learning in the month of October.
Before you print the story, let’s talk about how to read the story and understand what it means. Here’s a quick list of vocab. Click on the words to hear how they are pronounced.
The title of the story is “¿Cuántas arañas hay?” or “How many spiders are there?” Each page has a picture of a spider web and the story tells how many spiders are on the web. For example, one page says “This spiderweb has five spiders.” Read each page with your kiddos and help them count out the spiders for each web.
We had some Halloween foam stickers left over from last year, and I was like “Oh those would be perfect!” They did turn out really cute, but they were a PAIN to peel off, and my big man could not do it by himself. It even took me a while and a few spiders lost a few legs. *Wince.*
Can you see the dimple in this picture? The activity was short enough that it held my big man’s attention and he enjoyed counting with me.
Of course, he wanted to do it in English first, which I obliged. I try not to push Spanish on him if I can tell he is not enjoying it. With this one, we learn best if we are having fun and not forcing learning.
So we counted first in English, then read it all together in Spanish!
I did not attempt the stickers with my little guy. I got out the paint and we finger painted the spiders on. Even that was not quick enough for him! And he lost interest pretty quickly. So I just held his hand and we counted swiftly for each spiderweb. Another thing I learned is that if you are going to paint your spiders, be sure to do that first before you assemble the book–that way the paint can dry without smearing onto the other pages.
Print off your own book here and let me know how it goes! We did some other fun spider-related activities that hopefully I will be able to post about later. And don’t forget to head over to All Done Monkey to check out all of the other amazing alphabet activities!!
We have had a lot of fun around here lately doing alphabet activities and crafts alongside all the great bloggers participating in “31 Days of ABCs.” Many of the activities we have chosen to do relate to fall or el Día de los muertos. For the letter E (la letra E, pronounce “ay/eh”) we talked about esqueletos. The song “Los esqueletos” from Babelzone on YouTube inspired us. Even if you cannot understand all of the Spanish words, it has such a catchy tune you will find yourself singing along!
If you are having trouble viewing the video here, click this link to watch it on YouTube.
This song provides so many learning opportunities–it rhymes, it counts, it teaches time! We will probably be re-visiting this song throughout October. To keep it simple, we just worked on learning “E de esqueleto.”
With our first craft we used Q-tips as huesosand built an esqueleto on black construction paper. I found the idea here from Pinterest. My older child really enjoyed this craft. First I made a calaveraout of white construction paper and drew on a face with a permanent marker. We glued the calavera at the top and added all the huesos underneath. I had cut some Q-tips in half, so as I added the glue in the shape of an esqueleto, my son chose which Q-tips to lay down.
As you can tell from the picture, my two-year-old did not enjoy the craft as much. He is at the stage where, whatever the project is, he wants freedom to do it himself. Following directions or a pattern is not in his realm of interest. Which is fine. We glued on a few Q-tips together and moved on to just glueing anything we could find on another paper and throwing Q-tips.
On another day, while my Little Guy was napping, I got out some watercolor paper and taped two pieces together. I drew on a “secret” picture of an esqueleto with a white crayon. Next I had Jefe (my older son) come over to see it. I told him we were going to paint the paper with watercolors to reveal a secret message. He kept trying to turn the paper over as we painted to find the message–it was cute. Even though I knew what the secret message was, I think I had more fun than he did painting the paper and watching the esqueleto reveal itself.
Hamming it up for me, “What could the secret message be?”
Beginning to paint.
Originally I had thought we would paint the enitre thing black, but following the style of Día de los muertos, we decided to make it all colorful.
Almost finished! Jefe still could not tell what it was at this point.
“It’s an esqueleto!!!”
This project was probably one of my favorites we have done so far this fall. After we painted the esqueleto, we read a couple of books by Yuyi Morales about a skeleton character named Señor Calavera. Both books are award-winning, recieving the Pura Belpré Medal for Latino/a authors and illustrators.
In the first book, Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, Señor Calavera has an appointment with Grandma Beetle to take her with him. However, Grandma Beetle needs to finish a number of tasks, and by the end Señor Calavera cannot wait any longer and leaves a note that says, “See you next year!” I love how the author shows Grandma Beetle’s culture as it counts through the things she has to prepare and clean and do to get ready for her birthday fiesta. The second book we read, Just In Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book, follows Señor Calavera as he prepares to visit Grandma Beetle on her next birthday. He is so excited to see her he forgets to get her a present. Thankfully, with the help of Grandpa Zelmiro’s ghost, Señor Calavera manages to collect gifts for Grandma Beetle from every letter of the Spanish alphabet, “just in case” some of the presents are not what she would love the most; however, Señor Calavera runs out of time to find something for la letra Z, and ends up falling and dropping all of the presents he gathered, arriving at the party empty-handed. Or does he?! You will have to read the story for yourself to see what Señor Calavera ends up bringing to the party that Grandma Beetle loves the most!
My almost-four-year-old was really taken by the text and illustrations of this book. Morales depicts Grandpa Zelmiro so endearingly, that Jefe wanted to dress up like him. I thought that was a great idea, so we dug through out dress-up clothes stash to find just the right outfit for “Grandpa Zelmiro.” Pretty soon after that, the Little Guy woke up from his nap, so we dressed him up as Señor Calavera. For fun, we went around the house collecting things from the Spanish alphabet for Grandma Beetle. The boys got tired of playing that game before we got to la letra Z, but as we went to bed that night, Jefe saw the container we had collected the gifts in and asked if we could finish finding the rest the next day: a clear sign that he loved the book and extended play we did. Yay! If you have not read these books already, I highly suggest you check them out or any others written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales–you will not be dissapointed!
Later in the day, after reading and acting out the books, we sat down to do some “clipboard work,” as we call it. We made la letra E out of esqueletos and did an esqueleto coloring page with dot markers. You can print your own from the printable below. We will be linking this post up with the “31 Days of ABCs” on the page for the letter E!