Monday, February 23, 2015

We're having a sale in our shop!!

Come visit our shop this Wednesday, Feb 25 for 20% off all our products!! Stock up on great printable resources for teaching Spanish to children, including printable MINIBOOKS, ACTIVITY PACKS, INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS, GAMES, AND MORE! Go to our store here

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

10 Books I love to read to my students!

I love to read books to my students in Spanish class, whether they be folktales, legends, or great stories written to captivate the imagination. I am particularly partial to books with an Hispanic theme, as they bring the flavor and perspective of a wider world. Here is my top 10 favorites list (in no particular order :) ):

 1)  Borreguita and the Coyote by Verna Aardema: This was featured on Reading Rainbow many years ago and continues to be a favorite with my students. Based on a cycle of trickster tales from México, Borreguita outsmarts Coyote time and again until he finally gives up. So fun both to read and listen to!

2) Cartas a Ratón Pérez by Antonia Rodenas: I love this story! Written in Spanish, I read it in English (translating in my head, as the Spanish is too advanced for my students) and features Gato Negro, who has lost all his teeth and seeks out the help of Ratón Pérez, the Tooth Mouse.

3) Frida by Jonah Winter: This biography is kid centered, telling the story of Frida Kahlo's young life. The illustrations are to die for, and the text is both informative and inspiring!

4) El zorro y el cuy by Kevin Hawkes: Another trickster tale, this one comes from Perú and features a wily guinea pig determined not to get eaten by Zorro. I like to have my students compare this trickster tale with Borreguita and the Coyote as some elements are similar, and fosters a discussion about why it is a guinea pig (indigenous to the Andes).

5) We're Sailing to Galapagos by Laurie Krebs: This comes from Barefoot Books and introduces kids to the animals of the Galapagos in a rhyme which inspires kids to read along. There is great information at the end about the islands and the animals which inhabit them.

6) Por Fin es Carnaval by Arthur Dorros (available in English as well): Focusing on the traditional handicraft of arpilleras, this book follows a little boy in the Andes of Perú getting ready for Carnaval. Each illustration is itself an arpillera, and at the end there is information about how they are made. Wonderful for learning about both this holiday and this handicraft!

7) Laura y el ratón by Vicente Muñoz Puelles: Ratoncito Pérez makes his appearance in this book as well, as Laura, who has just turned six, loses her first tooth. I love to read this to my kindergartners (translating into English as I read) as they relate so well to Laura. A wonderful introduction to Hispanic tooth traditions.

8) The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tomie dePaola: You can never read too many trickster tales! Another in the cycle of tales from México, Rabbit eventually climbs up to the moon to get away from Coyote! So much fun!

9) Pancho's Piñata by Stefan Czernecki: The illustrations are delightful in this book imagining the first piñata. Full of grace and gratitude, this book brings a wonderful message of giving along with history about the piñata (in the end pages).

10) Gauchada by C. Drew Lamm: I think I read this more for me than for my students, though they enjoy it, too! I just adore the storyline and the students sometimes find it a bit over their head- this is a great book for just the right class.

I hope you have a moment to check out these wonderful books! What books do you love to read to your students? Let me know!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Authentic tangible culture for young students

Recently I saw this infographic depicting an iceberg as a metaphor for culture- most of the culture is 'underwater' or rather, more in depth. It is a great graphic! However, at the elementary level, where young children are first being introduced to and learning about the concept of language and culture (often for the first time!) finding tangible, concrete aspects of culture to include in the classroom are key, in my opinion, and typically fall under the 'surface culture' part of the iceberg. As they gain experience and the mental ability to comprehend deeper culture as more than a fact about a group of people they have never met  (such as concepts of self, attitudes, and such) these can be added into Spanish class.

One of the most tangible and authentic ways I have brought culture into my elementary classroom, which I believe hits both surface and deep culture at the same time, is the tradition of Ratoncito Pérez, the Tooth Mouse. It is a celebration of sorts, that wonderful and magical experience of losing a tooth, and a coming of age moment for little kiddos. Recognizing and celebrating it in Spanish class via an adorable mouse (not a fairy!) has always been the most remembered, understood and delightful aspects of culture my students interact with. And, because kiddos always have loose teeth or one has fallen out, Ratoncito Pérez is part of EVERY class! Talk about keeping something fresh in their minds!

Here are ways I integrate Ratoncito Pérez in my classes:
*Right from Kindergarten kiddos learn how to say 'Tengo un diente flojo' and 'Se me cayó un diente'... they are encouraged to share their 'tooth news' with me anytime
*I have tooth chart posters featuring Ratoncito Pérez where I record each kiddo's name when he/she loses a tooth (they have to tell me in Spanish or their name doesn't go on the poster :) )
*I teach an entire theme about Ratoncito Pérez in Second Grade, where we read our book 'El diente de Javi' (see the link to our store at the end of this post) and then imagine what Ratoncito Pérez looks like (color and size) and what mode of transportation he uses to get around. After they have practiced this, they then write and illustrate three sentences describing him with this vocab. Super cute!
*I hand out certificates celebrating the lost tooth
*I read books I have collected over the years of various authors imagining adventures with Ratoncito Pérez-go to Amazon and type in 'Ratoncito Pérez' or 'Ratón Pérez'...a whole load of books will come up. My favorite is 'Cartas al Ratón Pérez'! (Note: most of these are in Spanish and with vocabulary far too advanced for my students to understand so I translate in my head and read it out loud in English)
*I have printed out lots of illustrations from Google images over the years which I put around my classroom...he is always present!
There are also two full length movies about Ratón Pérez made in Spain- if you are able to get ahold of a copy and can play it, what fun that is!

If you are interested in integrating Ratoncito Pérez into your classroom and don't want to start from scratch, please check out our Activity Pack in our store on TpT! It is full of printable activities, posters, 'El diente de Javi' minibook, props for retelling the story, and more! Ratoncito Pérez Printable Minibook & Activity Pack

You can also watch me introducing a comparison of the Tooth Fairy and el Ratoncito Pérez here:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Super cute Valentine's Day Lunch Box Messages!

Print out these adorable lunch box messages, one for each day this week! Perfect to show your little one (or your sweetheart) how much you love them!  (And a great way to practice these wonderful phrases in Spanish!) Find the printable here. You might want to glue each to a piece of scrapbooking paper or other stiff paper if you can only print on regular copy paper.
And don't forget, you can find our cute printable Valentine's Day cards in our TpT store!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Using PicMonkey to make a fun, ever changing bulletin board

Last year the teachers in our district were each given an IPad Mini, which, for many, sat in their desk mostly unused and often neglected. Not mine! One of my favorite things to do is snap pictures of my students as they are engaged in class activities....last year I did an end of the year slideshow for each class with the photos I had taken which was a lot of fun. This year, I was looking for a different way to use the photos and have my students interact more with them.

Enter PicMonkey, an online editing tool that has loads of special effects, add ons, cool fonts, and more! I upgraded to 'Royale' status so I could access all of the features, which has been completely worth it! (You can certainly access loads of great stuff without upgrading!). I upload a photo, add a cute photo frame and a talking bubble highlighting what the kiddo said at the time of the photo. These then go up on two bulletin boards I have outside my classroom, with regular rotation of the photos. As kiddos come to class, they love looking at the pictures, reading the bubbles, and searching for themselves, their friends, and their siblings!
from our 'Al zoo' Activity Pack

So simple yet so fun! Once the pictures are taken down to make room for new ones, I put them in an album which kiddos can look at as a fast finisher activity.