Friday, June 13, 2008


With the summer months around the corner, students are looking forward to spending endless hours at the beach, park, pool, etc. The last thing on anyone's mind is doing school work. But as a teacher, I'd like to highlight that students have a responsibility during the summer: to maintain the brain active!!! (and I don't mean playing video games)

Clearly, without practice of the language during the summer months, the retention level may suffer. In addition, a noteworthy factor in language retention is parental encouragement, and above all, motivation for learning Spanish. As Robert C. Gardner, from the University of Western Ontario, has pointed in his research on language acquisition, "...attitudes and motivation are positively related to the tendency to persue language study, (and maintain the brain actively engaged)..." (Bilingualism, Multiculturalism, and Second Language Learning)

Here are some of my favorite ways to retain the language learning this summer:

* LANGUAGE CAMPS(throughout the USA and abroad)- Every year, I organize trips to Camp Valle Verde in Mexico and I highly recommend its programmes, activities, location, and caring monitors, and beautiful campus.

* SPORTS CAMPS with focus on language learning- I particularly like EduKick, a residential soccer camp for students as young as 8 years old.


* INTERNET SITES- See links for children on this site for an inexpensive practice of the Spanish language

* READING BOOKS/MAGAZINES- there's an array of literature for all levels in Spanish. (see resources for parents/teachers)

I hope these ideas may help you in motivating your child(ren) to maintain the language focus. With this in mind, I wish everyone "felices vacaciones"!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Favorite CDs for Teaching Spanish to Children

Los Algos
This CD by a group from Spain, is a collection of the songs from their TV series for children (Spain). There are 2 CDs. Ages 2-8.


Created by Sarah Brachas, a former teacher in Arizona/USA, this CD is a compilation of 20 traditional and some original songs. The lyrics are included which makes it easier to follow along for any teacher/student. The songs are highly recommended for bicultural/bilingual students, but can be used to teach Spanish foreign language also. K-2nd grades.

Diez Deditos by José Luis Orozco
This is Mr. Orozco’s most famous CD! Many years ago, I used this CD to teach Spanish to Pre-K and even my 4th grades were asking for it. The students loved it! A true hit! K to 2nd grades.

Lírica Infantil
Another creation by José Luis Orozco
This one is less famous, but I love it because songs are catchy and it’s great for students in the Pre-K and K levels due to it’s repetition of new vocabulary. It’s a fun way to introduce the language to new learners ages 2-5.

Baby Eistein, Música por todas partes
I think this one is definitely worth the purchase. It’s actually a book with nature scenes accompanied by beautiful music. Students will be able to answer questions such as:
¿Qué sonido hace la lluvia? ¿Unos caballos galopando en un verde prado? ¿Qué sonido hace el mar…las abejas, el corazón...? Newborn to Kinder.

Los Lunis Dame tu mano, el baile del verano
This is the latest CD created by Los Lunis, a musical group from Spain. Children in Spain go ga-ga for them! Their songs are catchy, fun, and upbeat! If you’d like, check them out in

There are so many great CDs out there, I couldn’t possibly include all. But as I’m thinking of the summer, I thought children might enjoy listening to any of these on their way to the beach, park or wherever the sun may take you!

The music listed here can be purchased:
In the USA,

In Spain,

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

End of the year culminating activities...

The last weeks of school can be stressful. Students and teachers alike are ready for summer holidays, and in most cases, students’ brains are on “off” mode. Here are some ideas to end the year positively.

• K-6th grades: Mi libro de español/Memory book: a compilation of a year in learning. With the guidance of a teacher/parent, students may include what they have enjoyed learning throughout the year. Topics may include: nombre, edad, preferencias/qué te gusta hacer, la familia, dónde vives, los amigos, el colegio, etc...

• 3rd grade-higher: Libro de autógrafos/Authograph book (adapted from Marty Crutcher’s lesson plan. See
Use either a stationary program, or even Word (format option for borders and shades, clipart, etc) to design a cover sheet titled "Mi libro de autógrafos" with a cute graphic and a place for their name and date. Then design several pages for the center of the book. Examples are: Mis amigos/Friends in my class, SOLO NIÑOS/BOYS ONLY page, SOLO NIÑAS/GIRLS ONLY page, MI PROFESORA DE ESPAÑOL/SPANISH TEACHER PAGE, and a page at the end of the book for names and summer phone numbers. On each page, students should sign and depending on the level of proficiency in the language, write a comment in Spanish. Optional: check with other Spanish teachers and allow the students to go to other classes or use recess time to get other autographs. This is also a wonderful way for teachers to write one final positive comment to each child. It also gives the child a great souvenir from this year. (Thanks to Marty Crutner for this fabulous idea!)

• Any grade: Poster
(model may be found at
Make a poster highlighting all the fun learning experiences you’ve accomplished throughout the year! Photos, samples of students’ best work, and field trips!

• Any grade: ¡Concierto!
Create a mini-concert and present all the songs you’ve taught the students over the course of the year. Invite other classes to be your public. This is a great way to encourage students to be proud of their language studies.

• Any grade: ¡Fiesta de fin de año!
Fiestas are always a hit! Spanish music, food, dancing…but instead of having students bring the typical goodies to class (chips, sodas, and junk food), give them a healthy recipe of a Latin American or Spanish dish and have them prepare it with their parents. This is also a good way to know of ingredients used (in case of any allergies in the class). Of course, invite the parents to your FIESTA!

• 3rd grade-higher- Noticias/Newsletter
Create a newsletter for parents and school in both Spanish/English. This is the time to show off all your work in Spanish class! Topics may also include: plans for the summer, reading lists, resources for parents, and more...
This culminating activity may take 3 weeks, depending on how elaborate you’d like to make the newsletter.

Hope these ideas will help you and your students reflect on a year's worth of fun. If you’d like to add, omit, or change any of these suggestions, I welcome your constructive comments.