Sunday, August 2, 2015

TpT Back to School Sale!

Hi all!

It has been a busy spring and summer for me and my family, and, unfortunately, I have had to put my blog on hold.  We have had some big news:

1.  We are having a baby!  Boy #3 due in November, 2015.  So exciting, but after 7 years, we have given nearly everything away and are scrambling to get ready.

2.  We are moving!  We are going to stay in NYC, but moving next month to a bigger apartment, closer to my kids' school.  As you can imagine, trying to pack up and sublet our current apartment while taking care of my 2 chicos full time during the summer has proven to be a challenge.  We are getting there, slowly but surely, and I can't wait to show you our new place!

In my free time, I have been working on a couple of TpT projects and tutoring some Spanish this summer.  Please check out the new items that I've posted in my TpT Store.  Now is a great time to do so as there is a Back To School Sale Aug 3-4.

Graphic from: Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

I look forward to catching up soon!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

3 Easy Games to Increase Vocabulary and Get Your Kids Talking in Spanish!

At 6 and 7 my boys are becoming little men.  They have adventures (both good and bad, but nearly always hilarious) that I don't know about until I ask them.  But sometimes they don't want to tell me!

A couple of months ago, we began to make a concerted effort as a family to sit down and eat lunch and dinner together on the weekends.  I've also tried to sit with the boys for dinner (my husband works late and I eat later when he gets home) during the week.

Since transitioning to the OPOL method, the boys don't always want to speak to me in Spanish.  However, I'm finding that as my husband works longer hours, their vocabulary is not what I would like it to be.

What to do?

Play some games, of course!

These games can be played any time, but I have found them fun to play when we are on the subway, waiting in line for something, and, of course meal times!  They can be played in any language, but we play them in Spanish.  (As a bonus, they have also worked well for me in the classroom!)

Game #1:  Dos Buenos y Un Malo

Last year, my youngest was transitioning from a sweet PreK school to Kindergarten at a big (800 students!) public school with a yellow school bus ride to the other side of the city.  He adored his teacher and had a few close friends, but often came home exhausted and upset about events in his day.  Everything was negative!  To mitigate this, I told him that he could tell me as many bad things as he wanted, as long as he told me 2 good things that happened to go along with it!

It took a while, but he started to become more positive about his time at school.  Instead of "Tuve un mal dia." he would tell me "Tuve un dia normal." By spring, he actually had several "dias buenos" even though he had broken his arm and could not participate in many activities that he loved.

Anyway, this game has now turned into a good way for me to find out the good and the bad of what is going on for my boys.  We simply go around the table and saw 2 good things and 1 bad thing that happened to us that day.  Often, the bad things are fairly innocuous: "I forgot to wear my thick socks, so my feet were really cold today." or "They ran out of my favorite meal choice just as it was my turn." But sometimes they give me things to pay attention to: "I didn't feel like playing soccer at recess so I sat alone." or "Daniel pushed me at lunch so I fell into my applesauce and messed up my shirt."

The game is excellent to introduce school-related vocabulary that they may not hear at home and it's been an excellent way to bond (and snoop!) on my kids!

Game #2:  ¿Qué Palabre Se Te Occurre?

This was a game that we played at bedtime with the boys as part of their bedtime routine for years.  Somehow we stopped playing, but have recently brought it back at mealtimes.  It's a lot of fun, and sometimes gets a little crazy!

Here's a very straightforward example:

The first person says a word that could also sirve as a category.  For example:  colors.  We go around the table as many times as we can, everyone trying to mention a new color.  If you really want to step it up, you can repeat all of the previous answers BEFORE you give yours.

You can also play by saying a word and asking what words do you think of when you hear this word. This is where the game can get a bit out of control when one of the kids is a jokester like my son (but it's a bit more interesting that way too!)

For example, recently, I gave the word, "avion" (airplane).  We went around the table:
Volar (to fly)
Alas (wings)
Pasajeros (passengers)
Viaje (trip)
Comer (to eat) ?????
The game pretty much fell apart after that....

To be fair, here is my son a few years ago explaining what he is going to do on the airplane.  ("Comer" does come up first in the conversation!)

Game #3:  El Juego de Los Animales (20 Preguntas)

This is an oldie but goodie.  We play this variant of 20 Questions during the 40 minute subway ride to Spanish school on Saturday mornings.  I don't think the kids even know that you can play this game in English!

The first player thinks of an animal.  The other players take turns asking questions that must be answered with a "yes" or "no".

¿Tiene cuatro patas?
¿Vive en el desierto?
¿Pone huevos?

Of course, this game has become a bit more tricky now that "Pokemon" are considered animals in our household, but, hey! a mama can stand to learn some pop culture as well!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

My Family Was Profiled by La Españolita!

This weekend has been exhausting--running from Spanish school to a fun get together with friends, to surviving Daylight Savings, to ice skating and soccer lessons.  Uff!  I'm surprised we made it through in one piece.

Now that the kiddos are soundly sleeping, I thought I would check in and share the exciting news that our family was interviewed by Audrey, over at Españolita blog!

It was so much fun chatting with Audrey and walking down memory lane to find the right photos for the profile.  You can read about our journey and learn different things we have tried to maintain a bilingual household.

Please do give it a read and let me (and Audrey!) know what you think!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

St. Patrick's Day...In Spanish!

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner!

I have to admit, that while I am absolutely 0% Irish and I nearly ALWAYS forget to wear green, I am a sucker for this holiday.  When else can you sing songs about unicorns with strangers and contemplate what you would do with a pot of gold if you were able to catch the sneakily little trickster we call a Leprechaun?

Speaking of, every year my boys spend hours designing and creating a Leprechaun trap similar to this one below:

Finally in First Blog

(The above photo was posted on the Finally in First Blog--hop on over there to see some other great ideas for this activity!)

St. Patrick's Day Math and Language Arts Spanish Bundle for Early Elementary

On a more "traditional" academic front, I like to take advantage of holidays for them to review different concepts that we have been working on in Spanish.

As soon as I began printing, both boys begged me to work on "Sumar y Pintar".  It is common core aligned with addition facts up to 20, but who am I to deny my 2nd grader more math practice?

Here we are getting started:

My eldest also loves to color:

Putting on some finishing touches:

My 1st grader wanted to stick with math, so he worked on a graphing activity.  Here he had to count the number of objects that he saw and record using tally marks.

Then, he graphed them using a different color per object:

We finally worked on some dictionary skills:  putting a list of words in alphabetical order.  It was a good exercise as he was not familiar with all of the words (especially reading them!), but he was very excited to complete this exercise!

My 2nd grader wanted to continue with math as well, but I wanted him to work on reading skills.  We compromised with some story problems.  They were simple for him mathematically, but provided him with a great opportunity to read a bit more in Spanish.  After he finished the exercises, we decorated the paper together!

He did give in and worked on some sentence editing.  While he writes very well, he still forgets to use correct punctuation and capitalization at times, but he did great!  He even found the incorrect verb conjugation and missing accent on "mamá" without my help!

Over the next week or two, we will continue to work on some other activities in the packet including skip counting, writing prompts, noun and verb sort, etc. Click through if you would like to see more information about the St Patricks Early Elementary Spanish Language Arts and Math bundle.

St. Patrick's Day Fill-ins (in Spanish)

Another fun St. Patrick's Day themed activity that I have shared with my kids are "Fill-ins."  They are inspired by "Mad Libs" and 100% in Spanish.  Fill-ins are an awesome way for students to work on reading, writing, parts of speech, and vocabulary development.  The best part:  they never realize that they are learning!  I encourage my students to be as silly as possible and create crazy stories.

My boys are probably a little young to be doing fill-ins (I recommend them for students in grade 3 and up--for Traditional Spanish as well as Dual-Language/Immersion students) but with a little help from me, they did just fine.

First, they took turns filling out the word list:

It can be a lot of work to think of the right word (he was trying to remember the word for "paperclips" in Spanish).

Some of the questions just make you giggle!

They ended up with a cute little story about Igor the Leprechaun!

The packet has a total of 3 fill-ins -- all in present tense and appropriate for children.  

If you would like more information about it, please check it out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I hope you are able to use some of these ideas for your kids on St. Patty's Day!!! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Simple Way to Practice Conjugating Verbs

My children have been speaking in Spanish their whole lives, but they still have a lot to learn when it comes to grammar.  Grammar, after all, is the building block of a language.  Just like mathematics, it is easier to construct and express complex ideas when you have a strong foundation.

My eldest son began attending a new Spanish school this year that is run by the Spanish Ministry of Education.  The curriculum is fantastic and he is learning so much!

A few weeks ago, he was introduced to conjugating verbs in the preterite.  For example:

Yo estuve en casa ayer. 
Ella tuvo tres galletas en la mano.

While he understands this perfectly, when my son speaks in the past, he tends to use another form (not always grammatically correct!):

Yo he estado en casa ayer.
Ella ha tenido tres galletas en la mano.

The test date was closing in, so we started to study.

One of my favorite ways to study verbs is SO SIMPLE.  All you need are notecards and a sharpie (paper and pencil are optional).

On each of the notecards, write a subject:  Yo, Tú, Él, Ella, etc.  If you study Vosotros / Vosotras, include it.  If you don't, leave it out.  Put these notecards in one pile.

On the next pile of notecards, write the infinitive of the verbs you are studying (one per card).  If you'd like, you can translate them into your mother tongue or write a "hint" (i.e. stem changer, irregular, etc) on the back of the cards.

If the student is new to conjugating verbs in a formal way, I like to have them practice organizing the subject cards like this:

We discussed how these cards represent the subject of the sentence.  They can be arranged in a logical way:

The first column refers to one person, while the second column refers to more than one person.

The first row is called "1st person":  Yo + 1 more person = Nosotros.
Tú and Vosotros is called "2nd person": Tú + 1 more person = Vosotros.
The last row is "3rd person":  Él + 1 more person = Ellos, etc.

My son and I also had a good discussion about tú vs. usted and how Spain is the only country that uses vosotros.  We don't use vos in our household, but now would be a good time to bring it up.

After the student is feeling comfortable with the subjects, it's time to move on to the verbs.

Shuffle the cards and line them up with the pile of subjects next to the infinitives.

Use the cards to trigger sentences.  I had my son write the conjugations as he was working on spelling, but I often use this technique with students to practice their oral skills "making interesting sentences".

This notecard method can be used for all verb tenses and is extremely portable!  You can throw a few notecards in your backpack or pocket and practice for a few minutes at a time.

Good luck and happy conjugating!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chapas: How to Play!

I was going to wait until Earth Day to post this.  After all, playing “chapas” (bottlecaps) is such a great way to reuse something we would normally toss.

However, it is so cold here in NYC that my kids are itching to get crafty and play games.  Any sort of competition peaks their interest, and a chapas race is no exception.

My husband grew up in Spain playing chapas.  It is typically an outdoor game, played with anywhere from 2 to a half-dozen friends.  

Designing your Chapas:

The fun begins before the race!  Every good player has an arsenal of chapas to choose from, and these chapas must be personalized.

First, pick out your chapas.  Usually, metal bottlecaps are best, either from soda or beer bottles.  However, a small plastic water bottle cap has been known to win a race or two.

On a piece of paper, draw circles that are the size of the inside of the bottle cap. 

Decorate these circles with your initials, a logo, a small design…

Cut the circles out carefully, and fit them inside the bottle caps.

The Race:

Great!  Now you have a number of personalized chapas.  But how do you play?

The rules are simple:  A course is drawn with chalk and players take turns flicking their bottlecaps toward the finish line. If you flick your chapa outside of the lines, you lose a turn.  If someone flicks their chapa into yours, you must start over. 

Here's an example of a course that my kids drew this fall:

Here is a video of kids playing chapas:

And a really cool beach competition (check out the last minute or so for the race in action):

Now you are ready to find a race!  Suerte!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

3 Awesome Dice Games to Play With Your Kids Today!

I just love playing games with my boys!  And my boys love numbers and strategy, and....DICE!

I have three great dice games that you can play in Spanish (or English!) that require little set up or materials.

I learned the first game in Spain a couple of summers ago.  I tweaked it a little to satisfy younger players.

Dice Game #1:  MUERTO!!! 

paper, pencil, 5 dice

Number of Players:  
2 or more

How To Play: 
1.  On a piece of paper, create a column for each player.

2.  Each player takes turns rolling the dice.  The first player rolls all 5 dice.  Add up all of the dice EXCEPT for the 2s and 5s.  Any die that falls on 2 or 5 is eliminated for this player for the remainder of the game.

This roll would eliminate 3 dice and give you 10 points.

4.  The second player takes his turn with the 5 dice and rolls, eliminates any 2s or 5s, and marks the sum on the paper.  Play continues until all players have rolled the dice one time.

5.  During Round 2, each player takes his/her turn rolling their dice, eliminating any 2s and 5s, and adding their totals.

6.  Continue taking turns and rolling for as many rounds as it takes until all of the players run out of dice.

7.  Add up the points in each column, and the winner is the one with the highest total score!

Peque 1 scored 32 points and wins the game!

(NOTE: it is possible -- and, indeed, probable, that players will be playing each round with different amounts of dice.)

Dice Game #2:  PIGGY!

paper, pencil, 2 dice

Number of Players:
2 or more

How To Play: 
1.  On a piece of paper, create a column for each player.

2.  The first player rolls the dice.  If a double is not rolled, the sum of the two dice is noted on the paper under the player's name.  (If a double is rolled, the player's score is zero and he has lost the game.)

The player may decide to roll again or stop his turn.  If the player rolls again, and a double is not rolled, the sum of the two dice is added to the previous total.  However, if a double is rolled, the player's score becomes zero and he loses the game.

The player can continue to roll again as long as she'd like, or until she rolls a double.

Oh no!  This player got a double and now has a score of 0!!!

3.  Play continues to the remaining players in the same fashion.  The other players try to get a higher score than the first player, without rolling a double.

4.  After all players have had a chance to roll, the player with the highest score is a winner.  (And the players with a zero score are "Piggies!")

Dice Game #3:  Build a Monster!!!

paper, pencil, one die
(You can find the template for Build a Monster in my TpT Store.)

Number of Players:
1 or more

How to Play:
1.  Players must brainstorm several body parts necessary to make a monster: cabeza, brazo, pie, nariz, cola, etc.  and write them down on a piece of paper.

2.  The players draw a body for the monster.  This can be a circle, oval, square, or any other shape.

3.  Player 1 chooses a body part and rolls a die.  If the player chose "cabeza" and rolled a 3, the player(s) must draw 3 heads on their monster(s).

4.  If there is more than one player, the second player will choose the next body part and roll the die.  Everyone must draw that number of body parts on their monsters.

5.  Play continues until all of the body parts have been drawn on the monsters.  The players can now color and decorate their monsters for display!

Here are a few additional dice games that you may want to try that don't require much more prep than some dice, a pencil, and paper.  

Click on the name for link to rules:

1.  Math Dice (or Math Dice, Jr)
2.  Yahtzee!
3.  1000

I hope you enjoy playing these dice games with your kids as much as I do!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Marionetas on a Cold Winters Day...

It has been so cold here in New York (and the next few days promise to be even colder) that it has led me to look at photos from last summer in Spain.

Here are the boys watching the titeres (puppet show) along with other neighborhood kids last summer:

The show started out with puppets and a cute little story about a princess who had lost her way:

But with a little help from the audience (magic words and a special song were required), the puppets came to life!

The puppet show was a great way for the boys to connect with their Spanish community and meet other kids.  They also learned a LOT of Spanish in fun and interactive way.

We decided to relive the summer fun with a puppet show this afternoon.  A low-tech stage and a few favorite stuffed animals later, we had our own titeres performance:

Friday, January 30, 2015

Valentine's Day Blog Hop--Spanish style!!

When I was a kid, I loved Valentine's Day!

We used to make mailboxes out of old shoeboxes,

and overdose on candy hearts (somehow avoiding breaking all of our teeth in the process1)

Now I get to re-live Valentine's Day with my students and at home with my kids.  We take advantage of Valentine's Day to get crafty, learn new vocabulary, and review skills (with a fun, Valentine's Day twist!).  Take a look:

For the youngest students, I created a word book with a Valentine's Day theme.  There are two books included in the pack, one in English and the other in Spanish.  My son is working on the Spanish one:

He also loves to cut and paste!  Here he is putting a sentence in the correct order from the Valentine's Day Mixed Up Sentences packet.  For more advanced students, there is also a page that does not have the model sentence.

Here, my son is working to unscramble Valentine's Day themed vocabulary in my Valentine's Day Writing Pack.  The pack also includes writing prompts and templates and fun cut-color-and-send Valentines:

One of my best sellers has been my Valentine's Day "Main Idea" Task Cards.  These are such good practice for kids!!  Each card can be printed and laminated to be used in a Center, or just worked on individually as my son is doing here.

The last lesson packet is a quick Fact or Opinion review that works well as homework or Center work.  Both English and Spanish versions are included, as well as a cute graphic organizer.

I hope you can use one (or many!) of these ideas with your students!!!  Check out my TpT store to see these lesson plans in more detail.

Now it's time to hop on to the next blog to get even more ideas and freebies to celebrate Valentine's Day en español!!!

Hop on to the next blog!