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!!!