Friday, 31 January 2014

Clothes games

The washing line competition
I have a big blue laundry bag full of my children's outgrown clothes, T-shirts, trousers, coats, shirts, shoes, skirts, dresses and jumpers. We play lots of games with them, one of the most popular is the washing line game. It's a competition and it's about speed, so the kids love it. You will need a stopwatch, a washing line, pegs, clothes and various lists of the clothes you have with you. Girls can play it against boys (just add the times together after a few games) or just two kids against each other. Two children have to hold the washing line up high. One pupil is given a list of clothes, the teacher starts the alarm and the partner has to put the piece of clothes on the washing line with pegs. It has to be in the same order as on the list and if something falls down, it has to be put up again. The winner is the team or pupil who is the quickest. You can find a stopwatch online and then everybody will see the time.  It's a great game for practising the colour agreement in Spanish. The slowest team or pupil gets homework: to do the laundry at home for a week:-)

Dressing up teddies
As a mum of two little kids, I have a hundred teddies in my house.... the following game was inspired by two of them: Dora and the Fat Controller. Toddler clothes fit on them very well, so they can be dressed up quite easily. Two kids come out to the front, they each get Dora and the Fat Controller, and I say "lleva una camiseta" or "se pone una camiseta" etc. They each have to find one in the big pile of clothes and put them on the two teddies, while the rest of the class repeats "lleva una camiseta" many times. The quickest stays in the game, the other kid has to pick a new dresser, and the game starts again. It is a good way to get everybody talking by repeating the sentences and also a good noun-adjective agreement practice. It takes a while to put a T-shirt on Dora's big head or to put trousers on the Fat Controller's chunky legs!

Design a school uniform
The children love being creative and designing uniforms, football kits, Olympic wear, etc. They draw the clothes, colour them in and label them in Spanish. It is a good practice of noun - adjective agreement. At the end of the activity, you can make a contest by voting: the best uniform will win a prize. It is great display material!
Fashion show
The children love it because they can bring their favourite clothes in, they do a quick change before the lesson. When they come back, they walk on the catwalk while others introduce them with sentences like "Es Connor. Lleva una camiseta roja y pantalones azules."  I have some toy microphones they love holding.I take a picture of everybody and make a fashion show display with the clothes labelled in Spanish. It's easy to label the photos in Powerpoint, I use different colours for masculine and feminine nouns and then give the photos to the children. I call these pictures "postcards" or "certificates", they can take them home and explain to their families why some words are written in blue or red and where the colour goes in Spanish:-)



We sing "A pasear" from Let's sing and learn in Spanish , this song is good for practising "Me pongo...".
Mi tía: A good action song from Elizabeth, the words are here.

We look at typical clothes in Spanish speaking countries, I have PowerPoints and videos like this from Ecuador:

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Fruit recipe project: Our flag and some snails

Year 3 and our partner class in Valladolid are working on a fruit recipe book. After last week's Spanish flag bites, it was time to make our own flag! We used blueberries, strawberries and marshmallows. The kids loved both designing and eating it.

The mandarin snail idea was tweeted to me by our partner school's head teacher. I copied the instructions from  the Little Cook website. Simple but so funny!

Next we will make fruit faces.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day
This post is a bit early, but we have penpals in Spain and we had to write our cards today so that they would arrive on time...and on my lunch break I found these novelty sunglasses in the charity shop:-).We will take pictures with these on and send a video message on the 14th of February. How exciting!
My Spanish teacher friend, Natalia (mi alma gemela:-) sent me some ideas last week, and I immediately fell in love with some butterflies with lollipop heads. I bought a bag of Chupa Chups in Home bargains (25 for a £1, bargain!) and took them into class today. Long long ago in my teacher training days I found out that the logo was designed by Salvador Dalí and that the company was founded in Spain. What a great chance to find out about a famous Spanish artist! 
It took about 15 minutes to make the butterflies. The pupils wrote simple messages on them in English, and we will receive some cards written in Spanish. I downloaded the template from here: 
The original idea is from
On Valentine's Day we will listen to "Hay un amigo en mí" from Toy Story 3. I don't remember where I read this idea but I am very grateful to whoever recommended it because we all love this song, it is very simple and catchy.
Hay un amigo en mí
Cuando salgan a volar
Hay un amigo en mí
Sí, un amigo en mí
Hay un amigo en mí!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Fruit recipe project: Spanish flag bites

Last summer I "met" Natalia on the eTwinning website. She is a full time teacher in a primary school in Valladolid. Her groups and my groups "work together" on a weekly basis, we send letters, cards, videos and lots of emails to each other. Natalia has become a real inspiration to me, her enthusiasm, her new ideas and her sense of humour  have taught me so much. A few weeks ago she came up with an idea: a bilingual cookbook with fruit recipes! First I just thought that I would politely tell her that I don't have the time for this in my short Spanish lessons (45 minutes and 30 minutes), but then I started to do some research online and in my kids' cookbooks and found quite a few things we could make without cooking at the end of the lesson. I am hoping that the children will bring in recipes from next week to make it a real cooperation. We will make videos and a cooking competition, too! We are very excited.
I had lots of ideas in my mind before my first introduction lesson last Tuesday and went to Asda to buy all these:

After hours of experimenting with what would be the simplest fruit creation, I just decided to make "Spanish flag bites"  and only took the pineapples and strawberries in. I cut them in the school that morning to keep them fresh and put them in two plastic boxes.

The kids used toothpicks to make the flags, it only took them a few minutes and they really enjoyed this short introduction activity.

Wish me luck with the Union Jack next week:-)!


My pupils love being blindfolded. When I get my scarf or my blindfolds out, I always see 30 children full of excitement with their hands up waiting to be called out. In this post I will show you 3 games we have to play "in the dark":-).

The lighthouse and the boat
We need two volunteers for this game, one pupil will be the lighthouse, the other one will be the boat. Because kids love toys, I give a small lighthouse out to the lighthouse pupil, and blindfold the other one, with a newspaper boat on his/her head. I place them far away from each other. It is dark at night on the sea and the boat needs directions from the lighthouse. The boat person is blindfolded, can't see at all and only relies on the instructions. It is very funny to see the boat bumping into chairs, pupils and finally in the lighthouse.

Rope pulling
This is a new game I only came up with a year ago. 2 kids hold the same rope with 4 hands. They can't see anything and have to move the rope in the direction the teacher or another child tells them. If I say "arriba", an then both lift the rope up, they both keep playing. But if I say "abajo", and only one moves it down while the other one is moving it right/left/or lifting it up, there will be a "conflict", one child will be slightly pulled aside and the kids find this very funny. The person who makes the mistake sits down and picks somebody else for him/her. We used to play this with our eyes open but it was too easy to follow each other. Instead of the rope, I am thinking about handcuffing them next time:-)
Pin the tail on the donkey
A popular game for birthday parties: the blindfolded child standing at the whiteboard has to follow the instructions of his/her classmate and find the right place for the donkey's tail. It is a very good activity to practise directions in Spanish, and all the children find it very amusing. I bought my donkey in Asda last year, but before that I had just drawn one on the whiteboard (or better: asked a child to do it:-) and just used blu tack to stick on a paper tail.
Pair work: One pupil is the robot, the other one is the instructor who has to tell the robot how to move. Children love being robots and they can imitate them so well.

Arriba y abajo: by Los pimpollos
These puppets from Peru are the joy of my life. I absolutely love listening to their songs on youtube. We sing several of their songs, they have good ones on food, music, washing hands, etc. This is called "Arriba y abajo" and we sing it with actions. The song is subtitled which is great because it is really fast. We reach up and bend down, draw the sun in the sky with our hands, we pretend to be birds and ants, etc. It cheers everybody up:-)!
Izquierda, derecha by Los Pimpollos
Another one by Los Pimpollos, this time we practise "left" and "right".

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Colour games

Colour block tower

I don't know how many block towers I've built in the past 4-5 years... probably hundreds! No wonder an idea occurred to me one day while putting one up.
I take the whole bucket of blocks in to school and let the kids build a tower as long as they can name the colour they want to put on. A volunteer comes out, says the colour of the block he or she is holding and places it on top of the tower. The aim of the game is to build the tallest tower possible before it collapses.Even though I only have four colours, they have important pronunciation rules and there is plenty of chance to practice ("j" in "rojo", "ll" in "amarillo", "v" in "verde"  and "z" in "azul").
We build the towers on top of  the desk, so that everybody can see them.

Carnival of beads
All my Spanish puppets are going to the Carnival of Tenerife at the end of  February. They want to look their best so they have ordered some necklaces, bracelets and anklets. They are a bit fussy and they want them to be particular colours. They have written down their orders on separate post it notes.We have 10-15 minutes to make as many as we can. We need to dress up 4 puppets and my talking hamster. We work in pairs and everybody will have a small plastic box of beads. It is a good way to practice reading the colours and remembering important spelling rules.

Chicken fight

I tweeted this game before, it is one of our favourites. The smaller the children, the better, unless you have lots of space in the classroom. Two children stand opposite each other, heads together, hands on hips. They close their eyes for ten seconds, myself or a volunteer puts a coloured post it note on their backs. After opening their eyes, the game starts. They twist, turn, walk around and try to see each other's backs. No touches are allowed. When one of them has seen the colour, he or she has to shout it out in Spanish.The idea comes from "Let's play games in  Spanish", fantastic book.
Pom poms song
We love singing  "¿De qué color?" (number 9 on the ¡Español! ¡Español! CD by Caroll Nicole). The song has 8 colours and I made lots of pom poms of these colours, everyone can have one or two. The classroom is really colourful when the children sing the song and wave their pom poms!


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Telling the time


Telling the time keeps comig back to us when we talk about our daily routine, school days, asking about train times.... These are a few games we like playing.

What time is it, Mr Wolf?

I like going to charity shops and buying all kinds of toys and props for my lessons. When I saw the wolf costume, I immediately knew I would have to use it, the pupils would love putting it on.We play this game in the classroom so we had to change the rules because we can't run around. I learnt this by experience:-) The children have to stay behind their desks, they can dance or move as long as they stay in one place.  A voluntary wolf comes to the front of the class and stands there with his back to the rest of the children.
The children keep asking:
"¿Qué hora es, Señor Lobo?"
The wolf responds with a time expression like:
"Es la una." "Son las dos." "Son las tres."  (You can add "y media" as well).
The pupils keep on moving and dancing.
But when he says 

"Es la hora de comer", and suddenly turns around, they all have to freeze. The first one he sees move has to sit down. 

La caja fuerte
This safe comes from a carboot sale, it had been collecting dust in my son's toy basket when I realized the huge potential it could have in my lessons. I have 'converted' it to a time lock safe with a help of a post it note. I put 5 stickers or small chocolates inside and all hands will be up to guess the time code. The magic time sentence (and my hands) will open the safe if the right sentence is said.

Small hand, big hand

In some of the classrooms there is a big space in the middle where we can play this game. I put number flashcards 1-12 out imitating the clock and ask for two volunteers, a tall one and a short one. They have 10 seconds to discuss what time they will be (the others cover their ears,
¡Cerrad las orejas!). After this, they lie on the floor, the tall one is the big hand, and the small one is the small hand. I took some photos of my daughter's dolls to illustrate the activity.

A minibook: "¿Qué hora es?"

I am a big fan of minibooks, I saw them first on Clare Seccombe's fantastic blog .I have used quite a few templates in the past but haven't done this one with the pupils yet, I will try it in the next few weeks. It is a good way to make them write, and for peer- and self-assessment. They can get up, walk around and ask each other "¿Qué hora es?", the answer is under the flap.

Un, dos, tres, ¿Qué hora es?

A very catchy song to practise times and it even shows Spanish speaking places.
You can find the lyrics here:
Vuela la luna
If you like action songs and you don't mind getting dizzy and totally exhausted, then sing this song by Grupo Encanto. And you can tick the Intercultural Understanding box by explaining to the children that in Spain they show the number 2 with their fingers the other way around:-).
The lyrics are here.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Number games

This half term we will practise numbers 10-20 in year 3 and I have chosen a few activities to share with you. Please feel free to comment, add your suggestions and correct my mistakes!


I love playing table tennis. When I was in primary school I even went to competitions and won some medals, that is why I am very attracted to ping pong balls and keep a lot in my house.
I use them in the classroom, they are excellent in "Pass the parcel", "Bingo" or "Lottery".
The following ping pong ball hunt needs some preparation. Before the lesson while the classroom is empty, I hide 10 of them in the classroom and write their numbers on the whiteboard. I place some blu tack by the numbers and tell the children to look for the balls. They love walking around and having a look everywhere. When they find one, they have to stick them by the corresponding numbers. There is a powerpoint up with the numbers for those who need more support.
This activity takes about 5 minutes in year 3, it is a good plenary and it gets them up from their seats.


The next game was inspired by my mother in law's charity stall at the church fair, I saw these blindfolds and decided that they would be great for a mystery game. They are special because I can write numbers on them with a whiteboard marker and wipe them off easily for the next player. The player comes out in front of the class, another child writes a number on them (between 10 and 20) and the blindfolded one has to guess what the secret number is. He has 3 guesses and if he says the right number, he gets a sticker, if he doesn't, the partner who writes the number gets it. This game could work with simply lifting number flashcards up above the player's head.


I am a beginner ipad user and everything I do at this point has to be 100% foolproof. I have downloaded the Whiteboard app and a volunteer in front of the class will have to write his/her favourite number  on it between 10 and 20. Whoever guesses the number from the class is the next one to come out.

Apart from these, we are going to play
"The secret signal",

Who is quicker? with my fly squatters,


And make "El hámster" repeat the numbers with his very funny voice!