Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Animals: favourite games


My pupils can't get enough of teddies and animal games. They love talking about their own pets, dead or alive....  As you can see I try to please everybody with my props, even those who have 5 snakes in their homes (true!).
The most popular activities:
The hot/cold hiding game: One pupil hides an animal, another one has to find it in the classroom while the rest of the class whisper the name and get louder as he/she gets closer. Excellent for repeating the same animal fifty times without realising that they are working hard to learn the words.

Who is quicker?  A good practice for colour agreement + place of adjective. Light plastic animals are very easy to buy (pound shops, charity shops and carboot sales). I stick them on the board with blu tack.

Another version to practise plurals:

I have lots of knitted finger puppets from ebay, they are made in Peru so they only speak Spanish:-) We play "Heads down, thumbs up"(rules) with them, 4 children pick a few puppets and those who need to do the guessing will have to say sentences like: "Tiene 3 vacas", "Tiene 1 conejo", "Tiene 2 gatos", etc.

Mime the animal

A volunteer pretends to be an animal, the rest of the class have to guess who she/he is. It can be played in pairs, too.


Hiding games
1, I hide an animal under a napkin and the children have to guess which one it is. I only accept sentences!" Es un perro."

2, Or I only show part of the animal:

Animal sounds: this book of mine has different animal noises on each page, the children have to listen and guess what they are. The one who guesses the animal can press the next button. They love these little rewards:-).

... and real Spanish animals: Find your partner!

The children are going to be Spanish animals and they will have to "talk" like them! They are given a piece of paper with an animal picture on and they have to walk around the classroom repeating the animal sounds until they find their partners. A very noisy activity!


La Vaca Lola

A big favourite! This is a very catchy simple song, we point to the body parts in the song ("cabeza", "cola") and we all shout "muuuuu..." at the end. I have a big Vaca Lola soft toy, somebody can dance with her as a reward while the song is on, she is very popular!The lyrics are here.
Un pulpito
I used to teach a Reception/ Year 1 mixed age class, this song went down very well with them. We all had flashcards and lifted them up when they were mentioned in the song.  The lyrics are here.

To be continued.... a lot to do with animals:-) Enjoy the activities!!!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Pancake Day flapbook

We spend every Sunday afternoon with our family best friends and cook the evening meal together. Today we made pancakes for dessert and I got inspired to make a pancake flapbook in class next week in preparation for Shrove Tuesday (4th of March this year). 
You need a piece of card and some paper strips, I used 5 of them. On the outside we'll draw our favourite fillings and on the inside we'll write the names in Spanish.


27/02/2013: We made our pancakes! We changed the title to
Me gusta(n)...,  
¿Te gusta....?
Rellenos de crepes
The children will have to finish colouring them at home, but they have all  drawn and labelled their favourite pancake fillings.


We'll also make a class survey: "What's your favourite pancake filling?"

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Genders of nouns

How it all starts: Nationalities
In Year 3 we learn to talk about ourselves: "Me llamo Amber. Tengo 7 años. Vivo en Burscough. Soy inglesa." When we get to this last sentence I use my puppets to teach them about differences between what girls and boys say.
I have 2 friends from the airport duty free shop in Malaga, they are Rosa and Pablo:-). They teach us "Soy español" and "Soy española". We play the hot/cold hiding game with them and I ask about the differences in the 2 expressions. To avoid stereotypes I tell them that Spanish people don't look like these puppets and this year we were very lucky to watch our Spanish penpals' videos where they say "Soy español/a". When we get to "Soy inglés/Soy inglesa", my puppet from Greendale comes to help: Postman Pat! This is always a funny moment. But the best comes after this: I say that I haven't got an English puppet girl in my house so the shortest girl has to help us learn the sentence and hide in the classroom for the hot/cold game! I always ask whether there are any other nationalities in the classroom and we learn those, too. This year we  added Annick and Albert to our puppets, I got them from Catherine Cheater after a twilight session and even though I don't teach French, we love having them around, we explain Spanish rules to them and sometimes they bring us French songs to show us some similarities with Spanish. This time we learnt "Soy francés/ Soy francesa" with them.


At the beginning of every lesson my parrot teddy flies around the classroom and asks questions, one of them is"¿Cuál es tu nacionalidad?". They always remember what to say but some of them want to be funny and say "Soy inglesa" (a boy) , then I pretend to be very shocked, we have a laugh and we repeat the rule.

 Genders of nouns
The first time I mention genders of nouns is in Year 3, when we learn pencil case words. I say that Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine, they are just like babies when they are born, either boys or girls, but in grammar they are called masculine and feminine words.
The genders are not in the focus of the lessons along year 3 and 4 but we play short games to keep the concept in our minds.
Whole class activity with pompoms (I have loads, you might remember them from my colours blog): I say a sentence/word and they show up the colour for masculine (blue) or feminine (pink).
1 pupil with the pink pompoms, 1 pupil with the blue ones in front of the class: they can only lift them up if they hear what they are holding. The one who makes a mistake sits down and picks another volunteer for her/him.

 these pompoms are from poundland but you can make your own with tissue paper or crepe paper

Race between pupils out in the front: I say a word/sentence and they have to grab the appropriate pompom and lift it up quickly.
Wig race: Two volunteers will go to two different sides of the classroom, they will be  wearing feminine/masculine wigs (all the hands will be up:-). I say :"Tengo un lápiz" and they have to get to the right wig quickly. You could make it more difficult by making the pupils choose the object first and  then race to the appropriate gender wig. Alternatively, you could say the word/sentence and everybody has to turn and point to the right person.

 the wigs are from Poundland
Who is quicker? I stick images on the whiteboard and 2 pupils have to race to touch them with the right colour dusters or shoe horns.
Another option is to make them put the objects in masculine/feminine baskets.
the baskets are from Tesco
And to get back to Postman Pat, we listen to the theme song in Spanish, which we find very funny! The lyrics are here.

I will blog about genders in Year 5 and 6 in another post.

I wish you happy teaching from my garden where even the tulips grow in gender cups!


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Body games

If I had to choose a favourite topic from my long list, this would be my first choice, it is fun and challenging! Depending on the year and the length of the lesson, I combine this topic with descriptions.
Mr. Potato Head(s) for vocabulary practice
I have quite a few in my house, I wanted to  take a picture of three but my daughter ran away with one....We play the hot/cold hiding game with the individual body parts, it is a good way to practise "j" in "las orejas" y "los ojos". If I take all the bits off the heads, then we can do a "Who is quicker?" competition in front of the class, the two volunteers have to find the body parts from the pile and put them in the right place.

The display
This skeleton comes from the Halloween sales.It looks great on the display with the Spanish vocabulary on. We learn body parts in Year 4 and the pupils are getting familiar with genders and plurals by then, that is why my labels are colour coded. So far we have played the "Who is quicker?" game with the skeleton (show the body parts), but I have just read a very good game and I will recycle it. There will be two doctors (yes, I have the outfits:-) competing to cure the poorly skeleton. They will get small plasters and the voice of the skeleton (teacher/pupil)will say: "Me duele la boca." or "Me duele la nariz", etc. The doctors will have to race to the patient and put a plaster on the sick body part. This idea was inspired by Susan Thomas on the Facebook page "Fun for Elementary and Early Spanish Teachers".

To introduce describing somebody with "Tiene...", I use my teddy monster, or a pupil with the monster hat on:-) After talking about the differences in "Tiene..." and  "He/She has got", we practise the verb with María:-).


"Tiene" practice with María
She is called María, she is a puppet head from Cuba, I got her in a carboot sale. I blindfold a volunteer and give María to somebody in the classroom who has to shake her (she is full of rice). The blindfolded pupil has to guess who has her and says: "La tiene Amy", "La tiene Connor", etc. You can play it with a rattle or anything noisy.

Monster beauty contest
Now it is the children's turn... they have to design a monster or an alien! I give them big sheets of paper and they can work in groups of 2 or 3. This activity is about 15 minutes long during 3 weeks (I have 1 lesson a week with my classes).They have to design a monster or an alien, label them and colour them in. Then the pupils come out to the front of the class and talk about their monsters:  "Tiene 3 orejas", "Tiene ocho ojos", "No tiene boca", etc.... They get a number from me, and at the end of the activity we vote for the best one. The winner's piece of art will be displayed on the wall. But of course we are all winners because we all talk in Spanish in front of our class and we are very proud of our work. I take a photo of the monsters, label them in PowerPoint (to be clear and easy to read) and laminate them. They can take them home for placemats, and I keep the originals on my living room wall ( well, this is what I tell them:-). Laminating pouches are very cheap in Home Bargains, I prefer laminating at home as I have a very quick hand held laminator.
Those who finish earlier than the others can practise writing sentences about playdough monsters:-).

The blindfolded artist

Pair work on small whiteboards, or 2 pupils can come out to the big whiteboard and we all have a laugh. The blindfolded artist follows the instructions of the partner who says sentences like: "Tiene una boca", "Tiene 3 ojos", "Tiene 5 orejas". When the picture is finished, the blindfolded pupil can have a look at his/her masterpiece. It is a hilarious activity! Sometimes we play it as a "beauty contest" between the boys and the girls in the class and the class teacher has to decide whose monster is more beautiful, which is quite challenging as they haven't got any body parts in the right place!

Just follow the instructions, it is hilarious. The actions are tiring, so be prepared! The lyrics are here. ( The video is a bit different, it says "hombros en alto" and "culete atrás".)


Con mi dedito
A lot quieter than Chuchua:-) You can add more body parts to the song. I used it in KS1 many times before, they loved it.The lyrics are here.

To be continued.... this topic is a treasure box!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Speed dating

What a day! After the big storms last night there were fallen trees, road closures and diversions, I had to drive like James Bond to get to school in time, so I really had my heart in my throat, as if I was going on a date. I didn't have enough time to rearrange the classrooms, I managed to do half of one, I made up single tables with two chairs. I placed my home made little fortune cookies on the tables and put some heart balloons up for the right atmosphere:-)  I put my PP up on the screen and we were ready to go....
Speed dating
The children had 2 minutes to ask each other questions, they could use mine or they could make up their own. I told them that they could change identities and I gave a demonstration at the front of the class: I was Dora the Explorer and my partner was Bob the Builder! They found it was hilarious to change names, they were Peppa Pig, Tinker Bell, etc. Some of them were 95 years old, some were just 1 or 2. I clapped every 2 minutes, they had to change partners then. When I asked for feedback, they said that it was a great activity because they spoke Spanish to each other. This made me realize that I don't give them enough opportunities to actually have conversations with each other, so I will make a great effort from now on to make sure they get to speak to their classmates. We play lots of games as a class, we write a fair bit, now the focus will be on conversations. There were lots of giggles while doing this activity, be prepared!
Thank you for this idea, Creative Language Class!!! (fantastic blog here)

Fortune cookies and cocktail stick hearts
The preparation of this activity took me an hour and a half last night......guess what, I left half of the biscuits in my car, half a mile away from the school. I had to run in my short break to get them and just arrived in time for my year 6 class.
The learning objective for today was to create sentences with time expressions in our topics: daily routine (Year 5) and school (Year 6). I printed out  2 sets of sentences like "Me despierto a las 7." and "Leo en la biblioteca a las 11". I made fortune cookies for Year 5 and cocktail stick hearts for Year 6. At the beginning of the activity I told them that they had to find their better halves, or as they say in Spain, their half oranges:-)  (la media naranja= the better half). They found that very interesting and funny!They walked around the classroom saying their sentences and when they found their better halves, they could eat the hearts. We laughed a lot, boys were with boys, girls with girls even though the cookies were given out randomly.


Love is in the air:-)
Everybody who came out to play or do an activity had to put my big pink sunglasses on or had to hold a heart balloon! We learnt to say "Te quiero", the kids wrote it down on small post it notes and they will give them to somebody tomorrow:-).
We haven't finished celebrating love yet, in April we will talk about "el dia de San Jordi", the Catalan Valentine's Day, when boys give roses to the girls  and girls give the boys books. What a great opportunity to write our own minibooks!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Fruit recipe project: Heart shaped Valentine messages

Heart shaped fruit with  Valentine words
I just can't get enough of Valentine's Day:-) I have already written a post about it here, but I keep looking for new ideas for shorter lessons, longer lessons, big kids, small kids, etc... As you know, I am participating in a fruit recipe book project with my Spanish partners Natalia and Sandra, and this time I wanted to create something romantic to celebrate Valentine's Day.
I bought lovely heart shaped cookie cutters in M&S, and also a big melon, strawberries, apples, bananas and marshmallows, because there is no better motivation than marshmallows, I found that out a few weeks ago.... To add more romance, I took in paper plates left from my wedding (we were on our farm in a barn and the guests preferred eating the cakes without plates:-).
I wrote expressions on the whiteboard : "Te quiero.", "el día de San Valentín", "el día del amor" and  "14 de febrero". The pupils had to write one expression and learn it and then decorate their plates with a heart shaped fruit.
This was a very messy and demanding activity, I couldn't have done it without my teacher helpers, thank you Mrs Rice, Miss Tittle and Mrs Krajewski, you will definitely get free copies of the book!

And if you think that I have finished thinking about Valentine's Day, then watch this space, tomorrow I am going to blog about the big ones' lessons, speed dating in Y5 and Y6! I came across the idea on the Creative Language Class blog here.

Saturday, 8 February 2014


Playdough family
You can't get away without using playdough once every half term, all my pupils know that! Last week my Year 4 had to make a family of heads where they all had different eye colours. I took a picture of the family after they finished them and I put these photos up on the big screen so that they could talk about their families to everybody:  "La madre tiene los ojos azules." They all love seeing each others' work, the heads are really funny. It's easy to make them talk if  it is about their own work and if they can make the rest of the class smile.
Heads down, thumbs up
When I teach hair colours, I take my coloured pompoms in to school. In the first few years of my teaching I just pointed to the kids' hair when I was teaching "blonde" or "brown", but we spent so much time clarifying whether Amy is blonde, hazelnut or light brown and also, the red haired kids were often a bit embarrassed so I just assign them with hair colours and no arguments. They think the wigs are really funny! I cut eye shapes out and we use them for games.
"Heads down, thumbs up" is one of our favourites, the 4 kids standing in front of the class look so funny with wigs and big coloured eyes. The rules are:
-all the children put their heads down on their tables, with their thumbs up,
- the 4 wig kids walk around the classroom and squeeze one thumb once,
-these 4 go back to the front of the class, the rest wake up,
-those who have been squeezed have to stand up and guess who has touched them,
-they have to guess in Spanish, of course:-) "Tiene los ojos verdes y el pelo rubio."
-if they get the right person, they can swop.
Missing friends
I hide some dolls in the classroom before the kids come in. When they are in, I say that I have four friends who disappeared in this huge classroom, and can  they please help me find them. I have written descriptions of the dolls, the pupils have to find them and match them with the descriptions. We play this in Year 4 and the boys are just as excited as girls, don't think that the dolls will put them off.
Wanted posters
After the "lost dolls" activity, we make our own "Wanted" posters. The pupils can look for a classmate, a teacher, a friend, or anybody they want to. They present them in front of the class and then we put them out on display.
 Listening to the monster
This is a very scary listening activity, and I say that to my children, but after hearing the sound file, they just laugh at me! I have the body parts printed out and the kids lift these up while listening to the monster. There is a Powerpoint, as well if you want to practise reading with them. The Powerpoint and the sound file can be found on the Scholastic website, see the links below.
Click to download
Enjoy the lesson:-)