Sunday, 25 January 2015

"Teaching Languages with 100 objects" : an answer to @valleseco

The other day I read Clare Seccombe's (@valleseco) blog post "Teaching Languages with 100 objects" where she asks:

"Are there 100 objects that could be used for enriching the teaching of languages in Key Stage 2?

I propose that the objects would have to have some kind of cultural significance, that they would somehow "matter" to the country or countries whose language is being taught.  And I also propose that there doesn't have to be a list of 100.  A smaller list may be just as suitable."

I got very excited about this "challenge" and decided to list the objects I take into my Spanish lessons. While my daughter was asleep in the afternoon, I went up to my office in the loft to take a"cultural look" at my teaching materials, and came down with a box full of treasures. This is the cultural selection only, if I had to bring down the other teaching toys and props, I would have to buy a bigger kitchen table!

Here is my list:

flag: (colours) castañuelas (jotas- a Spanish dance) Spanish doll (where we live, what languages we speak)

pictures from South America (Spanish speaking countries in the world, travel, colours, clothes, family)

Advent calendar (numbers and saying the date), the Three Kings 

Spain scarf and football T-shirt (clothes, colours, adjectives,phonics-ñ) The scarf is always with me, I use it to blindfold pupils for mystery games.

 kitchen clothes with recipes (food, using dictionary, clothes, role-play)

South American finger puppets (role plays, taking turns)

 piñata (birthdays, saying the date, months)

capote and waistband (discuss bullfights, Sanfermines- saying the date, clothes and adjectives)

books and DVDs (blog post about the movie, for literature click on "poetry" on the word cloud on the right hand side)

worry dolls from Guatemala (family, travel, colour, clothes)

money from Spanish speaking countries (travel, shopping, numbers, plurals)

panpipes from Peru, rain stick from Chile, fan from Spain (weather, travel)

maps, train tickets, bus tickets (transport, directions, travels)

dragons and roses for Sant Jordi (role plays, Valentine's Day), Buzz who speaks Spanish in Toy Story- we learn the song "Hay un amigo en mí" for Valentine's Day from him.

Pencil case and big pencils from Spain (classroom items, travel, colours)

Dora the Spanish teacher (clothes, personal descriptions)

calendars (numbers, saying the date, months, name days: blog here ) alphabet poster, board game and cards from Spain

world map (travel, transport, where they speak Spanish, phonics), Day of the Dead cookie cutters (colours, shapes, opinions- blog post here), travel catalogues (travel, writing a postcard, Spanish speaking countries), jalapeños (phonics, food)

mantón (clothes, travel, colours)

aprons (restaurant role plays) paella (phonics, food)

flamenco dress (clothes, colours, adjectives)

Spain map, leaflets (weather, travel, transport, phonics)


We had lots of fun playing with these toys on Saturday afternoon!

Added on 27-1-2015

After reading Carmen's comment, I am adding one more picture....of course I had Spanish supermarket catalogues:-) I use them to show my pupils the Christmas jamón and I leave them on display while we do the "food" topic. Thank you, Carmen:-)

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Jenga in Spanish

Another stolen idea from Twitter! All credit goes to the following inspirational secondary teachers: @reebekwylie (blog), @elvisrunner (blog) and @morgenmfl (blog).

This is what I did: 

1, I labelled the bricks with numbers 1-6.

2, On a piece of paper, I wrote numbers and verbs - we are doing "hobbies" in Year 6 at the moment (I know I have 10 verbs and the bricks only go up to 6, but I can't be perfect for the first time:-).

3, I made a PowerPoint slide with the possible answers. I expected the pupils to
- give an opinion, or
- give an opinion and contrast it with another hobby verb, using "pero", or 
-give a reason, using "porque".

As they found the same number on the bricks a few times, they could say their opinion in different ways during the game.

It is important that when one player takes a block out, he/she has to say the sentence before the game can go on.

It was a fantastic activity, the pupils loved it!

The verbs are from this song, a big favourite!

Next week, we are going to play it in Year 5 (we are learning to tell the time ).

I think Jenga will be my new addiction in the classroom! :-) 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Poundshop ideas for the languages classroom (part 1) (#Poundlandpedagogy)

When I joined Twitter about a year ago I noticed that there are lots of tweets with the hashtag #poundlandpedagogy: teachers share ideas on how they use the treasures they buy in these shops. I am very lucky because in Southport there is a Poundshop in every corner so I have managed to buy lots of things for my language teaching. 

Here are my favourites:

Hula hoop sentences

This idea comes from Carmel O'Hagan, (MFL teacher and adviser), who tweeted a photo of a special hula hoop. I bought two of these, wrote the same long sentence on both and got two pupils to race to put the sentence together (Hoy hace frío y está lloviendo., El jueves voy a la playa en tren, etc.)
Another hula hoop activity was inspired by Julie Prince (MFL teacher and consultant). Two pupils had to hold them up and other two had to race to throw soft toys through them.Both hula hoops stood for groups (masculine/feminine, "j" sound or "v" sound, etc.) and after I have said a word, they had to throw the teddies through the right one. If the word included both sounds (jueves), the two pupils holding the hula hoops had to make sure they put them together quickly. When you pick these "holders", say you want volunteers who are not scared of pain and not afraid of being hit with the teddies:-)


These can be plastic spoons, polystyrene balls or eggs. You can use crepe paper, buttons, pompoms, strings and felt tips for decorating. Once the sentences are written (on lovely colourful post it notes:-), you can put a lolly stick in the balls.

The spoon puppets were made for the European Day of Languages, the pupils had to write "hello" in 3 different languages and learn them. We used the Languages Take You Further booklets, which are great because they are free from the European Commission, check out my EDoL blog post for the link.

Plastic boxes for parts of the sentence

I used these plastic boxes to put my Lego words in. We played with building block sentences before, I took the idea from Dominic McGladerry's blog. This activity worked well in a carousel lesson, I had placed the boxes on the table and the pupils had to make up sentences.

Plastic drawers for parts of the sentence

Baking decorations

I  baked Día de Muertos cookies, Roscón de Reyes and Mona de Pascua for my classes. They had to decorate these using colours, plurals and shapes in Spanish. You can get writing icing very cheap, 4 for a £1. Other decorations could be feathers, pompoms,little chicks...etc.



It is very difficult for English children to understand the concept of masculine and feminine, so I bought a few things to introduce the concept of genders. For more activities check out my blog post.
These are cornflake boxes:

More boxes:
Wigs (there is a pink one as well): the pupils can put them on while playing the hot/cold hiding game.
 Pompoms for masculine/feminine words (there are blue ones, too).

Plastic folders to put words in:

Props for detective games
Moustaches for detective games, foam face stickers to express feelings, blank faces to practise physical descriptions, blank jigsaw puzzles to solve a mystery (this one is from Wilko's).

Stickers for penpal letters
No time to decorate letters during class? You can always get cheap stickers from one of the poundshops, children love them!

Have YOU got any poundshop ideas? Leave a comment or tweet me (@Erzsiculshaw) and I will include yours in Part 2. Thank you:-)!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

"Happy New Year" activities

Happy New Year to you all! Here are some activities to celebrate the New Year.

En 2015, quiero.....
I have made a PowerPoint slide with 12 wishes for the new year. We will work out what they mean using the illustrations and looking at the words - some are very similar to the English ones. 
We will say what we want in 2015 (at different levels by using "y" and "más").
En 2015, quiero salud.
En 2015, quiero aventuras y chocolate.
En 2015, quiero más sol.

12 Grapes
Based on the tradition that that Spanish eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year's Eve, we made twelve wishes for the new year on a grape template last year. The pupils had to write these in order of importance, this made them think about the meaning of the words. I got this idea from the Janet Lloyd Network Facebook Group.

"Happy New Year" in 32 languages
We will watch a video where you can hear "Happy New Year" in 32 languages and we will try to spot the Spanish one. If you have EAL pupils in your classrooms, they will be pleased to hear their languages. (English, Persian, Uzbek, Swahili, Ukrainian,Burmese, Russian,Bengali, Dari,Arabic,Portuguese, Mandarin, French, Sinhalese, Pashtun, Azerbaijani, Serbian, Hindi, Indonesian, Nepali, Kirundi, Viatnamese, Macedonian, Somali,Tamil, Kirghiz,Urdu, Albanian, Turkish, Cantonese, Hausa, Spanish)

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! - games

This sentence gives opportnities to remind the children of the  the upside down exclamation mark, the sounds "z", "ñ", "v" and the place of the adjective in Spanish.
We will definitely play the Mystery Voice, where the blindfolded person will have to find out who is wishing him or her a happy new year. We will also hide a little box with 12 grapes inside and play the Hot/Cold hiding game, where a detective will have to find the box while everybody chants "¡Feliz Año Nuevo!"- louder and louder as he/she is getting closer.