Sonrisas Spanish Blog

In addition to the imaginary journeys my students take to Spanish speaking countries (see Sonrisas Spanish School: An Elementary Spanish Cultural Curriculum), we also do a short geography activity each day. I have el país del día written on my board, and a world map posted next to it. Each day I write the name of one Spanish speaking country on the board. (I’ll use Nicaragua as an example.) Then I choose students to answer about three geographical questions:

¿ Dónde está Nicaragua?

¿Está al norte o al sur de Los Estados Unidos?

¿Nicaragua es más grande o más chiquito que México?

¿Nicaragua es una isla?

I choose questions based on what they know and their ages. With my 7 and 8 year old students I keep it simple. With my 11 and 12 year olds I ask questions about the continents, if the country has a peninsula, if it’s north or south of the equator, if it’s close or far away from the poles and or the equator, etc…

This activity only takes a few minutes, but with consistency they quickly learn the location of the Spanish Speaking countries in the world while they hone their geographical skills.

As we plan Spanish Camp, we are lucky enough to live in a small community that was a part of Mexico at one time. For this reason we have many old timers whose first language was Spanish. We are inviting several of them to come and talk about their experiences growing up here, and how the community has changed or remained the same. It occured to me that a good number of small towns and cities alike in our country have Spanish language heritage with members of each community that can share this local culture with the children learning Spanish.

We have finished up our school year at Sonrisas. Our end of the year plays were fun and rewarding. It’s always great to see your students acting in Spanish and having fun. We will be doing Spanish Camp this summer and revising our preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum to make it even better. Lots of work, but we are committed to making Sonrisas the best Spanish curriculum available. Hooray for summer!

As the school year winds down, there are usually a lot of end of the year programs, plays, etc. that happen—including in Spanish class. Drama can be an excellent tool for your Spanish students to integrate the Spanish they have learned throughout the year. The language that they have learned all year can be brought to life in a play. When a Spanish student has to learn lines in Spanish and act based on Spanish directives, it challenges their comprehension and pronunciation and engages them in higher learning skills such as synthesis and analysis. As you practice a play in Spanish, you can see a lot of “aha!” moments as the students figure out what it is they are saying and how they need to act to convey the part they are doing. We can see that the communication and comparison standards are addressed thoroughly with drama.  As a teacher, it is always very satisfying to see your students not only having fun with the language, but also integrating it into a performance where they are able to deeply absorb the language and present it to an audience.

Yesterday, when I started my Cinco de Mayo lesson, I was reminded of how kids generally like a good battle. Aside from all of the traditional cultural elements of the holiday, kids like hearing about the battle of Puebla and how the Mexicans were outnumbered and outgunned, but they still beat the French. They really get fired up about it. I like to make the point to my students that if the French would have won, then we probably would not be learning Spanish but rather French. I also tell them about the popularity of the holiday in the United States, and how we should be very thankful to the Mexicans for winning the battle of Puebla because if the French would have conquered Mexico, then they probably would have tried to conquer the United States as well. Cinco de Mayo presents so many learning opportunities for elementary Spanish students.