Thursday, July 31, 2008


Keywords & phrases:

la carrera - race
los corredores - runners (el corredor/la corredora - runner)
el premio - prize
la competencia - competition

¡Preparados, listos, ya! - Ready, set, go!

¿Quién es el ganador? - Who is the winner?

____________ es el ganador/la ganadora. - ______________ is the winner.

Bien hecho - well done

Monday, July 28, 2008

La oruga muy hambrienta - food and days of the week

Another book I like to use is La oruga muy hambrienta (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) by Eric Carle. Using this book, you can cover the days of the week, different types of foods, small/big, to be hungry and other themes.

For my preschool class, we mainly talk about the food:

la manzana - apple
la pera - pear
la ciruela - plum
la fresa - strawberry
la naranja - orange
la sandía - watermelon
el pastel - cake
el barquillo de helado - ice cream cone
el queso - cheese
la paleta - lollipop

Using my dry erase/magnet board and pictures printed on magnet paper, I first show them the food listed above. Then we talk about the useful phrase tener hambre (to be hungry). We also talk about which foods are healthy and not healthy (saludable, no es saludable). After they have a good grasp on the new words, I then read the book using the kit pictured (item # LA988) from Lakeshore Learning.

For the cocoon (el capullo), I roll up a piece of brown construction paper large enough for the puppet to fit inside. While it's inside, I make it so the butterfly comes out, but not the caterpillar (the butterfly is attached inside the puppet) - only comes out at one end. Every time I do this I get ooos and ahhhs. *grin* Then they would always ask me how I did it and to please read the book again.

For more ideas about using Eric Carle's books in class or at home, visit the Caterpillar Exchange Bulletin Board on his official web site.

Here's an earlier post about another Eric Carle book.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pocoyó: Juego limpio

Keywords and phrases:

la escoba - broom
el caballo - horse
el vaquero - cowboy
la guitarra - guitar

Pocoyo finge que la escoba es un caballo. - Pocoyo is pretending that the broom is a horse.

Tenemos que limpiar. - We have to clean up.

Justo a tiempo. - Just in time. (Easy one, eh?)

¡Es espectacular! - It's spectacular!

Es una idea brillante. - It's a brilliant idea.

Songs about cleaning up:

Clean-up on the We Are Little Amigos cd by Maribel Suardy (Her voice is simply gorgeous!)

Vamos a recoger (Let's put it away) from Play and Learn Spanish by Ana Lomba and Marcela Summerville

Spanish food

I'm going to reminisce a little... bear with me, por favor.

Many years ago, when I studied abroad in Spain (Zaragoza and Madrid), I don't recall eating one bad meal. It was all good - from the paella, tortillas, migas and everything in between. My host mother, María, created masterpieces in the little kitchen. Every single meal was delicious.

My most favorite? A mouth-watering tortilla stuffed inside a crusty bocadillo. Do you know where I ate it? Take a look at the photo in the upper left-hand side of the page. I sat on a sun-warmed boulder, eating that wonderful sandwich while looking at that view. I miss it. I miss Spain. For some reason, I've been missing it even more lately.

To help, un poco, I have been watching Made in Spain with José Andrés on PBS. I think it's wonderful that there is now a program that shows off the culinary treasures of Spain. My mouth waters pretty much everytime I watch it. On his site, I found another good site, called La Tienda. I received my first order today - chocolate de la taza, picos de aceite y rollitos. (Oh, make sure you read the story behind the site.)

Perhaps if I close my eyes, as I sip the chocolate, I might be able to imagine myself back in España... tal vez.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

For adults who want to learn Spanish - Lingus.TV

Lingus.TV offers a different way to learn Spanish (Peninsular). Each video comes with the written dialog, translation and grammar notes. There are three different levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

An excerpt from their About Us page:

We are here! We have finally arrived! We are the opportunity that many of you are waiting for. At last, a method of learning languages that doesn't cause drowsiness or have side effects like boredom.

Lingus.TV is a television channel for the new generation devoted to teaching and disseminating languages, while taking advantage of all the social characteristics of the Internet.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Goldilocks & the Three Bears or Ricitos de oro y los tres osos

This past year in my preschool class we talked about opposites (los opuestos) using the book Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Ricitos de oro y los tres osos) by Ana Lomba.

The new vocabulary I introduced:

grande - big
mediano(a) - medium
pequeño(a) - small
blando(a) - soft
duro(a) - hard
frío(a) - cold
caliente - hot

First we talked about the words in Spanish. I had three balls (small, medium, big), some cottonballs (soft), a wooden block (hard) and then for the last two I used a bit of sign language since they were pretty easy to understand without using English. (With hot I did the sign and then waved my hand in front of my mouth like I had just eaten something hot.)

After I felt sure the children understood the words, I read the book aloud in Spanish - in a lively manner. (No need to read it in English since it's so well-known.) What I like about this version of the story is that Lomba simplified it so that kids wouldn't get bored. The children would listen very intently and look at the pictures just as if they were listening in English. I did not hear one peep out of them as I read it. After I was finished, they would ask me to read it again!

Since our class was so short we just talked about the opposites, but at the back of the book is a list of key vocabulary words used in the book with pictures. Also, and this is the best thing, is that the book comes with a cd which also makes this a perfect tool for parents teaching their children at home. On the cd, you'll find the vocabulary and story in both English and Spanish, how to use the cd effectively (great ideas!) and also tracks for each character to so that you can even do a dramatic skit or puppet show.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Doki Mezcla Colores

Here's another video about colors (los colores).

Keywords & phrases:

naranja – orange (Also can use anaranjado.)
azul - blue
blanco - white
negro - black
marrón - brown (Also can use café.)
amarillo - yellow
verde - green

la pintura
- paint

mezclar - to mix
pintar - to paint

No tengo pintura verde. - I don't have green paint.
Tengo pintura roja*. - I have red paint.

Mezcla la pintura azul con la pintura amarilla. Mix the blue paint with the yellow paint.

*Since the adjective roja is describing a feminine noun - la pintura, it's roja instead of rojo. It would be the same for some of the others: negra, blanca, amarilla, and anaranjada.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pocoyó: Brilla brilla

Keywords & phrases:

la noche - night
la estrella - star
el cielo - sky

brilla* - shine, sparkle (Brillar is the verb.)

¡Espera! - Wait!
¡Ten cuidado! - Be careful!
Eres muy amable. - You're very kind.
¿Dónde está _______? - Where is _____?

One version of the song Twinkle, Twinkle:

*According to my Oxford Spanish Dictionary and other sources, twinkle is titilar or centellear when talking about a star.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Review: Our Hawaiian Hula Adventure by Professor Pocket

On this second cd by Professor Pocket, we join Desi the Dinosaur and Chico the Chicken on another adventure, but this time in Hawaii. There they meet the Big Kahuna, played by Parents Choice award-winning family artist, Billy Jonas.

Like in their first cd, Our Silly Farm Adventure, the music is excellent. Once you listen to the songs, you'll be tapping your toes and singing along with your children - in Spanish! Nathan, my five-year old, loves Vamos a la Playa and has pretty much learned all the words which is good because it's full of useful vocabulary.

In addition to the music, there's a fun bilingual storyline that your children will enjoy following - from dancing the hula to visiting a volcano.

The cd comes with the words to all the songs with translations. At the back of the booklet is a list of the key vocabulary, verbs and expressions used. You can also find all of this on their web site including music samples. Also on their site, you can download activity sheets for free. It's a great way to reinforce the new vocabulary.

For more information, visit their site at

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A lady in Spain...

Through a roundabout way, I ran across this blog today:

María Amelia began writing in her blog when she turned 95 years old on December 23, 2006. Here's her introduction:
Amigos de Internet, hoy cumplo 95 años. Me llamo María Amelia y nací en Muxía (A Coruña) el 23 de Diciembre de 1911. Hoy es mi cumpleaños y mi nieto como es muy cutre me regalo un blog. Espero poder escribir mucho y contaros las vivencias de una señora de mi edad. -- (My friends in Internet, today I am 95 years old. My name is Amelia and I was born in Muxía (A Coruña - Spain) on December the 23rd of 1911. Today it's my birthday and my grandson, who is very stingy, gave me a blog.)
I can't wait to read it.

Edited to add: She's now the world's oldest blogger. ¡Vaya!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pocoyó - La máquina de colorear el mundo

This is a great episode to learn about some colors in Spanish. Listen for the following:

rojo (red), azul (blue), verde (green), rosa (pink), amarillo (yellow)

Other key phrases:

Ten mucho cuidado. (Be very careful.)

¿De qué color es Pato? (What color is Pato?)

I'll be posting more about Pocoyó - keywords and phrases. I hope you'll find this helpful!

Adults who want to learn Spanish

Yesterday, I had a really good conversation with one of my readers. She was frustrated because she didn't feel comfortable teaching her children Spanish when she didn't have any formal background in the language.

What do you do? Sometimes it's hard for me to understand this because I've been studying Spanish off and on for over 20 years. After talking to her though, I now have an even deeper respect for parents who are teaching their children a foreign language.

Well, in order to teach the language, it would be helpful learn it. Makes sense, eh? But how? Luckily today's parents have an amazing resource at their fingertips - the Internet. Also, don't forget your local library (books, dvds, cds, computers, digital media, etc.).

Let's begin! (By the way, all of these are free. I like free, don't you?)

First of all, I would recommend visiting the Spanish Language page on The guide, Gerald Erichsen, has put together a series of lessons for beginners. You'll start off with the alphabet which is very important. Once you learn the sounds of the Spanish alphabet, you'll be able to pronounce any Spanish word you see. I strongly recommend doing this first. You might be tempted to jump ahead, but don't. So, go through all of his lessons a little at a time. Set aside perhaps 15 to 30 minutes a day to do this.

Now, let's go back in time to when you were in elementary school. Remember when you learned how to read? Some may recall the Dick and Jane books. "See Jane run. See Dick run. See Jane and Dick run." Yeah, well, there you go. You have to go back to the beginning in Spanish as well. Go visit your local library. They may have a Spanish language section. Browse the books and look for the easy ones - 5-7 words to a page and pictures. Think about some of the easy books you have read to your children and find their Spanish equivalent. If they don't have any, try your library's inter-library loan service. For some super-simple books, visit this site. She has free printable books in Spanish (scroll about halfway down).

By this point, you might be getting a little bored. No pain, no gain. *grin*

Okay, another thing you can do is listen to the newbie lessons on which are actually pretty fun. I have mentioned them before here. I highly recommend that you subscribe to them through iTunes, so that you can see the transcripts (right-click on the podcast, click on get info, then click on the lyrics tab and wa-lah, there it is). If you want, you could copy and paste the transcript in a document and read while you listen. Also, to work on your pronunciation, read the transcript aloud. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email (link on profile page). There have been some changes with SpanishPod.

Are you ready to watch something in Spanish? How about Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish? I wrote about it here. Don't worry if you don't understand every word. Relax and just enjoy it. Before you know it, you'll start to understand more and more each time.

Well, I think that is enough for now. Don't feel overwhelmed. First step - the Spanish alphabet. ¡Buena suerte!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


What is Panwapa? It is a children's show made by the Sesame Workshop that airs on PBS Kids Sprout. According to their site:
Panwapa, which means "here on this earth" in the Tshiluba language, aims to foster the foundation for global citizenship and community activism in young children, ages 4 to 7. Featuring an entirely new group of Muppet characters, Panwapa consists of an interactive website,, a DVD, and print materials that are available to children around the world in five languages —Arabic, English, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish.
On their website, you'll find videos, games, printable activities, and more. As mentioned above, you'll find all of this in other languages in addition to Spanish.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Board games in Spanish

We have a couple of them at home - ¿Adivina Quién? and Cadoo. I bought both at our local Walmart in the clearance aisle. They're also available at Amazon.

The object of the first game is to guess the mystery person on your opponent's card by asking one question per turn. You have to have a keen eye and really notice the differences among the faces on your board such as hair and eye color; some faces have beards or mustaches; some are wearing hats or glasses.

Now, your wheels are probably turning... wouldn't this be a great game for learning parts of the face in Spanish? YES! Adam, age 8, likes this game. I have given him a little cheat sheet with the hair colors and such, but I have noticed that he's not referring to it as often now. I think this would be a great game to have in centers in your classroom - perhaps third grade and up.

Another game we have is Cranium's Cadoo in Spanish. The object of this game is to get a Cadoo which is four play-pieces in a row (up, down, horizontal or diagonal). To get to this point is really a lot of fun. You either are sculpting something with the clay, acting, drawing, or solving a puzzle. I have to help Adam with this one, but he still enjoys it. I'd probably recommend this one for perhaps middle school and up - depending on the level of Spanish of your students.

I have modified the game a bit so that I can use it with an elementary age student I tutor. I made up some different cards to go with the vocabulary we're learning. For instance our subject was going to a restaurant. Some of the cards were:

Interpreta lo siguiente: el mesero
Modela esto con plastilina: la mesa

Elige la cosa que no pertenezca: a) la cuchara b) el tenedor c) el gato

There are quite a number of board games in Spanish available now. It's a great way to learn and have fun at the same time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Spanish Phonetics

Let's talk a little about phonetics. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition is:

1: the system of speech sounds of a language or group of languages 2 a: the study and systematic classification of the sounds made in spoken utterance b: the practical application of this science to language study

Some time last year, I ran across this web site Phonetics: The Sounds of Spoken Language. It brought back memories of my own phonetics class in college which was difficult but very interesting.

I have found this site to be very helpful, because it explains how to pronounce the various Spanish sounds in detail. For instance, for each vowel and consonant, you'll find an animated diagram, step-by-step descriptions and a video of the sound being used in context.

This site is mainly for students of foreign languages, but I think it's also good for those who are teaching the language either at home or as refresher for those who are classroom teachers.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Review: Our Silly Farm Adventure by Professor Pocket

The songs are original and unforgettable, the characters are engaging and yes, your children will even learn some Spanish (and probably not even realize it).

On this cd you’ll meet Desi, el dinosaurio (dinosaur), Chico, el pollo (chicken), and of course Professor Pocket. They visit una granja mágica where they meet Chico’s familia, vacas (cows), ovejas (sheep), cerdos (pigs) and even a flying white horse named Carlos!

Along the way, your children will learn helpful phrases such as tengo hambre (I’m hungry), tengo sed (I’m thirsty), me gusta (I like) and so much more.

To reinforce the new vocabulary, visit their site for free printable activity sheets. Parents will also find on the site the lyrics to the songs, translations and a list of the key vocabulary, verbs and expressions used on the cd.

My five-year old thoroughly enjoyed listening to it, and I even caught my 8-year old listening to it as well. And to be honest, I liked it, too. (The cd is for ages 2 and up.)

Without a doubt, I would have no problem recommending this to the parents of my preschool students. In fact, I would encourage them to buy it so that they could continue their language learning at home.

They have a new one out called Our Hawaiian Hula Adventure which I will review later in the week. For more information and music samples, visit their site at

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A simple color game: La caza de los colores

Yesterday, we received a package from Bilingual Fun which contained a couple of dvds, some color beanbags, and other items. My younger son instantly liked the beanbags. We first played hot potato with them. Each time we tossed it, we had to say the color in Spanish. We did this for a while with all of ten of them.

Later on my older son had another idea of how to play with them. He suggested that we try to find something the same color as the bag. So, we lined them up on the couch and each of us picked one. Then we walked around the house hunting for things which matched the bag we were holding - el mismo color. For example, when he found a red book. El libro es rojo. Es el mismo color.

To make it more interesting, a couple of times we limited the searching to one room - la sala, la cocina, etc. Trying to find rosado in their room was a bit challenging though.

I was amazed at their enthusiasm over something so simple as a set of beanbags. We really had a lot of fun with them.

For more color fun visit these sites: and

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Spanish language activity sheets

Not too long ago I ran across a web site that offers activity sheets in pdf format. They're from the company Language Stars which offers classes not only in Spanish, but also French, German, Italian and Mandarin Chinese in the Chicago area. Alas, I'm not anywhere near them, but I think it's great that they make their worksheets available through their site. *grin*

Harry Potter is pregnant?

I'm reading Harry Potter y el prisionero de Azkaban and have run across the word embarazado three or four times now. Here is one example:

On page 65 of my edition, the scene where Mrs. Weasley gives a kiss to all her children including Harry when the Hogwarts Express arrives:

"Éste se sintió embarazado pero muy agradecido cuando ella le dio un abrazo de más."

Well, let's hope he doesn't feel pregnant, because then that would take the story to an entirely new level. Embarazada means to be pregnant. (Of course, the word embarazado doesn't exist.) I think the translator was thinking of embarazoso which means embarrassing or awkward.

I was very surprised to see it the first time, but more than once? I'm on chapter 10 now. I wonder how many more times I'll run across this word used in this way.

For more translation funnies, visit Josh's blog.