Thursday, December 27, 2007

Idea Exchange

Learning languages is more exciting and effective for children when games and interactive activities are incorporated. As a teacher, I have always been of the mindset that sharing and exhanging teaching tips makes things fresh and exciting. When I come up with a new lesson or game that is effective, I can't wait to tell others about it!

In the language program that I run, I create and implement all of the lessons and activities for the students ranging in age from 18 months to adults. They cover a multitude of topics and themes, and I am always creating and searching for other fun ways to teach the language. Here are some of my favorite activities that work well in class and at home with my own children:

1. Colored Mats/Dancing: I use the mats from the CandyLand DVD game and play upbeat music. When the music stops, we all run to a colored mat. I ask " Qué color?". The kids all shout the color in Spanish. We do variations of dancing, marching, jumping, spinning, running, crawling,etc.

2. Duck, Duck, Goose: I choose 2 vocabulary words pertaining to our current theme. ( ex: perro/gato). The kids play the game using the Spanish vocabulary rather than the original. This is a great way to get the kids active and actually say the words aloud.

3. Latin Pop Music: this works best with tweens-adults. I choose a popular song from a popular artist ( some of my faves are Juanes, Ricky Martin, Shakira, Gloria Estefan, Elvis Crespo, etc). I make copies of the song and we listen and sing it each day. We talk about relevent grammar and vocabulary. At the end of the week, I white out specific words in the song and test the students by having them fill in the blanks. Not only is this an excellent reinforcement of pronunciation, fluency, and listening comprehension, it is a great way to infuse some culture into the lesson.

4. The Cup Game: take 5 or 6 plain white plastic cups. Depending on the vocabulary you want to reinforce, attach either a picture or word to each cup ( animals, numbers, colors, etc). Turn all cups face down and hide a small object under one. Kids then have to guess where the object is. I always make a big deal of having all of the students ask the question " Dónde está el carro?". Then each child takes turns and has to guess by using the correct Spanish word on each cup. I use variations of this game for all ages and levels.

These are just a few fun ideas that have been popular with the children and teens that I work with. We would love to hear your input and experiences! Do you have any games or ideas that work well with your children at home?