Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bilingual Fun and Charades

Who doesn't love a good round of Charades? I remember as a child, this was often a favorite wintertime game for the family. We would gather in front of the fire and act out silly things. My 5 year old received a kids version of Charades for Christmas this year. As always, we are looking for ways to make our children's bilingual development fun and natural. So after one round of English, we made a new rule: Spanish only.

Both my 3 yr old and 5 yr old had a blast! Using actions to reinforce language is a common technique I use in my language program. Otherwise referred to as TPR ( total physical response), you teach actions and movements that are associated with words or phrases in Spanish. When children are actively participating in the language learning, vocabulary is often absorbed more easily. My daughter picked out the cards, which had pictures only on them and acted them out. I guessed in Spanish, and this was an excellent reinforcement for her comprehsion. Then we switched and I acted out the words, and she had to make the guesses. Again, producing the words in the target language is more difficult, but she was able to do it with ease. Then my 3 yr old was able to act some out as well. We guessed in Spanish and he was able to tell us if we were right or wrong, showing his grasp of the language comphrension.

Charades for children is a perfect way to keep the language learning fun and relevant to their lives. The words we acted out were things that are common in their little worlds, such as truck, ball, dancing, ice cream, jumping rope, etc. Even if your child doesn't not have fluency in the language, they should be able to recognize and produce simple words and phrases with this game. It is good practice for the parents too!
This is going to be our new evening activity when we need some action and bilingual fun!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Spanish Fun for February

As I clean glitter glue, small tin hearts,and many, many sequins off my kitchen table this week, I thought about how we incorporated some bilingual fun Spanish into our Valentines. My 2 young children don't have too many expectations for Valentine's day, but the marketing and colors we see in the stores certainly lead them to believe it has a lot to do with candy and the color red! The class set of Valentines that we are taking to both my daughter's kindergarten and my son's preschool have all been decorated and sealed. Now we are in the midst of making handmade cards for various family members.

My children's abuelita speaks Spanish, so it is customary for them to make her cards in Spanish. However this year, as we made our other Valentine crafts, we did all commands and conversation in Spanish. Common words that we used are : cortar el papel, las tijeras, los corazones, las tarjetas, escribir palabras, dibujar con marcadores, chocolate, te quiero mucho, etc. Earlier this week, we counted and sorted candy hearts by color and number in Spanish. Since chocolate is a favorite of my children and also one of their favorite Spanish songs, we sang "Chocolate" as we mixed the batter for our heart cupcakes. Lastly, my daughter and I took turn drawing ' corazones' on a piece of construction paper. Then we counted together and we had 76 corazones!

Any practice you can do at home to reinforce your child's language development is beneficial to their learning. Although my children are constantly exposed to Spanish, often times we need to take the time to make things fun!

Valentines are fun way introduce some Spanish Fun in your February! Here are some additional ideas/links to do with your children.
Crafts/Cards in Spanish.
Hear words of Love in Spanish:

If you live where there is snow ( like we do), building a snowman can be a fabulous reinforcing activity. Body parts, descriptions, and clothing offer the perfect opportunity for practicing Spanish while you freeze outside en la nieve! We made one this week on a snow day. Every day when we pull into our driveway, I ask " como esta el muñeco de nieve?' Usually they answer ' esta contento or esta bien". Fortunately for us, but unfortunate for the snowman, it started to warm up today. So, today my daughter told me ' esta muy triste y esta mal".

Any other ideas? I am always looking for additional ways to keep the language alive for my own kids in fun, creative ways.