Gearing up for Day of the Dead and a FREE banner!

Whether or not you actively celebrate El Dia de los Muertos in your Spanish classes, it’s nice to decorate!  La Profesora Frida has a FREE Day of the Dead banner for you to download in her TpT store!  Pretty Day of the Dead colors and Day of the Dead flowers adorn this lovely banner.  Download it now for free!
What kinds of Day of the Dead activities do you use in your classroom?
I usually get a student (or two, or three…) who ask if they can make “Day of the Dead Bread” and bring it to share with the class.  Who am I to turn down homemade “Pan de Muerto??”  (Find a recipe for Pan de Muerto here.)
Sugar Skulls!  Calaveras are SO beautiful and such a BIG part of El Dia de los Muertos.  I just found a lovely short film about Sugar Skulls on YouTube.  Such a poignant little film that brings the “why” of sugar skulls to life.  This would be a beautiful film to show your students to help them understand this cultural icon.
–Up for making some Sugar Skulls with your students?  I just found this Sugar Skull Mold sheet for sale at Crizmac.  Make sure to try making a Sugar Skull at home first so you can help your students with theirs!
–Not up for the mess of making Calaveras with your students?  Download some free Sugar Skull coloring pages for a mess free way of decorating.
Ofrendas.  I started offering Ofrenda creation as an extra credit activity for my Spanish students because not all parents want their students to create an ofrenda due to religious reasons. Offering it as an extra credit activity allows those who wish to participate the opportunity.
–And boy oh boy have I gotten some neat submissions!  🙂  One year a student made an Ofrenda for his favorite musical artist who had passed away.  He had a hidden compartment where he could hook up his iPod and speakers that played the music of the artist!  Neat!
How about you??  What kinds of activities do you offer in your classes to celebrate El Dia de los Muertos with your students?
If you download my FREE Day of the Dead banner, please remember: Positive feedback makes my day!  🙂

Lesson plan: How to make reviewing Spanish letters and numbers FUN!

How do you make learning and reviewing numbers and letters in your Spanish class FUN?

How do you encourage your students to use the target language to practice their ABCs and 123s?  Please leave a comment below and share your ideas with us!

Here are some ways that I’ve used with my Spanish classes:

1.  Through song!  Even though I work primarily with high school students, they still get into singing the ABC song in Spanish.  🙂  The ABC song that I use in my classes is: “El Alfabeto,” from Sing, Dance, Laugh and Eat Tacos 2! by Barbara MacArthur.

2.  Asking for phone numbers.  Students can be silly with this one and pretend they’re asking for a date.  🙂  They can pretend they are someone famous and they don’t need to use their real phone numbers.

3.  Math and the Maya.  Teach how the Maya wrote numbers.  Even if you’re not a “math person,” it’s fascinating to learn that the Maya were one of the only ancient civilizations that had the concept of “zero” and place value!  Discovery Education even has a Brain Game using the Mayan math system!  SO cool for fast finishers.  You can find YouTube videos that explain Mayan Math.  One year my students got so into Mayan numbers that they always used the Mayan math symbols to keep score of games we played in class!

4.  Connect The Dots!  Using not only NUMBERS but ABCs too, these partner Connect The Dots activities are super fun!

This is a Communicative, Partner Activity— Students pair up and practice listening and speaking skills while one guides another through a dot-to-dot activity! ( GREAT for foreign language classes, but also awesome for younger students learning their ABCs and numbers! )

The letters and numbers are in a specific order, but NOT in numeric or alphabetic order. Students need to pay attention and listen to their partner to connect the dots in the correct order! The order is given at the bottom of each page.

10 separate dot-to-dot activities are included in this packet and each set of instructions guides your students to create a different animal.

Make sure you have enough time to give each student a chance to be the one giving directions and the one listening and connecting the dots.  I would also suggest printing off 2 and sticking them right into your emergency substitute folder!  ABCs and 123s are ALWAYS a good thing to practice, no matter what time of year.

If you check these out, please let me know what you think!  Positive feedback makes my day!  🙂


Do you Differentiate in your Spanish classes? Lesson ideas for Spanish teachers!

Differentiated Instruction has been a hot topic at teacher workshops and conferences for several years because it´s a great solution to teach the multiple levels of understanding that take place within each mix of students you have throughout the day.
One way to add Differentiated Instruction to your Spanish lessons is to set up “Stations” for a particular topic or unit and allow students to work through the activities at their own pace.

In an effort to add student options and help them learn responsibility for their own learning, I’ve created several units that can be used as Differentiated Instruction Stations.
How do Stations work?

Stations are physical learning locations set up in your classroom.  Each location focuses on a specific area (or modality) of learning.

Classroom Set up:
· Choose locations around the classroom to place each learning station. 
· Choose 1 teaching table.  This is where you will sit, students will know they can approach you for individual instruction (any questions they might have) when you’re at this table.  Students can also approach you here to check off their work so they can move on to the next task.
· Group leftover desks in clusters around the classroom.  Students will be able to go to any cluster to do their work.

Spanish Class Differentiated Instruction

Students are given a checklist of activities that they are required to do and move from station to station to complete each task.  Why does this work so well??  Because students can take charge of their own learning!

Here’s what one teacher had to say about these stations:

This was PERFECTO while I had a sub for 2 days!
I walked the students through it the day prior so they knew exactly what to do with the Substitute! He said all my classes were on-task and great!”

The Stations for La Familia en Espanol are divided into 4 stations:

1.  Vocabulario – students learn the new vocabulary and do a variety of practice activities to familiarize themselves with their new family words and to help them memorize the new vocabulary.

Spelling Practice,             Vocabulario y unas Preguntas     
¡Adivina Que! ¿Quién es?
¡Adivina Que! ¿Quién es?  (teacher key)             
Mi familia (double side)

2.  Speaking & Listening  – students practice using their new vocabulary aloud as they participate in Communicative Activities with a partner (or partners).

Firma, Por Favor      La Familia de Anita    Una Entrevista  Family Survey         

3.  Reading & Comprehension – students practice their understanding by reading several texts and answering questions about what they have read.  Students also read a story and retell the story cartoon style in speech bubbles.

La Familia de Josefina                  Caperucita Roja

4.  Project Based Assessment – students choose a project to demonstrate their understanding of what they have learned.

en la Cocina Project                 Family Tree Project
¡Feliz Cumpleaños! Invitation Project

I’m so pleased that teachers across the U.S. are enjoying these Stations activities and letting me know!

Here’s what another teacher had to say:

“This looks fantastic! I’ve never used stations before in my classes, but these activities are so creative and thorough that I’m looking forward to giving it a shot! Thanks for a great resource! 🙂 ”

And just one more.  😉

“Great activities – I admit I’ve never tried stations before and the kids loved them! ”

I hope you’ll head over to my TeachersPayTeachers store and take a look for yourself!  Make sure to check out the free preview and take a look at everything included in this Stations packet.  And if you do purchase and use this packet, I would LOVE to know how the activities worked out for you with your students!!


Read about the “Around Town, In the City” Differentiated Instruction Stations Packet here!

FREE lesson for Spanish classes! But also great for Culture, Social Studies, History (and other Foreign Languages!)!

Let’s dispel the myth of the “ignorant American” by allowing an opportunity for our students to study current events in other countries ON A REGULAR BASIS!  Not just for a day or even just a week, but dare I say for an entire semester??  Or, GASP, an entire school YEAR??

Current Event Articles are a fantastic way for students to take charge of their own education, learn to use multiple resources, and to research a place in the world that they find interesting.

Depending on your classroom needs, this could be a weekly, monthly, semester or year long project for any class!  This activity is perfectly suited for a government class, world history, social studies or foreign language classes. But I can see this research being done in so many different classes. It would be a wonderful activity for a speech/public speaking class too.

I wrote this document for use in my Spanish classes, but as you can see, it can easily be changed for any foreign language classroom, social studies, or government class. And being the creative teacher that YOU are, I’m sure you can think of many more applications!

My students are having a blast this semester with this activity. They know that every Thursday their Current Event Article is due, and they get to share the articles they found for the week with their classmates.

I also offer a few points of extra credit for students who share their articles in front of the class– You wouldn’t believe how many students clamber to share their articles! And they find the most interesting news!!  (Have you heard about the lady in Spain who `bought´ the SUN and wants to CHARGE every inhabitant of Earth for using it??  Can´t make this stuff up!  Check it out!)

My students are not only keeping themselves and their classmates up to date on world news, they’re helping to keep ME informed as well!

This is a FREE lesson you can download in my TeachersPayTeachers store!  I really hope that you will also find it useful.  Positive feedback MAKES MY DAY ~~ If you have a wonderful experience or anecdote about using this product in your class, please share it here!!

Thank you!

Spanish Speaking Countries of the World LESSONS made easy! Maps, lists, printables, quizzes, puzzles, RESOURCES!

When do YOU teach the Spanish-speaking countries of the world (and capitals, of course!)?

No really, I want to know!!  Please leave a comment below and let me know WHEN during the school year you teach this!

I have ALWAYS taught Spanish Countries and Caps at the beginning of the school year.  I think it’s good for our students to have a basic knowledge of where the Spanish-speaking countries ARE as they begin their Spanish study.  Logical enough.

Ever have one of those, “duh” moments?  Yeah, me too.  It didn’t occur to me until recently that I could be teaching this at ANY time of year.  DUH.  Of course I can!  I can teach this WHENEVER I want and however I want.

I’ve been considering teaching the Countries and Caps at the BEGINNING of the school year AND then revisiting it again SEVERAL TIMES throughout the year!


Because I’ve noticed something.
My students are studying the night before for the quiz and then once they’ve taken the quiz …. they promptly FORGET everything they just learned.  Hmmm…    And why?  Because they aren’t required to know this information the next day.

That’s why I put together this big packet of printables and resources: Spanish-Speaking Countries of the World.  It’s got me covered for the entire school year!

I’ve broken the packet up into sections to keep myself organized:

Section A has a bunch of resources for learning and practicing the Spanish Countries and Caps:

– Tips, Hints & Strategies for teaching the Spanish-Speaking Countries
– Fact Scavenger Hunt
– Blank Maps of the Spanish-Speaking Countries
– Spanish-Speaking Countries Word Search
– Spanish-Speaking Capitals Word Search
– Countries and Capitals Scramble
– Matching Squares Puzzle
– Current Event Articles

I will be using these not only as Spanish class HOMEWORK assignments, but also as FAST FINISHER activities, partner pair work and emergency substitute plans. 2 and 3 focus on ASSESSMENT:
– 4 versions of the Spanish-Speaking Countries Quiz
– 2 Versions of the Spanish-Speaking Capitals Quiz
– Teacher Keys to help my students RETAIN this fundamental information, I will be QUIZZING them AGAIN throughout the school year!  I’m thinking once every quarter is just about perfect.  My hope is that when they are aware that they are expected to retain this information, they will be more likely to do it!

Please comment below and let me know WHEN you teach the Spanis-speaking Countries and Caps during the school year!  I’d love to know what everyone else does!

Another fine example of a Spanish Class Fast Finisher Bulletin Board!

Receiving positive feedback about the lessons I create makes my whole day!  A big GRACIAS to teacher Jessica who recently sent me a PHOTO of her Autumn Fast Finishers Bulletin Board!
She has a cute theme of “Hoo hooo, What to do?” 🙂  A great way to incorporate Fast Finisher activities into her classroom!

Want to see more photos of how this bulletin board packet has been set up in other classrooms??  Follow this link:  Spanish Class Fast Finishers, Autumn Style!

La Profesora Frida's Autumn Fast Finishers Bulletin Board Set

Not sure how a Fast Finishers Bulletin Board works??
Here’s my advice.

–After downloading a Fast Finishers set (or creating your own!!) and reading through the materials,
decide which cards you would like to display first.
You can laminate the fast finishers cards and punch a hole and slip a key ring through the hole to make for easy hanging if you like.

–Have an envelope (or a baggie) tacked onto the bulletin board with the “Ya termine” cards for students to use whenever they finish a task.  Students write the important information for you on these cards, so you don’t have to go fishing for information!

–Put a stack of the tracking sheets near the bulletin board or tacked onto the board in an envelope or folder (because not every student will participate, you don’t need to pass one out to each child).

–Have an inbox tray (or a folder) for each class period tacked onto your Fast Finishers bulletin board.

–Ask students to paper clip the “Ya Termine” card to their tracking sheet & anything that might need to be handed in with it all together.

–Ask students to submit finished items in the envelope/folder with their class period on it.

Then, once a week (or if you have a quick minute before or after school) you can check to see if any students submitted anything for you to check off. This shouldn’t take YOU a lot of time.
The point is to keep your students learning with Spanish-related tasks while you work on other important tasks.  Let them know that you plan to check things off only once a week, thus saving you from kids hounding you to check off their activities.

Remember, you don’t need to “grade” anything. You can quickly mark their papers they hand in if necessary, just so they know if they’ve made a mistake. You can decide how long you want it to run. I’d suggest September & October. Then at the end, you can decide what kind of “prizes” to give out. Like for every 5 points earned, a fun sticker, or 10 points = a homework pass, or something like that.

~ Enjoy!

Spanish Class Fast Finishers, Autumn Style!

“I’m done.  Now what??”
Don’t you wish you could just point to your pretty bulletin board when you hear this question?
Spanish teacher, Laurie in New York’s awesome layout (above) with Autumn Fast Finishers for Spanish Packet!
Below is another layout creative layout:
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Because we teach in a public school system, we usually have a mixture of ability levels in our foreign language classes.  While we are offering help to students who are having trouble contemplating a subject, there are often those students who understand the content and finish earlier than the rest of the class.  Which is when we hear, “I’m done.  Now what??”

Students who finish fast often fall into one of 2 categories:
-the quiet type
-the bored “trouble maker”

The quiet type are those students who have a great work ethic.  These are the students who already have a book to read or who have brought a bit of homework from another class to work on because they are used to finishing first.  They’re nothing to worry about.
Except….  Are they getting as much intellectual stimulation in your class as they deserve?

The bored “trouble makers” are those students who are not actually trouble makers.  They finish early because they are bright students, but then they don’t know what to do with themselves.  They might start to wander the classroom or try to talk to students who are still trying to work– making them appear as though they are trouble makers.
And….  Are they getting as much intellectual stimulation in your class as they deserve?

One useful way to keep Fast Finishers academically focused (whether they realize it or not!) is to apply a Fast Finishers program to your classes.

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I have an Autumn Fast Finishers bulletin board in my classroom  and the idea is to have a number of activities available for students to work on when they’re done with their regular work.

There are a variety of activities; writing, reading, speaking, pronunciation, partner work, artistic activities, over 20 to choose from.  The students have a tracking sheet and know that they aren’t to bother you while you’re helping other students!  (There are several posters included in this packet so students know to only ask you to check their Fast Finishers work if they KNOW you’re not busy!)

Check out this interactive, creative Spanish packet at my TeachersPayTeachers store!  Let me know what you think!  I find it incredibly useful, and I hope that you can apply this teaching concept to your Spanish classes as well.

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