Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We're Learning Spanish! Aprendemos el español!

Before children, I envisioned my little ones bilingual by the age of four. I have a minor in Spanish after all! But that was prior to the reality that by the time my first little man was born I had been out of college seven years and had barely spoken 10 words of Spanish since graduation.

It is amazing to think back on my junior year when all my upper-level Spanish courses were taught completely in Spanish, all textbooks were in Spanish, notes were required to be taken in Spanish and tests were essays - you guessed it, in Spanish! At that time I was regularly dreaming in Spanish, as well. Honestly though, I still was not near what I would consider to be truly bilingual. It's one thing to listen to a lecture you can record and replay again and again (with a Spanish/English dictionary in hand!) and quite another to go to a restaurant and keep up a conversation with natives - who talk absurdly fast, too. Lol!

Now I am beginning the journey to teach this language I love to my children. A neat bonus for me is that my paternal grandmother was born and raised in Mexico, only moving to the states after she married my grandfather. I still have lots of family spread throughout the country - many of whom I've never even met!

Here are the products I've collected so far to help us make it fun, fun, fun! If you are teaching (or considering teaching) Spanish to your little ones, I hope you find something that you can use. We are also going to start using the Elementary Spanish Lessons on United Streaming next week but honestly you do not need a curriculum to teach Spanish to young children given the amount of materials available here in the states. The first two years of any language is basically just teaching vocabulary and these products are perfect. If you are teaching Croatian, that would be another story altogether!

These puzzle cards from Learning Resources are great! We have the Numbers, Colors and Shapes set along with Basic Vocabulary. On my wish list is the Calendar, Seasons and Weather set as well.

Also from Learning Resources is Spanish Bingo. This game teaches the Spanish letters and sounds along with basic words. We haven't used this one yet but the boys will be learning the alphabet in a few weeks so we'll be pulling it out for sure!

Last product from Learning Resources (No, I am not paid by this company, although their foreign language products really are quality!) are my beloved Spanish bean bags: colors, shapes and numbers. If you have a tiny bit of sewing ability (I do not!) you could easily make something similar very inexpensively.

Look at these...flash cards from the dollar store! My mil found them and bought us two of the six sets they had available. I was skeptical at first but these are great. The pictures are clear, the text is readable and they are visually appealing with English on one side and Spanish on the other. I couldn't find them at our Dollar Tree store so I called mil and she picked up two of each of the four other sets so that we can play matching type games. I never would have thought to look at the dollar store!

The next item has been discontinued from Leap Frog but you can still find it on Craig's List and Ebay - Bilingual Memory Mate. They also have a French version! You can play this game two ways: as a memory game matching the two sides or as a puzzle game fitting the two pieces together. We've played it both ways and the boys love it. Haddon even can join in just by matching the pictures.

I never would have thought of this either, but I saw it at Trivium's blog awhile back: My First LeapPad games in Spanish! My sweet mil bought these for the boys, too. We have La granja de los numeros (Tad's Silly Number Farm), El arbol de la miel (Pooh's Honey Tree) and La feria de las letras (Tad's Silly Writing Fair). I am hoping to get some of the regular Spanish LeapPad games for the boys for Christmas, too. Fiesta in the House and Fiesta in the Town are my favorites. Leap Frog has oodles of other toys in Spanish as well. Just type in Spanish on their homepage search and see!

Here's a freebie! We are checking out Baby Einstein videos at our library to view on the Spanish setting (another idea from Trivium!). At our library most videos can only be checked out for a week but these are considered educational and therefore can be checked out for three weeks and even renewed once. My favorite thing about these is the vocabulary is usually presented not only orally but visually as well ... and repeated time and again. My boys know about 20 words just from watching these two titles this month. As a side note, we are also trying to check out five books a month in Spanish that I can read to the kids - preferably books with Spanish settings and involving some aspect of Spanish culture - not just English books translated into Spanish.

Last is our Twin Sisters Spanish CD. We are trying to match a song with whatever vocabulary we are learning for that week. The songs are a tad cheesy and there may be better cd's out there but this one is working for us right now. If you have another favorite, do tell!

Also, take a look at these free online games you can play. There are literally hundreds out there so this truly is a tiny sampling! This Don Quijote site has a fun hangman game as well as simple word finds. Gamequarium has lots of matching games that are fun, too. See for yourself what other online treasures you can find (but be sure to come back and share your favorites!)

What else have you found?


LisaWA said...

Cool beans! I love looking at all the reosurces you have! It does look fun, fun, fun. *Ü*

What a blessing you have a background with Spanish.... I wish I did!
We are finishing our first lesson (2 weeks) of easy Spanish and so far so good... my Ry is having a bit of trouble.... but we are working on it.

We will begin using US next week for ES. Just to supliment... listen and practice.


Mrs. Allen said...

Hi - I have been a lurker on your blog (and on the WTM boards) for quite some time and I just wanted to tell you I love reading about what you are doing. You are a great inspiration. I am a former teacher also, planning to homeschool my daughter (almost 4) and love to get ideas from you.

I especially enjoyed your post about teaching Spanish. We are getting ready to move to Japan, so I have been trying to teach my daughter Japanese (difficult since I know none). Luckily, my husband can get a free copy of Rosetta Stone from work, which should help me, but I have been struggling with finding Japanese teaching aids. Your beanbags and bingo cards have given me great ideas of resources I can make myself. Thanks!

Tammy said...


We are planning to start studying Spanish next week. No Spanish minor for me, so I will be learning it right along with my girlies. Thanks so much for posting these great resources. I have been collecting several Spanish books, games, etc. over the past few weeks, and we will be using US Elem. Spanish as well. ¡Buena suerte! (Hopefully that means "good luck" in Spanish!) *Ü*


Cyndi said...

We are enjoying Spanish, too. I'm one hour short of a minor in French, so Spanish isn't my "first love language" but living in Texas, it's very useful. My son is studying it with "La Clase Divertida" curriculum, which we've used for several years. My daughter is working on Chinese, which she started last year, and I'm still committed to my French... so who KNOWS what we're saying around here, LOL.

One of my favorite "resources" is to put on a favorite and familiar movie dvd and watch it in the language we are studying. I've found that they can catch what they're saying in the context of the action. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Nice Blog . I would have taken pictures last night, but I was very aggro when I left my house, and also running a bit late, especially since I was going to another friend's house to carpool in Bingo online games

McNeill Family said...

Your suggestions are EXACTLY what I have been looking for! I was not happy with the class my kids took last year at a UM school. I am home schooling all 4 next year and the spanish was a must from hubby, he wants vocab, vocab, vocab so thank you!!!!