December 2014 – ¡Vámonos! The musings of Lisibo
 

Month: December 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 20.35.03With 2015 just a few hours away, and having met a (running) goal I set myself in September this afternoon, I thought I’d set myself some goals for the coming year. Equally, I had in mind to contribute to/’join in’ with two initiatives designed to encourage those in education – #nurture1415 and #teacher5aday.

2014 has been a year of readjusting to life in England. There have been frustrations such as breaking my ankle in April just as I was fully recovered from having broken my foot six months previously, and a turbulent time at school for a variety of reasons. However, those frustrations have had positive outcomes too: for example, I did take it easy as instructed and learned that it really is possible for me to sit for longer than 10 minutes.

Workwise, I’ve established Spanish at a new school, taken back the reins of Spanish at another and continued to work as Lisibo Ltd, speaking in Southampton, London, York, Solihull, Nottingham and Stafford, writing articles for TES Connect, ALL, Primary Teacher Update and Rising Stars, and consulting on projects with Osiris, Rising Stars, the BBC and a new app that came out this week called Pacca Alpaca.

Personally, I’ve got back to running. Twice! I’ve enjoyed singing with worship group at church and loved being part of the Cabaret once more, even managing to sing a solo early this month. And I’ve enjoyed concerts with Jude and his trumpet.

So here are my thoughts on the coming year, using the 5 John Muir Framework hashtags.

#connect – I’m aiming to be more confident to share my ideas with other staff at school. I think some wonder what happens in my lessons, and others don’t really mind as long as they don’t have to teach their Spanish lessons! However, I find it easy to share what I do with people outside school, so why not with colleagues? I’m looking forward to (re)connecting with people at BETT, ILILC and Teachmeets with whom I tweet and connect virtually, and I’m also going to get a Birmingham Primary Languages Hub off the ground but not going to try and sort out the whole of the city as that’s not going to do my well being much good!

#exercise – I’m going to start enjoying running again. I haven’t stopped running and I do enjoy the adrenaline rush but the joy I felt running in Switzerland seems far away sometimes. Work gets in the way, I know, as I can’t just go for a run when I fancy, and I am more limited with less public rights of way through fields etc here. However, I’m going to make a conscious effort to go for quality not quantity: no attempt on 1000 miles this year (but if it happens, so that’d be nice!) And then to …

#notice – I’m also going to worry less about speed and enjoy the sights and sounds as I run. Well, not all the time as that would drive me mad, but I intend to ‘seize the moment’ and pause to appreciate the view, and also to run without my headphones and music more often.

#learn – In Switzerland I learned German and even got to speak it sometimes! Since returning, I haven’t had much opportunity to practice but this year I want to keep it up, especially as my eldest is doing his GCSE. Just hope I don’t put him off with my tactic of ‘say things with confidence even if you’re not quite sure.’ I’m definitely going to keep developing my resource collection for German in primary language learning.

#volunteer – In September, I said I’d do a cross country club at one of my schools; we’re blessed with the sufficient grass around us (belonging to school and ‘shared’ with the local grammar school) to do it safely. I really enjoyed it and so did the kids that signed up. I hope to revive it once the nights get lighter and certainly in the new school year, not least because I had a waiting list of children who wanted to join in. And perhaps I’ll add an element of HIT to it too.

Most of all, I’m going to make sure that I remember that I am a mother, and that my children won’t be children forever – indeed, they are now 16 and 13. My job is important but they’re far too precious to neglect. That may mean that I’m not the perfectly prepared teacher every lesson but who is?

And I’m going to keep looking on the bright side of life and blogging my Smiles – it’s good for my mental wellbeing!

Pacca Alpaca

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pacca iconpacca logo

Introducing Pacca Alpaca, a language learning app for little people!

http://youtu.be/QEds9SfUgIU

I’ve been working with Anamil Tech on the Spanish dimension of this app and am pleased to say that it is now available in the iTunes and GooglePlay stores where it has already received a review!

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It was lovely to work with Nicole again after the success of The Lingo Show which she created and produced (I did the Spanish on that too!) as I knew that the concept would be fun and interactive.

Pacca is a funny quirky and very inquisitive alpaca who travels on a magical carousel from his home in the Andes to explore, learning languages on the way as well as exploring his new environment. In this first instalment, he pops off to Australia!

Here’s what the ‘blurb’ says:

Pacca Alpaca – Australia!

Pacca Alpaca – Australia is a multilingual app aimed at children aged two to six and designed to encourage them to learn new languages and understand the world around them as they embark on an Australian adventure with Pacca the alpaca.

Pacca’s adventure unfolds in his home in the Andes Mountains, as he spots a new destination from afar and flies off in his magical carousel to investigate. When he lands with a bump in Australia, a local host greets him and takes him on a tour of the country. Along the way, the two play games, meet other animals and learn about shapes, colours and numbers. While they play, children can earn rewards as they complete challenges and learn new words in their chosen language – French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic or English.

The app is the first in a series of adventure apps following Pacca and his friends on their travels across the globe, so watch this space for the next installment!

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Things I like about it:

  • Pacca is a lovely character; very friendly and fun
  • you can complete the activities in several languages using the same app
  • there are no advertisements/pop ups/in app purchases
  • the language is clearly spoken by a child (the Spanish voice actor was a delight; a really sweet little girl from Canarias and it was a shame I didn’t actually get to meet her!) which I think is important in an app aimed at little ones
  • it’s fun to play the games and you are rewarded with souvenirs for the carousel
  • all the vocabulary you’ve learned is stored in your suitcase and can be reviewed when you wish
  • you can start again and recollect all the souvenirs when you’ve finished – and in another language if you want
  • there’s a Grown Ups page that explains the educational background and a TopTips document giving ideas of how to use the app too
  • you discover a new country/culture as you learn e.g. aboriginal style artwork is used for the colours, famous landmarks are shown
  • there’s the promise of more adventures to different places!

It’s not a free app – it costs £2.49 – so having it on a class set of iPads would need some negotiation but I’ll definitely add it to my list of apps that I recommend to parents/grandparents who want ideas for engaging children in learning outside of the classroom as well as putting it on my iPad for individual/paired play.

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Mi calendario 2015

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calendarioHaving a number of pupils who don’t celebrate Christmas, and to alleviate ‘Christmas saturation’ I tried to come up with a different activity for the last week of term for my pupils.

Most of WPS have spent the last half term looking at days months and numbers so a calendar sprang to mind. And I recalled making a 3D one years ago…

I couldn’t find the template so I searched online for a dodecahedron net, and then for 2015 calendar tabs in Spanish, and then made my own.

‘Ingredients’

  • dodecahedron net copied onto card – dodecahedron
  • copy of Spanish calendar tabs for 2015 – (you’ll need to reduce it to half size I discovered unless you print it straight from the site in which case it’s the correct size!)calendariolaboral2015
  • scissors
  • glue
  • felt tip pens
  • LOTS of patience!

‘Method’

I gave each child a net on thin card and asked them to decorate each pentagon to form a background. Some chose a pattern, some tried to draw a suitable picture for the month, others just coloured.

Then they cut out the net – I’d made all the bits to cut really obvious by using dashed lines but still children cut off the tabs!

They cut each month out and stuck one month per pentagon onto the net.

Then the fun began! You need to fold all the pentagons inwards, and all the tabs too.

Sticking it all together starts off easy as you make a basket shape with the base but gets more and more fiddly as you have less space to grip and hold flaps so that they bond. My advice is to make sure the you do a tab or two at a time and hold them until they are firmly stuck. The last few joins will be more flimsy as you can’t apply pressure but if you try to leave a pentagon with several flaps, you should be able to just tuck them in and hope for the best!

Here’s my finished example:

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I’ve since discovered this preprinted dodecahedron calendar calendario-deca-2015 on the same site – it wasn’t there last week! However, I prefer my version as this has capital letters for the months and days and having battled with children all term to stop ‘correcting’ the date that is written on the board when they copy it into their books, I’m not going down that road!

And there is also a Calendario rombico calendario-rombico-2015 which looks interesting! You need to follow the instructions here to make it!

Whilst the bottom strip on the calendar tabs is not needed, it fits beautifully with the unit we’re studying as we’re in the middle of discussing festivals and dates, and the calendarios will be  great for practising saying the date in Spanish after Christmas break. However, having spent my lunch hour ‘rescuing’  a large pile of them, I don’t want to see another one for a while!

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 21.40.17It’s nearly Christmas again so out comes my favourite story – El Pequeño Petirrojo.

Checking back, my previous posts have lost all the links/content so it’s worth sharing again I think. Added to that, this year there are new ideas and added fun!

El Pequeño Petirrojo is the Spanish translation of Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnley (read here by Emilia Fox) I first discovered it whilst watching The Tweenies with my boys and then on a Spanish Tweenies video La Nochebuena that my parents bought me back from Spain in 2004(ish) In this particular episode, Santi Claws, as Jake calls him, picks up the Tweenies from their houses on Christmas Eve and takes them to the North Pole where he tells them the story.

It’s the story of a little robin who washes and irons his seven warm vests the week before Christmas. Each day he puts on a different coloured one and goes out into the cold, only to meet another animal who complains of being cold. And each day, he gives away his vest to the other animal, until he is left on Christmas Eve with no vests left, cold and alone! The story ends happily though as Father Christmas comes along and takes the robin to the North Pole where Mother Christmas knits him a very special red vest that will always keep warm.

I immediately saw the potential of this story in my classroom. I taught Kindergarten to Year 6 at the time and could see how it could be used with all these age groups. Initially, I downloaded clipart pictures of the animals and made flashcards, then drew different coloured vests. I laminated them all and told the story with these, moving the vests from robin to rabbit, mole, frog etc. It’s a great story as you can count the vests over and over, discuss the colour of the next vest and guess the next animal. It’s good for repetition – the refrain ‘Tengo frío’ is soon taken up by even the youngest children, who also like to join in with Gracias (good manners!) and it encourages concentration and memorisation as the children try to recall what happens next. And there’s the ‘moral’ element too – the robin showed the true spirit of Christmas by giving selflessly to help others, and was rewarded with his very special red vest.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 21.41.15A few years after I started telling the story, I made a Powerpoint with animations and sound files. I was helped at the time by the lovely Bev Evans who shared one of her many talents by making me the coloured vests clipart. She sadly died this year so this Christmas it was particularly poignant as I opened the file and started telling the story.

I began collecting the animals that are in the story a few years ago but never got a full set, and they were merely props; I still relied on my trusty laminated vest and animal flashcards. I had a two year break from using the story whilst in Switzerland and last year still didn’t have a full set of animals.IMG_0270

Years ago, Jackie Berry, a fellow primary language teacher from ‘down south’, made me very jealous when she shared pictures of a little knitted robin and vests that someone had made her. And this year, Jackie moved to France and decided to sell her primary resource collection. I was more than happy to give a new home to the vests and robin. In fact, I was ecstatic. And, spurred on by now having vests, I completed my animal collection.IMG_0278

Additionally I recently purchased some PE bibs with mesh pockets into which you can put cards.

So this year we moved on to El Pequeño Petirrojo 2.0!

In one classroom the projector was broken so I couldn’t show the presentation so went straight for the trusty flashcards and laminated vests to present the story. In the other class, I started with the presentation.

The second ‘reading’ of the story involved 10 children acting it out as I read the story and the class joined in with the repeated parts. Each actor (7 animals, the robin and Father and Mother Christmas) had a bib with their character card in the pocket. Additionally all the animals had a cuddly version of themself to hold, whilst the ‘pequeño petirrojo (PP)’ had his vests and Mamá Noel had a red vest which they both promptly put in their bib pocket too.

IMG_0279We put a washing line across the IWB and pegged up the vests as the class counted them, and then each day, PP removed the appropriate vest and put it on the knitted robin. The PP then skipped across the classroom as everyone chorused ‘La la la la la’, meeting an animal on the way. They greeted each other before the animal said ¡Tengo frío!, a refrain that was chorused by the class as well. Some recalled ¿Me puede ayudar? as well. PP replied ¡Aquí tiene! whilst removing the vest from the knitted robin and handing it to the animal. The animal responded ¡Gracias¡ and put it on their cuddly. Again, the class joined in with the repeated sections.
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This pattern continued until Nochebuena when PP finds him/herself without a vest and cold. Great acting from my PPs who looked suitably glum and then brightened up as Papá Noel ‘flew in’ on his sleigh; one Papá Noel started humming Jingle Bells which was a great touch! They ‘flew off’ to the North Pole where Mamá Noel produced the red vest from her bib pocket and presented it to PP who said ¡Gracias!

IMG_0280Everyone really enjoyed it and all wanted to join in. We didn’t have time but next week we’ll revisit the story with new actors. And I loved it too as everyone, irrespective of their ability, was able to join in.

 

I made some simple worksheets to accompany the story:

just pictures (line drawings) el pequeño petirrojo pix only

pictures (line drawings) with names in Spanish  el pequeño petirrojo

pictures (line drawings) with a sentence saying what colour vest each animal is wearing el pequeño petirrojo sentence colour

colour sentences to label the colouring sheet labels el pequeño petirrojo

 

And here’s the Powerpoint. El pequeño petirrojo final

You can also find it on Slideshare where it’s been viewed 2,670 times! (There’s a French version too!)

 

I’m looking forward to sharing it with Year 2 at WCPS next week, and rerunning it with Y3 at WPS on Wednesday morning.

 

 

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