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More IKEA inspiration!


I had to go to IKEA to buy a chair for my son and, as well as the obligatory meatballs and scented candles, I always end up buying something to use in the classroom. I now own every puppet that IKEA has produced and a large number of their cuddly toys not to mention various storage solutions (boxes and pop up tubs) and stationary items. So what could I possibly discover this time?

  1. Flowers 
  2. Postcards
  3. An insect hat

IMG_8159I bought a bunch of artificial Gerbera daisies (my favourites) to use in teaching colours to Y3. No brown, grey or black but every other colour I need. They’ll make a change from flashcards 😉

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I have a set of 5 Tolsby frames as each of my schools have five tables of 6 pupils in each class. I use them for instructions when we have a carousel activity but thought that these postcards would be good to give them Spanish specific table names. The fruit and vegetable ones will be great with year3/4 as we look at fruit words in both year groups, and the animals for year 4/5.  The animal ones in particular will be good for phonics too – conejo, pájaro, zorro, ardilla, reno (or is it a ciervo?) I’ll put the words for the fruits over the English word for the fruit ones I think.


And then there’s this hat. Would go well with work on mini beasts or describing animals (as we are currently doing in year 5) or just as a prop to go with the moustache and beard I bought last time I went. I was very tempted by the bat cape but restrained myself. This time…

No doubt I’ll have to visit IKEA again soon so watch out for more ideas. I’m already planning a lesson involving scented candles 😉

Inspired in IKEA 2.0

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I love visits to IKEA as, along with the scented candles and plastic bags, I invariably come away with all sorts of unexpected items.

In 2008 I posted Inspired in IKEA and quickly followed it up with Inspired in IKEA part 2. I continued being inspired in on A visit to IKEA in 2010 and with Breakfast from IKEA and En la granja de IKEA in 2011. And then there was my (continuing)  love affair with Señor Brócoli.

On Friday I decided it was time for the annual trip to buy gingerbread for the tree – and a gingerbread house too as my domestic goddess status doesn’t extend that far.

I always get excited when I approach the children’s section but this time I nada surprise as I met the LATTJO collection  mid way around. What an exciting development!

This little video showcases the new range

IKEA have started a collaboration with world class storyteller DreamWorks Animation highlighting the power and importance of play. DreamWorks Animation brings the LATTJO world to life through more than 25 short animated stories that celebrates and expands the imaginative world of the LATTJO characters.

Well, first of all I saw the Jenga-like stacking game with coloured bricks adding to the fun. I know that Jenga is used widely in language teaching – see Eleanor, Amanda and Erzsi‘s blogs! – and this could well add another dimension to its use. IMG_7377
Then I came across these cones – great for directions, target practice with a bean bag (for practising colour, number, counting up the score etc) IMG_7378
Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 20.54.45 And then I saw these number ‘sleeves’. The suggestion was to put them around bottles of water to make skittles which is a great idea.

I immediately thought of using them as arm bands and making human ‘skittles’, not to be knocked down but for counting activities. For example, give a sum in Spanish/French/German and the answer has to stand up, or children have a pile of cards with word problems in Sp/Fr/Ger that they have to assign to the correct ‘skittle’

I was also rather taken with the large inflatable die and the giant sacks but then I saw the dressing up! Oh my! I actually started jumping up and down!

I find puppets and dressing up to be an excellent way to get children talking in an imaginative way as I’ve shared before and here for example. So what did I see?

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Moustaches and beards. I think I look rather fetching with a beard, and you can still talk and see the mouth even wearing it!

And then there were wigs…

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…and other made head gear! I was particularly taken with the snail head, and also the brain which I decided to try on but I think – well, know!- I have a very big head as it kept popping off!


And then if you’re feeling like splashing out more than £3-£6, you can get full dressing up costumes! The parts are available separately too 😉

You can also be an eagle or a bat, and you can add monster claws to make your rat scary!






Getting away from the dressing up and LATTJO, I made it to the children’s department where I found some great cushions. I bought the sunshine one and I’m going to use as an incentive/ to reward excellent work. Impress Sra. Stevens and make her smile like the sun, and you get to sit on the cushion next lesson. I may yet add the cloud to my collection for excellent ideas, but, as with everything, it’s where to put it between lessons! IMG_7395
IMG_7393 My final inspiration came in the shape of these piglets. Can you guess my thoughts…?

Indeed. Los tres cerditos. (Their Mummy is available too!)

Oh, one last idea – these GLON templates for a house, some flats, a church-like building and a mosque-like building look great for describing the town, particularly thanks to the variety of building shape that accommodates the shapes the children I teach see around them!IMG_7396

I hope I’ve managed to communicate my excitement. I didn’t buy all the items but I may well do over time. I do have the moustache and beard, brain hat, sunshine cushion and two sets of the number sleeves though!

En la granja de IKEA


Yes, I’ve been to IKEA again in search of a blind and more inspiration in the form of squishy things!

You’d think I’d bought up the whole shop by now but I did purchase this set of farm animals.

How might I use them?

Well, I’ve thought of the following-

a) colours –

Busco algo negro.

Busco un animal de color rosa.

¿De qué color es la vaca?

¿El cisne es amarillo?


b) size/shape

Busco algo negro y pequeño.

Busco algo blanco con un cuello largo.

Althernatively, you could give half the information and the pupils to ask for more information.

Busco algo grande.     >    ¿Es negro?

No, es marrón y blanca.    > Es la vaca


c) a song (there’s always a song involved isn’t there!)

El granjero tiene una granja or En la granja de mi tío or En la granja de Pepito or whichever version you sing would work well!


d)looking at names of baby animals –

una oveja – un cordero

una vaca – un ternero

un cerdo – un cerdito

leading into the use of -ito to mean little  (cf un pollo – un pollito)

(btw – if you fancy a giggle, have a look at this for finding out how to say little baby cow in different languages!)


e) storytelling

Una vez había un grupo de animales en una granja había una vaca y su ternero, un cerdo y sus tres cerditos, una oveja y su cordero negro y un cisne.  Su vida era perfecta aparte de una cosa… en la granja también había un toro gruñón..

I’ll leave you to finish off the story!


So, there’s a few ideas. Perhaps you could add your own in the comments below?


PS I was very taken with these wonderful large squashy fruit and vegetables. I resisted the temptation to buy them though!

A tweet the other day about a visit to IKEA and the purchase of hats and things reminded me that I hadn’t shared my latest purchase from the great Swedish home of fun!

Those who have been reading ¡Vámonos! for a while will know that I am a great fan of IKEA for resources that can be used in teaching languages (and other things too!)

Last time I went I bought a fruit punnet and vegetable basket and this purchase continues on the food theme.

How might I use this IKEA breakfast set?

Well apart from naming the items of food e.g. pan, un huevo frito, salchichas, queso, beicon – if that’s how you spell it now ;o) – etc, you could use this set to work on negative sentences ‘Para desayunar, tomo un huevo frito’ Para desayunar no tomo salchichas.’  Or you could introduce phrases of frequency  e.g. ‘Normalmente, como pan tostado para el desayuno’, ‘A veces desayuno un huevo frito y beicon’, ‘Nunca como tortitas/panqueques’. Opinions would also work.

Alternatively you could use it for some intercultural understanding and comparison of eating habits. What is a typical English breakfast?  What would an American eat for breakfast?  And in Spain? France?  And that allows opinions too!

Think they need to add some yoghurt, cereal and some drinks to the set!

Wonder what I’ll find on my next visit?

A visit to IKEA


I am a great fan of IKEA.

As I have shared before, I find it a goldmine for teaching resources.

On my latest visit, I made a couple of purchases-

1. finger puppets

Great for speaking tasks to encourage reluctant speakers, to encourage imagination and to ‘distract’ from repetitious or disliked activities.  This set add to my already large collection of animals, fairytale characters, sea creatures and other random puppets I’ve gleaned from parties, charity shops and toyboxes!

2. fruit and vegetable punnets

These were my favourite find this time.  Soft fruit – banana, grapes, kiwi, orange, apple and watermelon – and vegetables – leek, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes and lettuce- in a punnet / basket.

Just the thing for –

  • discussing fruit and vegetables
  • looking at colour
  • talking about healthy eating
  • giving opinions – I like / dislike and why
  • reenacting stories – Handa’s Surprise, The Hungry Caterpillar – or writing your own

and I’m sure there are more things that could be done with them given more than 10 seconds thought!  If you’ve got any ideas, leave a comment below!

In the previous post, I suggested some ways to use items from IKEA in my teaching. Storage, cushions and soft shoes were all mentioned. This post focuses on items to enhance and facilitate speaking and listening in PLL.

One of the main obstacles I find in getting pupils to speak Spanish (or French, German, or any other language) is the ‘hang up’ that it sounds funny. Whilst this is not such a big problem, in my experience, in PLL, there is still some reticence on the part of some pupils to speaking the foreign language. Using puppets is one way of getting around this. Puppets come in all shapes and sizes – you can download patterns for card finger puppets here and here: you can use sock puppets – see Jo Rhys-Jones’ video in which pupils converse using their alien sock puppets; you can use glove puppets – I have a HUGE collection of those (including Ana and Jaime); and you can use finger puppets.

As well as charity shops , jumble sales and my childrens’ toyboxes, IKEA are the main source of my finger puppets. TITTA are sets of 10 finger puppets, costing £5. I have three sets (about time they brought out a new set!) – a sea set (right), a fairytale /royal court set (not pictured) and a jungle set (left). Pupils prefer the animals and give them names and different voices. By using the puppets they are distancing the ‘funny noise’ that some of them associate with speaking Spanish etc and displacing it onto the puppet. Using silly voices is another useful ploy – and is encouraged – as long as the voice doesn’t make understanding impossible! Additionally, puppets seem to increase confidence and encourage creativity in a way that ‘turn to your partner and practice the phrases’ doesn’t. Not hard to see why when you’re dealing with kids who associate role play with using props and dressing up and having fun.

If you were at the IoW conference in October, or even read about it, you may have seen a picture of me as a cat! For the benefit of those who haven’t, here it is!
The previous week I had popped over to our nearest IKEA in search of gingerbread for Christmas and come across these lovely animal masks and ears! There’s cat, a dog (with floppy ears on the mask), a rabbit (ears on a headband as well as mask) and a bear. I’ve used these in a similar way to the finger puppets – these give pupils even more to ‘hide behind’ as they are masked! We’ve used them for storytelling and for songs like El granjero tiene una granja. Always a clamour to wear them so there’s the incentive to take part and contribute to the lesson too, as ‘I only choose people who are working hard and trying their best’ ;o)

Well today, I made another discovery – more masks and this time not just animals! An alien with antennae, a flower, a spider, a princess, a dinosaur, a ladybird and a bumblebee form the latest set of play masks. This time I managed to find two ‘willing’ volunteers to model them for me (although I didn’t completely escape as you can see!).

As well as using these masks for the activities mentioned above, I’d like to use them to encourage pupils to be creative and make up their own (simple) stories that they can act for one another.

You’ll notice that some of the pictures are framed by a green and blue ‘stage’. Today IKEA were selling puppet theatres for 49p – made of cardboard admittedly but nonetheless worth a small investment! As demonstrated by my ‘dos voluntarios’, they can be used as a stage for conversations using the masks, and would work equally well with finger, sock or stick puppets.

Can’t wait to have a go in the classroom! But until then, I know two people who’ll be having fun giving me more ideas!

Inspired in IKEA


Anyone who knows me will vouch for my ability to shop ’til I drop – not necessarily buying lots but always on the lookout for something new and exciting. And anyone who has been in one of my lessons, or attended a session I’ve led will also know that I love IKEA. My first outing after having #2 son was not to a restaurant, or even a pub, but late night shopping at IKEA. And, if you ignore the wardrobes, beds and sofas, and look at the smaller items, there are many things that can be used to inspire and facilitate PLL.

boxes are great for storing bits and bobs – and are different colours so allow for spontaneous questions: ¿Qué hay en la caja verde? ¿Los dados, las tijeras o las cartas? or instructions: Dame la caja azul por favor. Pon los dados en la caja blanca por favor.

Also good for storage are MINNEN velvet bags. I have a collection of these – I keep my finger puppets in one, and my paper puppets in another. I also use them for games such ¿Qué hay en la bolsa? – hide a number of small objects in the bag and children name an item by touch. I’ve recently done it with small farm animals and also fruit. Note to self – next time use plastic fruit to avoid a soggy bag smelling of strawberries! The element of wondering what’s in the bag adds to the exercise and keeps the class on its toes. It also allows for self differentiation as a child can pull out an item that they are pretty sure they know rather than be put on the spot.

And finally on the storage front, NOJE storage boxes are collapsible so saves space – important at the best of times, but when your storage cupboard is the boot of your car, all the more vital – and, like the bags, have a use beyond the intended. I use mine for simple games.
A favourite is throw the beanbag into the correct box. For the youngest children, I ask them to throw the beanbag into the same coloured box, reinforcing the colour vocabulary: el saco rojo en la caja roja. Then, to make it harder, I ask them to throw it into a different coloured basket: el saco azul en la caja verde. Teaches and reinforces colours as well as enhancing motor skills.
I also used them to separate food into ‘healthy’ – es bueno (green), ‘unhealthy’ – no es bueno (red) and ‘undecided’ – no sé (blue) The physical act of moving food adds movement to the lesson and was again tactile, reinforcing the groupings.
And you can play memory games too – ¿dónde está la manzana?

What about these UNDERBAR discs – my boys use them as frisbees although they are intended to be seat cushions. Why not use them as stepping stones, or for dancemat activities (they are textured so no danger of slipping) – both these activities allow sequencing and enhance memorisation skills.

When I ask questions, I like to throw things! I think it goes back to my early days of learning Spanish when my Colombian teacher had the habit of throwing someone’s pencil case around the room to keep us on our toes. It certainly did that, especially as it was a well packed case! Anyhow, the theory make sense to me although I prefer to avoid the danger of knocking out my pupils and so favour a small soft ball. I bought one from IKEA that contains a bell, so we could play with our eyes shut to work our auditory skills! I find it adds to the pace of the lesson, and pupils love being the teacher and getting to throw the ball. Recently, I got fed up of the ball and decided to go for something a bit more exciting – cue BÄSTIS! Actually dog toys, but I now own a pair of shoes
(trainers) that fly around the room. I wanted the pink boots but was informed by #1 son that they were not aerodynamic enough and #2 son that they are too girly!

That’s just the start of my IKEA inspired ideas – the best comes in the next post! Back in an hour or so :o)

Ideas @ IKEA

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What has IKEA got to do with PLL? Come back later and I’ll let you know my ideas! Just got to do some more shopping …

Today at The Language Show it was my pleasure to deliver a presentation entitled A few of our favourite things.

During a packed 45 minutes I highlighted as many of the things that my pupils say they enjoy as I could. I do talk very fast but as is often the case, I had far more to say than there was time to share.

As promised you can find my slides below including links to things I mentioned such as the songs and games. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments below. And if you bought a ticket, you can access my presentation (along with many many more!) on catch up. I’m looking forward to doing just that over the next week or so.

Clickable links from presentation –

Slide 2 Spanish video
Slide 7 Spanish games
Slide 8 Youtube playlist including minibook tutorial
Slide 10 Miguel y Sabo video
Slide 12 Isabella Springmuhl Tejada – Intro – Sp/Eng explanation and intervie
Slide 15 Yummy Yucky PPT
Slide 17 Songs (clockwise from top left)- Hola a todos Los días Uno dos tres choc ¿Te gusta el helado? No se habla de Bruno Vuela vuela Hola ¿Cómo estás? Los partes del cuerpo
Slide 18 Hello to all the children of the world Hands of the World -How far The Hello Song
Slide 22 Strange animals post
Slide 24 Señor Cabeza Naranja slideshare Storymaking slideshare
Slide 39 Tweets
Slide 47 Lost Worlds Language Portraits ISA Padlet WBD Padlet Portfolio
Slide 49 – Around the World in 80 Books Padlet
Slide 52 Hungry Caterpillar in five languages
Slide 54 Erasmus + blog
Slide 56 Christmas research

Things to add –

I ran out of time to share about our amazing Erasmus+ project that has certainly been one of the children at WCPS’s favourite things over the last three years. Hopefully one day I’ll get to present a whole session on it (or record one of my own!) but until then, please have a look at the project blog from the point of view of our school here and the whole project blog (which was written by the Greek partners) here.

The last (for now!) of the poems that have caught my eye from the anthology Los Mejores Versos de Gloria Fuertes that I purchased from Little Linguist

This one is entitled Paisajes para que los pintes and was chosen once more for simplicity of structure, but also because it immediately sparked ideas in my mind.

A reading of the poem here

Each ‘estrofa’ decribes a very simple image with the basic structure
Arriba (top)
Abajo (bottom)
En medio (in the middle)
In the first couple of estrofas this is made explicit but after that, the pattern has been established so the prepositions are omitted although the structure remains.

I immediately saw a pairs game – can you match the image to the description?

And then I thought of back to back dictation where two children sit back to back and one describes a picture that the other then draws. In ‘times of COVID’ this could be done as an activity on a recorded or live lesson, or as a whole class activity once we’re back to school. It could be one of the descriptions from the poem or one of their own.

Which brings us to rewriting the poem – so easy to do by simply substituting nouns.
1. Los pájaros arriba,
Los campos abajo,
y, en medio, la cuidad.

2. En el cielo, las nubes
En el corral, la oveja
y, en medio, la granja.

3. Arriba, el sol
Abajo, el mar;
En medio de la playa, la palmera.

You could make it harder by challenging children to make the lines rhyme – you might find or Woxicon helpful! It could lead to some fun, unpredictable pictures and is a good activity for dictionary skills too! You could extend the poems by adding adjectives too:

Arriba, las nubes blancos,
Abajo, un hombre en zancos.
En medio del colegio, toca un arpegio.

I can see this as a lovely way to celebrate learning too as it would be easy for children to illustrate their poems then record them, creating a class anthology either as video, stored online or printed out using QR codes to access the audio.

Can you see ways to use this poem too? Please share them in the comments!

Now to do some work as half term is nearly over and I have pupils awaiting their next lesson!

Landscapes for you to paint.
The sun above,
The clouds below
And, in the middle of the wheat,
A scarecrow.

The sun above,
The sea below
And, in the middle of the sea,
A boat.

The meadow,
The mountain
And, in the middle, the cane.

The snow,
The cold
And, in the middle,
The river.

The cloud,
The sea
And, in the middle,
The squid.

The jungle,
The palm
And, in the middle,
The panther.

The sky,
The plain
And, in the middle,
The aeroplane.

The church above,
The town below
And, in the tower,
The bell and the cat.

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