book review – ¡Vámonos! The musings of Lisibo
 

Category: book review

I teach Spanish at two primary schools and we predominantly follow the Light Bulb Languages scheme of work. Year 4 are about to start the latter part of Unit 8 Descubrimos los animales. In it, they learn the names of parts of the body, comparing the words in a variety of languages, and then talk about animals, culminating in making and describing ‘strange animals.’ As a bridge between the two, we look at El Bicho de la Fruta, but I was on the look out for another story that might accompany this as Y4 love a story. And I’ve found two!

1. Un Bicho Extraño

ISBN – 978-84-96957-67-1
You can buy a copy here.

I was first made aware of this book via Jesús from the Consejería de Educación in London who spoke about it at a session I attended. It is the story of Un Bicho Extraño (A Strange Creature) who we discover bit by bit. The ‘story’ is written in a single phrase per page. Well, two phrases as you can see from below as the ‘bicho’ is revealed and then disappears as you turn the book around.

Jesús shared materials that have been prepared by a working party to enable teachers to use this text as the basis for a series of lessons. Lots of ideas and resources that are ready to be used. I intend to choose some of the activities, particularly the Pictionary activity and the materials that support descriptions of the Un zoológico de bichos raros as they go well with the scheme. It would make a good analogue alternative to using the website Switchzoo.com to create hybrid animals. (Gutted that BuiLD YouR WiLD SelF is no longer available!)

To present the story I could read the book as it is (There is also a video of the book being read here) or I could try to do as the teacher in this clip has done, building the ‘bicho’ live as I tell the story. This would be a good introduction to pupils creating their own bicho and presenting it.

2. El Carnaval de los Animales

ISBN 978-84-261-3824-8
You can buy this book from Little Linguist here

The second book was a recent purchase as I was writing an article for Teach Primary on integrating languages and music into a series of lessons (harking back to the QCA scheme of work!) I saw the title and it took me back to lessons I used to do based around Saint Saens music. Except the book isn’t just a carnival of animals as we know it.

All the animals have been invited to the carnival – but fancy dress is obligatory. How will the animals disguise themselves? The book is very amusing as animals decide how to disguise themselves, mostly as other animals but not always, and present themselves in their new forms. It’s a fun book to read as it is, and you could play games with it.

For example, can you identify the animal and the disguise?
¿Qué animal es?
¿Y el disfraz?

Es un perro salchicha disfrazado de cebra.

And this would be a simple way to make more ‘strange animals’ as pupils attempt to disguise their animal as something else. A fun activity that could be extended beyond animals for the adventurous. I like the range of interesting animals that are introduced in the story – it’s not often that you get to teach mapache or ornitorrinco, and I’ve never heard the word bogavente* before but I know it’d be a hit with Y4.

I’ll let you know how we get on with these books and how much or little we get to do with them. If you have any ideas of similar texts, do leave a message in the comments, or contact me via Twitter @lisibo.

*Un bogavente is a lobster with large claws. Una langosta (the word I knew for lobster) is a spiny lobster.
Amazing what you learn from children’s story books!



A book review

ISBN 9781519600929
Available here

You all know the famous wolf from the fairy tales that scares everyone, eats sheep and grandmas, and chases little pigs out of their homes. But do you REALLY know him? What if he wasn’t like that at all?

This book is all about that wolf but reveals another truth – that el lobo de los cuentos doesn’t actually enjoy being bad. What happens when he decides to do exactly the opposite of what is expected from him? He says hello to Caperucita Roja, he gets chased by the cerditos and instead of scaring the cabritillos, he swaps recipes with their Mum.

In the context of this change of character, el lobo discusses emotions and feelings with his fellow characters and discovers empathy. The book finishes with some activities to help children discover and explore their emotions with some cut outs to use just like el lobo does in the story.

It’s a short story and I think it’s great as it shows a different side to the traditional stories – why should the wolf always be the baddie?- but also has important messages about our feelings and emotions. Most importantly I think it explores how we can get stuck in a pattern of behaviour that we don’t like, and that it is possible to break the cycle. I think the pictures in the book help this message get across to children as the characters are all depicted as small children in masks playing the parts.

This is the third in a series of three posts about Julia Donaldson books that I have recently purchased in Spanish.

ISBN – 978-8-4941634-7-0
Available from Little Linguist

Lo que Escuchó la Mariquita is the Spanish version of What the Ladybird heard and is a ‘farmyard thriller; a crime set on a farm‘ according to Julia Donaldson, the author. In it, two robbers, Hugo el Zurdo and Len el Largo plot to steal the prize cow from under the farmer’s nose. But they hadn’t reckoned on the very tiny, very quiet ladybird.

All the other animals on the farm are very noisy…
‘pero la mariquita no decía nada de nada.’

One night the ladybird hears the thieves plotting and relays the story to the animals who all make a loud hullabaloo – and then they hear the plan which make use of all their noisiness! Will they outsmart Hugo el Zurdo and Len el Largo? I’ll leave you to find out! It’s a great story and I love the rhyme and rhythm of the text.

How would I use this story? I’d probably read it much the way that Julia Donaldson does in the video below – but in Spanish!
The story is a wonderful opportunity to work on animal vocabulary as well as the always popular topic of animal sounds. It always amuses children that animals ‘speak Spanish’ too and make slightly – or sometimes very – different noises in Spanish. You could even sort the sounds into groups according to how similar they are. You could use puppets or masks to involve individuals in retelling the story or even a set of fingerpuppets or finger scribbles for each child to join in physically, or even use actions (my latest obsession with Makaton would come in handy here!) Nonetheless with little preparation of that kind, it’s easy to encourage learners to join in with some noises and sound effects!

Here’s Julia Donaldson reading her story in English with some ideas for how you could use the book with audience participation, using puppets, animal noise prompts and action!
Here’s the story read to you so you can get an idea of the story. Or you can actually read part of the book yourself on Issuu
And this version has an ‘on screen’ narrator!

Follow up activities might include vocabulary matching at word level, some simple substitution sentences with animal and sound [La vaca] dice [Muu] or [El perro elegante] dijo [Cuac] or even some simple descriptions
La vaca es bonita y premiada. Es blanca y negra con manchas grises. Tiene un cabestro azul y un premio rojo. La vaca dice Muu.
Alternatively you could ask comprehension questions with Sí/No Verdad/Mentira responses, or at a higher level, require a response in a phrase or sentence.
And finally, how about making a map of the farmyard and giving directions around it in Spanish, or making it into a game and guiding a blindfolded classmate using only animal noises (but don’t try and confuse them like the animals in the book!)
There are lots of art ideas that go with this book – you can see one below.

This video shows how one class responded to Lo que escuchó la mariquita at C.E.I.P. Miguel de Cervantes de Navalmanzano Segovia. Loe the idea of making ‘mariquitas’ out of footprints!

Looking for ideas of how to use the book, I found lots of ideas for using the English version What the Ladybird heard. I’ve collected them together on a Pinterest board.
It included the video below of Julia Donaldson and her husband singing a song based on the story – anyone fancy writing a Spanish version?

Some other posts and reviews of the book:
Tell Bake and Love
Ediciones Fortuna

La Mariquita appears in two further books – Lo que Escuchó la Mariquita Despúes and Lo que Escuchó la Mariquita en Vacaciones.

Do you have a favourite Julia Donaldson book? Do share in the comments if you do!

This is the second in a series of three posts about books by Julia Donaldson that I have recently purchased in Spanish.

ISBN 978-84-261-4373-0
Available from Little Linguist

Las tres cartas del Oso is a very simple board book with flaps. It has two short sentences per page and colourful illustrations by Axel Scheffler. Oso writes three letters and sets out to deliver them. We follow him, counting the letters as we go and trying to guess to whom they are addressed by the home in which they live. Are we correct? Opening the flaps gives us the answer! But why has Oso written to Ardilla, Rana and Topo? All will be revealed as the book concludes with cake!

I bought this book to read to FKS/KS1 as it is very simple and also short. It reinforces counting to 3 and also could be used to introduce the names of some animals. I’d introduce the animal words before the story, with images to support, and then display them so that children can choose from the ‘gallery’ which animal they think the letter should go to. We could act out delivering the letters too, and reading them. And, as the purpose of the letters is revealed to be Oso’s birthday, it would be a good opportunity to talk Spanish birthday songs and traditions.

Here’s a Spanish birthday song – with cake ballet and dancing stars!

Feliz, feliz en tu dia 
Amiguito que Dios te bendiga 
Que reine la paz en tu dia 
Y que cumplas muchos más 
If you want Happy birthday to you in Spanish, here is it with lyrics on screen!

This video is nearly 10 years old but still helpful in showing a birthday celebration in Spain – and allows a comparison. https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/clips/zmvtsbk

A couple of traditions that I like that are quirky – instead of being given ‘the bumps’ and being thrown in the air, children in Spain have their ear ‘pulled’ the number of times that corresponds to their birthday. And in Mexico, I’ve discovered that they have the tradition below:

And speaking of Mexico – I learned Las Mañanitas from my Mexican friends on my birthday. A lovely song about the beauty of the morning! You can find the lyrics here .

Tres cartas del Oso is one of a series of books set in El Bosque de la Bellota (Acorn Woods) that includes El Zorro se viste, ¡Quiero dormir la siesta! and Juguemos al escondite.

Cache-Cache Ville

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ISBN 979 10 235 0927 4
Link to Amazon

The other book that I was gifted to me by Mr S was Cache-Cache Ville. He chose this one from a selection that he thought might be suitable because, as his messages said ‘This is fun!’ and “It’s magic!’

The book takes you through the town Cache-Cache Ville, past les magasins et les maisons, la boulangerie, la poste, le bureau et l’usine, le parc, la piscine, le musée et le zoo. You see the outside of the building as you read the rhyming text. However, you can also see INSIDE the buildings and vehicles by using la loupe magique.

I really enjoyed exploring using the red filter, finding out the secrets hidden behind the doors and windows. Love the man on the train with the really long legs and the person swinging from the luggage rack in the next carriage. And it’s great fun finding the zoo animals that seem to have ‘escaped’ from the zoo!

You can also view the ‘magic pictures’ using an app. In the UK app store it’s called Hide and Seek City and costs 99p, which gives you access to mini videos and the opportunity to draw what you imagine is happening within the houses as well as the illustrations you can view with the magic magnifying glass alone. Below is a short video showing how it works.

You can also get Cache-Cache Ville in Spanish as Villa Escondite and Italian as Borgo Nascondino.  I don’t know how the text work in Spanish and Italian as I can’t see the inside of the book, but I like the French text as it gently rhymes and has some interesting words too.

Apparently Cache-Cache Ville was inspired by The Great Journey, published by Tate and also written by Agathe Demois and Vincent Godeau, that tells the story of Red Beak on his migration. Looks a lovely book too! (In French La Grande Traversée in Spanish La Gran Travesía in Italian La Grande Traversata in Portuguese A Grande Travessia and in Dutch De Lange Reis.)

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