books – ¡Vámonos! The musings of Lisibo
 

Category: books

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.

Available from Little Linguist

As a great fan of Eric Carle books, I was very excited to find some bilingual Spanish-English flashcards when I was browsing online. I ordered them in November, and they finally arrived last week! Well worth the wait however, and I thought I’d share some ideas I’ve had for using them. I’m sure you’ll have your own thoughts; please share them via the comments below!

There are 50 cards in the pack featuring words from some of Eric Carle’s books including The Very Hungry Caterpillar / La Oruga Muy Hambrienta and Brown bear, What do you see? /Oso Pardo ¿qué ves? Each card is double sided with the word in English and an image on one side, and the word in Spanish (complete with definite article) and the same image on the other. It’s easy to distinguish the Spanish side from the English as the word is white in a coloured strip on the Spanish side, but in colour on the English side.

Learning vocabulary
*Learn new words by studying the cards and then testing yourself on the Spanish.
*Pupils could work in pairs and take it in turns to say the word in Spanish.
*Show the image and say the word.

Name the book
*Show a card – which story does it come from? You could start with one card and add another if necessary. perhaps you could award 3 points if the book is guessed after 1 card, decreasing the points the more cards are seen.
*True or false – when looking at a particular story, show a card; is it in the story? Hay un una abeja en Oso Pardo ¿qué ves? ¿Verdad o mentira?

Which book features all these animals?
(Answer – El artista que pintó un caballo azul)

Sort the cards
*By gender – this is fairly easy as the Spanish word is accompanied by the definite article, but ‘los globos’ may throw a spanner in the works for some.
*Animate and inanimate / ¿animado o inanimado? – could lead to an interesting discussion about whether a leaf is alive or not! Is it dead the second it leaves the tree?
*Manmade or natural / ¿artificial o natural?– not quite the same as the above!
*By story – I can find images from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse, Brown Bear, The Busy Ladybird, From Head to Toes, and there are others that I can’t identify (I think they’re from an ABC or colour book that I don’t have!)
*by colour – of the image, or of the ‘word strip’
*words with an accent – reviewing why Spanish words have accents is always useful.
*by phoneme – jirafa, oveja, pájaro, abeja, naranja, hoja would make a group for example.

Make up a sentence/story
*choose two or three cards and try to make a sentence in Spanish
La jirafa pone la araña en la nube would be an example using the cards above.
*alternatively choose more cards, six perhaps, and try to make up a sequence of sentences or even a short story. This would be a fun activity for Y6 who’ve learned how to manipulate verbs and are ready for a challenge preKS3!

So these are just a few ideas I’ve noted down quickly that come to mind. Some can be done with a whole class, but most I envisage being done by pairs or small groups of children. I’ll let you know if I think of any more ideas, and I’m sure the children will soon devise their own games to play!

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.

ISBN 9788469621431 Available from Little Linguist

When I saw this book on the Little Linguist stall in July (yes, I’ve had it that long without sharing it!) it immediately sparked ideas in my head so I had to buy it. And now I’ve got around to sharing them!

The Spanish version of The Smartest Giant in Town, it’s written and illustrated by the wonderful Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, famous for The Gruffalo/El Grúfalo and Room on a broom/¡Cómo mola tu escoba! The main character is Maxi who always wears the same clothes and same sandals, and is fed up of being the scruffiest giant in town. When a new shop opens, he buys himself some lovely new clothes, becoming el gigante más elegante. Feeling happy and content, he leaves the shop to go home… but he keeps meeting animals who need help on the way home. Item by item he happily gives away his clothes, singing as he does it. Then he gives away his belt… and he’s no longer happy as he’s cold now. However, there is a happy ending as he finds his old clothes, and all the animals he has helped thank him with a crown and a lovely card.

My immediate thought was how well it would fit with other activities I do based around clothes – using Te visto y te como, doing activities to accompany Juguemos en el bosque and singing ¿Qué hay en la lavadora? from ¡Español Español! (Have a look at this link to see how Y2 did this!)

Reading the story reminded me of El Pequeño Petirrojo which is my favourite Christmas story, and one of my favourite books full stop as the robin in that gives away all his clothes too. It works really well for acting out with props; I’ve even got a knitted robin and vests with which to dress him! (See my blog post about it!) So I could see us doing something similar with this book. The video below shows how the story has been used as a class assembly – I think that would be easy to do in class too!

And like El Pequeño Petirrojo, there’s a message to El Gigante más elegante. Both el gigante and el petirrojo happily give their clothes to others in greater need than them, end up sad, but are praised and rewarded for their selflessness. Therefore they are both a good way to link to the PSHE curriculum and be creative with the curriculum! Perhaps learners could write a simple thank you letter to el gigante, following a model/scaffold, and then write one to someone they’d like to thank.

I liked this activity that I found on Twitter. Good exercise in manual dexterity!

I think that having read the story, younger learners would certainly enjoy designing clothing for el gigante, labelling them in Spanish with nouns and adjectives, and beginning to write simple sentences with a scaffold. Equally, work around the animals, their names and the noises that they make would also work. Older learners might like to link emotions to parts of the story:
El gigante está muy contento feliz cuando da su …. al …..
La cabra está muy preocupado porque su barquito no tiene vela.

I also thought it might be fun to think of other uses for the giant’s clothes by different animals. El mono necesita el cinturón para escapar el cocodrilo.
Being even more adventurous, I think that this could be a good story to retell (in a simplified version) using Talk4Writing as it has repetition and would be fairly easy for learners to adapt.
This blog also gives some further ideas of how you might use the story, both before and after reading.
And I love the ideas suggested by Teaching Ideas – they’re for the English text but many of them, such as drawing and labelling a map of the tow, trying to sing the giant’s song, and making a scarf for him, are easily adaptable to another language.

This video tells the story in Spanish with the English text on the screen. It’s not exactly the same as the Spanish translation but it could be used by those who are less confident in reading Spanish, and also as an activity in listening to Spanish.

I have another two Julia Donaldson books that I’ve recently purchased. Hopefully it won’t take me six months to share those…

If you found this post interesting and/or helpful, please comment. And if you have ideas for using the book, please let me know too!

Sharing my books

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The advantage of technology?

When we moved to Switzerland seven years ago, I had no job and no idea if I’d need my large collection of books. We decided not to take them all with us in the first instance so I started to make a list of them all whilst selecting some favourites that I couldn’t leave behind. The list stayed on my iPad and I forgot it was there.

Last summer I decided that I needed to work out how many books I had and list them somehow in some semblance of order. So I started a few Google Docs so that each time I purchase new books I can add them easily. And Google Docs have the added bonus that I can share the links so others can see too.

I’ve added the title of each book, the format and an idea of what the book is about and/or links that could be made to topics or to other curricular areas. Sadly it’s not searchable but you’re quite welcome to have a look!

Ideas:
If you’re looking for books on a topic, have a browse.
If you want ideas of books to purchase.
If you’re not sure about a book’s suitability, check and see if I’ve got it, and ask my opinion, or for a look. (I’m happy to do either!)
If you’re starting teaching a language and are looking for ideas.
If you just want to be nosey, go ahead!

So here are the links:
Spanish fiction
Spanish reference and non fiction
Spanish rhymes, poems, plays and puzzles
French
German
General ICU/GL/International/language promoting

Let me know if you find anything interesting or helpful!



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.)

Mon ami

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ISBN 978 2 226 40369 8

My lovely husband was in France recently and, as usual when he is away in another country, had a look for books I might like. I have to say, he’s getting rather good at choosing good ones that I’ll like!

One of the books he chose was Mon ami. The blurb starts…

Aujourd’hui, à l’école, il y a un nouveau. Il s’appelle Sam.

It’s a lovely story about Archibald getting to know Sam and discovering that being different isn’t a bad thing. He learns how to view the world from someone else’s perspective, seeing dragons in the clouds and a cyclone in his spinning top. When Sam doesn’t come to school the next day, Archibald misses him but his view has changed. Will Sam come back? Has he been changed too by his new friend? I’ll let you find out.

I really enjoyed Mon ami. It works as a story but also as a text that could be used for PSHE to promote discussion of everyone’s right to be themselves, and the joy of us all being different.





“As lovers of all things British AND foreign, especially languages, the team at bsmall publishing are leading a crusade to keep foreign language learning alive in the minds of our kids and parents at home.”

Thus starts the press release from bsmall publishing, announcing their new series of books entitled Hello Languages.’

I’ve blogged about bsmall products in the past including the I can read series and their dual language books for older KS2 pupils, and I also helped them with some advice a couple of years ago, so I was really pleased to be contacted for my comments on this latest publication.

bsmall have approached the creation of these materials with the following in mind:

“Kids like cool facts and fun things to do. That’s why language learning books for kids should … take the essence of the language… [and] be bright, bold, fun and colourful..filled with practical examples of language in everyday life and [encouraging] kids to just have a go without fear of making mistakes.”

The Hello languages series is available in three languages – English, French and Spanish – and is bold, colourful and fun. It’s intended to be used independently by children rather than as a classroom resource, and comprises four books;

  • Beginner’s guide
  • Picture dictionary
  • Workbook
  • Colouring book

I was sent the Hello French! materials to have a peek before they were released.

The Beginner’s Guide is organised under 6 topics and takes one aspect for each double page; for example, in Viens chez moi there are pages on Ma famille, À la maison, La cuisine et le salon,  and Ma chambre et la salle de bains. It gives vocabulary and some useful phrases as well as a very short explanation or comment in English at the start of each topic as well as for certain themes such as the weather and time. The vocabulary is supplied as labels on a vibrant illustration, in French, English and with a guide to pronunciation.* There is also a word list at the back of the book for reference.

*I’m not a great fan of this as I think it can lead to confusion – how many of you have seen children laboriously copy out the phonetic version of words from a dictionary, and also over pronounciation – grassy arse? However, given that this is a resource for children to access on their own, without phonics input or a spoken example, perhaps supported by a parent who is also unaware of how to say the words/phrases, I can see the value of including the ‘how to pronounce’ notes.

The Workbook goes alongside the Beginner’s Guide, giving children an opportunity to apply what they learn in a series of Challenges – as the front page says ‘Practice makes perfect!’ On completion, children can check their answers at the back of the book and are invited to assess how they’ve got on by colouring or circling one of three faces – Bien, Pas mal or pas super.

The Colouring Book takes some of the topics and themes from the Beginner’s Guide and offers the opportunity to colour the illustration used in the latter as the child wishes, reinforcing vocabulary which is labelled as in the Beginner’s Guide.

The French-English Picture Dictionary is organised by topic with nine vocabulary items per page, and an alphabetical word list of the 350+ vocabulary items in French-English and English-French at the end.

This is a resource that I could happily recommend to a parent who wants to encourage their child’s language learning at home. It’s suitable for younger learners with some adult support in part (the workbook is labelled 6+ due to the required level of literacy) and could be used in the language being learned at school – for my pupils, this is Spanish – or in a new language – in my case, French.

You can find out more on the bsmall website – www.bsmall.co.uk  and, on their language learning pages, you see their other language resources including books, dual language texts, play scripts, sticker books, activity books  and card games and download a catalogue.

 

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