This book is amazing! It has flaps, dials, double page factfiles, stories, quizzes, jokes and puzzles, all teaching facts about our planet – Planète Terre. In fact, it’s so amazing that I couldn’t just take photos, I had to make a video!
It’s the kind of book that would go down well on the class bookshelf for children to access in their free reading time. The facts are short and therefore less threatening than in your average non fiction book, allowing learners to concentrate on decoding a few unfamiliar words using their knowledge of cognates and other languages as well as context and of course their existing geographical/scientific knowledge. And although Spanish is the language we learn at my schools, I would still put this on the bookshelf as children like variety, some go to French club and others just enjoy looking at texts in other languages.
If you wanted to guide children’s reading of the book, you could compile a list of words in English that could be written in French by looking in the book (there are many words written in bold that would suit this activity) or perhaps create some sentences with gaps to be completed by reading a certain page, or even pose the six questions below and ask more advanced learners to answer in a sentence or two.
I’m off to find more of these – in Spanish this time!
I love a bargain, and am also a great fan of recycling so I am particularly pleased with a new pile of German children’s books!
Some were purchased via LiPS, one was found in an Oxfam shop in Bath, and the other three were a Christmas gift from my son who is currently studying in Germany and found them in an Oxfam shop there.
So here they are!
This lovely book is all about four legged friends playing Hide and Seek (Verstecken spielen) It has a touchy feely cover and features cute dogs a cat and a rabbit. I like the simplicity and repetition of the text as well as the animal noises. A fun book that would be great to read to FKS/KS1.
Ohren wackeln, Beine zappeln is another cute board book featuring animals. This time it has holes in each page in which you insert your fingers to make the ears (Ohren) or legs (Beine) of the animals. Each page has two lines of text and is written in rhyme – great to read aloud and practice your pronunciation as well as spotting the verbs. And of course, good for finger wiggling!
This a short board book is from the Disney Babies series and is all about baby Goofy going to bed. It’s written in prose and features Pluto as well as Goofy. Very cute!
Two books from the same series here! Kennst du das? – Do you know that? Each is a word book with bright photographs to illustrate the meanings. They include ‘usual’ words such as Pferd, Hase, Katze, Tiger and Elephant, but also more unusual animals – Streifenhörnchen, Rotfeuerfisch and Wandelnde Blätter and vocabulary – Zange (pliers) Reißverschluss (zip) and Qualle (jellyfish) It also indulges my love of looking at German words, ‘literally translating’ and seeing language links: Dreirad = three wheels = tricycle Nacktschnecke = naked snail = slug Stinktier = smelly animal = skunk Fledermaus = flying mouse = bat Nashorn = nose horn = rhino Flusspferd = river horse = hippo
Finally a board book with sliding windows (Schiebefenster) to learn numbers 1-10. The windows slide to show either the numeral or a number of objects so could be used for numbers and then extended to use the vocabulary pictured, in singular and plural forms. Perhaps older learners could have a look in a dictionary for the words whilst others will begin to recognise the correct item from three after several readings.
I was really surprised to find this book in an Oxfam shop in Bath, and even more surprised when I realised that the buttons still worked! I like reading books based on series that we watch in English as it’s possible to compare names and ket features in the other language. For example, Ryder and Chase have the same names in both languages and the PupPad in German is called the Pfot-o-fon (Paws ‘phone) I’m looking forward to sharing this book with the little ones at school. And I don’t think the enchantment of this book is limited to little ones..
So these are my new German books. What do you think? It’s a bit of a shame that I don’t teach German on a day to day basis but reading them aloud is great fun! A reminder that there is a catalogue of my (ever growing!) collection of German children’s books here, and there is also a French list and several for Spanish – fiction, nonfiction, rhymes poems and songs, plus an ‘other languages‘ list too!
Just back from a family holiday in Italy where I once more had to struggle with not being able to communicate as I wished. I understood quite a bit thanks to Spanish and, to a lesser extent, French, but couldn’t formulate sufficiently coherent sentences to say what I wanted to communicate most of the time, thus resorting to a few words and a gesture with a pleading smile. In fact, I found that German was more helpful at times for the first part of the holidays as we were in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and often people didn’t speak English but understood German. Added to my ‘angst’ was the fact that all my attempts at Italian were met with replies in English, particularly in Bologna – I guess they thought they were being helpful but I was trying hard and it was a little disheartening!
However, I was in my element when I found the bookshops! My poor family tolerated me dragging them into at least four on our wanderings without moaning although I actually think they were glad of the air conditioning and a rest! I had my eye on a children’s book shop in the Piazza Maggiore but it was sadly shut when we returned to Bologna for holidays! Chiuso per Ferie was a phrase we learned very quickly! Nonetheless I still found others and treated myself to three books – I could have bought far more but as I don’t teach Italian, I was restrained and really thought hard about my choices.
Tu (non) sei piccolo is a bilingual book with the Italian in large type and the English a little smaller below. It’s a really simple book about some bears who are arguing about being big or small. What I particularly liked, apart from the bilingualism, was the repetition for the verb to be in 1st and 2nd person singular (I and you) and 2nd and 3rd person plural (you and they) as this gave me a good idea about how the verb ‘works.’ Additionally, the same two adjectives are used which meant that I could draw some conclusions about the behaviour of adjectives – much like panino/panini and cappuccino/cappuccini! It’s amusing too and I liked the illustrations of the different bears. It would be easy to adapt by changing the adjective and/or animal.
I chose Mio! Mio! Mio! as it’s also very repetitive and easy to understand. The little frog finds an egg and claims it as his own – Mio! But all the other animals say it’s theirs until it ends up hitting the elephant on the head – then nobody wants it and frog at last can have it. Then it hatches… I enjoyed comparing animal names with the Spanish – l’elefante, l’aquila, il serpente – and discover a new one that none of my translating apps could work out – il varano which is a monitor lizard! The grammar was also similar – è mio! / ¡es mío! for it’s mine ; è suo! / ¡es suyo! meaning it’s his; I saw a similarity between chi for who and qui in French, and Allora te lo restituisco was easy to decode as I’ve give it back to you with the link to restitution. Finally, it also tickled me that it featured ‘un uovo’ as the boys were asked every morning if they’d like one in our wonderful B&B (if you’re ever going to the Dolomites, I can thoroughly recommend Agriturismo Florandonole )
My final choice recognises the wonders of Italian food and drink. Non piangere, cipolla (Don’t cry onion) is a book of poems and verse organised in alphabetical order starting with Acqua and ending with Uva. These poems will need more concentration (and a dictionary!) to translate but I can get the gist of many of them. A couple of my favourites are below.
I’ve enjoyed reading all these books aloud, trying out my Italian pronunciation (which still needs work) and listening to how they sound. I’m looking forward to reading them ever more accurately, and also to understanding a little more as I reread them.
At the end of July, my husband and I popped off for a short break in Copenhagen in celebration of our silver wedding anniversary. We had a lovely time exploring and sightseeing, and as usual at various points my ‘teacher brain’ or as I prefer to call it ‘lifelong learner thinking’ engaged and I was struck with thoughts and ideas for the classroom.
Firstly I really struggled with not being able to communicate in Danish. I really didn’t need to as everyone spoke English but it made me feel bad not being able to speak. I found that I could understand to a certain extent if things were written thanks to having done some Swedish on Duolingo, plus managing find some similarities at times with German and/or English, but understanding speech was very problematic and speaking more so! My son (who’s studied Swedish for the last two years at Uni) and my husband (who works with Swedes and Danes) tell me that part of the problem is that people ‘swallow’ consonants in spoken Danish making it harder to understand than Swedish. However, I did persevere with my trying to understand and had some success.
And, as usual, I couldn’t leave without a book for my collection. I had a good look and decided that whilst I’d love a storybook, my level of understanding wasn’t high enough yet, so I settled on a simple word book.
Min første bog om Farver is a board book all about colours. Each page has a different colour until the last page which has a rainbow colours. I can see the likeness of farver and Farbe in German. Some colours look – but don’t sound! – like English (pink, orange), some are like French (brun) and others wouldn’t be recognisable to me without the images – sort is black and hvid is white. The last page is about rainbow colours which again reminds me of German Regnbuens farver although I wouldn’t have guessed that er flotte meant ‘are great.’
I’m looking forward to using this when I next look at colours in Spanish as children this year have enjoyed all the comparative exercises we’ve done with multiple languages, finding similarities and differences.
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
This is the second in a series of three posts about books by Julia Donaldson that I have recently purchased in Spanish.
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.
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:
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 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.
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!