This evening I presented at The Language Show. For the second year running, this was not at Olympia or Earl’s Court, but from the comfort of my dining room. I was joined by a good number of attendees given the timing (1715 of a Friday evening) including at least one who was enjoying their Saturday morning coffee in the States, others enjoying a cup of tea and another with a G&T. Sounded good to me!
My presentation was on the theme of Using ‘literature’ to support primary language teaching and learning and, having looked at the National Curriculum Languages Programme of Study for some context and a dictionary for a definition, I launched into my talk during which I highlighted a number of types of ‘literature’ and the reasons why we might choose that genre, before giving some examples and some ideas of how they can be used to engage, inspire, teach and provoke in the primary language classroom. I shared some sequences of activities as well as referring to a number of posts that explain in greater detail what I wanted to share.
Below are the slides – if you have any questions or just want a comment, please leave it below or tweet me@lisibo
It’s not too late to sign up for Language Show which continues on Saturday and Sunday. Find out more here.
Prompted by various requests for simple Spanish Christmas songs and my own desire to teach Y2 a song that didn’t involve too many words and too much ‘blending words together’ I decided to collate 10 possibilities (with thanks to LiPS for reminding me to do this!)
Mi burrito sabanero I love this song and so did one of my Y3 classes last year who learned it and sang it in our ‘Christmas around the world’ LKS2 performance. It’s a Venezuelan song writtern by Hugo Blanco that was famously recorded by La Rondallita and then by Juanes and is all about the little donkey on his way to Bethlehem. Y3 particularly liked the ‘tuki tuki tuki’ part but enjoyed the repetition of the lines too which meant that they didn’t have too many words to learn.Here are the lyrics – https://www.letras.com/villancicos/1613730/
Vuela Vuela This is a beautiful song that remembers the Christmas star that led to Bethlehem and talks of a wish for a world with no more war, hunger, poverty or loneliness, a peaceful world. Really simple and a lovely sentiment. This version is great for little children as it has characters in it https://youtu.be/nymD4tp_emw but here’s an alternative.
Copo de nieve This one isn’t strictly about Christmas but it’s a lovely song to sing at this time of year especially if you don’t want to have a ‘religious’ song. Would be lovely to use with Nursery or Reception and let them dance like snowflakes!
Soy un muñeco de nieve Another one for the very littlest – and a great one if you’re not allowed to sing at the moment! More of a rhyme spoken to music, children can join in by pointing to themselves as if they are the snowman showing his buttons, mouth, nose and so on.
A las doce de la noche This song talks of the midnight when the baby Jesus was born. The cockerels all sing and wake the singer to announce the birth of Jesus. The singer takes Mary some pears as a gift and declares that he loves the baby. A sweet little song with a good rhythm.
En Navidad turrón y mazapán Another song with a great rhythm is En Navidad turrón y mazapán. This one is good as the lyrics are clear and repeated twice with rests at the end of each line which makes it clearer than in some villancicos where one sentence ends and another starts! This is obviously a very popular song for performance as there are multiple videos on Youtube of little ones dressed as Christmas trees and mini Santas singing it! I like the version below as it has widgets or pictogramas to explain the meaning but if you’d prefer a version without them, here’s one (fast forward to 1:27 to avoid the chatting!) https://youtu.be/hymnI_DKOnk
Cascabel Spanish version of Jingle Bells. I particularly like this version as it has an echo section in the middle where the chorus is sung line by line with spaces to echo it back. This allows those who can’t recall all the words or struggle to fit them in to concentrate on just one line at a time.
Dulce Navidad An alternative version of Jingle Bells in Spanish which replaces Jingle Bells with Sweet Christmas. This version is repeats the chorus and verse twice before there’s a final verse about Santa Claus being old and confused and delivering last year’s presents including chewed chewing gum and a punctured football!
[The more widely known version of this is Navidad Navidad hoy es Navidad; this however has three verses with lots of words. It’s here though if you’d like it https://youtu.be/Z0qYQSvGSdw]
La Marimorena This one is a more traditional Christmas song. As you can see from here https://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=4198 there are many verses and alternative verses but the chorus is lively and simple to join in with. I love the flamenco clapping – it makes me want to dance! The version below is long but gives lots of opportunities to sing the chorus and has ‘sing with the colour’ lyrics! You could split into groups and each take a verse – one way of getting around ‘don’t sing altogether’ if that’s the rule in your school! This version is shorter and has people singing but no lyrics on the screen. https://youtu.be/CSaoK1Aceb0
¡Feliz Navidad! I couldn’t leave this one out! Very very simple – but it’ll get stuck in your head and may drive you slightly loco! This version is animated but if you’re a fan of Michael Bublé here’s the one for you 😉 https://youtu.be/J4DQC-M9O5c (that song starts after 44 seconds)
And one more bonus! Decoremos el árbol de Navidad Perhaps not to sing but this is a cute song for tidying up at this time of year with the repeated ‘Fa la la la la, la la la la’
In these strange times, the online conference is the way to go and thus I sat down at my laptop, coffee in hand and attended the ALL Primary Languages Conference a couple of weeks ago. Nicknamed ‘Acapulco’ by Steven Fawkes (there was a reason but nobody can recall what it was!) the conference was based around five pillars as can be seen from the graphic.
Others have shared their takeaways already, including Nathalie aka Nattalingo, as well as their presentations (Suzi’s is here) and I thought I’d share mine in the form of my sketchnotes. Disclaimer: I had to ‘leave’ early so I’m afraid I didn’t do one for Suzi’s session nor Nathalie’s but you can access their slides at the link above!
An excellent conference and really well organised. Not only were the sessions great, the chat was good too with ideas flying so fast it was sometimes hard to keep up with it all! I recommend that you sign up to ALL as there will be future events for members, specifically designed for primary called PHOrum and they will be quality events! You can find out how to join here and also about the other benefits!
Whilst I know that many schools do not celebrate Halloween (mine don’t!) I thought I’d share these ideas that I’ve used, made or seen over the years.
A Halloween Storybird.
Songs about ‘calabazas’
Songs about ‘esqueletos’
In 2012 I made this Storybird at the request of the Reception teacher at my school. I say ‘my school’ but at the time I lived in Switzerland and they were missing me!
I happily created it and shared it with them, and then with you via my blog in this post.
Unfortunately in the intervening years, Storybird has changed the way you can share so the link was broken so I created a PPT of the pages and added some activities and extra slides today, then narrated it. The link to it is at the bottom of the post.
I’ve shared the first of these songs before when I subtitled it (using a tool that doesn’t exist anymore so it’s lost 🙁 However, you can switch on the CC subtitles now and whilst, not perfect (the third ‘calabaza’ is ‘enojada’ and the subtitle read ‘que no y no’) they serve the purpose!
As you can see, each ‘calabaza’ is expresses a feeling using the phrase ‘se siente…’ and you could follow up this song with asking ¿Cómo te sientes? (How are you feeling?) with children responding “Me siento…”
Here are the lyrics: Cinco calabazas sentadas en su casa Una calabaza se siente muy cansada. Cuatro calabazas sentadas en su casa Una calabaza se siente asustada. Tres calabazas sentadas en su casa Una calabaza se siente enojada. Dos calabazas sentadas en su casa Una calabaza se siente muy frustrada. Una calabaza sentada en su casa Una calabaza se siente sorprendida Cinco calabazas duermen en su casa Cuando sale el sol, se sienten muy felices.
I’ve just discovered this second video, also about ‘calabazas’ and emotions. This time the ‘calabazas’ are more animated, and express their feeling using the verb estar. Some interesting vocabulary used including gruñona, a great word meaning grumpy or cranky! Another opportunity to discuss feelings, asking ¿Cómo estás? with children replying Estoy… It also offers an opportunity to look at the present continuous Estoy+gerund.
Here are the lyrics: Letra: Una calabaza, sonriendo, sonriendo. x3 Una calabaza está feliz.
Dos calabazas, gruñendo, gruñendo. x3 Dos calabazas están gruñonas.
Tres calabazas, bostezando, bostezando. x3 Tres calabazas están con sueño.
Cuatro calabazas, llorando, llorando. x3 Cuatro calabazas están tristes.
Cinco calabazas, riendo, riendo. x3 Cinco calabazas están jugando.
I’ve long been familiar with the Babelzone song about ‘Los Esqueletos’ that has a skeleton coming out of the ‘tumba’ every hour of the night as the clock strikes, and have shared it many times! The version below has a bit more ‘movida’ and also uses ‘desde…. hasta’ to give a range of time (from … until) rather than ‘cuando el reloj marca…’ Certainly an earworm!
I also like this version as it’s a rhyme rather than a song; great to work on rhythm and link language learning to music. You could find the percussion instruments and really get a beat going! And then it becomes a song encouraging you to dance. First moving your ‘cintura’, then your ‘cabeza’, ‘rodillas’ and finally your ‘cuerpo’
And linking ‘los esqueletos’ to parts of the body, you could try “El Baile del Esqueleto.” To the tune of Dem Bones, the song encourages you to move and dance whilst simply talking about how your bones are connected to one another. You could use it as part of a science lesson on the skeleton, or as an exercise in finding the word for or working out what the lyrics mean using scientific knowledge.
And not entirely a song about ‘esqueletos’ but here’s a ‘Halloween’ version of 5 babies jumping on the bed with skeletons and a ghost Mummy telling them off!
During lockdown I recorded a number of stories for my pupils and, like many people, had some online shopping sprees when I couldn’t get out. I combined these when a colleague discovered that I had bought a Julie Donaldson/Axel Scheffler book that is her favourite and asked me to record it for her so she could hear what it sounded like. I’ve uploaded it here for the next few weeks if you’d like to use it. After that, you can have a look at this version which is animated with pictures from the book (but also has some spelling mistakes!) or this one. If you have a Twinkl subscription there is a set of vocabulary to accompany the story here and the bottom of this post has a couple of craft activities too. Obviously, activities for the English version Room on a Broom could also be used and/or adapted, especially craft activities as they have no text on them; here are some examples KiddychartsScholasticTeaching Ideas
In case you didn’t know, the Champion League Final this evening is being held in Madrid. And that set me thinking about the series Mi Madrid that I wrote for BBC Schools Radio last year. One of the 10 episodes ¡Hala Madrid! is all about football, albeit ‘el derbi madrileño’ between Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid. I love football and it was a joy to write. I particularly enjoyed writing the story in which the Madrid football stadiums argue about who is the best. You can hear it told here and read the (bilingual) transcript here El Estadio Metropolitano will be the stage for tonight’s game and hopefully will see an amazing game, won by the best team! #YNWA
Wish I could claim credit for writing the songs for Mi Madrid as they’re amazing! I’m really glad that the BBC has now made videos for each of them as it makes them even more useful. I sometimes choose one to play whilst kids complete an activity as a timer, or as a way of gaining attention.
I’ve yet to see The Greatest Showman but I love the soundtrack so when I found this video today I was delighted.
This is me in Spanish – Así soy. Below the video I’ve posted the lyrics too. It won’t be a song I necessarily teach the children but it’ll make a pleasant background to activities, and it has such uplifting and important lyrics that I’ll happily tell the children what it means. Unlike Despacito…
I shared the Chocolate rhyme previously but I think it’s worth sharing again as it’s been so popular with Y2. And, as this post shows with ‘mariposa’, any other four syllable word works. It would work with cucuracha, elefante or even Barcelona! The clapping is the same as for Double double this this in English so pupils find it less tricky than you’d think!
In July I was asked to join with Afónica (a sound production company specialising in fiction and documentary in English and Spanish) to write a pitch for an audio programme, aimed at KS2 learners of Spanish (7-11 year olds), to be broadcast by the BBC. In August we discovered that our idea featuring a Spanish boy, Quique and his new friend Charlie who has moved to Madrid from England, had been chosen. And that’s where some really hard work began, writing ten 15 minute episodes in which Quique and Charlie explore Madrid, discussing culture and language as well as visiting some iconic places like the Retiro Park, the Rastro market and the Real Madrid football stadium, and meeting some of their neighbours. Those scripts were then recorded in Madrid by some wonderful actors, some songs were added (wish I could claim that I’d written them as they are brilliant but I’m not that talented!)and Nicolas of Afónica worked his magic, putting it all together. And at 330am (UK time) tonight, episode 1 will be broadcast on Schools Radio. I am so excited; I may even be awake at 330am I’m that excited. However, you don’t need to get up in the middle of the night as each episode will be uploaded to the website and available as soon as it has been broadcast. What’s more, you can listen to the separate ‘chunks’ already by going to the Mi Madrid Schools Radio website and accessing the Clips section The idea is that the broadcasts can be listened to as an entire episode but also in chunks and that they are used to support the teaching of Spanish at KS2, particularly to students who have already learned some Spanish and are now 9-11 years old. The programmes are predominantly in Spanish with some English used to clarify and explain. Charlie asks questions that the students may well be wanting to ask – about Spanish life as well as the Spanish language – and Quique and especially his mum, Sofía, answer them. I tried to include as many quirky facts and interesting words as I could get away with because that was what grabbed my attention as a young learner, and I hope that this comes through as you listen. Here’s the episode schedule so you can see what’s coming up. I am really proud of this project and hope that lots of teachers and learners enjoy it. I’m also really pleased that Clare Seccombe of Light Bulb Language fame, has written the Teacher’s Notes to accompany the series as I know they will be amazing. They will be available very soon I hope, and will give ideas on how to use the audio as well as notes on what happens in each episode, vocabulary, and some visuals that will support the content. Please let me know if you listen, if you enjoyed it and how you used it. My favourite episode to write was Episode 8 ¡Hala Madrid! although Episode 6 Masterchef was a close second. I’ll tell you which I think has turned out best when I’ve heard them all but please leave a comment about your favourites too! SaveSave
On my trip to London on Tuesday I paid a flying visit to the fourth floor of Foyles where all the language books are found. Although I was limited in the time I could spend there – 25 minutes! – and I imposed a spending limit on myself too, I still managed to come away with a couple of books.
Mi dragón y yo is a very simple book about a boy who doesn’t want an ordinary pet and dreams of having a dragon. He sets out to explain what kind of dragon he would like. He talks about what it would not be like first before saying all the things it would be able to do, all the things he’d do with it and how he would train it. It’s written in the conditional
– me gustaría, tendría, le daría, le enseñaría – but I don’t see that as a problem as the illustrations make it clear, and in fact the conditional is sometimes easier to decode as the infinitive that you’d look up in the dictionary is easier to identify (usually!)
It’s a great book to read as part of a topic on pets and could lead to pupils rewriting the story
“Algunos niños quieren un perro. A otros les gustaría un gato. Yo quiero….” inserting their own animal before going on to describe it:
Sería ………. – It would be ………. This could be colour and character.
Tendría……….. – It would have …………… Here they would describe the pet; a tail? a big head?
Le daría el nombre ….. – I’d call it……
Le enseñaría a …. – I’d teach it to….. Add some verb infinitives
Le compraría … – I’d buy it ….. Clothes? Food? Toys?
Comería… y bebería……. – It would eat…. and drink ………..
Viviría …………. – It would live….
and so on.
Very simple and easily done with some dictionary skills and a bit of imagination, and easy to extend with some conjunctions, negatives and so on.
For younger learners you might just read the story and invite them to draw or colour their own dragon then describe it orally using colours and size or in written form by labelling it or filling in a gapped sentence. Here are some dragon templates you might use:
There are lots of other dragon ideas and resources around.
In a quick search I found many other dragon stories including several on Youtube. I’ve pinned a lot of them onto a Pinterest board Dragons but a few highlights are below:
Ramón el Dragón is a lovely song about a dragon called Ramón (obviously). It rhymes and has a very simple chorus, telling the story of Ramón’s very simple life. You can see the lyrics on screen but can read it as a class poem using the lyric sheets here.
And I like this story about El cumpleaños del dragón as it is simple, is in Spanish with English subtitles and has a message about having tantrums!
There are lots of ideas too; Janet Lloyd’s Primary Languages Network shared some excellent ideas based around How to train my dragon for world Book Day last year. Erzsi Culshaw shared some clothes peg dragons to celebrate San Jordi. And Ruth Kidd has shared some lovely French triaramas of her Y5s describing dragons on the Languages in Primary School group. In fact, if you search ‘dragon’ on LiPS you’ll find several more ideas!
Hope you found that helpful. It certainly kept me occupied during a rainstorm!
Oh, and I almost forgot! I saw another book that I was really tempted to buy. It’s a lift the flap book about dinosaur poo! Perhaps another time…
Another purchase on my travels to Bilbao was this book entitled Veo Veo. It’s a really simple board book about two ‘lunas’ or moons that go for a walk to the park and play I spy. I liked it for the simplicity of the languages, for the repetition and also for the simplicity of the images.
So how would I use it?
A book to read as the introduction to a guessing game: a number of images on the board and the leader says Veo Veo to which everyone answers ¿Qué ves tú? (the refrain in the book) before someone guesses which picture has been chosen. This limits the number of vocabulary items that need to be known to play the game.
As a variation on the above, the leader could say what letter the item begins with Empieza con … or say what colour it is Es (de color) …. or give other simple clues.
As above but using the whole rhyme that I shared in a previous post some time ago. (Sadly at the time of writing the link to the East Riding materials in the post is broken and I haven’t managed to track down if they are still in existence. EDIT: Now updated as I’ve found it!) It’s a call and response with the leader saying the parts in red and everyone else responding with the blue words before someone guesses. Veo veoI see, I see,¿Qué ves? What do you see?Una cosita. A thingY ¿qué cosita es? And what thing is it?Empieza con la ……. It begins with ………
¿Qué será? ¿Qué será? ¿Qué será? What can it be? (x 3)
It could even lead into a Wake up Shake up style activity or PE warm up using the MiniDisco video below; I can see my KS1 classes enjoying being letters and waggling their fingers (and their bottoms!)
Getting away from the song/game Veo Veo, I also thought that the book would be a good stimulus for some writing.
The story has the ‘lunas’ seeing two items, one on top of each other, then on the next double page, a third item has been added underneath, and then another so that by the end there are five items:
Una estrella sobre un pez. Un pez en la nube azul. La nube sobre un ciempiés. El ciempiés sobre un iglú.To limit vocabulary, you could provide a number of labeled images that pupils could cut out and stick in a tower as in the book. At the most basic level they could label the items and at the next level describe using simple prepositions like en and sobre in the style of the book: [noun] [preposition] [noun]
A little more complex would be to add some time conjunctions primero, luego, después, finalmente etc to sequence the items.
And to add extra difficulty pupils could choose their own items to arrange and describe, perhaps not restricting themselves to placing them on top of each other but also placing them a la izquierda or a la derecha, al lado de, entre etc to introduce further positional prepositions, and adding a verb to the sentence; for example, Hay un sacapuntas debajo del arco iris or La silla está al lado de la naranja.
The texts from the above activity could be used for listening activities with pupils sat back to back, reading out their description for the other pupil to draw before comparing images at the end.
Another listening activity would be with the teacher describing a stack of items (as in the book) from a bank of given images and pupils arranging the images according to the description. Or it could be a reading activity involving drawing or sticking the items.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous and have a big space, what about giving instructions to place larger items in a tower (being careful of H&S of course!); this might be a good idea for a smaller group or club.
An added challenge for pupils would be to make the items rhyme with each other; for example Una vaca debajo de una butaca. Un payaso en un vaso. Un sartén sobre un tren.
There’s a PDF of rhyming words in Spanish here which is helpful as it gives meanings, and this post gives a download of some rhyming cards as well as more suggestions on rhyming word activities. More advanced learners could use Buscapalabras, but the meanings are not givens it’s hard for a (near) beginner to choose suitable words for their sentence.
And finally, why not have pupils making their own books – using an app like BookCreator if you want to use technology or a mini book if you want to go ‘analogue’ – using all of the above, and perhaps having the own characters.
So, there are my ideas. Have you got any to add? Leave a comment below.