On my trips to Spain I’m always in search of a bargain! I’ve recently not had much luck finding ‘Poundland’ type shops, nor the equivalent of a Swiss brocki but this time I came across a 1 euro shop down one of the Siete Calles in Bilbao. Disappointingly there were no books, and unfortunately I was down to my last few euros. However, I did find some bargains.
Firstly some vocabulary jigsaws. Following on from a tip from Eleanor Abrahams-Burrows at ILILC a few years back, I bought some blank ones from Wilko (also available from Flying Tiger) and made some bespoke vocabulary jigsaws for early finishers/take home Spanish bags/ to reinforce grammar points.
I was pleased to find these ‘rompecabezas’ in the shop and at 1 euro 20 I bought one of each. I’ll use them in much the same way as my homemade ones; let’s see which is the most popular. Additional activities that you could do once the jigsaws are complete:
put the vocabulary in alphabetical order
read and practice pronunciation
make a list of the words you find most interesting
make a puzzle for a friend with the words
classify the words – could be by colour, size, like/dislike, manmade/natural
find the word for… with a partner
My second purchase was a pack of cards. I’ve got lots of decks of cards already, but this my first ‘baraja española.’ As you can see, they are not the same as the ‘baraja francesa’ with which we may be more familiar. There are four ‘palos’ or suites – oros (coins), copas (cups), espadas (swords) y bastos (sticks) – of 12 cards each. The different ‘palos’ are also distinguished by the number of breaks in the line around the edge of the card: oros -0; colas – 1; espadas – 2; bastos -3. And, in contrast to the 52 card ‘baraja francesa’, there are only 48 cards in the ‘baraja española’ as, whilst there are three ‘figuras’ – rey (king), caballo (horse) and sota (jack) – there is no card marked 10.
I was pleased to purchase these from a cultural point of view as well as to be used when we’re working on numbers/counting etc
Here’s a post with some ideas on how playing cards can be used in language learning.
And some traditional Spanish card games that are played with the ‘baraja española’ are explained in this post. Some are played with a 40 card deck (which omits the 8 and 9) One such game, and probably one of the simplest too is Siete y media which is explained in Spanish here (to change it to English, click on English in the left hand menu!) but is basically a game in which the aim is to get cards totally 7 ½ points and no more, with number cards being worth face value and ‘figuras’ are worth half. A simple game that could easily be played in class with basic language:
te toca a ti – it’s your go
otra carta por favor – another card please
me planto – I’m sticking here (no more cards)
me paso – I’ve gone bust (my total is over 7 ½)
gano – I win!
¿jugamos otra vez? – shall we play again?
You many not want to add an element of betting for counters or points, but if you do…
apuesto… puntos/fichas – I bet …. points/counters.
I usually use decks of cards for activities such as :
pick a card and say its value in Spanish
pick two cards and add their values
playing 21 (very like Siete y media but with higher numbers so harder to play when pupils can only say up to 10!)
pick a card and saying the number bond to make ten, fifteen or twenty
pick two cards; what’s the difference?
pick two cards and multiply the numbers
higher, lower (in the style of Play your cards right!)
Do you have any favourite card games that you think could be used in the language classroom?
I’ve just got back from the Practical Pedagogies conference at the International School of Toulouse. Organised by Russel Tarr, the two day conference brought together educators from around the globe. Here’s the rationale behind the conference which explains why I travelled to Toulouse at my own expense to speak (I wasn’t paid to it):
“Educational conferences can be prohibitively expensive for ordinary teachers, and often focus on abstract theory delivered by professional academics with very little hands-on classroom experience. Such events often appear more concerned with making money than with genuinely improving the quality of education being delivered within schools.
In contrast, “Practical Pedagogies” comes out of the belief that the best teacher-training conferences are delivered by practising teachers, for the benefit of each other and their students, as not-for-profit events.”
I attended some excellent workshops and chatted to so many people that further inspired me.
Below are my sketch notes of the conference that document the sessions I attended. I hope that they give you a flavour of the conference. You can find out more by checking out the Twitter hashtag #pracped16 (which was trending at various points in various countries over the two days!) or by looking at the conference website. I’m sure that many will share their presentations and that there’ll be lost of blogging so I’ll update the post over the next week or so to share them.
Opening Keynote by Ewan McIntosh. @ewanmcintosh @notosh
Curriculum, controversy and current affairs: manoeuvring in a multicultural world by Mariusz Galczynski @MariuszEDU
Philosophy for Children across the primary Curriculum by Jenna Lucas @JennaLucas81
I’m a teacher: Get me out of here! by Mike Watson @WatsEd
Coding with cards by Yasemin Allsop @yallsop
The Art of Voice:bringing characters to life by Ben Culverhouse @ben_culverhouse
You shipping it? Closing keynote by Ewan McIntosh @ewanmcintosh @notosh
I always get excited when people invite me to speak at conferences but I was very excited when Russel Tarr (created Classtools.net and was famously attacked by Gove for using Mr Men to help teach History resulting in a mass Mr Men Twitter avatar protest in solidarity!) asked me if I’d like to speak at a conference he was planning in Toulouse. A trip to France? Don’t mind if I do! And when he told me who else was speaking, I was even more excited and also perhaps a little daunted when I saw who else was speaking!
Practical Pedagogies takes place at the International School of Toulouse on October 15th and 16th and is
A high-impact training conference for classroom teachers by classroom teachers.
Two days of inspiring keynotes, 70+ workshops and networking activities: only 150 Euros!
I’m very much looking forward to the conference as there are so many different sessions under the umbrella theme of “Creativity, internationalism and innovation in the classroom” that it was very hard to choose which I’d like to attend. The programme is packed with goodies as you can see! And Ewan McIntosh @ewanmcintosh@notosh who is keynoting and also delivering workshops always inspires and challenges!
My session will be about using ICT in the Primary Language Classroom:
There are threads for
Pedagogy, Personal and Professional development including sessions by Miles Berry (@mberry), David Rogers (@daviderogers), Bill Lord (@Joga5) and Marisa Constantinides (@marisa_c);
Drama, Music and Design and technology including a session that I want to attend on Using drama games and activities across the curriculum led by G. Fearnehough (@gfearnehough), Curriculum Leader for Drama at IST, and E. Renou (@emmanuelrenou31), Modern Foreign Languages teacher at IST;
History including a session about collaboration between History and Geography (and beyond!) led by Russel Tarr, author of ActiveHistory, and Matthew Podbury, author of GeographyPods.
Science which offers diverse sessions on data logging, helping EAL learners and using SOLO taxonomy;
English and Literacy with sessions led by Julian Wood (@ideas_factory), and staff from IST about using picture and story books to work creatively and cross curricularly (hopefully I’ll get to attend one or both);
Mathematics with sessions on using Lego and Geogebra;
Assessment and reporting with a session entitles Marking:Is it really worth it?;
CAS (Creativity, action, service) and TOK (theory of knowledge);
and of course
Languages that features people I know like Isabelle Jones (@icpjones) and those who I have yet to meet like Dico Krommenhoek (@dico_kr). Oh, and me!I’m very much looking forward to finding out more about AIM and how IST use a FUN reading programme to boost comprehension and expression with their upper primary language learners.
There’s still time to register if you’d like to attend. It costs 150 euros (very reasonable) and if you can get a cheap flight it’s not much more expensive than two days of INSET!
And if you can’t attend in person, you can follow on Twitter! You can follow the Twitter account @pedagogies and the conference hashtag is
It’d be great to see some of you there and if not, converse via Twitter. And of course I’ll share my thoughts (and sketch notes!) on my return!
I’ve just received an email from the British Council Schools Online sharing these two resources (as well as mentioning the benefits of hosting/sharing a native language assistant) for primary language learning.
Our free Sharing lives, sharing languages activity packs are aimed at children aged 7-11 who are new to learning languages. They can be used in the classroom or with your partner school.
The activities are very simple and there plans are mostly language agnostic so you can decide on the language to be used dependent on skills or the language of a partner school. I’ll be suggesting to staff at WCPS that they use these activities as part of our whole school project through eLanguages in which each class has a different country on which to focus in the lead up to the World Cup finals in June.
And here’s my session on Making links across the curriculum.
I didn’t get to share my Pinterest pages as they were blocked by the firewall, but here’s the link to my Roman resources for Spanish. If you click through the presentation, you’ll find links to things like the music for The Carnival of the Animals, a slideshare of Querido Zoo, links to BuildyourWildself and Switchzoo for making hybrid animals and a cheesy song in Spanish about the planets.
Reading Los mellizos del tiempo got me thinking about integrating language learning in the Primary curriculum. As I mentioned in my previous post, it links so well with the ‘topic’ of Egyptians, or under the ‘learning journey’ of Treasure taken in Year 4 at WCPS. So I had a bit of a look around and came up with the following ideas, resources and links that might be of use to anyone who wants to do just that!
Egipto para niños – collection of fairly simple texts on a number of areas of Egyptian life including the Pyramids, food, manners and mummies as well as a bit of geography. This text is in fairly short chunks too. And Blog de los Niños has some short chunks of information, particularly about Egyptian gods and the meanings of the various crowns.
Here are some longer texts about various Egyptian ‘misterios’ including the Mummy of Pyramid KV22.
Historia Simple has some short-ish historical summaries of the various phases of the 2500 year long Egyptian era including a section on the Pyramids. There’s also some information on El Historiador.
And of course there’s Wikipedia – you can translate the pages back and forth between languages so you could have some fun with picking out key items of vocabulary.
Slideshare has some presentations for ideas and information including this lovely one from some young learners which is beautifully simple and asks some good questions on slide 4 that could be used for investigation.
And this blog has two simple presentations by Dora la Exploradora and friends, and Hello Kitty covering some of the basics of Egyptian geography and history in words and image.
However, my favourite find is from Junta de Andalucia. This site is a one stop shop about Egyptians, written in simple language and presented in short paragraphs with lots of visuals, making it really accessible. There is a dictionary of key terms as well as the facility to click on highlighted words for an immediate ‘pop up’ definition. Lots of interactive maps and also a hieroglyphics maker within the site also make it a great place for young learners to find out about Egypt. There’s also a webquest that guides learners through the site, posing questions that can be explored and investigated. (There’s another more complex webquest here along with other Egyptian resources shared on the Tiching site.)
A close second goes to a resource from Gobierno de Canarias that takes an interactive look at the Pyramids with extra information, again simply presented, appearing as you click on specific areas of the pyramid.
Videos are another source of information that can often be more accesible than just text.
And then there are these cartoons, the first from a series called Érase una vez.. and the second from a series called Martín Martín.
And here’s another I’ve just found which is a short video about the Egyptian pyramids:
You might also like to try the Barrio Sésamo approach with this video in which Lola visits the Pyramids or this video which presents images and name of the animals of Egypt before moving on to images of buildings and then some short snippets of information about Egyptian life.
You know how I love a good kitschy song! Here’s one called Momias de colores by Rockolate. When my hand is feeling better, I might try to subtitle the video using Amara or at least write them down!
(see also Fátima una momia responsable below under Stories for another song)
(see also Stories below!)
Perhaps with older, more advanced learners you could use some of the definitions from this ‘Glosario’ for a match the word to the definition. You could choose key words like Faraon, Esfinge, Obelisco, Momia, Papiro, Sarcófagos, Vasos canopos and so on.
And this vocabulary list gives you the Spanish word with the Arabic equivalent. Could provide an interesting language comparison activity.
And here’s an online hieroglyphics tool. Would be fun to write some words in hieroglyphics and ask learners to decode before they write their names. Or they could write key Egyptian vocabulary in hieroglyphics for display as well as in Spanish for a multi lingual display!
The Egyptian system of counting and adding etc was very developed and you can find out all about it here (in more detail than I think I need to know but if you like Maths…)
This site has lots of writing at the top (useful information!) but the really ‘useful’ part for learners is the chart with the Egyptian number glyphs and the puzzles underneath, both for whole numbers and also for fractions. I foresee lots of fun with setting maths problems for each other… There are a few more maths problems here.
A document explaining that Egyptian numbers are not positional so you can write the units, tens, hundreds etc in any order! Un sistema aditivo – el egipcio
And of course there are all sorts of things you can do at a very simple level such as sequencing and using geometrical shapes when making Egyptian jewellery, and making pyramids.
I found this free video story about Egypt called El pendiente de la princess: Cuento de Egipto. Sadly it doesn’t go full screen but the man telling the story speaks clearly and fairly slowly so it could be used for a true/false activity or perhaps a multiple choice activity.
However, I found two more promising possibilities!
2. This PDF (rita_ladrones) has links to useful sites (some I’d already highlighted above before I found this!) and also some activity worksheets. Whilst the middle sheet on characters in the book would be hard without reading it, the first sheet (matching words with images and writing your name in hieroglyphics) needs no knowledge of the book, and I think that the third sheet which is a sequencing activity could also be done without reading the story, and actually gives a very simple synopsis of what happens!
3.Then I discovered that there is an online version of the CD rom of activities about the book, complete with Teachers Notes (in Spanish!) There are various activities including finding synonyms and antonyms, sequencing text and a wordsearch – see below image for contents. Some activities are quite challenging for primary learners; however, a bit of challenge can be a good thing!
Fátima, una momia muy responsable
Fátima una momia muy responsable is a lovely story about an Egyptian mummy called Fátima who wants to be a tour guide and keeps scaring people! She builds up a great collection of hats and torches by doing it, but one day…
It’s a narrated version of a book that has been used in many Spanish primary schools.
Some ideas for using the story –
act out the story
talk about colours and sizes describing the hats that Fátima collected / was gifted
pretend to be Fátima and give a tour of a pyramid
one of the class blogs I discovered had a song on it about how Fátima dances which would be great fun, whatever your age! You can access the words here or here, and here is a recording of young learners singing it!
I love ‘being a magpie’ and collecting ideas, and here are some classes in Spanish primaries that have done an Egyptian topic and shared their ideas.
Mis cosillas de Educación Infantil – this link takes you to the posts for the entire project. I particularly like the concept map that they made which includes lots of important vocabulary organised systematically. I think that having a map of what is already known that is added to as time passes and more information is gathered is a great way of documenting learning and progress, especially if learners post questions that they’d like to investigate and see them answered as they explore and investigate!
E.I. 5 años Carlos Ruiz have been doing an Egyptian topic too and this is the first of a number of posts on what they have done. If look in the archive, there are further posts documenting their work throughout noviembre and diciembre 2012 including the sequencing activity referenced in the Maths section above and an interesting post giving instructions on making ‘papiros’.
La Clase de la Bruja Maruja have done a project on Egyptians too and have published some of their work as well as links on their blog. Of particular use I think are the simple worksheets they used that could easily be used in the primary language classroom. I also love the fact that they’ve been using the wonderful Woodlands site by Mandy Barrow using GoogleTranslate to put it into Spanish!
So, I hope you’ve find the above useful. I know that there are many more things that could be done; for example, I haven’t even started on the possibilities for art projects! If you have any ideas or resources, please leave a comment – it’s good to share! And even if you haven’t, leave a comment! Its good to know that people are reading!
Although I love a good book, eBooks are increasingly becoming part of my life for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that, in an educational / classroom context, an eBook projected onto a IWB / via AppleTV or Reflector app is so much easier to share than a printed text.
Los mellizos de tiempo is one of their original eBooks in the Let’s read series, aimed at older learners who can read independently. This series are bilingual parallel texts with Spanish on one page and English on the other. (Also available in French!)
“The twins’ grandfather has invented a time-travel watch. Whoosh! The twins suddenly find themselves in Ancient Egypt. But will they ever get home again?”
Having used the CDRom versions of the I can read books, I’m familiar with the double page spread with colourful illustrations. The eBook preserves this and also the ability to have the book read to you. What I like about this book is that there is a separate audio control for Spanish and English text so you can choose the language you wish to hear, unlike the I can read books that I’ve seen where both texts are on the same control. There’s an image scrubber at the bottom of the page that means you can move smoothly from beginning to end of the book or home in on a selected page. Wonderful!
As to the story, it’s quite simple and easy to follow, especially as there’s the support of the English text too. It’s short enough to be used in one go but also long enough to be read in a few ‘episodes’ to a class. I think it would be great to use in the primary classroom as it links so well with the ‘topic’ of Egyptians, or under the ‘learning journey’ of Treasure taken in Year 4 at WCPS. And that got me thinking…
In the next post I’ll be sharing some ideas about linking Spanish and the Egyptians!
I came across this website earlier when searching for something else and thought I’d share it.
TuDiscoveryKids is the website for DiscoveryKids in Latin America and features all sorts of activities in Spanish linked to some of their programmes. I thought I’d highlight a few that you might find interesting!
In this game, learners are given five tubes of paint and challenged to make the colour indicated – in the example above ‘bordo’ or burgundy. They squeeze the tubes to squirt the paint onto the palette, use the paintbrush to mix the colour and then paint the picture with the colour they mixed. Great for linking to colour blending in art.
In this game, the crane challenges you to complete words by finding the missing consonants. The letters are then hoisted into the word and the crane repeats the sound and tells you if you’re correct. Then you are asked a yes/no question about consonants and vowels before being given another challenge. Great for looking at sound/letter link.
A game for dinosaur fans – and every class has them! The dinosaurs travel from Triassic to Jurassic to Cretaceous period and you are in charge of showing the dinosaurs to their seats, checking the tickets, feeding them and making sure that they get off in the correct period. As you go, you learn what type of food the dinosaurs eat and also in which time period they belong.
This game links to your senses and asks you to choose from three objects that match a description e.g. Algo que tiene olor – something that smells or algo brillante – something shiny, and then decide which sense you would use to find out. As you play, you can learn the names of the objects from which you select, increase your knowledge of adjectives, and also consider your senses. You need to be careful as well not choose the correct sense for the adjective e.g. I had to find something ‘silencioso’ (silent) which was ‘una pluma’ (a feather), and this linked to ‘Oido’ – hearing rather than touch which you might have chosen had the adjective been ‘suave’ – soft. A fun link to science!
Each game also has links to other activities that have a link – for example, a video called Masa repugnante is suggested for this game which links to a video about an experiment to make a gooey yucky dough!
And there are also articles that would be of interest to educators and parents. This one links to the game above.
This is a very simple game that wants you to indicate the animal that makes a certain sound by clicking on the animal. This is made harder by the animals being in silhouette on what looks like a sight chart! A fun game that could be played when discussing animals as well as when thinking about how languages have similarities and differences.
Our final example is accessed via the image of a library where you click on the book you’d like to read. The book is read to you but there is a missing word in the text. In the first example, there are three images from which to choose to fill the gap; in the second you have to choose the word that has the syllables correctly ordered. A fun way of keeping attention if you are using the story with the whole class as well as a little challenge for an individual reader.
I hope you’ll investigate the site more yourself – there are many more games and activities that merit attention. Perhaps I’ll come back with a follow up post in the future to explore further!
One final (for now!) Storybird, this time a little more complex than previously. This book is about animals and from where they come. It could be used as part of a cross curricular unit (geography /Science / Spanish). Whilst making it, I found a great website called Animalandia which has information in the form of short ‘fichas’ and a paragraph about over 400 animals and great pictures too. I particularly like the Carrusel de imágenes that can be set to flick through a certain animal group or just pop up images of random animals.
I wish I’d known of this site when I wrote this post about the QCA unit El Carnaval de los Animales, but it would certainly help with the latter tasks such as writing about an animal in the first person, creating My Wildself and describing it. ¿De dónde viene el yak?onStorybird
PS I promise to get a new ‘obsession’ for November! ;O)