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Continuing on the theme of colours, the next story I decided to share with the children is all about Elmer the elephant.
In the book, we meet Elmer and his multiple colours, and then discover things that are that colour like snow, an ice lolly and fruit.

Here it is:

Since recording it, I’ve discovered the video below which takes the book towards the story of Elmer in which he wants to be the same as everyone else to fit in. [You can find that story here.] They each colour in a picture of Elmer and explore the idea of being the same but different

Then I found this song that is really lovely and worth sharing with children as it speaks about the value of diversity.

The lyrics are:

De mil colores es su piel
se llama Elmer y es genial
un elefante quiere ser
de igual color que los demás. (2 veces)

Para ser feliz no hay que ser igual
para sonreír no hay que ser igual
para divertir no hay que ser igual
porque el color no importará. (2 veces)

(Elmer, el elefante de colores – Canción del cuento de David McKee
Autor: Juan Rafael Muñoz Muñoz
Arreglo: Luis Miguel González)

I also like this version of the songs with pictograms to aid understanding.
If you’d like another version of the story I shared, here’s a little child reading it. Very different style to me – far cuter! And I also found a couple of activities here that you could do related to the story.

As we continue with ‘lockdown learning,’ I’ve made another video for my pupils. This week, I move away from chocolate and rhymes and ask the question ¿De qué color es Elmo?

Years ago on a trip to Spain, I found some Barrio Sésamo books in a random shop and two have become permanent favourites. Unfortunately ¿Qué oye Epi? disappeared many years ago but I still have one of them which is great for practising colours and the question ¿De qué color es?

In my video we meet Epi and Blas, and discover other members of the Barrio Sésamo gang who aren’t the same colour as Elmo in the story. Here it is.

There are lots of Barrio Sésamo videos that you might like to use in the classroom. I particularly like this one in which Elmo and Abby learn with Rosita how to sing ‘Si estás feliz…’

In case you wanted the words:

Si estás feliz, tú puedes aplaudir. (If you’re happy, you can clap)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes aplaudir.
Si en verdad estás contento, tu sonrisa es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your smile is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes aplaudir.

Si estás feliz, golpear con los pies. ((If you’re happy, stamp your feet)
Si estás feliz, golpear con los pies.
Si en verdad estás contento, a tu rostro es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your face is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, golpear con los pies.

Si estás feliz, tú puedes gritar ‘¡Hurra!’ (If you’re happy, you can shout Hurray!)
Si estás muy feliz, tú puedes gritar ‘¡Hurra!’
Si en verdad estás contento, tu sonrisa es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your smile is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes gritar ‘¡Hurra!’

Si estás feliz, tú puedes aletear. (If you’re happy, you can flap)
Si estás muy feliz, tú puedes aletear.
Si en verdad estás contento, a tu rostro es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your face is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes aletear.

Si estás feliz, tú puedes hacer todo. (If you’re happy, you can do it all)
Si estás muy feliz, tú puedes hacer todo.
Si en verdad estás contento, tu sonrisa es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your smile is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes hacer todo.




¡1,2,3 chocolate!

Following on from my post last week, here’s another rhyme all about chocolate that I’ve recorded for my pupils. It involves counting and syllables, and a bit of cultural knowledge.

The rhyme goes like this:

un molinillo

Uno dos tres CHO

Uno dos tres CO

Uno dos tres LA

Uno dos tres TE

Bate, bate, chocolate

Bate, bate, chocolate

Actions – count on your fingers for the first 4 lines then rub hands together to mix the hot chocolate with the molinillo. I like this rhyme as it’s simple, has actions and promotes cross curricular and cultural links about chocolate originating as a drink in South America and being brought over to Europe by explorers.

Here’s the video.

And here’s a clip of someone making chocolate caliente – Mexican style.

Next time, I promise the rhyme won’t be about chocolate!

¡Choco choco la te!

Like many of you, I’ve been trying to keep my Spanish ‘teaching’ going in this time of lockdown and no ‘school school’ by providing activities for them to do at ‘home school’.

Today I was making a ‘hello’ message for one of the schools at which I teach and decided to add a little Spanish activity to it. And then thought I’d share it with the children at my other school. And then thought I’d share it with you in case you think it’s useful.

I’m sure many of you will know the chocolate rhyme; indeed, I’ve mentioned it here before in posts about clapping rhymes (see below). I love the way that you can use other words as well. Mariposa was taught to me by the children at CEP Antonio de Ulloa in Cartagena which led me to think of elefante and caramelo. I’m sure, with more than a couple of minute’s thought I could think of more words too!

Here’s the video! Enjoy!

Here’s the video. Enjoy!

Here are other posts about chocolate, sweets and clapping rhymes:

¡Chocolate!

Some Spanish clapping rhymes

Sweet inspiration

ISBN 978-2-09-255390-9

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!

The latest edition of Teach Primary magazine.

The latest edition of Teach Primary magazine has been out for a couple of weeks and features a MFL focus section between pages 140 – 153. There’s an article about the relevance of language learning in Brexit-era Britain, another on a language awareness model of Primary language learning and one from Clare Seccombe on Putting Pen to Paper (writing) in the primary languages classroom as well as a couple of pages of ‘Partner Content’ from Primary Languages Network and Language Angels about why you should use their schemes. Oh, and as you can see above, there’s also an article by me about storytelling! It’s on purple paper (my favourite colour) and I even got a ‘trail’ on the front page!) You can read it above.

I’m going to have to take out a subscription as I have to keep begging copies from friends, and don’t know I’ve been published until someone congratulates me.

My previous content in TeachPrimary:

Just before we broke up for the summer, I asked the 2019 Language Leaders* team at my school for their thoughts on language learning. To help them, I posed some questions. I’ve already shared this on the school website but thought others might be interested in their responses.

Why did you volunteer to be a Language Leader?

I volunteered to be a Language Leader because I love learning languages; when I go on holiday I like showing off how I know how to speak the language. (RM)

I wanted to find out more about languages as they’re fun. (PS)

I volunteered as a Language Leader because I like learning how other people communicate. (AT)

I wanted to represent the school. (IH)

I thought it would be fun! (JS/SLG)

I volunteered because languages make me happy. (RS)

I wanted to explore the different languages and how to speak them (JJ)

I volunteered because I like to learn languages (AK)

I volunteered because I wanted to try something new (LD)

What do you like about languages?

I like speaking languages – it makes me feel proud! (GG)

It makes countries different (LD)

I like how other people talk and I don’t understand them. (AT)

I like that if you learn a language, you can communicate and understand people that speak other languages. (LE)

I like the sounds you make and how you spell words in other languages (JJ)

I like that different countries have different ways of communicating. (RM)

When I speak languages it makes me feel….. (RS)

It’s fun to learn! (IH/NH)

I like that everyone’s language is unique (PS)

I find them interesting, (JS/SLG)

When you go on holiday you can speak that language. (AK)

What do you find hard? What do you do when it’s hard?

When it’s hard, I practice what to say and find someone who already speaks that language to help. (JJ)

When it’s hard I just practice! (IH)

I find remembering the language hard. (LE)

Phonics and pronunciation can be tricky! (LD)

I sometimes find pronouncing words hard but I don’t give up as I have an open mindset. (GG)

When I find it hard I do some chants to help me remember (PS)

Sometimes I find writing hard so I ask for help. (SLG)

As a Language Leader I find it hard to choose the award winners! (AK)

I found writing my application letter for Language Leader hard! (NH)

Do you know any languages other than English? How did you learn them?

I know Arabic, Urdu Spanish and a bit of French! (IH)

I know Punjabi and Spanish – Punjabi from home and Spanish from school. (GG)

I know Hindi as my family speak it at home but I sometimes feel embarrassed speaking it in front of my friends. (RM)

I know how to introduce myself in French. (AT)

I know some Italian as we go on holiday there (LD)

My parents speak Tamil and I listen to them (JJ)

I know Urdu because I speak it at home (RS)

I know some Italian as my grandma was born in Italy (AK)

Do you enjoy learning Spanish?

A resounding yes!

I love Spanish – especially with Señora Stevens! I like that it has masculine and feminine! (RM)

I enjoy Spanish because my family go on holiday to Spain some years. (AT)

I like Spanish; I like how you have masculine and feminine and can explore how to decide which gender nouns have. (JJ)

I find learning Spanish with the great Señora Stevens really fun and interesting. (PS)

What would make language learning even better for you?

I could practice harder! (IH)

I’d like to learn some useful questions for the future; for example, how to ask for a cupcake in Italian. (AT)

I’d like to learn another language! (JS)

To do more mindmaps and diagrams to help me remember words (SLG)

I’d like to learn more languages and the differences between them. (LE)

Comparing more languages – for example hello is Vanakam in Tamil and Hola in Spanish (JJ)

I’d like to learn some gymnastics words as I love gymnastics (AK)

I think visiting the country would be a great idea! (LD)

If once a week we could read a story in a different language in assembly (PS)

I love the honesty of the answers they gave (I did tell them that I would be sharing their responses!) Having read their ideas, I’ve bought some new books and asked for more assemblies (I already do more than my share!), and will be experimenting with new ways of learning and recording vocabulary.

*Language Leaders at my school support and promote language learning of all sorts. Children write a letter of application and then the previous year’s team help me to choose. It’s normally a child per class but this year we went for a team across LKS2 and UKS2, predominantly formed of Y4 and 5s. The original team (four years ago) wrote their own “job description” which I’ve added for some context.

Books from Italy

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I didn’t buy any of these but I was sorely tempted!

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.

ISBN 978-88-6189-548-5

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.

ISBN 978-88-8362-353-0

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 )

ISBN 978-88-04-70392-1
The blurb on the back

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 like the ‘playing with words’ style of this poem about tomatoes. Seemingly simple but very clever!
And this one about milk. I like the opening verses using similes and the last verse talking about making butter, cream and cheese, but it still being milk.

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.

For example, I discovered that the word in Danish for an hour is timer. I liked that!

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.

My new 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.

Wishing I’d bought this one now though – I do love the Moomins – but books are so expensive!
PS I found a resource on TPT that is advertised with this screenshot – very interesting to compare the three languages.

Have you seen the latest issue of Teach Primary? If you have you might have noticed that I’ve been writing again.
This month I’ve provided a lesson plan and resources that link languages (in my case Spanish) with the music of Saint Saëns and specifically the Carnival of the Animals.

For those that have been in primary language teaching for a fair few years might recognise that this lesson is inspired by the QCA Scheme of Work which I used as my starting point before adding my own ideas and twists.

If you don’t have a subscription to the magazine, you can download the lesson and resources for free from Teachwire here
I’ve added the lesson plan below.

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