If you grew up (or are still growing up!) in the church, you know that youth group is a big part of the church community. It is a place where teens and pre-teens can come together, find community, have fun, and learn about God in a more relatable way. I personally remember attending several different youth groups because it was a great way to find friends outside of school. One youth group even had their facility open every day after school, and I would go and do homework or just hang out with other kids and the staff. It was a great, friendly environment, and I would always invite my friends, whether or not church was their ‘thing.’ At that age, I didn’t speak Spanish very well, so I couldn’t invite any Spanish-speaking friends to youth group with me! Hopefully, with these helpful vocab lists, you will be prepared to invite your Spanish-speaking friends to youth group in their native language.
We’ll start with some activities and people that you’ll find when you go to youth group:
Pretty straightforward, right? You can use these words to give your friends an idea of what will happen at the event. Now, you can’t predict everything will be said at youth group, but here are some phrases that you can use to invite your friend to youth group and then introduce them to the whole gang!
I hope those phrases help you get up the nerve to ask your Spanish-speaking friends to the next youth group event! Even if they can’t understand everything that happens that night, the most important thing is to make sure they feel welcome! If you have more specific phrases that you want to learn how to say in Spanish, be sure to ask your teacher in your next Spanish class! ¡Diviértete!Read More
Teaching your little ones to read and write can be hard. My son is not quite that age yet, but I did teach an English as a Second Language class to kids aged 5-8. Some of them could read and write in Spanish, some of them couldn’t. Teaching them the letters and how to sound out words in their second language, English, was quite a struggle! When you’re teaching your own children to learn to read and write, you do have the advantage of spending more time with them and knowing how your child learns best. Now, there are many theories and methods to teach kids how to read and write in English, but where would you start teaching them the same concepts in Spanish? Well, hopefully by the end of this blog you will have an idea of how to teach your child to read and write in Spanish!
Differences in English and Spanish
There is a lot of discussion on how to teach kids to read and write in English; many people favor phonetics-based learning, while others prefer sight words. When choosing your teaching method, it is important to take into consideration the type of language you want your child to read and write.
For example, English is generally not a phonetic language. There are words that can be sounded out, but the vast number of exceptions can be very frustrating for little learners when they are trying to sound out words. Take a look at the following words and how they are pronounced:
In the first group of words, the ‘ough’ has a different pronunciation in each word. Likewise, the vowel ‘a’ has a unique pronunciation in each of the three words above. Can you see how it could be hard to teach a lot of words phonetically in English? There are some rules that explain the different sounds, but they are too complex to teach to a budding reader.
On the other hand, Spanish is a very phonetic language. There are very few times when letters have more than one possible sound (the C and G, the Y, and diphthongs/triphthongs). For the most part, we can say that each letter has one sound, all the time. Once a new reader knows the sound each letter makes, it is extremely easy to sound out new words.
Know Your Learner
Like I previously mentioned, when you are choosing a method to teach your child how to read, it is important to take into consideration your child’s age and how they learn. If you are starting with a preschooler, keep in mind that they cannot handle rote memorization as well as an older student. You can look at the activities below and choose which one is best for your child’s age level. Additionally, the way your child learns is extremely important to keep in mind. Consider this quote from Cindy Gaddis:
“A right-brained reader learns to read by translating words into pictures. This is because of their highly visual nature. This high level of visualization ability is what helps a right-brained child learn to read and comprehend what they read. These readers will more likely learn to read “giraffe” before any of the Dolch words because it can be visualized…For young left-brained readers, who are part-to-whole leaners, it makes a lot of sense to discover that a c-a-t makes cat. They get excited. But quickly they convert that knowledge into sight word reading.”
There are a couple of key points here. The first is the difference between right and left-brained learners. As an adult, you probably have heard of this a lot and are able to identify what type of learner you are. For younger kids, though, it may take a bit of investigation to figure out which type of learner your child is. If you aren’t sure how your child learns best, try the two methods of teaching the words mentioned above. Give them a word that is easy to visualize and teach it using engaging pictures. Then, give them a word they can sound of and show them how the letters form the word. Whichever method your child responds to best is the way to go!
The next important thing to note is the idea of part-to-whole and whole-to-part learners. This is another way of talking about right/left-brained learners that might be easier to make sense of rather than trying to remember which side of the brain is more creative. Right-brained children are whole-to-part learners – in other words, they look at the big picture first to help decipher the small parts, or in this case the letters that make up a word. Left-brained children are part-to-whole learners who need to understand the parts to reach the whole picture. Oftentimes your child learns differently than you do, so it is helpful to understand them as much as possible to make the teaching process as smooth as possible.
Lastly, the author mentions Dolch words. You may have already heard of these, but they are the most frequent words that appear in written English. If you choose to use sight words as the way to teach your kids how to read, it would be a good idea to start with the Dolch words in English. For Spanish, we’ll look at some of the most common words a bit later on.
The Case for Sight Words
So far, we have looked at a couple of different ways of teaching kids how to read and write, each of which has its pros and cons. Always remember that each kid is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.
For kids learning to read and write in their second language, Spanish, I would highly recommend the use of phonetical sight words. Now, we already looked at how Spanish is a highly phonetical language, and it would make logical sense to teach kids to read it by sounding out the letters. However, when kids are learning to read in two separate languages, it is, in my opinion, a lot to ask of a young child to memorize the phonetics for two alphabets. While English and Spanish have comparable alphabets, some letters are pronounced very differently, which may cause students to get confused between the two languages as they’re learning to read and write.
What do I mean by phonetical sight words? Well, let’s first define what sight words are. They are words that are recognized by sight without the need to sound them out, letter-by-letter. Once you are an affluent reader, the majority of words you read are sight words, with just newer vocabulary needing to be sound out. Now, since Spanish is a phonetical language, I believe that it is important to recognize that and teach students to look for phonetical patterns in words.
How to Teach Phonetical Sight Words
Instead of teaching the alphabet all at once and expecting young children to memorize another set of sounds all at once, it is best to go letter by letter, starting with the easiest and most common letters in Spanish. I recommend using the following order to start out:
A L O S E N I T U M D P B
These first letters are easy to pronounce, have only one possible pronunciation, and are the most common letters in Spanish. Notice that the vowels are not lumped together or in alphabetical order. This is because the Spanish A, O, and E are called open vowels because your mouth is open when you say them. Vowels I and U are closed since your mouth is tighter when you pronounce them. Since open vowels are easier to pronounce, they should be taught first. Furthermore, there are consonants and vowels alternating so that the child can immediately form sight words with the letters they learn.
For example, with the first four letters, you can teach the following sight words:
A la lo sol los las ala alas ola olas sal sala sola solo oso osos
Look at how many words you can make with just four letters! You can even begin to make phrases like:
A la sala
The majority of the remaining letters to teach have more difficult pronunciations (like the R and J) or have two sounds (like the Y, C, and G). Be sure to teach the correct pronunciation using our blogs here.
Considering all of this, let’s go back to the idea of phonetical sight words. The first step is to teach individual letters and what sound they make, then use them to teach sight words. You can use the learned phonetics to help the student sound out the word, then continue with more common sight word activities.
Sight Word Activities
Alright. We’ve made a case for sight words, making sure to start with the phonetics of the individual letters. However, what’s the best way to teach sight words? Let’s look at some fun ways to help your young learner commit common Spanish words to memory. Again, remember to choose activities (or modify them) that fit your child’s learning style.
- Sand drawing
If you have a small, shallow sandbox, have your child copy the letters in the word by tracing them in the sand. They can sound out each letter as they write them, then say the word as a whole. This is a fun tactile activity for kids that learn better with hands-on activities.
- Craft recreation
There are several ways you can interpret this activity. The main idea is to do some sort of craft to form the letter of the word. You can have them form the letters with glue, tissue paper, raw noodles, popsicle sticks, etc. Whatever you have on-hand can work!
- Letter blocks
For this activity, you can use blocks, magnets, or even just paper cut-outs with letters written on them. Show your child the word and have them form it themselves while pronouncing each letter and then the whole word.
There are a lot of worksheets you can find online for this type of activity. If you are feeling ambitious, you can even make your own! Your little learner can trace the word and color a visual representation of the word. Some worksheets even have the object made out of the letters (a perro made out of the letters p-e-r-r-o). For ‘whole-to-part’ learners, this activity is great.
Check out our blog about using songs to teach preschoolers Spanish and find a song that has the Spanish sight word you are teaching your child. Play the song several times and sing along with your child. Every time the sight word is sung, hold up a card with the word written on it. This method will help them connect the word with the pronunciation.
- Practice Reading
This activity isn’t quite as hands-on, but it is a great tool to get your child reading. Take a card and write the Spanish sight word on it, and have the child sound out the word letter by letter, pointing to each one as they say them. As they get better, they will go faster and faster until the word is pronounced fluidly and stored in long-term memory!
- Scavenger Hunt
Once your learner has practiced with some sight words, write them on pieces of paper and hide them around the room. Say a word and have them search for that specific sight word. To take it a step further, you can have another piece of paper with all the sight words written down. When they find a sight word, they can match it to the same word on the paper and glue it there.
There are so many more activities you can do with sight words! I encourage you to get creative with these activities and explore some of the links. Before you get started, though, be sure to use Spanish words that are common, simple, and relatively short. Click here to find the most frequent Spanish words and here for some sample sheets of sight words for different grade levels. Remember, the idea of sight words doesn’t have to be just for preschoolers or new readers. Learning a new language and letter sounds is hard! Sight words can help kids of any age learn to read in Spanish much faster. If you need recommendations of sight words, feel free to ask your Spanish teacher in your next class! Happy reading!
A couple of years ago, a friend and I were on a stakeout. We sat in her car for hours on end, eating hotdogs and looking for clues. We found what we were looking for halfway through the second hotdog. A big brown dog was walking in the streets of the neighborhood where we were parked. My friend, Gaby, rescues stray dogs as a hobby. Her house always has at least 5 dogs running around! We were watching the dog because she had signs of having had puppies recently, and we wanted to know where she kept them so we could take the whole family to the shelter instead of just the brown dog. That way, the puppies could be with their mom.
In most Latin American countries stray dogs are a fairly common sight, but not all of them are having a bad time! In some places, there are ‘town dogs’ who have no owner in particular, but people from the town will feed them and give them shelter. In my previous neighborhood, the town dog was named Tocino, which translates to bacon! Pets have always been friends, companions, helpers… some even consider pets part of their family. Today, we’re going to learn about different pets and how to say their names in Spanish, see if you can guess which animal I’m talking about!
Pronounced pair-row, this is one of the first animals humans domesticated, and they’ve been with us for approximately 15,000 years! They come in many shapes and sizes, but the thing they have in common is that they will love you unconditionally. Still haven’t guessed? Let me give you another clue. They are also known as el mejor amigo del hombre, or ‘man’s best friend’. I’m of course talking about dogs! Some people keep dogs on a leash, una correa. To identify them, we give them collares, or collars.
Next, we have hurones, pronounced oo-rohn-ais. These slithery mammals were used for hunting back when we used horses to get around. They are playful, have small, sharp teeth and a long furry body. These are ferrets! They’re known for having qualities of both cats and dogs, but any ferret owner will tell you there’s much more to them than that. Ferrets are furry, or peludos, and have dientes filosos, sharp teeth! If you ever encounter an hurón juguetón, that means that your pet likes to play around a lot.
This one’s a freebie; iguana is pronounced the same in English and Spanish! The only difference is that instead of the ‘i’ sound, you have to say ‘ee’ instead. Iguanas are pets for people who like to sit down and chill out. The hardest part of owning an iguana, I’d say, is having to give them bichos, bugs for lunch; however iguanas eat vegetales too, like carrots and lettuce. Did you know the word ‘reptiles’ is the same in English and Spanish? The pronunciation changes, though. In Spanish, we say rep-tee-lays. With reptiles, it’s always a good idea to research before you buy, because our scaly friends have different diets and care instructions based on the species.
Mischievous, mysterious, and cuddly – these three words can be used to describe this next pet. Unlike perros, these animals domesticated themselves by helping humans get rid of rats and pests in exchange for food. This role was very important thousands of years ago because these pests carry disease that we couldn’t deal with back then. As a result, some cultures came to worship them, and I would argue that we still worship them today on the walls of the internet. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about cats! Cats eat ratas, or rats. They catch them with their sharp garras, unless they get them trimmed at the groomer. One of the cool things about gatos is that they don’t need to be potty trained! They go by themselves on their caja de arena, or litter box.
Pájaros (pah-ha-rows) have been a source of inspiration for many artists and musicians. They can be kind, energetic, uplifting, funny, and sometimes scary. Such a wide range of personalities comes from an even wider range of species to choose from. Their most distinctive characteristic is their ability to sing. Have you guessed? I’m talking about birds! These little friends are very delicate, and another species that requires research before getting one. Birds sleep in their cages, or jaulas. They have colorful plumas on their body and they can cantar beautiful songs.
El loro, pronounced loh-roh, is a specific kind of bird. You can find loros in jokes, movies, and on buccaneer shoulders. These birds are known for being able to imitate us, imitar, and are quite popular in Latinoamérica. Naturally, I’m talking about parrots! Parrots are coloridos, meaning they can sport many colors of the rainbow in their plumas.
Let’s finish with another freebie! Hamsters are also pronounced the same in English and Spanish. The only difference being the ‘ha’ at the beginning is pronounced ‘hah’. Normally, the ‘h’ is silent in Spanish, but since the word hamster was adopted from German, we say it the same in both languages. These little guys are famous for running around, squeaking and eating sunflower seeds, or semillas de girasol. They run around in their ruedas. Don’t forget to put some viruta de madera, bedding, for your hámster to sleep on!
More pet vocabulary to practice
How many pet names did you guess? Pets are as important to us as we are to them. We have created relationships with them that enable us to grow as people through cuddles. How cool is that?! Remember to always love and care for pets and other animals, and don’t forget to practice your Spanish at Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More
One of the most enjoyable aspects of learning Spanish with preschoolers is learning colors! Kids love the hands-on experience of mixing, painting, or playing coloring games. While they are happily engaged in play, you will have the added bonus of knowing they are improving their Spanish skills. The color theme is a perfect one to use to add on other themes, such as shapes and me gusta (I like) grammar phrases. You can find out more about these additional themes below. Use this handy guide for teaching colors to preschoolers to enhance your child’s Spanish-learning journey and make playtime that much more colorful!
While we are keeping this guide super simple for young learners, it’s useful for you to know some basics about colors. Firstly, you may remember that Spanish uses a grammatical gender for all nouns. Secondly, we know that when colors are acting as adjectives, they describe a noun. This means that the gender of the color will change depending on the gender of the noun. For example, el carro (the car) is masculine and so el carro morado (the purple car) uses a masculine form of the color purple. La hoja (pronounced OH-ha) is a feminine noun and so la hoja morada (the purple leaf) uses a feminine form of the color purple. Basically, every color word that ends in -o can also end in -a, depending on what it is describing. Keep this rule in mind as you teach your child, but don’t feel like you have to give an explicit lesson on it. By consistently using the colors correctly as you expand your lessons with more and more nouns, your child will likely pick up on this pattern automatically.
Now, on to our list of colors!
Colors are everywhere and there is no limit to the possible activities you can use to teach them. We have some favorite activities listed below and hope that you feel inspired to add to them with your own great ideas. What are some ways you can play with colors in Spanish?
- Flashcards – check out our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Color Flashcards (download below) and read about flashcard games here.
- Color sorting – using different mediums, such as fruit loops, nature, or toy food, have your little one sort the objects by color. Repeat the Spanish color word each time a new object is placed correctly.
- Color science and mixing – Do a double lesson on mixing primary colors and naming them in Spanish. This is especially fun using finger paints. It’s okay to use a little ‘Spanglish’ here when your child begins to shout “rojo and azul make morado!”
- Coloring book – instruct your child how to color a picture with the Spanish colors you say. As they begin to color, they repeat the word. Expand your child’s vocabulary with our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Greetings Coloring Pages.
- Color scavenger hunt – whether inside or outside, designate an area where you and your little one will explore all the colors, naming them as you go. You could also make color cards (or use our flashcards) to encourage your child to focus on one specific color at a time.
- Playdough – while learning new vocabulary to go with colors, playdough comes in handy. For example, use our shape guide below to teach colorful shapes and have your child make them out of playdough! Or, make playdough together and practice the new color words while cooking it.
- Color hop with chalk – take to the sidewalk or a patio of your house and draw big squares (or any shape, if working with shapes) of different colors. Instruct your child to jump on a specific color and say the name out loud. They get to tell you where to jump, too!
- Libro de colores (Book of Colors) – Use a packet of craft paper and look together for the colors you will be learning. Cut out the papers the same size and make a booklet. With a marker, write the appropriate Spanish color name on each page. If your child is learning to write, have them write the word underneath your example. Then, find together little one-colored objects to glue onto each color page! You can also make this booklet out of regular white paper and use colored cut-outs from craft paper to glue into the book. You can incorporate pages for many themes, including shapes and even some grammar. Label each page accordingly.
As you teach colors to your eager little learner, dive deeper to include shapes! This way you can begin to explore the gender changes that colors make when describing a noun. Remember that Spanish adjectives (in this case, colors) always come after the noun. Some examples are:
El círculo azul – the blue circle
La estrella amarilla – the yellow star
El rectángulo marrón – the brown rectangle
Here is a list of shapes you can start with:
Me Gusta (I like)
In addition to learning colors, you may want to teach your child how to express their preferences. Here is a quick list of variations of me gusta that you can use in your lessons.
¡Me gusta! – I like it!
Me gusta el color verde. – I like the color green.
Me gusta amarillo. – I like yellow.
¿Cuál es tu color favorito? – What is your favorite color?
¿Qué color te gusta más? – What color do you like the most?
Colorful Spanish Lessons
We hope you enjoy this guide to teaching colors in exciting and educative ways. Add to the fun with our colorful video lesson here! If you would like your child to practice their new color skills with a native Spanish teacher from Guatemala, sign up for an online class! The first class is free and your child is guaranteed to speak Spanish after the first lesson.Read More
Do you know the opposite of gordo in Spanish? After exploring this guide to Teaching Spanish Opposites to Preschoolers, you’ll know the answer to that (if you don’t already) and much more! Part of the excitement of teaching Spanish to your child is learning (or brushing up on) fun vocabulary like opposites. With knowledge of opposites, your child will be able to describe things in more detail and easily compare two objects or people. They will continue to develop their understanding of concrete concepts like texture, temperature, size, and more. Opposites provide one of the building blocks to success in the four major skills for language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. As determined as you may be to start learning this vocabulary right away, keep in mind that a child does not generally understand the concept of opposites before age 4. Once your little one is making connections in their native language, it’s time to introduce new words from Spanish opposites! ¡Aprendamos los opuestos!
The words in this list are all descriptive adjectives, perfect for use in conjunction with whichever nouns you are teaching your child at the moment. Do remember that Spanish is a gendered language, where the adjectives change depending on the gender of the noun they are describing. You will notice that there are also some that do not change, such as grande and joven. Any adjectives that end in -o will change their ending to -a when in relation to a feminine noun. Here are some examples:
Feminine noun and adjective: La casa pequeña (the small house), la mosca lenta (the slow fly), la bebida fría (the cold drink)
Masculine noun and adjective: El niño pequeño (the little boy), el burro lento (the slow donkey), el té frío (the cold tea)
Gender-neutral adjectives: el libro grande (the big book), la rana grande (the big frog), el horno caliente (the hot oven), la piedra caliente (the hot stone), la chica joven (the young girl), el chico joven (the young boy).
Here is a list of 24 opposite words with a pronunciation guide!
There are lots of potential activities to do with opposites! Mixing up your lessons with movement, crafts, imaginary play, and card games will keep your child fully engaged. Here is a list of great ideas that you can build upon with your own creativity:
- Flashcards are versatile essentials for teaching. Enjoy our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Opposites Flashcards (download below) as a must-have learning tool! Be sure to laminate them for durability. See what else you can do with flashcards here.
- Play “Memory Match” flashcard game: lay all flashcards face down and each player takes turns trying to make a match of opposites. The player with the most matches wins.
- Traditional Go Fish card game: Deal 5 cards to each player. You start by asking, “Do you have the opuesto of viejo (or whichever Spanish word you have)?” The other player looks for the opposite. If they have it, they give it to you and you set out your winning pair face up on the table. If they don’t have the card, they say, “Go Fish!” and you must pull another card from the deck. The winner has the most pairs!
- Space Travel imaginary play: Explain to your child that they will be going to space to find opposites. Place them on a chair in the middle of the room, let them know that the chair is a rocket ship and that they are going up into space. Count to 10 and blast off! Turn out the lights. Once your child is floating in space, give them a flashlight and show them one flashcard. Instruct them to find the opposite flashcard, hidden somewhere in the room. When they find all the opposites, they can sit back down on the chair (the rocket ship!) and head back down to Earth.
- Book of Collages: cut out magazine pictures to reflect the meaning of each new word you’re teaching and glue them down on construction paper. Gather up all the papers and make a book by stapling them three times down the left side.
- Play “I Spy the Opposite”: Start with your child saying “I spy _____” using one of the opposite words (“I spy delgado”). Then you reply, “I spy gordo!” This game is really fun and very effective if you couple it with specific movements, called TPR.
While learning opposites, you can teach your child relevant phrases and vocabulary that helps them express themselves. Here are a few useful phrases you can use with this lesson:
El opuesto – the opposite
¿Qué ves? – What do you see?
Yo veo a _______. – I see _______.
¿Qué es el opuesto de _______? – What’s the opposite of _______?
El opuesto de _______ es _______. – The opposite of _______ is _______.
Here is an example mini-lesson using the questions and answers from above, using a parent and their child:
Parent: ¿Qué ves?
Child: Yo veo a un hombre viejo. (I see an old man.)*
Parent: ¿Qué es el opuesto de viejo?
Child: El opuesto de viejo es joven.
Parent: ¡Muy bien!
First model the conversation above with your child by using a doll or puppet. Then have your child repeat after you a few times. Soon your child will begin to remember how to say the phrases. This lesson will be lots of fun with the Homeschool Spanish Academy Opposites Flashcards.
*If you are not yet working with a collection of nouns, you can substitute the noun with the word “algo,” (ahl-goh) which means “something.” Example: Yo veo algo viejo. (I see something old.)
Condition and Location
The opposites in the list refer to the condition or location of something. If you want to teach a bit more complicated lesson, you can include these phrases using estar:
- Condition (mode of being for a person or thing)
Adjectives: grande, pequeño, limpio, sucio, cerrado, abierto, lento, rápido, mojado, seco, frío, caliente, gordo, delgado, lleno, vacio, joven, viejo
¿Cómo está? – How is it?
¿Cómo está el/la _______? – How is the _______?
Está _______. (Está vacío.) – It is_______. (It is empty.)
El/La _______ está _______. (El hombre está mojado.) – The _______ is _______. (The man is wet.)
- Location (a place or situation occupied):
Adjectives: dentro, fuera, cerca, lejos, arriba, abajo
¿Dónde está? – Where is it?
¿Dónde está el/la _______? – Where is the _______?
Está _______. (Está lejos.) – It is_______. (It is far.)
El/La _______ está _______. (La mujer está arriba.) – The _______ is _______. (The woman is above.)
Learning opposites is super fun for young children. It helps them to better understand their surroundings and to describe in detail what they are experiencing. We hope you are inspired to teach Spanish opposites to your little one by taking advantage of this starter guide. If you would like to have your child practice their new vocabulary with a native speaker from Guatemala, sign up for a free online class today and they’ll start speaking Spanish immediately!Read More
Halloween is a celebration of all that’s scary. It’s one of the oldest holidays we celebrate and a personal favorite of mine! Traditionally, Mexico and Central America only celebrated Día de los Muertos on November 1st. Halloween has been celebrated to a lesser extent, and it only became a big holiday in recent years.
As the month of October creeps in, you can start to hear people talking about what their costume plans are and where they plan to show them off. Venues start scheduling themed events, costume contests with cash prizes, and spooky rock bands to entertain ghouls and ghosts all night long.
Popular Costumes in Latinoamérica
You’ve probably seen these in movies before, and there’s no going wrong when you dress as a Catrín or Catrina. On any normal day, Catrín is a word to describe someone who’s high class and elegant, but on Halloween, Catrín is the name of the traditional decorated skull costume from México. These costumes usually have the person wear a suit or a dress coupled with the makeup. If you’re in México, you can get your Catrín makeup in almost any street! It’s common for locals to go out and offer to paint your face for cheap, and they do a great job too. Don‘t worry, they also take hygiene into account.
- El Sombrerón
One of the old folk tales in Latinoamérica, El Sombrerón, is a short man with a huge hat that hides his evil intentions. Young girls beware, for he’ll perch upon your window at night and sing a hypnotizing serenade that will deprive you of sleep and hunger, ultimately leading to an untimely death. To rid yourself of El Sombrerón’s evil song, you must cut your hair short, for this will make him lose interest in you and move on to his next victim.
To dress as El Sombrerón, all you need is a Mariachi outfit with a BIG hat and a tiny guitar. Alternatively, you can dress in all white with a straw hat as well!
As the young man walks through the night, ready to go home after a night of partying, he finds the silhouette of a beautiful woman by the river, brushing her hair with a golden comb. Entranced by her beauty, he slowly approaches her. When he is close enough, the young man shrieks in fear as La Siguanaba reveals her face is actually a horse skull, and then he dies of shock as La Siguanaba devours his soul.
- La Siguanaba
If you want to dress as this character, all you need is a dress, a straight black wig, and a horse mask (you can even make a comical version of the costume using the famous internet horse mask!). It’s an easy costume that reminds young men to be loyal to their partners, for La Siguanaba hunts unfaithful men!
Words and Phrases to Celebrate Halloween
And how do you say Halloween in Spanish, you ask? That’s easy, Halloween! Just like ‘taco’ was adopted from Spanish to Egnlish, Halloween was adopted from English to Spanish. You’ll find some more common Halloween words and phrases below so you too can be ready to be scary with your Spanish speaking friends!
November 1st Is Also an Important Day in Latinoamérica!
If you’ve ever been to a graveyard you’ll know it’s not the happiest place to be in. Día de los Muertos changes that. Starting early in the morning, families visit their loved ones in the graveyard. They decorate the tombs and eat festive foods of all kinds, one of which is the famous pan de muerto, or dead man’s bread. Decorations are usually colorful and vibrant, like giant kites and sugar skulls. If you’re in México or Central America, I highly recommend you ask around about November 1st celebrations. Even though it’s mostly a family holiday, most towns make events open to everybody, and they’re usually a lot of fun.
Learning Spanish can be scary – make it fun by trying a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy and start practicing today!Read More
Hello Spanish Learners! You are working so hard on mastering Spanish by taking classes, reading our blogs, and watching our YouTube videos – way to go! To be fluent in Spanish, you will need to understand through listening and reading as well as communicate by speaking and writing. You are almost there – keep working hard and expose yourself to Spanish every day! Whether it is through music, a podcast, noticias, telenovelas, speaking a tu mejor amiga or reading a terrific book!
Speaking of books, there are so many wonderful options to begin with! You will be so incredibly proud of yourself when you complete a proper book, cover to cover, en español!
Read below for tips on finding a book in Spanish that suits your needs:
Find a Topic That Interests You
We all have finite time during the day, so you will want to choose a book that appeals to you! Similar to reading in your native language, you will be more likely to start (and finish) a book that you enjoy on a subject/topic that holds your interest.
Choose a Book that is Not Too Long
You want to accomplish the task of finishing your first Spanish book! Begin with one that is a good length and not too overwhelming. Something you can easily fit into your school, sports, and homework schedule.
Find the ‘Just Right’ Book – One That is Challenging but Not Too Difficult
Remember when you read your first book in English around 1st grade? Chances are you picked up a book, flipped to a random page, read a few words and then decided if it was too easy or too difficult. Similar to Spanish, you want to find a good balance that is challenging, but not too easy. Using the Five Finger Rule helps you do just this:
- Choose your book and read a random page
- Hold up a finger for every word you don’t know
- If you have held up 5 fingers before finishing the page then the book is too difficult.
- Likewise, if you have held up only 1 finger, the book is too easy. You want to find the ‘just right’ book which is 2-4 fingers.
Finding your ‘just right’ book will encourage you to continue on with the story, challenge you just enough, and build your confidence!!
Choose Spanish and English ‘Side-by-Side’ Text
Have you ever read a paragraph in Spanish and you’re pretty sure you grasped the meaning, but there was that one word, or phrase, that left you questioning the meaning behind all the words? This happens to the best of us when reading in a new language. One way to self-check yourself is to read the Spanish text, and then verify you are on track with the English translation. Side-by-Side bilingual books are perfect for reading in Spanish and then testing your comprehension by reading the English section.
On a side note: I would recommend these text tools for your first few books, but then move on to books in Spanish only. You don’t want to rely on the translation and inhibit your immersion into the Spanish text.
Consider the Tense
Spanish is a complicated language with many tenses. If you are a beginner, then most likely you are most familiar with present, preterite and imperfect Spanish conjugations. Choose a book with this in mind!
Here are some great books to begin with:
Books with ‘Side-by-Side’ Translation in English and Spanish
- First Spanish Reader: A Beginner’s Dual-Language Book – This book is less than 100 pages with 41 stories. Each story increases in difficulty – beginning with stories in the present tense, and building from there. The book also includes exercises in Spanish.
- Stories from Latin America/Historias de latinamérica – 16 short stories from Central and South American authors. It includes free audio downloads of four chapters from the book! Good for advanced beginners, it provides cultural insights and includes a helpful vocabulary list.
- Spanish Short Stories 1/ Cuentos hispánicos 1 and Spanish Short Stories 2/ Cuentos hispánicos 2 – Short stories from Spanish-speaking authors. Instead of translating word for word, the English translation paraphrases the Spanish portions thus translating ideas. The book is recommended for advanced beginners and beyond.
Beginner Books in Spanish
- Papelucho– The author has published 12 books in the Papelucho series that are described as humorous, interesting and creative. The book speaks about everyday life in the present tense.
- Manolito gafotas/Manolito Four-Eyes – Follow 10-year-old Manolito as he navigates life in Madrid. This is a children’s classic in Spain and other parts of Europe and has inspired films and a TV series.
- Las tres reinas magas – This book is a modern twist on Los Reyes Magos (The three Kings- Spanish Christmas Story). The queens are holding down the castle as the Kings are away at war.
- Muerte en Buenos Aires -Spanish novels for beginners. There are many in the series by this author and they are simple to understand with fun and interesting detective plots.
Get started today
There are so many books out there. Comment below and let us know which one is your favorite! Also, enjoy a free class on us and ¡empieza a mejorar tu español ya!
Teaching Greetings to Preschoolers
Teaching Spanish to very young learners can seem like a challenge at first. Where do you start? How do you engage your child or student? Luckily, there are plenty of activities, games, and songs that we can use to help our little ones achieve Spanish fluency. By starting with a simple theme like greetings, you can introduce new words and pronunciations while you play and have fun! With our quick guide to Teaching Greetings to Preschoolers, you will be teaching and speaking Spanish with your little one in no time. ¡Aprendamos a saludar!
(For a more detailed lesson on Spanish greetings, check this out.)
Greetings are an essential part of language learning. They are necessary for participating in a community and interacting politely with one another. For many of us, greetings were some of our very first words in our native language. Likewise, they are the first thing we learn in a foreign language. Here is a list of the most common and useful Spanish greetings for preschoolers.
It’s great to have a list of new words and phrases, but what to do with them? That’s where the activities come in! By using vocabulary lists in a meaningful and fun way, your child will be much more motivated to learn and retain new information.
Flashcards make an excellent visual tool for teaching new vocabulary. They help your young learner associate the pictures with the words and to understand better the meaning. They can also imitate the movements or ideas present in the pictures. Our colorful Greetings for Preschoolers Flashcards include all of the greetings in this guide. In order to print them as flashcards, click Print and go to Settings. Under Pages Per Sheet, choose 4 and for Scale, choose “Default”. When you print, it will give you four flashcards to each printed sheet that you can cut out and use right away. (Print -> Settings -> Pages Per Sheet: 4 -> Scale: Default) What can you do with flashcards?
- Sequencing: After exploring the meaning of the new words and phrases, you and your child can lay out all the cards on a table or the floor in the sequence that they might occur. Which comes first? Good morning or good night? Hello or good-bye? Allow your child to create sequences on their own to ensure they understand
- GoFish with rods and magnets: This activity requires small magnets and a rod or stick, but it is well worth it! Put a magnet on each flashcard and lay it down on the floor. Make a fishing rod out of a stick and string, tying a magnet to the end of the string. Have your child search for the words and phrases you say while they try to fish them out. This is guaranteed tons of fun!
- Total Physical Response (TPR): Create a specific movement for each of the 12 flashcards and use this every single time you practice it with your child. They will begin to associate the movement with the sounds of the words and the meaning will become even more clear to them through practice and repetition. Read more about TPR and other strategies for teaching Spanish to your child.
Combine motor skills with memory and give your child our exclusive Greetings for Preschoolers Coloring Pages. Each page uses the same vocabulary found in the flashcards that you can use for practicing and studying! Repeat each word and phrase while your little one has fun coloring. You can also focus on a few words a week, have your child color the pages, and then hang them in a place they will see frequently.
Model imaginary play for your child by getting out your Spanish puppet or other toys. Set them up in a conversation and show how they interact using the new words and phrases. Here is an example conversation the puppets could have using the list of greetings:
Puppet 1: Hola, ¿cómo te llamas?
Puppet 2: Hola, me llamo Pedro.
Puppet 1: Mucho gusto, Pedro. Me llamo María.
Puppet 2: ¡Mucho gusto, Maria!
The conversation should start out simple and easy, then you can build in new phrases later. After you show your child how the puppets talk, get them involved! One puppet can talk to your child or you can hand over one of the puppets for your child to use.
Reading books in Spanish is an effective and exciting way to teach your child new words and to reinforce vocabulary that is being learned. Check out our list of Spanish books designed for preschool learners. For books specifically about greetings, try out one of these:
- Hello Night / Hola Noche by Amy Costales
- Buenas Noches, Luna by Margaret Wise Brown
- How Are You? / ¿Cómo estás? By Angela Dominguez
Singing is not only fun, but an extremely powerful tool to help your child memorize new words and phrases. There are plenty of fun and educational songs for kids to choose from in Spanish. While we’re focusing solely on greetings in the guide, you might enjoy these:
Greetings Are Great
We hope that with access to this great guide, you and your child will have lots of fun while practicing Spanish. If you are interested in learning with a native Spanish teacher for free, sign up for an online class with Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More
Television often gets a bad rap in the realm of childhood development, but did you know that it can actually provide some benefit for your child learning a foreign language? For Spanish language learners, the regular (if not daily!) auditory experience of the target language is recommended in order to have the strongest impact. Television – in the right context – can help us achieve listening goals in Spanish and improve fluency. Additionally, by exploring what educational television has to offer, we can find what inspires and ignites in our child the curiosity to learn more! Let’s take a look at a few of the best educational TV shows in Spanish for kids. ¡Miremos tele!
- El Show de Perico (3-12 years)
This funny children’s show originates from Colombia. It mimics the style of a talk show, using its host, Perico, to interview a guest in each episode. Accompanying Perico are his friends, an egg who is afraid to crack his shell and an easily-offended tapir named Amanda. Together they discuss many topics, ranging from emotional awareness to the environment, as well as giving instruction on phonetics and spelling. At the beginning of each episode, the guest generally presents a problem to the young viewers. Perico and his friends try to find a solution throughout the course of the episode. You can find plenty of episodes for this show on YouTube.
- Migrópolis (3-9 years)
A moving mini-series based on real-life interviews; this show aims to educate even its smallest viewers on what it’s like to be an immigrant child living in another country. The scenes are animated with animal characters using the recorded children’s voices who talk candidly about their feelings toward moving to such a drastically different place. The program takes us all over the world to meet Spanish-speaking children whose stories will fill you with joy, curiosity, and sometimes even a bit of sadness. The colorful cartoon will keep the youngest viewers super engaged while the somewhat older children (5+ years) will be inspired by what they hear. Complete episodes of the first season are on YouTube.
- Érase una vez: el cuerpo humano (6-12 years)
“Once Upon a Time: The Human Body” is a series of Spanish animated television programs that tell colorful stories about the human body and how it works. Fun and unique characters describe detailed biological functions in simple terms and analogies that children can understand. All of the body parts and functions explored in the series appear as a real person. For example, the brain is a bearded old man whose name is Maestro (Master), neurotransmitters are little blue delivery guys who are always in a hurry, and any pathogens (bacteria and viruses) act as big and little bullies. It’s an excellent way to introduce the concept of a “society within the body” and to learn biology in Spanish! You can watch full episodes on YouTube.
Bilingual Educational TV Shows
In addition to these authentic Spanish shows, you can also include the English cartoons that your child knows and loves. If you use Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any other media-service provider, you can switch the language to Spanish and let your young one watch all of their favorite episodes. If you are looking for new material, try one of these educational programs:
- Creative Galaxy
- Peg + Cat
- Doc McStuffins
- Sid the Science Kid
Favorable Screen Time
Not all screen time is bad! With this list of educational TV programs in Spanish, you are equipped to help your child gain more experience listening to native speakers in interesting situations. If you’d like to give your child the gift of an interactive lesson with a native speaker, sign up for a free online class at Homeschool Spanish Academy. Your child will be speaking Spanish in the first class. What’s more, they will have someone to ask about the fun new shows they’re watching in Spanish!Read More
Splash, thud, vroom, zap! What is going on in here!? It sounds like a bunch of superheroes are starting to battle it out at a pool party. Herein lies the wonder of onomatopoeia, or words that imitate a particular sound. Now, read those four words at the beginning one more time. What images do you see when you read them? These words have the ability to evoke an image or sensation in your mind, rendering the communication that much more effective. When we are young, we learn many of these words casually through socializing and watching movies or cartoons. For parents who are teaching Spanish to their preschoolers, be sure to include a rich variety of books and sounds! As a Spanish learner, using onomatopoeia will enhance the creativity of your speech and writing. Your understanding will improve now that you know even more useful vocabulary. What’s more, you can better convey your personality and strengthen the impact of your descriptions of people, things, and their actions. Since onomatopoeia is a word form of a sound, it is a word form of movement. As such, we have three categories of things that move and make noise while doing it: people, animals, and objects. These movements can express themselves as sound effects or they can function as verbs, which is a distinction we will explore below. Let’s check out the most popular and useful Spanish onomatopoeia for you to start using right away. ¡Zas!
Onomatopoeia as Sound Effects
If you are familiar with comic books or cartoons, you are no stranger to the value of sound effects. What would Batman have been without his staple ‘boom!’, ‘whack!’ and ‘pow!’ is a question we will never have to ask. The words we use to portray sound can enliven and enrich the scenes of a storyline and, if used correctly, it will do the same for your conversations! The following sound effects are divided into the three categories mentioned previously: people, animals, and objects. You will notice that some are similar or identical to English and that others can be used by any of the three categories.
Onomatopoeia as Verbs
In our native language, we are very likely to use onomatopoeia verb-forms, especially when we are trying to paint a picture with descriptive words. There is a big difference between “the dog made a mean sound” and “the dog growled.” In the latter example, you can practically hear the dog’s aggression and probably even picture him baring his teeth. Again, the power of onomatopoeia is all about creating images and sensations in the listener’s mind. Keep in mind that all three categories mentioned above – people, animals, and objects – can make use of these verbs. Here is a list of common onomatopoeia verbs that are useful when describing in detail the noise that something makes:
Practice Makes Perfect
By practicing these fun and useful onomatopoeia, you will improve your Spanish and boost the quality of your conversations! Try them out next time you have to write a descriptive essay in Spanish or plan to teach someone some entertaining vocabulary. Would you like someone to practice with? Check out our free online class that guarantees you’ll be speaking Spanish before it ends!