How’s the weather today where you live? I bet you have an opinion or two about how much you like or dislike the current climate in your area. In our lesson about the weather, you will involve your child in talking about the conditions outside. Teaching your little one to describe the weather and make observations about weather patterns is one of their first introductions to science. Combining Spanish with the basics of scientific observation about weather creates plenty of exciting lessons! ¿Qué tiempo hace hoy?
When discussing the weather in Spanish, there are three main ways to describe it using appropriate verbs:
- What the weather does (hacer)
- What the weather is (estar)
- What weather “there is” (haber/hay)
Download our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Spanish Weather Words flashcards here:
Download Weather Words for Preschool
What the weather does (hacer)…
How the weather is (estar)…
What weather is there?
More Important Vocabulary
The Four Seasons
There are many fantastic weather activities that you and your child can enjoy during your Spanish lessons! Here are some ideas:
Wind Art: gather up a piece of paper, a straw, some paint, and newspaper or something else to protect your surface from paint spills. Squeeze a pile of paint in the middle of the paper and have your child blow it around using the straw while they pretend to be a light breeze or a strong wind. Words of advice: tell your child not to suck in or to touch the straw to the paint.
Read Lluvia (Haga El Tiempo Que Haga) by Carol Thompson and explore wind, snow, rain, and sunny weather with the five senses.
Read El Día Ventoso by Tracey Stanley and use a portable handheld fan to blow things around like the wind in the book. Things you can set up to let your child blow around: craft feathers, dry leaves, cotton balls, ribbons, thin craft paper, etc.
Make Snow Playdoh: You will need a bowl, spoon, cookie cutters, a rolling pin, and any other playdoh accessories you want to include. The recipe needs 2 cups of cornstarch, 1 ¼ cup unscented white hand lotion, and 2-3 drops of peppermint extract. Let your child measure the ingredients and mix them all together in a bowl. A soft and pliable snowball will begin to form. Use the snowball to extend the lesson with cookie cutters, legos, or other toys for imprinting.
Palo de Lluvia (Rainstick): Create the sound of falling rain with a palo de lluvia! For full instructions on how to design this craft, click here.
Make Weather Mobiles: Get your child’s hands busy with crafts that last throughout your weather lesson. Make individual mobiles of weather conditions and nouns, such as rainbow, clouds with rain, and bright sun. Check out these fun instructions!
Wonderful World of Weather
We hope this guide helps you to bring the weather to life for you and your child in your Spanish preschool lessons. Inspire your little one to talk about the weather with a native Spanish speaker in a free online class. Have them ask the teacher about the weather in Guatemala!
Learning about animals is a very exciting time for your preschooler. Suddenly, the world opens up with fascinating creatures who live in magical places like the jungle or forest. While teaching Spanish to your young learner, you most likely already plan to teach them about animals, but it’s a great opportunity to talk about habitat, too! In our Spanish Animals guide, you can explore sets of animal vocabulary as you introduce five different hábitats: farm, jungle, forest, ocean, and home.
Our master list features 31 different animals with a pronunciation guide. You may choose to teach them all at once or divide them by their habitat and expand your child’s context of understanding. Sharing the sounds that animals make is also super fun, which you can find in this article about Spanish onomatopoeia.
Download our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Animals Flashcards to use for your lessons and activities below!
Download Spanish Animals for Preschool
Introducing the idea of different habitats for specific groups of animals will facilitate your child’s ability to mentally organize and memorize new vocabulary. The 5 main habitats for this animal guide are:
1. La granja (farm)
2. La selva (jungle)
3. El bosque (woods/forest)
4. El océano (ocean)
5. La casa (house)
What can you do to teach the habitats for each animal set?
Sorting is an essential activity for preschoolers. It is a pre-math skill that allows children to make sense of their world through organization. While teaching your child where the animals live, you can use our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Animal Sorts to inspire hands-on sorting. Laminate the pages for durability, then cut out the individual animals. Lay out the habitat pages and figure out together where each animal lives!
This simple question and answer game “Where does it live?” in Spanish will teach the question word ¿Dónde? and how to use the 3rd person singular* conjugation of vivir:
Parent: ¿Dónde vive el elefante? (Where does the elephant live?)
Child: El elefante vive en la selva. (The elephant lives in the jungle)
Parent: ¿Dónde vive el gato? (Where does the cat live?)
Child: El gato vive en la casa. (The cat lives in the house)
*You can extend this lesson to include plurals by asking, “¿Dónde viven los elefantes?” (Los elefantes viven en la selva.)
Get creative with lots of hands-on crafts, animal-related Spanish stories, and visits to see real animals! You can incorporate many other skills into your child’s Spanish animal lessons, such as math, reading, and grammar. Expand their lesson with additional themes like opposite words and color awareness.
- Read the books Cositas del Monito by Rebecca Bielawski, ¿Dónde quieres vivir? by Arnhilda Badia, Vamos al Zoológico by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza, and Selvas by Richard C. Vogt
- Make Paper Plate Animal Masks – using paper plates, paints, and other materials listed here, make animal masks and role-play how these animals act.
- Make Paper Bag Animal Puppets – use rectangular brown paper bags that you turn upside down to create animal puppets who interact with each other. Find craft templates here.
- Shadow Drawings – you will need to buy small to large animal figurines for this activity. Using sunlight or a lamp, position one animal figurine on a piece of white paper so that its shadow is cast over most of the paper. Have your little one trace the shadow and finish drawing the animal as they see it.
- Farm or Zoo visit! Take a road trip to a nearby farm or petting zoo. Ask your child, “¿Qué tipo de animal es esto?” (What kind of animal is this?) as they reply, “Es una oveja” or “Es una vaca.”
- Play Charades – Using the Animal Flashcards, have your child pick a card and then act out what the animal does. Your child can ask you, “Qué tipo de animal soy yo?” (What kind of animal am I?) and you say, “Eres un pájaro!” (You’re a bird!)
Adventures with Animals
By using this animal guide, you now have plenty of fun and exciting ideas for teaching your little one about animals in Spanish. As we always say – sign up for a free online class so your child can practice their new skills with a native Spanish speaker! They can talk about which kinds of animals live in Guatemala, where the teacher lives.
Brrrr! The temperatures are freezing and heavy snowfall has convinced your family to stay indoors (until it’s time to make a snowman, of course). Christmas songs and hot chocolate breaks have made their way into your daily routine. Invierno (winter) is here and in full swing. Looks like it’s time to start learning some Spanish winter words! With the flurry of excitement that your preschooler feels for the holidays, you can channel it into activities and lessons that teach enjoyable nouns, verbs, and useful phrases. ¡Disfrutemos el invierno!
This versatile theme gives you the perfect excuse to teach different categories of words, such as singular and plural nouns as well as verbs and verb phrases. Here is our list of the most common and useful winter words in Spanish with a helpful pronunciation guide:
An excellent way to help your little one learn new words is by using them in a story. When the words come to life in a creative way, it builds context and memorable associations that enhance your child’s ability to retain new vocabulary. Implementing any number of reading strategies or activities to accompany your story will increase the effectiveness and add lots of extra fun.
Flashcards are the simplest way to teach new vocabulary. Enjoy our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Winter Theme Flashcards as a must-have learning tool! Be sure to laminate them for durability. See what else you can do with flashcards here.
Download Winter Words Flashcards
Extended Lesson Ideas
By using Winter as your central theme, you can build on it with endless sub-topics to include grammar instruction and practice of previously learned skills. Examples, such as single and plural nouns, the gender of nouns, new verbs and how to conjugate them, and question words like ¿dónde? and ¿cuántos? can easily be incorporated into this theme. For extra practice of previous lessons, add some color activities, counting games, and use opposite words to describe your new collection of wonderful wintry words.
Here are some examples that you can continue to enhance with your own ideas:
El suéter azul – the blue sweater
El gorro verde – the green hat
¿Qué color es el trineo? – What color is the sled?
El trineo es rojo. – The sled is red.
Una manopla – one mitten
Cuatro renos – four reindeer
¿Cuántos guantes tienes? – how many gloves do you have?
Tengo dos guantes. – I have two gloves.
Las botas secas / las botas mojadas – dry boots / wet boots
Chocolate caliente / chocolate frio – hot chocolate / cold chocolate
El muñeco de nieve delgado / el muñeco de nieve gordo – skinny snowman / fat snowman
¿Dónde está el árbol de navidad? – Where is the Christmas tree?
El árbol de navidad está cerca. / El árbol de navidad está lejos. – The Christmas tree is nearby / The Christmas tree is far away.
More Examples to Consider:
Wonder of Winter
Take advantage of the heightened spirits and joyous mood that the holidays bring and teach your child useful winter words in Spanish. We hope that with this guide, you will be able to enjoy the cold weather even more and expand your Spanish lessons with plenty of other fun activities and creative plans for instruction. If you would like to encourage your child to speak with a native Spanish teacher from Guatemala, sign up for a free online class with us! Your child is guaranteed to speak Spanish after the first class!Read More
Having a bilingual child doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work doubly hard to achieve reading and writing goals. It simply means you have to be strategic about it! In many cases, it is natural for literacy skills to increase momentarily in the dominant language and falter in the other one. The ebbs and flows of fluency and literacy in each language are often a sign of progress, but it requires close monitoring by the parent. An unfortunate truth is that, without strategic biliteracy education, a child may not acquire sufficient skill to become biliterate, or capable of reading and writing in two languages. According to Liz Armstrong, a bilingual literacy intervention specialist, “when a language is learned in the absence of strong reading and writing instruction, there is a danger of bi-illiteracy or bilingualism without biliteracy.” If you are interested in guiding your child’s biliteracy toward balance, supporting their learning journey, and enhancing their reading skills, then you’ve come to the right place.
Advantages of Biliteracy
Bilinguals are not only able to communicate with more people in more ways, they actually have a higher cognitive capacity. Research studies at Texas A&M University show that bilinguals consistently outperform their monolingual peers on cognitive tasks, which include attention, memory, and organizing and processing information. By encouraging your child to learn to read in both English and Spanish, you will be significantly enhancing their verbal and non-verbal abilities. Who wouldn’t want that? The following strategies will help you support your child’s bilingual reading skills in various ways through print immersion and phonemic awareness. We also include a list of practical ways that you can implement these reading strategies at home. ¡Aprendamos a leer en inglés y español!
Your child’s literacy skills benefit greatly from being surrounded by a language-rich environment. Print immersion is the experience of having reading material at one’s fingertips at all times. This includes books, magazines, and newspapers, as well as anchor charts, word walls, posters, word games, and more. Take your child to a local library and have them look for books they like in both English and Spanish. Include books specific to your child’s interests so they feel motivated to “read” through it on their own. Encourage the frequent use of all reading materials, incorporate them into the daily routine, and model for your child a high level of interest in them. As an added bonus, set up a special place as a reading corner in your home, where it’s comfortable, calm, and relaxing to spend plenty of time perusing print.
Without getting too heavy into reading theory, it is important to understand the basics of phonemic awareness so that you can nurture these skills with your child. Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize the individual sounds (phonemes) in a spoken word. For example, the word “bat” divides into three phonemes: /b/ /a/ /t/ and the word gato divides into four /g/ /a/ /t/ /o/. Your child’s ability to recognize the phonemes (not identify their names, but simply recognize their existence) is a crucial first step before reading can begin. Favor daily games and activities that include listening, rhyming, and playing with syllables to promote phonemic awareness.
A Practical Guide for Both Languages
Now, we are ready to start using some practical reading strategies for English and Spanish speakers. The methods within this list are not only effective, they are fun!
Teach sounds before letter names
While the alphabet is necessary to learn, it’s not essential at first. In order to strengthen your child’s phonemic awareness, start with letter sounds not names. You can teach it A-Z or start with vowels first and move to consonants.
Use air writing
To help build long-term memory of letters, get the muscles involved! Have your child write the letter in the air with their hands, fingers, a stick or other elongated toy. Start with letters and build up to words.
Create images to match letters and sounds
Combining letters, sounds, and pictures helps form the associative link between objects and sounds. For example, while teaching the letter “S”, you draw a sun (sun, sol) and while teaching “T” you draw a turtle (turtle, tortuga). You can either teach the sounds for Spanish and English entirely separately or you can mix them.
Identify the vowel
Let your child teach
Choose a favorite book your child has and tell them that they need to help you read. Make a mistake while you read and see if your child catches it. When they do, ask them to help you make it right!
Write out a list of 5-10 (or 15 if your child has the attention for it!) words and put them in a hat (or box). Take turns with your child pulling out a word and acting it out. This is basically charades with the added benefit that your child is reading the words on their own. Words like hop, hit, tap, ver, hola, gato, carro, etc.
Play counting games with the syllables of words you’re learning. Sing the words and clap each syllable, move your body to each syllable (jump, turn, wiggle, etc.), or use an instrument to make noise for each syllable. You can focus on isolating the first syllable when you introduce the activity and then build up to finding all the syllables.
Rhyming word sorts
A word sort is a way to categorize words based on their similarities. This requires a set of words printed on small cards.
“Switch It” Spelling Activity
This activity requires a set of letters printed on small cards. Ask your child to spell a short word, like “cat” then switch out the correct letters for “cut”. Then, again, switch out the letters to make “hut,” add a letter to make “shut” and so on. For Spanish, you will focus more on syllables than on individual letters (see Spanish reading strategy below). For example, start with “do”, add letters to make “dedo”, remove letters to make, “do” again and switch it to “no”, then add letters to make “pino”, add more letters to make “pepino” and so on.
“Build It” Spelling Activity
This activity requires a set of letters in any form: printed on cards, as magnets, wooden letters, etc. Help your child to spell out words by sounding out the phonemes one by one. For pre-readers, you can lay out a small selection of letters to choose from so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Give them a chance to find the letters that match the sound of the word. When they become familiar with this activity, you can introduce images instead of saying the word. For example, the child picks the picture of a dog and says, “dog” while they sound it out and look for the letters to spell it.
Spanish Reading Strategy
A common reading strategy in Spanish instruction involves learning first to read syllables. This method starts with vowel sounds and then adds single consonants before moving into more complex sounds (like diphthongs and triphthongs). Since Spanish is a phonetic language, this method makes learning to read in Spanish much faster and more effective. An example of this is as follows:
After mastering the vowel sounds, you present a single consonant: b. You teach the child the combinations of ba, be, bi, bo, bu. Have your child write them, trace them in a loose medium (sand, dirt, flour), and even make songs with them. You can create (real or imaginary) words together and also treasure hunt for these syllables in words you find in books and other print.
English Reading Strategy
Unlike Spanish, English is not a phonetic language. This means that not every word can actually be read based on the sounds we memorize as we learn to read. Cue the entrance of sight words! Sight words are sets of words that are commonly used in English – also called high-frequency words – and must simply be memorized. Word walls, word cards, and word games are very useful tools for incorporating sight words into daily play. You can find sight word lists all over the internet, categorized by reading level, age, or grade level. An example of this is as follows:
Find a set of sight words appropriate for your child and start with 5 words. Print them out, hang them on a wall, or glue them into a book together. Read the words aloud and have your child repeat. Have them copy the word on a piece of paper, trace it in sand, and form it with playdough. Then make sure to point out the word (or ask your child to find it) each time you come across it in a book or any print you’re using. Add words as you progress and continue reinforcing the previous words.
Avid Readers Read Sooner
With these great reading strategies at your side, you are well-equipped to teach your child to read in Spanish and English. Keep in mind that the best strategy of all is to read as much and as often as possible – and to have fun while doing it. If you would like to enhance your child’s Spanish reading experience with a native Spanish speaker from Guatemala, sign up for a free trial class with Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More
Music is one of the most powerful tools to teach a foreign language to young learners! It instantly fills the room with smiles, gets kids on their feet, and inspires them to become a part of whatever they are listening to. Teaching your child Spanish through music will boost their memory of new vocabulary, improve their pre-reading skills through rhyming, and promote the development of essential communication skills. While there are many teaching methods to choose from, this guide will show you how to use theme-based learning with music. This combination promotes higher-level learning that produces longer-lasting results.
Theme-based learning, also called thematic instruction, is “the practice of integrating curriculum areas around a topic.” Engaging in integrated activities promotes thinking, feeling, and movement, which activates and develops your child’s multiple intelligences. These activities center around the main theme and combine playful songs to spark the emotional responses that dramatically increase memory. With this method, your child will learn faster and retain more! ¡Aprendamos con música!
Lesson Structure Example
As you look at the themes below, you may wonder how to structure your lessons. If you don’t already have a plan set out that you prefer, you can try this one:
- Warm-up: Sing (use TPR)
- Teach vocab with flashcards
- Sing the same song
- Play game
- Read a topic-related book
- Hands-on Activity
- Wind-down: Sing the same song
Theme: Body Parts (partes del cuerpo)
Download Spanish Body Parts Theme Flashcards
Body Part Tag – take your little one outside and have them tag objects with their body parts. This is a fun game and can combine colors and numbers. Direct your child to tag the tree with la rodilla, tag something red with el brazo, or tag 4 yellow things with el pie. The options are endless here and make for lots of fun and giggling.
Plate Face Paint – show your child how to paint a face on a paper plate, direct them to “paint los ojos” or entirely in Spanish “pinta los ojos” and continue with the rest of the parts of the face. You can glue down strands of yarn as the cabello. Hang their hard work somewhere visible and ask frequently, “Where are los ojos? Where is la nariz?” (or “¿Dónde están los ojos? ¿Dónde está la nariz?”) and have them point to it while they say the word. Extend this activity by painting a body cut-out to connect to the face (or trace your child’s body if you want to go really big).
Theme: Feelings (sentimientos)
Note: Some vocabulary words are synonyms to accompany all the song examples given. Choose which songs you want to use and simply omit the unnecessary vocabulary.
Download Spanish Feelings Theme Flashcards
Simón dice (Simon Says) – Modify the original Simon Says game with feeling phrases! If you already connected specific movements to words (aka TPR) while introducing new vocabulary, this will be even more fun. You can use all Spanish by saying, “Simón dice, estoy feliz” and your child repeats, “¡estoy feliz!” with a big smile on their face and clapping (TPR). An excited reaction from you each time they get it right can go a long way here! Remember the trick of the game is when an instruction is given without “Simón dice/Simon Says” the child shouldn’t move.
Book of Feelings – use construction paper to create a book of collages. Dedicate each page to one of the feelings and look with your child for relevant pictures in old magazines to cut out and glue down. You can extend this lesson to use conjugated verbs by pointing at pictures and saying, “Él está triste” (He is sad) or asking “¿Él está feliz o triste?” (Is he happy or sad?) When you finish making all the pages, stack them together and staple down the left side three times to form a book.
Theme: Vowels (las vocales)
Download Spanish Vowels Theme Flashcards
Move Around the Room – get 5 pieces of paper, use a marker to write one vowel on each paper, and place them around a room. Using your vowel flashcards (download above), instruct your child to run to the correct vowel in the room when they hear the sound in the word you say. Celebrate with high-fives when they get it right and make a funny sound when they get it wrong so they know to try again. You can add more words without teaching meaning since the focus here is on the sound.
Big Letters Art Project – as you teach each vowel sound, you can focus on it through art. Take a regular or larger size piece of construction paper and draw a big vowel, bubble letter style (with plenty of space inside it). Give your child finger paints for them to outline the vowel with your supervision. Inside the letter, paint, draw, or glue things whose names use that particular vowel. For example, with the letter A, you can paint the body and legs of a spider (araña) and glue down googly eyes. For love (amor), use glue to make the form of a heart, pour some glitter on it to dry and shake off the extra. Add more objects like a tree (árbol) by finger painting the trunk, then use a cotton ball dipped in green paint to make the leafy tops. The more creative, the better! Practicing the sounds and repeating the words with the sounds is the goal of this activity.
Move to the Music
We hope you will find some songs you’ll love to share with your child while you teach them essential Spanish themes. With plenty of singing, dancing, and creative activities, your little learner is guaranteed to love learning Spanish with you. To boost their curiosity and give them a chance to practice what they’ve learned, sign up for a free online class with a native Spanish speaker! They can show off their new vocabulary while they learn to converse in Spanish. They’ll be speaking by the first class, guaranteed!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!
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