Learn Spanish with Music: Themes, Songs and Lesson Ideas for Preschool and Elementary
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)
|Estar feliz||To be happy|
|Estar contento/a||To be happy|
|Estar triste||To be sad|
|Estar de malas||To be angry|
|Estar cansado/a||To be tired|
|Estar emocionado/a||To be excited|
|Tener miedo||To be afraid|
|Tener sueño||To be tired/to be sleepy|
|Tener frío||To be cold|
|Tener calor||To be hot|
|Tener sed||To be thirsty|
|Tener hambre||To be hungry|
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)
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!
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