The First 99 Basic Spanish Words to Teach Your Child
Taking the plunge to start teaching your child Spanish is exciting! Your child will be exposed to a new world of language and culture which will open up endless opportunities for them in the future.
With hundreds of resources at your fingertips, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Lucky for you, here at Homeschool Spanish Academy, we’ve created this guide to help you teach your child their first 99 basic Spanish words!
Basic Spanish Words for Children
The following vocabulary words are broken down into manageable chunks so you can focus on learning ten Spanish words at a time with your child. Instead of starting with the colors and numbers, which are often reviewed on Spanish television shows and in basic Spanish classes, we are providing words that kids can use in their daily life.
Don’t get me wrong, numbers and colors are essential! We just want to offer you basic Spanish words your child hasn’t been exposed to yet. (Add Spanish colors and numbers to your list!)
After each vocabulary section, read our teaching tips to help you teach each topic in a natural way. Don’t forget to download the practice materials to provide a hands-on application for your child!
All of these verbs are in the infinitive form so your child can familiarize themselves with the concept before delving into the world of conjugation. To first introduce these action words, try any of the following:
- When playing with your child, say the verb both in English and Spanish as you do the action. This will help them relate the Spanish word to both the physical activity and the English counterpart.
- You can also eliminate the English word for a more natural learning method. Anytime you do these actions, use the Spanish word. Repetition is key!
- If you are homeschooling or like to have a sit-down Spanish lesson, make use of our action flashcards.
Another great way to teach these verbs is to conjugate them only in the “I” form. This helps your kids verbalize their basic wants and actions while preparing them to create longer sentences and combine these words with later vocabulary. You can find the full present tense conjugations in our blog, or you can just use this list:
- Yo como
- Yo voy
- Yo tengo
- Yo salto
- Yo río
- Yo miro
- Yo leo
- Yo corro
- Yo hablo
- Yo quiero
You can also pair these verbs with a question to promote Spanish conversation.
Do you like ______ (to jump)?
¿Te gusta _______ (saltar)?
One of the most effective ways to teach Spanish words is to integrate them into daily conversation with your child. Try one or two words at a time and mix them into English sentences. For example, “Put that on la mesa. Clean up la mesa, please. Let’s sit down at la mesa.”
Another great option for kids who can read is to label things around the house with their Spanish names. This will help them visually correlate the object to the Spanish word. Point out the labels and read them together when possible.
School Subjects and Objects
|Social Sciences||Las ciencias sociales||see-ain-see-ahs soh-see-ahl-ays|
|Paper, piece of paper||El papel, la hoja||pah-pail, oh-hah|
On average, kids spend over six hours a day at school, unless you’re homeschooling, so incorporating Spanish school words is a terrific way to teach them the language while interacting with them about their day. There are numerous ways to teach these words:
- Review their class list with them in Spanish. You can even rewrite the full schedule in Spanish and hang it on the fridge your student can see it every day.
- Just like with household objects, labels can be effective. Here are some extra Spanish words you can use to label all your child’s school supplies:
- Marker – el marcador
- Pen – el lapicero, el bolígrafo
- Folder – la carpeta
- Planner – la agenda
- Pencil Case – el estuche
- Notebook – el cuaderno
- Scissors – las tijeras
- Engage your child in conversation by asking about their classes and school supplies using the Spanish words. You can utilize some Spanglish or take it up a notch and ask these questions:
- What is your favorite class – ¿Cuál es tu clase favorita?
- Where is your ______ (backpack)? – ¿Dónde está tu _____(mochila)?
- Do you like your ______ class? – ¿Te gusta la clase de _______?
Learning opposites in Spanish will give your child the ability to describe objects and feelings. Even without knowing the correct verb conjugations, they will be able to express themselves. Try these fantastic activities to practice your new Spanish vocabulary in a hands-on manner:
- Pictionary: Ask your child to draw something grande or something suave. This will improve their listening comprehension and spark their imagination.
- Simon Says: For a more energetic approach, get them on their feet with this game. You can say commands like, “Simon says, be grande! Simon says, find something frío!”
- Flashcards + memory: Use these flashcards to help present the vocabulary. Print out two copies for an educational game of memory. Any time they lift up a card, make sure they read the Spanish word to encourage correct pronunciation.
|Why?||¿Por qué?||pohr kay|
|How much? – How many?||¿Cuánto(os)?||kwahn-toh(ohs)|
|What for?||¿Para qué?||pah-rah kay|
Learning the question words in Spanish is the start of fluency. The first step is presenting the Spanish questions to your child with the English form: “Where is the dog? ¿Dónde?” Once they have a grasp on the comprehension, encourage them to use these words themselves when asking a question. As you progress through these basic Spanish words, combine some of the vocabulary and encourage your student to do the same: “Dónde is your mochila?
While most of the question words are pretty straightforward, there are a few to look out for.
- Cuál vs. Qué: Directly translated, qué means “what” and cuál means “which.” However, cuál is often used as what. For example: ¿Cuál es tu color favorito? What is your favorite color? While this may seem confusing at first, there is a simple rule to help you use it correctly. If a verb directly follows the question word, use cuál. If a noun directly follows, use qué.
- ¿Cuál es tu color favorito? – What is your favorite color?
- ¿Qué color te gusta? – What color do you like?
- Cuánto: “How much” is translated as ¿cuánto? while “how many” is ¿cuántos? or ¿cuántas? “How many” is the only question word on our list that changes based on the noun it precedes.
- ¿Cuántos cuadernos? – How many notebooks? (masculine noun)
- ¿Cuántas sillas? – How many chairs? (feminine noun)
People + Pronouns
|Friend||El, la amigo(a)||ah-mee-goh(gah)|
|Brother, sister||El, la hermano(a)||air-mah-noh(nah)|
This pronoun list has been shortened to include only the most basic pronouns. With the above Spanish words, your child will be understood easily and be able to express themselves. If you feel your little learner is ready, you can include the feminine forms of “we” and “they” found in our pronoun blog post, as well as usted and even vos. Since these pronouns don’t exist in English, teaching these new concepts together with the other pronouns can be overwhelming.
Likewise, if you feel your child isn’t ready for learning the difference between masculine and feminine nouns, don’t put too much pressure on differentiating between el hermano and la hermana or el amigo and la amiga. Once they are ready, take advantage of these flashcards to teach the slight differences
|Stop||Para, Basta||pah-rah, bahs-tah|
|Calm down||Calmate, tranquilo(a)||kahl-mah-tay, trahn-kee-loh(lah)|
All of the above forms are conjugated in the tú – or informal “you” – form because it represents familiarity and closeness, something you and your child definitely have. Some Latino families do use the formal version, but the tú form is a good place to start. Some of the commands have two forms, but you can just teach one.
- Cálmate vs. tranquilo: Cálmate is the command form of the verb calmar (to calm), while tranquilo is actually just an adjective meaning “calm.” Tranquilo (or tranquila for girls) is extremely common, and we recommend you start with this one.
- Para vs. basta: Just like the previous example, para comes from the verb parar (to stop) and basta is an interjection meaning “enough” or “stop it.” Because para can also mean “for,” start with basta to avoid any confusion.
“Give” and “bring” are often followed by “me” in English, and it’s the same form in Spanish. Instead of two separate words, though, they combine to form one command:
- Give me – dame
- Bring me – tráeme
Check out our complete guide to forming Spanish commands.
|Shorts||Los pantalones cortos, los shorts||pahn-tah-lohn-ays cohr-tohs, shorts|
|Socks||El calcetín, la media||cal-say-teen, may-dyah|
|Hat||El sombrero, la gorra||sohm-brair-oh, gohr-rah|
Always present the article (el, la) with the noun so that your child learns the gender of the Spanish words intrinsically. To practice these Spanish words, ask your child what they are wearing or what they want to wear. Another awesome idea is to have your kid dress dolls, stuffed animals, or younger siblings and explain in Spanish what they are wearing.
To take it up a notch, include the following questions and phrases:
- ¿Qué llevas puesto? – What are you wearing?
- ¿Qué le vas a poner? – What are you going to put on him/her?
- ¿Qué quieres llevar puesto? – What do you want to wear?
Most Common Words
|I don’t know||No sé||noh say|
|Maybe||Tal vez, quizás||tahl bays, kee-sahs|
These short, important Spanish words will help your child link the other words together. Start teaching the simple ones, like sí, no, and tal vez, by responding to questions with them.
A wonderful way to practice esto and eso with your child is to give them two options and ask “Which one do you want? ¿Esto o 3so?”
|Ball||La pelota, el balón||pay-loh-tah, bah-lohn|
|Video game||El videojuego||bee-dyoh-hway-goh|
|Jump rope||La cuerda de saltar||kwair-dah day sahl-tahr|
|Stuffed animals||Los peluches||pay-loo-chays|
Just like with the previous vocabulary, labels and integration into daily conversation are both fantastic ways to practice these words. Once your child understands the basic commands, combine them with these toys.
- Use only the command: Dame.
- Add a toy: Dame la pelota.
- Add a common word and another object: Dame la pelota y el carro.
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Time to Get Started!
You have a lot of new vocabulary and teaching activities to consider. As you start planning how to teach these basic Spanish words, keep the following in mind:
- Take it slowly. There is no need to rush into complete Spanish sentences.
- While we have provided several options to take it up a notch, don’t put pressure on yourself.
- Encourage your child to use as much Spanish as possible in their speech.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
HSA is Here to Support You!
If you would like someone to help guide your family on this Spanish-learning journey, try a free class with us at Homeschool Spanish Academy. All of our teachers are certified, native Spanish-speaking teachers who want to see your child reach fluency as much as you do! Try a class today to see how HSA can support your in-home Spanish classes. ¡Pruébalo hoy!
Want more free Spanish learning resources for beginners? Check out these posts!
- Top 40 False Cognates in Spanish That Will Trip You Up and Confuse You - May 18, 2021
- Ser Conjugation: Free Spanish Lesson, Quiz, Exercises, and PDF - March 12, 2021
- Ir + a + Infinitive: The Near Future Tense in Spanish - February 26, 2021