Language Learning Fun!
I’m certainly no expert at this, but these are some activities that I think could easily be adapted to learning a second language. Smart teachers get A+ in acquisition and adaptation, so take these ideas and make them work for you…for any language…for any age!
I actually put this piece together because I couldn’t find any general ideas on the internet. I mean, everybody is trying to sell something, but there aren’t a lot of practical ideas teachers can adapt and implement. These ideas are not new – most have been on my website before. But take a look, and you’ll see how I’ve tweaked and twisted them for learning a second language.
Here are five keys to learning anything!
- M & M = M
Music and Movement = Making it Meaningful for Children!
- TPR – Total Physical Response
The more senses you activate and the more you engage children physically and mentally, the more likely the message will get to the brain and stay in the brain.
- Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby!
It’s got to be real! It’s got to be concrete! It’s got to be hands-on!
- If You Want to Catch a Rabbit, You Have to Have a Rabbit Trap!
You’ve got to engage children’s attention and interest before you can teach them anything. If they are motivated, curious, and challenged…they will learn.
- Hook and Repeat
You have to hook new learning to something that is already in the brain to make those connections. And, you have to repeat things over and over and over again to make those pathways firm.
P.S. If you have any ideas that have worked for you that you would like to share with other teachers, please email them to me. I’ll put them on a future monthly activity and give you credit, of course!
This is an old game, but it could easily be played using words for colors and shapes of a second language.
Example: I spy something rojo!
Change the words of Simon Says to reinforce body parts.
Example: Simons says put your hands on your cabeza.
Write vocabulary words on paper plates and place them on the floor. (You might want to write the word in Spanish in red on one side and the word in English in blue on the opposite side.) Play some catchy music and tell the children to dance around. When the music stops, the children find a plate and pick it up. The children silently read their word and translate it. The teacher randomly points to several children to identify their word and tell what it means. The children then put the plates on the floor and the dancing continues.
Each child will need a flash card with a word printed on it. Divide the class into two teams. Teams stand on opposite sides of the room facing each other. First, make sure each child can identify their word. (It’s O.K. to ask a friend for help.) Start with one team and ask them to select a word from the opposing team. They call out, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send word right over.” The child holding the word called walks to the other side. Then team two gets to call a word to come to their side. The game continues as teams call for words on the opposite side.
Make Bingo cards with words that highlight vocabulary you are working on. (Baseball card holders are great for this because you can slip cards in and out to meet skill levels.)
The teacher calls out a word in English and the children have to find the word in Spanish on their Bingo cards and cover it up.
Each child has a set of vocabulary cards that they place on their desk or on the floor. As the teacher calls out a word, the children find it and hold it up in the air. (You could vary this by calling out the word in English, saying it in Spanish, giving a definition, and so forth.)
Use webs to categorize colors, animals, community helpers, family members, and so forth. Let children illustrate webs to make them more personal.
Time lines could be used to label days of the week or months of the year.
Write the word in English on one side and the translation on the opposite side.
Fold a sheet of paper into fourths. Draw lines over the crease marks to define sections. Write the word in English in the upper left. Write the word in Spanish in the upper right.
Write a sentence in the bottom left. Illustrate in the bottom right.
*Children could be asked to write a sentence in English, Spanish, or both.
Label stick figures or drawings children make of themselves with body parts in Spanish.
Hand of Numbers
Let children trace around their hands and then label fingers with number words.
Have children draw cartoons and then write what they might be saying in Spanish in a dialog bubble. This would work well for conversational phrases.
Fold several sheets of paper in half and staple. Children can use these to make vocabulary books or concept books (days of the week, colors, numbers, etc.).
Peek a Boo
Lay a lunch bag flat on the floor. Lift up the flap and fold the bottom of the bag under it as shown. Write a word in Spanish at the top. Lift and open to reveal the word in English and a picture clue.
Lunch Bag Book
Take 3-6 lunch bags and fold them in half. Cut down on the crease 1” and cut up on the crease 1”. Insert a rubber band between the slits to bind the book. On the top section, write the word in Spanish on the front of the pocket. Write the word in English on 4” x 4” piece of paper and insert it in the pocket. On the last half of the book, write the word in Spanish on the front and put an illustration underneath the flap.
Each child will need a pocket folder to make a personal dictionary. Run off letters of the alphabet (2 per page). As children learn new vocabulary words have them record the words in their dictionaries. Encourage children to write definitions or illustrate words.
Fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise (hotdog). Fold in half widthwise (hamburger). Fold once again (juice box). Open. Cut down on the three creased lines to the center fold. Fold in half. Write the word in Spanish on the front of the flip and the word in English under the flip.
Run off the words to songs on paper and distribute to the children to illustrate. Put these together to make class books.
You could make one book in English and one in Spanish. Use in the listening center so children can track the words as they sing.
Cut matching socks out of construction paper. Write a word in English on one sock and the Spanish translation on another sock. Mix the socks up in a bag. Children find the matching socks and clothespin them together.
Poke and Peek
Cut simple shapes out of poster board (cars, animals, plants, etc.) Punch holes around the edge of the shape. Write a word in English by each hole on one side of the shape. On the reverse side write the word in Spanish by the appropriate hole. Children take a straw or pencil and insert it by a word. After translating the word, they flip the shape over and check their response on the back.
Children could also play this game with a friend.
Cut 4” circles out of poster board or fun foam. Write the word in Spanish on one side and the English translation on the other side. Children will need a pancake turner/spatula to play the game. Spread the circles on the table. Children read the word and translate. Then they flip over the circle to check their response on the back.
Cut paper plates into thirds. Write a word in English on one third. Write the word in Spanish on another section. Draw a picture clue in the third section. Mix up pieces. Children put the puzzles together and read the words.
You could use puzzlers for number words, color words, animals, foods, etc
Stretch and Match
You will need heavy cardboard cut in 5” x 8” rectangles. Cut notches in each of the long sides as shown. Write a word in Spanish by each notch on the left side. Write a word in English by each notch on the right side. Children stretch rubber bands between matching words. Draw lines between correct answers on the back so children can self-check.
Divide a sheet of paper into 9 sections and trace over the creased lines with a black marker. In each section use an illustration (color, animal, food, number, etc.). Cut another sheet of paper into 9 pieces and write a corresponding word in Spanish on each piece. Children match up words and pictures.
Baseball card holders are great for making matching games.
Use 3” x 5” index cards to make this game. Write a word in English on one card and the corresponding word in Spanish on another card. Place the cards face down on a table. Children take turns choosing two cards at a time and trying to match up words.
Cut puppies out of construction paper using the attached pattern. Write the word in Spanish on the body of the puppy. Fold down the ear and write the word in English under the ear. Children identify the word and then self-check by “peeking” under the ear.
Johnny Jump Up
You will need a 4” x 6” photo album to make this game. Write words on 4” x 6” pieces of paper and insert them in the album. Draw a stick figure of a boy (Johnny) jumping in the air. Insert Johnny randomly in the album. Flash through the album. When Johnny appears the children get to jump up!
Use some of the game patterns on theschoolbell.com, kellyskindergarten.com, or prekinders.com to make games.