Credit: Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Even very young students know, and may occasionally use, words that are Spanish in origin — rodeo, tortilla, lasso, and macho, to name a few. And many are able to count from 1 to 10 in Spanish, due in large part to early exposure to the language provided by children's television programming. This sense of familiarity with Spanish, combined with the excellent language acquisition skills possessed by students in this age group, will help make this unit on Spanish culture an exciting but comfortable experience for your class. Students will learn about families in various Spanish cultures and gain a preliminary knowledge of the Spanish language, learning the Spanish names for various family members.
Display a large world map prominently in class. Begin this activity by asking students to name their town or city, their state, and their country. As students answer these questions, point out to students where these areas are located on the world map.
Ask students what language they speak. Have they heard of any other languages? Do they know people who speak other languages? Explain to students that in the U.S., people speak many different languages because they come to this country from other places around the world. You can point out that, while the most commonly-spoken language of the U.S. is English, it's fun to learn other languages so that we can communicate with the people who speak these languages when they come to the U.S. or when we visit other countries.
Now challenge students to name other countries they have heard of. Each time a new country is named, show students where that country is located on the world map. Ask students if they know what language is spoken in each country — if they are unsure, tell them.
Let students know that they will be learning about the Spanish language and the people who speak it. While Spanish is the official language of some 21 nations, young students will be unfamiliar with many of these. You can point out Spanish-speaking countries such as Spain, Mexico and Puerto Rico. You can explain Puerto Rico's status as a U.S. Commonwealth, and point out that Mexico shares the continent of North America with the U.S. and Canada. You can then indicate the Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Students may be surprised to find that large populations of Spanish-speaking people live so close to the U.S. — and that many are, in fact, U.S. citizens. You can point out that, in the countries of Central and South America, Spanish is the majority language of every nation except Belize and Brazil (please see Extending the Lesson for more activities relating to Central and South American countries). Teachers of second graders might introduce the vocabulary "Latino" and "Hispanic," used to designate people from Spanish-speaking cultural backgrounds, and "Chicano/a," used to designate Mexican-American people and culture.
Note: If some students speak a second language, encourage them to tell the class what language they speak and where their family originated. Perhaps they will even be willing to speak some simple phrases in class.
In this activity, students will compare and contrast different aspects of the daily lives of families living in Spain, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Let students know that Mexico and Puerto Rico have been chosen because of their close relationships — part of and bordering — the U.S., but that they can bring in other countries as well, especially if anyone has a background from Latin America or the Caribbean. The Web sites listed below, all links from EDSITEment-reviewed resources, provide student-friendly information on Spanish cultures. Using the suggested Web sites, discuss each topic listed below, beginning with Spain, then Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Challenge students to identify similarities and differences among the three nations.
Let students know they will compare a typical day in the lives of Spanish, Mexican, and Puerto Rican families. Read to students from the following Web sites, sharing any images, visuals, or video you come across with the class:
As you read the narratives and view the pictures and videos, help students pick out details that give some clues to what life is like in each of these three nations. Keep a list of students' answers (you may wish to develop a chart with separate columns for life in Spain, Mexico, and Puerto Rico). In Spain, how does Paz get to and from school? What does she study? With whom does she live? What does she do in her spare time? If you chose to use any of the chapters of Mi vida loca in class, ask students some general questions. What did he or she learn to do in Spain with Jorge and Merche? What are some essential words you learned in Spanish from the episodes? After listing some of the information students find about Spain, move on to Mexico. What is interesting about Mexico? Where did this video take you? Does life in Mexico look similar to life in the U.S
What about Puerto Rico? This is an excellent opportunity to introduce students to the unique relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Explain that Puerto Rico is not a state, but rather a Commonwealth of the U.S. This means that people who live in Puerto Rico are citizens of the U.S. — they use American money, must obey American laws, and can travel, live, and work (but not vote in federal elections) in the U.S. mainland without a passport or "green card." In many ways, life in Puerto Rico is similar to life in the U.S. Ask students to use their own daily experiences to answer questions about Puerto Rico — Where is Puerto Rico? What does the city of San Juan look like? How is life in Puerto Rico different from, or similar to, the city you live in? What is another name for the island of Puerto Rico? What do they do in their spare time? Add students' answers to the list.
Read aloud or have students read from the following resources on typical meals in Spain, Mexico, and Puerto Rico:
Ask students to name some of the details they heard about meals in each nation. For example, when are meals eaten? What foods are typically consumed during each meal? With whom do people in each nation share their meals? Add this information to the chart.
What games, sports, and recreational activities are popular in Spain, Mexico, and Puerto Rico? Use the following websites to help answer this question:
What sports do families in Spain, Mexico, and Puerto Rico like to play and/or watch? What other types of activities are popular? Add students' comments to the list.
(If time allows, create your own Mexican "animalitos" in class. Use the instructions at Try This! @ National Geographic.com.)
Tell students that they will now learn about some of the holidays celebrated in Spain, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Read from the following Web sites, sharing any photos you come across with the class:
Now discuss what you've read, adding to the student list as you go along. What are some of the holidays recognized in each nation? Why do people celebrate these holidays?
When you think of holiday celebrations in the U.S., what comes to mind? Special foods? Parades? Fireworks? A day off from school? Now think about the Spanish, Mexican, and Puerto Rican celebrations you just heard about. What do their celebrations consist of? Do they have things in common with one another? Do they have things in common with celebrations in the U.S.?
Review the entire list of student comments. Ask students:
Culminate this lesson with an art project. Have students create a collage that illustrates the daily life, mealtimes, recreation, and/or holidays of one of the nations studied in this lesson. Students can cut out pictures from magazines or print out images from EDSITEment reviewed Web sites (for example, images of traditional foods and Hispanic art are available on the EDSITEment resources Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC) and Casa de Joanna: Language Learning Resources). Additional resources for use in the classroom to help students create their own creative work can be found in the EDSITEment-reviewed resources Juego y aprendo con mi libro de preescolar, segundo grado y tercer grado textbooks. Students can "trade" their finished collages with one another to guess which country is being depicted. What clues helped them uncover the correct country?
Let students know that they will now learn the Spanish words for names of family members, including mother, father, brother, sister, and so on. Begin the lesson by brainstorming in class the different family relationships of which students are aware. You may want to limit your list to the names of family members with whom students live. Write the English words on the blackboard with their Spanish translations next to them. (An extensive list is provided here, but you do not have to use all terms. Whenever possible, focus on cognates — words similar in form and meaning, italicized below — as a tool to help students recall new vocabulary.) Pronounce each Spanish word several times, allowing the class to repeat each time. A pronunciation key is provided in Preparation Instructions. Make sure that you point out to students the fact that articles in Spanish change depending on gender and number.
Family: la familia
Parents: los padres
Mother: la madre
Mom/Mommy: la mamá
Father: el padre
Dad/Daddy: el papá
Sister: la hermana
Brother: el hermano
Grandparents: los abuelos
Grandmother: la abuela
Grandfather: el abuelo
Aunt: la tía
Uncle: el tío
Cousin: el primo or la prima
Stepmother: la madrastra
Stepfather: el padrastro
Stepsister: la hermanastra
Stepbrother: el hermanastro
Once students have been introduced to the new words and their pronunciations, play a multi-modal learning game that will allow them to link the auditory input with a visual cue. Supply students with an array of magazines. Have students work in pairs to find and cut out pictures of people who seem to represent a specific family role. Make sure to include pictures of different types of family members and people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Paste the pictures onto individual pieces of construction paper or cardboard, flash-card style. If students can write, they may print the appropriate family member name on the back of each card in both Spanish and English, using the words on the blackboard as a guide. (If students are not writing yet, the teacher can print the words on the cards for them.) Students who can read can pair off and practice with the flash cards on their own; the teacher could assist students who cannot read.
As an alternate or additional activity, create a family tree on the classroom bulletin board. Use pictures from magazines, as in the flash-card activity. Create the trunk and branches of your tree with a marker or construction paper. Then paste the pictures in their proper positions on the tree. Include the Spanish and English words for each family member represented beneath the appropriate picture. (If space permits, create two family trees—one in Spanish and one in English.) Use the family tree as a learning tool for recalling new vocabulary. Students can also create their own family trees, using drawings or actual photos of their own family members, mounted on poster board.
|Tengo ______ años.||(I am ______ years old.)|
|one: uno||six: seis|
|two: dos||seven: siete|
|three: tres||eight: ocho|
|four: cuatro||nine: nueve|
|five: cinco||ten: diez|
6-10 class periods