Bilingual is Better

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

Our Week of Mamás Blogueras continues with a post from Jennifer Manriquez,  a.k.a Maestra Jen from Bilingual Fun, who’s raising two young bilingual children in Michigan. A former classroom teacher, Jennifer is now an entrepreneur heading The Bilingual Fun Company-a language education business which teaches Spanish to parents and children ages 18 months to 12 years old.

If you are trying to incorporate Spanish learning into your child’s everyday life, you may be like me, always seeking new creative activities to spice up their learning.  Teaching both my own children and the many children in our language program, Bilingual Fun, continually makes me aware of their incredible ability to absorb and retain languages.

I love to teach children Spanish through games, movement and everyday activities. Creating fun, easy Spanish lessons for kids, not only enriches their development, but keeps the language learning alive.

Some quick, easy ideas for teaching children Spanish and reinforcing everyday vocabulary:

1. Playing Memory is a great activity for vocabulary development and reinforcement as well as an opportunity to present different grammatical structures. Ask  “¿dónde está….? Or, ¿qué es? as you look for the specific picture. Ask children to repeat the word in Spanish each time you say it. Be sure to reinforce pictures after each game. Remember, repetition is one of the keys to language learning success!

2. Incorporate outside play in your Spanish lessons for kids. Practice kicking the soccer ball and counting the goals in Spanish. Jump rope and count in Spanish. Play hopscotch in Spanish.  Draw with chalk on the driveway and reinforce colors and common vocabulary by playing Pictionary.

3. Blow bubbles and reinforce ‘arriba/abajo’.  Play games such as “Mother May I” and incorporate the numbers and ‘rápido/lento’ or ‘ Red Light/Green Light” for color practice.

4.  Make faces in the mirror. Give your kids the Spanish word for a specific emotion, and they have to make that face in the mirror such as: enojado (mad), triste (sad) or feliz (happy), etc. When kids can see themselves as they hear or say the word, it helps to make a language connection.

5.  Count items in the kitchen. Since it seems that most days we find ourselves in the kitchen, either eating, preparing meals, cleaning up after meals, etc, I like to use this setting as a realistic teaching tool. We count our snack pieces, silverware and plates as we unload the dishwasher, magnets on the fridge, etc. You can keep little ones occupied as you prepare dinner, just keep them counting!

6. Play I Spy around the house or in the car. This is a favorite activity and can keep kids communicating using many different words and expressions such as colors, adjectives, prepositions and more.

7.  Play guessing games. When packing my daughter’s lunch, we play ‘¿qué hay en la caja?’ and she has to guess what I packed her for lunch.

8. Play Simón Dice/Simon Says. Point to the different body parts. Use the command “ tócate…. la nariz“, etc. Reverse roles and have kids give you commands so that they can practice producing the language.

9. Create rhythmic beats.  Clap and count as you create different beats. Have children imitate you, and then they teach you a new beat. Ex; uno, dos, uno, dos, uno, dos, tres, cuatro, uno, dos, uno, dos…..

10.  Dance Party Fiesta. Play upbeat Spanish music. Stop the music and freeze. Have count in variations (frontwards, backwards, by 2s, or 1-10).

When teaching young children anything, whether it is language or math skills, keeping things fun is important to help foster their interest. Play based teaching is a great way to make learning Spanish easy for kids.

By teaching kids Spanish through activities that are relevant to their lives, you are giving your children a great head start in their bilingual development!

Now it’s your turn. What are some fun activities and games you use to reinforce Spanish at home?

Our Week of Mamás Blogueras continues tomorrow with an inspiring post by Violeta García-Mendoza from Multi-Culti Mami and Turn People Purple. She shares with us her amazing story of how, along with her husband, they strengthen their three adoptive children’s Guatemalan heritage and identity.  Click here to read it.

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