As my kids got older, I worried about them getting enough exposure to Spanish to keep expanding their vocabulary. The language we used at home was often routine and as they spent more time with friends they used Spanish in fewer settings. I was concerned that when we did speak Spanish in new situations there was not enough repetition for them to be really learning.
I began looking for simple ways to have conversations about a wider variety of topics at home. I wanted enough context and support to create a real learning experience, but I also wanted the conversations to be fun and natural.
One simple way I found to encourage conversation was displaying photos of an outing or event on a banner. We added short sentences to describe the photos. The pictures inspired us to have conversations beyond the immediate setting, and the kids could draw on images and their experiences to understand and use Spanish.
Make a photo banner to encourage Spanish conversation at home
1. Take pictures at an event, on an outing or on a trip. The occasion can be anything from a trip to the farmer’s market to a family vacation. Be sure to take photos that will help you talk about the experience later.
2. With your child, choose the pictures you want to put on the banner. Talk about the photos as you choose – it is a great language activity!
3. Note the language you use to talk about the photos. Depending on your child’s age and language level, you might use individual words, simple sentences or mention what someone in the picture is saying.
4. Make paper flags for the banner. You can make a beautiful banner using scrapbooking paper or just cut construction paper into squares and fold them into triangles over a string.
5. Put language and photos on alternating flags. Choose words and short sentences that describe the pictures. You can print the text and mount it or just write on the flags. The words should be big enough to read easily.
6. String the flags and hang the banner at your child’s eye level.
7. Talk about the pictures using the words and phrases on the banner. You can hang the banner in the kitchen and talk about the photos at mealtime, or in a bedroom to be part of a bedtime routine.
8. The banner does not have to stay up for a long time. When your child is tired of talking about the pictures, make a new one. You can hang the banner again later to remember good times and reinforce the language.
9. You can also display photos and text by clipping them to a string. Colorful clothespins and twine make a cute banner.
10. My kids liked to buy postcards as inexpensive recuerdos and they make a great addition to a banner.
This is a fun and easy way to add more Spanish conversation to your home. A photo banner keeps experiences alive and accessible so you can talk about them again and again.
Special thanks to Spanish Playground for providing this activity. Visit their site for more activities to teach Spanish to kids.