Actividades de Primavera – Clase de Español

We’ve had a wonderful spring in Spanish class, taking advantage of the seasonal change and holidays to learn new ways to use the Spanish language and explore this rich and varied culture.

Spanish Class Photo Album – Memories and Fun!


I’ve created an album showing highlights of our Spanish activities over the last year here: St. Peter’s Spanish Class Photo Album: 2014-2015

Please feel free to take a look at the pictures, which include students from all the grades, along with brief descriptions of activities depicted in the shots. It’s been a joy to share Spanish with the children of Saint Peter’s Catholic School this year! Below are some highlights from the last couple of months.

¡Me gusta la primavera!/I like spring!

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Students in all grades enjoyed creating artwork depicting spring flowers. We talked about what flowers need to grow (light, air, water) and integrated content and language we have learned about the calendario (los meses), las estaciones (the seasons), and el tiempo (the weather).

Celebramos el día de San Patricio – St. Patrick’s Day


For Saint Patrick’s Day, we watched videos of authentic news coverage of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades from Spanish-language news channels around the world. We learned vocabulary for St.Paddy’s Day words and had a parade of our own around the library holding items that are green, verde, of course!   Students caught being good during class got to wear the lucky glasses, “gafas de suerte!”

Pascua – Easter


We celebrated Easter by watching a Spanish language video of the Easter story for children. Students decorated butterflies with stickers and phrases such as “Feliz Pascua”.

Los Animales

¿Dónde viven los animales?/Where do animals live? Students picked animals from a bag and decided whether they lived on the farm, in the zoo, or in the museum. We sang songs and read books with animal sounds, practicing asking and answering the question ¿Qué dicen los animales?/What do animals say? See Mi Tío Tiene una Granja video and song.


El Transporte

K4 and K5 had a great time learning how to talk about medios de transporte (transportation) in Spanish. Students participated in an interactive PowerPoint Presentation, watched videos of transportation in Spanish, and handled manipulatives: toy cars, trucks, and other vehicles from my kids’ personal collection.

Las Formas


What shape is it? Students explored shapes in nature, everyday life, and in art. This theme overlapped a unit on shapes and multi-dimensional figures for 2nd and 3rd grade.

¡Vamos al museo!/Let’s go to the museum!

Students in grades 2-6 were exposed to famous artwork by Spanish and Latin-American artists including Diego Rivera (Mexico), Frida Kahlo (Mexico), Fernando Botero (Colombia), Velazquez (Spain), el Greco (Spain), Miró (Spain), Picasso (Spain), and Dalí (Spain). We read children’s biographies and watched videos and slide shows depicting their art and life.


Students also created artwork in the style of these artists. It was a great opportunity to review colors and other vocabulary.


Discovering the Spanish-speaking world – 5th and 6th Travel Brochures and Commercials

5th and 6th grade students embarked on an independent learning and research project spanning several weeks in which they selected Spanish-speaking countries and researched them in pairs in the computer lab and on iPads. They filled out worksheets answering questions about the geography, history, culture, climate, and food of each country. Students then created tri-fold travel brochures with this information, and finally wrote scripts and acted out travel commercials advertising their country as a wonderful place to visit. Stay tuned for videos and photos of this work before the end of the school year.

¡Hace frío! Las actividades de invierno en la clase de español


Hello, all! I was delighted to have the opportunity to present at the Teachers’ Education Conference of the Diocese of Charleston on Friday, March 6th. I shared a presentation with a group of Spanish teachers from across the state describing what we do here at St. Peter’s. Take a look at the PowerPoint for more information. I met some wonderful colleagues and got many great ideas to implement. Stay tuned…

The Interactive World Language Classroom: Integrating Art, Music, and Literature

Our cold, icy, semi-snowy spell this past month gave us a great context for the Spanish class themes for February.

We reviewed the seasons and weather for el invierno, winter, and enjoyed reading Froggy Se Viste (Froggy Gets Dressed) and learning vocabulary for winter clothing. Students pulled clothing from a bag and we practiced naming the items. Then, while listening to and watching a video of the book being read in Spanish, everyone held up their clothing as they heard it in the story. Then, we colored Froggy’s winter clothing, cut it out, and pasted it on him, labeling it as shown on the bulletin board below.

Ropa de Invierno (Winter Clothing)IMG_8829 IMG_8828


Of course, February is also the month of a special holiday celebrating el amor, love, on El Día de San Valentín. We enjoyed reading, listening to, and acting out the beloved children’s classic Adivina Cuanto Te Quiero. (Guess How Much I Love You).  The video is available here: Students also learned a sweet song, “Te quiero mamá, te quiero papá, te quiero mi bebito. Uno, dos, tres, te quiero, uno dos tres, te quiero a ti.’ Ask your child to sing it to you.

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We also enjoyed a review of classroom materials (materias escolares) by having student teams participate in a post-it scavenger hunt in the library. Each team received a set of post it notes with a picture of the classroom item along with the Spanish word. They were to find these items in the library and post the sticky notes on them. Then, each team took turns showing the class what they had found and saying what it was, en español, of course. There was a lot of resourcefulness and creativity: for instance, in the photo below, this ingenious student put post-its for bread (el pan) and juice (el jugo) on her stomach as she had eaten toast and had orange juice for breakfast. ¡Qué divertido!


¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Spanish Class Noticias de Diciembre y Enero

Happy 2015! Read on for a summary of Spanish class activities in December and January…

Diceimbre 2014 /December 2014

In December, students in all grades had a wonderful time learning about vocabulary for the holidays and special traditions like Las Posadas. We took advantage of the beautiful Christmas decorations in the St. Peter’s library to illustrate and practice new words and phrases including

  • la Navidad – Christmas
  • Feliz Navidad – Merry Christmas
  • el arbolito – Christmas tree
  • el regalo – gift
  • los ornamentos – ornaments
  • las luces – lights
  • la estrella – star
  • la calceta de Navidad – stocking

We sang “Feliz Navidad” and “Noche de Paz” (Silent Night). Students made their own paper “arbolitos de Navidad” and enjoyed coloring and labeling various Christmas scenes and pictures while listening to traditional Spanish Christmas carols and music.

Students read and acted out several bilingual/Spanish language books about Christmas and Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter. Read more about Las Posadas here:


  • The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie de Paola
  • One Baby Jesus: A New Twelve Days of Christmas: Un Niño Dios by Patricia A. Pingry


Enero 2015/January 2015 and Beyond

During January and into the second half of the school year, we’ll be reviewing and applying the content we have already learned, such as greetings, calendar activities, feelings, colors, seasons, weather, etc. Ana (un ratoncito – mouse) and Pepe (un gatito – cat), our Spanish class puppet friends, will make appearances with our younger students to help model and review questions and topics such as “¿Cómo te llamas?”/What’s your name? and “Me llamo _______”/My name is” and “¿Cómo estás?/How are you?.” Additionally, I’m looking forward to introducing the following new units to students in all grades in January:

  • La Ropa (clothing) – The winter months are a great time to review and apply what we’ve learned about weather and the seasons and the body and to discuss the types of clothing we need to stay warm.
  • ¿Qué te gusta? – What do you like? – Learning about foods and what we like/don’t like is always a favorite. We’ll take the opportunity to talk about what’s healthy and good for our bodies as well.

Special Topics: Geography of the Spanish-Speaking World

For students in grades 2-6, we’ll also be applying geography and social studies concepts by reviewing maps, los continentes (the continents), cardinal directions (norte, sur, east, and west), and landforms. This will allow us to compare and contrast ¿Qué hay in Carolina del Sur? (What is there in South Carolina) and other Spanish speaking countries. The students have already learned a funny rap about how many continents there are and will learn other songs as well. We will also spotlight several Latin American countries, including México, Perú, and Argentina, along with Spain, especially Madrid. For each each country/place, we will learn about specific cultural aspects, including la bandera (flags; a great way to reinforce and practice colors and shapes), art/artists, foodways, history, traditions, landforms, etc.  Doing so will allow us to interweave language functions into real-world and engaging content that overlaps with students’ academic content outside of Spanish class.

It’s helpful to keep in mind that learning a foreign language is a long process that is best viewed as progress along a continuum of proficiency. Repetition, repetition, repetition – it’s key to retaining new language. Though I don’t always say it explicitly in these posts, know that in each lesson we are reviewing and applying all the vocabulary and content and communicative functions that have come before. It’s exciting to see how far the kids have come!

Stay tuned for more details coming soon. Thank you again for the gift of teaching these darling kids! They make each day in the classroom such a joy and so much fun.




Clase de Español: Noticias de Octubre y Noviembre

 ¡Una Celebración del Otoño!

Me Gusta el Otoño

Throughout October and November, we’ve continued to review and apply our calendario, or calendar, vocabulary and activities, along with learning new language around the theme of fall.


Here’s a closer look at what we’ve been up to in Spanish classes. Note that these topics have been covered at all grade levels, from K4-6, but with varying, age-appropriate content, including vocabulary, aspects of grammar in context, music, and multi-media components (videos, images, PowerPoint presentations, etc.).

Las estaciones: The seasons

Books: Un recorrido por las estaciones

Art: Students drew pictures of their favorite seasons depicting what they most enjoyed about their picks.


El otoño – Fall

Books: El otoño

Multimedia: Las estaciones

Art: We drew pictures of fall, which are posted on the Spanish ‘word’ wall on the first floor of St. Peter’s. We also handled real fallen leaves, nuts, pinecones, and other fruits of the season, including pumpkins, and described their characteristics: color, texture, shape, etc.

Calabazas – ¿Cómo está la calabaza? – How is the pumpkin?

We reviewed feelings and learned new responses to the question ¿Cómo estás?, how are you? by looking at images of carved pumpkins showing a variety of feelings and reactions.

Como esta la calabaza

K4, K5, and Grade 1 drew faces showing different feelings onto pumpkin handouts. They also made pumpkin finger puppets to use with the “5 Little Pumpkins” songs. Since many of the lower grades had been learning this chant/song in Music class, we took the opportunity to listen to and practice saying the Spanish version shown below.

Books: Cinco pequeñas calabazas

5 calabazas poster

Additionally, we learned a new, related song: Cinco Calabazas; you van view the video and read the lyrics below.

Multimedia: Cinco Calabazas 

Cinco Calabazas (song from video) lyrics:

Cinco calabazas sentadas en su casa,
una calabaza se siente muy cansada.
Cuatro calabazas sentadas en su casa,
una calabaza se siente asustada.
Tres calabazas sentadas en su casa,
una calabaza se siente enojada.
Dos calabazas sentadas en su casa,
una calabaza se siente muy frustrada.
Una calabaza sentada en su casa,
una calabaza se siente sorprendida.
Cinco calabazas sentadas en su casa,
y cuando sale el sol se siente muy feliz.

Día de los muertos y Noche de Brujas (Halloween)


Spotlight: 5th Grade

We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to do a special unit on Día de los Muertos in 5th grade, thanks to Janet Celis and her parents, who shared this beautiful Mexican tradition with our class by bringing in traditional sweet ‘pan de muertos’ bread along with delicious bocadillos and dessert. ¡Que rico! We also created our own ofrendas, remembrances of loved ones who have passed away, to celebrate Día de los Muertos/All Souls Day. We compared and contrasted the holidays of Halloween and Día de los Muertos using a Venn diagram, learned vocabulary for both, and discussed the connection of this important and rich cultural festival with our Catholic faith.

ofrendas pic

This picture shows the papel picado (typical decorative crepe paper used to adorn ofrendas) and artwork created by the students celebrating the lives of loved ones.

El tiempo – ¿Qué tiempo hace? – How’s the weather?

Books: Oso bajo el sol


With the older grades we looked up the real-time weather, including temperatures and forecast, of different parts of the world in order to answer the question “¿Qué tiempo hace en ________________?”

Art: Students colored cards showing different types of weather.

que tiempo hace

La familia – The family

Books: La familia ocupada de oso; Mi familia

Multimedia: La familia 

Art: K4 and K5 created paper dolls showing the members of their family. The upper grades answered questions about how many, cuántas, personas there are in their families, as well as how many brothers, sisters, etc. they have, and whether their families are grande or pequeño. With the holidays coming up, we’ll have more opportunities to review and use words and expressions with ‘la familia’ as we talk about with whom we will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Thanks for all you do – it is a such a delight to share Spanish with the children of St. Peter’s!

Spanish Class Noticias – September

Optimized-photo wall como te llamas

¡Hola a todos! Spanish class is off to a great start. The focus of the last couple of weeks has been getting to know each other, informally assessing students’ current levels of Spanish proficiency, and establishing some classroom routines that will enable us to speak and use the language as much as possible during class.

Using our Sonrisas Spanish curriculum, we’ve been learning fun songs and chants to get used to hearing and producing Spanish by singing, speaking, and playing. Through these repetitive, multi-sensory, and engaging circle time and calendar activities designed to support memory and facilitate learning, students have the opportunity for authentic and meaningful communication – all in Spanish!

The children also get the chance to be immersed as much as possible in how Spanish sounds – this is important as young learners have the potential to acquire native-like pronunciation of foreign languages given adequate exposure during the early and middle childhood years. For this reason, we are spending the majority of our time together on speaking, listening, and communicating rather than literacy (reading and writing in Spanish), though we will add some of these other language domains as the year progresses at the older grades (mainly 5th and 6th).

Circle Time/Calendar Activities

Currently all grades have learned the ¡Hola a Todos! greeting song, which can be accessed via YouTube: Try singing it with your child and let him or her demonstrate the hand gestures and motions. The students are doing a fantastic job singing out and having fun; it really is amazing how quickly they are able to pick up this and the other songs we’ve been practicing.

Other greeting and ‘warm-up’ songs to sing with your child include:

Optimized-como te llamas speech bubbles 2

Calendar songs and activities offer students the opportunity to reinforce classroom routines and content (especially at the lower grades, who are also practicing daily calendar activities) and rapidly acquire the Spanish vocabulary and phrases needed to respond to questions about what day, month, and season it is. As the children become more conversant with these routines, we will add the date, the weather, and, for the older students, the letter of the day (Spanish alphabet) and the country of the day.

  • Days of the week: El tren de los días de la semana
  • Months: El juego de cumpleaños
  • Numbers: Uno, dos, tres, cha, cha, cha; Uno, dos, tres gatitos
  • Seasons: Las estaciones (see below)

En el invierno hace frío.

                        En la primavera crecen las flores.

                        En el verano hace calor.

                        Y en el otoño caen las hojas.

We have also been learning prayers in Spanish. Our K4, K5, and 1st grade have begun practicing the sign of the cross; grades 2-6 have begun reciting the Hail Mary. The children will also learn the Lord’s Prayer as the year goes on. Our goal is to have students saying these prayers before the congregation with confidence and reverence at the annual International Rosary celebration this May. I encourage you to practice these prayers at home. Soon, the school will begin praying in Spanish during morning/afternoon announcements a couple of times a week.

Please see below for the sign of the cross and the Hail Mary in Spanish.

La Señal De La Cruz – Sign of the Cross

En el nombre del Padre,

y del Hijo,

y del Espíritu Santo.


Ave María – Hail Mary

Dios te salve, María.
Llena eres de gracia:
El Señor es contigo.
Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres.
Y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre:
Santa María, Madre de Dios,
Ruega por nosotros pecadores,
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.

 Story Time

We have been enjoying a number of books in Spanish, as we read at least one authentic Spanish text during each class. As I tell the students, understanding every word is neither the expectation nor the goal; rather, it’s an opportunity to hear Spanish that has been written in a variety of registers and voices from native speakers of the language. Also, we build and practice our vocabulary and practice answering questions and applying phrases we are learning during circle time. I’m delighted to announce that St. Peter’s has invested in the literature collection accompanying Sonrisas Spanish Level I, and part of Level II. A list of these books can be found here,  in case you are interested in adding some of these texts to your family’s library.

I recommend the books in this collection without reservation, as they are high-quality and age-appropriate texts that reflect and reinforce the topics and themes we are learning in class. You will likely recognize a number of these story books, as they are professionally translated Spanish versions of childhood classics such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Good Night Moon, the Froggy series, and Guess How Much I Love You. For the older grades, I have been supplementing with books from my own collection as well as the library. For instance, we have read Frida, a children’s biography about Frida Kahlo and Strega Nona (in Spanish) as the third grade has been working on a Tomie de Paola unit. We are building vocabulary lists based on the Spanish versions of these books, and have been identifying the many cognates (English and Spanish words that look/sound very similar and mean the same thing or something similar in both languages) we find in these texts as well as classroom discussions – some experts estimate that about 40% of English words have cognates in Spanish!!


Art Activities

Optimized-wall pic adios

Art projects and/or dramatic activities and role play are a fixture in Spanish classes as well. Art activities provide an opportunity to reinforce and apply lesson themes. For instance, students in each grade created beautiful self-portraits (auto-retrato, something Frida Kahlo was famous for, which was one of the reasons her biography was selected) with “Me llamo” and the students’ names). Art activities also offer the chance for the teacher and students to discuss the process, procedures, and content of the work in Spanish in a meaningful way that is comprehensible to students. Grades 3-6 have been engaged in skits using themes and topics learned thus far, including ¿Cómo te llamas? (what is your name?), ¿Cómo estás? En la escuela (classroom commands), Colores (colors), etc. We are learning this new vocabulary and grammar in context, in the moment, with more of an emphasis on meaning than form, which is appropriate for young learners.


Exploring the Spanish Curriculum for the Diocese of Charleston

As a newcomer Spanish teacher this year, I’ve been familiarizing myself with the Spanish Curriculum for the Diocese of Charleston, which can be found here: There are five standards based on the national standards identified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the South Carolina State Standards and the Diocese of Phoenix. The standards are: Communication, Culture, Connections with Content, Community, and Comparisons. As the year progresses, I will provide specific information about the alignment of Spanish class activities to these standards.

Optimized-como te llamas speech bubbles 1

Stay tuned for more information as we prepare to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month starting mid-month!

Thank you, gracias, for the opportunity to teach your children. It’s a joy!

¡Bienvenidos a la clase de Español!

¡Bienvenidos a la clase de Español! – Welcome to Spanish class!

My name is Señora Carr (Therese Carr), and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to teach the Spanish language and Hispanic culture to the children at St. Peter’s.

Meet Señora Carr

I am new to the St. Peter’s faculty this year, but have been part of the school family since 2012, when my daughter enrolled in K5; now, three of my children are attending our school – ¡Qué bien! I’ve been working in the education field for over 15 years, starting as an English as a second language and writing teacher at the college level. Over the last decade I’ve been working in educational research and policy, but my first love has always been foreign languages and literature. I was a Spanish major in college and studied abroad in Madrid and Barcelona, hiking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain during two summers. After completing my M.A. in English with a concentration in teaching English as a second language (ESL) and creative writing, I lived and worked in Madrid, Spain for two years, teaching English and ESL at Saint Louis University’s Madrid Campus.  I’m thrilled to be back in the classroom teaching Spanish and look forward to getting to know the children and families of St. Peter’s as a faculty member.

Below I’ve shared some information about the curriculum and materials we’ll be using this year in Spanish. Additionally, I’ve included a summary of research-based best practices in teaching foreign languages to young learners. These recommendations will serve as guidelines for our Spanish classes this year. Stay tuned for more details about our class topics and activities – coming soon!

What materials will we use in Spanish class?

We will be using the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum for preschool and elementary Spanish. This standards-based program emphasizes communication and immersion in the classroom. The Sonrisas materials also incorporate age-appropriate authentic Spanish songs, chants, literature/stories and interactive, hands-on art activities to support language learning. I look forward to using this curriculum in the classroom, as it is fun and engaging. For more information, please see the Sonrisas website:

What does research say about foreign language teaching and learning for young learners?

Now’s the time!

  • The elementary years are the optimal time to begin learning a foreign language because young learners can acquire (and keep) native-like pronunciation.

Multiple, frequent foreign language classes are best.

  • Foreign language proficiency is directly related to the number of instructional hours students receive.
  • Experts recommend that a minimum of 90 minutes of foreign language instruction per week, with classes meeting a at least 3 times per week for 30-40 minutes

Teachers and students should strive to speak the target language about 90-100% of the time.

  • By using lots of multi-modal supports, such as gestures, animations, video clips, demonstrations, and interactive apps and computer programs, we can do it!

What are other best practices in teaching foreign languages to young children?

  • Interactive activities organized around themes relevant to students are most effective (not rote learning and memorization of vocabulary and grammar).
  • Integrating multiple, varied authentic, culturally rich, and age-appropriate materials—and high quality technology-delivered resources—makes language learning engaging and fun.
  • Studying the culture of the foreign language is an important aspect of language learning.
  • Making connections in the target language to subject-matter students are currently learning in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies classes is especially powerful as both academic content and language learning are strengthened.

(Source: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL):