Decorating the Spanish Classroom

Papel Picado makes a colorful wall decoration for the back of your classroom. Keep your teaching aids in the front of the room.

Papel Picado makes a colorful wall decoration for the back of your classroom. Keep your teaching aids in the front of the room.

Your classroom walls are valuable teaching space - striking the right balance between decoration and teaching tools is crucial. I like to hang a combination of cultural items and teaching posters that help my students communicate. Most decorations should go in the back of the room while teaching aids should go in the front, the space that your students are actually viewing during class.

My room has a back corner with a Guatemalan Huipil and carved masks. Since they are in the back of the room, they are one of the first things my students see when they enter class. It’s colorful, interesting and sets the stage for an cultural Spanish experience.

The front of my room is reserved posters with question words, numbers, and Spanish mnemonics that I can easily point to during a lesson. If I can find a poster with cultural content that also demonstrates vocabulary or a grammatical structure, then I know I’ve hit the jackpot.

Counting is one of the first things we teach our children! Why not do it in another language?

Counting is one of the first things we teach our children! Why not do it in another language?

I needed a nice set of posters for my beginning students to teach the Spanish numbers 1-10. I wanted a set of posters that was fun, functional and also highlighted Mexican culture. I made this set of posters for the classroom.

With the big, bold words, students can easily reference the numbers in class. They have the added benefit of teaching the verb HAY (there is / there are) and a number of fun animals, colors, artifacts and places you may find in Mexico. When you are coming up to the Day of the Dead celebrations, it’s easy to find the Calavera masks and the papel picado on the posters. If you are talking about the Aztecs or Mayans, you can point out the pyramids.

These are available in our store here.

Fun grammar posters also have a place in the language classroom. Remember to put these in the front of the room where students can see them easily. I hang my three page Mr. V. Peach DVD poster to remind my upper level students of the irregular participles when teaching the present and past perfect tenses.

mr v peach dvd Spanish poster verbs

I made up this character to help students easily learn these tricky participles and students love to reference the PEACH. See our previous blog post here to download the poster for free!

It’s fun and memorable!

How do you decorate your classroom?

Leave us a comment below and let us know!

Remembering Tricky Verb Endings. Mnemonics in the Language Classroom.

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to remember verb endings? It’s because our brain is designed to forget things that have no context in the real world. Let’s face it, remembering if a verb ends in ar or ir means nothing to our survival as a human being so we forget it easily.

We remember interesting images!

We remember interesting images!

However, we still need to teach those tricky verb endings in Spanish. Most of the time, language learners can learn these with comprehensible input activities: movie talks, level appropriate readers, and games that recycle high frequency vocabulary. These place the word in context and therefore easier to remember.

Another great way is to provide a memorable picture, idea or mnemonic. For example, the image below is inherently interesting making it a great way to teach the word bombilla and the verb flotar in the present continuous: La bombilla está flotando. Since light bulbs don’t normally float, it’s an easy picture to remember, and the verb sticks in our brain.

My other favorite tools are mnemonics. Here are few classics for teaching Spanish.

Irregular subjunctive verbs. DISHES: Dar, Ir, Saber, Haber, Estar, Ser

This comical one fo the irregular Informal Tú commands. Ven Di Sal Haz Ten Ve Pon Sé Check it out with Google Images and you can find some great posters for this!

I invented one to remember the Irregular Past Participles of some common verbs. It helps when teaching the past perfect and present perfect in Spanish.

Mr. V. Peach DVD.

This crazy little character sticks in a students’ mind. Who wouldn’t remember a famous peach?

Mr. V. Peach DVD Spanish Poster

Mr. V. Peach DVD Spanish Poster

Mr. V. Peach DVD. Muerto, Roto, Visto, Puesto, Escrito, Abierto, Cubierto, Hecho, Dicho, Vuelto, Descubierto.

This crazy little character sticks in a students’ mind. Who wouldn’t remember a famous peach?

Hang on a white board or on a wall facing students so they can see it all times.

Hang on a white board or on a wall facing students so they can see it all times.

I made this to fit on a three standard sized pages to give the effect of a long poster. Then, I printed them on a nice yellow card stock to give it a pop of color. Hang it up a white board with some fun magnets (I have a couple of Guatemalan magnets on mine) and you have teaching tool you can use all year. Write a few questions on the board next to the poster and you have an easy warm-up or exit ticket for your lesson.

We hope you enjoy your new poster!

Leave a comment below about your favorite mnemonic for learning Spanish!

Using Puzzles with Young Language Learners

pinterest kid puzzler poder spanish printables.png

Who doesn’t love a puzzle? Done right, they are a great way to learn vocabulary and grammar. My older students are always willing to solve a good crossword or word search. “Crucigramas” and “sopas de letras” are easy to prep, fun to complete and provide another way for students to review vocabulary.

Younger students love puzzles too! I teach my own daughters Spanish at home. This summer, I wanted to teach them basic high frequency verbs and structures they could use to speak in Spanish right away. I also needed something age appropriate that uses clear but fun pictures they could easily understand. These elementary level language puzzles were the key.

Here are my favorite ways to use these puzzles for elementary or middle school Spanish students.

  1. Introduce the vocabulary first with some fun visuals. I make Google Slides or Powerpoint presentations of the words. Use interesting photographs that incorporate culture when you can. For example, if you are teaching the structure “me gusta comer” then you may want to add in a fun photo of a gigantic Paella in Spain!

  2. Tell a short story with a couple of select pictures. Use the structures in the puzzles over and over. You can also do a Movietalk with any short clip or music video you find online. I love to use Pixar shorts and other readily available material on Youtube. You may be interested in our blog post about how to do movietalks which you can find by clicking here.

  3. Once students are familiar with the words, use the puzzles as either a group or individual activity. Picture crosswords have the added benefit of making students decipher meaning from the clues. I also differentiate in class by making word strips to use as extra clues for kids that need a little more help.

  4. Use a different version of the puzzle as review for another day, homework, or as a substitute lesson plan. Mix it up with a different format. I like to use crosswords first and then word searches as a review.

Our elementary and middle school puzzles bundles have no prep worksheets that are print and play. With cut and paste activities, drawing, sorting and writing, they make learning fun for the youngest learners. I know my daughters love them!

In short, have fun with puzzles and remember that kids just want to have fun!

The Power of Drawing to Teach Spanish ¡A Dibujar!

When you need a go-to class activity that is fun and useful, let your students draw. Drawing can be a powerful tool for reflection. Let’s think about the benefits of drawing in Spanish class:

  • It’s simple to set up and requires little to no-prep.

  • Every student is participating! It’s hard to do nothing if you’ve been asked to draw.

  • Students demonstrate their understanding of the text, class discussion or video.

  • It’s fun! Most kids like to draw!

  • You can keep the drawings. Hang them in the classroom or post them on the board for discussion.

Small student whiteboards are good to have on hand but if you don’t have any, plain paper will always work.

Printable comic strip templates work great too. You can download a free set of ours at at our TpT store by clicking the image below. Keep a set of crayons or washable markers on hand to make the drawings more fun.

Free Comic Strip template

Free Comic Strip Templates

Here are my favorite Spanish class activities which are easily adapted to other languages and subjects:

  1. Scene Drawing. Hand out student whiteboards or use plain paper. Students draw a scene from the book or text you are reading. When finished, have them discuss with a friend.

  2. Game Drawing. Using small white boards, line up students in pairs. Have one line of students with their back to the board at the front of the class. Project or hold up a word and tell the students that can see it to draw it for their partners. Tell the partners to guess what it is. They can ask yes and no questions too. This is great for speaking practice!

  3. Cartoon Strip Drawing. Hand out a simple cartoon template. Tell students to make a comic strip of a scene in a movie they just saw or from a book you are reading in class. Tell them to use speech bubbles. Once finished, have them pass their comic to another group. That group can then write down what is happening (present tense) or what happened (past tense) in the comic. All of our Cuéntame un Cuento lesson plans include two unique comic strip templates to retell the story they wrote.

  4. Drawing for assessments. Use drawing on a quiz to show reading or vocabulary comprehension. I like to add a small Extra Credit question that includes drawing. I make it easy since my goal is to lower tension and add a little fun to the quiz. Here is a picture of one I recently included on a quiz about Kristy Placido’s TPRS book on Frida Kahlo. In this question, students had draw Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (they had already seen some photos of them together) and show their physical differences. They turned out to be super fun!

  5. Class Artists! In this activity, assign one or two students to be the artists for the activity. Then, ask and answer questions to the rest of the class to make up a crazy story that targets vocabulary or structures you want to cover. The artist students draw the ideas from the rest of the class. Follow up with students doing a retell by writing the complete story on their own paper or on the board.

We have some FREE Comic Strip templates in our Teachers Pay Teachers Store. Get them here and try them out in class!

These are just a few ways to add a little art to Spanish class! You may also like our previous blog post about our Day of the Dead drawing and craft activities. ¡Celebra el Día de Los Muertos!


Happy drawing!

Free Graphic Organizer for Spanish Verbs

Free Verb Master Spanish regular verbs worksheets

It’s September and if you are back in the classroom teaching Spanish, you know this is the best time to review basic verbs and introduce your students to essential grammar concepts. I’m a big fan of comprehensible input in the classroom, using simple verbs and structures in context to making learning fun. However, there are times when a straightforward verb organizer can be helpful for students. I made these that by taking the common concept of Spanish verb conjugations and putting them into a visually appealing format to help students see patterns in the verb endings.

In this example, students find the regular present tense verbs with AR endings that have been left in the basement of an apartment building and “move” them upstairs with the elevator to the matching translation. Once completed, they can see how verb endings match for the singular and plural pronouns. It’s a simple way to organize verbs that works well for visual learners.

The first slide below shows the blank worksheet. The answer sheet on the second slide is color coded to help students see the endings better. The next two slides use the verbs in student interviews! Dictate or print the worksheet with the questions, have students interview classmates, and then share the answers. The final page can be shown in class to recycle words and practice more speaking.

Want this Easy Prep Spanish Lesson Plan for FREE? Just sign up for our newsletter below and we will send your free copy to your email. Let us know what you think! P.S. You can find the NEWSLETTER SIGN UP at the bottom of this page. Don’t forget to get your free PDF lesson now!

August 2018 Back to School Sale with TPT!

TPT August Sale speak more spanish

Wow! It's hard to believe it's August already! If you are thinking about going back to school soon (or perhaps you already are!) then don't miss the annual August TPT sale to stock up on some EZ Prep Spanish Lesson plans. All of our lesson plans will be 25% off during the two day sale, August 1st and August 2nd!  Even our Bundles are on sale!  

Save yourself some prep time and add some fun to class to kick off the new school year! Just use the code BTSFRESH at checkout.

Click here to save big at our TPT Store

Or Follow our Store here for future sales and freebies!

While you are at it, why not sign up for our newsletter below?!

Don't miss the sale!

FREE Games for the Holidays!

Games and puzzles are great vocabulary builders. Give your students a much needed break from the standard class exercises!  This month we are celebrating the winter holidays with a FREE Multi-cultural Word Search you can download at our store.  While you are there, you may also like our Winter Bundle of vocabulary activities and fun for the Spanish classroom. 

Oh yeah, scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up for our newsletter for even more fun! 

¡Feliz Navidad!

ACTFL 2017 Updates

ACTFL is the national language teachers' conference. This year it's in Nashville, TN.

It's one of my favorite times of the year. Where else can you geek out with 12,000 other language teachers for three days?  If you couldn't make it this year, check back here to find out what's going on!  We'll be blogging about the conference all weekend.  Plus, sign up for our newsletter for more Spanish fun!

Let us know if you are at ACTFL this year!  Read more here.

Music City Center. Nashville, TN.  ACTFL 2017!

Music City Center. Nashville, TN.  ACTFL 2017!

Crafts for El Día de Los Muertos

El Día de Los Muertos is hands down one of the best holidays to teach in Spanish class. I love highlighting the mixture of cultures, the art, music and food of Day of the Dead. It's worth the time to take a break and celebrate the holiday by decorating your classroom with some Mexican themed art.  Try these craft packs below which are designed to be flexible to allow for student choice. Your students can make banners, masks, paddles or drawings with the different size templates. These are loads of fun, even more so if you play some Mariachi music while creating your art!  Download the free sample version below!

Free Spanish Halloween Puzzle

La Noche de Brujas

If you are teaching about El Día de los Muertos in Spanish class this year, you know it's a great opportunity to point out the differences between this famous Mexican holiday and Halloween. Before you delve deep into the wonderful intricacies of the Day of the Dead, it's helpful to have a little fun with some Halloween vocabulary so students can compare and contrast later the holidays later. Crosswords and puzzles are fun ways for students to learn some essential vocabulary. 

Click the image above to download our FREE spooky crossword for Halloween.   While you are at it, don't forget to sign up for our Newsletter! Scroll down to the bottom of the page to sign up and hear about our free resources!

If you are teaching elementary Spanish or work in a bilingual classroom with young learners, you may also like our free simple version of the crossword below. This version has a shortened list and more pictures. Try it our free!

Looking for Day of the Dead material instead? Click here to read our previous post about this iconic Mexican holiday!

Great Short Films for Spanish Class Spookiness!

La Leyenda del Espantapájaros

Teaching with movies is still one of the best ways to engage students in the language classroom. When you find a good Spanish language short film that includes cultural pieces you can tie back in with current festivals, you got a winner. This short movie from Spain is one of the best you can find on YouTube for the Halloween season. Although Halloween is not really celebrated in Spain, this movie gives you the eerie Halloween feeling and an opportunity to tie in some Spanish culture to your lesson plans. For example, the Spanish PowerPoint that goes along with the resources below includes pictures of the famous Don Quijote windmills of Castilla La Mancha in Spain, typical Spanish villages, and essential vocabulary. Click the image below to download our full lesson plans that include crosswords, word searches and visual presentations that make teaching this film a breeze!  These Spanish worksheets in pdf form and in PowerPoint are easily adjustable, match well with free Quizlet and Kahoot resources, and make perfect lesson plans for Spanish 1 to AP Spanish.

Movietalks. Comprehensible Input in the Spanish Classroom


MovieTalks are big in the TPRS world. Spanish teachers like Martina Bex, Kristy Placido and Bryce Hedstrom have demonstrated how to leverage the power of movies and incorporate ideas from Dr. Stephen Krashen’s work on comprehensible input to teach a second language. They are a great resource for Spanish teachers looking for engaging materials to teach vocabulary and culture.

Click here to download the MovieTalk and Google vocabulary presentation for FREE.

If you are unfamiliar with MovieTalks, the basic premise is that the teacher "talks over" a short film using a list of words she wants to teach. The goal is to provide comprehensible input through repetition. This helps teach the targeted vocabulary you want your students to learn.

MovieTalks can take a bit of practice but once you have the hang of it you can improvise most of them. Just take the time to think about what words you want your students to internalize and focus on those as you talk over the film.

You can also use MovieTalks to teach culture if you can find the right film, for example an animated short about El Día de Los Muertos. But what happens when you find a short film that works well for your vocabulary list but doesn’t contain cultural items from the Spanish speaking world? 

Here’s a tip: When you want to use a movie that is lacking in culture, you can pre-teach the vocabulary with a slide presentation that includes authentic photos from the Spanish speaking world. If you need to teach the word “volar” then why not use a picture of a Quetzal and then talk about the importance of this animal in Guatemala?  There are many ways to sneak in the culture!

Try the movie talk below about a few disgruntled birds.  It has a fun little message about the importance of accepting differences! There is a short, medium and long version. They all use simple present tense verbs with cognates but they can be easily modified to use the past tense for advanced levels. They come with a free link to a Google Slides vocabulary presentation and an editable version of the scripts. 

Click here to download the MovieTalk and Google vocabulary presentation for FREE.

Play around with the texts and see what you can come up with. Above all, have fun with the movie and your students will too!  

MovieTalk for Spanish Teachers