First Day with 1st-3rd Grade

We almost always start on a Wednesday and that makes the first day of school a Spanish Day for our 1st and 2nd Graders. This is always a joy filled time for me because 1st and 2nd grade are so much fun to teach and to be with.

In the past I have begun class with a silly powerpoint with lots of pictures of kids and animals saying “Hola” and the kids all say “hola” back to the pictures. I really like using this presentation, but it’s time for something new.

First, since most of the 1st and 2nd graders have been with me in years past, I am starting with our regular class routine:

  • A simple “Buenos días” or “Buenas tardes” that I say to the kids and they say back
  • The “Buenos días/tardes” song: (sung to the melody of Frere Jacques – Buenos días, Buenos días, ¿Cómo estás? ¿Cómo estás? Muy bien gracias, Muy bien gracias, ¿Y tú? ¿Y tú?
  • The “¿Cómo estás?” song: This song originally came from Basho & Friends and I adapted it for my class (I play the guitar or ukulele so we can control the speed of the song to go really slowly or really fast or anywhere in between). Unfortunately, I can’t find the original song any more, but he has lots of other great music videos that can be fun to use in class.

Click here to see how these portions of the intro procedure go with 1st graders.

  • Conversations – This is a simple performance activity in which the kids walk around and ask each other “¿Cómo estás?” and answer each other using the vocabulary from the ¿Cómo estás? song. I have very thorough and strict procedures and rules for this activity, especially when I’m doing it with the youngest students. The structure of the rules and telling them to the kids in Spanish is also a great way to get lots of ci to them.

Click here to see what these performance conversations are like.

  • Numbers – the students count with me to 15, with each number having a specific body movement (claps, arms up, hands on hips, etc)
  • Colors – we go around the room and I ask what color things are. I do a lot of Getting it Wrong in this activity, which is always fun for the kids. This (and the numbers review) ensure that the kids hear and are practicing numbers and colors every class period, but we aren’t focusing an entire class period on them.*

After the Intro procedures, which usually take about 7-8 minutes to get through, I will switch to English and review our “Super Secret Special Spanish Signal,” which is what I call my procedure for calming the class down if they are getting too rowdy (click here for video of this procedure in action with first graders). All I do is simply count backward from 3 in Spanish. After I say, “uno,” the students respond with “0, shhhh” and they turn and have their eyes on me and stop talking. It is very simple and not super cutsie like some of the calls and responses I have heard from other teachers, but it works for us. To practice, I will have the kids talk to each other at various levels of volume and then I will move around the room and call out our signal. They have to quiet down and look at me, which can be challenging if I’m not at the front of the room, but at the same time, I don’t plan to only be in one spot the entire year, so it’s good for them to practice with me in lots of different places.

For accountability, I use a point system ala la Maestra Loca, but I won’t introduce that until 2-3 classes into the year.

After this, we still have about 17-20 minutes of class. We will switch back into Spanish and I will talk about my Mochila (backpack). This year, I am starting the year out on a “back to school” theme. All of my stories and OWI characters will be related to school. With TPRS, I have to be really intentional if I want the kids to be able to acquire certain language. I don’t have trouble getting them to acquire the high frequency verbs because they are so integrated into the stories, but without a theme, I have trouble keeping my vocabulary in-bounds.

For 1st-3rd grade, I will be reading a book called La mochila de Lin, which is a very simple story about a girl named Lin and why her backpack is hopping (spoiler alert, it’s not a frog or a kangaroo, it’s Lin hopping up and down because she is excited for school!) I will bring my own backpack and we will do a variation on the magic box activity** and talk about all the things I have inside it – school supplies like pencils and crayons and markers, paper, notebooks, and other things like a football, stuffed animals and food toys, a batman action figure, and any other random and silly thing that I can find in my classroom.

While we talk about what is in my backpack and describe it (it’s a plain black one), I will be asking about their backpacks and what they have in them, “Do you have pencils? Do you have a football? Do you have carrots? Etc.” After this, we’ll read about Lin’s backpack together, continuing to discuss and talk about it as we go.

Next week, when I see them again, we will start with the same routine and then, we will review all the things that were in my backpack and theirs.

I will have more posts about the first days of Kindergarten, Intermediate, and Middle School as the week goes on.

I am looking forward to this year and I feel like I’m getting off on the right foot for acquisition, proficiency, and positive vibes for Spanish class. I hope you all feel the same!

Happy new school year!

*I used to do units on colors and numbers, but I found it hard to keep the students’ interest in a full period where we only talk about things related to colors or numbers. With a short review every class period, they hear and acquire the words for these things but we aren’t spending all of our time on it.

**I recently read about a high school teacher who took random things from the students and put them in the box and then the kids had to guess who they belonged to. If anyone is familiar with this variation, please comment and I can link to the article because I think it can be a super fun activity with older kids (not so much with younger ones, I think taking their stuff, even for a game would cause some major tears).


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