In my last blog post I mentioned that I am moving toward a little bit of a routine for some basic educational practice with my son (two months shy of the three) in our target language (Spanish). The morning routine (over breakfast) is about three minutes long, and sometimes I don’t even go away all the way through it:
- Days of the week – At breakfast, I remind him what yesterday was. “Ayer fue lunes. Entonces, hoy es m____.” I give him the initial sound of the day of the week and he can fill in the blank. We look at the simple chart on the fridge and move the clothes pin to the new day. Then I sing this days of the week song a couple times: https://youtu.be/Xko5m6LvGrU?list=PL82tfUlmxzfS1QK2AkQWrsPgql6lTtNKI He usually chimes in on “siete.” And occasionally you will hear him singing it, mixing up all the days of the week later in the day. J
- Months of the year – We review what month we are in right now. Even though it is the 20th of January and we have kept at the routine most days, he will still say it is diciembre if asked what month we are in. So I just point to the calendar and remind him that we are enero and say the whole date—pointing first to the day of the week written big on the day of the week chart, then to the day on the calendar, then to the month, then to the year. “Hoy es domingo, el veinte de enero, dos mil diecinueve.” The lovely January calendar currently on my fridge is clearly my original work put together in about three minutes. (The nice thing about doing a little project like that is my son can watch me construct it and talk with me about what I am doing.) But I think for next month we will use this one by Dwayne Kohne: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/WEEKLY-FREEBIE-15-CalendarsCalendarios-1141448. It has the extreme simplicity and ease of printing I seek, spells out everything, and leaves words in lowercase. Then we do this simple month of the year song by Dr. Jean: https://youtu.be/bi_ipuFp1Lg
- Letters – For a while I was keeping ABC charts on the fridge with the days of the week chart and calendar and singing an ABC song, but then I realized it did not seem to be helping us move forward with letter recognition. So at the beginning of this week, I moved the ABC charts to a less prominent place in the kitchen (though we do keep singing the song some), and started an emphasis on the Letter of the Week. In our morning routine, this generally just means, pointing to the ginormous letter on the fridge and asking what the letter of the week is. Then, “Sí, muy bien, es la letra A—La A de ____.” He will usually fill the blank with avión. Then we put our arms out and act like airplanes. I picked this word to emphasize it works with the letter A in both of our languages. Plus he loves airplanes.
When we have had time and interest throughout the week, we did additional activities to focus on the letter A, like:
(1) Tuesday I drew a lowercase A on one side of a paper and uppercase on the other making the letters look like roads or race tracks. He enjoyed driving toy cars on it during potty time that morning, and then later in the week asked for it again. I learned this trick from an activity at our library a while back. It has little kids (at least mine!) doing what they LOVE—driving toy cars around—while also helping them work on tracing letters. Note that while the lowercase A was popular with him, the uppercase was not, I suppose since the cars do not go in a circle that way.
(2) Thursday when he asked to color, I presented him with a letter A Abeja coloring page from Mr. Printables. https://mrprintables.com/spanish-alphabet-coloring-pages/ I chose the all lowercase option. (It makes sense to me to write words the way the actually look in a sentence.) He enjoyed tracing inside the word and parts of the picture. The same day (a big drawing day for him) he wanted to do some worksheets from a preschool workbook we have–https://www.amazon.com/Logros-En-Preescolar-Success-Preschool/dp/B00P2OFV08. So the first one I presented him was the one focusing on the letter A and using an airplane as the picture and accompanying word.
(3) Reading time – Saturday evening we re-read Mi abuelita/My Grandmother by Ginger Foglesong Guy. https://www.amazon.com/Grandma-Abuelita-Ginger-Foglesong-Guy/dp/0060790989 Airplanes are a focal point of the book. On the page that uses the word avión, we talked about what letter it starts with. Dad read the English part, and we talked about how the English word airplane starts with the letter A also.
I have really enjoyed the letter of the week approach so far. There is no pressure because you have an entire week to do activities when there is time and interest. Some days we are super busy and do nothing. Others (like on Thursday) we are spending a relaxing day at home and in a coloring mood. For upcoming letters of the week, I think we will first hit all the vowels (maybe not O because he always recognizes that letter already) and then go on to select consonants. For more, this bilingual homeschool mom has some cool resource ideas for letters of the week: https://familylifevidafamiliar.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/preescolar-1-y-2/
Other than the letter of the week we also do some other activities when he wants to that would be categorized as quite educational:
1 – Workbooks – He now has a couple of bilingual preschool workbooks. The workbook “Listos para la escula/Ready for School” by Roger Priddy (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/031252529X/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00__o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) is made to wipe off and reuse. It is a recent addition to our collection that I love. He can sit (especially during potty time) and trace letters for a very long time. For the other (“Logros en preescolar/Success in Preschool” by Mead Publishing https://www.amazon.com/Logros-En-Preescolar-Success-Preschool/dp/B00P2OFV08), I put the sheets into clear plastic pockets that we wipe and reuse. I feel that is especially important since the bilingual version of this workbook does not seem to be in print anymore. One thing I really like about it is that in the letter section it uses the same item to go with each letter that works in English and Spanish. (However, I noticed one repeated error in the Spanish in this workbook so far: It has the word zebra spelled with a Z in both languages.)
2 – Songs/videos – There is a tremendous set of videos available in Spanish and English put out by Learning with Yaya/Aprendiendo con Yaya that my son has really enjoyed for probably a year or more off and on: https://www.learningwithyaya.com/collections/videos-en-espanol. They have accompanying songs you can listen to on the website for free (https://www.learningwithyaya.com/pages/our-music). On many days, we play through the songs and dance around the living room to them. You can also purchase an accompanying book for each song: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=yael+herszkopf+mayer&ref=nb_sb_noss. We got our first of these songbooks recently (Sonidos), and it has been a big hit here. Yesterday, I noticed my son trying to sing the song at the lunch table. So I pulled the book off the shelf for one of our before-nap reads. We went through it together then, and last night before bed, I asked him if he had a request for a book and he said “Sonidos”! Part of the beauty of it is that the curriculum is made by a bilingual speech therapist, so she knows how to teach sounds and even does accompanying gestures in the videos that show through in the illustrated children in the book.
3 – Puzzles – My son has so much to keep him busy (like toy cars and running in circles) that I think he often forgets about the puzzle collection we have! But he does enjoy doing a puzzle when reminded it is an option. Recently we received a bilingual puzzle with jungle animals and their corresponding letters–https://www.amazon.com/Ingenio-Zafari-Alphabet-English-Spanish/dp/B0051FFQSA. He was enthralled by it and spend maybe an hour doing the whole thing and talking about it along the way. We got it out the second time today and he really enjoyed again.
Teaching a child this young, I want to be careful not to put any pressure on doing “learning” activities. For one thing, he is learning through all that he does. The last thing I want to do is curb his eagerness to learn by trying to force certain subject matter on him. But I can meet his eagerness with a corresponding activity. And I can use his interests to link to things I would like him to learn—like tracing letters with cars!