Sometimes we all just need a little reminder that there are a variety of ways to provide comprehensible input to our students. Here are a handful of great ideas contributed by some fabulous teachers to help you bring a dose of novelty into your classroom! Do you have a favorite CI-friendly activity? Please share in the comments!

Mad Libs style stories (contributed by Jessica Conley)

I love to have students create stories together as a class. These stories always incorporate recently learned vocabulary into them as well as review vocabulary. Because of the nature of elementary foreign language teaching goes, I have found that the most successful way to do a class-created story is for me to provide students with a story “skeleton” in a PowerPoint presentation, in which they then fill in the “blanks.” This is very similar to a “Mad Libs” format. Sometimes we do this as a class activity collectively, and other times (for upper levels), I pass out a copy of the text in paper form for them to complete individually, illustrate their story, and then read their story in Spanish to a friend or to the class. I have included a PowerPoint Presentation to this email so that you can see the format of these stories. I utilize this activity with many TPRS curricula (Cuentame, Hola Ninos, Brandon Brown Quiere Un Perro).

Theater tableau/ Frozen moment (contributed by Ben Lev)

Students are put into random groups of three or four. Each group has a copy of the novel. Groups are to either assigned a chapter or allowed to choose a chapter and then re-enact one scene in a frozen moment. Groups only need 3-5 minutes to practice; Teacher circulates to clarify which scene they’re choosing. One group presents at a time. The first question the teacher can ask is “Who is who?” Then the scene being represented usually becomes clear. Many opportunities for circling key structures. Have your camera ready — students love posing!

During reading activity (contributed by Cynthia Hitz)

Vida y muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha – chapter 3

I distribute the paper with sketches that represent events and people in the chapter. As I read the chapter, the students listen (without books) and circle one of the two sketches in each pair when they hear that item mentioned in the chapter.

After the reading/listening activity is completed, the students can review/retell the events of the chapter with the help of the sketches.

Option: Before the teacher reads the chapter, the students can predict events in chapter 3.

Dibujos Diarios (contributed by Jessica Conley) 

I love beginning each class with a “warm-up” activity. One of my favorite warm-up activities is called “dibujos diarios” (daily drawings). I do this warm-up activity with my first and second grade classes (I utilize “CUENTAME” with these two grade levels). They enter the classroom and there is a short Spanish sentence written on the Smartboard. This sentence incorporates recently-taught vocabulary from our curriculum “Cuentame” by TPRS Publishing Inc. I ask one student to attempt to read this sentence to the class (I read it to the first grade classes) for a peso/euro, and then I say “La clase dibuja la foto.” They class will then quickly (within 1-2 minutes) draw a picture of the sentence that I have described to them in Spanish. I try to make the sentences as comical/crazy as possible. For example, using vocabulary from “Cuentame” Episode 1, I might say/write on the Smartboard: “La gatita agarra el elefante. ¡El elefante está furioso!” (“The kitten grabs the elephant. The elephant is furious!”) Or, I might write “La gatita busca el pez grande. ¡El pez grande come la gatita!” (“The kitten looks for a big fish. The big fish eats the kitten!”) The students love this warm-up activity, and it is a great way for me to do a quick comprehension check on their understanding of recently taught vocabulary.

Mystery Student (contributed by Jessica Conley)

Mystery student is great as a warm up activity. I have each student in the class fill out a personalized questionnaire with questions about their hair color, eye color, birthday, and favorite food. I then collect these forms. Each day, I pull out a student’s questionnaire and read off this information to the class. The class in turn fills out a sheet to record these facts. I then ask students “¿Quién es el estudiante?” The students take turns guessing the mystery student. I love this activity because it is a great way to speak 100% in the target language and it is personalized-the students love finding out who the mystery student is amongst them!

“What’s missing” game (contributed by Jessica Conley)

For this game, I create a scene on SMART notebook which contains various visuals for recently learned vocabulary. Students get a good look at this scene, we practice stating aloud all of the objects in Spanish, and then they close their eyes. I turn off the SMART board and delete one item from the scene. Students then must guess, in Spanish, which item is missing. I ask: “Que falta la escena?” It is a great review game!

After reading activity (contributed by Cynthia Hitz)

In chapter 8, p46, of El nuevo Houdini, it states “ Mientras conducía, pensaba en besarla.”

The target structures I want to provide a lot of repetitions on is:

“Mientras + on-going action in the past + pensaba en + infinitive.”

To do this, after reading chapter 8 and discussing it, I give students the assignment to sketch themselves doing an activity and a bubble to indicate what they were thinking while doing the activity.

Then I use the document camera to project the sketches on the board and ask questions about the sketches.   When students sketch on ½ a sheet of paper or on a ¼ sheet of paper, I can project 2-4 of the sketches at the same time and compare them. This provides a lot of reps of the above target structures, while keeping the students engaged because they want to see what their classmates have drawn.

What makes this activity even more “cute” is to print off the students’ school photos from the seating charts and give them to the students to use in their sketches.

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