Side 1: Little kids in language class are adorable.
We start our PreK & Kindergarten specials after our school’s fall standardized testing. Last week was my first week with PreK and today was our second class.
I always start with introductions and feelings in PreK because they are my only new students. Our first day of class, our 2 conversations around the circle rug are this:
Me: Soy Señora Proto. ¿Cómo te llamas?
Kid: Soy Kid.
Me: Mucho gusto, Kid. ¡Adiós!
By the time we make it around the circle, everyone has this down pretty easy AND I know their names. I use “Soy” in PreK and K just to set it up for later. They use “Me llamo” in first and second but carry over the “Soy” because they know it means “I am.” It also means I can get things like “I’m big / I’m little” in PreK with one structure. Second, we go for feelings:
Me: Kid, ¿Cómo estás? ¿Bien? ¿Mal? ¿Más o menos?
Kid: …..whatever they say
If they say “Bien” I ask “¿Bien [one thumb] or muy bien [two thumbs up]?
I would like to pretend it’s only practice for feelings, but it is also because I need to practice their names. It’s also great to compare students to each other.
Me: Kid 1 está mal. Kid 2 está mal también. ¿Está Kid 3 mal?
Class (usually screaming): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Me: Kid 3 no está mal…. ¡Kid 3 está muy bien!
Eventually, we can get through this little set of conversations extremely fast until it’s very simple for them. Commenting on each other’s feelings is good too. I also do some counting for how many feel what way. It’s ends up a fast warm-up and eventually I stop doing the introduction part and only do the feelings.
The last thing we do in the first class (and what I do for every other PreK class, really) goes toward TPRS, but with… no real story… and much less student questions. Here are the sentences I’m using with my picture:
Es un gato.
Es un perro.
Es un gato rojo.
Es un perro rojo.
Es un gato verde.
Es un perro verde.
¿Es el gato verde o rojo? etc etc
¿Es un gato o un perro? etc etc
I have laminated colored animals, so I show them pictures and just ask tons of questions about the pictures. Which animal is it, what color, etc. By the end of day 1, they have cat/dog/red/green.
This week we did nothing extra but add blue at end, focusing mostly on review. Next week I focus blue and yellow because gato/perro/rojo/verde will be pretty set for them.
PreK is adorable to work with. 30 minutes a week is really limited time but as long as we just communicate teeny things in Spanish, it at least serves some purpose.
Side 2: Lower elementary students get really mad when they don’t get what they want.
On the other side, I had a 3rd grader melt down at me today because they were writing narrations for pictures from Episode 1 in Cuéntame and could not accept that they were only allowed to use Spanish that they know, and no, you can’t write it in English because you don’t know how to say it. My 3rd and 4th graders are always the most likely to get really mad at me when I say “Use the Spanish you know” because they feel insulted that they can only use a little Spanish yet and that I won’t translate something totally new for them to just copy down. It gets better as the year goes on, though, when they realize I’m not “being mean” by not telling them all sorts of stuff.