“Lesson planning is the most enjoyable part of being a Spanish teacher!”
Said no one. Ever.
Be honest: When was the last time you frantically searched the web for ideas you could cobble together for a last-minute lesson?
I’m sure there are a blessed few of you out there who really enjoy lesson planning, but unfortunately, most teachers find it difficult to juggle with the other parts of the job.
Especially if you’re planning as a new teacher. Then it can really feel hectic.
Sure, you’re glad for those plans so that you know what you’re doing with your life for the week, but my guess is that your favorite part of being a teacher is, well, actually teaching.
For a long time, I counted myself among the ranks of teachers who disliked writing lesson plans, especially when my employers required full outlines.
Not only did I find new activities, but I started formulating my own idea of what a good plan looked like.
Now that I’ve been teaching for eight years and I’ve come to terms with writing plans, I’ve decided it’s time to give back to the lesson planning world and give you some great Spanish lesson plans for elementary classrooms.
These plans are everything you hope they’ll be: simple, organized and packed with fun and educational activities.
They’re versatile lessons that can be adapted for different ability levels and differentiated for individual learning needs.
Each plan covers a different age-appropriate Spanish learning objective for elementary learners and includes an activity to reach every student according to their preferred learning style.
I’ve also included a quick start-up guide for creating solid lesson plans.
So let’s get started!
A Quick Guide for Creating Solid Lesson Plans
There are a lot of options for writing lesson plans out there. Some schools have a specific outline they require, while other schools use online programs for lesson organization. I’ve seen some teachers set up adorable (and enviable) lesson planning binders, while some stick to a basic handwritten guide.
Whatever your poison, it’s always good to have a small basic guide for setting up your plans. Below is a checklist you can use when putting together your own lesson plans or converting others for use in your classroom.
- Objectives: Set your goal. This section could be as simple as a short sentence explaining what your goal is, or can be juiced up with the common core materials or standards that you’re covering.
- Materials: This is a good spot to list what you need for your lesson. Get yourself organized so you know what you need to prepare to pull your class off without a hitch.
- Introduction/warm-up: A good appetizer pretty much holds the promise of a good meal to come, and the same goes for your warm-up. Wake students up at the beginning of class with a fun ice-breaker that will whet their appetite for something more.
- Activities: This is where the magic happens. List a few activities that help your students grasp your objective and practice. One best practice is to take a multi-sensory approach to language education and include activities for the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners in your class.
- Taking it further/homework: Whether you have extra time in class or need to give a little extra practice at home, this’ll be how you hammer it all home. This could also be a good place to add in some space for evaluation to find out if students truly understood the topic.
5 Essential Spanish Elementary School Lesson Plans
Lesson #1: Vocabulary Acquisition
- Objective: Learn a new group of vocabulary words pertaining to your current topic.
- Materials: Two plastic fly swatters. New word list for each student. Blank cards for “Memory.” Slips of paper with words and meanings written on them. Different colored markers, crayons, etc.
- Intro/warm-up: Play “Fly Swatter.” Give students a list of the new words and their meanings and read over them together. Write the new words all over the board. Call two students up to the board and give them each a fly swatter.
Call out the meaning of a new word and see which student can slap the correct word with their swatter first. If needed, you can ask the class to help them. Continue bringing up pairs of students until all the words have been practiced.
Visual: Have students create memory cards. Students will create two cards for each word: one card with the new Spanish word, and one card with a picture drawn that describes that word.
Have students play “Memory” alone or with a partner. There are also many online resources that have interactive memory games with themed Spanish lists, if you’re wanting to incorporate some technology.
Auditory: Write out new vocabulary and their meanings on separate slips of paper. Mix up all words and meanings and give each student one slip. Go around the room and have one student at a time stand and call out what’s written on their slip of paper. A second student should stand and read when they believe they have the word or meaning that goes with the first student’s paper.
Kinesthetic: Give each student a note card with a new vocabulary word on it. Students will not look at their paper but will instead hold it up (facing out) on their forehead. The goal of the game is to find out what word is written on their note card. The catch? Students may only speak Spanish to ask questions about what is on their forehead, and responding students can only respond with “Sí” or “No.”
For example, if the students are learning food vocabulary and one student thinks they have the word helado (ice cream) on their forehead, they might ask, “Es una comida fria?” (Is it a cold food?)
- Taking it further/homework: Have students do rainbow words. This is a simple task that helps the brain visualize the words for future recall. Have students write each new word three times, each time in a different color.
Lesson #2: Adjectives
- Objective: Introduce and practice Spanish adjectives.
- Materials: English mad-libs sheet. Basic four-tab bifold foldable sheet: Fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise. Split the top flap into four equal flaps by making three cuts from the bottom of the sheet up to the fold crease (only do this on half of the paper or you’ll have cut your whole page into four parts). Label each flap with the four basic adjective endings (-o, -a, -os, -as). Underneath each of the four flaps, write an example of a Spanish word with that specific adjective ending.
- Intro/warm-up: Do a quick English mad-libs with the whole class to illustrate how important the right adjective is.
Visual: Explain the four basic forms of adjectives (ending in -o, -a, -os, -as) and how to use them. Have students make a basic four-tab bifold foldable with the form endings written on each of the four flaps and examples of Spanish adjectives with endings under each flap. (Side note: Foldables are an excellent teaching tool.)
Auditory: Read a descriptive Spanish picture book or story that includes some Spanish adjectives. As students are listening, have them raise their hand every time they hear an adjective used.
Kinesthetic: Give students a blank bingo sheet and have them either draw simple pictures in each box or find pictures in a magazine and glue them in each box. Then call out adjectives that students might use to describe different pictures they drew or found—e.g., altos (tall), bonita (pretty), simpático (nice), rojas (red), etc.—and allow students to cover a square on their board.
If a student calls “bingo,” have them explain which adjectives allowed them to cover each picture. You may want to write the adjectives you call out on the board so that students can refer back to the list.
- Taking it further/homework: Have students write 10 phrases with describing adjectives in them and draw a picture to describe each phrase.
Lesson #3: Verb Conjugation
- Objective: Introduce and get familiar with regular present tense -ar verb conjugations.
- Materials: Conjugation chart/graphic organizers. Colored popsicle sticks (5-6 per student). Cardboard “tiles” with conjugated verbs written on them.
- Intro/warm-up: Make a quick game out of naming familiar verbs that have -ar endings (e.g., hablar). Give students 1-2 minutes to write as many -ar ending verbs as they can on a piece of paper. Reward the winner. Write some of the simple -ar verbs students came up with on the board for the activities portion of your lesson.
Visual: Explain regular, present tense conjugations (-o, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an) and their purpose. Introduce endings and fill out a chart or graphic organizer with students. (Note: many Spanish programs opt out of teaching the vosotros -áis form since it’s only used in Spain and almost never in Latin America.)
Auditory: Give each student five differently-colored popsicle sticks (six if you’re teaching vosotros). Have students write the subjects on each stick (e.g., red/Yo, green/Tú, yellow/Usted, blue/Nosotros and orange/Ustedes). Then call out a variety of regular -ar ending conjugated verbs and have students raise the correct stick in the air in response.
Kinesthetic: Write a wide variety of conjugated verbs on separate pieces of cardboard and tape them on the floor. Split the class into teams and choose a player from each team to start. Call out a subject + verb in English (e.g., I + speak) and the first student to jump onto the tile that says “hablo” (or whatever the correct conjugation is) is rewarded a point for their team.
- Taking it further/homework: Find three pictures online or in a magazine and glue them to a piece of paper. Choose the -ar ending verb that describes each picture and write the Spanish word in each conjugated form.
Lesson #4: Location Prepositions
- Objective: Introduce and practice location prepositions.
- Materials: Sticker preposition sheet. Stickers. Markers. Numbered posters. Colored cards. Directions sheet.
- Intro/warm-up: Introduce new location prepositions without any English. Say the word, write the word, then act it out and see if the students can guess what the word means.
Visual: Print a sheet with a box for each preposition you’ll teach. The boxes should be big enough to write the new word and draw a picture in. Have students write a new Spanish preposition at the top of each box and draw one object in each box (such as a car, bird or person). Then have the students place a sticker or another object in the correct spot in relation to the object they drew according to the preposition written in each box.
Kinesthetic: Call out new prepositions and have students act them out around the classroom.
Auditory: Preposition game. How to play: Split the class into small groups. Give each small group a poster with nine numbered squares on it in rows/columns of three and a handful of colored cards. Give them an instruction sheet that tells them what color of card should cover which number.
Have students take turns giving directions using location prepositions to direct their small group members where each color should go. Directions should be given in Spanish only and students are not allowed to say the actual number the color should cover. When the group has correctly placed all of their colored cards, they win.
Example: The directions say, “tarjeta roja: número 6” (red card: number 6). The student giving the directions could say, “La tarjeta roja va debajo del número 3 y al lado del número 5” (The red card goes below the number 3 and next to number 5).
- Taking it further/homework: Ask students to choose a room in their house and create five sentences about things in that room using their location prepositions.
Lesson #5: Sequence Words
- Objective: Introduce and practice basic sequencing words.
- Materials: Warm-up song. Copy paper and markers. Paper folded into four sections for writing a story.
- Intro/warm-up: Get kids warmed up and ready to learn with a quick song (“Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in Spanish”).
Visual: Using the song from the warm-up, introduce the new sequence words for students, such as primero (first), después (after), antes (before), luego (then), finalmente (finally). Describe the order of body parts in the song using the sequencing words.
Give students a sheet of paper and have them draw a quick stick figure. Have them label the body parts mentioned in the song and then write the sequencing words to describe the order of the song, e.g., primero: cabeza, después: hombros, luego: rodillas, finalmente: dedos (first: head, next: shoulders, then: knees, finally: toes).
Auditory: Make a line of students and call out directions for the order they need to be in. Have them reposition themselves according to what they hear.
Katie va después de Caroline. (Katie goes after Caroline.)
Kinesthetic: Split the students into small groups. Have the students brainstorm a sequence of events (such as their morning routine) and have them act out the sequence. Have the students write the sequence out using sequencing words and present to the class.
- Taking it further/homework: Have students fold a piece of paper into four sections. At the top of each section have them write: primero (first), después (next), luego (then) and finalmente (finally). Then have them brainstorm ideas for a short story and organize the ideas into the sections on their paper. Finally, have them write a story to the best of their ability using their sequencing words.
There you go! Since these are my gifts back to the lesson planning community, feel free to use these plans and modify them any way you need to for your classroom.
I hope these plans can help you introduce some essential elementary topics into your Spanish classroom in creative new ways.
And maybe they helped you cut down your lesson planning time, too. Cheers!
Tricia Wegman Contreras has spent the last seven years in Costa Rica working as a bilingual Learning Specialist with students of all ages. She enjoys using her background as an Intervention Specialist to help all types of language learners succeed.
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