Category Archives: Environment

Classroom Decoration Hacks

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Recycle old frames for cheap classroom decorations.  I printed quotes off the internet and soaked the paper in tea to give it an aged look.  I cut up an old map and glued it to the back of the frame.  I like just the framed map, and I have one that my husband and I actually used to drive around Europe (before Google maps) hanging in my classroom, but in this example I used a map as a background for the quote.  I did a Google search for “quotes in Spanish” and “quotes in French” and then clicked images to get some ideas to get started.  You can click on each picture for a better view.

Another classroom decoration hack is to recycle photos from calendars, postcards, and travel posters.  I had a ripped Picasso poster and a calendar with his paintings.  I took the calendar apart, spray painted some old frames grey, and now I have a museum to use with the novels Agentes Secretos and La France en Danger.  For more ideas on teaching with the art of Picasso, check out this previous post.

At local, regional, and national conferences I collect free travel posters from vendors and then cut them down to fit the frames.

I cut up a postcard set of Paris and framed them.  I also spray painted some old planters black and decorated with a silver paint pen to hold supplies.  Don’t forget to add plants to your classroom.  I use cuttings from my existing home plants and spray paint plastic containers and decorate with paint pens for a cheap hack.  And don’t forget to frame a photo of your target language crush for your desk.

Back to School Freebies to Decorate your Classroom.

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There are several places on-line to get stuff free to decorate your classroom.  Bryce Hedstrom has The Special Person Posters in several languages and lots of other goodies on his free stuff page.

The Creative Language Classroom has great free stuff to decorate your classroom also.  I use their proficiency indicator signs and their activity to teach the proficiency levels to students the first week of school.  See my prior post for this lesson plan.  I also love their Greet Them at the Door signs, How Are You posters, and Question Word posters.

Martina Bex has an entire google folder with helpful posters on her website.   There are links to her Question Word Posters in French and Spanish at  There are actually lots of free items on Teachers Pay Teachers, each seller has to post at least one free item as a sample of the quality of their work.  Just enter what you are looking for in the search bar and if it is not there consider creating it yourself and making it available to others.  For example, with a simple search I found these free posters in Spanish.  Check out my free word ladders in French and Spanish that can be enlarged into posters or framed and placed around the room.

Amy Lenord has a free list of rejoinders in Spanish that make a great word wall and there are a couple other free on TPT.  Here are some free classroom labels in Spanish and in French.


I found these 10 French phrases on Pinterest that will make awesome class decorations.


I also found this free Pledge of Allegiance poster  on Pinterest in two versions one colored and one that students can color.

For more ideas Check out my Pinterest Page.

What Freebies can you find or share for back to school?

Creating Classroom Connections

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One of my favorite activities for the beginning of the year is to learn every student’s name and hobby.  I have students make a list of their 10 favorite things to do in life.  They make the list in English at first and then it gets translated into the target language.  

I start with one student and ask them what they like to do and they tell me the first thing on their list.  I ask how many other people have that activity on their list of ten.  If they have it on their list they raise their hand.  I count the number of kids and we graph the data.

This is a great way to connect to math and gives the kids something to do while listening to me count and repeat the hobbies over and over again.  I am also purposely making connections between students with similar hobbies and interests.  I go around the room, one student at a time, asking their name and favorite thing to do and then poll the class to see if they have that activity on their list.  If a student’s favorite hobby has already been graphed, they can choose any activity on their list that has not been mentioned yet.  I continually go back to the first student and say their name and hobby and continue around the room until I can say every child’s name and hobby from memory.  The kids are impressed that I can do it and then they realize they can do it too.

For one of our first quizzes of the year I can say number one and point to a student.  They write down their name and hobby in the target language and we continue until all students have been listed.

Another way I create classroom connections is with a recipe file holder and index cards.  An entry task on the first day of school is to write your name on an index card and list 3 facts about yourself.  I collect these cards and put a rubber band around the class set and store them in a recipe file on my desk.


Each day I pick an interesting fact from someone’s card and read it to the class. For example it might say “I have been to Hawaii.”  I say anyone who has been to Hawaii stand up.  Everyone who has been to Hawaii stands up and we make connections around the room.  I can ask follow up questions like which island, with whom, what did you do?  I can say anyone who wants to go to Hawaii stand up.  Then have everyone sit down and pick another card.  I purposely look for things that I think a lot of people have in common, point out the connections, and look for opportunities for spontaneous interpersonal communication.   I do a few each day until I have used a statement from everyone at least once.  I also use these cards to randomly call on kids or form groups, like Popsicle sticks, but cheaper and easier to store for five classes.

Another way to make connections is the game I call Te presento a in Spanish and Je te présente in French.  Have the students make a name tag and stand in a circle.  I start in the middle.   I say Je te présente and say a student’s name.  The students on either side of the named child race to wave and say “Bonjour” to the other child.  The slowest of the two moves to the center of the circle and becomes the next caller.  This forces kids to listen for the names of the kids on either side of them.  After a few minutes have everyone find a new spot so they are next to different people and listening for other names.

When I was in high school I won a scholarship to a Dale Carnegie Course on Public Speaking and Human Relations from Junior Achievement.  This course was life changing for me.  In particular, I have always remembered these quotes.


Saving Animals in Danger

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nuestroEndangered animals are the perfect way to lead into a unit on saving the environment. I found these beautiful books in Spanish.

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I have students watch these videos and fill out these Google forms in French and in Spanish.

Then I like to have kids do a quick search for an endangered animal and post a picture with a sentence to my padlet wall.

I created my first thinglink on endangered animals in French.  This is a great website in French.  Have students search for websites in the target language on endangered animals and post them to a thinglink or padlet wall.  Students now have reasons to discuss why we need to conserve water, energy, and trees!

Saving the Planet: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

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Reduce food waste, recycle clothes and toys, reuse school supplies, and repurpose items into art. Organize a toy, clothing, or book swap in the target language.

Students in my classes look forward to The Market or El Mercado each year.  Students bring in items to sell, set up a business, and we buy and sell things in the target language with fake Euros.  This year for a twist, every thing in the market must be made from recycled items!992043-gf












Here a a few good websites in French.  This one has some cute cartoons. Here are some infographs in French,Les Gestes.

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Here are some good websites in Spanish.

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Saving Energy in your Home, School, and Community

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I use these two books and lots of infographs to start this discussion.  There are also a ton of authentic resources on this topic.  Google in your language the term for “saving energy in the home” and voilà.  This topic works really well with vocabulary for rooms in the house, household objects, and many verbs for saving, economizing, and turning off!











Here are some websites and infographs to start students looking for things they can do in the house to conserve energy. I like this one in French and this one in Spanish.

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Which appliances use the most energy?





How can you make your house, school, community more energy efficient?



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Have students list at least 5 ways they can save energy in the target language.












From Saving Trees to Saving Water

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aguaI like to start with these books. There are an abundance of authentic resources on the internet on this topic.  Start with google images and follow the links to the original websites. Or, go to my pinterest page.l'eau

This could include a study of the water cycle.  Where does water come from?



What do you think uses the most water?  How do we use water?



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How do we save water? Here are a couple of websites in Spanish with ideas for saving water.

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Here are some infographs I give to the students.  I have the students read them and list 10 things in the target language they can do to save water, in the order they would do them.  Number 1 being the first thing they are willing to do. These are the two infographs I like best, but there are several others. Here are some water infographs in French Les infographies d’eau, and Spanish Unas infografías de agua.  These are the worksheets I give the students in French, Je-préserve-l’eau and in Spanish, Ahorremos-Agua.les-bons-gestesposter


For discussion: How does water influence our lives? What can you do to save water?



From The Giving Tree to Environmental Service Projects

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arbol generoso

              Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd, 2016!

In honor of Earth Day, read The Giving Tree aloud to your students.  If you can’t find the book in your language use the English version and cover up the words with post-it notes and write the language yourself.  Or, use the English version of the video, mute the sound, and tell the story in your target language.arbre






Here’s the story in Spanish, TheGivingTree.  Here it is in French, and English TheGivingTreePoem.  Here is an activity to practice question answer relationships (QAR) in French and Spanish around The Giving Tree and to start students thinking about the environment.  L’Arbre Généreux and  El Árbol Generoso.


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sauve les arbres

Some Useful websites:  and

Los beneficios de los árboles y el jardín nocturno

My students will be making Public Service Announcements in French and Spanish.  These will play in the cafeteria during lunches for all students to see. I am thinking about using Google slides, sharing the document with the class, and having each student make one slide with a tip to save the environment.  Stay tuned as I start a series of post in April on saving water, saving energy, and saving the planet!

arbolesGo plant a tree!  Here are some images to inspire discussion.  Here is a padlet of memes my students made.