It’s time to elevate my school unit from class objects, subjects, and classroom commands, to cultural comparisons, connections, and community service. Of course I still have to teach class objects, subjects, and commands, so I like to start with songs, children’s books, and comprehensible input activities. Our opening routine includes the song of the week. Here are a couple of class object songs I like, Mon Sac à Dos for French and La Mochila for Spanish.
Next, I do a Backpack Demo. I have a backpack with all kinds of class objects and other crazy things that I pull out one at a time and describe. Some items I like to include are: a giant pen from Barcelona, a giant pencil and eraser, a real apple, toy desk and chair, keys, books, a computer, a calculator, a student, a flag, a social studies teacher, a picture of Antonio Banderas, the ear of Van Gogh, and a heart from Senorwooly’s Ya Está Muerto song. Novelty adds to the fun and surprise. I then put everything back in the backpack one by one and have the students list as many items as they can remember. After a couple of minutes, have them compare their list with a partner. They score two points if they can name an item in the target language and one point if they can name it in English (to be translated later for homework.) This can also be done with a suitcase of clothing and accessories, sports bag, grocery bag, or a mystery box.
Coloring is relaxing. My students always enjoy a directed color listening activity. Create a coloring paper with pictures of several class objects. I talk about each object in the target language and have students color certain parts or add items to the pictures. Students cut apart these pictures and use them in partner activities. For example, pass out a copy of a backpack and give items that do and do not go in a backpack. Have students take turns saying are you bringing a pen? Yes, I’m bringing it. Are you bring an ice cream cone? No, I’m not bringing it. Write the correct response on the back of each item ahead of time so students can self check.
A great way to get students up and moving and outside on a sunny day is a backpack relay. Collect five old backpacks from the lost and found and gather five of each item to be practiced. Put one of each item in each backpack. I dictate a list of about 12 items to all students. Divide students into five teams. One student from each team is at one end of the space with the backpack and items, the seller. The other team members, the customers, are lined up opposite their seller and when I say go they must run down and say “I would like to buy a _____” (the first item on the list.) The seller hands them the item saying a_____ here you go, you could also include a price and some fake euros. The runner thanks them and runs back to his team and the next person runs down and asks for the next item and so on until all items are bought.
What’s in your backpack is a great partner activity that can be adapted to any vocabulary. Have students draw and label five items in their backpack from a list of vocabulary provided without showing anyone. Match them up with a partner and they take turns trying to guess what each other’s five items are. After that, have students report out: in my backpack there is… in his backpack there was… in our backpacks there are….we did not have. This activity can be done with lunch bags, bedrooms, houses, suitcases, shopping bags, and hobbies. Do a google search for backpack coloring pages and you will find several to choose from.
There are some great authentic resources and ideas for class objects in Spanish from Zachary Jones. Students add up how much the items on the back to school list, from the Secretary of Public Education in Mexico, cost for each grade and compare to cost of students in other countries.
To take the school supply list to a higher level, using authentic resources, you need to see this post at PBL in the target language by@sraSpanglish. Her classes have this awesome unit on selecting and sending supplies to Colombia. This got me thinking, I have a connection in Haiti for my French students to send supplies including some of our favorite children’s books and original creations!
For a closure activity have the students popcorn down naming one class object. To popcorn down, have all students stand up. They all need to say one item and sit down. The key is that no one can say any item twice and two people may not talk at the same time. If two people do speak at the same time, or someone repeats an item already mentioned, everyone must stand and start over again. It forces them to listen to each other and watch each other. Do not let them try to organize and go in a circle. They have to randomly popcorn down. It is a great way to sneak in lots of repetitions.