Saving the Planet: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

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energia 8

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.

2 percent

Here are some good websites in Spanish.

las cinco

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.

energia 2



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?



agua 3


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

water 6

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.


cut trees

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.

Where the Wild Things Are: There’s One in All of Us!

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max et les monstres

While we are on the topic of children’s literature and scary things we have to include monsters: Where the Wild Things Are!

donde viven los monstruoswhere-the-wild-things-are


Our opening routine includes the song of the week.  Había una Vez un Barquito Chiquitito in Spanish.  Il Était un Petit Navire in French.  I like the connection to the book with the boat, it helps with some of the words like navigate and weeks, and provides a starting phrase for retelling the story.



Here is some information on Maurice Sendak and his works in French.  Here are some activities in French.  There is a free packet in Spanish and English at

wild thing freebie

Here’s the story in Spanish, and a website with the making of the movie in Spanish.  Check out my Pinterest page for more ideas in French and Spanish.

My favorite monster is a directed drawing activity that my students enjoy.  I describe and draw my favorite monster with the class in the target language.  I tell them my favorite monster has three heads, the one on the right is square, the one in the middle is oval, and the one on the left is a triangle.  Click here for the rest of the directions, My favorite monster activity.  They listen and follow along drawing on their paper as I draw the monster on the board.

There is also a movie in English, French, and Spanish. The book is quite different from the movie.  Read the book first and have students compare and contrast the book with the movie version.  Have students discuss with a partner a time they were in trouble, did something wrong, or wanted to run away from home.  Call on students to share out their partner’s answer. Have students quote their favorite line from the movie, or create a meme.





Here are a couple memes I created with my favorite line. Hay uno en todos nosotros!  Il y en a un dans chancun de nous!   There is a little monster in all of us!


meme monstuo

meme monstre

Using Children’s Literature in the World Language Classroom: A Dark, Dark Story!

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a dark taleoscuro, muy oscuro

One of the things I love most about Children’s Literature is the pattern stories.  Books that follow a repetitive pattern sneak in lots of practice of key structures while limiting vocabulary for novices.
histoire sombreThis book would obviously work around the theme of fear, or Halloween.  If you did not want to go scary, it is a good way to introduce rooms in a house, and would also work in a collection of black cat and/or mouse stories.

souris 1souris 2

souris 3



I start out with the question “What are you afraid of?” Then I do a whip around with the most common fears listed on the board in the target language, and I have a student tally the answers.  Props of spiders, snakes, bees, mice, and pictures of heights, public speaking, and other fears help to stay in the target language.

Here is a copy of the story in French.  Here is a copy of the story in Spanish.  I like this copy because you can cut it apart and have the students race to put it in order.

histoire sombre

The video I like to use for French is not working here but you can copy and paste: Here is a copy in English, you can mute the volume and tell the story in any language.



Lecture CP : une histoire sombre, très sombre ….

I love these websites with activities made by French teachers for their French students, Good website in French with vocabulary practice, sequencing activities, and cloze exercises.  Good website in French with worksheets.  Here is a  website in Spanish with a copy of the story.  Here is a website with information about the author Ruth Brown in Spanish.


Have students write different versions of the pattern, Using Pattern Stories in the World Language Classroom Helena Curtain.  Create a shadow box theater.  Have students read aloud as a chorale reading.

End with a game of Atchi Patchi:  List things people are afraid of, or items or words from the story,  Or popcorn down trying to retell story.  What would be in the box for you?  Change the ending of the story to reflect a personal fear.

Using Children’s Literature in the World Language Classroom: There’s an Alligator Under my Bed!

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Another great children’s book I use in class is…

cocdriloaligator englishalligator


Children’s books allow you to practice key structures and get in the repetitions necessary for acquisition.  For example, in the Spanish version of this book, there are lots of reps of tenía que, it has a lot of preterite and imperfect.  The French version is in present tense with lots of first person verbs: je dois, je remplis, je decends. It doesn’t matter, because I can take the basic story and work with it in whatever tense or with whatever structures I need to practice. I “Movie Talk” it or read it like you would naturally read to little kids,  pointing  to things in the picture and asking questions about what’s going to happen, prediction.

I also love all the ready made authentic resources available on the internet around children’s literature. Here are some activities a French teacher made for his French students in the south of France.  Note the lines for the students to practice cursive writing.  This is another awesome authentic resource for French.

I think this book is perfect to connect to a discussion on fears or child hood fears?  What were you afraid of?  What was under your Bed? What are you afraid of now?  How do you conquer your fears and solve your problems like the boy in this story did?

Il y a un alligator sous mon lit

But what I really like about this book is the problem solving.  He had a problem, an alligator under his bed, and he solved it by leaving a trail of food to trap the alligator in the garage.  What is a problem that you have resolved on your own? What steps did you take to solve the problem? What happened the next morning when dad went to work? How does the story really end? Prediction!

Using Children’s Literature in the World Language Classroom: From The Hungry Caterpillar to The Monarch Butterfly!

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M is for March and Monarch! Start with the Hungry Caterpillar and lead into the migration of the Monarch Butterfly.  Students receive comprehensible input, connections to science, and community service.


Our opening routine includes the song of the week. I use a days of the week song because the story, The Hungry Caterpillar, takes place over the course of a week and provides the sequence for the story. You could also start with one of the butterfly songs at the end of this post, but that would be giving away the ending!

Here are links to the books on  Look for La chenille qui fait des trous in French,

and La Oruga Muy Hambrienta in Spanish.

There are some Youtube videos available.

For French, I use a Youtube video with second graders reading the story, C’est adorable!

I like this one on Vimeo also.

I don’t like to reinvent the wheel when I start a unit, so I always look at the Teachers Pay Teachers website to see what is already available.  These are awesome resources from









Here is one in French, I like this for the graphics.  I laminated them for story retells and group relays.papillon

Included in the French purchase is an alternative story called The Hungry Caterpillar Eats Paris.  In this version, the caterpillar eats un croissant, deux crêpes, trois baguettes, quatre quiches and so on.  This could be adapted using the foods from any culture.  The students could also create stories following the pattern: use any thing, that eats any items, in increasing quantities each day, and then turns into something else!

Here are a couple of powerpoints in French.  This one chenille and this one hungry-caterpillar.  Here are a couple in Spanish I have saved over the years, oruga and  orugahambrienta.  There are so many resources and activities on my pinterest pages.Monarch Butterfly

I attended an awesome ACTFL session on the Monarch Butterfly, at 8:00 am on Saturday morning, but it was worth it!  It was presented by Beth McCammon Feldman.  Check out her presentation handouts here Beth McCammonFeldman Journey North.  For lots of resources in English and Spanish check out the Journey North website.  There are videos and booklits you can print out.

Monarch butterflies cross three countries: Canada, The United States, and Mexico.  Monarch butterflies need just the right temperature and humidity.  Monarchs can’t freeze, they need food and warmth for the winter.  There are two mountain tops in Mexico that they like best. They arrive around El Dia de Los Muertos (Nov. 1st), the tourist season is February, and they depart in March.  There are lots of videos and rich readings about what life is like in the butterfly sanctuaries, and the people who count and maintain records on the Monarchs at the Journey North website and on Youtube.

Unfortunately, the people who live in the butterfly sanctuaries are cutting down the trees the butterflies need for food and shade. The campesinos need wood for carts, watering troughs, ladders, houses, bathrooms, and heating food.  There is a good video in Spanish explaining their point of view, have students list reasons from the video.

There are other challenges to the Monarchs. They need 4-5 generations in one season to make the trip back to the US and Canada. The larva only eat milkweed.  Milkweed is decreasing for Monarchs to lay eggs on due to growing cities and increased use of herbicides.  Weather extremes, like cold in early spring or heavy rain in the fall, hurt the Monarch population. Students can research problems in US and Canada.


What are some possible solutions? Brainstorm with students, how could they get involved? Students could raise money to plant more trees in Mexico.  Students could investigate alternative farming techniques.  Students can create signs informing tourists of the problems for the sanctuaries, or design brochures for sanctuary guides to distribute.  They can make storybooks for kids on butterflies. Students could debate the cost of tourism on the butterfly environment.  Students could create infographs in the target language.

ruta de la mariposa



Students can volunteer to participate in the count. Report observations, check out for materials.  Students could create public service announcements in many languages.

map butterflies

Students could plant milkweed and plants that provide nector like asters that bloom in late fall.  Limit mowing it allows wild flowers to grow and avoid  pesticides.


World Language teachers can connect to science with a study of the life cycle of a butterfly.  Draw the life cycle and label in target language.  It would be fun to raise butterflies and release them and connect with others to post where they are seen.

life cycle mariposa

Here is a unit template from Laura Terrill wikispaces on the Monarch, Laura Terrill The monarch unit.  Here are some additional butterfly songs.


Add any more ideas here, please share this post with friends, and go plant some milkweed!

meme 2


This is my first meme, I made it on

Using Children’s Literature in the World Language Classroom: A Few of My Favorites!

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read 2016

Read Across America Day is Wednesday, March 2nd.  In honor of Read Across America, I wanted to share a list of some of my favorite Children’s books and begin a series of posts on how to incorporate picture books in the world language classroom.

seuss spanish


Here is a list of some of my favorite children’s books to use in the World Language classroom, My favorite Children’s books.  They are listed in Spanish, but I use many of the same books in French.  All picture books can be adapted to any language by covering up the words, just use the art work, and write or say the story in the target language.

read across america 2

What are you doing for Read Across America Day?  Try a Book Pass.  Pick out children’s books, they could be around a theme, you need one book for each student. Arrange the desks, or move the chairs in a circle, so that books can be passed every minute.  Have students read for one minute and then say pass.  The students pass their book to the student on their left, clock wise, and get a new book from the person on their right and continue the process.  If you have 30 kids in your room, it is a sneaky way to get them to read for 30 minutes.  Students can just read for pleasure, or be assigned a task; list all the cognates you can find, list vocabulary on any topic, or a grammar point like imperfect verb forms.  Have students vote on which book they liked best and why…in the target language of course!

read hat

Please share your favorite Children’s Book, in any language, in the comment section below to win a free picture book!  For a quick class warm up, do a whip around and have students say their favorite book from childhood.  What are common books children read growing up in the target culture?


Possibly have students search on line for their favorite Dr. Seuss quote? Search Google images for Dr. Seuss quotes in the target language. This one is my favorite.

seuss in french

seuss quote 3



And this one from Oh, the Places You’ll Go. Get the book in Spanish at

seuss quote 2

Click on the books to purchase them at


cat frenchfrench seusshorton french









green eggs french


huevos verdesseuss spanish dictionaryplaces spansihSeuss 2suess 1



suess fit in

Art in the World Language Classroom! Start with Shapes, Colors, and Brown Bear

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One of the first things I teach is colors and shapes so students are able to use them to describe people, places, and things from famous works of art!

Our opening routine includes the song of the week.  The song is an introduction and a hook to what we will be learning.  Here are a couple of my favorite color songs.

After the song is a quick warm-up or bell ringer.  I prefer to use personalized questions and answers. So for this lesson I would ask what is your favorite color? Tu aimes quel couleur? ¿Qué color te gusta? We do a quick whip around while tallying the results on the board, or sometimes we bar graph the results.


Other personalized questions could include: What color are your eyes? De quelle couleur sont tes yeux? De quelle couleur est ta voiture?  Ta maison? Ton chien?  There are ready made French surveys for colors and more on Students could also walk around and ask each other their favorite color, the color of their house, room, or car and then analyze their data, and present to class.

bar graph colors

I like to start my color and shape introduction to art with the children’s book Oso Pardo, Oso Pardo or Ours Brun, dis-moi.  I read aloud while they color along using these worksheets.  Oso Pardo  Ours Brun

You can get the book at or you can use videos from Youtube.

oso pardo

This website has 7 activities to use with the book, oso pardo activities.

Have students make this free book to practice retells or to read to younger siblings.

oso pardo book

Here is a link to a slideshow.  Check out this awesome resource, it has comprehensible input lessons.  This Spanish website with printable animal drawings is cool.  Here is an animal wheel for retelling the story Animal-wheel-with-words.  This site has templates for making puppets.  Here is an Oso Pardo powerpoint Oso pardo, Oso pardo you can use for review. Check out my pinterest board for more resources.

Ours brun, dis- moi…they have it at  Our check out this slide share I found on pinterest.ours brun

Check out this website for free Ours Brun ideas.  This Quizlet provides flashcards and practice.  Here is an Ours Brun powerpoint you can use the next day as a review and another  Ours+rouge+dis-moi.

For additional practice try the Color Circle Game.  Place chairs in a circle with one less chair than students participating.  Pass out pieces of colored construction paper use shapes and colors like a blue star, a green square, a blue triangle etc.  Make sure there are at least two students with each color and shape.  One student or teacher starts in the middle of the circle.  The teacher or student calls out a color or a shape. Students holding that color get up and change seats.  The person in the middle tries to get a seat no matter what color or shape they are holding.  The rule is you can not go back to the seat you just left on that turn.

I found a video I use with shapes called El Circulo Hambriento on Youtube.  There is a student booklet from Teachers Pay to use with the video.

Check out this Shape search from Jenna Harvey at Mount Vernon High School in Washington state.  The students search the campus for certain shapes and post on instagram.

Here are a couple of shape and color worksheets, this one in Spanish, shape-and-colors-spanish, and french-shape-and-colors.

I have students create original art work using at least 6 different shapes and 6 different colors.  They then write a paragraph about their masterpiece in the target language.  We display them around the room and discuss which we like best and why.  You could also separate the paragraphs from the artwork and have students try to match the descriptions to the artwork.

Have students identify all the shapes and colors they see in famous art work!  Then discuss with a partner to compare results.

shape art


Have students write a short description as if they are the one of the people in a famous work of art. Have them include personal details: name, age, nationality, physical traits, colors, shapes, and personality traits.


Have them write about the art to practice describing other people.mona lisa

Elle s’appelle Mona Lisa.   Elle a 32 ans.   Elle n’est pas jolie, mais elle n’est pas laide.   Elle a les cheveux longs et bruns.  Elle n’est pas triste.  Elle est contente.

Finally, explore colors as they relate to emotions and phrases in the target language involving colors.  After all, as the song by Bacilios says…. the world would be boring and sad without colors!

Leave a comment or share your ideas below.  Please help me build readers by liking me on Facebook or following me on Twitter #JohnstonL60.