If your family speaks English or another language at home, it can be a challenge to set aside time for Spanish activities. Whether you are teaching your child Spanish or supporting a school program, hearing and speaking the language consistently is important, but at times fitting it into the day seems next to impossible. One way to speak Spanish with your child every day is to incorporate it into a bedtime routine.
Spanish language learning and bedtime both benefit from consistency. The security of routine helps children relax at the end of the day. If you incorporate Spanish, this routine also provides for repetition. Spanish can be just a small part of bedtime and still give children important exposure to the language. You can always incorporate more Spanish or change the routine as your child grows.
21 Ideas for Speaking Spanish at Bedtime
1. Take a short bedtime walk and talk about what you see.
2. As you pick up toys, name them in Spanish, count them, or describe them. Este camión es rojo.
3. As you pick up toys, sing A guardar, a guardar. There are lots of videos of the song on YouTube.
4. As kids get ready for a bath, sing a bath song like Al agua pato. There are many videos of the song on YouTube and a post about it here: Spanish Song for Kids – Al agua pato
5. Have a special set of bathtub stickers or toys that are just for speaking Spanish.
6. If your child is young enough that you brush her teeth, play a game where she touches parts of your face as you brush and you say the words in Spanish.
7. Talk to your child as she chooses what clothes she will wear the next day. This is a good way to talk about clothes, colors and the weather.
8. When you read to your child, include at least one story in Spanish.
9. Tell your child that you love all of her and review body vocabulary at the same time: Me gusta tu cabeza. Me encanta tu nariz. Me gustan tus dedos.
10. Recount the events of the day. You can do this talking (Primero nos despertamos y después…) or singing. I sang the day to my youngest daughter to the tune of Good Night Ladies. The chorus was Buenas noches (name), Buenas noches (name) Buenas noches (name). Qué día bonito fue. Then, I would use the verses to list what we had done during the day.
11. Name things for which you are grateful. If your family has religious beliefs, say a simple prayer. For example, these are two common children’s prayers:
– Cuatro esquinitas tiene mi cama, cuatro angelitos que me la guardan.
– Jesusito de mi vida, tú eres niño como yo, por eso te quiero tanto y te doy mi corazón, tómalo, tómalo, tuyo es, mío no.
12. Hang posters with detailed pictures somewhere where you can talk about them before bed. We had a fun map of a favorite city in Mexico and a world map on a wall next to the bathroom for years.
13. Choose a stuffed toy or puppet to only speak Spanish and include it in the bedtime routine. You can repeat words or sentences in Spanish for the toy or have it chime in with Spanish as your child gets ready for bed.
14. Turn your hands into puppets that speak Spanish. Make your fingers walk and talk. We used to make our hands into a spider (with just 5 legs) that would climb up and sleep on their heads.
15. Draw on your child’s back with your finger. Trace simple shapes, letters and numbers. Describe what you are drawing in Spanish: Ahora voy a dibujar una casa or Ésta es la letra B.
16. Choose a bedtime song and sing the song to stuffed toys. Put them to bed with phrases like que sueñes con los angelitos, the equivalent of sweet dreams.
17. Keep a sketchbook or drawing pad beside the bed. Draw things that happened during the day and talk about the picture in Spanish.
18. Make a Spanish journal. List important words from the day or write a couple of sentences. Recording the date in Spanish is a good review of days, months and numbers.
19. Play Veo veo in bed. There is a description of the game here: Veo, veo – I Spy in Spanish Teaches Kids Language
20. Listen to a quiet Spanish song together.
21. Let your child fall asleep to music in Spanish.