Spanish for children vocabulary

This is a quick, simple activity to review food vocabulary with children learning Spanish. Tengo hambre y quiero comer is based on the memory game kids play in Spanish called Me voy de viaje, but uses pictures to provide a visual reminder of the meaning of the words. I play it with groups of 4-8 students and up to 20 food words, but it also be done with two or three children. Of course, it can easily be adapted to other sets of vocabulary.

To play, you need picture cards of the words, and a plate to hold the cards that have been chosen. Printable picture cards like the ones from Do2Learn work well. I print the two-inch cards with no words on card stock. I use a plastic plate with a rim so that the cards do not move too much as the kids pass it around. Place the picture cards face up where everyone can reach them.

To begin the activity the first person says Tengo hambre y quiero comer and chooses a picture from the pile to compete the sentence. For example, she might choose the apple and say una manzana. She passes the plate to the next player who says Tengo hambre y quiero comer una manzana y… and then chooses another picture and adds that word to the sentence. She puts the picture next to the first one and passes the plate. I encourage the children to point to each card as they say the words. The activity continues this way until the picture cards are used up.

This is an effective Spanish language activity because the sentence establishes a context for what you are saying. I teach actions to go with tengo hambre and quiero comer, so the kids do those actions as they say the opening sentence. Most important, the pictures remind the children of the meaning of the Spanish words. There is lots of repetition, and the kids like choosing a food that they really like to eat. In fact, they are often disappointed when someone chooses helado o galletas before they do.

You can play this game with any set of related vocabulary. Choose a simple opening sentence in Spanish to establish the situation. For example, with furniture you can say Tengo una casa y en la casa tengo …, with clothes Voy de viaje y voy a llevar…, or with farm animals Voy a la granja y voy a ver….  A shallow box with a simple background can represent a house, a suitcase or a farm that children add the cards to. With larger groups, if everyone will not be able to see if the pictures are passed, order the pictures in a central location. You can also encourage choral repetition of the list of words each time a new one is added.

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