Spanish poems to use in an elementary language classroom can be hard to find. One of my favorite resources is the blog El Jardín de Douglas written by the Argentine poet Douglas Wright. Kids love this pretty poem called Si me quedo bien callado.
The works of Douglas Wright, author and illustrator, combine a strong setting with the sounds of Spanish to conjure the experience of being a child. His pretty poem, Si me quedo bien callado is a jewel to be shared with even the youngest students. The direct language, attention to physical detail, symmetry, and rhythm make this little story perfect for children who are learning Spanish.
Thank you so much to Douglas Wright for his permission to include the pretty poem on this Spanish Playground. You can see more of his work on his blog El Jardín de Douglas. Suggested activities to use with Si me quedo bien callado follow the poem.
Si me quedo bien callado
Si me quedo bien callado,
veo todo lo que pasa
—por arriba y por abajo,
por un lado y otro lado.
Veo las nubes pasar
flotando, arriba, en el cielo,
un avión que va volando
y unas flores en el suelo.
Si me quedo bien callado,
oigo todo lo que ocurre
—aquí cerca y allá lejos,
de este lado y de aquel lado.
Escucho el viento en las hojas
y una bocina a lo lejos,
y cómo crujen las ramas
de los árboles más viejos.
Y cuando estoy muy callado,
yo formo parte de todo
—desde el cielo, allá a lo lejos,
hasta el pasto, aquí a mi lado.
Si me quedo bien callado lends itself to many different Spanish learning activities. Here are a few ideas that can easily be adapted to different thematic units. This pretty poem is particularly appropriate for units related to nature and the senses. The activities below are roughly in order of increasing difficulty, but any of them can be adapted to different levels.
Activities for the Pretty Poem Si me quedo bien callado
1. Incorporate actions that clarify and emphasize the meaning of the words. The students do the actions as they recite the poem. Using movement aids memorization and deep processing of the language.
2. Have students point to pictures of the vocabulary as you read the pretty poem. This can be done as a class with pictures drawn on the board, with the art that illustrates the poem (drawn by the author), with a scene the teacher provides or with scenes the children have drawn.
3. With a felt board, or cut-outs have students create the scene as teacher reads the pretty poem.
4. For beginning readers, make a pictogram of the poem with pictures for the active vocabulary. The students say those words (chorally or individually) as the teacher reads the pretty poem.
5. Have students draw a scene including the vocabulary from the poem, or make a scene with pictures cut from magazines. Have students label the parts of the picture and point to the pictures as a classmate reads the pretty poem. This can be done in pairs or small groups.
6. As a class, or with individual pictures in groups, play Veo, veo. ¿Qué ves? (I Spy in Spanish. You can read about playing Veo veo in this post. ) using the vocabulary from the poem. You can add more detail to the scene to re-enter vocabulary from earlier units.
7. Put the vocabulary in the pretty poem into categories using the senses: veo, oigo, siento, huelo. For non-readers or beginning readers, the categories can be represented by pictures (an eye, ear, hand, nose), as can the elements that go into each category.
Encourage students to move beyond what is explicitly stated in the text (sun, shade when the clouds pass, wind can be felt and heard, etc.). This is how students learn to make inferences about setting and characters.
8. Have students recite the poem in different patterns (choral recitation, alternate stanzas, alternate lines). Encourage students to maintain the rhyme and rhythm of the poem. If you are not a native speaker of Spanish, have a native speaker make a recording of the pretty poem if possible.
9. Practice with prepositions. Have students look for opposites, spatial contrasts, in the poem. With cut-outs, rearrange the elements of the scene ¿Las flores están cerca o lejos del niño? ¿Y ahora? Estas hojas están arriba. Se caen. ¿Ahora dónde están?
Make a new scene with the same vocabulary. As a class, generate sentences about the relative position of the different elements.
10. As a class, go outside, sit quietly and have students record what they see and hear. As a class, write a poem with a similar structure based on what you experienced.
11. Change the season in the poem, or the weather, or make it nighttime. Talk about what else in the poem would change. This is a good way to re-enter vocabulary from previous units.
12. Change the perspective in the poem and talk about what other elements would change. – ¿Qué vería una ardilla en el árbol? ¿Qué verían las personas en el avión?
13. Provide a structure, based on the structure of Si me quedo bien callado, and have students write their own poem. Have them think of a place they can sit quietly, and brainstorm the things they see, hear, smell, feel, and (perhaps) taste. A graphic organizer might help them organize this information. Have them chose elements and enter them into the structured poem.
14. Encourage students to move beyond the poem in order to understand why poetry affects us as it does. One of the major themes of the pretty poem is contrast. Have the students find examples of contrast in the poem. Help them find the unstated contrast, the implied contrast, that the author is establishing in this pretty poem.
Si me quedo bien callado… ¿pero si no? Entonces ¿qué pasa?
Y nomalmente se quedan callados? ¿Los adultos se quedan callados?
El poema presenta un resultado, un premio, por estar callado. ¿Cuál es?
¿Qué se puede entender como resultado de no estar callado entonces? Recuerden que los contrastes son un tema principal en el poema.
¿Qué nos dice este poema de nuestras vida?
Douglas Wright escribe mucho para niños. ¿Les parece que este poema es solamente para niños?
15. Assign individual students or pairs to choose another poem by Douglas Wright to share with the class. There are many poems available on his blog El Jardín de Douglas.
Assign students to research the author, Douglas Wright. You can provide specific questions for them to answer based on the information available online.
You may also be interested in this post: Poems for Children in Spanish – Edgar Allan García and Sergio Andricaín in Cuatrogatos
Photo Credit: donnierayjones via Compfight cc