You can use El Señor Cara de Papa (or El Señor Cara de Patata, as he is known in Spain) to teach or reinforce vocabulary for the parts of the body in Spanish. This classic toy also works well for talking about colors.
Try to use the words as you play without quizzing your child. Children will learn Spanish by hearing the language and seeing what you are doing as you play together. Asking ¿Qué es esto? (What is this?) can quickly take the fun out of an activity, and it is not an effective way to learn language for lots of reasons. Your child is learning by listening and will speak Spanish in low pressure situations where she is given enough support. I have included ideas for encouraging children to speak Spanish in the list below (6).
Here are a few suggestions for using El Señor Cara de Papa to speak Spanish with your child.
1. Before you start to put the toy together, talk about the different parts and colors.
Pick up or point to each piece as you talk about it. You can use simple phrases like these:
Aquí están los ojos. / Here are his eyes.
Una, dos – hay dos orejas. / One, two – there are two ears.
Tiene dientes muy blancos./ He has very white teeth.
2. Talk about what part you are going to put on El Señor Cara de Papa. After you put it on, talk about what you will put on next.
¿Vamos a ponerle los ojos o los dientes? / Are we going to put on his eyes or his teeth?
¿Quieres ponerle el sombrero? / Do you want to put on his hat?
Voy a ponerle los zapatos. / I’m going to put on his shoes.
3. After you put on each piece, talk about it.
¡Qué ojos bonitos! / What pretty eyes! Me gustan los lentes (los anteojos) / I like his glasses. El bigote es grande, ¿no? / The mustache is big, isn’t it?
4. If your child is familiar with the vocabulary, you can take turns telling each other what to put on. If she does not understand, point to your own body to clarify.
Ponle un brazo. / Put on an arm.
Ahora ponle una oreja. / Now put on an ear.
Ponle algo blanco. / Put on something white.
5. Be sure to use the body part vocabulary as you put El Señor Cara de Papa away.
Voy a quitarle los ojos./ I’m going to take off his eyes.
Quítale la boca. / Take off his mouth.
Dame la nariz por favor. / Give me the nose please.
6. To encourage your child to speak Spanish, consider these activities. Always talk about the toy first, so that your child has heard the words you want her to produce.
– Say the names of the parts of El Señor Cara de Papa together, pointing to each part.
– Say the name of each part with a “echo”. Pick up the eyes and say los ojos in a whisper, a scary voice, a silly voice, or an angry voice. Hand them to your child who then says los ojos using the same tone that you did.
– Put a part in a bag (without your child knowing what it is) and explain that the idea is to guess what it is without looking. As your child is feeling the object in the bag, ask her what she feels and provide options. ¿Es la nariz? ¿Es la boca? ( Is it the nose? Is it the mouth?) Take turns putting something in the bag and guessing before you put it on El Señor Cara de Papa.
– When El Señor Cara de Papa has all his parts, sing a song that uses the body parts and touch the different pieces as you sing together. Cabeza, hombros and Mi carita redondita both work well.
There are several versions of this toy, but this is the vocabulary that you need for the classic version, the one used in Toy Story 3.
el bigote – mustache
el brazo – arm
las cejas – eyebrows
los dientes – teeth
la lengua – tongue
los lentes/los anteojos – glasses
la nariz – nose
los ojos – eyes
la oreja – ear
el sombrero – hat
los zapatos – shoes