Movement and music are valuable tools for teaching Spanish to children. Combining the two, children process the language at a deeper level and retain what they learn longer. Certain vocabulary, like parts of the body, lends itself to songs with actions. There are many Spanish versions of the classic Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, but all versions are not created equal!
My favorite arrangement of this song is Cabeza, hombros from Carolina at Fun for Spanish Teachers. These are some of the reasons that I like this arrangement better than other versions of the song I have heard (and I have heard dozens!):
- In this arrangement, the words fit the music so that it is comprehensible and singable. Children easily recognize and learn the song, but are not frustrated by forcing too many syllables into the rhythm. One of the strengths of teaching with music is that children learn correct Spanish pronunciation, but only if the pronunciation is clear and the words are stressed correctly. With this arrangement, the music and the lyrics work together, so the song is a much more effective learning tool.
- The tempo is right, not too fast and not too slow, and the rhythm is consistent. Children can do the actions in time to the music.
- A native speaker models correct pronunciation.
- There is enough repetition to learn, but not so much that it is boring.
- The arrangement appeals to a range of ages. It does not sound like a song written for very young children.
- The artist has a wonderful voice. The quality of his voice and the arrangement make this song appeal to children and also to adults.
You can listen to Cabeza, hombros (and lots of other great songs) on Carolina’s YouTube channel Spanish Together.
You can reinforce the vocabulary in the song by watching the Spanish Together video Parts of the body.
Cabeza, hombros is on the Play in Spanish CD available from Fun for Spanish Teachers. Like all of Carolina’s CDs, Play in Spanish includes the lyrics and a translation of all the songs.