One of my favorite websites is Made by Joel. Joel Henriques is an artist and designer in Portland and he shares art and handmade education projects for children on his site. He has many beautiful free printables that are excellent for language activities. Below you will find links to the paper cities, but take time to explore the whole site. It is full of wonderful art activities for kids and adults.
For my classes, I am always looking for scenes and figures that I can use to tell stories. Joel has created wonderful printable paper cities. There are several cities with buildings, people and vehicles and also a landscape for a road trip. All of these are free and can be downloaded and printed to cut out for imaginative play.
How you play with children learning Spanish will depend on their age and language level. Here are a few ways to approach playing with a paper city with beginning Spanish learners.
Using a Paper City with Kids Learning Spanish
- As you cut out and color the parts of the paper city, talk about what you see in the pictures. Point to the pictures as you say the words so that your child can hear them and associate them with the drawings. I have listed some of the vocabulary you could use at the end of the post.
- Ask your child if the people have names using ¿Cómo se llama?
- Imaginative play is more fun for children if you follow their lead, but beginning language learners need support. If you create a simple scenario with lots of repetition, your child will be able to participate more easily. Here are some examples:
– Make a person search for something. It could be something in the picture, another person, her own house, or the hat on his head. Use simple sentences over and over: ¿Dónde está mi bicicleta? No veo mi bicicleta. ¿Dónde está mi bicicleta? No veo mi bicicleta.
– Make a person take a walk and have a strong or strange reaction to everything she sees. ¡Un edificio alto! Me gusta mucho el edificio. ¡Una puerta! Me gusta mucho la puerta!
She can ask your child’s person if she feels the same way: ¿Te gusta el edificio? ¿Te gusta la puerta?
– Have a person (or different people) fall down again and again. Your child’s person can help the person up: Me caí. Ayúdame. Gracias, muchas gracias. Estoy bien. Muchas gracias.
–Have characters make the same mistakes over and over. For example, call your child’s person by the wrong name: Hola Ana. ¿No te llamas Ana? ¿Cómo te llamas? Sofía..sí, Sofía. ¡Adiós Ana!
– Have many people pass a character and ask the same question or one person ask the same question to everyone.
– Have your character get a group together for a game or a party: ¿Quieres jugar con nosotros? Ahora somos tres. Allí está otra amiga. ¿Quieres jugar con nosotros? When you have several people, make them play tag (you can read my post How to play tag in Spanish) hide and seek (jugar a las escondidas o al escondite), or hopscotch (jugar al avión o a la rayuela).
- Add Spanish phrases your child knows to whatever is happening in the paper city: gracias, por favor, ¿dónde está?, veo…, hay…, ¿qué es eso?
- Children often learn verbs like saltar, correr and caminar in beginning classes. Make the people do actions and say what they are doing.
- Make the people count and describe things: El edificio es muy alto. Me gusta tu vestido rojo con flores.
- Have the characters sing Spanish songs that your child knows.
- Tell the same basic story the next time you play and as many times as possible. There will be plenty of natural variation. If your child is willing to play with the same basic structure, she will learn and be able to participate more.
- Most important, have fun playing with your child!
These are common words you can use as you play with Joel’s (unnamed) Paper City. If you play with Paris or Sydney, you will want to add other words.
la ciudad – the city
la calle – the street
el edificio – the building
la ventana – the window
la puerta – the door
la silla – the chair
la mesa – the table
la casa – the house
las escaleras – the stairs
el helicóptero – the helicopter
el reloj – the watch
la bicicleta – the bike
el hombre – the man
la mujer – the woman
el papá – the dad
la mamá – the mom
la niña – the little girl
el niño – the little boy
el vestido – the dress
los pantalones – the pants
la camisa – the shirt
la gorra – the cap
el sombrero – the hat
You may also be interested in this post: Spanish Greetings – Teach Kids with Finger Puppets