This post of gifts for children learning Spanish has been update for 2015. Find the new gift guide here. Gifts for children learning Spanish are an opportunity to give a toy or game that encourages kids to use the language in a new way. A new puzzle or toy can also be motivating and keep the process of learning Spanish exciting and fun. If possible, choose toys that can be used again and again in different ways. Repetition is important to language learning and it also makes the toy more cost-efficient than something that you use only a few times. These are a few reasonably-priced items that can be used for a variety of fun activities and with children of different language abilities.
Spanish Bean Bags – Colors – These bright bean bags (bolsitas) provide the perfect context to teach children the colors in Spanish. Each bean bag is clearly labeled with the color word, and there is never a need to translate because the color of the toy says it all! There are dozens of Spanish learning activities you can do with these versatile bean bags. These are just a few, but you will think of lots more and the bean bags come with a list of activities. Just remember to use the Spanish color words so that they are associated with the bean bags.
Hide the bean bags, one or more at a time, so your child can look for them. Ask ¿Dónde está el negro? (Where is the black one?) etc.
Use the bean bag to designate a place and collect things that are the same color. – Vamos a buscar cinco cosas verdes (Let’s look for five green things).
Play catch with a bean bag and say the color in Spanish each time you catch it.
Give each child a bean bag, saying the word in Spanish. Have them race to find something else of that color and bring it back.
Toss the bean bags into boxes or onto paper plates labeled with the color. Each color can be at a different distance.
Run a relay where each child has to bring back a certain color bean bag.
When you draw with your child, use the bean bags as a reference for the color words.
Try to walk, or run, or have a relay race with the bean bag on your head.
Space the bean bags around the room and make a game of jumping over them. Start with one and then make a sequence to remember – negro, rojo, amarillo (black, red , yellow).
Take turns hiding a small picture under one of the bean bags. Give two or three chances to guess where it is. Ask ¿Dónde está el gato? (Where is the cat?) ¿Está debajo del rojo? (Is it under the red?).
There are also bean bags for learning Spanish shapes.
Spanish alphabet puzzle cards– These two-piece puzzles match a letter to a common Spanish word that begins with that letter. The illustrations are clear, so there is no need for English translations as your child does these puzzles. These colorful cards make it easy to talk about the letter sounds and vocabulary using simple phrases. For example, Es la U – uvas. Me gustan las uvas. Yumm..¿Te gustan las uvas?
Alphabet floor puzzle – This brightly colored floor puzzle uses common Spanish words to teach the letter sounds. Talk about the pictures and point out the letters as you put this puzzle together with your child. Voy a pegar la s. Sandía se escribe con s. Se escucha la s – ssssandía.
The pieces of this puzzle are big enough that you can use them for other activities too. For example, talk about the words by putting them in categories, such as animals, colors, foods, or toys. Vamos a encontrar todos los animales. A ver…el delfín, y la vaca. ¿Qué más? El gato y el ratón... (Let’s find all the animals. Let’s see…the dolphin, and the cow. What else? The cat and the rat… )
Spanish Bingo – The basic vocabulary in this bingo game is divided into categories. There are six game cards, and each card has eight Spanish words from one category: animals, nature, clothing, colors, vehicles and market. The child covers the picture with the chip with a matching picture when the word is called. The picture makes the meaning of the word clear, and the child associates the letter sounds with the written word.
Learning vocabulary in categories is an effective way to organize new Spanish language, and it also makes these sets of words easy to use in other activities. For example, you can practice más grande (bigger) and más pequeño (smaller) by comparing the size of animals or vehicles. You can associate items of clothing with the weather or the seasons. You can include the nature words in a scene that you draw together and talk about the picture. The chips and the cards can be used for many activities, either together or separately. This is a versatile, well-conceived game that lends itself to lots of uses.
Lotería – This is the traditional Mexican version of bingo. It is loaded with Spanish vocabulary and these traditional images are cultural icons that every child in Mexico knows. As children match the sound of the word that is called to the image and the written word, they learn letter sounds and vocabulary. The wonderful variety of pictures makes this an entertaining learning activity for all ages.