My students really like clapping patterns with Spanish words. I keep it simple by using a combination of beats on the table and clapping. We all do the rhythm and say the words in unison.
For example, the most simple rhythm we do is to these words:
I use this simple pattern:
1. Sí, sí – Two beats on the table – palms down, both hands at the same time. Nod your head yes in time to the beats.
2. No, no – Two claps. Turn your head to the left with the first clap and to the right with the second clap, so you are shaking your head no.
3. No sé – Shrug your shoulders and hold make the classic “I don’t know” gesture with your palms up.
We start slowly, all together, and then go faster and faster. The kids love this!
This is another simple pattern I use:
1. right hand on the table palm down
2. left hand on the table palm down
4. right hand on the table palm down
5. left hand on the table palm down
7. right hand on the table palm down
8. left hand on the table palm down
9. turn right hand palm up
10. turn left hand palm up
11. turn right hand palm down
12. turn left hand palm down
You can see the pattern here, first slowly and then more quickly.
You can make any number of simple chants to this rhythm. Just be sure that the syllables fit the rhythm and that you do not split a diphthong (two vowels that form one syllable). Also, be aware that if one word ends with a vowel and the next word begins with a vowel they will combine to form one syllable. So, for example, the phrase ¿cómo estas? has three syllables.
These simple chants fit the rhythm above:
¿Cómo estás hoy?
Estoy bien hoy.
The chant can teach related vocabulary:
You can do chants with verb forms too. This is a chant with verbs we do in class. We start with cantar and the second time someone (the teacher or a student) gives a new infinitive. Everyone responds to that verb and someone gives another infinitive. With more advanced students you can play this in a circle. Everyone keeps the rhythm going and the person giving the new verb moves around the circle. If you miss (can’t think of a verb fast enough), you are out of the game.
cantar o no?
bailar o no?
hablar o no?
To make this easier, you can list the verbs before you start. Any two syllable infinitive that makes sense (something you can know how to do) will work.
Of course, there are some really complicated rhythms that you can put words to. There is a wonderful game from Brazil called Escatumbararibê that uses cups. The original words are in Portuguese, but there are versions in Spanish too. You can see a fun video here: Escatumbararibê. There are lots of other videos of Escatumbararibê too.
You can read about other hand clapping games here:
Hand clapping games in Spanish – Marinero que se fue a la mar
Hand clapping games in Spanish – Mariposa and Chocolate
Hand clapping games in Spanish – Por aquí pasó un caballo and Estaba la Catalina