Do you have children starting Spanish in school? If you are looking for games and activities to supplement what they are doing in class, The Everything Kids’ First Spanish Puzzle and Activity Book has lots of fun ways to practice basic Spanish.
Kids who like word games and activity books will love this book. It is packed with mazes, codes, word searches, hidden pictures and other puzzles that reinforce basic Spanish vocabulary and concepts. There are brief explanations, but the book does not teach the material in depth. It provides an entertaining way to review and expand on what a child has seen in class. If the information is new, the activities serve as a brief introduction to the vocabulary. The book has the answers to all the puzzles in the back.
Most of the activities are based on translation, so there is a mix of English and Spanish. For several of the activities, kids do a puzzle in English to discover a Spanish word or phrase. Because of the English, the book is not a good choice for children in immersion programs. However, for kids using books that include English translations, lots of the activities match material taught in beginning classes.
I like the variety of short, quick activities like mazes, codes, dot-to-dots, word searches, crosswords, tongue twisters. Also, the pages are big enough to write on easily and there is enough space in the blanks to make the activities fun to do. The book is for ages nine and up, and it could certainly be used with middle school students. Because the Spanish makes these games and activities more challenging, it appeals to a wider age range.
This is a book of written activities, but I like the way it encourages children to speak Spanish. There are pronunciation keys for all the Spanish words and the instructions tell kids to say the words out loud, or to try to say a phrase three or five times fast. There are never too many words on a page, so saying the words is fun, not overwhelming.
The Everything Kids’ First Spanish Puzzle and Activity Book has too many activities to go into much detail, but I want to mention a few of the ones that I particularly liked. One is called Sad Man, Glad Man, where kids draw expressions in labeled circles before following the happy faces like a maze. Drawing the faces is fun! The models for the faces are easy, and kids will quickly learn the Spanish words feliz, enfadado, triste, cansado and miedo.
There is an activity with con (with) and sin (without) where kids match simple descriptions to pictures. This is an effective way of teaching these two important words. I also like the group game in the book that teaches how to tell time in Spanish. There are several written activities on telling time too, so kids can get more practice.
If you are considering getting this book for your child, you should be aware that there are a few misprints. These matter because they cause agreement errors and several of the activities teach agreement. Here are the ones I noticed:
p. 28, the book has pan tostada, but it should be pan tostado (pan is masculine).
p. 65, the word quarto should be spelled cuarto.
p. 78, tengo mucho hambre should be tengo mucha hambre (hambre is feminine).
p. 92, the written accent and pronunciation key are wrong for the word alergias. There is no written accent on the word (the book has one on the i). The stress falls on the e in the next-to-the-last syllable.The ia combine in one syllable (a dipthong).
p. 118, the book has una papá for father. It should be un papá.
The book is still useful, even with the mistakes; you can just correct them. Kids will have a great time doing the puzzles and they will spend more time thinking about Spanish as they do. I would just use the errors as an opportunity to talk to kids about how it is important to be careful with spelling and agreement and about how everyone makes mistakes, even busy copy editors.
Disclosure: The company sent me a copy of the book to write this article. All of the ideas and opinions are my own.
Disclosure: The company sent me a copy of this product to be able to write the article. All of the ideas and opinions are my own.