Finger puppets are a great way for preschoolers to practice Spanish greetings. These are often some of the first words and phrases they learn. You can teach Spanish greetings as short conversations. This is something I do starting the first day of class and kids love it. Children can make a puppet talk to another student’s puppet, or they can use two hands and make two finger puppets talk to each other. Kids in the early elementary grades have fun with this activity too.
What you teach will depend on the age of the children and how you have planned your class.
Each of these Spanish greeting dialogs is only a few lines.
Spanish greetings for children
These are some of the simple exchanges you can teach this way:
– Hola, ¿Cómo estás?
– Estoy bien. ¿Y tú?
– Estoy bien.
– Buenos días.
– Buenos días.
– ¿Cómo estás?
– Estoy bien ¿y tú?
– Estoy bien.
(I use two different puppets – ninãs and niños. To make it easier, all the niñas have the same name and all the niños have the same name.)
Hola. Me llamo… ¿Cómo te llamas?
Hola. Me llamo…
Teaching Spanish greetings
I teach all of these short conversations using the same pattern:
– First, I model the exchange, either eliciting part of the dialog from the children, or using a puppet to model the response.
For example, I teach hola and adiós by waving and coming toward the kids as I say hola. Then I move away, wave, say adiós and hide behind something (a door frame, or anything that makes it clear I am “gone”).
To teach Me llamo.. and ¿Cómo te llamas?, I greet each child saying hola, then point to myself and say Me llamo Jenny. Then, I point at a child and ask ¿Cómo te llamas? Based on context, the child will probably understand the question and say her name. If not, I point at myself again and repeat my name and ask again.
– When children have heard the exchange several times in a context that makes the meaning clear, I ask them to repeat the phrases after me. We do this several times.
– We listen to a song that uses the dialog and then sing it together. There are lots of greeting songs (see this post: Buenos días: A greeting song) or you can put the words to a familiar tune. For example, you can sing hola hola hola, adios adios adios to the tune of the first lines of the Itsy Bitsy Spider. You can sing Hola ¿Cómo estas? Hola ¿Cómo estas? Estoy bien ¿y tú? Estoy bien, muy bien to the tune of Happy Birthday.
– I give kids their finger puppets. Depending on the class and the puppets, sometimes we color them.
– Kids work with a partner or put a puppet on each hand. As I say the dialog, they make their puppets “talk”, move their hands, and hide them behind their back as I do mine. I hide my puppets behind my back each time a conversation ends so that they can come out and greet each other again.
– Kids do the Spanish greeting conversation with their puppets. I give support where they need it by saying the words and asking them to repeat.
You can make lots of different kinds of finger puppets or just draw a face on a child’s finger or hand. There are many cute printable finger puppets online. I look for a puppet that is easy to make (printable) and will not slip off a child’s finger. I use people finger puppets for teaching Me llamo… ¿Cómo te llamas? and give all the girl puppets one name and all the boy puppets one name.
Links to finger puppets to teach Spanish greetings
People finger puppets – This set of finger puppets has a family and common animals. It also has teaching suggestions for ESL that can easily be applied to teaching Spanish.
Family finger puppets
Finger puppet characters from stories – These finger puppets are from Inkless Tales. There are characters from Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Bears. You can use these puppets to teach greetings and tell other stories too.