Spanish in a Basket was such a treat to get in the mail! It is a lovely wicker picnic basket filled with bright, beautiful toys to help introduce children to Spanish. When I opened the basket, I found colorful wooden fruits and vegetables, hand-knit finger puppets, soft animal friends, and a bright table-setting. There were also 4 CDs and a DVD with 20 audio Spanish lessons for kids ages 3 to 8.
Beth Manners, creator of Spanish in a Basket, understands that children learn language through movement, interaction with the world around them and repetition. Spanish in a Basket applies these concepts in an original product designed to engage children with Spanish from an early age.
The idea is that children listen to the audio CD (or DVD) and follow instructions by using the objects in the basket, doing lots of actions, and repeating the Spanish they hear. The program creates a context by introducing two characters, Bobby and María, that are used in the different lessons. The way children use the objects and other actions reinforce the meaning of the Spanish they are learning.
You can read specific descriptions of these Spanish lessons for kids and listen to lots of sound samples at Beth Manner’s Fun French and Spanish. You can order Spanish in a Basket there too, along with Beth Manner’s award-winning CDs for teaching kids Spanish.
The sound quality of the CDs in Spanish in a Basket is excellent and that is important because children can repeat accurately. The native-speaker pronunciation is clear and there is enough repetition that children will absorb the sounds of Spanish. The catchy songs use the vocabulary and structures and incorporate movement. There are also simple stories using the vocabulary, letting children listen first, and then repeat.
For parents who want to teach their children Spanish, Spanish in a Basket is an excellent introduction to teaching language. By participating with their children, parents will get an idea of how to create a context, build in repetition and associate language with actions.
Playing with your child also adds an important visual dimension to the lessons. The audio goes by quickly, and if a young child is not focused, she may not completely follow what she is supposed to do or say. There is lots of repetition, but with you playing along, she will stay more engaged and she can see the actions and objects that match the words. This is particularly important when the program is introducing several new vocabulary words. It can be hard to hold onto the meaning and sound of a new word. With an adult providing a visual clue, children will understand and absorb the Spanish they hear.
The other advantage to participating with your child is that you can control the pacing. If your child loves a game or a song, you can back up and play or sing again. If she is distracted for a moment, you can pause the CD. If the lesson is challenging, you can start again. The lessons are of a very reasonable length, between 7 and 15 minutes, but to make the most of the material you will want to be engaged with your child.
These Spanish lessons for kids are intended to be used over and over. The more exposure the better! Ideally, you will play with your child a few times. Once she is confident with the lesson she will have a great time going back and doing it independently.
There is lots of Spanish learning material in this basket. It would be an excellent choice for a preschool. In fact, there is also a program for schools, which is even more complete than these lessons. This program would also be great for friends who want to start a Spanish play group, or a family that wants to do something new and fun together. Spanish in a Basket is a fun and effective way to introduce a child to Spanish. With friends, it is even more fun!
Disclosure: The company sent me Spanish in a Basket to write this article. All the ideas and opinions are my own.