The Secretaria de Educación Pública (SEP) of Mexico makes many government textbooks available free online. These books in PDF format to download and print are a wonderful resource for teachers and parents. There are many subjects available, including math. Spanish math games and activities can be an excellent source of language.
Working with math concepts exposes kids to all kinds of Spanish. As they play Spanish math games and do different types problems, children learn vocabulary and structures in context. Many activities are supported by visuals, giving language learners the support they need to understand the Spanish math.
The series of elementary Spanish math books, Desafíos matemáticos, has texts for grades 1-6. There are also teacher materials, materiales educativos para docentes, for each grade. You’ll find a link to these texts below.
These Spanish math textbooks have a significant cultural component. Many of the activities and games provide the opportunity to talk about Mexican food, toys, and daily life.
What is most useful to you in these Spanish math textbooks will depend on the level and age of the children you are working with and your situation. If you are in an immersion program, or if Spanish is a child’s dominant language, then the math concepts will be the primary focus.
In other situations, children are learning the math concepts in English and have a separate class for Spanish. In this case, it is better to do Spanish math activities where children have already mastered the math concepts.
Using Spanish Math as a Language Activity
- Choose activities with math concepts the children have already mastered. Consider activities a grade or two below their level. (In immersion programs or if Spanish is the dominant language, this isn’t necessary).
- Choose activities that are well supported by visuals and text.
- Whenever possible, include a “hand-on” version of the activity presented on paper. The Desafíos matemáticos series has lots of good suggestions for games and manipulatives. All of the material to be cut out is included at the back of the student books.
Here are just a few examples Spanish math activities from the Desafio matemáticos series that can be used effectively with language learners. To view these activities, go to Desafíos matemáticos and click on the year to open the PDF of the textbook. Scroll to the page number in the text (not the PDF).
These books also have many story problems and Spanish math games. All of the material to be cut out is included at the back of the student books.
Números ordinales – pp. 38, 39
Cerca, lejos – pp. 71, 72
Barato, caro – pp. 10-12, 14-15
Mayor que, menor que – p. 16
El calendario – p. 115 – 118 (You may want to change some of the questions on page 116 to refer to dates that are celebrated where you are living.) Printable material for the game El maratón del año is on pages 121-127 of the text.