April is National Poetry Month and it is a wonderful time to share poetry with children. The rhyme and rhythm of poetry appeal to kids. They love to play with language and reading and listening to poems is a fun way to expose them to Spanish.
One of my favorite poets for children learning Spanish is Douglas Wright, a well-known artist, poet and author from Argentina. He generously shares his work on his blog El jardín de Douglas. Douglas also illustrates his poems, and the pictures help kids understand the language.
We are talking about Douglas Wright’s poem No los veo, no los veo in one of my groups this week. It is short, about spring and has wonderful rhythm and rhyme. I have included word-for-word translation below the poem for meaning only. It does not conserve the rhythm or rhyme of the poem, but may be helpful to parents learning Spanish with their children.
No los veo, no los veo,
pero sé que están ahí;
entre las ramas brotadas
escucho sus PÍ PÍ PÍ.
I don’t see them, I don’t see them,
but I know they are there
among the budding branches
I hear their cheep, cheep, cheep.
Suggestions for teaching the Spanish poem
I use the poem this way:
– First, I read the poem to the children.
– We look at the illustration and talk about ramas and the verb brotar. Las flores brotan, las plantas brotan, las hojas brotan..¿Qué brota en las ramas? Las hojas.
– I ask them ¿Qué estación es? and then ¿Qué es lo que no ve el hablante del poema? (What is it the speaker of the poem can’t see?). They can answer this question easily based on the pí, pí, pí and the illustration. I use this moment to point out that the word los in the phrase No los veo is referring to pajaritos.
¿Qué es lo que no ve el hablante del poema?
Exacto, no ve a los pajaritos. No los veo, no los veo…está diciendo que no ve a los pajaritos.
– I ask ¿Por qué no los puede ver? (Why can’t he see them?) The illustration clarifies this really well. Por las hojas. (Because of the leaves).
– I recite the poem again with these simple actions.
No los veo, no los veo (hand above eyes looking for something)
pero sé que están ahí (nod head yes, and point up into an imaginary tree at ahí).
entre las ramas brotadas (arms up and out to represent tree branches)
escucho sus pí, pí, pí. (hand cupped to ear listening).
– We recite the poem together with actions. I do this step as an echo.
– We make trees with the words of the poem on leaves. One of the easiest ways to reinforce the meaning of a poem with young learners is to incorporate the words into a shape. I have included the PDF for the simple activity that I use. You can print the leaves on green paper or kids can color them light green. Children can also add a nest or birds hidden behind the leaves. A hands-on activity like this is a good follow-up to reading and talking about the poem.
Spanish poem printable activity – No los veo by Douglas Wright
As always, thanks to Douglas for letting me share his poetry on Spanish Playground! Be sure to visit his blog for the illustration of No los veo and for lots more poetry to share with kids.
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