Rhythm and word stress are an important part of correct pronunciation. I do lots of clapping and jumping games with Spanish syllables to make sure children are stressing words correctly. Clapping, jumping and toe tapping are excellent ways to combine movement and language. As a general rule, kids who are moving and speaking Spanish are learning and having fun!
I recently saw a Cantoalegre video with a clapping activity with Spanish syllables. Cantoalegre is an amazing non-profit organization in Colombia dedicated to children’s music. They offer wonderful music to stream online and free downloads on their site Música Libre.
The Cantoalegre video demonstrates a rhythm exercise using picture cards. Kids say the words in order. Then they replace the words one by one by clapping the syllables, much as letters are replaced in the song Bingo. They clap once for each syllable. You can see the rhythm exercise video here.
Notice that when each card it turned over, there are marks for the Spanish syllables, with the stressed syllable represented by a darker mark. You can create rhythm patterns for Spanish syllables with any picture cards.
Below you will find a set of printable cards to get you started.
For language learners, it makes sense to do this activity in reverse. Put out a sequence of cards with the picture side down and the back of the card with the rhythm pattern showing. Clap the rhythm of the Spanish syllables several times with kids. Then, turn over the cards one by one, starting at the end of the sequence. Kids can replace the clapping with the words, or they can say the words as they clap.
I like this activity because it helps kids learn to pronounce the diphthongs correctly, as one syllable. Often children who know how to read will separate the vowels sounds in the first syllable of words like viento or nieve. Clapping the syllables helps them pronounce them correctly as two-syllable words.
Use the printable cards below to make rhythm patterns. I usually include the article if I put text on my picture cards, but I left them off these cards because the rhythm depends on using just the noun. The cards are black and white, so that kids can color them.
Spanish Syllables Clapping Activity
You will need to put marks on the back of the cards to represent the Spanish syllables. Make the mark representing the stressed syllable larger or darker.
Try patterns like these with kids learning Spanish:
árbol – luna – nube – sol (Put syllable marks on the back: X x – X x – X x – X )
río – viento – nieve – flor (X x – X x – X x – X )
estrella – montaña – abeja – delfín (x X x – x X x – x X x – x X )
These are the words on the picture cards. Use them to make different rhythm patterns to clap and say.
(two syllables: X x)
(three syllables: x X x)
delfín (two syllables: x X)
pájaro (three syllables: X x x)
You may also be interested in this post: Printable Spanish Game for Kids – Primavera Clap and Count Syllables