and A Sing-Along with Joel Valle!

Last week over 80 kids gathered together up in the gymnasium to sing, dance and listen to Joel Valle play songs from the Mi Guitarrí: Spanish Songs for Kids CD. For several weeks each Spanish class had been practicing the songs so that students could confidently sing along in Spanish.

Why is singing such an important component of the Calico Spanish curriculum? Because the variety of vocabulary presented in the lyrics, the repetition of foundational language concepts and Joel’s authentic accent make singing a fabulous way to easily learn Spanish.

You will also notice that many of the songs lend themselves well to movements. These actions help interpret the songs and give kids a great opportunity to get their wiggles out. It’s so important to make learning a second language fun.

I’m so proud of my students for such a great show! Also, thanks to Hood River News for putting this video together.

¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!

Thanksgiving is a very American holiday, but taking time to reflect and be thankful is a quality found in every culture. Several weeks ago, a local ice-cream shop donated ice-cream to the school where I teach. The owners are Hispanic, so my students had to place their orders in Spanish. This was a great opportunity for them to see that they could use their Spanish outside of the classroom, plus they got free ice-cream. That’s something to be thankful for!

So this week we’re going to make thank-you cards to give back to the ice-cream shop. There are tons of things to be thankful for. You can brainstorm with your students to see what they are thankful for, and then help them write a thank-you card to give to someone special on Thanksgiving. For more advanced language students, you can always include a formal greeting and salutation too.

The long weekend is almost here, and I’m truly thankful for that. Enjoy!

Mexico will celebrate its centennial revolution on November 20th. They’re remembering the beginning steps towards a more just democracy for the common man. What benefits came from that struggle?

In 1916 the revolutionary struggle was decided in favor of Venustiano Carranza. An official election was called for and deputies representing almost the entire country gathered together in Querétaro to amend the Constitution of 1857. These radical, social amendments tailored to a new Mexico.

Ones to be noted are Article 3 and 27 which, although fairly anticlerical, reformed the education and property distribution systems. Article 123 brought about a greatly needed change for laborers. It laid out an 8 hour work day, the right to strike, a minimum of one rest days per week and proper indemnification following unjust termination of employment.

On February 5th, 1917 the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States was read aloud from the Theater of the Republic for the people to hear.

El 20 de Noviembre México celebra el centenario de la revolución.

On November 20th Mexico celebrates its centennial revolution.

Mexican Hot Chocolate!

As the season cools into winter, Mexican Hot Chocolate is the perfect way to warm-up your afternoon. We chose this recipe because all of the ingredients are readily available in any grocery store and it’s one that your kids can participate in!

The word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocolatl,” which means “bitter water.” The cocoa bean, from which chocolate is derived, is grown in Mexico, Central America and parts of South America.

3 tablespoons instant hot chocolate mix
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup boiling water

In a large mug, mix the hot chocolate mix, chocolate syrup and cinnamon. Pour in the milk add the boiling water and stir. Yields 2 servings.

Recipe modified from

Sheldyn. “Easy Mexican Hot Chocolate”

Do you have a favorite Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe you’d like to share? Post it in the comments!

You have been invited by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the U.S. Department of State to participate in the 11th annual International Education Week this November 15th – 19th. Schools around the States and the world will be celebrating the importance of an international education.

“All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort — a sustained effort — to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.” -President Obama

The theme this year is Striving for a Sustainable Future. Children must be prepared to be good global leaders and citizens in order to communicate and cooperate in an ever expanding global network of different nationalities and cultures.

Good News: Teaching children a second language is an integral part of preparing them for a sustainable future! You and your language students are already making a difference!

Do you have any ideas for celebrating this week with your students?

To learn more, check out the government website: International Education Week

Duncan, Arne. “Statement on International Education Week 2010.” 9.7.2010


The centennial celebration of Mexico’s Revolution is quickly approaching. How are you planning on introducing this significant, cultural event to your Spanish class? Here is a quick review of the legendary characters and the roles they played.

The Mexican Revolution officially started November 20th, 1910 when Francisco I. Madero escaped from prison and declared that the electoral process in Mexico was corrupt and therefore invalid. General Porfirio Díaz had ruled over the country for 34 years and wasn’t about to release his power, so he had imprisoned Madero and announced himself the winner.

Shortly after the revolutionary declaration, the charismatic Pancho Villa joined Madero with a host of faithful fighters, transforming his followers from banditos (bandits) into revolucionarios (revolutionaries). Pancho Villa had already been fighting against unjust landlords for the rights of the common man.

Emiliano Zapata was another key player in the Mexican Revolution. He lead the Liberation Army in the South of Mexico. Although the outcome of the revolution did not bring the equality and opportunity hoped for by the Mexican people, it was the beginning of a long process for a more just democracy.

The revolutionary chant lives on:¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva la Revolución!

In celebration of the centennial, the Mexican government has produced an educational, video series that documents the revolution. If you follow this link you’ll see each video presented in Spanish and English. For your convenience, you can watch the first video in Spanish right here on our blog:

What are your ideas for celebrating Mexico’s Revolution?

¡Feliz Día de los muertos! Depending on your situation, you may or may not have the resources or desire to plan a big celebration, yet bringing a culture to life through studying its holidays is an exciting diversion from the typical school day. Here is a simple, innocent way to introduce Día de los muertos with a classic kids game.

How to Play:

This game follows the straight-forward structure of Musical Chairs. Split your class into two groups so that you’ll have one group walking around a line of chairs while you lead the other group in chanting the poem provided at the end of this post. Make sure you have one less chair then the number of students walking.

When you and your students reach the end of the poem, the walkers have to sit down as fast as they can in a chair. One student will be left without a chair. The left-out student is called the Huesuda and will join the group that chants the poem.

Remove a chair from the line and continue to play until only two students are left. These are your two winners; they out-ran the Calca! You can then rotate groups. To make this more challenging, you can signal your students to stop chanting in the middle of the poem, requiring your walkers to sit on a moments notice.

Your students will love playing this game. This activity will engage children in this much-anticipated annual celebration as they read the poem and participate in the culture and traditions of Día de los muertos!

Chant this poem with students as you play the game:

La Calaca en el Jardín

“Todos a correr
que llega la Calaca
y lleva al que no esté
sentado en su butaca
y ya tiemblan las almas.
La flaca se divierte
y ríe haciendo palmas,
la flaca se divierte
y ríe haciendo palmas.

Hay que estar atento,
prestar mucha atención
y tomar asiento
si corta la canción.
Pobre la Huesuda
con tanta carcajada olvidó a qué vino
y no se llevó nada”
-Leonardo Antivero