We recently told you about Pañuelito, a culturally authentic game for reviewing vocabulary in Spanish class.  Here we share Doña Ana. We incorporated this game into Calico Spanish Stories Online Level C (“I Live Here”), together with the song that inspired it.

The many names of “Doña Ana”

The children’s song “Doña Ana no está aquí” is a ronda, a “round,” a song sung by children in a circle while playing a game. This ronda is sometimes attributed to Nicaragua.  In Guatemala, you might hear it as “Vamos a la vuelta” and the star is a rana instead of Doña Ana.  (We’re amused, because the family in Level C is a familia de ranas.)  El Salvador claims it as either “Doña Ana” or “Doña Diana.”  Whatever you call it, it’s been a common, fun ronda across Latin America for a very long time.

Original game

This is how the original game is played:

  • Two children sit in the middle of the circle. One is Doña Ana, and the other is her caregiver.
  • The children, holding each other by the hands and circling the two girls, sing about how Doña Ana is not here; rather, she is in her orchard tending her flowers.
  • At the end of each short verse, the circling children ask, “¿Dónde está Doña Ana?”
  • The caregiver can give any answer about where she is or what she is doing.
  • The children continue to sing and then ask, “¿Cómo está Doña Ana?” until the caregiver responds, “¡Doña Ana se murió!” (Doña Ana is dead!).
  • At this point, the circle comes in to approach the girls, and Doña Ana jumps up to chase the children in the circle.
  • The child she catches is the next one to play Doña Ana.

See it in action

If you’re like us, you need this visualized.  Here are some children in Nicaragua playing the game.

As often happens with traditional children’s songs and games, there are many variations of “Doña Ana.”  Often there is no caregiver; Doña Ana is the only child in the middle and answers for herself.  Often the question

¿Dónde está Doña Ana?

is not asked, but rather only

¿Cómo está Doña Ana?

and Doña Ana answers that she doesn’t feel well, or that she has a fever, until she answers that she is dying, and then runs to catch the next Doña Ana.

Our update/game: House vocabulary + activities + telling time

In the version we present here, we have altered the lyrics to tell you that Doña Ana is in different rooms in her house, at a different time (on the hour), participating in a different activity in each place. She wants to know who these people are that keep coming in her house and keep her from doing what she wants to do. The children answer who they are: they are the children who are coming to eat in the red house, and by the way, how is Doña Ana?

To play the game with your children, use the video labeled “Doña Ana – para jugar.” In this version, when the children ask, “¿Cómo está Doña Ana?” there is no answer, so that your own Doña Ana can answer for herself.

The game should proceed this way:

  1. Assign gestures to different possible answers to ¿Cómo está? (See suggested gestures below.)
  2. When the song asks ¿Cómo está Doña Ana? the children in the circle should stop moving.
  3. You or someone in the circle should make one of these gestures at your Doña Ana. If she can respond correctly, she gets to run and catch a new Doña Ana. If she cannot, she plays Doña Ana for another round.


  • Judith is in the middle playing Doña Ana.
  • You, Andrew, and Bri circle around her (singing more and more of the song as you become more familiar with it) until…
  • you ask, “¿Cómo está Doña Ana?” while rubbing your.
  • Judith correctly answers, “Tengo hambre.”
  • Then, she runs and catches Andrew, who will be the next Doña Ana.

Version 1: Including answers

Version 2: Without answers, for the game

Suggested answers and gestures:

You can probably see how you can use different questions here to tweak the game for practicing any vocabulary (“¿Qué tiene Doña Ana?“) but for the question of cómo estás, we suggest using these gestures to elicit the corresponding answers from your Doña Ana:

  • Estoy bien : thumbs up
  • Estoy mal : thumbs down
  • Estoy triste : sad face, pretending to cry
  • Estoy feliz : big smile
  • Tengo hambre : rubbing stomach
  • Tengo sed : panting
  • Estoy listo / lista : posture to start running
  • Tengo sueño : yawning

Ready to play? Here’s a PDF of the instructions included in Level C of Stories Online, if you’d like to print them out.. Also, you can get a poster of these answers to help children learn them well. That poster is included in our Level C poster pack.  And snap a picture or video and share with us – we’d love to see how Doña Ana helps your learners improve their Spanish!



In this discussion, #langchat teachers proposed many ways to make the beginning and ending of world language classes more engaging and effective. Participants also shared their transition techniques that allow them to optimize learning during their class times.

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Using the Beginning of Class to Spark Learner Enthusiasm

#Langchat teachers discussed how to capture their students’ attention as soon as they walk into the classroom. @SenorG said, “Get weird. Be unexpected. Sometimes ‘activate prior learning’ and other times just shoot for a hook.” The more creative, the better! In AP last year I stood at the door to collect a ‘password’ from each student. It was a great way to start each day!” (@MlleSulewski). @Coachbpal shared, “We normally start with a review game of some sort. Something entertaining, yet [it] gets the job done as it relates to recalling info.” @Ginlindzey said, “We do jobs which rotate that include reading the agenda, date (includes yesterday, today, tomorrow), the weather, & school news.” The beginning of class can be the most impactful. @Marishawkins said, “I start with important input to have it sink in the most, so sometimes a song or reading.”

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Routines to Help Balance Business and Linguistic Benefit at the Beginning of Class

The beginning of class can often look like a balancing act between business and jumping into language acquisition. @ADiazMora starts class by “asking how everyone is in [the target language] and looking around to take attendance by the [students’] responses.” Many teachers use the beginning moments of class to lay out the objectives and schedule for the rest of the period. @Madamednmichael said, “I have lessons and instructions posted on SMART board and Classroom in both languages, plus follow routine.” @SECottrell shared, “We have a question jar, which helps start off class in the [target language] if I still have to prep.”

Go-to Beginning-of-Class Activities

Langchat participants collaborated on their go-to activities to start off the class.

  • “The beginning of class sets tone and purpose for the rest of the time. Love creating experiences, surprises, sense-based learning” (@tmsaue1).
  • @ADiazMora includes “weekend talks on Monday and then depending on unit, maybe pictures to spark interest.”
  • @SECottrell uses “a song, especially with #earlylang! Especially if they’ve come in from recess!”
  • @MmeBlouwolff advised, “Share an #authres (preferably video) and [students] complete some sort of processing guide.”
  • @tmsaue1 reminded everyone that the “beginning of the class is truly PRIME TIME for new learning. It’s a great time to focus on input activities.”
  • @senoraMThomas shared, “I have my [students] copy the learning target so they can self-evaluate end-of-class during that time also.”

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Transitioning Smoothly from Opening Activity, into Middle and Close

Good transitions can preserve time in class. By posting my agenda, students know what to expect so it makes transitioning smoother” (@Marishawkins). @ACWLteach shared, “sometimes the best transition is abrupt, not smooth, to keep it fresh.” Elementary Spanish teacher @Kellycondon said, “I may use a brain break or movement activity to break up activities.” @ADiazMora makes smooth transitions by keeping an eye on the time, adding that “sometimes timers on the screen” are useful.

(For the summary of a 2015 #langchat on smooth transitions, click here.)

How to End Class and Assess Student Learning While Building Excitement

#Langchat teachers continued to discuss closing transitions and how to bring excitement for future classes.

  • @Meganclaire87 admitted, “in a 48-minute lesson solid closure is a struggle. Students share their class work and we talk about what makes it successful.”
  • @Oraib_Mango likes to “recap or allow student reflection and feedback and a glimpse of next class.”
  • @AHSblaz ends class with a “ticket out! The last [five minutes] are second-best learning time & [students are] most highly motivated (to leave😉) so I pick the thing I most want to reinforce.”
  • @MlleSulewski said, “If I notice they’re getting squirrely at the end/packing up early, I’ll whisper something important, so they pay attention, ha!”
  • @AHSblaz also uses “exit humor! Weirdest relative, ask next [students] a riddle (written earlier) or give a compliment to next [student] in line.”

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Thank You

Thank you to everyone who participated in the #langchat on Maximizing Learning at the Beginning and End of Class. A special thank you to our lead moderator Colleen, @CoLeeSensei, for her thoughtful leadership and contribution!


This #langchat conversation looked at how to best assess interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes in a World Language Classroom. In the course of the discussion, participants also offered ideas on when to design assessments for each mode and worked to identify the important elements in a performance rubric.

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Deciding Which Modes to Assess

Quality AssessmentsWhen and how do world lag Wnguage teachers decide which modes to assess? @SECottrell shared, that she “tends to move in a progression: start heavy, heavy on interpretive, start sprinkling in interpersonal, and presentational later.” Many teachers agreed that focusing on interpretive and interpersonal modes first gives a strong foundation when it comes to practicing the presentational mode. @Srta_Zeiner said, “In novice, I focus most on interpersonal and interpretive. Getting [students] speaking and listening right away is key!” For teacher, @joyeuse212, it “depends on the ebb & flow of the class and when the timing is right. More interpretive & interpersonal first. Presentational last.”

Important Elements in a Performance Rubric

Langchat participants discussed the elements to include in performance rubrics and in the spirit of proficiency-based teaching, teachers agreed that comprehensibility is the most important element to look for in students’ presentations. @Marishawkins shared, “also after comprehensibility, how students use vocab- so they aren’t as repetitive.” @SraChiles said, “Yes, comprehensibility is #1, but also having details, varied language, & active interaction for an interpersonal rubric” are important.” “Sometimes banning the words bueno/interesante/bonito to force kids to use other vocabulary” is helpful to assessing a variety of language (@Meganclaire87).

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Tasks and Structures for Interpretive Assessments

World Language teachers discussed the variety of ways in which they use tasks to assess interpretation in their classrooms.

  • @SECottrell said, “we turn interpretive text / audio into a multitasking picture: diagraming the story, facts, timeline, etc.”
  • @srtabrandt96 assesses through “finding key terms, main ideas, supporting details//at higher levels: inferencing & predictions.”
  • @Nathanlutz shared, “deep and close listening using authentic resources (video and strictly audio) on @EDpuzzle, my tech hubby” creates tasks for assessing interpretation.
  • @Oraib_Mango uses “mostly multiple choice or true or false to identify main idea and details.”

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Tasks and Structures for Interpersonal Assessments

Physically setting up a task for an interpersonal assessment can look different from classroom to classroom. Langchat teachers shared what this can look like with their students. For example, @Magistertalley said, “I have recorded students, also have them record Flipgrid videos of a group. Sometimes it’s just me talking to a student.” @srtabrandt96 is a “big fan of allowing students to have an open dialogue with each other in pairs or groups. It allows freedom & less stress.” “Give students a prompt; they practice with the partners they choose, and randomly pair on day of assessment. Students then talk to each other spontaneously,” shared @Srta_Zeiner.

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Tasks and Structures for Presentational Assessments

Lastly, #langchat teachers shared structures and tasks for successful presentational assessments.

  • @Magistertalley said, “For speaking – Show and Tell, in-class presentations and Flipgrid.”
  • @kltharri suggests pechakucha.
  • @srtabrandt96 incorporates “some form of research & then [students] show what they learned, or they have to tell a story of some sort.”
  • @rlgrandis suggests “having students creating stories, whether writing or recording a story with their drawings on @educreations.”
  • @rlgrandis shared, “I am a fan of Google Voice but have started having students record in OneNote for presentational speaking.”
  • @GMancuso13 said, “I started using Seesaw for quick [presentational] assessments. I like being able to listen on my own time and give valuable feedback.”

Thank You

Thanks especially to John Cadena (@CadenaSensei) for moderating!  #Langchat official moderators continue to moderate the first and third chats of the month, but be on the lookout for participant teachers to take the initiative to lead many other discussions to come.