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!


They changed the Spanish alphabet…

Alphabet song updated by Calico Spanish.As we recently blogged, in 2010 the Real Academia Española made some rather significant changes to the official Spanish alphabet.  Let’s review what those were:

  • The letters ch and ll were removed; they are now considered “digraphs.”
  • The new name of “y” is ye.
  • The only name for “B” is be.
  • The only name for “V” is uve.
  • The only name for “W” is uve doble.

So, as we evaluated potential updates Calico Spanish Classic for Schools, our print curriculum for Spanish-language specialists, this update was a priority (along with adjusting our references to how the color words for “pink” and “orange” are used: see that other post for more information).

…so we updated our song, too.

Our major change to the Classic for Schools curriculum was to incorporate all of our alphabet lessons into the core chapters of the Teacher Manual.  Before, each chapter included only one letter, with all the rest included in supplemental lessons in the appendix.  Now, all of the official letters are incorporated into lessons in the chapters, with the lessons for “ch” and “ll” moved to the appendix for teachers wishing to do a lesson on these traditional (but eliminated) letters.

Obviously, we couldn’t update our alphabet lessons in Classic for Schools without also providing an updated song for teachers.  And in true Calico style, that song is now uploaded on YouTube for all teachers and learners to enjoy.  If you’ve been looking for an alphabet that you know reflects the current RAE official one, here it is:

And of course, you’re also always welcome to use our earlier song, based on the traditional Latin American alphabet that you’ll still find in many children’s learning materials.

We’re glad you enjoy our music, and we’re always looking for ways to provide you with what you need to teach well.  Enjoy!


Committed to responsive quality

If you could see us work behind the scenes here at Calico Spanish, you’d go away knowing two things for sure.  First, we are truly interested in your feedback.  Second, we are always working to make higher quality products that truly help children speak real Spanish to real people.

So: ¿De qué color es?

Song to help children learn to ask and answer the question "What color is it" in SpanishBecause of a language issue in one of our songs, we’ve redone both the song and the video.  The new song is ¿De qué color es la fresa?  It’s the perfect complement to our most popular song, Colores, colores, because children can start there by saying what color they like and move to this song in order to ask and answer questions about what color something is.

Working with this song

How can you use this song to support your lessons on talking about colors?  Here are some of our tips.

  • Categorize the objects in the song as la words, el words, las words, and los words. (These are the terms we use in my classroom instead of the grammatical labels masculine and feminine, which I’ve found distract learners.
  • Show how many of the color words match the object words.
  • Use verde to describe all of the objects to highlight how this color word does not need to change.
  • Identify things in the room that children know the word for in Spanish.  Switch out our word for that word.  Use the same tune to sing the question and answer with children.
  • Make this question/answer your password for a day de vez en cuando.

And the song?

Let us know what you think!


In elementary schools, kindergartens, preschools, and homes around the world, children have joined us in singing in Spanish about everything from colors to animals on the farm.  Kids are singing about how to answer “What’s your name?” and introduce someone to a friend.  They’re showing someone around the house and commenting on the weather.  Meanwhile, we’ve watched our YouTube view count tick toward ten million.  Then it happened: recently, we soared past that 10,000,000 view mark and around the same time, we surpassed 30,000 subscribers.  In light of this milestone, we’ve been hard at work developing another fantastic free resource. It’s a printable activities book to accompany our best and most popular songs.  Whether you’re a homeschool or an after-school program, a gym enrichment program or a third grade elementary class, there’s something in here for you.

Which songs are in the color / activities book?

Here is what we include in the PDF:

  • Las profesiones– Children color and label the papás in our most popular YouTube song, Colores, colores.
  • Sing & Color activities book downloadLos animales en la granja – We invite kids to color the farm animals and their sounds as heard in the song “La granja.”
  • Crucigrama de la comida – In this fun twist on a word search, children color Spanish food words from the song “Comida” and their matching pictures.
  • La habitación de Rita – In Level C of Calico Spanish Stories Online, Rita really needs to clean her room!  To inspire clean-up time, children listen to “A limpiar” and color and label the Level C vocabulary items in Rita’s room.
  • Las partes del cuerpo – Our new update to the song for parts of the body is already a hit; on this page, children color and draw an arrow from the word to the correct part of the body.
  • La casa de Doña Ana – Children can label rooms in Doña Ana’s house and label what phrase she uses to tell the niños what she is doing.
  • Four sheets for “Las estaciones ask learners to color the season illustration and the weather phrase that describes that page’s weather.

How do I get the color / activities book?

Click Here to Get Your Free Activities

After entering your email, you’ll be immediately directed to a download page.  Whether you teach in a preschool, kindergarten, elementary, homeschool, Montessori, or any other context, we’re sure your young Spanish learners will love these activities to accompany our YouTube songs.  Enjoy, and as always, we’d love your feedback!

Children learn language through stories, songs, and play.  Sign up today for your free trial of our innovative, comprehensive curriculum based on online video stories.  You want kids to speak real Spanish to real people, and we want to help.


Buenos días simple greetings Spanish poem for childrenAccessing the routines they thrive on

Is your Spanish learning time incorporating the target language from greetings to farewells?

I frequently tell teachers that my favorite aspect of our print classroom curriculum, Calico Spanish Classic (beginner level) and Accelerate (developing level), is the way the songs help teachers take advantage of routine to stay in the target language.  If you’ve taught very young learners for long, you’ve learned that they thrive on routine.  Using songs, poems, and dichos to change the everyday routines to Spanish were the key to my being able to stay more in the target language, and I’m sure this is a major reason why it took until November or so for my preschoolers to say in shock to me, “You mean you can talk normal?”

Calico resources from greetings to class end

Our songs like the greeting song “Hola a todos,” the transition song “Señor reloj” and the ending song “Adiós” are fantastic resources to help you keep your elementary, preschool, kindergarten, and homeschool learners in Spanish from start to finish.

And now, try adding our newest resource, this simple greetings poem, to your Spanish learning routine. Let us know what you think!  And then, check out our similar poem for saying farewell, “Dame un abrazo.”


Bendita sea la luz del día
Y el placer que aquí nos guía
Tenga usted muy buenos días.

Children learn language through stories, songs, and play.  Sign up today for your free trial of our innovative, comprehensive curriculum based on online video stories.  You want kids to speak real Spanish to real people, and we want to help.


Has it seemed to you that the topic of weather and seasons has been the hardest to pin down in a catchy, effective song for early Spanish learners?  It has for us.  So, we made our own.

“Las estaciones” weather/seasons Spanish song

The weather and seasons are so interconnected that it was natural to put them together in this song, which supports our upcoming Level D of Calico Spanish Stories Online.  In Level D, learners will join their amigo from Level C, Pepe el perro café, as he travels to Mexico to the family farm of his friend Ofelia la oveja blanca.  There they meet more new friends, including César el cerdo rosa and Mía and her daughter Maite, both mariposas monarcas from Michoacán’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.

Learners experience the seasons and all types of weather at Ofelia’s granja, so we needed a song to help them talk about those features.  Now, we’re sharing it with all of you.  Think of it as a sneak preview of the amazing content coming in Level D.  (And if you want to meet Mía, Maite, César, and Ofelia early, check out our animal games on Sugarcane.)

Don’t forget geography/culture.

As you help the kids in your traditional, homeschool, or informal Spanish class learn to talk about weather and seasons, remember this is a particularly good time to bring in aspects of geography and culture.  Sí, hace frío en el invierno in the U.S. and in Argentina, but in what months is invierno (here you can bring in our popular song Los meses del año).  How does that affect holidays?  And is it true that hace frío in invierno in Costa Rica?  What is invierno in Costa Rica?  There’s so much you could do here!

Here’s the video!

We developed this song based on a very old, traditional tune known in Spanish as “Mambrú se fue a la guerra” (our lyrics are much less macabre, though).  For executing the music side of this project, we’re indebted again to the talented Obed Gaytán, and as always, our graphic animator Iuliia has done a great job with the video.


Check out the catchy, repetitive letra below for our new song about las estaciones.  We think it’s the best one available, and would love to hear what you think.

Ahora es primavera, llueve mucho por acá.  Llueve aquí, llueve allá, llueve mucho por acá.

Estamos en verano, hace calor por acá, calor aquí, calor allá, hace calor por acá.

Ahora es otoño, hace viento por acá, viento aquí, viento allá, hace viento por acá.

Ya llegó el invierno, hace frío por acá, frío aquí, frío allá, hace frío por acá.

Children learn language through stories, songs, and play.  Sign up today for your free trial of our innovative, comprehensive curriculum based on online video stories.  You want kids to speak real Spanish to real people, and we want to help.


What do you get when you update a 100-year-old Spanish children’s ronda with a peppy country beat and lyrics related to time, the house, feelings, and activities?  We can’t wait to show you.

Doña Ana new Spanish song for house, activities, and moreI know we’ve been releasing a lot of new music lately (see Pañuelito, and Amiguito, and Así me gusta a mí, and Todo mi cuerpo, and wait – there are still more!).  But I confess this is the one I’m most excited about.  I’ve been making up songs in Spanish to narrate our home life since my first child was born eight years ago, but this time, I had the chance to see it all the way through: find the right tune, adapt the lyrics just so, find the right musical talent, team up with the right animation talent: and wow, the finished product is one of my absolute favorite projects I’ve ever collaborated on.

Doña Ana: Activities, house, time, and more

What’s so great about this song?  For one thing, I feel like I found just the right tune basis for the lyrics.  “Doña Ana” is a traditional children’s ronda, a song meant to be part of a game in which children dance in a circle and play in some way.  You know them: “Ring around the Rosy.”  “The Farmer in the Dell.”  And “Doña Ana.”

In our “Doña Ana,” you’ll find we’ve targeted these language functions in a fun, comprehensible, no-English way:

  • telling time on the hour
  • using gerunds related to activities in the house
  • talking about rooms in the house
  • using nosotros forms
  • using puedo
  • adding variety to the answers to the question ¿Cómo estás?

And where did this come from?

Like any old, traditional children’s song, the lyrics change from place to place, as does the story of where it comes from, or even how you play it.  In one version, Doña Ana is in the middle with her nurse, who keeps reporting how Ana is doing, until she’s dead, or pretending to be dead.  Or something like that.

To get some more background on this fun children’s ronda:

And where’s the video?

But I’ve got to say, I think ours is best.  We’re indebted to the incredible musical talent of Obed Gaytán, yet again.  Take a look, and tell us what you think.  (And see below for the game version and instructions!)

And you say it’s a game?

Ready to get your early learners up and moving in a game of “Doña Ana”?  Here’s the version made just for that purpose, without the answer to “¿Cómo está Doña Ana?” and here is a PDF of the instructions on how to play, including how to use the game to review any structure really, but it’s particularly great for using a variety of answers to “¿Cómo estás?

PDF of game instructions for Doña Ana song for feelings & house

Click for the PDF.

We developed the song “Doña Ana no está aquí” to support Level C of Calico Spanish Stories Online.  Level C is called “I Live Here” and includes learning targets involving telling time and talking about the house and activities in it, so you can see why we made the song!  You can explore Level C and all of Stories Online for a full week, absolutely free; check it out here.


Doña Ana no está aquí,
en su cocina está,
limpiándola toda para ir a jugar
Vamos a visitarla, que son las cinco ya
a ver su casa roja, comer y hablar

¿Quién es esa gente
que pasa por aquí
de día y de noche
y no puedo salir?

Somos los niños
que venimos a comer
en la casa roja
Lo vamos a hacer
¿Cómo está Doña Ana?
“Tengo hambre.”

Doña Ana no está aquí,
en su sala está,
jugando su juego, y quiere ganar
Vamos a visitarla, que son las siete ya
a ver su casa roja, comer y hablar

¿Quién es esa gente
que pasa por acá
de día y de noche
y no puedo jugar?

Somos los niños
que venimos a comer
en la casa roja
Lo vamos a hacer
¿Cómo está Doña Ana?
“Estoy feliz.”

Doña Ana no está aquí,
en su baño está
bañándose toda para ir a dormir
Vamos a visitarla, que son las ocho ya
a ver su casa roja, comer y hablar

¿Quién es esa gente
que pasa por aquí
de día y de noche
ni me puedo vestir?

Somos los niños
que venimos a comer
en la casa roja
Lo vamos a hacer
¿Cómo está Doña Ana?
“Tengo sueño.”

Doña Ana no está aquí,
en su cuarto está
leyendo un libro para dormirse ya
Vamos a visitarla, que son las nueve ya
a ver su casa roja, comer y hablar

¿Quién es esa gente
que pasa por aquí
de día y de noche
y no puedo dormir?

Somos los niños
que venimos a comer
en la casa roja
Lo vamos a hacer
¿Cómo está Doña Ana?


We’re at it again!  We’re releasing another all-new music video for young Spanish learners, and this one has baila written all over it.  So, let’s dance!

(Side note: If you missed our other recent song releases, you’ll want to check them out: Move your body, find the pañuelito, and tell us what you like.)

– We’ve been releasing new music videos regularly! Don’t miss an update; subscribe to our YouTube channel. –

Left, right, up, down, baila

Amiguito baila conmigo - new Spanish song from Calico SpanishIn our newest video release, the boy and his little friend dance together.  They join hands and clap, which means you’ll get fun physical activity and repetitions of manos and dedos.  They move izquierda y derecha, arriba abajo y vuelta entera.  You can imagine how much fun children have with this song.  This is the favorite song at my daughter’s 4-year-old preschool class.  What can I say, at that age they love to dance and have few qualms about doing so!

A little Baile Viernes for the little ones?

If you’ve never heard of Baile Viernes, a quick perusal of Allison Weinhold’s blog will show you how she’s developed a routine of starting each Friday class with a dance, and a quick Google search would show you how understandably popular her idea has become across the Spanish teacher spectrum.  We all know that children love to dance as much as teenagers do, and in my opinion, this new release of Amiguito baila conmigo” is one of our best for starting any class on a fun, physical note – or for recapturing children’s attention when it’s lagging halfway through the allotted learning time!  (My other picks for this purpose would be Elefantes grandes and Todo mi cuerpo.)

Without further ado, give it a listen.  And then, give it a dance!


Is there anywhere a fun song for early Spanish learners that targets prepositions of location?  We couldn’t find any.  So we did it ourselves.

Pañuelito: New Calico Spanish music for prepositions of place

What phrases, exactly?

We call this song “Pañuelito” (little handkerchief). It accompanies Level C of Calico Spanish Stories, themed “I Live Here.”  In this level, several of the Video Stories feature our characters describing or asking about where an item is in relation to another item.  We chose to include these phrases needed for the purpose:

– dentro de (inside of)
– al lado de (next to)
– debajo de (under)
– encima de (on top of)
– en frente de (in front of)

Why a pañuelito?

In true Calico Spanish style, we offer you a song to help children learn to use these prepositions of location/place in a targeted but fun way.  But for what object?  Also in Level C, learners play a traditional Latin-culture game, called Pañuelito, in which the leader assigns each pair of particular vocabulary words or phrases.  Then, when the leader calls out a word or phrase, children race to be the first to grab a handkerchief the leader is holding.  This made the pañuelito a natural choice for our new song. We’re thankful again for the talent of Obed Gaytán, who took our idea of using the tune to “Twinkle, twinkle” and turned it into a Brooks & Dunn-style rhythm that’s certainly no naptime lullaby!

To make it even easier for children to learn these targets at a realistic pace, we offer you a shortened version, with only three phrases:

As well as the full version, with all five:

We hope these songs help you and your learners acquire this important communicative skill:

I can tell someone where an object is located in relation to another object.

Stay tuned – there’s even more to come, and we’re excited about it!

Ready for our next new song? It’s all about parts of the body!  In this all-new video for our song “Todo mi cuerpo,” a boy decides to dance and swim with his whole body.

Todo mi cuerpo Spanish song for parts of the bodyLike the English song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” this new Calico Spanish song helps children can learn how to talk about the parts of the body with fun music.  Here are some ideas for working with this song in ways that get kids hearing and using communicative language (not to mention repeating without being repetitive).

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Get ’em moving!

“Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” is not a song kids sing sitting down, and neither is “Todo mi cuerpo”!  Ask children to stand and touch the parts of the body while they sing.  All elementary children enjoy songs with movements, but kids in preschool and kindergarten especially benefit from all the kinesthetic movement in this type of song.

Draw the body.

As an at-home activity (if you’re limited on time) or in class, have children create their own basic song sheet by drawing and labeling a body outline.  This way, they can sing it at home, showing their parents what they’re learning in class.  Send home the link to the video while you’re at it!

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Change it up.

Singing the same song over and over can get boring, but there are many ways to get kids excited about repeating song.  How about singing as fast as they can – or as slow as they can?  How about singing it in an opera voice, or in a whisper?

Make up new verses.

In our song, the boy uses his body to dance and swim.  What else do your learners do to stay active?  Perhaps they want to sing a verse about skiing, playing baseball, or climbing at the playground.

Several of these tips work for any song; try them today.  Share other tips with us in the comments below; what activities do you use to get kids moving and singing in Spanish?

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Ready to give the song a listen?

Ah yes- and if you missed the first in this series of new music releases, be sure to check out “Así me gusta a mí.”

Children learn language through stories, songs, and play.  Sign up today for your free trial of our innovative, comprehensive curriculum based on online video stories.  You want kids to speak real Spanish to real people, and we want to help.