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Maximize time limits, Part 2: Leverage library time

It’s undeniable: when it comes to contact time with students in world language classes, elementary teachers have the short end of the stick.

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In part one of this brief series, we shared some tips on how you can partner with your school’s computer teacher(s) to maximize language learning time through activities like fun online games.  Here, we share our second tip: why not partner with your school’s library and media specialist(s) to access some of that time, too?  (And scroll down to read details on our giveaway of all eleven of our Storybooks!)

Maximize Time Limits Pt 2 LibraryTeam up with the library.

In one of my previous elementary situations, I saw my students for 20 minutes per week.  But right after I had them, they went directly to the library.  What did they do in the library?  They quickly chose and checked out books, and at some point, the media specialist sat them down to read with them.  Often, she used an audio version of a book to add a special element instead of just her reading to them all the time.

In this way, even if the school librarian doesn’t speak Spanish, s/he can “tell” the children a story in Spanish and increase the amount of time per week they’re receiving comprehensible input.

But where do you find them?

Some of Alma Flor Ada’s books are available with accompanying CD audio, like this poem collaboration with another popular Latina children’s author, F. Isabel Campoy.  Also, Amazon’s marketplace offers several of the Young Eli Readers Abuelita series with a CD, like this one.

As another option, why not record yourself reading the stories that fit best with your curriculum and asking the librarian to play the audio while showing the book?  SourceForge’s Audacity tool is free, downloadable audio recording software that’s fairly simple to use.

Don’t stop there.  At Calico Spanish, we’re all about supporting teachers with the engaging, comprehensible content that supports and enhances their classroom teaching and also fits in their school schedule reality.  In our Stories for Schools / Homeschool program, each level is accompanied by three or four full-color Storybooks.  The content in each Storybook supports one to three of the lessons in the curriculum.

Not only have we recorded audio for the Storybooks, we’ve also provided each as a Storybook video.  In the video, our native-speaking narrator tells the story as the children watch the “pages” flip.  Now, we’re excited to release the first Storybook video from Stories Level B as one of our first non-song content videos freely available on YouTube.  Level B is called “I Love My Family,” and this first Storybook is titled El cumpleaños de Pepe.  Check it out here:

Could this video help you leverage your children’s school library time to increase their comprehensible input time?

What about the full set of eleven Storybooks from Levels A through C?  We want to send one teacher a set as our New Year’s gift!

In this giveaway, you’ll get all eleven Storybooks.  And what’s more, you’ll have access to the audio tracks that we’ll be making freely available on our website.

To enter, simply leave us a comment here, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram letting us know how you incorporate stories into your Spanish class time (get one entry for each platform you use to send us a comment).

Let’s do it! Will you be our big winner?


Kindergarten Spanish Lesson plans
Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell
Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell is a homeschool mom of three bilingual children. She’s also a Spanish teacher and the COO and chief storyteller for Calico Spanish.


  • cari_vo

    This is a great way to increase the student’s vocabulary, and support steady progress with consistency!

  • Kathy Griffith

    My elementary students love stories, even in Spanish. I also teach them for only 20 minutes once a week, so stories are usually read somewhat infrequently, about every other class time. They love stories and nursery rhymes!

  • Lorie A. Weissert-Madriz

    So cool! I am trying to get more reading into the younger grades, as I teach 1-5th grades.

  • Yvette Claeys

    I love your materials.

  • Maria Elvira Colmenero

    I love the Calico videos. Our district is looking into buying the materials and the stories would be great!

  • My K-5 team is working tirelessly to get our curriculum where it needs to be. One of the things I have been doing is searching for texts that are appropriate for the Novice-low to Novice-mid level that I can incorporate into some of our units. Depending on the text, they could be for exercising their interpretive skills or the text could be part of the Integrated Performance Assessment. I am intrigued by your texts! I would love a copy!

  • Rose

    Hi! Our International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme starts language learning in kindergarten. Calico Spanish videos have been so enjoyed with our Spanish students. As this program is newer (only six years), we’re still working on developing curricula and curating and creating resources. Storybooks are essential elements of our learning!

  • Jacqueline Rodriguez

    We use books in my classrooms almost daily. I love to find books related to our units theme for my k-2 students. I also recycle the books for my older students to read with partners or on their own.

    • Kindergarten Spanish Lesson plans Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell

      Congratulations, Jacqueline, you are our random winner! Thanks so much for your comment; we’ll be in touch with you by email. We’d love to hear how our Storybooks supplement your unit themes and work in your classroom for language learning!

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