At Chapin, students are immersed in the Spanish language beginning in Kindergarten. Through direct instruction and engaging interdisciplinary projects like singing folk songs, playing games and exploring Spanish-speaking artists, they develop basic communication skills and a keen ear for the language, which they further explore in the Middle School.
This writer observed a recent Kindergarten lesson with Lower School Spanish teacher Remedios López Polo. The class began as it usually does, with a pair of students using hand puppets to greet their classmates (en español) as they gather around them on the rug, and a group sing-a-long about the current month. The students sang:
Es el mes de Abril
(It’s the month of April)
no para de llover
(It doesn’t stop raining)
y vemos aguas mil
(and we see lots of water)
y las plantas tambien
(and plants too)
Next, the class broke into two groups and took turns reading aloud from the book “¿Oye Si?” which follows the story of a lonely boy who has no one to play with. He meets another child and, by the end of the book, they become friends!
As they read, Señora Lopez would ask questions like “¿Esta niño, esta triste o contento? (Is this child sad or happy?).” The students would pause when they didn’t understand a word, learning new vocabulary such as aburrido (bored) and bondad (kindness), and revisiting familiar words like mira (look) and escuela (school).
“¿Qué pasó al final? (What happened at the end?)” Señora Lopez asked as she closed the book. “¡Ellos son amigos! (They are friends!)” the students declared.
To finish the class in the spirit of bondad, the group looked at photos of children playing together around the world, from Thailand and China to the Ivory Coast. Using these images as inspiration, the students brainstormed actividads en Chapin con amigas (activities they do with friends at Chapin) before spreading out at tables around the room to complete a hands-on activity.
On pieces of paper shaped like puzzle pieces, the Kindergartners drew colorful pictures of their favorite Chapin activities. The most popular choice by far was playing with the fluffy, yellow chicks currently residing in their homeroom. When they were finished the students were asked to escribe tus nombres (write their names) on the backs of their papers and turn them in.
With their Spanish class complete, the students’ homeroom teachers brought out the morning snack as Señora Lopez pointed to each option and named it en español, the students repeating after her… queso (cheese), galletas (cookies), and manzanas (apples).
If this lesson was any indication, these Kindergarten students are already well on their way to developing invaluable fluency in the Spanish language.
Browse photos from the class below: