Sunday, August 22, 2010

Engaging Activities & Games for the Elementary Spanish Classroom

Just recently I have networked with several teachers who were interested in games for their elementary Spanish classrooms. Connecting with these teachers inspired me to share some of my favorite resources with other foreign language teachers. Please feel free to leave a comment or share a game that your students enjoy.

Some Tips
1. Introducing a Game- When I first introduce a game, I play it as a whole class so that students can familiarize themselves with the format and rules. Once we have played the game a couple times and once students are comfortable playing it, I incorporate the game in my learning center rotation. This year, my plan is to type and laminate the rules (to different games) as a guide for students.

2. Collaboration over Competition- I try to set up a collaborative environment rather than a competitive one when it comes to games. When games are first introduced, each table is its own team. In order to ensure that students of different abilities are at represented at each table, I create a seating chart that reflects this at the beginning of the year. Also, instead of rewarding the “winning” team with prizes, I reward the whole class for participating in the activity with a star, which counts towards their points for a class party.

My Favorite Resources

1. Languages and Children: Language Instruction for an Early Start, Grades K-8 (4th Edition) by Helena Curtain and Carol Ann Dahlberg
This is my absolute favorite text for games that gets kids active in using the target language. Curtain and Dahlberg include various activities that reinforce vocabulary, listening, speaking and writing across different proficiency levels. I also love that the activities can be modified for any foreign language.

2. Activities, Games, and Assessment Strategies for the Foreign Language Classroom by Amy Buttner
This is another one of my go to sources. Buttner includes very engaging activities and games to practice vocabulary, listening, and speaking which can be modified for various proficiency levels. Activities are categorized into warm-up activities, group activities, partner activities, individual practice activities, and five-minute activities. There is also a section dedicated to games. Two great features of this resource are the recommendations and modifications offered for each activity.

3. 100 Games and Activities for the Introductory World Languages Classroom by Thierry Boucquey, Karina Flores, Julia Kramer, Laura McPherson, et al.
This is a great resource that provides general games that can be adapted for most foreign languages. Games are categorized into themes that include animals, body parts, clothing, colors, numbers, date, time, family, the home, personal description, food, weather, travel, geography, and culture. I also found this book most suitable for middle school and high school.

4. Foreign Language Teacher’s Guide to Active Learning by Deborah Blaz
Although this text is geared towards middle and high school students, I have found several activities that can be modified for the elementary Spanish classroom. The games and activities can also be easily adapted for other foreign languages too. Blaz does an excellent job of providing clear instructions, tips, and variation across themes (clothes, animals, body parts, etc).

5. Utilizing Games and Cooperative Learning Activities in the Classroom by Lisa Moore and Eva White
This is a great source that is not language specific. Many of the games can apply to different themes and concepts in language learning as well as promote collaboration and active learning. I like this text because it provides clear instructions with accompanying handouts and templates.

6. Games & Activities: Supplementary Materials to Reinforce Skills and Vocabulary in the Basic Spanish Classroom by Deb Scott
This text also provides a great collection of activities for individual, partner, or group practice. I especially like how each activity is labeled according to proficiency level (easy for first year student, medium for second year students, and challenging) and includes accompanying materials (board templates, story picture squares, clip art). Also, activities tap into different skills such as listening and speaking.

7. Games & Activities for Individual Whiteboards by Pam Chalus
I love this text because it has creative games to practice writing and vocabulary with individual whiteboards. It’s an excellent source that reinforces skills in the intermediate to higher level classrooms.

8. Colección Kaleidoscopio by Maria Gabriela Acuña
This collection provides worksheets, flashcards, game templates, and ideas to practice vocabulary and grammar skills. Each book is dedicated to a theme such as colors, numbers and alphabet, food, classroom objects, animals, and clothes. This series is a must have in my classroom because it provides ready-made fun activities that I use for my learning center rotation. My favorites have been the game boards and dominoes.

9. ¿Jugamos? 1 by Maria Gabriela Acuña
I highly recommend this book because it offers games that are not covered in the Colección Kaleidoscopio. Just like her previous collection, Acuña provides worksheets, flashcards, game templates, and clear instructions that are suitable for beginners but that can also be modified for more advanced learners. I especially like this book because the instructions to the games are simple enough to use for independent practice or learning centers.


  1. These are fabulous resources that I will be sure to look up! Thanks, Elvira, for such a great list!
    (And I look forward to sharing your information.)

  2. Monica,

    Thank you for your comment! I'm always happy to share resources and materials that I come across. Please feel free to share any that I may have missed.

  3. Just wanted to inform everyone that I am not endorsed by or affiliated with any of the products mentioned in my blog posts. The recommendations I am offering come from my own personal experiences with the products.

  4. Just found your blog and I love it! Thank you for all of the useful information. Could you please fix the broken links for some of the resources above? Gracias!

  5. Love these resources! I was trying to get Maria Gabriela Acuña's books but i do not think to find them on-line...where can i find these books?? Thanks!

    1. Mercedes,

      Check out for her books. That is where I purchased mine. You will also find tons of other resources there. Thanks for stopping by!