Friday, June 7, 2013

Multilingual Pets and Bugs

During our summer we're picking back up our multilingual activity days.  It's a review from last summer but fun and engaging for all our little minds.  We'll be doing these multilingual activity days almost every Thursday through the summer with our homeschooling group.  Hopefully our pictures will inspire you to start an activity day of your own!
 My friend Katrina and I took a course called FLTI - Family Leadership Training Institute that was offered in our area last spring.  The goal was to empower parents and community members to be actively engaged as advocates for children, youth and families within the community.  Each participant learned the ins and outs of how the community and local government works.  Through our growing and learning process we were also to develop a community project.  Katrina and I worked together to create an English, Spanish and American Sign Language class to bridge the communication gap we found in our community.
 It was wonderful watching families come together to practice non-native languages and build friendships across the language divide.  We learned so much and exposed our children to experiences that they otherwise wouldn't have received.
There were so many great things that we learned from this experience and therefore wanted to repeat the experience for our children.  Here are some of the things we discovered:

Why learn a second language?
• improve confidence and self esteem
• support spelling skills
• improve reading ability
• encourage an interest in books

Benefits of creating an activity day:
Attending activity days provides motivation to continue practicing each week, which increases the likelihood that participants will be consistent in their efforts to use Spanish and ASL regularly.
Having other parents to exchange information with and offer support can be helpful and build friendships and community.
Attending activity days also provide a regular occasion for quality, face‐to‐face interaction between caregivers and their children – something special for the family to do.
General benefits of utilizing Sign Language:
Wonderful bonding – this is face‐to‐face communication. You must look at each other to use signs!
Having an alternate way for children to communicate can help a child who may not be comfortable verbalizing something they want to say, such as when they are upset or embarrassed.
Children learn in different ways. Some learn by hearing, some by seeing, and some by doing it with their own hands.  Tactile and kinesthetic learners may thrive when sign language is introduced to their learning environment.
The physical component of signing can make learning feel like play. Children naturally use their body language to communicate.
Sign helps children link symbols (signs) with concepts (the meaning of the word) and with the spoken word. This incorporates many levels of learning.
Helps with temper tantrums during the “terrible two’s” – especially those tantrums that stem from not being understood.
Parents can communicate with their child before the child has developed the skills to speak - some children may have limitations with aspects of the spoken language and some parents do not want to miss what the child is trying to communicate.
Parents may want their children to know a second language and even if they don't master it today, if they want to pick it up when they are older they will have an easier time accomplishing that task.
Why Learn Spanish?
High use language - Spanish is a popular second or third language: with some 400 million speakers, it's the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world (after English, Chinese and Hindustani), and according to some counts it has more native speakers than English does. It is an official language on four continents and is of historical importance elsewhere.
Family and friends may speak - Spanish speaking people live throughout the United States.
Travel could be made easier in Spanish speaking countries.
Bilingual opportunities are available.
Since Spanish is also a Latin language, you will find as you study Spanish that you have a better understanding of your native vocabulary. Similarly, both Spanish and English share Indo-European roots, so their grammars are similar.
 We utilize and their fantastic videos to introduce the vocabulary that we want to focus on for the day.  This Thursday our focus was on Pets and Bugs so we listened to "I'm a Bug" and "The Pets I Love".

 We had set up a couple of activities around the room so that kids could explore what appealed to them at the moment.  I find this a key strategy to be actively engaging all kids.
 There were art activities, small motor activities and math activities that all went along with the theme.  We'd emphasize the vocabulary words through the activity and encourage signing and use of Spanish.

 We read a few books and learned some new facts.  Do you know what a lady bug looks like before it's a beetle?

 We also explored some dramatic play with puppets and masks.
 A little reading lesson popped up when we pulled out the Pets Tot Pack.  We talked about initial sounds in words and categorized animals into "Animals that are good pets" and "Animals that should live in the zoo".

 We also had a lot of fun when we learned how to play "Go Fish!"  To modify Go Fish for younger preschoolers we set the cards in front of us so they were easy to see and then we asked the whole group if they had a match for one of the cards we had.  It was a fantastic way to encourage the use of language in all forms.
 This is a great picture of the first formal instruction on how to use a magnifying glass.
 We took our magnifying glasses outside and played with all sorts of toy bugs and pets.

I'm really thrilled with how this first activity day went.  We learned so much even though the vocabulary was a review.  The activities were engaging and kids were having fun as they practiced using language.  Next week we'll be talking about relationships and making a Father's Day craft.  If you're in the area (zip 80013) and are interested in joining us you can check us out at LEARN.

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Be sure to check back again soon because I've just created a set of Summer Beginning Readers for all the little preschoolers out there.  The FREE download should be posted by Monday!

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