La Hora de Español

Haddonfield Public Schools - 1st Grade World Language News!

¡Vamos a Puerto Rico!

Dear Parents,

Hola, hola! We recently began the final thematic unit for 1st Grade Spanish. Lots of new things are “hoppening” in Spanish class. During this unit, the students are active learners in a thematic unit about Puerto Rico, El Yunque National Forest, and its frog called “El Coquí.” Students are acquiring vocabulary about the island of Puerto Rico, the colors of its flag, its climate, its frog and the national forest and its endangered species. In Spanish, the students can tell you many facts about Puerto Rico! This unit correlates with what your students were learning in the science curriculum and writer's workshop (informational text and opinion writing in Spanish).

Over the next several weeks, students will take part in Project Based Learning (PBL). This project will connect with real life and promote critical thinking, collaboration and communication. The students care greatly for Puerto Rico's National Forest, El Yunque, and their planet. Therefore, we are going to do a real-life project to make a difference in our world. The project will be based on the fundamental question “How do we protect El Yunque, its endangered species, and our planet?” More details to come!

Keep the Learning Going at Home Too!

In addition to going to my eBoard, some other ideas of ways that you can help further your child's learning and excitement about Puerto Rico by the following:

  • sharing any stories about Puerto Rico (if you have been there)
  • compare and contrast the flag of Puerto Rico to the flag of the U.S.A.
  • find books about Puerto Rico or frogs at the school or public library
  • ask your child to imitate the sound of "el coquí."
  • look up a recipe of a typical Puerto Rican dish and try to make it with your child! Check out this website for easy, kid-friendly Puerto Rican recipes:
  2. Try making besitos de coco, platanutres, ponche de malta, or limbers
  • Have as much fun as we are with this unit!!!

Open House/Expo Night Projects

"We are Family!"

In first grade World Language class, students acquired family member vocabulary through an effective method called total physical response (TPR). TPR enables students to acquire vocabulary through physical body movements. The brain can easily recall the vocabulary word that is associated with the body movement, and the information is stored in their long-term memory.

After the first graders internalized the vocabulary, they were able to use it to engage in interpersonal communication! Students practiced asking and answering "What's your mom's name? What's your dog's name?, etc."

  • ¿Cómo se llama tu papá?
  • Mi papá se llama Frank.

Then, students expanded their Spanish vocabulary by acquiring descriptive words such as intelligent, funny, curious, artistic, strong, athletic, happy, crazy, soft, etc. The students had lots of fun acting out the adjectives. Engaging in meaningful conversation is an important task in language performance, and the students loved asking each other about their family and pets.

  • ¿Cómo es tu hermana?
  • Mi hermana es inteligente y atlética.

We were inspired by a popular children's book by Hanoch Piven to design a culminating project. Students needed to describe their own family members/pets or fictional family members/pets using the adjectives that they learned. Then they used their artistic skills to create portraits of their family. They drew objects to show us what each family member is like. For example, if I wrote "Mi mamá es inteligente y curiosa," then my drawing of my mom's head could be in the shape of a light bulb to represent intelligent, and her nose could be a magnifying glass to represent curious. The first graders' creative wheels were spinning for this project!


Students were assessed on their presentational speaking skills about their family members. In Spanish, adjectives need to agree with the gender of the noun. For example, Mi hermano (brother) es atlético y mi hermana (sister) es atlética. Little did the children know that they were learning an important and tricky grammar concept! This is a concept that is very new and different to English language learners so it is totally normal that errors are made. This is part of the language learning process. The most critical thing is that the students are creating, playing, and speaking in the target language, Spanish! Our goal is for the children to be engaging in meaningful communication!

In other World Language News...

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Third and fifth graders woo the judges with their Spanish-speaking skills! The Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey (FLENJ) asked world language teachers in NJ to submit a one-minute video of their students speaking in the foreign language to share the value and joy of learning a world language.

The 1st place winners in New Jersey are Elizabeth Haddon 3rd graders, Cleo Cottone and Ryan Tourtellotte, who starred in a video under the production and direction of Mary Devine, elementary Spanish teacher. In the video, Ryan and Cleo share their knowledge about Alexander Calder, a famous artist from Philadelphia. Ryan acts as a news-reporter for “6LizzieABC” reporting live from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He interviews Cleo who acts as the director of the museum. Cleo shares information with Ryan about the Alexander Calder exposition taking place at the Museum of Art. The study of Calder was part of a school wide artist study project. Green Screen Technology was used to make the video look like it took place in Philadelphia!

Two 5th grade students, Gabriella Kraft and Audrey DeCristofaro, from J.F. Tatem Elementary take 3rd place in NJ with the video that they created with Luis Bayona, elementary Spanish teacher. Gabriella acts as a reporter in Hollywood, CA interviewing famous stars. Audrey is dressed up as a famous singer, but is Audrey really famous or is she an imposter? You will have to find out by watching this award-winning video.

All of the students and nominating teachers were honored at FLENJ’S Annual Conference on Saturday, February 27, 2016 in New Brunswick, NJ. Additionally, Haddonfield BOE recognized these students at the March 17, 2016 BOE Meeting. The school community watched entertaining videos during March community meetings at the respective schools. Certificates were awarded to the students who starred in these winning videos! All of the winning videos will be on FLENJ’s website:

The principals and nominating teachers are extremely proud of the students’ hard work and commitment to being a lifelong language learner! Languages are communication tools and it is important that we have fun using them to engage in meaningful communication!

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