Back to basics: Teaching numbers in Spanish
Numbers in Spanish can be tricky because they are something that we learn initially as a beginner topic and then if we don’t review them they become something we aren’t confident with. Think of how often you use numbers in conversation, dates, time, age, counting, and the list goes on. Now, imagine that you say it costs dos cientos euros instead of dos mil. Big difference! Today we’re taking a look at how to practice numbers in the Spanish classroom both as a lesson topic and as a quick review that can be incorporated into any lesson plan. As always, we’d LOVE to hear from you. If there are any activities you recommend or would do differently in your classroom, please share in the comments section below!
1. Warmers/quick reviews:
For many students having routine in the classroom is fundamental. In our classes we have a routine that involves saying hello, practicing the day, the year, talking about how we’re feeling and the weather. From there we rotate through reviewing different topics that we’ve already seen or practiced with the song. Sometimes it’s the topic that we last focused on and other times we use these numbers songs (+ lyrics)!
Song: Numbers 10-1000
Emotion scale with numbers (warm-up)
Here at Rock A Lingua we like to combine Spanish language learning with activities that are designed to work for different groups of multiple intelligences and hopefully reach a wider range of students. This warmer targets numbers, emotional intelligence, listening, and speaking all at the same time! Draw a scale on the board marking intervals of numbers from 0-10. Say the numbers as you write them and have the students repeat you. Once I’ve drawn the scale I like to use it as an opportunity to review the emotions by asking the students for negative and positive emotions. I write or draw (or stick if you have printed resources or are using a digital board!) the positive emotions on the side with 10 and the negative emotions on the side where 0 is. I tell them that zero is the worst possible day, ten is a perfect day and that five is in the middle. Once we’ve gone over the scale I ask my students to think about where they are on the scale. The first time the teacher can ask the student and put a tick near the number that the student says (in the future I turn the role of the teacher over to one of the students who chooses their classmates and ticks off how each classmate is feeling, working on listening to each other and not only the teacher). Once everyone in the class has given a number you can dive into the reason why each student feels they way they do. I like to encourage each student to answer, but not force them to. I usually go first and give an example. For classes that can read I write the example on the board so that less confident students have a reference while speaking. I’ve found that when you repeat the activity a few times some students that originally did not participate gain confidence and will tell you how they’re feeling the third or fourth time, even if it is a negative feeling. When repeating the activity I like to change the values to practice more difficult numbers. You can use any numbers as long as you have a low and a high number.
Chants (or raps!) are a great way to get your students to take control of the material. Whether you’re working vocabulary or grammar, giving them the opportunity to play with the language is important and extremely memorable for them. You can choose different numbers and have your students make chants/raps using vocabulary words you’re practicing combined with the numbers. This activity requires creative juices so it’s good to have an example prepped to show them that it’s possible! You can create an example yourself or look here for inspiration.
Guess the number
This is a flexible activity that can be used as a time filler or a quick review of the numbers. The teacher starts by choosing a number and writing it on a small piece of paper that will be placed facedown on the desk. The students then raise their hands and have the opportunity to guess the number. The student that guesses correctly takes the place of the teacher. *If you’re practicing larger numbers students can give hints after the guess such as más or menos.
2. Activities to add to your lesson plan on numbers:
This online game reviews a wide range of topics including numbers. By combining it with other topics you check your students global understanding and review numbers without them being the main focus.
Video + worksheet
This video for yourger students about numbers from 1 to 10 is also very entertaining. Our new friend Timbo is counting the bugs from his garden! There is also a very easy worksheet that complements this video video.
Swat that number!
Put/write numbers on the board. As you put them up practice going over how each number is said. I typically put between 12-16 numbers, however you can put any number you feel is best for your students. Invite two students up to the front of the classroom and give them each a flyswatter. In the beginning of the game I say a number and the students compete to be the first to swat the number. As the game progresses I invite a third student to play the role of teacher and switch them out every three turns.
Number play dough mats
This kinesthetic approach designed by Kim at Life Over C's a fun way and active way to get young learners practicing numbers in a hands on way!
Choose the range of numbers you want to practice and have each student write a number from that range on a slip of paper and hand it in. Put all of the slips of paper in a hat or box. Have the whole class stand up and get into a circle. Choose a starting point. Ask the first student to draw a number from the hat and read it aloud to the class and then begin counting with number 1. The next will say 2, the following 3, and so on until you reach the number that was drawn from the hat. The student who says the number that was drawn is eliminated from the circle and must draw the next number and read it aloud to the class. The person to their left will start the counting. The eliminated student can sit down in the circle. Play until all students are eliminated except one.
This fast paced game from Spanish Mama is a great way to get kids learning in the most natural way- through play! For instructions and a demo video click here.
Picture dictionaries are a fantastic resource for kids to keep and reference in the future. You can put them into your interactive notebooks (if you use them in class) or cut them up and use them to play a variety of games.
Thanks for reading and we hope you have a rockin' week! We'd love to hear from you ---> Please comment below with any ideas or variations on the activities!