Teaching the days of the week in Spanish (with a twist!)
The days of the week are a necessary topic to teach to kids, but let’s face it, not the most flashy. We get excited about animals, about modes of transportation, and about action verbs, but what is there to be excited about something so mundane as los días de la semana? Well, actually quite a lot. The topic is straightforward and easily personalized to fit each class. It’s something the students can talk about that is directly related to their lives, and it can be combined with other vocabulary and topics to create a more holistic approach. From TPR activities, to competitions and classroom conversations we’re going to talk you through some of our favorite ways to teach the days of the week in Spanish class and how we put a spin on a less sparkly topic.
Interactive activities for older students
There are a million videos to help teach the days of the week to kids in Spanish. We happen to be partial to our own video ;) and like using it as a way to see what information our students already know. Before watching the video ask the students to brainstorm and think of as many days of the week as they can in Spanish. We ask them to think with the person next to them and then ask for a volunteer to come to the front of the room and call on their classmates to tell them the ideas they've thought of. The volunteer at the front then writes the days of the week on the board. *If you have a lower level class and this seems impossible, simply ask the students if they know any days of the week and write them on the board yourself. If they don't know any, that's great - this will all be new input for them! Once you have the guesses on the board ask them to put them in order. Watch the the days of the week video and check to see if they are correct.
The options for competitions are endless and if managed well turn into a moment that your students are using and learning the Spanish language in a natural way.
Grab and stick: This game is best played in groups of 4-5. Before playing make sure that you have a set of notecards or scraps of paper with the days of the week written on them for each group. You will also need tack so that the students can stick them onto the board. Write the days of the week on the notecards and put them facedown. Line the groups up in a straight line facing the board. The first member of each group stands near the notecards and listens for the day of the week. The teacher says the day of the week and the students hurry to flip over the cards to find the correct day. When they find the correct day they must run up to the board and stick it on. The first group to correctly stick the notecard on the board receives two points, and the second group 1 point. The group with the most points at the end wins.
Slap game: One of our favorite review games is the slap game. We like to play this game by keeping the class in their seats and dividing the classroom in half. We call one student from each half up and keep score on the board.
Write the names of the days of the week on the board and have two students come to the front, one from the left side of the room and one from the right. Give each student a fly swatter (or anything you have around the classroom.. an empty plastic bottle, a paper towel roll…). Write the days of the week on small slips of paper and put them into a hat. Have a third student choose a day from the hat and read it out loud. The first student to slap the name on the board wins a point. Repeat the process with two new students. The team with the most points wins.
Ordering: Divide the students into small groups or pairs and give them each a set of cards with the days of the week on them. You can either give students the cards or have them make their own set of cards practicing writing the days of the week and coloring them. After the cards are prepped, ask your students to put the months in order. Here, you can refer to Rockalingua video “Los días de la semana” or if you’ve been working with the days of the week already, tell your students to do it from memory. As students work together encourage them to speak the words out loud, practicing pronunciation. After they have decided on an order, correct it as a class, taking the time to correct any pronunciation errors. Have your students mix up the cards again and put them back into order listening to your pronunciation. After a few practice rounds you can time them to see which group is the fastest. Make sure that the group that finishes first practices saying the order aloud to the class.
These worksheets are a combination of everything. They practice the vocabulary associated with the days of the week, explore what Tapón does during his week, ask comprehension questions, and ask the students to fill out their own schedule (highlighting their favorite subjects) creating a personalized experience with the target langauge.
4. The wheel (interactive resource)
We’re all about learning the language while moving our hands. These days of the week wheels are easily personalized and create a resource that can be revisited many times throughout the year as a quick warm-up or cool down activity or to review the days of the week. There are different inner circles to choose from, depending on what words you’d like your students to practice and they are a great set up for short conversation practice in pairs.
“Using the wheels, kids can answer the questions ¿Qué día es hoy? ¿Qué día es mañana? and ¿Qué día fue ayer? They can also answer questions like ¿Qué día viene antes del sabado?” (source: Spanish Playground)
5. Writing: My Week + picture calendar
Have the student create a schedule of what they do each week (you can use the example in the worksheet above or have them do it in their notebooks/on a separate sheet of paper). Here you can be flexible with what you include. If you’ve practiced time then include times, if not, just ask them to think about what activities they do each day of the week. Students can make a schedule in their notebooks with the days of the week and what activities they do on those days. You can decide if you’d like them to conjugate the verb or keep it in the infinitive form. After the students have completed the chart put them in pairs and have them ask their partner about their week schedule.
¿Qué haces los martes?
Los martes voy al colegio y juego a fútbol.
Variation: Use the class schedule and have students ask questions about their partner’s schedule. ¿Qué día de la semana tienes educación física?
Keep it simple and writing free with this picture calendar.
6. Online games
Great for review or to practice the target langauge, this online game focuses on pronunciation and spelling all while trying to beat your best personal record.
Activities that work well with younger learners
1. Classroom routine
Incorporating an essential topic like days of the week into the classroom routine can be one of the best ways to practice. Our classroom routine grows and transforms as the year progresses. We like to start the year by repeating the same routine every class in the same order so that students know what to expect and can begin learning the language we want them to be able to produce, but by the end of the year we have a few different songs to say buenos días and we alternate depending on the day. We follow our hello song with the days of the week song, and then go over the weather, and the lunch menu for the day.
As the routine grows so does the role of the students. In the beginning when they can’t produce much of the language we use visual aides (interactive whiteboard with a daily routine slideshow, flashcards, weather flashcards and movements, calendar, etc) and the teacher asks the questions and encourages any sort of response from the student. The response can be touching a visual clue, answering non-verbally, or in some cases producing some of the language. As the year goes on we start to ask the students to take on the role of the teacher. One of the ways we might do that is by asking students to come to the front of the classroom and ask the questions. This works especially well when creating an emotional scale (we talked about it in our blog post on numbers) or when asking kids how they are. We can have students come to the front and share how they are feeling before calling on a classmate and asking them the same question. For the days of the week we like to use our fingers and the song. First we listen and sing along to the song before saying "Hoy es.......". Then starting at the pinky we say the days of the week while touching each finger “Lunes, martes, miércoles…” Usually when we get to the day of the week that it is the kids all are excited to tell us and we right it on the board or make a gesture to acknowledge it before continuing with the other days.
One of the TPR activities we've had the most success with is counting out the days of the week on our fingers. For younger classes this means that the students who can produce the langauge can say it out loud while moving their fingers, and those who cannot can still follow along in a physical way. It's also a good way to practice movement and to create a memory path between the word and a physical movement, helping those kinesthetic learners.
Another idea we've had, but haven't explored is the use of sign langauge in the classroom. We like this idea because it creates a more all-inclusive space and continues to cater to different learning styles (visual, audio, kinesthetic). Do you use sign language in the classroom? If so, we'd LOVE to hear about it in the comments section below!
Días de la Semana - Lenguaje de Señas
3. Songs and chants
Songs and chants can be very helpful with young learners. You can combine them with simple rhythms or simply keep them oral. Many teachers will make up their own chants, but if you’re in need of a little extra creative juice here’s a great one by Spanish Mama that can be sung to the tune of Frére Jacques.
This days of the week train can be made by the teacher and used during class to change the days, put them in order with the current day in the first wagon, or can be made as a class project and hung on the wall. Here is an example of a way that it can be used interactively during the routine:
You could also use it as an opportunity to have each student create their own days of the week train combining language and fine motor skills (cutting and coloring).
La Oruga Muy Hambriente By Eric Carle
There are many activities that you could do with this book. It combines food, numbers, and days of the week with a story that kids love. One way you could use it is by first reading the story to the class. Depending on the level and age of your students you’ll want to adapt the vocabulary so that it’s easy for them to understand. After reading, make it active by printing out the different stages of the caterpillar and the different foods he eats. There are many different versions of online printable - some already with color and others that you could have the kids color in before using. On the board write the name of each day of the week and as you read it put the correct foods on the day that they were eaten. If your students are able to, you can have them retell the story in their own words. If they aren’t able to retell the story or produce the language tell the story again and have the students stand up when they hear or see their food and stick it on the board below the day of the week that it corresponds to.
Find the story sequencing cards here: http://www.dltk-teach.com/t.asp?t=http://www.dltk-teach.com/books/hungrycaterpillar/csequencing.gif