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Build Confidence and Skills with Calendar Time

Are you doing calendar activities in your Sonrisas Spanish lessons? Calendar activities provide the opportunity for students to engage in meaningful communication everyday in their elementary Spanish class. They are an important part of the Sonrisas lessons, and an effective teaching tool.

Purposes of Calendar Activities

All three levels of the Sonrisas curriculum incorporate calendar activities in every lesson plan. Calendar activities serve a few important purposes:

  • They provide a daily communication in Spanish that is meaningful and appropriate and connects students to their environment and everyday lives.
  • They provide an opportunity for students to engage in conversation, provide and obtain information, and understand spoken and written language on a variety of topics.
  • Through the use of repetitive language structures, they form a foundation of useful language that can be applied to different contexts.

In Sonrisas Levels I and II, calendar activities are done during the Circle Time segment of the lessons. In Sonrisas Level III, they are done in the warmup section of each lesson and can be optional depending on how much experience students have had with them in previous years of the Sonrisas lessons.

Progression of Calendar Activities

Calendar activities in Sonrisas Level I are taught completely orally. By using verse, songs, and gesture to engage students in conversation about the calendar topics, we teach these ideas in the most appropriate, effective way possible for young learners. In this oral mode, young learners develop an ear for listening to the Spanish sounds and a tongue for speaking them. As they begin to derive meaning from the sounds, comprehension and communication take place.

In Level I the calendar activities cover five topics: El día de la semana, el mes, las estaciones, el tiempo (el clima), and los números. The day of the week is introduced in Lesson 6 and then lessons about the months, seasons, and the weather follow. These four lessons establish a basic calendar routine of asking the four “daily questions” which are on included as a large format poster:

  • ¿Qué día es hoy?
  • ¿Cuál es el mes/la fecha?
  • ¿Cuál es la estación?
  • ¿Qué hace el tiempo? (¿Cómo está el clima?)

Ideally, students will have two years of oral calendar activities in Sonrisas Level I. In Level II, calendar activities expand to include telling time, the Spanish alphabet, and “country of the day”. They also include more writing along with the oral work. For example, instead of simply asking the four daily questions, you can have students write this information on the large format poster or on the board. The Calendar Time Guide also includes writing practice for each calendar topic. Level II students should be at an appropriate age for this transition as they begin to derive more meaning from the written word.

In Level II the calendar activities expand to include the additional topics of: la fecha, la hora, el alfabeto/la letra del día, and el país del día. In Level II, the routine for calendar activities will be established (from Level I) so that you can start doing them in the first class.

Differentiation with Calendar Activities

You may not have time to do all of the calendar activities in each lesson. Once you have integrated the activities into your class routine, you can select which ones to do for any given lesson. This gives you some leeway to differentiate the lessons on a daily basis.

You can also use the calendar activities to differentiate your lessons in the second year of instruction for each level. Per the best practices for the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum, each level is meant to be taught for at least two years. The Calendar Time Guide contains activities for each calendar topic which allow you to expand and extend those activities. By expanding the calendar activities in the second year of instruction of each level, you challenge students with new content in the familiar routine of calendar activities.

Potential scenarios for doing this could look like this:

  • First year of Level I instruction — Do four daily questions orally.
  • Second year of Level I instruction — Continue four daily questions orally and add the activities with the posters from the Calendar Time Guide.
  • First year of Level II instruction — Transition to four daily questions in written format, continue activities with the posters, and add the writing practice and extension questions from the Calendar Time Guide. Also add “la hora” into the daily routine.
  • Second year of Level II instruction — Continue four daily questions in written format, poster activities, writing and extension activities, and add “la letra del día” and “el país del día” activities.

Build Confidence and Skills with Calendar Activities

Calendar activities connect learners to their environment and help them gain a deeper understanding of the world around them and how they fit into that world. The Spanish that is taught and reinforced with calendar activities provides a solid foundation in meaningful communication. Just like daily exercise builds strength and health, daily calendar activities build confidence and skills in understanding, speaking, and writing Spanish.

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