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Make Art Time an Effective Learning Experience

The Sonrisas Spanish curriculum provides a consistent structure of Circle Time, Story Time, and Art Time for your elementary Spanish classes. Each segment utilizes comprehensible input (CI) and interpersonal communication to promote language acquisition. The general strategy for Art Time is that the teacher engages in one-on-one conversations about the art project while students work on it. This reinforces the performance targets for the lesson. In this post we will discuss how you can make Art Time an effective learning experience.

Connect Art Time to Performance Targets

The art projects for each lesson are always related directly to the performance targets. This enables you to focus on reinforcing the performance targets through your communication with students as they work on the art project. For example, in Lesson 4 of Level I, ¿Cuántos hay?, the performance targets are: Students identify the numbers 1-10 in Spanish. Students comprehend the question, “¿Cuántos hay?“. Student answer the question using the phrase, “Hay ___.

Using the art project, Cinco gatitos, you can have students practice counting in Spanish by asking them, “¿Cuántos gatitos hay?” You can also encourage them to use a complete sentence in their response by modeling how to say, “Hay cinco gatitos.” On the art project procedure pages you will find specific directions for engaging students in conversation using the performance targets. These will help guide you in connecting the art project to performance targets.

When you plan for your lesson, familiarize yourself with the performance targets. Then when you plan for Art Time, think about how you will incorporate the performance targets into your conversations with your students.

Use CI and Model How to Do the Art Project

To insure that your students know how they are going to do the art project, it is very effective to model, step-by-step, exactly how to do it. Moreover, you can use CI when doing this, and it becomes a rich communicative experience for learners.

When you model how to do the art project, the CI that you use is the physical art materials themselves and the actions you perform as you explain the steps. For example, for the Cinco gatitos art project, tell students that they are going to make kitten finger puppets. Then explain the steps:

  • Primero, vas a colorear los gatitos (say this as you color one or several of the gatitos).
  • Luego, vas a cortar los gatitos (say this as you cut out one or more of the gatitos).
  • Ahora, tienes que envolver el gatito enrededor del dedo (say this as you wrap a gatito around your finger).
  • Por fin, tienes que poner cinta en el gatito (say this as you put a piece of tape on the gatito).

When you explain the art project in this way, staying in the target language, you offer learners a valuable opportunity for strengthening comprehension. You also provide a clear model for how to do the art project, and you end up with a finished product of the art project to show. This improves the chances that young learners complete the art project successfully.

Use the Art Project to Extend Communication

Your communication during Art Time does not have to end with simply reinforcing the performance targets. You can use this time to extend communication to: reinforce previously learned concepts, assess learners comprehension and speaking skills, relate to students’ daily lives, and differentiate between varying levels of language ability.

Using the art project as a spring board, it is very easy to review previously learned concepts. For example, with the Cinco gatitos project you can refer to the gatito and ask, “¿De qué color es?” (Lesson 3). You can have the gatito act out saying “hola“, “adiós“, and “¿Cómo estás?” (Lesson 2). And you can have the gatito act out saying, “Me llamo ___. ¿Cómo te llamas tú?

For learners with higher levels of comprehension and speaking ability, you might ask questions like, “¿Tienes un gatito en casa?” and “¿Cómo se llama tu gato?” or “¿Te gustan los gatos? ¿Por qué?” Really the sky is the limit when you think about how you can extend communication using the art project.

As with all the different segments of the Sonrisas Spanish lessons, what you want to focus on is the experience of having meaningful interpersonal communication, using CI, in an immersion environment. If you establish this routine for Art Time, it transforms each art project into an effective learning experience.

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