Review of De la cabeza a los pies by Eric Carle

De la cabeza a los pies by Eric Carle

Review by Blue Lindner

There are many reasons why Eric Carle is one of the most popular children’s literature authors in the world. His art is expressive, bright, and captivating. His stories are simple yet engaging. His themes are universal—speaking to children of any culture in any language. For a second language learner, the text is concise and repetitive—two fabulous qualities for a language teaching tool.

Throughout the years I have used many of Eric Carl’s books to teach Spanish to young children. De la cabeza a los pies might be my favorite book of his to use in a language lesson. It provides a really fun, interactive, kinesthetic context for teaching body parts, as well as three repetitive, fun, useful phrases: “¿Puedes hacerlo tu también?”, “Soy un…”, and “¡Claro que sí!”

The book provides a series of short, repetitive dialogues between children and animals. The animal states his name, says something he can do with his body, and then asks the child “¿Puedes hacerlo tu también?” The child replies: “¡Claro que sí!”

After reading through the book once, I read it a second time, but pretend like I am the animal, and then I do whatever the animal does. Then I point to a student and ask him or her the question “¿Puedes hacerlo tu también?” The student answers “¡Claro que sí!” or “no”, and if they answer “¡Claro que sí!” then they stand up and do the action. We go through all the animals in this way. Then if they are still engaged and wanting more, I’ll pretend to be other animals that aren’t in the book. I’ll follow the same language pattern as the book so that my students can follow me. For example: “Soy una rana y salto con los pies. ¿Puedes hacerlo tu también?”

This book may seem more conducive to early grades and preschool, but I have had a lot of success with this lesson in my 5th, 6th and 7th grade classes. They love the physical nature of this lesson and the opportunity to act silly in the context of the lesson. Because my upper elementary Spanish students can read Spanish fairly well, I made up a game for them to play. I wrote each phrase from the story on an index card. One student begins by reading the phrase aloud then performing the action. When the student gets to the part: “¿Puedes hacerlo tu también?” he points to one of his classmates and then that student performs the action, and then draws the next index card.

I recommend this book for Spanish teachers and bilingual parents of children from 1-14. We use this in Lesson 10 of Sonrisas Level II to teach the phrase Yo soy. Whether you use De la cabeza a los pies in the classroom or at home, it is a great addition to your children’s Spanish library.

Sonrisas Spanish School creates, publishes, and sells preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum and Spanish music for children. The Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum can be used to teach Spanish to children at the preschool and elementary level, as well as home school Spanish. The Sonrisas Curriculum consists of fun, effective, standards-based lessons for the most effective language-learning experience for kids—one based on human-to-human interaction. Sonrisas is a proud member of both Nnell and ACTFL.

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