5 Activities to Get Moving in the Target Language!

I’ve gone to a lot of trainings where the importance of movement in the classroom is discussed. Often the subject of “brain breaks” comes up. It is without a doubt that students need these breaks, especially for those of you like me on the block schedule. That doesn’t mean that movement needs to be reserved for these “breaks” though! I love incorporating movement into my instruction because it makes the material stick, and the students feel better. I feel better! So with that in mind, here is a short list of movement to incorporate–in the target language!

1. Simón Dice: An oldie but a goodie Interpretive
 Good ole fashioned TPR with a twist. Preface commands to students with “Simón Dice” to signal to do the action (corre, salta, camina, levanta la mano, etc.). Occasionally don’t say Simon Says and if they do the action they sit down. Students love the competitive edge of Simón Dice, but I can play multiple times to make sure kids get the target structures with the movements. Bonus: Create actions with ALL of the vocabulary you teach to incorporate in the game. I have students help me come up with the actions because that seems to make it stick best.

2. Pop-Up: A way to avoid translation Interpretive
Students are seated…I give a definition, description, or fill-in-the-blank sentence in the TL where the answer is a vocab word we’ve been practicing. When students think of the word they pop up out of their seat and shout the word.  Passing out assigned vocab words ensures total participation.

koosh ball
Gift from my mentor when I completed student teaching. SO WONDERFUL.

3. Preguntas de pelota: Koosh Ball Q&A Interpersonal
Every day my class starts with a “pregunta de pelota”. Most of the time I come up with the question but sometimes students do. We stand in a circle and toss the Koosh ball around, students must answer AND ask another person. This gets repetitions in fast and is a good way to check in with students. Spanish 1 may be something like “¿Cómo estás?” while in Spanish 2 yesterday we asked “¿Te gustó los días de nieva? ¿Por qué o por qué no?”

4. Prediction Circles: When teaching novels Interpersonal
This year I am teaching with novels for the first time. Spanish 1 read Agentes Secretos y el Mural de Picasso by Mira Canion and it was a huge success! One activity I tried and loved was Prediction Circles. With an even number of students, standing up, there is an inner circle that faces their partner on the outer circle. I call out a character’s name and the students share predictions of what will happen to that character. They spend 1-2 minutes until I shout out another character’s name…at this point one of the circles (we often switch which one) rotates so that they have a new partner to discuss. I got them to stay in TL and respond to each other (making it truly interpersonal) by scaffolding with sentence starters such as “Pienso que…” “Personaje va a…” “Estoy de acuerdo porque…” “No estoy de acuerdo porque…”.

5. Human Storyboard: Retelling class stories Presentational
After asking a TPRS® story, have students retell the story by grouping themselves into freeze frames to create a full storyboard (meaning this is the whole class though they will be grouped by scene). Once they are in position, you start with the “first frame” and they retell their part of the story out loud in TL. When it is their scene they may “unfreeze” in order to act it out, otherwise they are still and listening in their freeze frame positions.

Hope these activities are useful and fun in your classroom! Please leave me a comment or tweet @rlgrandis about movement in your classes!

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