Fun descriptions with SER writing activity: ¡Mentirosos!

Mentirosos activity handoutMy Spanish 1 students are working on descriptions with SER right now, and I’m always trying to find ways to switch up the usual “¿Cómo eres?” activities for practicing personal descriptions.

In this activity, Peter Griffin and Voldemort are “mentirosos” who have written very inaccurate dating profiles.

Students first re-write each profile to make it more accurate, and then write a new profile for a character of their choice. Correcting the profiles first serves as a model for writing the last profile on their own.

Finally, students swap to share their (often comical) character profiles and peer edit.

Peter Griffin and Voldemort are very recognizable for my college-age students, but the characters could be changed to best suit your students’ interests.

Here is a link to the printable PDF of the handout:

Descriptions. Mentirosos Handout Peter Griffin Voldemort

If you use this activity with your students, I’d love to hear how it went in the comments!


¡Vamos al restaurante! Read along story & handout (La comida, La familia, verbos -er/-ir, palabras interrogativas)

I recently finished my first attempt at teaching high school. I began in mid-February as a long-term sub for three Spanish 1 classes on block scheduling. As all of my prior teaching experience was at the university level, boy did I have a lot to learn! I am appreciative for the learning experience for so many reasons, one being that it really challenged me to diversify my lesson formats. I am thankful for the wonderful community of Spanish teachers/bloggers on the internet as well as my colleagues and professors who shared materials with me and gave me ideas for new lesson styles.

The lesson in this blog post was one of the best days in my high school classroom! It includes a read-along story, ¡Vamos al restaurante!, to be presented on the board as well as a handout for students to follow along with.

300px-Cafe_de_Tacuba_02 The story takes place in Mexico City, and I chose the restaurant Café de Tacuba because it was my favorite place to eat when I was in D.F. I was attempting to incorporate something authentic while also covering the target vocabulary from the textbook (Avancemos). The presentation includes pictures of this beautiful stop in the historical center in D.F. and concludes with a video of the musicians who fill the restaurant with string serenades.

Topics covered include:

  • review of food vocabulary (based on Avancemos textbook)
  • introduction of family vocabulary
  • practice with verb conjugation, focus on -er/-ir
  • review of question words (in follow-up reading comprehension activity)

One goal of this lesson was to segue from food vocabulary to family vocabulary, and I was so proud of my students who really rose to the challenge and read along with me for the whole story! The pictures, simple as they may be, provided just the right amount of scaffolding for them to incorporate the new vocabulary. The cloze activity served as a reference for them to use while answering the reading comprehension questions as well as a study guide. We went back and read it a few times because it really seemed to boost the students´confidence to be able to read a whole story in Spanish! The success of this lesson really got me interested in learning more about the TPRS method (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Story-Telling). (I´m not sure if this lesson is exactly TPRS because I still need to learn more about it! If you have any favorite TPRS resources please comment below!)

You can view the presentation below (made on Google Drive). You can advance with the arrow keys or by a click.  Here is a link to the handout that I used: ¡Vamos al restaurante! handout (PDF)

As always, keep the comments coming! I love connecting with other Spanish teachers online!

Descripción de una foto: A fun creative writing/drawing activity (descripciones) (ser/estar) (el presente)

IMG_0021This activity is a simple one, but it goes over very well with my students. Yes, even college students like to break out the crayons & markers every once and a while! The idea is that drawing their ideas in Spanish will help enforce their language learning and develop the skill of thinking in Spanish. I use this activity as a review before a quiz that covers vocabulary for descriptions, the present tense verbs, different verbs for expressing “to be,” and comparisons. As you can see in the paragraph depicted to the left, it is pretty manageable to fit in all of these elements.

Here’s the lesson plan:

1. Introduction: Display sample. Read the paragraph together as a class. Ask students to find examples different elements in the paragraph that we are studying. For example, ” ‘Ella es rubia’ es un ejemplo del uso del verbo ser para describir un rasgo físico. ´La montaña más alta del país´ es un ejemplo del superlativo.”

2. Instructions: Challenge students to think in Spanish while they draw. They may prefer to write the paragraph first so that they can have their vision clearly in mind once they begin drawing. Almost all of my students choose this option. While they are drawing, I remind them to, “¡Piensa en español!”

3. Peer editing: Students swap papers with one or two classmates.

4. Visually reinforcing the grammar: Students highlight or circle the  different verbs using different colors to reinforce the grammar aspect of the lesson. For example, highlight all forms of the verb ser in orange and all forms of the verb estar in blue. Now, the paper may be a more helpful study tool for visual learners.

The sample pictured here is the one I use as a model while introducing the activity. Here´s the PDF worksheet you can print!

Hoja de actividades: Descripción de una foto (PDF)

If you use this activity in your classroom, please leave a comment because I´d love to hear how it goes! Also, suggestions are always welcome!

Here are some samples of my students´work!

El pase de diapositivas requiere JavaScript.

¡Nombrar/crear/describir animales híbridos! A creative & fun activity for practicing descriptions! (ser) (tiempo presente) (vocabulario: animales)

How cool are these photoshopped pictures of hybrid animals? They could kick-off some really interesting activities for practicing descriptions and/or learning animal vocabulary words (not just the names of the animals, but also their features, body parts, behaviors, habitat)! Students could name and write descriptions of these animals, or even better, draw their own!

nombrar los animales_photoshop

Leer la mano: A fun activity for practicing descriptions! (tiempo presente) (ser)

I came across this guide for palm reading, and thought it could make an interesting activity for students to practice descriptions, the verb ser, and the present tense (what we’re working on this unit)! Here’s a possible way of giving the lesson:

1. Discuss the guide:

  • vocabulary expansion

  • present tense verbs & present tense conjugations of ser for describing personality traits

  • gender of the adjectives must agree with the person being described

2. In pairs, students read each other’s palms and compare what the palm tells about their personality with how they really are.

3. Students get a new partner and describe their first partner based on what the palm-reading revealed and the discussion that followed OR that could be the writing prompt:

¿Qué aprendiste sobre tu compañero al leer su mano? ¿Es así de verdad?