One of the ways I like to help students make a connection to the culture, and practice Spanish at home is through a "class pet". Each grade has a different stuffed animal from a Spanish speaking country. Kindergarten has a bull, first grade has a llama, second grade has a jaguar, and third grade has an eagle. When I first introduce students to their pet for the year, we talk about how each animal relates to an element of the Spanish speaking world.
Each week, one student from each class takes home the 'pet'. Students are encouraged to speak to the pet in Spanish at home. They also pretend to be the pet and fill out a worksheet all about what the pet likes and doesn't like. Not only is this a fun way for students to practice important phrases, but it helps me get to know a little bit more about each student. Students share their pet experience with the class, and their picture hangs in the hall for the rest of the school year. Students love to look at the great variety of pictures in the hall throughout the year, and are always excited to take the picture home at the end of the year!
This is a favorite activity of the students, and many of them have even told me that they got their own version of the pet to keep at home!
I am in my 11th year teaching in Saline. I've taught: 3rd grade, 5th grade, Spanish/French/German Intro, Quest, Middle School Spanish, and Elementary Spanish.