If your kids are learning Spanish, there are so many ways you can use toys to add some hands-on practice. Hands-on practice is valuable because it provides students with a multi-sensory learning experience where they touch, look, listen, speak, and move around. They become totally immersed in the practice, and as a result master material better.
Here are some of the ways I like to use toys for Spanish practice:
- Use games where you can switch to Spanish to play. Examples are Hi Ho Cherry O where you can say all numbers in Spanish, Candy Land to practice colors, Guess Who to ask about the characters, Battleship for numbers and the alphabet, and Scrabble spelling Spanish words (let “n” be “n” or “ñ”). Just creatively think of ways you can use games around the house to practice what Spanish your kids know so far.
- Vocabulary Boosting. Gather up groups of items like pretend food or stuffed animals. Any you don’t know how to say look up online and write the Spanish words where they can be seen. Keep an answer key to the side with the English. Put items in a bag and pull them out one at a time. Guess the word. If correct, you get to keep it. If not, put it back. Keep going until they are all gone. Play again but erase some of the words so you have to say those from memory. Keep replaying until you don’t need to see any of the words. To add more fun, set a timer to see how quickly you can pull out and correctly say all of them. Or, set a specific time and see if you can do them within that time.
- Describe and Guess Toys. Set out various toys that you know how to say in Spanish. For example “the doll”, “the truck”, “the fruit”, and so on. Then describe a toy without saying the word and have another person guess which toy it is and say the name in Spanish.
- Say and Do Activities. Lay several toys on a table. Have one person say a sentence in Spanish while the other person uses the toys to show it. For example, “El camiòn va rápido.” (The truck goes fast.), so the person picks up the truck and shows it going fast. Another example, “La chica come la fruta en la casa.” (The girl eats the food in the house.), so the person picks up the girl doll, shows her eat a piece of toy fruit in a doll house or in your actual house. If your kids are more advanced, they could use the toys to tell a story.
- Simulate real-life experiences, like being in a restaurant, shopping at the grocery store, playing house, going to the doctor, etc. For example, let’s say your kids know various food words, along with things like “please, thank you, I like, hello, etc.”, you could simulate ordering food in a restaurant. A super simple conversation might be: “Buenas tardes. Una hamburguesa y un refresco, por favor.” (Good afternoon. A hamburger and drink, please.) Waiter brings the food, and the person responds: “Gracias. Me gusta la hamburguesa.” (Thank you. I like the hamburger.) Your conversations can be much more elaborate depending on how much Spanish your kids know. Just keep the conversation at their current level.
- Saying What You Like and Don’t Like. Find several items you know how to say in Spanish. Take turns saying what you like or don’t like. For example, “Me gusta el elefante azul.” (I like the blue elephant.) or “No me gusta la pelota roja.” (I don’t like the red ball.)
- Asking and Answering Questions. You can do this so many ways depending on what your kids have learned. Ask and answer questions about various toys in the room. Examples: ¿Te gusta el elefante azul? (Do you like the blue elephan?), ¿Quieres la muñeca? (Do you want the doll?), ¿Juegas con los bloques a menudo? (Do you play with the blocks often?), ¿Dónde están los bloques? (Where are the blocks?).
- Practice Possessive Adjectives (mi, mis, tu, tus, su, sus, etc.) I like to use the magnetic wooden dolls and doll clothes for this like in the picture above, but you can use any group of toys you would like. Each person gets a set of clothing items, and the doll gets a set too. Then we take turns pointing and talking about each person’s clothing items using the possessive adjectives. Example: I point to and say “mi sombrero” (my hat), “tu falda” (your skirt), “y sus pantalones” (and her pants). Then the other person does the same. We repeat this process until we have gone through all the items.
- Practice Demonstrative Adjectives (este/a, ese/a, aquel/aquella) Do this like the activity above, but the first person asks: “¿Quieres este sombrero, esa falda, or aquellos pantalones?” (Do you want this hat, that skirt, or those pants over there?) The person should point to each item as he/she asks. Other person answers with which one he wants.
There are so many ways you can use toys or other things at home to create hands-on Spanish practice. Just be creative and have fun!
PS – If you’re looking for a Spanish curriculum for your homeschool or to teach classes, take a look at my curriculum, Spanish for You! It makes teaching and learning Spanish easy and fun!