Friday, February 22, 2013

Classical Academic Press-Song School Spanish: Review

I have been trying to find a suitable way to teach the girls Spanish for a while now. When I worked at the Montessori I was impressed that the children learned Spanish for half the year and French for the other half. I know the importance of teaching a second language while children are still young and can soak it up like a sponge. This was one of the reasons I let the girls start watching Dora the Explorer (I am not big on letting children watch television). Unfortunately there is only so much Spanish a child can get off of such a show and I wanted, needed, more. I did not take Spanish for more than a semester in junior high school and I wasn't sure where to even begin. I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity through the Schoolhouse Review Crew to review Song School Spanish which is put out by Classical Academic Press.

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According to the Classical Academic Press website, they produce "superlative educational materials to advance the revival of classical education." Their subjects, which include Latin, Greek and logic, in addition to the Spanish, are "presented clearly and creatively, to equip and engage both students and teachers."

It was the "Creatively" that caught my attention.

We received both a Student Book which included the music CD and the Teacher's Edition.


The music CD, which contains 44 tracks, is really the most important aspect of the curriculum, especially for younger children. My girls are at the lower end of the age range for Song School Spanish, which is K-3rd grade. Even though the low end is Kindergarten, Amelia has been getting a lot out of this curriculum because of these fun, catchy songs. I don't think I would have started her out with it if she was the oldest (she is only 4 1/2), but as she works alongside her sister (who just turned 6 and is working at a Kindergarten level) and listens to the CD, I can tell she is "getting it."  

What makes this curriculum work well is that they use what is called "Code Switching." We are not being fully immersed in Spanish, which is perfect for me or I would be lost. The songs alternate between Spanish and English, sort of decoding as they go. For example, the first song on the CD, the "Hola Maestra Song" goes like this,
"Here comes maestra, Hola, hola!
Teach los estudiantes, Students!
Away goes maestra, Adios!
Good-bye, estudiantes, Good-bye students!"
(Do you see how the words are sort of defined as they are singing fun songs?)

We actually act out the song as we sing it with the CD and the children take turns being "la maestra." The girls love the songs so much we usually end up playing all the old songs, working our way up to the new ones for the week. We have even started putting the CD on in the evening as we clean, the upbeat rhythm really does help the cleaning go faster while the children are internalizing the language some more. We are able to really get involved with these songs, from acting them out and dancing to them, to using the puppets of Tortuga and Conejo. Tortuga (Tortoise) and Conejo (Hare) are our friends who are along for the journey. We are first introduced to them in a song called "Where's Tortuga" where we also learn the meaning of "Donde esta?"


Following this introduction to them we get to read the story of the Tortoise and the Hare while Tabitha fills in the Spanish words for Hello and Goodbye in the workbook. While this story is in the first chapter, the girls have been acting it out with and without the puppets for the last 3 weeks. 


It was sort of neat that we had just started our Tt: Turtle Unit where the story of the Tortoise and the Hare was one of our important lessons. I loved that we were able to extend it over into our Spanish. 

Another way this has fit so well for us is that we have our lesson time 3 times a week and that is the suggested schedule for Song School Spanish. We listen to the CD all three of these lesson days. However, we also spend time working in the Student Workbook.

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On Day 1, which is our Monday, we look at the new Spanish words or phrases. Not only do we learn the words through the songs, but Classical Academic Press has given us the ability to listen to the proper pronunciation via an audio file that can be downloaded from the Song School Spanish page on the website. There is also a pronunciation guide in the front of the Student Book. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday we practice our Spanish in the van on the way to playgroup and co-op. 

Thursday is Day 2 of new Spanish lessons using the workbook. Each chapter has a section for practicing Spanish and handwriting by tracing some Spanish words or phrases. There are various other activities in each chapter, such as playing a game, filling in the blanks of a story, and circling the Spanish words while listening to the story. There are many opportunities to write the Spanish words and match them with their English equivalents. 

On Day 3, Friday, we are to practice saying the words and songs from memory and Tabitha works on the Show What You Know section to complete the chapter. We haven't really been taking this time to review from memory because we do it throughout the week. 

Additionally, every so often there is a week of review. Chapters 4, 10, 14, 20, 25 and 31 are review chapters where the child is to be mastering their words and songs. Another resource that has been created for aiding in review is the website headventureland.com.  


Flash Dash Spanish is the "speedy quizzing game" that helps to reinforce the Spanish vocabulary learned in Song School Spanish. After clicking on Flash Dash Spanish you will get to choose the chapter you want to review (you can choose between 4, 10, 14 and 20), the difficulty and if you want to focus on Spanish to English or English to Spanish. In order to use this game the child does have to know how to read the words quickly as it is timed. They are given a word in the one language and have to choose between 4 words by clicking on the card. The best thing about this site? There is no additional charge to be able to use it. 

If you would prefer your child not get online to use headventureland.com, or if you are just looking for a way to change up your child's review time, Classical Academic Press also has Spanish Amigo Match Cards. Not only can you use the cards as Flashcards, but they have different games you can play with them to help reinforce the Spanish vocabulary. These are by no means required to use the curriculum. We were not able to purchase them at this time, though I am thinking we may get them after we finish some more chapters as they look really cool. If you would like to see a sample of the cards you can find them at the Spanish Amigo Match Cards page. There are over 210 cards in the set and they sell for $26.95.

Another fun extra that I just found yesterday is the Song School Spanish Coloring Pages. There are pictures for the vocabulary words in each chapter. And best of all, it is FREE to download the PDF files.  These are going to be a great review and a wonderful way to include Hannah. 

I was really impressed by all the resources to help the children retain what they are learning. In addition to headventureland.com and the Coloring pages, the Teacher's Edition contains over 40 Additional Activity pages in the back of the book. You are given permission to make copies. So, if your children are desiring some more review there is one extra activity per chapter. I haven't tried using them with the girls yet. I have a feeling the activities may be a little over their heads (definitely over Amelia's head). I thought of saving them for reviewing one on one with Tabitha. 

The Teacher's Edition also contains the entire text of the Student Book with tips to use while teaching and an answer key. I would definitely say the teacher's edition is necessary for teaching this curriculum. Fortunately you only have to buy it one time even if you have multiple children. The Student Book is consumable, so you would need 1 per child. 

You can purchase the Student Book w/ CD for $24.95 and the Teacher's Edition for $24.95. You could opt to purchase the Song School Spanish Bundle for $66.95. The Bundle include the Student Book w/CD, Teacher's Edition and Spanish Amigo Match Cards.

We have really enjoyed this curriculum and are looking forward to learning more Spanish. If you would like to read other homeschool families reviews of Song School Spanish please click to be directed to the Schoolhouse Review Crew post.



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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for
my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with
the FTC Regulations.

2 comments:

  1. Teaching kids foreign languages is indeed very important, not only for their future (speaking English and understanding well Spanish, Italian and French myself, helped me through my whole life) but also for their little brain development. It expands their horizons a great deal and with that in mind, my family and I support our children to learn as many foreign languages as they are willing to, because as you say, they are little sponges :)

    Nice review, Karen. I hope many of your readers will learn from it.

    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a wonderful way to learn Spanish or any foreign language for that matter!! I wish they had this when I was a child--maybe I would have actually learned French. Of course way back then they started us much later--at least now children are started when they can still absorb and learn easily!!

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