Thursday, August 18, 2016

Immersing Ourselves in Spanish with Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids {A TOS Review}

We have had the wonderful opportunity to be learning Spanish with a program called Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids. We received Starter Set 1 which includes a wonderful assortment of materials to help us on this language-learning journey. This program was created by Kit Strauss when she couldn't find quality foreign language products for her sons. It is appropriate for ages 3 and up. 

What did we receive?

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids is available in two different formats: Online or the physical set that we received, which includes the same online videos on a DVD, plus physical workbooks, teacher guides, stickers, flashcards, and for a limited time, the card game Go Squish is also included. 

With this program, we immerse ourselves in Spanish while watching the fun videos of a family's daily activities, where they speak entirely in Spanish. 

These videos are shared as being the "in-flight entertainment" as we are on a plane trip, first to Lima, Peru (during the first video) and then on to Bogota, Colombia (during the second video). We have yet to make it to the third video, but we will be headed to Costa Rica from what I can deduce from looking at the Teacher/Parent Guide. The workbooks that accompany the program are meant to be "On-Board Activity Books" to keep us busy during our flight. 

These workbooks are scheduled in the lesson plans which are fully laid out in the Teacher/Parent Guides.

It is very important to read the "How to Get Started" section which is in the Spanish Level 1 guide. This gives an overview and goals of the program, and then goes on to explain how to use the guide. It is explained that the videos and Rapid Review Game are the only mandatory parts of the schedule, while the other activities are optional. While optional, I would say it really is beneficial to include these activities, as they give lots of practice with the vocabulary. 

The first video is titled "Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast." The three brothers, Andy, Eli, and Parker are introduced as they come downstairs and enter the kitchen where the family dogs are resting and their mom is making breakfast. Over the course of several lessons, the viewer watches more and more of the scene, while learning an increasing amount of Spanish vocabulary. For example, in the first lesson we are only to watch the first 5 minutes of the video (which is the first video segment if using the online version) and we learn the following vocabulary:
  • Desayuno - Breakfast
  • Hola - Hello
  • Mama - Mom
  • Donde esta? - Where is/Where is it?
  • Gracias - Thank you
  • De nada - You are welcome
  • Aqui esta - Here is/Here it is
  • Manzana - Apple
By the time we are done with "Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast" we have learned around 20 words/phrases. We have also gotten to know the boys a bit. Parker likes to play basketball, Eli likes to eat (a lot), and Andy likes to read. Not bad for a 12 minute video.

Sometimes, when a new word is introduced, especially one that isn't easily discerned just by hearing it, such as Donde esta, the word will appear on screen and it will be acted out in an attempt to demonstrate to the viewer what the word/phrase means. 

We are then brought back to the story where the last sentence is repeated, and hopefully the viewer now has more of an understanding on what the characters are saying. Fortunately, if we are still not sure, the meaning is shared in the teacher/parent guide. It is recommended not to share this guide with the students as they are meant to figure the meanings out by watching the videos and hearing the words used in context. 

Most of the lessons have us watching the video and then completing activities. Occasionally it is scheduled to do activities without watching the video. These activities include completing workbook pages, playing games, placing the included stickers on objects around the house, and using the flashcards. 

I would have to say one of the children's favorite activities is placing stickers around the house. We have done this more than one time.

Finding objects around the house.

Finding things that are big and small.

Tabitha (who is big) and Hannah (who is small) found a big and a small ball.
Amelia (who is big) and Harold (who is small) went outside to find a big van and a small dump truck.

Finding objects and pretending to be asleep because the word "dormir" is on their pillows. 

Harold insisted that the apple with La manzana on it was going to be his to eat, so the sticker remained on it until it was time for him to eat it.

There is a pack of cards for each of the videos. They are meant to be used as flash cards, and can be placed around the room for the children to find when asked, "Donde esta _____?" There are picture cards and word cards, so they can be matched up. There are also cards that list what each numbered card is picturing, which were quite helpful. 

These cards are also used to play "Go Squish" which is a fun twist on "Go Fish." 

In this game players are trying to match the word cards to the picture cards in order to win points for Squisher so he can travel to other Spanish-speaking countries. There are two levels for the game, though game play itself doesn't change. In Level 2, children are required to use additional Spanish words when requesting cards and responding. This game requires children to speak only in Spanish to help reinforce what they have learned. 

That brings us to the workbooks, or the "On-Board Activity Books." These books are in full color and contain lots of fun activities. It is divided into 4 sections. Part 1 contains the workbook type activities. You will find matching, word finds, word unscrambles, circling the correct answer, crosswords, and more. 

Even in the workbook, the student is still immersed in Spanish, though instructions are given in English underneath the Spanish instructions. 

Part 2 focuses on culture. In "Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast" we are learning about Peru, because that is where we are headed on our plane ride. There is information about geography and then some fast facts and idioms.  

Part 3 is always a fun cartoon type story staring Squisher The International Inchworm. In the first book, Squisher helps us to understand the importance of accent marks in Spanish. 

The information in Parts 2 and 3 are presented in English.

Part 4 is the Answer Key to the activities. 

As the workbooks are consumable and can not be photocopied due to copyright, we have been working on the pages together. They are designed for 3rd grade and above, so I figured Tabitha would be using them. However, I have found that working through the book orally and then having the children take turns filling in the pages is appropriate for our family. 

This Starter Set 1 is only about 1/3 of the entire program. There are further levels to continue learning Spanish.

How have we been using this program?

We have been having a blast watching the videos during our summer school session. We try to watch the videos a few times a week. At first Tabitha acted as if she wasn't going to be interested in Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids, but she has been joining right in, watching the videos, calling out answers during the Rapid Review, finding flashcards, helping with the workbook, and placing stickers around the house. The children are all really getting into this fun program. They are even going around using the different phrases they have learned, especially "Me gusta" and "No me gusta." 

I admit, they were a bit impatient to move on to the next video, "The Little Magic House," so I have moved ahead even though we didn't finish all the lessons in the first book. I decided we could do the remaining lessons as review lessons while plunging ahead because they already understood all the vocabulary in "Basketball Aren't for Breakfast." The second video introduces quite a few more vocabulary words and is definitely a more difficult level. We are learning pronouns and verbs in addition to more nouns, while watching our new friends move into new activities that take place after breakfast is over. Eli and Parker are outside playing basketball when their new neighbor stops by. We then learn that their house is a magic house. It is small on the outside, more like a tree house, yet inside is a full house. We are looking forward to discovering more of this story. 

Here they are learning "Yo" and "Tu." (I and You)

What did we think of the program?

I am quite impressed by this foreign language program. I love the way the children and I are being immersed in the language while being able to participate in fun activities. It is very helpful to have the words demonstrated so we can learn what they mean, even though everything is in Spanish. Though I admit, there was one word I couldn't figure out until I looked at the teacher/parent guide. 

The different elements of Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids work together very well to make a quality Spanish program where children have fun learning the language. I definitely recommend this program.

You can find Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids on Facebook.

Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of this program.

Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review

Crew Disclaimer

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of the stickers around the house. That is reinforcement for all over and over.


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