Summer is a magical time for fun in the sun, spending time with family, and of course—learning Spanish! Though your child’s language memory has the ability to retain most of their Spanish skills throughout the break, it’s still good to add some language exercises into their summer routine to keep their skills sharp between semesters.
Not to mention that by encouraging them to use what they’ve learned in class outside of school, you’re helping them become more comfortable with the language and, therefore, improve their confidence in their skills.
So, how to teach your child Spanish at home free of charge? You can start with the games we listed below. They will keep your kids happy while enhancing their natural language abilities. After all, one of the best solutions when it comes to how to teach Spanish to kids is via play.
5 Ideas to Teach Your Kids Spanish During the Summer
1. FAMILY VACATION ACTIVITIES
Keep your kids motivated to learn a foreign language, even on vacation. No matter where your family decides to travel, you can help your kids learn new vocabulary and new skills. Of course, the ideal vacation to help you teach Spanish to a child would include a destination such as Spain or Mexico. However, you don’t have to leave the country for your children to have a chance to use their language skills in practice, as many cities within the United States have Spanish districts – for example, Calle Ocho in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.
If you can’t get away to a Spanish-speaking area of the country, there are still plenty of opportunities to teach kids Spanish and help your little ones with their vocab and conjugation during your vacation. The airport is full of opportunities to learn new words and to strengthen your bonds with old ones. Point out the parts of the plane, like the engines, wings, and rudder. Ask your kids what everyone is doing. The woman is running. Why is she running? She wants to catch her flight. The man is eating. Why is he eating? He is hungry.
The car is also a great place to familiarize your kids with words. Play the “I Spy” or “Veo, veo” game in Spanish. “I spy with my little eye, something red.” or “Veo, veo. ¿Qué ves? Una cosa ¿Qué cosa? Maravillosa ¿De qué color? Rojo.” (A red car.) Peek through your vehicle’s sunroof to guess what shapes or objects are hiding in the clouds. (That cloud looks like a heart. That one looks like an apple.)
2. MEALTIME ACTIVITIES
Even if your family isn’t planning on taking a trip this summer, you can still strengthen your kids’ relationship with a foreign language and teach them some new vocabulary.
Choose one meal out of the day to speak only in Spanish. If you don’t want to choose a long meal like dinner, opt for breakfast instead. Make a rule that everyone can say or ask for whatever they want as long as they speak in Spanish, and everything that’s been said has to be followed to a T. So if your child means to ask for the ketchup, but they accidentally ask for honey instead, go grab the honey from the cupboard. The results are usually both enlightening and fun.
You can also use mealtime to teach your children something about the culture of different Spanish-speaking countries. How? Make the meal revolve around a specific country that has Spanish as the official language – prepare a dish from it and play music from artists native to that territory. For example, in the case of Spain, you can choose from foods such as Paella, Gazpacho, Patatas Bravas, Tapas, and more. As for artists, some you might want to consider include Alejandro Sanz, Rosalía or Enrique Iglesias, and his father Julio Iglesias.
3. GAMES FOR THE BACKYARD PICNIC OR BARBECUE
Most families attend at least one backyard picnic or a barbecue in the summertime. Use this as a learning opportunity and give your kids a Spanish scavenger hunt. Tell them to “collect” 10 phrases from the day. Hand out lists of one food item, activity, pool word, a word from nature, drink, time of day, and other categories of things that could be found at a cookout. On the car ride home, ask your kids to tell you (in Spanish) what they found. They might explain that Tommy got in trouble for pushing his sister, Jane ate five hotdogs, Bobby fell asleep under the stars, everyone played Marco Polo in the pool, and everyone had a great time.
4. SUMMER SLEEPAWAY CAMP GAMES
If your child is heading away for the summer, they can still keep their Spanish skills in check. Most camps require kids to send letters to their families while they are gone. Ask your children to send at least five sentences in Spanish. When you send their letters, answer their questions in Spanish and ask them at least five questions in Spanish in exchange. When they arrive home from camp, play highs and lows in Spanish: What was the best moment of camp? What was the worst?
5. SUMMER JOB GAMES
Offer your children “rewards” for returning from their summer jobs with stories about the day—in Spanish. Offer them points that they can use toward getting or experiencing something they want, like a trip to the water park or a pair of boots — all just for learning Spanish! When they arrive home from a hard day’s work, ask them a series of questions in Spanish: How many hours did you work? How much money did you make? How many people did you meet? Then, ask them to tell you one story (in Spanish) from the day. It can be real or made up. If you guess whether the story was real or made up, your child gets an extra point.
The Bottom Line
Summer can be both a time of learning and fun. By getting creative and/or using Spanish resources for kids, you can keep your children’s language skills intact while enjoying a little quality time with the family. Asking your little ones to participate in a few simple games keeps them happy and engaged throughout their downtime while still providing educational value. After all, probably the best way to teach kids Spanish is by using games and activities to keep them engaged in learning, wouldn’t you agree?
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