Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review: Spanish For You! Fiestas!

Spanish for You Logo photo spanishforyoulog_zpsa3fadef7.jpgOver the past month we have really been thankful for the opportunity to review a free copy of the curriculum Fiestas from Spanish For You!

This curriculum has what you need to teach Spanish to grades 3-8, and we received the whole package which retails for $64.95. You can also buy just the grades you need (3rd-4th grade, 5th-6th grade, or 7th-8th grade packages) for $39.95. You can get a FREE sample today too!

What we received for review:

  • Soft cover book (or e-book if desired)
  • Lesson guides for the grades in three different groupings: 24 weeks for G5-6 & 7-8, 30 weeks for G3-4 (PDF download)
  • Self-checking worksheets, for all three age groups (PDF download)
  • Audio files of entire book + bonus audio of native speaker of entire book (MP3 download)
  • Flashcard/activity pictures (PDF download)

Preparation:

When I originally downloaded the worksheets, all three age groups were in one folder, and I was having a hard time sorting out the different worksheets. With a little feedback, the author, Debbie Annett, re-grouped the worksheets into separate file folders for each age grouping in the original zipped download file.

I was very excited about how quickly she responded to my emails and questions. This is an author who is accessible and stands behind her  product. I can't say enough about what that means to me. We exchanged emails about several aspects of the product, and I was impressed with her prompt and pleasant replies. 

I placed the lesson plans into a 3-ring binder, and printed each set of worksheets and inserted them into the lesson plans for the weeks to which they were assigned. The worksheets are named in Spanish by the activity they contain, so you have to do a little bit of looking. I found it easiest to lay them all out on the table and as I went through the lesson plan I glanced over them and found the worksheet I needed. By having everything printed and collated, I was able to just pick up my binder and book each day and jump right in. I did this with both the 3-4th grade set (for Emma) and the 5th-6th grade set (for Tyler). The physical textbook works for all grades.

We also cut out and laminated all of the flash cards. I used my "red-neck laminating system" (packing tape). It worked perfectly with this size of flashcard. I also made a set of laminated flash cards with the vocabulary words for each lesson. I made them from paper cut into business card size squares with Spanish on one side and English on the back side. These were a wonderful tool for reviewing the words daily.

How we used it:

Even though the kids were approaching this on different levels, we started out together. We read the page assigned each day in the Lesson Plan, and then we listened to the same vocabulary words on the audio files. Eventually, Tyler was on a different page than Emma, so we did this separately.  We used the initial flashcards to play several games, to familiarize the kids with them, and even Mayda (1st grade) and Wyatt (K) got in on that fun.

Each day of a 4 day school week is given a set number of tasks, like:

    Spanish for You - Fiestas photo spanishforyou-fiestas_zpsa80f3c2a.jpg
  • reading, 
  • playing a game with flashcards, 
  • listening to the lesson audio, 
  • or completing a worksheet. 

There are 2-3 worksheets per week of lesson plans. Lesson 1 was set up to be covered in 4 weeks, so we were easily able to complete lesson 1 during the review period.

The first week we cut out and laminated the picture flashcards for the nouns in Lesson 1. The kids played "Memory" with them after listening to the audio track for the lesson. By the end of the first week the kids had learned to say all the nouns involved with the Fiesta. We even began memorizing the Happy Birthday song in Spanish. My brother had a birthday the next week, and just happened to be back from a recent trip to Columbia. So we sang him Happy Birthday in Spanish and he was much impressed. :) Tyler and Emma each completed worksheets in their grade level, which were pretty similar at that point.

The second week we introduced verb forms, starting with "I" and "we" verbs (for 3-4th grade) and with all the verb forms and common phrases (for 5th - 6th). We made our own flashcards of all of the verbs and reviewed them daily. Again, we listened to the page read in Spanish on the audio track, and completed the worksheets on the assigned days. Because both kids were working from the same book, the grade specific lesson plans and worksheets were awesome for showing me how and where to step it up for my older child.

The third week Emma went on to study the rest of the verb forms (you and you all), and Tyler jumped right into demonstrative adjectives. At first he thought it would be too hard. With a little extra effort, though, he was soon able to know which words were: This, That, These, and Those, and what form to use them in with other nouns and articles. I was impressed when the light-bulb came on!

The fourth week we reviewed the same adjectives for Tyler and his worksheet grades came up from an 88% to a 97%. The fourth week was a cumulative review of verb forms for Emma. Each week we moved forward, while reviewing the words we had already learned daily. It was amazing to see how these small steps added up to learning the language! My kids had mastered 64 Spanish words and their correct uses already!


What I liked:

  • Easy to reach the author, and her quick and pleasant replies
  • Being able to buy one book and use it for many ages
  • The incremental approach, yet still moving at a good pace in the upper grades
  • The audio tracks to help with pronunciation of words spelled differently than we usually see
  • The fun topic of Fiestas kept their attention, and even my little ones joined in
  • This was written with homeschoolers in mind, LOVE that!
  • You do not have to speak Spanish to teach this. 

What I didn't like:

  • The titles of the worksheets are all in Spanish, and titled descriptively. Because of that they do not sort into chronological order, requiring that you search within the lesson grouping to find the right page. This made getting organized a small challenge, but doable with a little prep. The author has recently divided the grade levels into different file folders so finding the right worksheet is easier to search through. Titling them "Lesson 1, week 1, sheet 2" for example would help a lot. You could likely do this by renaming the files. 
  • In the audio files, the children are instructed to repeat each word. The pauses in the track are not long enough for them to actually do that, so we listened to it with my finger on the pause button, pausing after each word. It was not too hard to do it that way, but notable.

Bottom Line:

I would wholeheartedly recommend this one for beginner Spanish! I absolutely love that you can buy one book and, with the whole package, be able to teach every grade in your homeschool from 3rd -8th! I'm not good at prep work, but this was not as bad as I had feared. Other than collating pages and laminating flash cards, there wasn't too much prep, since the lesson plans were all written out.

Be sure you read all the other reviews of this book, and another book, Estaciones,  from Spanish For You!

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4 comments:

  1. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog today. We do love this product and are excited about learning more with it. Have a great weekend.
    Blessings
    Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Diane! Good to have you come by here as well!

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing this. I've been looking for a beginning Spanish curriculum for my son who's very much interested in learning Spanish. He already knows a bit despite his young age. I think this might be still be doable for him. Regards, Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you would love it Mary! :)

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