I’m not an expert…but here’s what I do to add Spanish to our son’s life.
From 0-2, we started with bilingual board books, lullabies and kids songs. I danced a lot with him to music sung in Spanish. As he grew older, it quickly became clear that he is a physical learner and competitive! If we could get him moving or earning he would do it in Spanish. I also try to choose activities or themes he’s passionate about: dragons, monsters, Scooby, building, sports, etc. Colors, numbers and animals came easily. Conversation is what we struggle with now.
Daily use: The most important thing for me to remember, and it’s hard to do, is to use Spanish daily for everyday things and routines. I find every little bit helps, even if my son doesn’t think so (I’ve seen lots of eye rolling and heard lots of sighing). If he asks for a glass of milk, I’ll rephrase it in Spanish in a way he’ll understand, “Quieres leche, por favor?” Or if he adamantly refuses a bath, I might say, “No quieres bañarte?”
Bilingual educational events: We checkout community multicultural playgroups, bilingual storytimes at the library, community events like Cinco de Mayo and Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, and bilingual museum events.
Games, puzzles and toys: Because I speak Spanish I try to add Spanish to any game and you can do the same with games like Simon Says/Simon Dice, Hide and Go Seek/Escondidas, I Spy/Yo Veo, etc. We also play board games in Spanish: Bilingual Zingo, Green Alligators, Leap Frog’s bilingual matching game, and Loteria are favorites.
Special holiday activities: I make sure to highlight holidays like Cinco de Mayo, Day of the Dead, and Three Kings Day with vocabulary, activities and foods.
Books: Our library has a great selection of Spanish and bilingual books. We also order from his school’s monthly Scholastic book order. Simple board books with a theme like farm animals worked well. We’d read the name of the animal in English and Spanish and make the sound. Vehicles opposites, colors were other favorites.
Favorite preschool books include Build a Burrito, Best Mariachi in the World, Bebe Goes Shopping, What Can You Do With a Paleta? , Playing Loteria, Lover Boy, and Eight Animals Play Ball.
Favorite instructional books include Teach Me Everyday Spanish, Speak Spanish with Dora and Diego Pimsleur books, and Say Hola to Spanish.
Videos: Videos that teach Spanish: Little Pim by Pimsleur, Boca Beth, Preschooler Learns Spanish/Aprendamos EspanoF, Hola Amigos, La Fiesta/The Party!, Números y figuras/Numbers & shapes in Spanish, Cantos y rimas, Canciones de cuna/Songs for bedtime, and Muzzy Spanish.
We also watch DVDs in Spanish. We just change the language in setup. YouTube is perfect for watching Plaza Sesamo (Sesame Street) and Pocoyo en espanol.
Achievement chart: Paolo drew his “thermometer” and fills it in as he earns points. He gets to add scratch and sniff taco scented stickers, too. Sometimes we’ll add coins as an incentive.
Please add your ideas or contact me if you need more information!