Friday, December 31, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Isla and Abuela

Isla and Abuela, by Arthur Dorros

Both of these books were originally written in English, but the translated versions are a good addition to a thematic unit about New York City (Abuela), Puerto Rico (Isla), fantasy, or family. The stories revolve around the relationship between a young girl and her young-at-heart grandmother. Dorros illustrated the stories using mixed-media collage - and each illustration can be used as the center of a lesson or for practicing adjectives, since they are detailed and complex enough for long descriptions. A lovely addition to a FLES or immersion library, and appropriate for middle - and even high school students of Spanish.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Harry, el perrito sucio

Harry, el perrito sucio, by Gene Zion

In keeping with my "trade books in translation" series, here's one from our guest commentator, Nikolas:

Niko dice: "El libro se trata de un perrito blanco con manchas negras que no le gusta banarse. Un dia, se escapa de la casa porque es su dia de banarse. Y cuando vuelve a la casa, esta tan sucio, que ya es un perro negro con manchas blancas! Su familia no lo reconoce y el trata de hacer todos los trucos que le ensenaron para si lo reconocen.   Recomiendo este libro para ninos de kinder hasta el segundo grado."

Lori says: "The language in this book is perfect for second semester beginning students or 2nd year students. It could also work with immersion classes. It's got a cute message, and kids are likely to have read it in English. An oldie but goodie!"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Los colores de Elmer

Los colores de Elmer, by David McKee

Another excellent trade book worth having in translation - Elmer is a happy-go-lucky elephant who learns to be happy with his colorful body. The stories explore issues of diversity, identity and acceptance. The illustrations are colorful and fun, and the text is nice and simple - a good book for FLES and immersion classes, since chances are that young children will have read the story in English at home or in class. The books come in many different bilingual versions, among them Arabic, ChineseItalian, PolishTurkish, Urdu and Vietnamese. Other titles in the series include: Elmer's Special Day, Elmer's New Friend, Elmer's Weather, and Elmer and Wilbur.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Niko's PICKS: La oruga muy hambrienta; La chenille qui fait des trous

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

This is another one of those translated trade books that you just can't do without in the FLES, immersion or beginning language classroom. The book is available in many languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and many more). Through the simple text, students learn about the life cycle of a catepillar/butterfly, while also learning good food and days of the week vocabulary words. Another must-have addition to your library!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Niko's PICKS: El Cuento de Ferdinando

El Cuento de Ferdinando by Munro Leaf

I don't normally love trade books in translation, but there are a few that are worth mentioning... The first one is the story of Ferdinand the bull. This is the perfect compliment to a thematic unit about the bullfight, animal rights, or just simply one about Spain. Ferdinand is a peaceful bull who prefers to sit and smell the flowers while his friends are fighting. Ferdinand is mistakenly chosen to travel to Madrid to fight in the bullring, but he is distracted by the roses the beautiful ladies throw into the ring and he just sits... and smells the roses! The illustrations are black-and-white, but are very expressive and comical. This book could be used in elementary-aged classes - and all the way up to high school. Older students will love the opportunity to debate the bullfight using Ferdinand as a talking point. Olé!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Chamario: Libro De Rimas Para Niños

Chamario: Libro De Rimas Para Niños, by Eduardo Polo and Eugenio Montejo
This wonderful tiny book is a collection of short poems and rhymes that play with words and language. For example:

(from El Hipopótamo)
El hipopó tamo-tamo
y el elefán fan-fan
dentro de un mismo pantano
bailando juntos están...
Whimsical illustrations make this book a real treasure!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Margarita

Margarita, by Ruben Dario

This picturebook version of a poem by Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario is a lovely addition to a poetry unit, or one about explorations, dreams, or heroes. Students can read the story and view the video version (see below). The story includes some religious references, a king and magical events. A perfect story for a Christmas morning!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Emilie et le petit sapin

Emilie et le petit sapin, by Domitille de Pressense

Emilie sets out to find the perfect Christmas tree and she likes the smallest one the best (very much a la Charlie Brown!) When she goes to cut it down, she feels bad about separating the small tree from its mother and father, so she decides that rather than taking it home to decorate, she will leave it growing in the forest and decorates it there! Lovely simple illustrations and simple text - perfect for a holiday or environmental thematic unit. Joyeux Noël et bonne année, mes amis!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Vuelo del Quetzal

Vuelo del Quetzal, by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy

Part of the Santillana series Puertas al sol, this book is an excellent resource for a thematic unit about the environment, biomes, and animals. Each few pages include very simple language (excellent for FLES, immersion and beginners!) and ample illustrations centered around the following headings: Tierra de contrastes, Le cubren plantas diversas, En sus cielos, En sus playas y mares, En sus selvas, En las ciénagas y ríos, Y desde el desierto hasta las ventanas, ¡Un mundo lleno de sorpresas!, En respuesta a la naturaleza asombrosa, Ayer, para celebrar la belleza de su alrededor, Hoy continúan creando belleza, Y todo esto es Hispanoamérica.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Discover the World Series (P is for Piñata)

The "Discover the World" series of books offers a good resource for FLES teachers. The books highlight important elements from each culture in simple language combined with expressive illustrations. Each letter in the alphabet includes a different topic with its own picture. In the P is for Piñata book, for example, the topics include: A is for adobe, C is for cacao, D is for Diego Rivera, and R is for Rain God. While these books are written in English, they are very easy to re-write in the target language and provide an excellent opportunity for students to talk about the scenes, important people, practices and products of each culture. Here are some of the titles in this series:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Niko's PICKS: La verdadera historia de los tres cerdos and Los tres cerdos: Nacho, Tito y Miguel

La verdadera historia de los tres cerditos/The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciszka and Lane Smith

Los Tres Cerdos/The Three Pigs: Nacho, Tito y Miguel, by Bobbi Salinas

These two fun bilingual books each offers a different version of the traditional "Three Little Pigs" story. The Jon Sciszka book includes the perspective of the wolf in the story, while the Bobbi Salinas version is a non-violent take on the story set in the Southwest. Each story offers a new perspective on the traditional tale and would add nicely to a folktale/fairytale unit in which students compare and contrast the stories, the characters, the settings, etc. The language in both books is somewhat advanced and would need to be edited/re-written for FLES or beginning students. Still, they are both worth a bit of work and would fit well into an elementary and/or immersion curriculum.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Pelé, El rey del fútbol

Pelé, El rey del fútbol/Pelé, King of Soccer, by Monica Brown

With expressive illustrations by Rudy Gutiérrez, this book is a really good resource for thematic units about sports, heros, or even about careers and future goals. The bilingual Spanish/English text tells the story of Brazilian soccer legend, Pelé. We learn about his life growing up in the impoverished region of Tres Coraçoes in Brazil, and about Pelé's promise to win the World Cup one day. The Spanish text is somewhat challenging for beginning proficiency students, but the story could be easily re-written to tell Pelé's story in simpler language. This book will be a hit with both boy and girl students - especially those who are soccer and/or World Cup fans!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Cuadros de Familia and En mi familia

Cuadros de familia/Family Pictures and En mi familia/In My Family
by Carmen Lomas Garza

Both of these exceptional books are a must-have for any Checkpoint A/Beginning level Spanish teachers. Through simple bilingual Spanish/English text, the author/artist gives the reader a loving glimpse of her family, her childhood home, celebrations, holidays and traditions. It is perfect for teaching house and home, daily routines, and so much more - and what is most exciting is that these books offer an authentic cultural context for all that level 1 vocabulary! Compare/contrast activities with Venn Diagrams, T-charts and other graphic organizers are a good way of tapping into that Comparisons and Cultures standards through the images and text of the book. The paintings are all beautiful, colorful and filled with great detail so students can really dive into the scenes and have interesting interpersonal conversations with a partner or small group. MIL GRACIAS, Sra. Lomas Garza! It's almost as if you wrote these books just for us!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Nina Bonita

Niña Bonita, by Ana María Machado

This book is one of my all-time favorites, published by one of my all-time favorite publishing houses: Ediciones Ekaré from Venezuela. The story tells of a white rabbit who dreams of being as beautiful and black as his friend, la niña bonita. He tries everything to be as dark as his friend - including drinking tons of black coffee! In the end, he meets a beautiful black rabbit and they end up having little bunny babies of every color - white, black and grey. The story is a wonderful way of talking about issues of identity, race and body image with students. The illustrations are lovely and include street scenes of Caracas and other cultural elements. The language of the text of the story is appropriate for more advanced students, but the story is well worth a re-write in simpler prose for use with younger students. A MUST READ for all Spanish teachers!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Accidente celeste

Accidente celeste/Sky Blue Accident, by Jorge Luján

This beautiful poem - written in Spanish and English - tells the magical story of a little boy who crashes into the sky, breaks some pieces off, and then shares them with other children. The events are simple, and the text on each page is minimal, so this book can be used with FLES and elementary classes, as well as with intermediate or advanced students as an introduction to a poetry unit or as a means of inpiring creative writing. It also has great potential for connecting to literature like that of Gabriel García Márquez and magic realism. The illustrations are lovely - a mix of gouache and pastel - and very child-friendly.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Niko's PICKS: La mujer que brillaba aún más que el sol

La mujer que brillaba aún más que el sol 
by Alejando Cruz Martinez and Fernando Olivera

Niko dice: "Hay una señora que se llama Lucia Zenteno. Ella es una señora que adora la naturaleza. Este libro bilingüe es bueno porque si no entiende el español, está escrito también en inglés. Recomiendo este libro para niños de primer y segundo grado."

Lori says: "This book is an excellent resource for teachers doing a unit on the environment - especially issues of water rights. Other topics like kindness and the acceptance of differences are addressed in the story as well. Some of the vocabulary is quite advanced and the story might need to be re-written for lower proficiency students, but the illustrations are beautiful and can be used as the basis for telling the story without using the actual Spanish text."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Niko's PICKS: La hora de los Juegos Olimpicos

La hora de los Juegos Olimpicos, by Mary Pope Osborne

Niko dice: "Este libro es bueno porque es otro cuento de la serie "La Casa del Arbol." Jack y Annie van a la casa del arbol y se transportan a la Grecia antigua para ver los primeros Juegos Olimpicos. Yo recomiendo este libro para estudiantes del cuarto y quinto grado."

Lori says: "This is one of the Magic Tree House (La Casa del Arbol) series, meant for kids aged 4-8 in English. The Spanish translation could be used with intermediate students of Spanish in late elementary or middle school. This particular story deals with Jack and Annie's adventures in ancient Greece learning about the Olympic Games. It's full of adventure and fun information!"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Buenas noches, Luna

Buenas noches, Luna, by Margaret Wise Brown

Niko dice: "Me gustaron los gatitos. Yo recomiendo este libro para los estudiantes de kinder y primer grado porque es muy facil."

Lori says: "A nice easy book with good repetition, though no cultural component. Good for FLES/beginners, especially since students will most likely have read the book in English already. An extension activitiy might involve students in adding lines to the story based on their own bedroom, i.e.: Buenas noches, computadora. Buenas noches, peluches."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Skeletonn Hiccups

Skeleton Hiccups, by Margery Cuyler

Niko dice: "Este libro no tiene tantas palabras, pero todavia es muy chistoso. Cuando el esqueleto come el azúcar, el azúcar pasa por el medio de sus huesos. Cuando el esqueleto toma agua, la misma cosa pasa. ¡Qué cómico! Este libro es bueno para los niños pequeños porque no tiene muchas palabras."

Lori says: "Another book in English... and not about the Day of the Dead at all... So why review this one? Because kids will LOVE IT! The text is very simple and it would be very easy to re-write in simple Spanish. The skeleton in the story moves and acts like a Day of the Dead calaca, and his actions are very funny. The humor is slapstick, and kids will love each illustration. Good for practicing verbs/actions in the past tense. FUN!"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Niko's PICKS: El círculo mágico

El círculo mágico, by Barbara M. Joosse, illustrated by Giselle Potter

Niko dice: "Me gustan los imagenes, y sobre todo, las mariposas. Pero el cuento no tenía mucha información del Día de los Muertos. Por eso, no me gustó tanto. Yo recomiendo este libro a niños del segundo al tercer grado."

Lori says: "First of all, it's difficult to find a copy of this book in Spanish. I found one on, but it's quite costly. It might almost be better to get a copy in English anyway, since the text of the Spanish is version - while beautiful and poetic - is way too challenging for FLES, beginners, or even intermediate students of Spanish. Still, the story is tender and heartwarming, and Giselle Potter's illustrations are lovely. I also like the added context of the monarch butterfly migration in the story, thus making the plot a good connection to a cultural lesson on the Day of the Dead along with a science/biomes lesson on monarch migration, possibly linked to a class project with the Journey North symbolic butterfly migration."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Felipa y el Día de los Muertos

Felipa y el Día de los Muertos, by Birte Muller

Niko dice: "Mi madre pensó que la historia tenía lugar en el Perú, pero no es cierto. La autora estudió en Bolivia, y por eso escribió este libro acerca de la celebración del Día de los Muertos en los Andes. Me gusta más el cuento que las ilustraciones. Yo recomiendo este libro para niños del kinder, primer grado, y segundo grado."

Lori says: "The Spanish text of this book is too detailed and complex for FLES or beginning students. Teachers might re-write the story in simpler language, or just choose several images and write captions for them in simple Spanish. The real benefit of this book is that it's the only one I have found about the Day of the Dead that is not set in Mexico. With this Andean version, teachers could use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two countries' celebrations. Unlike Niko, I love the images!"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Niko's PICKS: El Festival de la Calaveras

The Festival of Bones/El Festival de las Calaveras, by Luis San Vicente

Niko dice: "Mi parte favorita del libro es el dibujo del esqueleto que le falta una pata! A mi me gustan los poemas y las ilustraciones. Quiero hacer pan de muertos con mi mamá porque en el libro hay una receta. Este libro me da ganas de ir a México el dos de noviembre para ver la celebración del Día de los Muertos! Yo recomiendo este libro para las clases de kinder a segundo grado."

Lori says: "This book is bilingual Spanish/English and written in simple verse. Each short poem can be used as a stand-alone poem in a lesson, especially when accompanied by the illustrations - which are fabulous, by the way! They are done in scratch-board style with some color and are very comical. This book is tiny (measuring 7.5" square) and if being used in a whole-class lesson, it would be best to project the image and text on an opaque projector. A very whimsical and fun Day of the Dead book!"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead, by Tony Johnston and Jeanette Winter

Niko dice: "Este libro es un cuento del Día de los Muertos. Me gustan los niños curiosos y traviesos. Los niños quieren comer la comida que la familia - la mamá, el papá, los tíos y las tías - está preparando para la celebración. El libro me da ganas de comer calaveras de azúcar y empanadas!"

Lori says: "OK, so this book is in English, but as I mentioned a few days ago, I can't resist Jeanette Winter's illustrations! The text can be easily re-written in simple Spanish and - combined with the images - the book can serve as the basis of a nice Dia de los Muertos thematic unit. The book is tiny, though (measuring just 6.5 x 6 inches), and if you plan to use it with a whole class, it would be better to use an opaque projector for the images. The book is DELISH!"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Pablo recuerda

Pablo recuerda... la fiesta del Día de los Muertos, by George Ancona

Niko dice: "Me gustan las fotografías, especialmente las calaveras de azúcar! Yo quiero probar el pan de muertos. Mi mamá tiene los juguetes del Día de los Muertos que están en el libro. ¡Son divertidos!"

Lori says: "I love this book! It provides readers with the details and background information about the Day of the Dead holiday, while also providing a personal touch and story by viewing the celebration through the eyes of Pablo and his family. Great photos plus a good list of specific vocabulary is provided (e.g., cempasuchil, alfeniques, etc.) The story text can be challenging for beginners; the story would need to be simplified for FLES, but can be used "as is" with intermediate or advanced students."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Calavera Abecedario

This week, we will be reviewing all Day of the Dead books! Stay tuned for more...!!!

Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book by Jeanette Winter

Niko dice: "Este libro es bueno para niños jovenes porque pueden aprender palabras nuevas. Yo aprendí la palabra organillero! Me gustan mucho las ilustraciones. El libro tiene inglés y español."

Lori says: "First of all, anything that Jeanette Winter does is a-ok in my book! I adore her playful, folk artsy illustrations (check out Diego and Josefina for example). This book is in English at the start, and then continues with illustrations and Spanish words for each of the letters of the alphabet (e.g., B = BRUJA plus a delightful image of a calavera witch). It's great for teaching profession words, although some are odd/very specific like sombrererohuevera or limonera. Have students create a calavera of their own based on Winter's images. VERY fun!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Perdido y encontrado

Perdido y encontrado, por Oliver Jeffers

Niko dice: "A mi me gusta este libro porque es la historia de dos amigos - un ser humano y un pingüino (¡y mi animal favorito es el pingüino!) En el cuento, el pingüino va a la casa del ser humano (no sabemos su nombre). El ser humano pensaba que el pingüino estaba perdido. Pero no estaba perdido, sino se sentía solo. Al final del cuento, los dos amigos se reunen y estan contentos viviendo juntos."

Lori says: "I love the illustrations in this book - they are colorful and inviting. The story of two friends trying to find happiness is sweet and can fit nicely into a unit on animals or friendship. Good for intermediate students (or FLES with some scaffolding for the vocabulary.)"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Willy y Hugo

To keep with our primate theme: Willy y Hugo, by Anthony Browne

Niko dice: "Este libro tiene un gorila llamado Hugo y un chimpancé que se llama Willy. El libro es muy chistoso - sobre todo, los dibujos. Willy está triste porque se siente muy sólo. Willy hace un nuevo amigo y al fin, se pone contento."

Lori says: "Willy y Hugo is good for teaching about bullying, friendship, differences and acceptance. The text is nice and simple, with several words that might be highlighted for word study (e.g., "horripilante"). Great illustrations that will make students giggle!"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Niko's PICKS: La Escapada de Marvin el mono

Niko dice: "A mi me gusta este libro porque en cada dibujo necesita encontrar un conejito, un gato, y un avestruz. Marvin es chistoso porque se escapó cuando el vigilante no estaba mirando y era la hora de comer. Marvin salió de la jaula y tuvo muchas aventuras. Y al fin del libro, el hipopótamo también se escapa!"

Lori says: "This book is good for immersion or FLES. There is some complicated vocabulary for younger/beginning kids, but the illustrations help scaffold the meaning well. The illustrations are delightful - and having to find the hidden animals is an extra treat. This might fit nicely into a thematic unit on the zoo, jungle animals, or leisure time activities. FUN!"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Niko's PICKS: ABeCedarios and Opuestos

ABeCedarios y Opuestos, por Cynthia Weill

                                 Hay dos libros: uno de abecedarios, y el otro tiene opuestos. Mi favorito de los dos es el abecedario porque para la letra "X," la autora no tenía un animal para esta letra, y deja que el lector decida el nombre. Que divertido! A mi me gustan estos libros porque todos los imagenes fotos de animales tallados en madera. Los libros son fáciles de leer porque tienen inglés y español.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

NEW THREAD: Niko's Picks!

I have been remiss in my blogging duties! I have been posting a new link on my MisCositas FB page almost daily (!), but my poor blog has been suffering for it. So I am enlisting Sir Nikolas (of "Niko's World" and "Niko's Adventures" fame) to help out... We will be posting reviews of books in Spanish - sometimes in text, sometimes audio, sometimes with a video... Here's our first review - ENJOY!

FRIDA por Jonah Winter
A mi me gusta este libro porque es de una artista muy interesante que se llama Frida Kahlo. Ella era una artista mexicana que nació en una casa azul en Coyoacán, México. Ella tenía cinco hermanas, y con ella eran seis hijas. Sin embargo, ella se sentía muy sola. Ella tenía una amiga imaginaria que también llamaba Frida. Ella estudió ciencias en el colegio, pero ella se aburrió (como me pasa a mi a veces en la escuela!) Un día, ella tuvo un accidente horrible. Un tranvía se chocó contra un autobús y Frida necesitaba quedarse en la cama por mucho tiempo. En el hospital, Frida dibujó mucho. Yo recomiendo este libro porque Frida es un personaje muy interesante - muchas veces ella se dibuja con un bigote grande!
Questions about this book or review? Contact Niko!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Death by PowerPoint

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Skyping: Assigned Roles

Skyping: Assigned Roles
Originally uploaded by langwitches
From Langwitches, this is a great image/tool to help teachers assign very specific roles during a Skype phonecall.