Why are activities with movement important in Spanish class?
I have said it before and I’ll say it again; a quiet classroom is my worst enemy. I would much rather have to harness energy than motivate a room of sleepy and disinterested students. Unfortunately, as teachers we see both sides of this coin. While one class may come in filled with energy and ready to engage, our next class may drag their feet on their way through the door. I want to share my go-to ideas for when my class is more like the latter.
I will also say, however, that activities with movement are just as important for those high energy classes. By starting class with something active, my “bouncier” classes are often calmer throughout the rest of the block. Sometimes, if a class is a bit rowdy halfway through, I’ll add an activity with movement to sort of re-center us as a group.
In my opinion, movement can add focus to any class. It can give the energetic classes a goal and a focused purpose, while it can help the disinterested students to become more actively involved in the lesson.
After reading this post, you’ll have a few free resources to try and new ideas to inspire you!
First, you have to decide the purpose of your lesson that day. Does it matter most to you that students are exposed to reading? That they write something? That they speak in the target language, or maybe that they listen to an authentic and comprehensible resource?
This decision will help you to guide the rest of your lesson in the right direction. I find that sometimes I try to focus on too much, thinking “Oh I want them to read and write AND speak!” and recently I have found that I am much more successful if I focus on one thing at a time. The others can be minor goals of the activity, and still be included, but setting a specific goal has helped me tremendously. It has also made assessing whether my lesson was successful a much more measurable task!
After you determine the goal of your lesson, it is important to decide when the lesson will come into play during your class. Do you want to use this explicitly as an opener, to set the tone for a class and get the students engaged from the start? Do you want to have it in your back pocket for a time when you notice your students are starting to drift and lose focus? Maybe your classes have a habit of getting fidgety toward the bell, and so you’ll want to save this activity for the end to keep them working right to the last moment.
You also need to decide how long you think your students will stay focused on your activity. Do you want to start small, with just 5 minutes or so? Or do you think something that’s 15-20 minutes would work best for your class? You are the best judge of what will lead to the most successful outcome when it comes to this.
My Favorite Spanish Class Activities that Promote Movement
Once you have identified your why and when, you can mentally shop through your options for movement activities. I like to have a handful at the ready for any given unit. Like with any activity, sometimes I have one class that loves a specific one while my other three classes of that level would rather do something else instead. Having options keeps me from having to think on my toes — which keeps me less stressed!
One of my favorite tips is to over-plan, so that if an activity isn’t working with a certain class I can move on without fear of them falling behind. It is no big deal if we move onto my backup activity, because I have explicitly planned for it to meet the same overall goals.
Speaking activities WITH movement in Spanish Class
Overall, this is an activity with moderate movement that is sure to get students engaged right from the start of class!
2. Citas Cortas – “Speed Dating” for Spanish Class
To play: Students sit in pairs around the room. I project a 1 minute or 90 second timer on the board, depending on the proficiency level of my class. For lower proficiency levels, I use the longer timer. Students have a checklist of 10 questions, and they are allowed to ask whichever questions they would like during the allotted time. On their sheet, they check off the questions that they ask aloud. After their partner answers, it is then that student’s turn to ask a question from the sheet. Students continue with as many questions as they can before the timer runs out.
When the timer is up, *one* student gets up and moves to the next desk in a clockwise pattern. The student who remains seated will do so for the duration of the activity. After students are comfortable with the routine of this activity, I let them choose where they move from round to round. This is with the understanding that they will always move to a *new* partner.
After we have completed the activity (sometimes 5 rounds, sometimes 8-10 rounds!) I give students a few moments to fill out the reflection on the back. I do not always collect their reflection, but instead ask students to pay attention to their answers. Which questions did you find yourself avoiding? Why? Which verbs or vocabulary words were most difficult for you? Why do you think that is?
This is an activity with minimal movement; just enough to keep them on their toes!
You can find a free version of this Spanish class speaking activity here.
You can always save by grabbing the bundle below, which has all of my current Citas Cortas sets, including the editable templates! Any sets I create in the future will be added to this bundle as well.
3. ¡Toma! — Playing CATCH In Spanish Class
Reading activities WITH movement in Spanish class
This is a great hands-on activity that builds confidence across all levels of proficiency. It does not require a ton of movement so to speak, but being hands-on in nature helps my students to stay focused. I create conversations of 10-15 lines that students have to arrange in the correct order. I instruct students to complete this activity in pairs, and they can move to any place in the room to sit together and work it out on a flat surface. I have lap desks that help a lot with activities like this one.
If you don’t want to cut out the strips, you can print one copy of the worksheet per pair instead. My conversation strips don’t come in order, so you can instruct students to simply rewrite the conversation OR number the lines in the correct order on their sheet. You can then provide an answer key at the back of the room, so students have to get up to check their answers when they are finished.
The teacher decides how much movement is involved in this activity, but it is very hands on!
5. ¿Mano o Manos? Spanish Class Activity great for Hybrid, Remote, or in person learning
I designed this activity for the first time during remote learning in the spring of 2020, but will continue to use it as we return to in person learning as well. I love the versatility of this activity, and how it uses simple movement to keep students engaged.
I also love that it is focused on INPUT; students feel supported, and it is structured in a way that they feel confident to participate even on the first day of class.
Quick overview: I project a question or statement on the board, with two options provided. Everything is in the target language.
Students read the options, and raise one hand or two to represent their answer.
I motivate students to raise a closed fist (a third option) to signify that they have a third option to add, or something to share. I love that this gives us a starting point for more extensive conversations, without putting too much pressure on the students to contribute on the spot. If I see a raised fist, I know they are ready and willing to contribute to our class discussion.
The movement during this activity is minimal; simply one or both hands raised in the air. You could make adaptations for sit vs. stand, as well.
I usually print out a bunch of blank student response sheets at the start of the year, so that I can do this activity with about 5 minutes notice at any point during the year.
I just need to find my task card set in my plastic baggie for that unit and then quickly hang them around the room. I post the PDF of the student response sheet on google classroom, and hand out paper copies to whoever needs them. I then say “¡Vale! ¡Búscalos! Hay 16 hoy.” My Spanish task card sets come with 24 cards if you want to have students use them traditionally at their desks, but for hanging them around the room I hardly use more than 14-16 at a time. I have found that to be the sweet spot for this activity.
7. Quizlet Live Relay
Writing activities with movement in Spanish class
9. Carrousel Writing activity for Spanish class
To start, I separate my students into teams of 4-5 students. We arrange our desks in rows, and each team sits in a line from front to back. During the game, however, they cannot communicate with their team members in any way.
In this game, I project a question on the TV/projector. To respond to each question during this game, students utilize the Notability app on their iPads or they use our small whiteboards. I project the question, read it aloud, and they have 15 seconds to answer. When I shout “muéstrame” they all must show their responses at the same time.
Each student must answer every question as we go, because their team might need them!
*If the first person in their team row gets the answer correctly, their team earns 5 points.
*If the first person answers incorrectly but the second person in the row gets it right, their team earns 4 points.
*If the first two students have wrong answers but the third person back has it right, their team earns 3 points…. and so on.
I often keep score on the board as we go, or I use the digital score tracker that I designed specifically for this activity. This digital score tracker is included in every one of my editable La Silla Caliente game sets!
It automatically tallies each team’s score for you as you enter them during each round. I love it! No more math mistakes on the board for me 🙂
Teams are typically pretty competitive and close in score for the majority of the game, since one question could lead to +5, which is great.
When I create each game template, I alternate question slides with an answer slide directly after. This way, students can see the correct spelling/punctuation of each answer even if they answered incorrectly. I found that projecting the answers as we go was much more efficient than repeating the correct answer over and over and sometimes pausing to write it on the board.
After each question, the student in the front desk moves to the back of their team, and each other team member moves forward. This way, students all have a turn at being the 5 point responder, or in “La Silla Caliente.”
This is a game I like to play when we have at least 30 minutes available. My teams get VERY competitive, and I’d say this is the game they request the most! We don’t get to play it very often, which I think makes them even more eager to play 🙂
Keep in mind that every one of my editable Silla Caliente game sets comes with a digital score tracker that I designed as well!
Listening activities with movement in Spanish Class
This is an activity that calls for LOTS of movement. Ideally, students should be moving almost every single time you ask a new question. I do have a few sets available if you’d like to see how I set them up!