“Zizza” “tank ooo” and “me Alex” are all cute things that my kids used to say when they were toddlers and learning to talk. When they left out the verb, it sounded even cuter.🥰 As you’re learning Spanish, though, you’ll want to learn present tense Spanish verbs so you don’t sound silly. 😄
Saying “me tar” (car in adult speak) was cute when they were 2. Not so much now. In fact, it would either be ridiculous (can you imagine a teenager saying, “me Alex” when introducing himself?😂) or a little annoying because it’s difficult to understand someone when they leave out the verb. For instance, “zizza”:Do you have pizza? Do you want pizza? Do you see pizza? 🤔
It’s really important to me that verbs are learned along with nouns. Otherwise, we’ll sound like toddlers or cavemen to people we’re talking to, and understanding each other will be a challenge. Traditionally, there would be grammar worksheets and T-charts <shudder> to conjugate and “learn” the verbs. No kid wants to do that. So I have different types of activities (T-charts not included!) to keep kids interested in learning Spanish!
The lessons build on each other, so if you haven’t started teaching your kids Spanish yet, check out my Start Here page for the best way to begin! All of my lessons so far focus on present tense Spanish verbs. Once you start following the instructions and complete the activities, you and your kids will be able to understand and speak Spanish so other people can understand you! Unlike caveman speak: I pizza. 🍕😄
Download the FREE printables and instructions here:
This Is How I Taught My Kids Present Tense Spanish Verbs
Total Physical Response (TPR)
I start lessons both with my students and with my kids using TPR. It’s a great activity for including movement in the lesson AND helping kids learn the vocabulary. Once kids connect the action with the Spanish word, you can prompt them with the action. Aidan forgot what quiere meant, so I did the action and he remembered the meaning right away.
We used a thumbs up and pointing to ourselves for me gusta, and we tapped the index finger of our right hands on our left wrists (like tapping a clock) for espera. For pasa, we used the ASL sign.
I have a script with some sentences that kids can act so they can hear the verbs in context, but you don’t need a script. You can just say the word and have kids show the actions. I have instructions on the first page of the TPR script with how to do this. Then you can do TPR anytime without any prep especially if your kids are kind of antsy.
Conversation and a Mini-Story
Aidan and I continued listening practice with conversation. I made two videos with questions and answers from the conversation script. I had one video originally but had major problems uploading it to YouTube, so I deleted it and uploaded two videos instead. They ain’t pretty, but they’ll still work for listening practice! 😆
I spread out the conversation part of the lesson over a few days and then did the mini-story with Aidan. Per usual, Aidan gave me creative answers for a story. It’s about a tiny monster named Dino who likes to play with Legos. I have a video of this story too for listening practice.
Even if you’re learning Spanish with your kids, you can still make your own stories with them. There is an outline with questions to ask and then sentence starters so you can just complete the sentences with the answers your kids give you.
I also have a video with the questions from the mini-story outline, so you can listen to the pronunciation. Or watch the video with your kids, have them give you answers, and write the answers on the outline. This outline can be used again and again with different details for a new story each time.
I have yet to see a kid not interested in Spanish when they are part of making the story. It’s one of the best ways to engage kids in learning Spanish especially because I don’t think they even realize they’re learning Spanish while they are creating the story. If you need help with the story, make sure to write your questions in the comments so I can help you!
I typed Aidan’s story about Dino and wrote a few questions to read together the next day. I wrote questions, but don’t feel like you need to. Just talking with your kids about the story and having them read it is perfect!
I had Aidan watch the video for the first version of the story La bolera and answer the questions on the video. Then we read the next two versions of the story and did the reading activities together. The story is an embedded reading, so each version builds on the previous version.
Having kids read a shorter version of the story to start with can help them understand better and build confidence. A whole page story looks overwhelming, but a story that only covers 1/3 or 1/2 of a page looks easy. And once they’ve read the first version, the second version is familiar to them which makes it easier. I like to have twists or cliff hangers after the first version to build curiosity at the same time (super important to keep kids interested!).
I have a new game called Mentira with this lesson that I’m excited about! I found the idea on this website. I really liked her version of this game, but it’s definitely for more advanced speakers. So I adapted it for beginners. This is a great way to practice present tense Spanish verbs because I have the questions and sentence starters (to answer) on each card. This gives kids a way to see and hear the verbs used correctly.
I had fun playing this with Aidan! In the game you get a question to answer and then you take a slip of paper that either says “verdad” (truth) or “mentira” (lie). So if you get the “verdad” piece of paper, then you have to answer the question honestly. And the other person guesses if you told the truth or lied. I was kind of wondering how it would work since we’re family and not classmates, but I learned a few surprising things about Aidan. He doesn’t really like ice cream but prefers frozen yogurt.
A couple of the questions were super easy for us to guess. Like what program do I spend time watching? I watch very little of anything at this point, and it’s mostly Parks and Rec when I do. I tried to think of something else but couldn’t. Aidan got the point for that one. Even though a few were easy to guess, it was still fun!
I laminated everything because this is something that could easily be played again and again. We flipped a penny (heads and tails) to see how many spaces we could move. The game moved slowly because we were only going like one space at a time. I might try to use a spinner with 1 – 4 on it next time. I think going up to 6 would make the game pretty short because there are only 18 spaces on the board.
I’m also pretty excited about the flashcards in this lesson. I was able to draw pictures of the places in Spanish and use those drawings on the flashcards. You can use the flashcards for TPR and for the games Peces, Memoria, or Matamoscas.
Todo sobre mí (booklet)
This booklet is a great way to review places in the city and me encanta from this lesson as well as practice me gusta. There are sentence starters on each page, a word bank to give kids ideas of how to complete the sentences, and parent instructions with questions you can ask your kids about the booklet for additional listening practice.
Nobody wants to sound ridiculous when trying to talk to someone else! Learn present tense Spanish verbs so you and your kids can talk to Spanish-speakers and not get weird looks from them because you sound like you’re two. Making a story together, playing a game in Spanish, and making a booklet about themselves will keep your kids interested too! If you’re not sure where to start, download the booklet and the vocabulary list, and have your kids make the booklet about themselves.
Did you do these activities or know anyone who wants to start teaching their kids present tense Spanish verbs? Please share with the buttons on the left!
Did you play the new game? Tell me about it in the comments below!
P.S. Are you looking for a quick and fun way to help your kids start learning Spanish? If so, check out my free Spanish for Kids Starter Guide! You can immediately use any of the 9 simple tips to introduce your kids to Spanish. Know what the best part is? You don’t have to know Spanish to use it!