“Once upon a time …” “Érase una vez…”
What springs to mind when you read these words? Do you find yourself swept off to wonderful worlds of fairy tales and far off lands with images of princesses, castles, brave knights and dragons? I do.
I think that, as busy adults, we can sometimes forget the importance of nurturing the imagination of our children. As we are busy getting on with your day to day lives, doing homework, attending activities and just generally living, we may not encourage our children to just, “be children”, as often as we maybe should.
I am guilty as charged. However, I do have “stock taking” moments where I spot the error of my ways. I am always keeping an eye out for little games and ideas that I think will spike the children’s imagination. You can see some examples on my Pinterest board HERE: Fun Activities with Children.
Yesterday, during our Sunday morning homework session, Francesca (our six year old), told me that she had to write a story and she had no idea what to write about. Now, we had had a particularly busy weekend and when Francesca is tired, mole hills often appear to be mountains. However, this morning I was quick off the blocks. I went into her bedroom and brought out the Story Cubes.
Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and instilling moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters, and narrative point of view. (Wikipedia)
Our children love these Story Cubes and we love listening to the stories they invent from them. The children simply roll the cubes and make up stories based in the pictures displayed on each of the cubes.
We sometimes roll all the cubes together and tell a quick story or we roll three at a time and make up a more elaborated story. What is also great is that you can use them in any language, so we practice storytelling in both English and Spanish.
Francesca is now finishing her first year of obligatory education in Spain (Primaria) . Throughout the year, each week, she has had a Spanish book to read and write a summary of. This has been a great way to develop her comprehension and written ability and, of course, expand her vocabulary.
The photograph at the top of this page is just the start of this week’s invented story, using the Story Cubes. There are a few pages until it is finished. I wonder what the teacher will think when she reads this totally different, random story about a little old man who wanted to travel the world with his pet turtle who he’d found at the end of the rainbow …
Don’t you just love it!
Here are links to Amazon where you can buy the Story Cubes if you are interested. If you use the links below we receive a small commission form Amazon.
9 cubes, 54 images, over 10 million possible combos, unlimited stories! Recipient of Dr. Toy’s “10 Best Games” Award, the “Major Fun Award” and “People’s Choice Award”. How it works… Simply roll all 9 dice, examine each of the face-up images and let them guide your imagination through a story that begins with “Once upon a time…”. The secret is not to think too deeply. Simply ‘gulp’ in the images and start talking. And remember, there is no wrong answer! The nine dice, each with a unique image on all six sides, hold a total of 54 images. This means that with every roll, there are over 10 million combination’s for you to use as the inspiration for your story. The uses for Rory’s Story Cubes are boundless. Play them while traveling, waiting in a restaurant, in the classroom, as an icebreaker, for idea generation, or to make learning a new language more fun.
Writing researchers suggest that children should write stories in order to (1) entertain, (2) foster artistic expression, (3) explore the functions and values of writing, (4) stimulate imagination, (5) clarify thinking, (6) search for identity, and (7) learn to read and write. (http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ269736)
Not every child finds story telling an easy task. The Story Cubes are a great aid and are also lots of fun. We always take them with us when we are traveling.
However, here is another way of encouraging your child to create their own beautiful stories …
What To Do
- Start by reading some favourite stories together. Talk a little bit about each story’s author. If there is information about the author on the book jacket, you might read it together. Help the child understand that the author created or adapted the story and made decisions about what should happen in it.
- As you read, stop and ask the child to make predictions about what is going to happen next and why he or she thinks so. When you do this, you are encouraging him or her to think about how stories work and how readers understand stories – both important when writing a story of one’s own.
- While you are reading and when you are done, talk about the different parts of the story, asking questions such as:
- What is the beginning of the story? The middle? The end?
- Who are the characters?
- What do you like about them?
- Where does the story take place?
- Is there a problem that occurs in the story? If so, how does it get resolved?
- What do you think about the ending? Is there a connection, either in words or pictures, between the ending and the beginning of the story?
(See the full article on www.readwritethink.org)
Here’s to lots more story writing, story telling and of course encouraging our children’s creativeness and imagination.
Here is our printable School Holiday Calendar Spain 2014 2015 for Andalucía
At last it is here! You can now use our printable school holiday calendar Spain 2014 2015 dates to plan any trips and holidays for the coming year. What trips have you got planned this year? As we have previously mentioned, every year it seems that the Spanish school holiday dates are published later. We are always eager to start planning all our holidays and visits to new places in Spain so this printable School Holiday Calendar Spain is an absolute essential tool. Please remember that most provinces may also have local holidays, such as Semana Blanca in Málaga. Semana Blanca 2015 is not mentioned in this School Holiday Calendar Spain, as published by the Junta de Andalucía, so please make sure you check with your own school before making any travel plans. (Semana Blanca is usually the week that coincides with Día de Andalucía, February 28th).
For a printable version for your wall: Click Here School Calendar 2014 2015
If you are thinking about Moving to Spain, our book will answer a lot of your questions …
To BUY on Amazon.es Click Here!
To Buy on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk Click the corresponding image below
For more information about living in Spain with children, visit our YouTube channel…
We are really excited to share our new Cooking with Languages project with you. It is still very early days but we can now see our ideas coming to life.
As you know, we are true believers that learning languages is a fundamental part of our children’s education. Our first book, Cooking in our Cocina, is aimed at helping young learners improve their Spanish, whilst having fun in the kitchen.
To receive a FREE sample of our English / Spanish book as soon as it is released,
Cooking with Languages, is a revolutionary new language learning method that encourages creativity and makes language learning fun.
Our books and tools have been designed to enhance young people’s language learning experience and can be used totally independently, (for pleasure), or as an educational complement to any method they are currently using.
Unlike many traditional language learning books that dwell on detailed, grammatical explanations and structured learning, Cooking with Languages encourages instant comprehension of language structures and reinforces learning through practice and activities.
Cooking with Languages is not looking to fit into any existing market niche. It has created its own. The current market is bursting with children’s language learning books and children’s cookbooks. Cooking with Languages is introducing language learning for children, whilst having fun in the kitchen.
Simple. Innovative. Effective. Fun.
Our mission is to encourage more children to embark on the wonderful path of language learning and help them to open new doors for their future.
So, that’s the master plan … what do you think?
To keep updated with news and events, visit our website: www.CookingwithLanguages.com
Join us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CookingWithLanguages
Join us on Pinterest HERE
Share ideas with our Google Community: Click here to join in with the community
We are really excited about this new project and would love to hear your ideas and feedback…
Oh and don’t forget to reserve your free sample … CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP NOW!
What are Regaletas? Cuisenaire Rods ? Réglettes?
Francesca, Age 6
Yesterday, I finally got to meet our daughter’s new teacher, Marie Tere.
Time has flown and Francesca is now in Primaria (aged 6 years old). This is the start of the compulsory stage of education in Spain.
Generally, at our school in Mijas, CEIP San Sebastian, we have a parents meeting at the beginning of every trimester. The aim of the meeting is for the teacher to explain the subjects and topics that are to be covered in the coming months and also to discuss the general progress of the students.
My first impression of Marie Tere was … “she smiles as she talks”!
I can see why Francesca is so happy with her. It was also very comforting to be told by other parents that Francesca seems so much happier at school this year. The tears are less frequent. The confidence is building … but, we know, the insecurity is still a big, scary monster in her beautiful, little head.
My second feeling was that of passion and enthusiasm.
Marie Tere oozed excitement as she talked about the topics they would be covering, the innovative methods that they would be using. The text books will take a back seat in all this. Interaction is the principal focus. Stimulating their young minds and encouraging a yearn for learning is the main goal. I was a happy bunny!
Then she started taking about Regaletas … what?
Thankfully, she sensed the confusion in the room and produced these …
According to Wikipedia: Cuisenaire rods give students a hands-on elementary school way to learn elementary maths concepts, such as the four basic arithmetical operations and working with fractions.In the early 1950s, Caleb Gattegno popularised this set of coloured number rods created by the Belgian primary school teacher Georges Cuisenaire (1891-1976), who called the rods réglettes.
The educationalists Maria Montessori and Friedrich Fröbel had used rods to represent numbers, but it was Cuisenaire who introduced their use to teachers across the world from the 1950s onwards. He published a book on their use in 1952 called Les nombres en couleurs. Cuisenaire, a violin player, taught music as well as arithmetic in the primary school in Thuin. He wondered why children found it easy and enjoyable to pick up a tune and yet found mathematics neither easy nor enjoyable. These comparisons with music and its representation led Cuisenaire to experiment in 1931 with a set of ten rods sawn out of wood, with lengths from 1 cm to 10 cm. He painted each length of rod a different colour and began to use these in his teaching of arithmetic. The invention remained almost unknown outside the village of Thuin for about 23 years, until Gattegno came to visit him and observe lessons in 1953. With Gattegno’s help, the use of the rods for both mathematics and language teaching was developed and popularised in many countries around the world.
According to Gattegno, “Georges Cuisenaire showed in the early fifties that students who had been taught traditionally, and were rated ‘weak’, took huge strides when they shifted to using the (Cuisenaire) material. They became ‘very good’ at traditional arithmetic when they were allowed to manipulate the rods.”
Las Regletas de Cuisenaire (Cuisenaire rods) are basically mathematical material intended for children to learn the composition and decomposition of numbers and their introduction to computing activities , via manipulation . The material consists of a set of wooden blocks of ten sizes and colors. The length of the blocks ranges from 1 to 10 cm. Each block corresponds to a specific number :
- The white strip , of 1 cm length represents the number 1.
- The red strip , of 2 cm .represents the number 2 .
- The light green strip of 3 cm represents the number three .
- The pink strip of 4 cm represents the number 4.
- The yellow strip of 5 cm represents the number 5 .
- The dark green strip of 6 cm represents the number 6.
- The black strip of 7 cm represents the number 7.
- The brown strip of 8 cm represents the number 8.
- The blue strip of 9 cm represents the number 9.
- The orange strip of 10 cm represents the number 10 .
At this point, I must admit to having a mix of emotions. All this talk of exciting and innovative teaching methods and then resorting to what we would probably call “counting blocks”. But I remain optimistic and look forward to learning and experimenting with this new (to myself!) method.
I left the classroom feeling happy and excited at this new stage in our daughter’s life in Spain. Every day she wakes up and is excited to go to school … I am very grateful and feel that we are making progress!
Onwards and upwards … Cuisenaire rods and all!
Do any of you have experience of learning with Cuisenaire rods? Was it successful? We’d love to hear any tips you have …
Here are some other useful links to show how Cuisenaire Rods can be used in teaching:
Junta de Andalucia teaching with regletas (in Spanish)
Learn Fractions with Cuisenaire Rods
Some Silent Way exercises for beginners using Cuisenaire rods
How hard is it to get your child to study?
Whether you’re living in Spain or the UK, these days it seems like the educational stakes are higher than ever: good grades lead to good courses at good universities and eventually (with a bit of luck) to good jobs at the end of it. Fall at even one of those hurdles, and the task for your child can become infinitely harder.
Which is why helping them get the best start is so important. Whether they’re studying for their A Levels at an international school in Malaga or going through the Spanish system at a local state-run school, one thing’s for sure – they’re very unlikely to do it without lots of hard work.
Here are five ways to get your child to study for their exams…
1. Present the facts
We might well be seeing signs that we’re coming out of global recession, but unemployment in Spain is still around the 25% mark (with over 50% of young people without work according to recent figures). Across Europe the reality is hardly any less stark – in the UK, for instance, current unemployment is around 7.8%. In other words, now is not the time to choose slacking off and an afternoon on the beach over long-term gain. Put it like that, and your young student is sure to understand.
2. Help install a routine
Once the facts of the difficulties involved in getting work without good grades have been established, it’s important to help your child establish a routine. Routine starts at home, with regular meal times and breaks to help them structure their study around – both during term time and throughout the school holidays. It shouldn’t be all about work, however – helping your child get the balance right between studying, relaxing, hanging out with their friends and exercising is the key to their wellbeing, and is a valuable lesson which they’ll take the rest of their lives.
3. Get involved
Once the groundwork has been laid for the establishment of a good routine, it’s important that you get involved in your child’s education. After all, why should they care if you don’t appear to? Helping your child with homework is just one way; taking a general interest in – and talking about – what they’re studying is another. Learning is fun. And who knows, you might even take something really worthwhile (other than an improvement in your child’s education) from it? Getting stuck in and helping them with their homework comes with the added bonus of improving your Spanish, too.
4. Use the carrot
We all like to be praised when we’ve worked hard and done a good job at something. A teenager studying for their exams is absolutely no different. How to motivate your child? Little rewards and regular treats – whether it’s in the form of a particularly nice dinner or a movie night with friends – are an important part of keeping a student motivated in the run-up to their big day. Similarly, a promised reward like a holiday with friends or a new car for getting the grades they need is likely to have the desired effect. Bribery? Maybe. But you see if it doesn’t work.
5. (But don’t forget the stick)
Praise and regular rewards for good work are all well and good, but they may not be enough to get your child to study for their exams. This doesn’t mean harsh, Victorian-style discipline, or anything – simply that if they step out of line, they need to know that the withdrawal of special privileges will follow shortly afterwards. Hitting them in the wallet is always a good way to get their attention, and the withholding of an allowance should soon sharpen their attention on to the job in hand. Any other special attractions – like use of the car, say – that they are provided with can also be just as effective (along with the swift retraction of any carrots previously dangled).
One thing is well worth remembering, though: we were all young once. And not all of us studied quite as hard as we might have done. So cut them a little slack, too. Help them out wherever you can, cross your fingers and trust them to do their best.
6. Don’t panic
Last but by no means least… keep calm – both before, during and after the exam period. While you want your children to do well, knowing that they have a supportive family network who will help them through the next stage whatever happens, is incredibly important. And if they don’t get the grades they’re after? Make sure they realise it’s not the end of the world. From exam retakes to distance learning and adult education, there’s always another way to learn.
Guest post by Phillipa Sudron is writing on behalf of Oxford College: http://www.oxfordcollege.ac/
What tested tips do you have to encourage your children to study? Please share them with our readers …
Finding the Best Schools in Malaga …
The region of Málaga is one of the most popular destinations for people, of all nationalities, relocating to Spain. Thanks to its excellent transportation network, it offers affordable accessibility to most parts of the world on most days of the week. Famous for its wonderful climate and outdoor Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, the Málaga region is a favourite amongst families looking for a new life abroad. ( Read this great post A to Z Reasons to live in Malaga)
Due to the cosmopolitain nature of this part of Spain, there is a wide range of education options available to children of all ages and all nationalities.
There are many International Schools in Malaga to chose from. Some of these International Schools follow the British System but are not regulated by OFSTED. They are monitored and regulated by the Junta de Andalucia Consejeria de Educacion (Junta de Andalucia Education Department).
All British Schools in Spain are inspected by the local authorities before being issued with a licence to operate as a school for foreigners. The Curriculum is monitored by the British Council who ensures that the correct curriculum is followed and that teachers have the correct UK recognized qualifications.
An official B.O.J.A. (Boletin official de la Junta de Andalucia) is issued by the Junta de Andalucia once the school has been approved. This licence should be clearly displayed within the school.
There are many towns offering education at International Schools in Malaga and a high percentage of them in the Marbella area and consequently fees in this area tend to be higher, however higher fees are not a reflection of higher standards.
This is just one of the relocation options that we offer. However we believe that the happiness of the children is the most important part of any relocation to any country. The reason is very simple, if the children are not happy then the move will not work. The school that the children are going to and the educational options that they are offered are therefore paramount in any move abroad.
State Schools in Malaga …
If you have decided that you would rather send your children to one of the State Schools in Malaga rather than a private or international school, you may wish to check out the Junta de Andalucia’s website. It provides a concise list of state schools in Malaga and all provinces of Andalucia.
Although only in Spanish, the website is relatively self explanatory. By inputting the post code or the village/town where you are planning to move to, you can see the schools in that area.
The codes used are:
||Educación Secundaria Obligatoria
||Formación Profesional.Ciclo Formativo de Grado Medio
||Programa de Cualificación Profesional Inicial
||Formación Profesional Específicac.Ciclo Formativo de Grado Superior
||Educación de personas adultas
||Artes Plásticas y Diseño
See the Junta de Andalucia list of education centres HERE.
Please note than in Andalucia, the State school timetable for lessons is generally from 9am until 2pm. In most schools, there is a canteen option (*Comedor) (at extra cost) and extra curricula activities (*Actividades Extrascolares)(at extra cost) and an early morning drop off option(*Aula Matinal) (at extra cost).
In other parts of Spain the schools close for a 2 hour lunch and continue lessons in the afternoon. Private/International schools tend to follow the traditional UK timetables of 9am until 4pm or 5pm.
If you would like more information about state schools in Malaga, do not hesitate to Contact Us.
Our Printable School Holiday Calendar Spain
Here is the School Holiday Calendar Spain : Málaga, Andalucía for the school year 2013 -2014. As the 2013 school holidays begin, you can use these Spanish school holiday dates to plan any trips and holidays for the coming year.
Every year it seems that the Spanish school holiday dates are published later. We are always eager to start planning all our holidays and visits to new places in Spain so this printable School Holiday Calendar Spain is an absolute essential tool.
Last year, over 10,000 people visited our School Holiday Calendar Spain 2012/3, so this year we decided to make a printable version. What shall we add to it next year? We’d love your suggestions.
If you download the calendar and have it pinned up on a wall somewhere, take a picture, tell us which school you go to, in which part of Spain you live and we’ll make a post with all of your pictures.
Please remember that most provinces may also have local holidays, such as Semana Blanca in Málaga. Semana Blanca 2014 is not mentioned in this School Holiday Calendar Spain, as published by the Junta de Andalucía, so please make sure you check with your own school before making any travel plans.
NOTE: If you click on the image you can then print it out in A4 size and pin it to your wall!
Alternatively CLICK HERE TO PRINT CALENDAR !
For more information about living in Spain with children, visit our YouTube channel…
Who’d like to win some Free Spanish Lessons ?
We are regularly contacted, via our website, to promote a wide variety of companies offering a multitude of products and services. Our standard answer is usually “No”, as we generally do not promote anything we have’t tried for ourselves. Unless of course we see that somebody is passionate and professional, we think that our readers will be interested in what they have to offer and then we may chose to support them.
The other day we received one such random email. However, the friendly approach and the service being offered caught our attention:
My name is Alberto and I lead a group of Spanish teachers who teach Spanish via Skype.
I´ve been reading your page, and I think that your customers can benefit a lot from our services. We teach Spanish via Skype for people who want to come to Spain, or don´t have the time to go to a local school …”
We had a look at Alberto’s website, liked what we saw and decided to get in touch with him. We asked him to tell us a little bit more about his company. This was part of his reply …
Some years ago I was working in a Spanish school, and I got asked by some students to have some Skype lessons online once they got back to their countries, and well… after some time I quit my job in the schools and started to give Skype lessons full time. Private lessons, no boring books or grammar lists, just pure communication based lessons.
Students were happy! So I started giving lessons to their friends as well, and classmates and… well, I needed more teachers! So I went back to the best teachers I had worked with and gave them training in Skype teaching.
They delivered really well as well, so I decided to form a proper company and start offering the lessons to companies and more people! …
… Currently we are 4 teachers but there are another 4 being trained, and I expect them to be ready before the end of the month”
What a fantastic idea! We decided we would like to support this great initiative. But, there was a problem. We hadn’t used their services and could not see when we could fit in the time. So, we had an idea. We would ask you, our readers, to try Alberto’s course and to give us your feedback. So, who would like to be our Family Life in Spain tester?
To win A One Week Course of Online FREE Spanish Lessons, conversational practice and guidance, with Alberto Profesor, simply …
In the facebook and comment box below, tell us, in as many words as you like, why you think you should win A One Week Course of Online FREE Spanish Lessons.
The Deadline for entries is 31st May 2013. A shortlist will be selected based on the originality of the reason given and the number of votes received, chosen by Profesor Alberto and ourselves..
The final winners will be chosen by our readers and Facebook fans (Tip: the more friends who vote for you on our page the more chance you will have!).
The course entails a one-hour class, each day, from Monday to Friday, at a pre arranged time with Alberto Profesor.
Oh and even more good news … there will be THREE WINNERS for Free Spanish Lessons!!!!
Good luck everyone! ¡Suerte a todos!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: We are now asking for you to vote for the 3 winners.
To see the 6 finalists and to cast your votes:
1. Read the comments below
Let us help you to find the best International Schools in Spain …
Choosing the best International schools in Spain for your children is one of the most important decisions you will make, whether you are moving abroad, or you are already living abroad.
We all do what we believe is best for our children, yet how do we make the right choice regarding the best schools abroad?
Rules and regulations differ in each country. Not all countries have league tables to advise us which are the best performing schools, although there are many regulatory bodies that can be consulted to conduct basic checks.
Probably the biggest worry when moving abroad, to a new country, is that you cannot rely on the strong network of family and friends for practical experience, advice and guidance.
We will become your reliable network. Your source of information, your guidance and your gateway to feedback from others in a similar situation to yourself.
If you are undecided whether to send you children to state schools or international schools in Spain, read our article here and do not hesitate to contact us if you are still uncertain.
If you have decided that private or International Schools are best for your children, then this new service is for you …
Take the first step and Contact Us
Whichever country you are moving to, or living in, you need to consider your own basic requirements, such as:
- Is your child better suited to a small or larger school?
- Do you prefer them to change schools as they progress or stay in the same (For example the jump to senior school or the potential change at sixth form level)
- How far do you want your children to travel to school?
- What transport options exist / are provided by the school?
- What timetable best suits your own commitments?
- Do you prefer your children to have meals in school or will they come home to eat?
- Is the availability of extracurricular activities important to you?
- Which language do you prefer your children to be educated in?
- Do you prefer a particular curriculum / teaching syllabus?
The list may seem endless however, we will provide you with a comprehensive checklist to assist you to make an educated and well-informed decision.
Remember, we are here to help!
As our children grow older, the challenge to keep up with their education in Spain, their schoolwork and their often vast quantities of homework continues. I am currently a very proud mum who has two very intelligent and hard working children (yes I know they are only 5 and 8 and there is time to change but please let me wallow in the glory of this moment!).
Mr Google is regularly present at homework time as my range of vocabulary is expanded on a weekly basis looking for antónimos, sinónimos and who knows what else for words I have never heard of before, in order to keep us with my eight year old son.
Up to this point, I have managed to rise and conquer the most challenging of challenges of an eight year old’s Spanish school homework (that BA Hons degree has its uses!). However, I have stumbled. I am still stumbling. But, I think I’m getting there ….
I am attempting to understand and be able to explain the reasoning behind the Spanish way of carrying out mathematical divisions!
What in the world are they trying to do to us? Why do they make it so complicated? Do they know how frustrating it is not to be able to explain something to your eight year old son who thinks you can do everything? You can do everything in his eyes … except Spanish division!
I posted a plea for help on my Facebook page for mums who had older children who could maybe enlighten me. Their replies…
“Omg. It’s a nightmare. They do it all backwards. How they get the right answer is beyond me. Good look in finding an explanation”
“After one of daughter no.1 ´s teachers rubbed out a whole page of long division homework (btw the answers were correct…) I really spat my dummy out and ended up having a lesson from one of the teachers! I don´t like it and think it´s a real is arse-about-face method……”
“I never got to grips with it and would check all my daughter’s homework questions with a calculator! Eventually she learnt how to do it both ways to please me!It is however the most arse about face method ever!”
” *headache.com* good luck!”
The only tips were … “You will find tutorials on you tube…. Good luck!” and “I went to the school and asked the teacher personally to show me what to do – it was the best solution”
So, at the last parents meeting, I raised the issue and was very kindly given this web link by Joshua’s teacher: SEE HERE
These pictures are what you are shown. ( NOTE: If you click on each image it will enlarge and you can read the comment)I have added some translations at the sides. Simple isn’t it ? (lol)
Thankfully my little brain box of a son has mastered this and no longer asks for my help but I continue on my quest to find an easy solution and explanation. Do you have any tips to share to enlighten us? We’d love to hear from you.