Kids Yoga Stories recently published an post with a sequence of farm-related yoga poses for children. In addition to being great fun, this activity is a wonderful Spanish language lesson for farm vocabulary. Yoga poses are also a good way to review body parts. In this post, I will talk about how to incorporate a Spanish language component into the sequence, but you will need to go to the original post for the poses and other important information about yoga for children.
Yoga Sequence to Teach Spanish Animals
I often have my preschool students act out the words they are learning in Spanish, so of course we pretend to be animals. Doing yoga poses is a related idea, but higher interest and with more structure. Because the kids are doing specific poses, they stay more engaged. Rather than just pretending to be a dog, they are focused on the position that represents a dog. Also, doing the poses kids use their whole bodies, which is key to language learning, but they are not moving around as much as when they just act out an animal. This makes it easier to keep their attention and transition to the next pose.
Use Toys and Pictures
Before doing the yoga sequence, Giselle Shardlow of Kids Yoga Stories suggests you gather books, toys, puzzles and other props. This preparation is an important step for language learners. Find toys or pictures of the farm vocabulary. You can draw pictures of the words if you do not have objects or illustrations. Talk about them with your child, using the vocabulary and pointing to the toys and pictures. The farm-themed vocabulary in the suggested yoga sequence is:
scarecrow – el espantapájaros
tree – el árbol
horse – el caballo
barn – el establo
farmer – el granjero
to drive a tractor –manejar un tractor
duck – el pato
dog – el perro
donkey – el burro
goose – el ganso
mouse – el ratón
cat – el gato
cow – la vaca
pig – el cerdo
stars – las estrellas
Structure the Sequence with the Visual Cues
Arrange the animals and pictures around the room in the order you are going to do the poses. As you put out the toys where you will be able to see them, use the vocabulary. En la granja hay un espantapájaros. También hay un árbol. Al lado del árbol, hay un caballo. (On the farm there is a scarecrow. There is a tree, too. Beside the tree, there is a horse.)
Practice the Sequence
Do the sequence of poses in order using simple sentences in Spanish. Use the toys and pictures as visual cues to help your child understand. You can use sentences like these:
- El espantapájaros va primero. – The scarecrow comes first.
- Vamos a ser espantapájaros. – Let’s be scarecrows.
- La postura es así. – The pose is like this (model with a short explanation)
- ¿Lo puedes hacer también? – Can you do it, too?
- Hazlo tú. – You do it.
- Ahora va el árbol. – Next comes the tree.
- ¿Ves el caballo? – Do you see the horse?
- Soy un caballo. – I’m a horse.
- ¿Cómo hace un caballo? – What does a horse say?
- ¿Qué dice un caballo? – What does a horse say?
- ¡Eres un caballo! – You’re a horse!
You will do some of the poses on both sides of the body. You can use sentences like these:
Ahora vamos a hacerlo del otro lado. – Now let’s do it on the other side.
Ahora hazlo del otro lado. – Now do it on the other side.
Ahora vamos a levantar la otra pierna. – Now let’s lift the other leg.
Giselle Shardlow of Kids Yoga Stories reminds us that children’s yoga is informal, creative and focused on having fun with movement, not on perfectly aligned poses. So, you will describe the pose to provide language input, but you will not want to instruct your child to do the pose perfectly.
You can read descriptions of the poses in Spanish here if you are not sure how to explain them. Your child will see what you are doing, so just choose a key phrase or two for each position. This ebook in issuu also has descriptions of poses in Spanish. The command forms in the book are in the usted form, so if you are working with one child you will want to change them to the informal.
Repeat the Sequence
To make the most of this activity, repeat it over several days and come back to it periodically. Repetition aids comprehension for children learning Spanish. Learning the sequence will also help children internalize the language.
Giselle Shardlow emphasizes that parents should be enthusiastic, light-hearted, playful, and follow the interests of the child as they practice yoga. This is important for language learning, too. Both yoga and language learning should be fun, not forced activities. She also reminds us to clear a safe space and to adapt the activity to the physical capabilities of the child.
Yoga eases tension, helps children manage stress and encourages a healthy life-style. Doing this farm-themed series of yoga poses in Spanish also makes a wonderful language learning activity. It has built-in movement, repetition and sequence. Most important, children play and have fun as they engage with the language.
You may also be interested in this post: Spanish Stories from Stress Free Kids