I am so excited to be able to share this book with Spanish Playground readers. Sofía en una aventura por la selva (Sophia’s Jungle Adventure) is published by Kids Yoga Stories. The book integrates yoga for children into a story in Spanish and creates an amazing language-learning experience.
Yoga poses were inspired by the natural world. Kids Yoga Stories weaves those poses into a picture book. Children do the poses, imitating plants and animals, as they listen. This book, and the English edition, were created for native speakers, but they also have wonderful potential to teach a second language.
This potential goes beyond the important elements of context, illustrations and movement which are all a part of this book. Reading Sofía en una aventura por la selva with Spanish language learners will enhance language development on another level as well, beyond the words represented by the poses and the exposure to comprehensible input. The practice of yoga itself is conducive to language learning.
Kids Yoga Stories and Language Learning
These features of Kids Yoga Stories, all of which are integral to the practice of yoga, also enhance language learning.
The poses are sequential.
Sequence, central to the practice of yoga, enhances language learning as it provides structure for the story. The poses are done in order, which makes them predictable. Children can anticipate what pose comes next, and this greatly increases listening comprehension. It is much easier for them to hear what they are expecting.
Children have a safe space to experiment.
Kids Yoga Stories strives to create a safe, comfortable environment where making mistakes and taking risks is completely acceptable. Most language teachers are familiar with Stephen Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition. According to Krashen, anxiety and self-doubt interfere with language learning by creating an affective filter. As language teachers, we work to reduce this affective filter by creating the same safe environment created by Kids Yoga Stories.
Children explore the world.
Through the content of the story, children learn about different places, people, and animals around the world. Sofía en una aventura por la selva is an excellent introduction to the rainforest of Costa Rica.
Yoga helps children relax.
The relaxation and meditation techniques of yoga help children manage stress. This in itself is extremely valuable, but there is an added benefit of using the Kids Yoga Stories to learn a second language. These stories will establish a relationship between the language and relaxation from a young age. If relaxation is one of the first associations that children have with a language, they will carry that through their lives and continue to learn with open minds.
The story draws on multiple intelligences.
This program taps into the eight multiple intelligences. By engaging these intelligences in a second language, Kids Yoga Stories creates an unusually powerful language-learning experience.
Making the Most of the Book with Children Learning Spanish
Sofía en una aventura por la selva is told in a simple language that encourages children to use their imagination. This makes it accessible to language learners. In addition, there is a close text-to-picture correspondence.
This story could fit into any number of units. The vocabulary in these categories will give you an idea of the content:
· Los animales: el ave, el tucán, el mono, el jaguar, la boa, la mariposa, el lagarto
· La naturaleza: la montaña, la selva, la jungla, el sol, el árbol, la cascada, el pasto, el agua, la roca, el río, el valle, la estrella
· El transporte: el coche, el aeropuerto, el avión, el camino, el autobús, el boleto, viajar
· Adjetivos: emocionado, contento, alto, largo, polvoriento, pequeño, brillante, amarillo, refrescante, hermoso, cansado, feliz, helado, empedrado
To make the most of the story:
- Read the guide at the back of the book. Many of the suggestions for using the book to teach yoga also relate to teaching language. Specifically, the guide encourages:
· Reading the story over and over
· Having fun as you read
· Connecting the story to kids’ lives – This will help children remember the words and make it relevant
· Adapting the story to the age (or language level) of the children
· Appreciating moments of silence – Language learners need time to process what they hear
- Read the book together first without doing the poses.
- Point to the pictures and use gestures and actions to clarify what happens in the story.
- Review body part vocabulary before doing the poses with your child.
- See 20 ways to Jazz up your Kids Yoga Stories Jungle Journey on the Kids Yoga Stories blog. These are extension activities for the book and many are language activities.
- Consider buying Sophia’s Jungle Adventure Coloring Book. The coloring book is only available in English for now. However because it is a coloring book, the text directed to children is minimal. Coloring is an excellent language activity. Just point to and talk about the pictures as you draw together. Use the words and structures from the story.
Sofía en una adventura por la selva is available on the Kids Yoga Stories website and from Amazon.
Disclosure: The company sent me a copy of this product to be able to write the article. All of the ideas and opinions are my own.