Level 1: Jolly Rancher Fun

I love the Beginning of the Year in Spanish 1. They come so excited to learn and soak it up like sponges! Instead of spending the first few days yammering away about the syllabus (zzzzzzzzzzzzz) load them up with comprehensible input. 

A few things:

  1. This is an awesome activity for the very beginning of level 1! Like even Day 1 or 2! You can keep it totally in your target language and give your little darlings a taste (literal and figurative) of what language acquisition feels like, how effortless it’s meant to be.
  2. This great idea is not my great idea! Betsy Techman shared this idea on the iFLT/NTPRS/CI Teaching Facebook Page a few years ago and I have loved it every since! She graciously gave me permission to write about it here on my little blogcito. ¡Gracias,  Betsy! I’ve adapted her idea to work for my little darlings…you can read her original explanation here. And if you have questions for her, she said you could write her at etechman@tvsd.org
  3. My district hasn’t outlawed candies in the classroom (yet!) so all systems a go here! If your district has a policy against giving the kiddos candies, you could relocate to to my district in Nevada. Or there’s got to be a clever substitution….I just can’t think of one! Please, share your ideas!!
  4. The little darlings are laser focused and super motivated when you’ve got candies. Is it bribery? Maybe. Does it work? Yes!
  5. It’s a totally painless way to get in one million repetitions of “has” and “wants”, not to mention colors and question words. The language is so useful and accessible.

It’s so fun! You’ve got to see it! There are a few things to watch for in the videos below:

  1. This is our 3rd day of class…so they’ve got a little bit of Spanish under their belts. We’ve spent a lot of time on “Ríe” and “Llora” because we started out the year singing Celia Cruz’s Ríe y Llora and those words came up naturally so I went with it.
  2. Since it’s the beginning of the year, I’m all about teaching and reinforcing procedures, so you’ll see us practicing when their response isn’t satisfactory to me.
  3. I’m trying my darnedest to speak SLOWLY and point to the board on nearly every word.  I probably could even slow down more…it’s something I’m working on! The screen is a bit hard to see in the video…here’s the Jolly Rancher Slide. 

Notice the Magic Cards to check for comprehension at the end of the video.  Love me some Magic Cards. And so does every administrator who has ever observed me. Just saying. Make yourself some Magic Cards! And I really love the call and responses. 

So…a few nuts and bolts…

Before class: 

During Class:

  • Since this is the very beginning of Spanish 1, you’re going to want to set up your expectations. Teach them to signal you when you’re talking too fast or are being unclear. Teach them to respond in unison. Teach them to follow you with their eyes and read what you’re pointing to. Teach them to respond “Sí, Señora” if you think that’s as hilarious as I do.
  • Remember they’re baby beginners: Speak slower than you think you need to. Teach to their eyes. Stay in bounds and check for comprehension. 
  • Talk to them. Ask who has the Jolly Ranchers. Ask who wants a Jolly Rancher. Ask who wants a red Jolly Rancher. Ask if he wants a green Jolly Rancher or blue Jolly Rancher. Ask if she wants one or two Jolly Ranchers. Ask the class, does she have Jolly Ranchers or does she want Jolly Ranchers. Alternate between talking to the class “Does she want a red Jolly Rancher?” and to the student “Do you want one or two Jolly Ranchers?” Ask as many questions as you can while they’re still interested. Then revisit the activity in a few days or so. All those reps of “wants” and “has” will serve them well on their language journey!

Hope your school year is off to a great start! May 2018-2019 be our best yet!


  1. I love this! My students have been having a lot of fun. I changed it for Spanish 3 to be “tenia” and “queria”. I had them blindly choose a jolly rancher from a bag and told them not to eat it. I also threw in some cough drops. I asked , “What color did you want?, What color do you have? Who has ____ color? ” I’d make them trade and then I’d ask, “What color did you have? What color did you want? Are you happy now? Is so and so happy now? What color did he have? What color did he want” etc. It was really fun. The reactions of the people who got cough drops was great and I let them trade.


    • Yes!!! What a great idea for an upper level class! Thanks so much for sharing! Would you mind if I add your idea into the blog post?!


  2. I used this idea with my French 1 class yesterday–but we were reviewing idiomatic expressions with the verb “to have”– which are similar to Spanish actually. I had about 5 different expressions– hungry, thirsty, wants, needs, is lucky. I started out with “Who is hungry?”–that student got a jolly rancher and we went on from there. The “lucky” students got piles of jolly ranchers. We decided that if you were thirsty, water is a better option, etc. The best part was when I realized that I had accidentally not spoken with one of the students in class– who was then “not lucky” as she didn’t have a jolly rancher. At which point I asked the class if I should give her one. And one of her friends yelled out “NON!” Which then became a new discussion about how “mean” this student was and how “nice” I was because I was going to give this student a jolly rancher. This class is generally very quiet and reserved so I am always looking for ways to engage them. This did the trick!


  3. Thank you so much! I’m finishing up my (very unique!!) first year teaching world language and have found your blog to be incredibly helpful! I translated this slide into German and can send it along if you would like 🙂


    • Thank you, and I’d love to link to your German slides! Can you share it with señorachase at gmail dot com please?!


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