La familia – level 1


Before we begin… you know that this is the last week to register for Comprehensible Online at the Early Registration Price, right?!?! If you’re considering attending this great online conference, sign up before 1/31/19 and be sure to use the code AnneMarie19 for an additional $25 discount!

So, back to business…. although we’re experimenting more with Untargeted Input at my school, we’re still using common themes in levels 1 and 2. As Rita Barrett calls it, we’re doing Targeted Lite: our classes have the same theme, but no mandated vocabulary list. It’s working for us: I love that it frees me up to focus on my kiddos’ responses, rather than focus on a vocab list!

Right now with my little darlings, we’re talking about Familia, and here are some of the Comprehensible Input activities we’ve been having fun with:

Visual Lecture

Fortunately, my family is crazy with multiple step moms and step dads, so we started out with my wildly complicated family tree. I used the board to illustrate as I explain, going slow and making it comprehensible. After I created my family tree, I passed out a listening quiz and explained my crazy family once more, but this time pointing rather than illustrating.

Here’s a video…I filmed it partly to show you and mostly for the absent students who will come to my classroom during lunch to make up the quiz. Because I’d much rather eat my lunch during lunch time, rather than reliving the drama of my family’s relationships for every absent kid.

This may shock some of you…but did you know you can use PAST TENSE in a LEVEL 1 class!?! I know, right?! In the CI world we say, shelter vocab, don’t shelter grammar. You’ll see that in the video, I switch between present and past naturally and they’re pickup up what I’m laying down.

And Bonus: the first 8 seconds show me waiting for my little darlings to settle down and the smile is flashed at the troll who wanted desperately to get me off track my face says, “I’m on to you and you will not ruin my day”.  And, miraculously,  it worked. Hallelujah! 


Picture Talk

The following class, I showed a picture of my wild family tree and we reviewed the details…I’d ask questions, they’d refer to the picture and answer. Things like: Is Bill or Robert my dad’s dad?  Did my dad and Cindy get married first or did my dad and Candy get married first? How many grandparents do I have that are alive? Who are my half siblings? Is it important for my students know that my Uncle Scott is my dad’s younger brother? No, of course not! Is it important for them to hear lots of family relationship words in context, yes! Yes it is!  After a bit of picture talk review, we played Señora Chase Family Trivia Kahoot just to give them more exposure to family relationships.

If you want do do something a bit more cultural, I love the painting “El baile” by Carmen Lomas Garsa, and in years past we’ve discussed the characters, how they’re related to each other and created a family tree. You might also want to play Art Memory with this one!


Family Note Taker

I didn’t want to give them a vocabulary list of all the family members…but I wanted them to have them accessible in their binders to reference, so I made a little NoteTaker for them to fill in with their family’s details… it worked well as a warm up and led in well to the next activity.

Muévete si and PQA

I love Muévete si (move if) to give them lots of input and get them moving around.  If you’re playing for the first time, write “Muévete si- Move if” on the board, and then give them a nice, slow, comprehensible statement. Give them a chance to digest the sentence, then start counting down from five to one. If the statement applies to them, they stand up and move to an empty seat. Say the statement really slow and then count fast because the panic and pandemonium of finding a new seat makes it fun!  Here’s a video of Muévete si if you want a visual.

Since you’re controlling the input, you get to focus on whatever vocabulary you want! The possibilities are endless (of course, pretend that they’re written in your target language!)

  • Move if you have more than 3 siblings
  • Move if you have a step mom or a step dad
  • Move if your grandparents live in California
  • Move if you have an uncle named Chris
  • Move if you don’t have any siblings
  • Move if you want another sibling
  • Move if you are your parent’s favorite child

Between sentences, ask questions to students who move…you know, the basics like “Joey, how many siblings do you have?” “I have an Uncle Chris too…where does your Uncle Chris live?” “Where in California do your grandparents live?” “Shelby, do you have an older or younger brother?”

One Word Image:

Tina Hargaden and Mike Peto taught me about One Word Images at Comprehensible Cascadia last summer and they’re another fun way to load them up with input and create together as a class.  Basically you start with 1 word, a student suggestion, and from there you create a character, which may or may not morph into a story.  Since I wanted to focus on family relationships, we created a family which ended up working beautifully in all my level 1 classes. By the end of the day, we had a family of potatoes, a family of turtles and a family of ketchup bottles:


Want to see how to craft a One Word Image…well, here you go! (Now this video below is a different class than the pictures above…and you’ll see that this class is especially chatty and I have to stop. and. refocus. them. a. lot.)

After we created a story, we wrote it out Write & Discuss Style while one student illustrated our family on Giant Post-It Easel Paper  with Mr. Sketch Markers (which make everything more fun, because they smell Ah-maz-ing!!)  Then in subsequent classes, we reviewed the class’s story and illustration then compared it to the other families that the other classes wrote. Strangely enough, every class always thinks their character is the best…and I agree with them every time! Don’t tell!  I popped the written stories into Textivate to create a low prep sub activity (Thanks Julie, best sub ever!) and then I put all the class stories into a Textivate Challenge to play on another day. (Speaking of Textivate: I have a love/hate relationship with it…I love it because it’s awesome to create a bunch of activities in very little time, but I hate it because there’s a steep learning curve! I’ve been playing with it all year, and just now I’d say I’m getting comfortable with it. Stay tuned, I’ve got a blog post in the works to demystify Textivate!)

Reading Quiz:

They’ve already got a listening quiz in the gradebook from the visual lecture, and I wanted to get a reading quiz in the books, so I typed up a short description of my hubby’s family for them to read.  I copied it on the back of an ACTFL Quick Quiz and they did a great job showing me what they could understand.

Familia Guess Who Game:

So… this game LOOKS like an output game, because the kiddos talk to each other….but there’s lots of scaffolding to make it manageable and the scaffolding is reading…so INPUT! (And boy do Administrators love to see students talking to each other in Spanish!)

Remember playing Guess Who?  This game is similar but the goal is to figure out your partner’s family tree. Pass out a copy of Familia Guess Who to each student. (Copy it back to back so the front and back of the paper looks identical.) Before you begin playing, you’ve got to make sure they are familiar with reading a family tree. Project this power point and walk them though the relationships. Have them point to the person to answer the questions on the first slide. Then they should take the list of names and name each person on the TOP family tree. They can just randomly decide who’s named what, BUT they should use girl names for the ladies and boy names for the guys or else it will make it really tough for their partner to figure out!!

Then, they partner up, face their partner, and take turns asking questions to their partner, to figure out their partner’s family tree. On the 3rd slide of the slideshow, there’s a prompt to help them formulate their questions. Leave that on the board while they play… see, they’re reading (input!) and then reading it out load (output) to their partner. Partner A asks a question, Partner B checks their family tree (TOP) and responds Sí or No. Partner A either writes a name on the BOTTOM family tree if he guessed correctly (or jots a note who it isn’t, to help them eliminate possibilities).  Then Partner B asks a question. They play until 1 person thinks they have the family tree figured out…then they compare. The winner (with most correct) brings me their stamp sheet for a stamp and if there’s still time, they flip it over and play again.

If your kiddos get good and you want to play again, (or if you want to review family relationships in upper levels) here’s a more complicated version of the family tree.

question, familia

La familia Rodriguez puzzle:

Tomorrow I’m excited to play La familia Rodriguez  a Family Tree Puzzle where students have to read the clues (yay, input!) and figure out how the Rodriguez family, a Peruvian family of Crime Lords, is related.

Well… that’s what we’ve done so far with familia. They’re feeling pretty comfortable with this vocab so there will be a Celebration of Knowledge around the corner! Not sure on the details, but it will follow the same format as our First Celebration of Knowledge . They’ll definitely be writing about their families and will demonstrate reading and listening comprehension…but I haven’t gotten that far yet!



  1. All of this is Amazing! I’m borrowing every single idea! I’m so super excited to do our family unit now! Thank you for the inspiration and breathing new life into something I was struggling to get creative with! Merci!


  2. ¡Eres tan generosa! Muchas gracias por todas las ideas. ¡Son fantásticas! Mañana haré mi primer Picture Talk con una de las pinturas de Carmen Lomas Garza. ¡Qué hallazgo esta artista! se me ocurren muchas actividades con sus cuadros. Tu blog es un gran apoyo para mi tarea diaria en el aula y siempre me deja pensando. ¡gracias, Anne Marie!


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