La Tomatina: Resources for Novices

Because I’m teaching more classes than I ever have, and because I’m looking to simplify my teaching life all I can, I’ve been experimenting with taking a theme, squeezing it for all it’s worth, for all my Little Darlings. Right now we’re knee deep in La Tomatina de Buñol, and we’re talking tomatoes in Spanish 1, Spanish 4 and Heritage. Here’s what we’ve been doing in Spanish 1, feel free to grab anything and make it work for your Little Darlings. Stay tuned for the resources I’m using in Spanish 4 and Heritage, in my next post!

Spanish 1:

In Spanish 1, because 2021 was harder than 2020 and so far 2022 doesn’t look to be shaping up much better, I’ve had to make major shifts in the planning and teaching my Level 1s. You can read about the whole kit and caboodle here, but basically I’ve found that they listen much more carefully to recorded input than to Señora Chase Live…so they’re getting a lot of recorded input. Some from me, some from the super talented and generous people that share their videos with the rest of us mere mortals.

Lately I’ve been playing with creating “Close Listening” activities (That’s what I’m calling it today, maybe another day I’ll think of a cuter, cleverer name) where they listen to bite sized chunks of input, with a focus question or two. It’s divided over multiple slides and there’s room to include background info, unfamiliar vocabulary and the focus questions I mentioned, all to aid their comprehension and get the most bang for the CI buck, if you will. The other awesome thing about this strategy is that it is easy to cut out segments of the video that may be confusing or inappropriate for students.

I love Pablo Roman’s Tomatina Video…but I don’t need my students focusing on the alcohol content of the wine you drink before the Tomatina.

Soooo… Here’s the Close Listening version of the same video. And since my Spanish 1s do best when they have plenty to keep them focused, as we watched together as a class, they answer each focus question on this Notetaker.

Afterwards, we did a little Write and Discuss action on Mike Peto’s Book Template, talking about the changes the Pandemic has forced on the Tomatina. (Spoiler alert: They had a 3D virtual Tomatina in 2021!) I wrote on the board, students copied onto the book template and the following class reread, translated and illustrated. Tip: If you’ll have them read and illustrate on a different day, after they write, keep one to make a few copies for absent kids…and the ones who can’t find anything in the abyss of their backpacks!

I can’t handle the cuteness of this Coronavirus

Here’s the gist of the Write and Discuss:

  • Page 1: El último miércoles de agosto, se celebra La Tomatina en Buñol, España. La Tomatina es un festival muy grande con muchísimos participantes. Durante el festival, la gente se tira tomates por una hora.
  • Page 2: Generalmente, se celebra La Tomatina todos los años…pero en 2020 cancelaron el festival por la pandemia de coronavirus. La gente no pudo participar y muchos estaban muy tristes.
  • Page 3: En 2021, el pueblo de Buñol quería ofrecer La Tomatina otra vez…pero todavía había mucha gente enferma por el coronavirus. El pueblo de Buñol tuvo una idea: un evento virtual.
  • Page 4: Con un evento virtual, las personas pueden participar desde sus casas. Durante la Tomatina Virtual, las personas usaron las gafas Oculus Quest y se tiraron tomates virtuales. Planean una Tomatina tradicional (en vivo) este año.

Then of course, we had to watch this commercial, promoting last year’s Virtual Tomatina:

As a follow up, next week I have ready a video I made, including more information about La Tomatina…specifically a spin off event in nearby Reno, and touching on the controversial arguments of the Tomatina. Your kiddos might not be as excited about the Reno event as I think mine will be, but here’s my video, just in case:

(Or feel free to grab a copy of my slideshow to cut out the Reno part and substitute a similarly wild event from your area!)

If my current Spanish 1 Little Darlings were like my Spanish 1 Little Darlings of the Days of Yore, we’d definitely print out all out of this year’s Write and Discusses, copy them onto pink and red papers and throw them at each other (then read them!) Here are instructions for a similar “snowball fight” that we’ve done in the past, back before the pandemic turned my students into feral animals. (Last week, when my back was turned, one student stole another student’s shoe AND THEN PROCEDED TO PLAY KEEPAWAY WITH NEARBY STUDENTS. Lord Jesus, save us. )

Since we’re working hard on not throwing anything in my classroom this year, we will play Quizlet Live instead, matching sentence beginnings with sentence endings.

And if we weren’t gearing up for Locura de marzo, we’d totally learn and sing the Todo es del mismo color by Malsujeto. The song is catchy and the lyrics are clean (I mean…not literally clean, but as much as you could expect from a song about a tomato fight!)

Welp, that’s it. Hope you found something helpful to give your teaching a little boost or spark of inspiration! Standby for Intermediate Resources for the Tomatina later this week!

While we’re here, how’s your year going? My colleague described this year like this: We’re all playing golf, and we have to play golf, even if we don’t want to play golf, we just have to keep playing, but…the everything is on fire: the grass, the clubs, the ball everything is on fire Is this an apt description of your year? Or how would you describe yours?


  1. Thank you so much for all your creativity and sharing! The golf analogy is a good one – though I used to have a recurring dream of rolling out my bedroom window onto the road where suddenly I stopped and saw a set of headlights coming at me and I COULD NOT GET OUT OF THE WAY. That’s my 21-22 in the classroom. Just never know what’s coming at you and you can’t get out of the way…….thanks again and hang in there!


  2. You are a wonderful resource during this year from hell! Your colleague’s golf metaphor is so good. Also, my first thought was that a Tomatina-style snowball fight would be so fun with this, but am having the same problem with (at least some of my) kids going feral the minute I let my guard down! I might just do it anyway… Pray for me!


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