PRODUCT REVIEWS – Educator’s Spanish Collection
“Whistlefritz is a thoughtfully designed curriculum that is appropriate for use with young children . . . What I like most about this curriculum is that it is pedagogically consistent with the way that young children learn languages, as it focuses on playful, real-life use of the language over more formal activities such as worksheets and direct grammar instruction. I recommend it.”
Anne Guarnera, PhD in Spanish, Language Learning at Home
Whistlefritz is a foreign language curriculum (you can choose French or Spanish), for kids Pre-K–the early elementary grades. It focuses on teaching children languages using the immersion method, and the lesson plans work well for parents that may not know the language. Thus, you can learn right along with your students!
I reviewed the Whistlefritz Spanish Educator’s Collection, which is a multi-media collection of lesson plans, videos and music – the package is perfect for a homeschooling family. It includes a soft-cover book entitled Spanish Lessons for Kids (273 pages – so it’s quite substantial); 5 videos; 3 CDs; and a set of memory matching cards (fun!).
The Lesson Plans book is chocked full of fun lesson activities. It offers a scaffolded curriculum of forty reproducible lessons full of diverse, interactive, age-appropriate activities. Activities include making puppets, following recipes, conducting experiments, and playing board games.
In addition to Spanish, the curriculum includes cross-curricular lessons in math, science, and physical education. I really appreciate this!
The book reviews and expands upon vocabulary that is introduced in the videos, CDs, and Matching Cards, and allows educators (and students) the opportunity to explore in greater depth the themes and the vocabulary. For example, the vocabulary for various foods is introduced in the 30-minute video Adentro y Afuera. In Lesson Plans 26-31, up to four hours of instructional time is dedicated to food-related vocabulary. I really appreciate this coordination, and the opportunity to expand on a subject.
Also, the lessons flow in a logical progression of thematic units (Colors, Numbers, Shapes, Places, Around the House, Clothing, Seasons, Parts of the Body, Positional Words, Food, Family, Animals, and Descriptive Words), which again, I appreciate.
Included are play-based assessments, so you can evaluate your student’s progress.
T he videos (there are five of them) cover a multitude of age-appropriate topics. They include live action (real people), animation, lively music, the use of puppets, and much more. The adult character Maria is very likeable and fun to watch, and there are many kids in the videos – children love to watch other children. Plus, the opportunity to hear real people speak, helps in the learning process. The videos are very colorful and they are great for visual learners.
The 3 CDs allow your kids to cantar (sing), bailar (dance), and aprender (learn) along with Latin music. Songs cover topics such as letters, seasons, etc., and you’ll even hear a few melodies you already know (B-I-N-G-O!). You can play them at home or in the car.
The cards are for a matching game and include 50 Spanish verb cards. They provide a great way to learn Spanish, while also improving concentration and memory. The playing cards make learning a game – and as we all know, kids love games!
You can check out the graphic below to see how the different products inter-relate and enhance one another.
Want more reasons to consider Whistlefritz?
- The products are interesting and fun. Really – Whistlefritz programs are as entertaining as they are educational.
- Everything is cute. The logo, the mouse (waking up for his b-day is especially darling), the puppets (I especially like the bunny and the spider), etc.
- It’s an affordable product. You get quite a lot for your money.
- The company was founded by a Mom.
- The lessons were developed by professional educators with over forty years of combined teaching experience. It’s clear they knew (know) what they’re doing!
Interested in learning more? You can –
Ann Simpson, Homeschool.com
I haven’t written about it much on this blog, but once upon a time I taught high school French and Spanish, and two of my friends from my Masters teacher credentialing program still teach incredible Spanish language classes in Bay Area public high schools. Finding good language learning materials for young kids especially can be a challenge, so I was very happy to receive the Whistlefritz Educator’s Spanish Collection to review – particularly once I realized just how wonderful this curriculum is!
One of the biggest challenges for teaching a foreign language to kids is getting them engaged. the Whistlefritz videos captured the attention of all four of my kids, through music, animation, and storylines that can be followed even if you do not know the meaning of each word. All of the videos are entirely narrated in Spanish – no English! Research shows that this type of immersion teaching is the best way to learn a language. The videos have the same words repeated over and over within the storytelling and dialogue so that kids watching have multiple opportunities to work out what the word means by hearing it used in several different contexts. Hearing a word spoken over and over also helps learners understand how to pronounce the word. Songs written using melodies and rhythms found in several Spanish-speaking cultures are used to keep viewers engaged and learning. This program is actually the very first time I have seen this type of research-backed foreign language instruction through immersion done appropriately in a video context! I was so excited to find this series!!!
My kids really connected with the animated characters included in the videos, and six-year-old Johnny and five-year-old Lily especially have spent hours playing with the language cards that came with the set. Two-year-old Anna would watch the videos all day long if I let her, and all four of my kids are speaking some Spanish now! The collection also included a book full of written activities for kids, and I plan to do those this summer with the kids, once they are out of school and have more time at home.
I highly recommend this program for anyone looking to teach children Spanish, either as a homeschool language learning curriculum or as after school enrichment or in a traditional classroom setting. This is by far the best language learning program I have seen for elementary school aged children!
My kids and I recently discovered “Whistlefritz.” I am in LOVE with this product! As a former elementary school teacher, this is one of the most all-inclusive and user-friendly language curriculums I have ever come across. It is engaging and fun and easy to use, even if you are not a native speaker.
My children immediately fell in love with Fritzi and were very excited to watch him go on all his adventures. As someone who was not familiar with an “immersion program,” I was amazed at how quickly my kids started picking up words and calling them out, even though there was no English translation.
The curriculum that came with the DVDs was very easy to follow and even had cross-curricular elements to it. The games, printables, flashcards and worksheets were all included in the curriculum with very clear instructions that could be adapted for classroom or home use; making it very easy to prepare each lesson. I was so impressed with this product and will definitely be recommending it to all of my family and friends. What a wonderful find!
Meghan Stalford, Home Education Magazine
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might know that I homeschool my children. What you may not know is that they are half Mexican-American. My husband, their father, speaks fluent Spanish, as does his entire family. I do not, and neither do my children. We have been looking for a way to change that, and as a result, we have tried a few different curriculum’s. To date, nothing has felt quite right for our family.
Recently, however, I was offered the chance to review ‘Whistlefritz Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids.’ (I received the series to facilitate this review). The collection consists of a book containing 40 lessons, Spanish Matching Cards, five DVD’s (The Seasons, Animals, Learning Songs, Inside and Out, and Let’s Play) and two CD’s (Fritz’s Party and Cha Cha Cha).
The first thing my husband did was to put in a DVD for the children. It was ‘The Seasons‘ or ‘Las Estaciones.’ Because these DVD’s teach by immersion, you will not hear English translations. Instead, language learning is done through demonstrations, songs, and both cartoons and live-speakers. Children are encouraged to repeat certain phrases, and if they are like my children, they will try to sing along, even if they don’t quite know the words yet!
One thing that I noticed and really liked about the DVD’s is that a real person speaks the words and phrases. Maria, the speaker, speaks slightly slower than a normal speaking speed, making it easier to follow along. She also enunciates enough to make it easier to hear correctly. Other DVD’s that we have used have been way too fast, or they don’t enunciate, which gets the kids (and me!) confused about whether ‘Verde‘ is said with a ‘v’ or a ‘b’, etc.
If you are worried about the movies not having any English, don’t! Included with the DVD’s is a short translation guide that covers all the words and phrases specific to each DVD and CD. The CD’s and DVD’s can be used by themselves, or they can be used in some of the lessons from the Lesson Plan book. For instance, lessons 16, 17 and 18 deal with learning about the seasons and also includes watching the DVD as an extension activity.
My favorite part of this curriculum is the ‘Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids‘ book.Each lesson is well thought out and includes an activity for the children to do. Activities vary from coloring, to working with flashcards, to graphing, and much more. Because this series is targeted to children from ages 1-7 (though my 8 year old still happily participated – and learned a lot!), these activities make the learning fun, and it keeps them interested.
Because there are 40 lessons, this curriculum would be perfect to do for a school year, with one lesson each week. The flashcards that are part of some lessons, combined with the Spanish Matching Cards, make a great refresher and practice throughout the week. The great thing about this collection is that each product can be used to enhance the others, or they can be used alone.
The Whistlefritz Spanish Curriculum is a wonderful way to get kids started on the pathway to learning Spanish. As with anything worth doing, it does still take work. Parents need to participate with their children, facilitate the lessons, and ensure that their children are grasping the language. For their part, my children did enjoy the lessons, in particular the activities and Fritz the mouse. As a parent, I loved that this curriculum is reusable. I can use it now with my older two, and again later when my 9 month old is ready to learn. This will take kids who have never uttered a word of Spanish and turn them into kids who can use basic Spanish to communicate.
Even if your family is nothing like mine, and you don’t have any native Spanish speakers, I think we can all agree that learning another language is very important. Some version of Spanish is spoken in over 20 countries and there are over 37.6 million Spanish speakers in the U.S. alone. That number grows every year, and more and more jobs are requesting Spanish speakers. Learning to speak Spanish at a young age is great preparation for life!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
Renae at More Than Mommy, www.mtmommy.com, October 13, 2013
Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids from Whistlefritz
I am so pleased that Whistlefritz has created lesson plans to use with their wonderful videos and songs. This award-winning company is known for engaging, effective materials to teach children Spanish. Now, in the new book Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids, they offer a pre-K and early elementary curriculum. With an emphasis on speaking and listening, these 40 lessons create a rich language-learning experience as children use Spanish in carefully designed hands-on activities and games.
You can learn more about Spanish Lessons Plans for Kids and download a sample lesson on the Whistlefritz website. The curriculum is also available on Amazon.
These are a few of the features I like best about Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids.
Emphasis on hands-on learning
These lessons are designed so that children spend a significant amount of class time hearing and using the language as they do hands-on activities like crafts, sorting, coloring, and playing games. Each class begins with a short review and the introduction of new vocabulary. Next, the teacher models the activity, which provides exposure to the new words in context. Then, as children do the activity themselves, the teacher continues to provide comprehensible input.
I like the percentage of class time that the Whistlefritz curriculum dedicates to hands-on learning; it is the most effective way for children to engage with Spanish. By keeping the review and initial input short and focused, and devoting more time to carefully designed activities, the Whistlefritz lessons make the most of a child’s energy and attention span. Through spiraling lessons, the Whistlefritz curriculum also incorporates review into the hands-on learning. This maximizes the effectiveness of class time without sacrificing necessary repetition.
The materials for the activities support all the key vocabulary with pictures, so a few of the lessons require quite a bit of cutting. Everything you need to cut out is provided (except for some magazine pictures), but if you have a big class, you will want to be sure to leave preparation time.
If you have seen the Whistlefritz DVDs, you know that they are fabulous language learning products. Some of these lessons include a video clip to show at the end of class. I have to say, this almost feels like cheating! Having the DVD is like having a magic second act – a team teacher who comes in and reinforces exactly the right material, is wonderfully entertaining and never uses more than her share of class time.
Although the lessons stand on their own, having the video creates an excellent learning experience. It also takes pressure off teachers and parents to provide all the input. In addition, the DVDs can be used at any time as an efficient, effective and fun way to reinforce what kids have learned.
If you are not familiar with the Whistlefritz videos, you can learn more about them in this post: Las Estaciones by Whistlefritz.
Language support for teachers and parents
The lesson plans include what teachers will say to children in Spanish as they interact and explain activities. The English translation is also provided. This is great support for teachers and parents who are not sure of the most natural way to create comprehensible input and give instructions in Spanish.
Concise, compact, presentation
The lessons and all the reproducibles are in one book, so it is easy to find what you need to copy. Any additional materials you need are clearly listed, as are suggested picture books.
Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids is a complete curriculum, but would also be an excellent supplement to an existing program. These lessons, with the focused activities and games, would be useful to anyone teaching young Spanish learners.
The Whistlefritz book Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids is a valuable addition to the growing collection of resources for teaching Spanish to children. Using engaging activities, the lessons introduce basic Spanish and then spiral through the material to ensure that children retain what they learn. The well-structured curriculum can be adapted to different schedules and would be excellent for home school families. To learn more about Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids and the available DVD and book collections, explore the Whistlefritz website.
Jennifer Brunk, Spanish Playground, October 2013
Developed by professional educators, Whistlefritz uses live speakers in fun skits, games, catchy music, and dance to teach kids Spanish. Their newest product, Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids, is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers who are looking for a complete program to use at home. The set comes with a complete collection of DVDs and CDs to accompany the lesson manual, which contains 40 lessons that engage children in fun, interactive, ageappropriate activities, such as creating puppets, following recipes, conducting experiments, and playing board games. In addition to Spanish, the curriculum includes cross-curricular lessons in math, science, and physical education. The lessons flow in a logical progression of thematic units (Colors, Numbers, Shapes, Places, Around the House, Clothing, Seasons, Parts of the Body, Positional Words, Food, Family, Animals, and Descriptive Words), culminating in a fiesta!
Monica Olivera, @LatinMami, NBCLatino.com, August 21, 2013
As a Spanish teacher and mother raising bilingual children, I am always searching for resources to support my children and students’ language abilities. I was absolutely thrilled to be given the chance to review Whistlefritz’s newly released Educator’s Collection! This comprehensive collection includes the Spanish for Kids DVD series, music CDs, a Spanish Immersion matching card game, and an extensive book that contains original Spanish lesson plans for kids and innovative activity pages. The collection is indispensable for providing children and students with educational activities to further their knowledge and understanding of Spanish. My children absolutely loved the captivating and enchanting DVDs! These award-winning episodes are well made and fascinated my children! They are their favorite DVDs, and my boys want to watch them repeatedly. The immersion method, which is essential for the learning of a new language, is used. I especially appreciate the consistent use of comprehensible input throughout the video. The Spanish is clear and easy to understand, with the repetition of new words and phrases guaranteeing that children will learn while watching. The songs in the videos encourage the children to participate and sing along, but for my boys the fun and loveable mouse Fritzi was the star of the show.
We very much enjoyed the up-beat songs on the CDs, which include some traditional Latin tunes as well as some new songs. The award-winning singer and songwriter Jorge Anaya create music that is easy to learn and fun for singing and dancing along with. A songbook is included which contains the lyrics and translation for the songs in the DVDs and on the CDs. Music is one my family’s favorite ways to learn Spanish, and the Whistlefritz CDs are our favorites!
The memory matching cards game was great fun for the whole family! My boys loved the cleverly illustrated action cards, and my five year old took great pride in reading the verbs under each drawing. Playing together was a fun way to learn and review new words all while interacting in Spanish.
By far my favorite part of the Educator’s Collection is the compilation of Spanish lesson plans. The activity-based curriculum will be invaluable for teaching both my sons and my students. The content-based units and cross-curricular lesson plans provide excellent ideas for furthering the understanding and speaking abilities of the students in my classes. I especially love the materials and worksheets that can be copied and used in the classroom and at home.
I highly recommend Whistlefritz’s Educator’s Collection for parents and teachers who are committed to raising bilingual children. This multi-media collection provides interactive, handson language-learning activities, video, and music that will significantly enhance the learning in the classroom and in the home.
Spanglishbaby.com, July 16, 2013