PRODUCT REVIEWS – Las Estaciones – The Seasons

I just watched the Whistlefritz Spanish for Kids DVD – Las estaciones. It is so well done! I am going to explain why I liked it, in detail, but I understand that some of you want just the basics and to know if the product is a good investment.

The DVD is intended to introduce kids ages 2-7 to basic Spanish related to the seasons. María is explaining to her friend Fritzi the mouse when his birthday will be. The video moves through the seasons, presenting key vocabulary for each and supporting it with great images. This is an entertaining video that your kids will love, and it will teach them lots of Spanish. The presentation is clear with plenty of repetition, so that kids will not feel overwhelmed. To balance that, there is enough content to keep them interested and learning as they watch the video over and over. The DVD comes with a translation for parents. Is it a good investment? The answer is an enthusiastic ¡Claro que sí! It is an excellent investment for anyone who is teaching children Spanish.

That was the short answer. When I recommend great Spanish language materials however, I feel compelled to explain what makes them effective. This is partly my excitement at how it is done. Also, I think that the more parents and teachers understand about how kids learn language and see the different ways material can be presented well, the more effective we become working with kids learning Spanish. Plus, what is the fun of having your own website if you cannot indulge your obsessions?

The Whistlefritz DVD – Las estaciones might seem like a straightforward introduction to the seasons in Spanish, but it is very carefully created to help children learn language. The idea of immersion depends on combining the Spanish children hear with enough visual support that they truly understand what is being said. This is not always easy to do in person, and yet at Whistlefritz they have found a way to make immersion work on video.

This DVD presents kids with 30 minutes of entertaining, natural Spanish that they will understand. This immersion works because the images are carefully crafted to exactly support the language that the children are hearing, and there is enough repetition to let them associate the two.

The people at Whistlefritz manage this by creating captivating animation that exactly conveys the meaning of the Spanish you hear. They also use lots of fun live action footage of children playing to illustrate actions like tirar bolas de nieve (throw snow balls) and nadar (swim). They combined these video sequences with songs to make the repetition of the images and the language natural and entertaining. The live-action video and animation create an experience where everything children see reinforces the meaning of the Spanish. There is nothing extraneous, and nothing to distract from the meaning. The language is equally focused. Everything children hear relates to what they see. There is no extra, distracting language that would be meaningless without a context for understanding it.

In addition to the carefully crafted images, this DVD effectively combines the visual potential of video with the support that you get from a good teacher in a class. María, the narrator, is Fritzi’s friend. She is happy, enthusiastic and very genuine. Although she is not formally introduced as a teacher that is the role she plays. And Maria is not just any teacher -she is an amazingly effective teacher. Her gestures and expressions perfectly communicate what she is saying. Her voice is lovely and she uses it to best advantage. As you will see, each time María says niños, she will have the children’s attention. She clarifies and repeats, focuses the attention of the children and engages them so that they participate. The content of the DVD is excellent in any case, but María’s interctions and support help children get the most out of the video.

This DVD is intended for children ages 2-7. I assume the upper age range of seven takes into account the concept of seasons and what is considered visually engaging at different ages. In terms of language learning, this DVD would be just as effective for older children or adults learning Spanish. In fact, adults could learn more useful Spanish from Whistefritz than from many products geared to older learners.

Those are just some of the reasons this video works. You would not believe how much I left out! Your kids will just think it is fun, but you will appreciate how much they learn. Is it a good investment? Yes, Whistlefritz Spanish for Kids DVD – Las estaciones is a great investment for children, or anyone, learning Spanish. Enjoy!

Spanish Playground

I took Spanish for five years combined in middle and high school. I am struggling to remember what I learned now, as an adult, and constantly wonder, “What would my fluency be like if I had begun learning Spanish at a young age?!”

There is a unique immersion-based program for kids that introduces the Spanish language to them at a young and impressionable age: It’s called Whistlefritz.

What does immersion mean? Whistlefritz DVDs are completely presented in Spanish. It allows children to hear solely the Spanish language spoken to them, albeit in a well-enunciated and slow manner. Vocabulary words are intermingled in as new words are introduced, and verb tenses are used in an applied sense. With context clues and repetitive phrasing, kids will easily be able to put together the conversations on their own.

The cute little animated animal characters provide entertainment, and the hostess/presenter allows plenty of time for child involvement and interaction as you watch the DVDs. Translation guides are included with every title in the Whistlefritz collection.

Whistlefritz sent over their newest DVD, Las Estaciones, for us to preview and test out in our home. The seasons of the year are discussed in great detail as we journey through them until we arrive at fall, the season that holds Fritzi’s birthday.

Whistlefritz also sent over the “Cha, Cha, Cha” musical CD, containing upbeat and lively songs from award-winning singer/songwriter Jorge Anaya. Lyrics tell about days of the week, seasons, fruit, and much more!

It’s no surprise to me that Whistlefritz has already won numerous awards and recognitions, including Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Audio-Video Award and the Parent’s Choice Silver Award. Immersion is arguably one of the most effective ways to teach little ones another language, and Whistlefritz does this spectacularly well.

We will definitely be using Whistlefritz products in our homeschooling this coming school year! (Whistlefritz also offers downloadable lesson plans for homeschooling! Check it out!)

Muse Reviews

Whistlefritz came out with their latest DVD all about seasons! I was excited to review this movie with my kids. It goes over each season of the year as a little mouse tries to figure when his birthday is! I have always been impressed with Whistlefritz and all its products. This DVD did not disappoint.

My kids’ loved all the footage of children jumping in leaves, splashing in the pool, dancing in the rain and playing in the snow. The music from the CD’s, A Bailar andCha, Cha, Cha, were integrated in the movie, as well as some new songs. By far, my kids’ favorite part was when the Fritzy dressed up like a ghost for Halloween. They giggled so much and wanted to watch that part again 🙂 I love how they taught vocabulary for each season, like different Halloween costumes.

I love how in every Whistlefritz DVD there is so much repetition that even children who know very little Spanish can follow along. They pair it with fun clips of children, catchy music and then the animated Fritzy. I think I would put Whistlefritz’ DVD collection as my top recommendation for young children to be introduced to Spanish.

Wannajugarwithmigo

Fritzi, a charming little gray mouse, is having a birthday — but which season is it in? Fritzi, his friend Maria, and a group of fun-loving kids sing and dance throughout the seasons as they
learn Spanish words. The songs, with lyrics and music by the accomplished Jorge Anaya, are catchy and singable. “Las estaciones” is broken up into verses which accompany segments about each season. The combination of cartoon animation and real children in different environments — winter, autumn, summer, spring — is colorful and engaging, and will hold the attention of young viewers. The repetition of Spanish words in context reinforces word meanings and uses, and the interactive format will be familiar to fans of Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go. Included with the DVD is a translation guide that includes song lyrics as well as the words and phrases used in the spoken sections. Preschool children and kindergarten students will be amused by Fritzi and will find the appealing songs an easy way to learn some essential Spanish phrases related to the seasons.

School Library Journal

Dove AwardA charming, bright and colorful DVD for the younger set! The music is lively and engaging and we are taken through each of the seasons the Spanish way. Those who desire to learn the language will be drawn into this delightful journey as well as little ones with Spanish as their primary language! We are happy to award our Dove “Family-Approved Seal for all ages” to this upbeat DVD.

The Dove Foundation

Review of Las Estaciones (The Seasons) Spanish DVD and Cha, Cha, Cha, Spanish Music CD

Mr. Dad AwardResearch shows that children who learn a second language exhibit more flexible thinking and creativity, have stronger listening skills, and score better on standardized tests. And what dad wouldn’t want that for his kids? The Whistlefritz programs (DVDs and CDs) use a playful combination of live-action, animation, music, skits and more to start exposing your children to Spanish. And the Whistlefritz folks know that parents are the best teachers, dads (and moms) are encouraged to participate as well. It’s a great way to have fun with the kids–and you’ll learn a little something too. Ages 3 years and up.

Mr. Dad

PreS-K–Fritzi, a charming little gray mouse, is having a birthday–but which season is it in? Fritzi, his friend Maria, and a group of fun-loving kids sing and dance through the seasons as they learn Spanish words. The songs, with lyrics and music by the accomplished Jorge Anaya, are catchy and singable. “Las estaciones” is broken up into verses which accompany segments about each season. The combination of cartoon animation and real children in different environments–winter, autumn, summer, spring–is colorful and engaging, and will hold the attention of young viewers. The repetition of Spanish words in context reinforces word meanings and uses, and the interactive format will be familar to fans of Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go. Included with the DVD is a translation guide that includes songs, lyrics as well as the words and phrases used int eh spoken sections. Preschool children and kindergarten students will be amused by Fritzi and will find the appealing songs an easy way to learn some essential Spanish phrases related ot the seasons.

Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary School, Tacoma, WA

Spanish words associated with the four seasons are introduced in this lively Spanish-language-immersion title, in which host Maria speaks entirely in Spanish (with keywords captioned onscreen). Maria enthusiastically demonstrates meanings (e.g., hugging herself to indicate that “it’s cold,” hace frío) and repeats key terms in call-and-response activities with a group of cheery multicultural youngsters. Including live-action clips of youngsters enjoying familiar seasonal activities and brightly colored animation, the film moves from mouse Fritzi’s birthday party to an introduction to the four seasons. Maria, shown against a cartoon background, discusses each season before viewers are treated to footage of children sledding (for el invierno), playing in the rain (for la primavera), and more. The footage is backed by music, songs, and sound effects. Includes a brochure with Spanish and English terms and phrases. This engaging program is perfect for both school and home settings. See also Spanish for Beginners: Vamos a Jugar (Let’s Play), also from Whistlefritz.

Eloise Kinney, Booklist, published by the American Library Association