MOUNTAIN SHADOWS MONTESSORI_October 2015Each Tuesday and Thursday morning, there’s an enthusiastic buzz that comes from the Mountain Shadows library as Elementary students work on their conversational Spanish skills with new Spanish teacher Kirsten Thomas.

At first you think, this doesn’t sound like the Spanish class I took, this teacher is talking with students, and not at them, and they’re laughing! And why is the game they’re playing sound so familiar?

That’s because Señora Kirsten spends her time in conversational lessons of the language and not the grammatical. She introduces concepts (family, colors, school supplies, basic conversation, etc.); the children first listen, and then spend time on comprehension, then in oral production.

20160204_094945Once they can identify the vocabulary, she brings the lesson into a familiar game.  During the very first class, children played Pato, pato, ganso, (or duck, duck, goose!). You can walk through the library on any given day and hear children playing Vaya a Pescar (Go Fish), Memoria (The Memory Game), and Loteria (Bingo). You may even hear them sing, “¿Que colores veo?” or, “What Colors Do I See?”

“The children get so excited and it’s contagious,” she said. “It’s been a great transition. I had the foundation from teaching both Spanish and ESL classes, and the materials were already at Mountain Shadows, so it’s been a great fit.”

Students may also choose to incorporate Spanish into their follow up work. In those instances Señora Kirsten will guide them in a Project. She recently worked with students on El Día
de los Muertos masks and helped the Elementary I class incorporate Spanish into the play they performed during the Winter Celebration performances.

“It’s fun to create as you go.”

What more can we learn about Señora Kirsten?

Kirsten ThomasDescribe yourself in a nutshell: I grew up in Boulder, and attended Nederland Elementary and Boulder High before going to the University of Oregon. After taking Spanish in high school I spent two summers in Ecuador and in Oaxaca (Amigos de las Américas). I traveled extensively and now have two very adventurous children (an 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son) who attend Pioneer Elementary.

What do you like to free time: What free time? I have two children, a dog, and three jobs!

Hobbies: Travel!  I participated in Amigos de las Américas in Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, and Chile. I joined the Peace Corps after college and spent two years in Honduras.  I’ve traveled through Nepal and Thailand; worked with Americorps in Lafayette and the Red Cross following Hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua. I returned to Boulder in 2000 to work on my master’s degree at the University of Colorado.

Which books are on your nightstand? The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories and The list of my Desires.

Your guilty pleasure is: Binge-watching Downton Abbey

What’s always in your refrigerator: Almond milk and apples

What was your favorite movie as a young person? Stand By Me.

People would be surprised if they knew: I once lost a tooth in the White House. (when I was 12 and on a tour there!).

If you could be any color Crayola crayon, what would it be and why? Teal: I find teal to have a lot of depth but it’s also soothing and soulful.

What are most of your online searches for? Recipes. I love the blog, “Use Real Butter” penned by a freelance photographer in Nederland.

Pet Peeve: Walking through the cleaning aisle at grocery stores; I don’t like the chemical smell or over-perfumed things.

You never turn down: A walk on a beach.

What made you laugh at MSMS this week? We have a joke that keeps coming around.  El papa is father and papa is potato, so the children will sometimes mix them up and they find it so funny!

P.S. I am crazy, crazy about dogs and have a 2-year-old golden retriever named Meadow.

Spanish in the Elementary Classroom