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El Cuerpo: A Lesson Plan for Spanish Class

written by: Courtney Crass • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 8/2/2012

These lesson plans and fun activities on el cuerpo can be adjusted for all age groups. Using fun and easy activities, a class can quickly cover many body vocabulary and be able to remember them easily. This lesson plan includes a materials list and suggested vocabulary terms for practice.

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    Basic Body Vocabulary

    Body related vocabulary is especially useful when learning a foreign language. Whether you need to make a doctors visit or just want to relay a story, being able to have a basic body vocabulary is extremely useful. This lesson plan and fun activities on el cuerpo will help you to teach the subject effectively and efficiently. In order to teach this lesson you must have enough butcher paper for all of your students and some markers for drawing on the butcher paper. You will also need a whiteboard and index cards with the vocabulary terms on them.

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    1. First, introduce the words to your students. Using your white board, write the words and their English translations and have the class repeat them to you. You can also draw a stick figure on the board and label the body parts as you go along. A suggested word list would include the following words:

    la cara- the face

    los ojos- the eyes

    los orejas- the ears

    la boca- the mouth

    la nariz- nose

    el cuerpo- the body

    el mano- the hand

    el pecho- the chest

    la espalda- the back

    la rodilla- the knee

    las nalgas- the butt

    la cintura- the waist

    la cabeza- the head

    el pie- the foot

    las piernas- the legs

    el cuello- the neck

    los hombros-the shoulders

    el brazo- the arm

    el codo- the elbow

    el estómago- the stomach

    los dedos del pie- toes

    los dedos- fingers

    Have them point to where the body part is as they chant along with you for practice.

    2. Next, start practicing the vocabulary. Do this using a quick game of “Teacher says" using “El maestro dice…" if it is a younger class, or “El professor dice…" if it is a college age class. Go slowly and ease into it. This game is especially good for younger students, but works well with the older students also. By making them move and physically touch the body part, it reinforces the vocabulary and gets them to think of the word in just Spanish without translating into English first. If you have more time, feel free to use one of the extension activities and modifications below for additional practice.

    3. Following the game of "Teacher says", have the students sit down for more practice. Make students turn over any books or papers they have on their desks or tables for a final review of “el cuerpo" vocabulary. Using index cards or flash cards with the vocabulary words on them (English on one side, Spanish on the other), ask for the English translation of Spanish words at first. Then switch and ask for the Spanish translation of English words.

    4. A final way to review the vocabulary is with the song "Cabeza, Hombros, Rodillas y Dedos del pie" or "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes". It should be sung to the same tune as the English song. The lyrics are as follows:

    "Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y dedos del pie,

    rodillas y dedos del pie

    Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y dedos del pie

    rodillas y dedos del pie

    Ojos y orejas y boca y nariz,

    Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y dedos del pie

    rodillas y dedos del pie.

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    Extension Activities

    1. If you have the time for further practice, an activity that works well with groups of all ages is to make physical outlines of their bodies and label them. Divide the class into partners and give each pair a piece of butcher paper and a marker. Using the marker, have them trace the outline of their partner's body onto butcher paper. They can then label the different body parts in Spanish and English for a more hands on approach to language learning.

    2. The "Teacher says" activity can also be expanded to make it a student-centered activity. Divide the class into groups of five. Each group can then play "Teacher says" as a group with the winner of each round getting to be the teacher in the next one.

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    Assessments for this lesson and activities on "el cuerpo" can be made through:

    • Observation
    • Class participation during song and games
    • Drawings