Most Spanish instructors tackle teaching family member nouns after their students have learned a few basic verbs, such as "ser," "estar," "tener" and how to conjugate -ar verbs. This activity introduces family-related vocabulary while refining and reinforcing the proper use of descriptive verbs.
Start by introducing family member vocabulary to the entire class, writing each word on the board and having the class practice the pronunciation together. While you're at it, review the meaning and conjugations of the verbs ser, estar, tener and trabajar.
Have students draw their family tree on a blank sheet of paper. They should start with both paternal and maternal grandparents, if possible, and work their way down to the present. Ask them to draw a rough sketch of each person's face to accompany their name on the paper--the sketch doesn't have to be fancy--and write the appropriate family member noun beneath the sketch: abuelo, abuela, madre, padre, tía, tío, and so on. If all you want to do is reinforce basic family vocabulary, go straight to the "Discussion" section. If your students are capable of a bit more, go on to the "More Advanced" section.
Have your students take out a second sheet of paper and list the following information for each family member, using complete Spanish sentences:
- Where s/he is from
- Describe her/his personality and physical appearance
- Current location
- Where s/he works
This should take about fifteen minutes.
Pair students up, and have them take turns asking each other (in Spanish, of course) about each other's family members. Depending on your students' ability level, you may want to write question prompts on the board, such as ¿De dónde es...? or ¿Cuántos años tiene...? For more advanced students, leave them to it and circulate to offer personal assistance as needed. Make sure they cover all five of the topics for at least a couple of family members, and take turns asking questions and answering. To wrap up, go around the room and have each pair recite a quick question and answer session for the class, then ask the class questions to check their listening comprehension.
Any time you can tie previously learned verbs to new vocabulary, it's a great teaching moment. You may even get some memorable descriptions of various family members to help your students remember the activity. This activity is appropriate for middle school students and up.
- Source: Author's own experience