Sometimes, I accept reviews just out of curiosity, or because I want to know more about a product so I know if I should recommend it to families, or perhaps it looks like something we will have fun exploring in our family. When an opportunity came to review the Educator’s Spanish Collection by Whistlefritz, I knew it looked like fun, but I hoped it would also fill a need for our family in the coming school year (and spoiler alert: it’s perfect!).
I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve been diving deeper into trying to understand the Charlotte Mason way of schooling, and that I hope to apply many of her methods next school year. Mason advocated that children learn foreign language from a young age, beginning the way they would with their native language–hearing and speaking first, and eventually reading and writing. And, for my Form 1B (that’s first grade to us–he’s somewhere between Kindergarten and first in learning) kiddo, foreign language lessons should be very short and sweet. Mason began with French, in part because France was her nearest neighbor. As Californians, Spanish is going to be of lifelong benefit to my kids, so Spanish is where I’ve chosen to start, and Whistlefritz seems to meet all of my criteria!
Whistlefritz Spanish is an immersion-style program. The Educator’s Spanish Collection comes with 5 DVDs and 3 CDs, presented entirely in Spanish. The DVDs are particularly engaging, and where we spent most of our time so far. In the DVDs, the hostess and her animated mouse friend Fritzi, engage the audience with lively talk. The words are also printed on the screen, so children can see the words and hear them at the same time.
This program is recommended for kids age 1-7, and both of my kids (age 4 and almost 6) really did enjoy the DVDs. They enjoy the CDs, too, and I plan to make both a regular part of our Spanish rotation in this coming school year.
The Educator’s Spanish Collection comes with a lesson plan book, with 40 reproducible lessons. These lessons are detailed and useful, though it isn’t super clear when you would do which lesson with the DVDs. I expected to watch a DVD and follow up with a lesson. Instead, you actually can approach the lessons in the lesson plan book independently, and THEN, after doing the lesson, follow it up with the “extension activity”, which ARE clearly labeled and correlate with either the DVD or CD.
The activities in the lesson plan book are short and fun. For instance, in Lesson 3, “Fritzi’s Presents”, all the teacher info (objective, vocabulary, materials you need to start) is presented together in the top section. Then in the “Activities” section, the parent is given a script, so you know exactly what to say (good for those of us who have rusty foreign language skills!). First, you help students remember the names of colors, and then you talk about the numbers written on the game cards (that you can copy or print from online in color). The lesson then instructs the parent to place the cards into a bag and pull one out at random. With the help of the parent, the kids match the number from the bag to a separate card showing multiple presents drawn out. The kids then repeat on their own. Finally, there’s a “closure” section that helps you know what the children remember on their own, and then it ends with a fun Extension activity tied to the DVDs or CDs.
We have only dabbled with the formal lessons so far–as we go into making Spanish a regular part of our week, I think I will have the kids watch all of the DVDs first. Then we will add in the CDs, maybe in the car, maybe once a week as our Spanish lesson. And then, once the kids know and love Fritzi well, we will begin the lessons in the book in earnest, probably one lesson a week, along with the corresponding song or scene from the DVD.
The Educator’s Spanish Collection also comes with matching cards that are fun and can be used in a memory- or Go Fish- style game anytime.