Every high school teacher knows Spring fever hits hard at all ages. Here are some new Spanish activities to try to get students still speaking in the target language, exploring the 5 Cs of culture and intercultural communication, and somehow absorbing valuable and comprehensible input — even in their sunshiney-prom-sequined-spring-fever brain fog.
Spanish Activities for Springtime
Here’s the roundup of great Spanish activities that work the best in the Spring. These first few are based on the holidays that come around in Springtime in Latinx culture. Sharing special holidays around the world is more effective than trying to do any activities about holidays students might already be celebrating around the school, like St. Patty’s day for example. Explore some of these traditions with your students instead!
Carnaval Activities for Spanish Class
The first set of Spanish activities for high school revolves around my FAVORITE time of year – Carnaval! It’s very early Spring usually. It’s widely celebrated across most Spanish-Speaking countries (the world really) and often lasts over a month, but with a few important culminating dates depending on the country’s specific celebration. For example, Panama has an elaborate beauty pageant, Mexico has an outrageous public water balloon fight, Colombia is famous for the annual parade in Barranquilla, so on and so forth.
Carnaval is usually centered around Fat Tuesday. At the time of this post, the dates are March 2nd for Fat Tuesday with important dates reaching through March and after. The Mardi Gras website for the US has a reliable calendar with far-reaching dates into when each Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) will be each year.
Project Ideas for Carnaval in Spanish Class
Every year, I used to do a cultural project in my Spanish class. Students could pick a country from this list:
- Colombia – Barranquila
- República Dominicana – Santiago, Santo Domingo, la Vega
- Cuba – Habana
- Bolívia – Oruro
- España – Aviles
- Puerto Rico – Ponce
- México – Mazatlán
- Islas Canarias – Santa Cruz de Tenerife
- Panamá – Ciudad de Panamá
- Argentina – Buenos Aires
- any others you research or like
Proyecto: you and 3 group members will pick a carnaval celebration from one of the Spanish-speaking countries that celebrates it. Each group will create a PPT or Prezi for their city/country’s celebration to present to the class.
- present the country in context
- info about this year’s celebration
- religious and folklore origins (carnaval is entirely based on each country’s folklore and national story)
- social origins (students here explore and discover that Carnaval is based on the culture of the enslaved peoples and repressed Indigenous populations expressing what was forbidden to express during the rest of the year. Dances, languages, gods under guise, and traditions that were supressed by slave owners and landowners flourished during Carnaval. It was seen as the only time where people could also speak out – in clandestine ways such as masks and meaningful skits and dances – against their societal oppression. This tradition continues today in many countries’ tradition of political and social parody in papier maché form.)
- masks and costumes (reflecting the above social, religious, and folkloric conditions) every city has their own variety – sometimes even distinguishable by city block!
- Spanish slide describing carnaval traditions in the target language (whole project can also be in Spanish as well – but I find the folklore/religious traditions is beyond Spanish 2 where I used to do this. I therefore went for a mixed approach of half Spanish half English research project)
Feel free to steal this project idea for your Spanish class – it took my students about a week with 2 days of presentations. (block class, Spanish 2, 90 minutes every day.)
Authentic Spanish Activities and Resources for Carnaval
After the project and students understood carnaval, we would dive deep into some authentic texts and focus back on our Spanish acquisition through the cultural products and practices. Here are some Spanish activities and tools I used to do it. These are all ready to use in your own classroom!
Studying and making cascarones is one of my favorite Springtime Spanish activities to do with high school students. Who doesn’t love cracking confetti over someone’s head? This tradition is popular in the Mexican community around both Carnaval and Pascua, Easter, and Semana Santa traditions. Not to mention it’s a huge part of US culture now. You can find them in most grocery stores around Easter time.
Here’s a digital cascarones activity to start exploring with your students. Many teachers who purchased this activity pair it with a craft activity to make cascarones in class as well.
In this cascarones high frequency verb reading, students first learn about how to make cascarones and then how people use them in celebrations during springtime. They then have several printable Spanish activities with cascarones to choose from – make your own, research how to make one and describe the steps, plan a cascarón attack so that no one suspects you, and more. It’s fun to see what students come up with.
Have a class party to make them with paper mache ones! It’s also fun as a self-study Carnaval or easter research project.
One of my go-to Spanish activities for high school is a virtual field trip – read more about how to make your own here and watch the free demo class. This is a great thing to try out to add some welcome novelty if you’ve never used Google Earth in class before. The format also allows students to explore a place on their own through Spanish authentic texts. Win-win!
Here are some virtual field trips with a springtime and carnaval focus:
This virtual field trip to Puerto Rico invites students to explore the island, as well as dive deep into the Carnaval traditions of Ponce and their characteristic masks. Various tour guides and cultural experts show off the folklore and artistry of Carnaval de Ponce.
This virtual field trip is a pride and joy – based off of the city where I lived during carnaval, Santiago de los Caballeros. Your students will get to experience the Dominican Republic during carnaval from the local point of view, and see several different characteristic masks from La Vegas famous diablos to los lechones in Santiago.
Hispanic Holidays in Springtime
Explore these holidays with students by doing picture talks. Simply google the holiday, throw some pictures on a slide deck, and start talking. You can ask students to guess what the holiday is about and whether they want to go there, and write some simple sentences or speak simple phrases about what they see in the pictures. BAYUM. An activity in 15 minutes or less. Can you tell I used to plan on the fly alot?
- Spring Equinox in Teotihuacán – people from all over the world come to the holiest city in Mexico to honor the equinox at the temple built especially for equinoxes and solstices.
- Iberamerican Film Festival, Bogotá, Colombia – huge film festival for Latinx and Iberox creators to share films of social impact
- Festival Internacional de Teatro (Caracas International Theater Festival). This festival brings together scores of troupes and companies from around the world and across Venezuela for a 2-week celebration of the theater arts. A variety of languages and countries are represented in both an indoor and outdoor festival. Begun nearly 30 years ago, this is the premiere theater festival in Latin America. I mean, talk about a great authentic text. Just get students to open this webpage and bam – picture talk. What do you see? What is the play about? Who is in it? Do you want to go see it? What country is it from?
- Semana Santa, Uruguay. During Holy Week, Uruguay shuts down. In Montevideo and the smaller cities, you’ll find gaucho-style barbecues all over the place. Think parades, local folk music, festival vibes – it’s a great time for students to explore.
- Martes de Challa in Peru — a spontaneous water fight throughout Peru that has merged with Carnaval.
- Snow Star Festival of Qoyllur Rit’i, Peru May every year on a remote Peruvian glacier. About 30,000 pilgrims converge here for a festival known as Qoyllurit’I with three days and nights of intense celebration with music and dancing. The culmination is a torch-lit procession over some 5000m passes. It’s a magical gathering of a multitude of Indigenous representatives, larger groups including Quechua and Aymara speakers, honoring the story of the protective mountains and sentient glaciers. This intense article with beautiful pictures shows climate change’s impact on how people still celebrate with vanishing glaciers.
- Las Fallas – A spectacle of art and fire that can’t be missed in Valencia, with the same tradition of humor and satire that only blowing things up could bring.
- Flamenco Festival, Jerez, Spain – I mean, the outfits. The dancing. Nuff said. February-March depending on the year.
How to Get Students Talking with Spring Fever
Assign your virtual students videos to record outside, like a walking tour of their neighborhood with directions.
Teaching a clothing unit? There’s no shortage of Spanish activities that high schoolers would like. Tiktok with spring outfits, a selfie slide show with prom guidelines for what and what not to wear, you name it.
Don’t fight prom fever either. Lean into it! How can you get your students to talk MORE about prom in Spanish? Who are they taking? What are they wearing? How much are the services they’re getting? (nails, hair, flowers, limos, etc)
Whenever class time spirals into what-are-you-wearing-to-prom time, don’t fight it. Just start writing prom words on the board, show them how to respond in Spanish, and start asking questions about prom in Spanish. That’s the beauty of world language – we GET to talk to them about what interests them!
What are their plans? Are they actually going to school or playing hookie that day?
Take your Spanish Class Outside!
Whenever you can, take students outside. You don’t always have to play a game or come up with new Spanish activities to do this. Just bring your lessons outside/computers outside.
For example, every day when I drop off my son at school, there’s an 8th grade class wearing masks all gathered together around a computer cart at picnic tables doing morning work. It’s covid-friendly and a nice change of setting for students. You can easily establish a routine of leaving backpacks in your room, lock the door, and only bring computers or devices outside.
The first few times will have lots of novelty, but trust your students. They’ll appreciate not being stuck indoors in beautiful weather. You’re going to have one or two who can’t handle it, but let’s be real – the five or six that have trouble focusing because they’re bored and do other stuff will benefit and focus so much. Not to mention all the studies about how much a change in environment can impact our ability to focus and retain information. Novelty is good!
Easter Ideas for Spanish Class
In addition to cascarones, there’s a ton of Semana Santa celebrations that happen in the Spanish-speaking world. It would be a great idea to do an Easter egg hunt themed activity where you break up simple exercises normally on paper into a hunt around the room.
Or an age-old comprehensible input game is hide and seek with an object, like an Easter egg hunt. You hide a certain outrageous object around the room (like a cute stuffed animal, beloved class mascot, someone’s hat, etc) and you give the designated seeker directions in the target language to find it. Tons of fun and input!
The last day before Spring break always coincided with Easter in the area where I taught, so I also liked to have something simple but still Spanish-oriented and relaxing for the few students that showed up. If you’re also looking for a Spanish Easter activity, check out this color-by-number Pascua set:
My high schoolers still enjoy the relaxing and reinforcing activity of coloring, and for those who don’t, there’s very simple designs. Anything relaxing, review-oriented, and still all about target language use is a great option for those strange ghost days right before breaks.
Try a New Spring Classroom Game
Games in Spanish class really help to keep up engagement and bring home the message that Spanish class is fun. There’s not a more important time to do this than quarter 3. Try out a new game or bring back in a game you haven’t used in a while. Have you ever tried Gimkit? It’s free, amazing, and many Spanish teachers already have templates that you can use. You can even assign games at home.
For more game ideas, check out this full post here on 10 games and activities for Spanish class.
Dos and Don’ts for Spring Spanish Activities
Be especially mindful of homework, projects, and assignments. Springtime is crazy loaded with ridiculous and (ineffective) state testing and pressure. Their other classes are very overloaded.
Q3 is where students dip the most in terms of attention span, effort, and achievement. It’s a rough combo of overload, not enough breaks, they’re over it and no end in sight.
Even though you might feel that March or April is too late in the year to introduce something new, it’s actually a great idea to introduce some novelty into your class. Novelty – when done right – can be the exact right cure to spring fever and the overall feeling that hits in April that this-whole-school-thing-will-literally-never-end.
How to Succeed with a New Classroom Routine in Spring
Here’s how to have success with a new idea, method, or routine:
- Try it a few days a week instead of announcing some new regime. Just jump in, but be sure to do it consistently for a few days before deciding whether it works or not.
- Pick something small and quick that has a lot of impact, like a new system for collecting materials, special person interview, or class passwords.
- Try a new game
- Sprinkle in a long-term project – based learning project if you normally do teacher-led classes.
Anything that switches up the pace and feel of class without throwing off already established routines is always a welcome addition to springtime world language.
I do NOT recommend trying these in the spring if you’ve never done it before. Don’t try these for the first time in spring fever:
- TPRS stories
- CI readers or FVR ( I tried mine in the spring with high schoolers and it was ROUGH. You’re welcome to prove me wrong though.) It did work with digital books last March, but not in-person instruction.
- Major classroom management changes like addition of classroom jobs (unless you’re in a block class, then anything is fair game)
Crazy Easy CI Spanish Activities:
Now that you know some do’s and don’ts for new stuff to try in Springtime (since adding novelty helps TREMENDOUSLY with spring fever), here are some of my favorite and easy comprehension-based teaching activities. You don’t really need any training or know-how to get started, just read some blogs and jump in. That’s why they are perfect Spanish activities for Springtime!
- Picture talks
- CI games like mafia
- Switching to 5 min popup grammar instead of lectures
Bonus Tip for CI Spanish Teachers
Thanks for spending your valuable teaching time learning with me today! If you’re looking for more help or ideas to add to your comprehensible input strategies, I have a free download for you below:
Have you ever wished the transition to proficiency were easier to do? Grab the FREE toolkit here to learn the framework for updating your practice to comprehensible input – without all the overwhelm – and prepare for the challenges ahead.
Free Conference for World Language Teachers
If you’re ready to jump in and get started with proficiency and teaching with comprehensible input, I have another resource to help you on your journey below:
Sign Up for the Next Practical & Comprehensible Free Virtual Conference! Every year, I gather together the best and brightest in the field of world language to share with you how to switch to proficiency through comprehensible input. All with practical ideas that you can use tomorrow. It’s a FREE virtual conference – join the waitlist and find out more about the speakers here.
Good luck with your spring fever and let me know how these activities go in your classroom! Rooting for you,