Spanish English Bilingual Picture Book and Giveaway

I love Samantha Vamos’s bilingual picture book, The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred. It got me thinking of a fun way to learn the Spanish words in the book using Total Physical Response or TPR.


Let me explain.

Remember how your own child learned to speak? First, she listened and watched you. It took months but then, she spoke, and started approximating language?

Stephen Krashen’s research shows that we learn second languages in a similar way. The Total Physical Response (TPR) method of teaching a foreign language, based on Krashen’s research and developed by Dr. James Asher, asserts that visual and listening comprehension must be developed before speaking occurs. Ever hear someone say, “I can understand Spanish but can’t speak it well.” That’s how our brains work – we absorb language and try to “codebreak” it in our brains. TPR tries to recreate this listening and watching process like we do as infants.

So, TPR activities involve moving the body while learning foreign words or phrases. Remember Cynthia’s lesson on French words? She showed the kids a picture, said the word, and taught a action. That’s TPR and it’s a great start for learning a foreign language, combined with direct instruction and such.

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred

In this rhythmic story, The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred, Vamos writes a cumulative tale about making arroz con leche (rice pudding.) Throughout the story, she introduces nouns in Spanish, which, because of her format, repeat as she adds on. Vamos says she was inspired by This is the House that Jack Built.

“This is the duck

that went to the market

to buy the sugar

to flavor the leche

made fresh by the vaca

while teaching the cabra

that churned the crema

to make the mantequilla

that went into the cazuela that the farm maiden stirred.”

As you read the story and encounter a Spanish word, say it and act it out. Each time you come to that word, say it and act it out.

For example, you could pantomine drinking when you say “leche” or act like a goat when you say “cabra.”

Book Extensions:

Reread the book and add props to your actions.

Play “Simon Says” to practice the new Spanish words.

Activity and Discussion Guide. (printable, includes picture word cards.)


The folk-art illustrations, by Rafael Lopez, should all be framed, they’re stunning, don’t you think? The way he blends bold colors, . . . genius! He’s well known for Book Fiesta!, My Name is Celia, the 2008 poster “Voz Unida” for the Obama campaign and seven U.S. Postal Service stamps.


Comment below and you’ll be entered to win a copy of this gorgeous, bilingual story! Winner will be selected at random. Contest ends March 19, 2010.


Reading On the Go!

The Rights of the Reader (you and your child)

A Library Card of My Own


  1. says

    Dear Imagination Soup (and Melissa): Thank you for a wonderful post. The farm maiden and I thank you. I will just add that in the Activity & Discussion Guide linked on my website there are flashcards featuring 16 illustrations and word in both Spanish and English. The flashcards could be part of a word recognition game. So glad you like Rafael’s paintings. I love them, too. All best, Samantha

  2. says

    This book looks beautiful! My girls have always liked me to read bilingual books to them (even though I am not very good at Spanish accents), so this book is especially intriguing to me. Thanks for a great post as well. I love that TPR involves movement!

  3. Robin says

    The flow of the writing, along with the vocabulary make this an enjoyable book. Oh, and wonderfully vibrant pictures!

  4. says

    I can’t wait to read this book now that I have move of a glimpse of it! This is one I’m sure to buy, but if I can win it I will be able to gift the one I buy! The illustrations are amazing. So far I love the verse.

  5. says

    It looks beautiful. My 5-year-old loves reading Cat in the Hat in Spanish and English with me (I read the Spanish and he reads the English), so I know he’d love this as well.

  6. says

    I would love to share this book with my preschool class! We practice counting from 1-10 in Spanish. Thanks for the chance to win this book for our classroom!

  7. Ingvild says

    This looks like a wonderful book to use for a Spanish/Mexican storytime at the library or to help any kids learn some Spanish words.

  8. says

    Great post, and I love the recognition of TPR. Movement is so important in language learning! I blog about resources for teaching Spanish to children at Spanish Playground and I will certainly send my readers this way. Thanks!


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