How I Use It
A major strength of the Oh Noah! website is its teacher support materials. With pre-written lesson plans, teachers can use this site as a launching pad for a wide variety of classroom activities, from reading to math to science, all while exposing students to a bit of the Spanish language. Each lesson plan includes a few suggestions for whole class games or books to read, and hands-on activities (e.g., planting a bean) designed to reinforce the vocabulary words introduced in the webisode. The lesson plans also include additional suggestions for extension activities to explore each topic even further. The important link that ties everything together is being able to use the newly learned Spanish vocabulary words while participating in each activity.
The games on the OhNoah! site work best when played by individual students, as many involve using the arrows on the keyboard to move a character on the screen (e.g., to direct a mouse to collect items as they are falling from the sky as those items are named in Spanish). However, the site is a great way to combine whole-class and individual activities. For example, the whole class could watch a short webisode, and then individual students could rotate through activity stations, including playing the related web games, reading books, creating art projects (e.g., making a hanging mobile of different tools as suggested for the Hammer Time webisode), or preparing a snack (e.g., making salsa as suggested for the Not Milk? webisode). Other fun activities include planting a bean and watching it grow, drawing and labeling a map, and creating diagrams to categorize jungle animals. The website also has ready to print handouts that could be used as group projects (e.g., Bingo cards using Spanish words) or as individual homework assignments (e.g., design a playground using the Spanish words for playground equipment).
One final note: Since Spanish is the second most spoken language the U.S. it is likely that many classrooms will likely have a number of children who speak Spanish already. Introducing some Spanish words into regular classroom activities can also help create an important bridge between Spanish speaking students and non-Spanish speaking students. Spanish speakers can use this as a special opportunity to take on the role of teacher, helping their peers learn new words. And students who don’t already speak Spanish can learn a bit about their Spanish-speaking peers and learn a new way to communicate with them.
Oh Noah! Is a web-based set of activities based on short webisodes, all designed to introduce children to Spanish words and some simple Spanish phrases. Noah is an English-speaking boy who visits his grandmother (abuela) in a town where everyone speaks Spanish. As Noah attempts to communicate, he finds himself in some silly situations, and in the process of straightening things out, learns new Spanish words. The words are introduced in categories relevant to Noah’s adventures (e.g., he learns the names of farm animals when he visits a farm and has an encounter with a bull). Interspersed throughout the webisodes are interactive games designed to reinforce the new vocabulary words. Users can also play additional games without watching the webisodes, watch the webisodes without it pausing for game play (if, for example, a teacher wanted to show the webisode to the whole class, this would be a good option), and print work sheets. The website is further supported by ready-made lesson plans for each webisode that include suggestions for hands-on classroom activities in addition to the web games.
As usual, PBS Kids offers a well-thought out package of learning materials. The short webisodes are cute and will certainly capture children’s attention. The related games and activities are varied enough to keep children interested and they may even pick up some Spanish vocabulary in the process! Many, though not all, links on the site have a voiceover when the user rolls over them so early and pre-readers should be able to navigate relatively easily. This is not in any way a comprehensive language instruction program, but it is a cute and fun way to introduce children to new vocabulary. The words introduced span a wide range of important beginner categories (e.g., animals, colors, numbers, food, etc.) In particular, Oh Noah! can be an important and unique way to infuse larger reading, science, art and culture, math, or social skills lessons with a little something extra.