Friday, February 22, 2013

7 Ideas for Teaching Reflexive Verbs

Following is a collection of lessons and activities that deals with Reflexive Verbs.  I listed them below to share them with you and also to have a place for me to refer.  Some of the activities are based on resources only provided through paid subscriptions, and others are based on resources that are free.

Please note, that I do NOT recommend teaching a "unit" on reflexive verbs, as I used to do in my pre-CI/preTPRS days.  However now, with CI/TPRS, I make sure to add a few reflexive verbs as focus words in stories (*see below) from the early days of Spanish 1 and continue doing so throughout the semester and the following year in Spanish 2 , to students start becoming familiar with seeing reflexive pronouns before the verbs.  My suggestion is to sprinkle these activities among others so it doesn't feel like a "unit".


1. Froggy Se Viste. I'm fortunate in that my community library has a huge Spanish section.  I regularly search through the books for ones that I can use in class.  Each semester I use Froggy se Viste" to teach "se quitó", "se puso", and "se durmió" (awoke, took off, put on, and fell asleep). 

For a novel way to present this book, use a flannel board and flannel pieces of clothing and a frog. I found this blog on which Katie used a flannel board.  Do they still use flannel boards in elementary school? Either way, the students will enjoy listening to the story when presented in a less common way.

Check your community or neighboring counties, for libraries with Spanish sections. Lots of resouces at NO COST!

2. A-Z Reading. This is a website with children's books.  It costs under $100 a year, but that will give you access to hundreds of books.  You can project the books onto your board, many with the "wordless" option.  The site has other tools so you type your own words for the story, highlight words, make word banks with pull-down arrows to appear or disappear when you don't want them available.  There is also an option to print small version of any of the books.  The books are in English, Spanish, and French.

I use the books "Getting Ready for School" and Hora de Ir a la cama".


3. Mr Bean!  How can you not enjoy a video by Mr. Bean?  Two videos that have a lot of reflexive verbs are "Mr. Getting Up Late for the Dentist" and "Mr. Bean goes to Bed"I pause the video throughout the entire video, and we talk about different things that are happening, how the characters feel, and other. Then I took screenshots of different scenes of the story and we talk about those.

4. Mis Cositas - My Daily Routine. A young child talks about his daily routine.   

5. "No Voy a Levantarme" by Sr. Wooly.  To gain access to Sr. Wooly's site, you'll need a one-year subscription that costs $25.  Don't hesitate to pay it! There are several great videos along with the option to print the lyrics, print Cloze exercises, and other ideas.  

Sr. Wooly redid the audio for this video and put it on his blog on 2/20/13.  My students LOVED this video.  First I had the students watch the video.  The second and third time they filled out a cloze activity provided on the website as they listened to it. Later, we translated the lyrics (everyone stands; after a student translated a section to English, they were permitted to sit down).  Today we talked about the video for most of the class period. (¿Cómo se llamaba el chico? ¿Dónde estaba él? ¿Qué hora era? ¿Se despertó as las siete? ¿Se despertó a las cinco o a las seis? ¿Cuándo se despertó? ¿Se despertó a las seis de la mañana o a las seis de la tarde? ¿Oyó a su madre? ¿Oyó su perro? ¿Qué oyó Justin? ¿Se levantó a las seis? etc)  Then I asked the students, "what didn't he do at 6:00 in the morning?  All the students stood and they each told me a sentence with the verb in the past tense - no repeating verbs.  We also then talked about twins - what didn't THEY do?
6.  Destiny.  I haven't actually used this video yet in class, but I have plenty of ideas for it. The character relives his morning several times so there it is easy to give needed repetitions on reflexive and other verbs.   

If handled correctly, this video could be used in many other ways in the MFL.  I'm still working on developing a lesson using this video for something other than reflexive verbs, but I decided to add it here because of the repetition on getting awake, getting up, and getting reading for work.
7. *Video - Last month I used this video and used CI to narrate the events in the video in Spanish. I used "se levantó" and "se sentó" (he stood up and he sat down) throughout the narration.  We have used those words before, so this was a nice reinforcement. (see this post for more information)


8. TPR. To teach a larger amount of verbs during one class, teach the verbs with gestures.  After you add a new gesture, practice the previous ones, adding new words and gestures.  If you make the gestures huge (which is what I usually do) and you, yourself, have fun doing the gestures, your enthusiasm and energy will be contagious, and the students will have fun too.  

9.  Reflection in the Mirror.  I got this idea from another MFL teacher but I cannot remember whom.  After the students have been introduced to the reflexive verbs that relate to someone's morning routine, have them act out the actions. The twist is that one person does the actions and the 2nd student has to be the 1st student's reflection.  I narrate what the person does from the time they get up until when they go to school.  A variation would be to have two sets of students doing this activity at the same time and then ask the students which group is more insync.  

4/23/13 Update: For additional ideas and resources for teaching reflexive verbs click HERE to go to SpanishPlans blog. 


  1. Oh my gosh, I love the Mr. Bean idea. I knew exactly what video you were talking about as soon as I saw his name in this post! Very funny! Great way to get the students' interest.

  2. I really like the reflection mirror students will love this:-).

  3. Thank you for these excellent ideas.