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Teaching the Novel Peter va a Colombia

This year our last novel of the year in Spanish 1 is Peter va a Colombia. It is an awesome novice level reader by fellow Iowan Craig Klein. You can purchase the book here from his site Spanish Cuentos. I wrote about the novel last year here, as well as shared resources for the novel here. You can see our full curriculum this year in this post, but we have already read the novels Tumba & Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro

Before starting the novel we spent a full two weeks on cultural units relating to the study of Colombia. We completed the Biblioburo - Storytelling Unit from Martina Bex, as well as El Desfile del Yipao - Cultural Activities from Martina Bex. We also did an activity with the song La Bicicleta. These helped to get students ready for the novel and more familiar with the country of Colombia. 




Teaching the Novel Peter va a Colombia - Mis Clases Locas




During the novel, we used the Spanish Cuentos Youtube Playlist for additional cultural exploration and expansion. As always, I created a large Google slide show, with vocab, activities and discussion questions for each chapter. This not only helps to keep me organized from class to class, but from year to year. I posted this slide show, so students always have access to everything we do in class. 


As I shared in my last post about reading clubs, we read this book in differentiated groups in my large class. Each chapter usually involves introducing a couple of key vocabulary words that are new to students, discussion questions, and some kind of expansion. Since we were in differentiated groups not all groups did all activities, or they may have chosen other options to complete instead. Some activities were completed as a whole large class, but many with smaller leveled groups. Check out the reading club post to find out more. Below are some ideas for each chapter beyond vocabulary, reading and discussion. 



Chapter 1 - Peter es un muchacho normal

  • Venn Diagram Students compare themselves to the main character Peter using a Venn Diagram to organize their thoughts. This was a great chance to practice the I, he and we forms of high frequency verbs.

Chapter 2 - La Escuela 


Chapter 3 - Peter llega a Bogota 

  • Cultural exploration in groups over the following topics - La Catedral Primada, Museo Botero, Museo Botero, Fernando Botero, Los Quimbayas
  • Ch3 Kahoot

Chapter 4 - Problemas en el Museo Botero

  • Quizlet Ch4 - to intro vocab
  • Reader's Theater - students worked in groups to write a script of the short, action packed chapter and performed for class
Teaching the Novel Peter va a Colombia - Mis Clases Locas


Chapter 5 - Una escuela muy bonita

  • Compare the school in Colombia and our school
  • Kahoot Ch1-5 - Review of first half of the book 

Chapter 6 - En el pueblo y en el campo

  • Cultural Extension of Villa de Leyva & markets using video
  • Ch 6 Jumble - order of events after reading 


Chapter 7 - El desfile de yipao


Chapter 8 - Peter llega a Cartegena

  • Cultural Extension with the following topics projecting pictures: arepas, Fortaleza de San Felipe & Monumento de los zapatos viejos and using videos: cumbia, vallenata, Tour of Cartagena
  • Strip Bingo - Students pick 5 vocab words from a list you give from chapter and write them vertically on a paper in English. The teacher reads sentences from book in Spanish that have those words. When a student hears a word that is listed in the top or bottom of paper, they get to rip it off. Just like Bingo the goal is to use all five. 

Chapter 9 - Fútbol 

  • Sentences Cards 
    • Pick important sentences from the chapter. Fold two colored pieces of paper each into eight cards. Write out the sentence with each word and punctuation mark on a separate card. (To make it more difficult, put two verb options on one card). Cut apart the cards. Make about 12-15 sentences each on a separate color of cards.
    • Have students chose a set in partners. They work together to put the sentence in the correct order. Once they have it, they call the teacher over and translate what they put together in English. Once it is correct, they pick up their sentence and get a new set. 
    • This was a really great way for students to practice word order and figuring out where all of the important little words go in a sentence. 
Teaching the Novel Peter va a Colombia - Mis Clases Locas


Chapter 10 - Biblioburro


Chapter 11 - La Casa Blanca

Teaching the Novel Peter va a Colombia - Mis Clases Locas


Assessments (next week)

  • Interpersonal Speaking - I typed up leveled questions about the book, cut them into sentence strips and laminated them. I have basic questions one color, and more open ended questions another color. Students then used these these in pairs to prepare for interpersonal speaking. Depending on proficiency level, we also worked on writing our own questions to use as well. We used the fan and pick form to help keep pairs of groups of three accountable while practicing. For the actual assessment, I will pick random pairs to speak with each other about the book. 
  • Presentational Writing - Students will be given the choice of three writing prompts in advance. They had a chance to practice writing in class. I always do actual assessments in class on paper so there is no temptation of a translator and I see what they know. You can get the assessments I plan to use here. 
Teaching the Novel Peter va a Colombia - Mis Clases Locas




More Resources for the novel 
Quizlet for each chapter under user swayner 


Overall, my students really enjoyed this lighthearted, fun, and culturally rich novel. They love that the main character is from Iowa like them, and that I personally know the author. 

Have you taught Peter va a Colombia? What are your favorite resources? Please share in the comments!

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