How to Turn a Piñata into a Language Lesson

Piñatas are fun! Most students already know what they are and (most importantly to them) what they have inside.

But how many times has a piñata turned into a huge headache?

The tears when not everyone gets a turn, the injustice when Max gets more candy than Alex, the cries when someone accidentally gets hit or stepped on, the teacher having to constantly remind students “remember to ______!”  How can using a piñata actually be a learning experience for your class?

Your piñata activity with your class starts a week before you actually hit the piñata.

Think about it: the moment you have a piñata full of candy already dangling in front of your class, you’re going to be in for a challenge! They get excited! The best thing you can do for yourself and for your class is to be proactive. In the week leading up to the piñata…

Teach them thematic vocabulary

  • For introductory levels, useful vocabulary could be “dulces,” “¡dale!,” “¡pégala!”, “siéntate,” y “espérate.”
  • More advanced levels could give directions to their blindfolded friend: “¡A la derecha/izquierda! ¡Para arriba! ¡Para abajo!”
  • Walk them through what you want them doing BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER hitting the piñata
  • Before: Where do you want them hitting it? Outside under a tree? Will they be sitting in a circle around the tree? Or in a single file line? Will you have them hitting in the order they are in line? Or pulling names from a hat? Will every student be hitting or only a few?
  • During: Will the hitters be blindfolded or not?  What are other students doing as one is hitting? Will they hit it a set number of times? Or will they hit under a time limit? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PIÑATA BREAKS? Do all students rush to the candy or do they sit and wait? What will they be putting the candy in?
  • After: After students have collected their candy, where do they go? Do they sit back down? Will you have a cue to regroup them? Will you go back to the classroom? Do they get to start eating it as soon as they get it?

Bring in the empty piñata a bit earlier in the week to incite the excitement! Use the introduction of the piñata to motivate them to walk through procedure with you in Spanish.  They will want to learn where they will be standing, how you will take turns in hitting it, and (especially) what you will do with your candy.  For younger students, it could even help to walk through and practice without the piñata the day before.

With a little extra time, you can keep order in your classroom, create an opportunity for some exciting language learning, and add in some FUN!

To add some tradition, use the piñata song!

“Dale, dale, dale, no pierdas el tino,
Porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino.
Ya le diste uno, ya le diste dos,
Ya le diste tres y ¡tu tiempo se acabó!”