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Spanish in a Basket Review by Kim KargboBeth Manners
10 Tar Rock Road
Westport, CT 06880
Spanish in a Basket is an introductory Spanish course for children ages 3-8. The author indicates that this is the best age to learn Spanish with a good accent. This is an adorable method for learning Spanish (or any language, for that matter!). The kit comes with a picnic basket full of finger puppets, picnic toys and utensils, stuffed animals, 4 CDs, and a DVD. There are 20 audio lessons contained on either the 4 CDs or the DVD. Each lesson is 15-20 minutes long on average. The DVD, in addition to having all of the audio lessons, contains pictures for the stories that accompany each lesson. Otherwise, there is no video.
The Spanish lessons in this kit are very interactive, with songs, actions, stories, games, activities, Simon Says, etc. There are many sound effects on the video that reinforce the vocabulary being taught. The children are asked to repeat all of the vocabulary. With the DVD, there are sometimes picture prompts with the illustrated stories. For the most part, however, the children just have to listen and repeat. The teacher uses a multi-sensory approach with the children to help solidify the words, such as having them use gross muscle movements while repeating vocabulary. This method is known to increase retention.
The "props" that come with the kit are really cute; they engaged my 7 and 13-year-olds immediately. Before I had time to look through the kit, they had taken the whole thing, found a CD player, and begun going through the lessons. I can't imagine that you'd have difficulty getting a child to work through all the lessons, and they'd have a very firm grasp of many Spanish words and phrases at the end. The conclusion of each lesson tells the children, "Put everything back in the basket so it's ready for next time!"
I would highly recommend this kit to any homeschooler (or even classroom teacher) looking for a fun Spanish introduction for younger children. (Your older children will probably get a kick out of it too. Just don't tell them what the recommended age is!) This would also be a great kit for a family taking children to a Spanish-speaking mission field. It would give them a head start before they get there! The kit retails for $99, although it was on sale at the website for $69 through the holidays.