Adventures in Teaching a Spanish Novel: Mata la Piñata

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November 2021 –

We did it! We just finished teaching Mata la Piñata to our 7th Grade Spanish 1B class. Technically this class is “Spanish 2” for comparison. We decided to read the novel in the past tense to up the challenge for them & to really hit hard on past tenses in Spanish for a few weeks. Here’s the breakdown of what we did & some slides you can copy and make your own if you are teaching Mata la Piñata. These slides contain vocabulary words that we felt we needed to introduce and a few PQA questions we used for some days. 

We did Mata la Piñata in 7 class days (really we should have done 6, but it was too late after Day 1. I teach on 45 minute class periods, 5 days a week. 

Day 1: Intro to the book, review vocabulary, introduce the past tense (i.e. I showed them the present tense word and past tense word and we established meaning for each. I also pointed to where they could reference it on my walls with my Sweet 16 verb posters) This day we read Chapter 1 of the book. We also introduced them to their project for the book. This time we did a character Instagram series using Instagram Templates. Students will choose one character to make an Instagram for and make an entry for each chapter of the book. Project work time (15 – 20 minutes)

Day 2: Again, vocabulary introduction and meaning establishment for the “big” words in this chapter(s). That will happen every day. PQA and read Chapter 2. Project work time (15 – 20 minutes)

Day 3: Vocabulary introduction, PQA, Read Chapter 3 & 4. Project work time (15 – 20 minutes)

Day 4: Vocabulary introduction, PQA, Read Chapter 5 & 6. Project work time (15 – 20 minutes)

Day 5: Vocabulary introduction, Read Chapter 7  Project work time (20 – 25 minutes). We did not do PQA today, you could definitely add some in. By now the students are in the “meat” of the book and they’re excited to read and discuss the events. 

Day 6: Vocabulary introduction, Read Chapter 8  Project work time (20 – 25 minutes). Note: If you wanted to make this a more compact reading, chapters 7/8 can easily be combined. We chose to give this time as a chance to make up work on the project for students that were putting more time into the projects. 

Day 7: Vocabulary introduction, PQA, Read Chapter 9 & 10. Project work time (15 – 20 minutes)

Day 8: Project final touches

I very much enjoyed Mata la Piñata. The “creepy” vibe kept my 7th graders interested and wanting to know what would happen next. It’s also 85% in the 1st person, which is another great source of exposure for students. My suggestions: establish up front that Diego & Joel are the two characters and the Joel is “I”. Joel’s name is mentioned on the back cover, but not in the text for quite a few chapters. This will lessen some confusion. 

Click here to access my Mata la Piñata Pre-Teach Vocabulary Slides. Note: There may be errors as these slides are updated frequently… but they are editable once you make a copy! Please do not request access – make a copy of the file. Feel free to add / adjust / edit as you please once you’ve made a copy. These slides DO NOT reference any material in the book aside from the high frequency vocabulary that was pre-taught. These slides & this blog have been posted with written permission from Kristy Placido the author of Mata la Piñata

Mata la Piñata is written by Kristy Placido and can be purchased through Fluency Matters / Wayside Publishing, and more. 

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