Category Archives: Spanish and French Online

Argentina + Alfajores

Spanish Recipe for Kids – Alfajores

All countries and areas around the world have traditions built up over many years, and many of those traditions involve food, the preparation of it and the recipes that have evolved.
Everybody loves biscuits …
In Argentina the most well-known biscuits are called Alfajores, and they are frequently filled with Dulce de Leche, the most traditional and popular sweet filling not only in Argentina but also in the rest of South America.

Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche is like caramel but it does not contain any butter or margarine.  It is made from cooking milk and sugar for a very long time.
An easy way to make your own Dulce de Leche is to put a tin of condensed milk in a saucepan with enough water that it covers the tin completely, bring the water to the boil, and simmer with the lid on for 3 hours (easier still if you can just leave it simmering in the oven for that time).

What are the most traditional cakes and biscuits where you live?  Is there anything special about them?  Do they have a story?  Were they invented by mistake?!

Do read the recipe below and have a go at making ALFAJORES with DULCE DE LECHE. This is a printable worksheet of the recipe:
A Green Mouse Alfajores Recipe

But first, do some Spanish Practice via this video, transcript, and printable worksheet:

Argentina + Alfajores Recipe Video


Video Transcript

Argentina es un país.
Tiene 23 provincias.
América del Sur es un continente.
Argentina está en el extremo sur de Sudamérica.
Sudamérica es lo mismo que América del Sur.
Esta galleta se llama un alfajor.
Esta crema se llama dulce de leche.
Los sudamericanos comen muchos alfajores y mucho dulce de leche.
Son parte de su cultura y tradición.
¡Alfajores llenos de dulce de leche son muy ricos!
Un poquito de coco rallado es una buena idea también.
El resultado es bonito y delicioso.
Cada provincia de Argentina tiene una receta de alfajores preferida, cada país en Sudamérica también.

– – –

Easy Alfajores Recipe

300g plain flour
200g caster sugar
100g soft butter
1 egg (beaten)
grated coconut (optional)

For the filling: 
Dulce de Leche!
(buy a jar or buy a tin of condensed milk and make your own – see above)

– Mix the dry ingredients together
Rub in the butter
– Mix in the beaten egg to form a soft dough
– Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to about 0.5cm thick on a floured surface.
– Use cookie cutters to cut out round shapes about 4cm wide.
– Place them evenly on non-stick baking trays.

Bake, one tray at a time, in a pre-heated oven, 180C, for 8 minutes approximately.  The biscuits need to be dried out/cooked through but not golden brown. To check if they are done, pick one up gently and look underneath.
If the dough is still slightly wet on the underside of the biscuit put the biscuits back in the oven for a little longer.
(There is no point in having raw biscuits – better golden than raw)

When the biscuits have cooled they can be stored or even frozen until you are ready to eat them.
When you ARE ready, put some grated coconut in a flat bowl and open a jar/tin of dulce de leche.  Turn the biscuits upside down and put two biscuits together at a time with  a generous 1cm+ layer of dulce de leche in the middle.
Squeeze the biscuits together so that the dulce de leche sticks out a little.
Roll the biscuit sideways along the grated coconut so that it sticks to the dulce de leche.

When all the biscuits are ready, sprinkle a little grated coconut over them for decoration and serve.

Spanish Verbs: Darse cuenta, Hace falta

Darse cuenta – Hace Falta – Hay que

Darse cuenta  = to realise, to notice
Hace falta  = it’s necessary to, one needs to …
Hay que      = One must, it is necessary to …

Spanish Practice using these verbs in a story about a mountain rescue

More Verbs in the Story

despegar   to take off
aterrizar    to land
tener que   to have to
darse cuenta    to notice, to realise
ir    to go
hacer falta   to be necessary
Estar (+ gerund)    to be + doing verb
Ser                 to be
Mirar            to look
ver                 to see
Llegar          to arrive
Empezar     to start
Viajar           to travel
Tener           to have
Trabajar      to work
Esquiar        to ski
Preparar      to prepare
Poder            to be able to

Sometimes ‘poder’ is used as a reflexive verb in Spanish, like in this phrase in the story:
“… donde se puede aterrizar.”  =  where it’s possible to land.

‘Snowplough’ in Spanish:
un quitanieves  =  literally ‘a get rid of snow ..!’


Downloadable PDF Worksheet:

Ser and Estar Practice:  Here is a different version of the same story for practice using SER and ESTAR.

For practice talking about a holiday in Spain using three tenses, go to:
KS3 Spanish Holiday Practice

Mon Âne Song

Mon Âne – French Nursery Rhyme

Mon Âne is a French action song for children about a donkey which tells children that ‘my donkey’ (mon âne) is not feeling well.
For example, it has a headache, a stomach ache and sore ears:
Mal à la tête  –  headache
mal aux oreilles  –  Sore ears
mal à l’estomac  –  tummy ache

Each new verse introduces another part of the body that is hurting, but this simple recording focusses on the chorus and repeats of the first verse about the donkey’s headache to help young children to learn the tune and join in:
Mal à la tête!

Read the words and join in with the video:


Mon âne, mon âne
a bien mal à sa tête,

Madame lui fait faire
un bonnet pour sa fête.

Un bonnet pour sa fête.

Et des souliers vernis, oui-da
Et des souliers vernis.

Et des souliers vernis, oui-da
Et des souliers vernis.

(Oui-da = is old-fashioned French and means “Of course, yes”)

The sound track repeats this verse several times.

My donkey, my donkey,
really has a headache,

Madame has a bonnet made for his party.
A bonnet for his party

And some patent shoes …
And some patent shoes.
And some patent shoes …
And some patent shoes.

For more French songs go to:
A Green Mouse French Songs for Children

image for French song Mon Âne

KS2 French workshops: Alliance Française, Manchester

Published 23rd October 2013

Rusty French? Lacking in confidence?  These workshops might help …
A Green Mouse has been asked to pass on the following information from the Alliance française:

“In partnership with the French Institute in London, the Alliance française de Manchester is organising a series of 6 workshops to support any practitioners involved in teaching French in Key Stage 2, especially class teachers and teaching assistants, who would like to get started with French or to use it more regularly in the classroom, from 14th January 2014 onwards.

These workshops are aimed at practitioners who have little or no knowledge of French, including those who feel rusty and lack the confidence to use their French in the classroom and will be led by Catherine Cheater, renowned trainer both nationally and internationally, and author of Catherine Cheater Schemes of Work for French.

With a maximum of 20 participants, these sessions of 3 hours each aim to be friendly, supportive and fun. As such, participants need not feel anxious about their level of French. Handouts with key language will be provided at each session.

For further information on dates and times, please refer to the following link on our website:
KS2 French Workshops ”

Singing helps with Language Learning

Read the following article, published 18/07/13, to consider how helpful it can be to sing in a foreign language:

Daily Telegraph/science-news

Hopefully research like this will encourage more families to search out interesting songs and nursery rhymes in other languages to sing with their young children.  Of course there is far more to learning a language, but singing really can help to loosen those vocal chords!

French songs for children

Spanish songs for children

Hamster Story in Spanish

Spanish Hamster Story for Children

Short Story, Video,  Online Quiz + Worksheets with Verbs in the 3rd person present tense:

Verbs in the Story:

Es un hamster = It is a hamster (fact)
Es difícil = It is difficult (fact)

Son muy lindos = They are very pretty (WHAT they are, so not temporary)

Está enfermo = he is ill (temporary)
Está durmiendo = he is sleeping (temporary)
Está mejor = he is better (also temporary statement)

Están jugando = they are playing (temporary action)

llamarse    – se llama
correr        – corre 
vivir            – vive
hacer          – hace
masticar   – mastica
querer       – quiere
necesitar  – necesita


¿Qué es Bugatti?
What is Bugatti?

¿Cómo corre?

How does he run?

¿Quién vive con Bugatti?

Who lives with Bugatti?

¿Por qué necesita tomar un medicamento?

Why does he need to take some medicine?

Video Clip

Online Quiz

This quiz is also available on its own separate page here:
Online Quiz

Downloadable Worksheets:
Spanish Hamster Story Verb Practice Worksheet

Spanish Hamster Story Question Practice Worksheet

Video Transcript in Spanish

¿Eso qué es?  ¿Qué es eso?
¿Sabes?  ¿Tienes alguna idea?
¡Sí!  Es un hámster.
Se llama Bugatti.
Corre muy rápido.
Vive con su hermano.
Su hermano se llama Veyron.
Corren mucho.
Bugatti hace gimnasia.
Veyron mastica las barras de su jaula.
Quiere escapar.
¡Son muy lindos!
Hoy Bugatti está durmiendo.
¡Ay no!  ¡Está enfermo!
Necesita tomar un medicamento.
Pero es difícil.
Pobre Bugatti.  Pero ya está mejor.
¡Qué bien!  Están jugando.
Adiós amiguito.

Hamsters in Spanish! ¿Eso qué es?
Hamsters in Spanish! ¿Eso qué es?

Thought for the day!

Broadcast on the BBC Today Programme, 24th January 2013:
“Music and singing should be central to education and children’s lives” …

Image for A Green Mouse Blog

We all want our little guys to fly …!

Music and singing are excellent for introducing sounds in other languages.
A Green Mouse is creating and sharing free French and Spanish listening practice for any child:
Songs for young children, and many video resources to link sound to words in accessible visual contexts for early listening and speaking practice.

Spanish Playground Snack

August/September, the season for sunflowers!
Think of Mediterranean countryside with its fields and fields of sunflowers all appearing to turn their heads to the sun as it moves across the sky:

It is also the time for going back to school, and sunflower seeds have long been a healthy and very popular snack for children in Spanish playgrounds and beyond.
They are called Pipas.
Small bags of salted sunflower seeds (Pipas) are a traditional sight in school playgrounds, where they are allowed:
A very messy business because each ‘pipa’ has to be cracked open to reach the sunflower heart inside, usually done using the front teeth, and then there’s the problem of what to do with the discarded shells ….
Piles of slightly damp ‘pipa’ shells ..?!

A little too salty and messy, but otherwise a great idea …
And today ‘pipas’ are also sold without their shells!

Free listening practice in French and Spanish:
A Green Mouse

Bagpipes in Buenos Aires

Tango and Bagpipes in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a melting pot of many cultures and traditions.
There is even a small Scottish Dancing group! –  It is a tradition handed down by those who moved to Argentina to help build the railways perhaps.
Walk through one of the parks and you might just come across somebody practising the bagpipes!

Buenos Aires has several bilingual schools which offer Scottish dancing lessons!  Eg:

Scottish Dancing in Buenos Aires

Of course TANGO is the dance which Buenos Aires is best known for.  It originated in the area of the city known as La Boca – an old and very colourful area near the port:

Image for La Boca, Buenos Aires
La Boca, Buenos Aires


‘El Viejo Almacén’ is an example of a well-known tango venue.  It is also most enjoyable to stroll through the streets of San Telmo where, at weekends, there are often people dancing the tango in the street.  Here is a picture taken of people enjoying themselves in San Telmo on a normal weekend:

¡Vale la pena! It’s worth it …!

¡Vale la pena! = It’s worth it in Spanish.
It’s literal translation = It’s worth the pain!
This is the first post by A Green Mouse, a free website and YouTube channel created to provide worthwhile early language practice in French and Spanish.

The image of the goldfinch chick below, beak open, hopeful and enthusiastic, symbolises the carefree energy and enthusiasm of children, and all that A Green Mouse stands for.

Children can develop very good pronunciation in a second language if they are exposed to it early enough.
It is a question of opportunity, not one available to all children, so this website is accessible and free to try to reach out and provide it for any child.

Accessible French and Spanish Practice for anyone … 

We all want to help our little guys to fly …!

Image for A Green Mouse Blog

Having a second language feels good, it makes life more interesting, it is good for the brain.
By starting young we give our children a better chance of success.