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This fun hands-on lesson teaches students Spanish language and culture as they improve their Baleros skills.
Language Arts, P.E. & Health, Social Studies
9, 10, 11, 12
Title – Baleros in the Classroom
By – William Tulinsky
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies, Health / Physical Education
Grade Level – 9 – 12
Baleros are an excellent interest stimulator for students. The Spanish language becomes a more interesting and acceptable subject for students when practiced with Balero. Numbers, words, phrase and sentence structures all become easier to remember because the Balero is something real, physical and interesting that students can associate with the language.
Objective / Lesson Overview / Goals
Teaching language and culture while having fun. Students learn Spanish while playing with baleros. Achieve better retention of Spanish and better student / teacher relations. Teach balero skills along with course material.
Baleros can be an activity before class begins and right before it ends. Also lunch period, break periods, a portion of study period, after school or any appropriate time given your schools scheduling can be utilized. Use some class time, 5 to 15 min. 3 to 5 times a week for instruction, competition and challenges where the teacher can supervise.
Ideally each student will have a balero so all can play at the same time however it is still effective to break students into groups of 2 or 3 to share baleros. An assortment of all sizes with mostly medium and large baleros is recommended (10 to 40). A few balero copa for those who find the regular balero too difficult is also good.
In Mexico, you can find Baleros at markets in almost every city. In the USA, baleros are rare, they can be found at some Mexican Specialty Stores in the southwest or in major cities. The quality varies widely and low quality baleros are most common, made of softwood they dent, scratch and peel rapidly. The BPA sells high quality hardened wood baleros available on the internet or by telephone or mail order.
It’s not ultimately necessary for the teacher to be able to perform well with the Balero but the teacher should know a few balero basics. It’s a good idea to have a minimal proficiency with the balero. As long as the motions can be shown and the throws described, (in Spanish and English) the students can then try the throws and figure them out.
It is recommended to learn the 3 basic throws: recto, columpiando and capirucho, straight up, swing throw and flip off the stick, respectively.
Balero Terms: El tambor, la cuerda y el palo, the drum, the string, and the stick respectively. A Bolero is a Latin American musical genre and a balero jacket is a Spanish style women’s dress jacket. You could wear a balero jacket while listening to some boleros and playing balero for the class, all at the same time!
Rules: It is a game of skill. There are losers and winners. You have to catch the drum on the stick to score. (or the ball in the cup) Different throws score different points. When you miss, it is the next players turn.
Procedures / Activities:
After a brief introduction have students play with baleros. Make speaking Spanish mandatory (as much as possible) while playing with Baleros. Students count misses and catches out loud and learn to count very quickly. Describe everything to do with the games, throws, players, etc. in Spanish and English. Develop as many Spanish phrases and statements as possible that students can use while playing.
Once students are getting a feel for the game, break them into groups and play competition games like 11, 21, Points or horse. As skill levels become apparent, seed students into groups based on their skill level and have tournament competition(s) to determine a Champion Player who wins a trophy or prize. In a tournament players compete one on one. Elimination of players should occur as in tennis or NCAA basketball tournaments.
Baleros are hand made and not all are exactly the same. Some Baleros are easier to be successful with than others are. During competition players should trade off and use the same balero to ensure they are all on the same level playing field.
Homemade Baleros are perfect for elementary school students. Real wood Baleros are recommended for Junior High and High School students.
Real World Usage:
Variations of the original biboquet can be found in just about every country of the world. Baleros can be found in every country of the Americas. Baleros are an excellent tool for culture in the classroom.
Bilboquet in Europe and Kendama in Japan have seen more central organization historically than Balero in the Americas. In France and Japan the sport has been organized for centuries.
Organizations include in the USA the BPA (Balero Players’ Association — International), in Mexico the FIBA (Federacion Internacional de Balero Asoceichon), in France the FIB (FÃƒÂ©dÃƒÂ©ration Internationale de Bilboquet), and in Japan one of many is the JKA (Japan Kendama Association). Students (and teachers) can join the BPA and share pictures and videos, log their personal best scores and get into contests and competitions including World Records and Championships of Balero.
There is a huge diversity in the ways the game has evolved in Europe, Japan and the Americas. Balero has flourished for hundreds of years throughout Latin America, but in North America it has only existed within our indigenous cultures.
Why should we, in the USA and Canada, be overlooking this ancient game, when we even have our very own, unique variations of it right here? Surely it is time to embrace this great game, teach it in our schools and take advantage of the lessons it has to offer.
In a foreign language or social studies class balero is a good aid for teaching language and culture. In a physical education class balero is a good competition game and improves coordination and response time. In an industrial arts class balero is an excellent project for the wood lathe. But perhaps the most important lesson balero has to offer is that concentration and persistence will bring success, which applies in all classrooms and beyond.
Each form of the game has it unique qualities and features. It’s not that one is better than the other is, it’s that they are similar but different. All are cool and none are lame.
Some of the Baleros of the world:
Argentina – Balero , Boliche, Emboque
Bolivia – Choca
Brasil – Bilboque
Chile – emboque, boliche
Columbia – Boliche, Balero
Costa Rica – Boliche
Cuba – hoyuelo
Ecuador – balero
Japan – Kendama
Korea – Jangu
Mexico – Balero
Paraguay – balero, bolero
PerÃƒÂº – balero, boliche, carambola
Pima Tribe – Chelgwegoooot
Portugal – boliche, coca.
Puerto Rico – boliche
Spain – boliche, boliz (CataluÃƒÂ±a);
Venezuela – Coca, Boliche or Perinola
Additional Web Resources:
Balero Players’ Association International – Contains information about balero, pictures, videos and more:
- Home –
- Balero Throws
- Balero Games and Rules
- Balero Records
- History of Balero
- How to make Baleros
- Baleros For Sale
When you first look at an old toy it does not look all that inviting. Maybe because the material that is used is so common, just a piece of worked wood, a stick and a piece of string, and because they only summon up life when life is manipulated into them, for instance, The Balero. But this lack of interest ends when you start to play. To do capirucho is not a big thing, but to do 10, 20 or more, one after another, is an act worthy of admiration, that requires much practice, and that not just anyone can obtain. Tradition to the great thing that some conserve and that no electronic game can equal – Balero.
E-Mail William Tulinsky !