Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Children's eBook about Homeschooling from Read Conmigo

Hey, guys! I am SO excited to share with you a new eBook I wrote for Read Conmigo! Linda and Reuben Learn at Home is all about homeschooling and is a fun read for bilingual families who are thinking about teaching their children at home.

Are you already a member of Read Conmigo? You can subscribe on their website for FREE and get instant access to all of their wonderful, bilingual eBooks. And if you live in certain cities, you can receive free printed versions of their books.

If you are the parent or teacher with children in PreK through 5th grade, then this is a great resource you should be taking advantage of! Their website contains important information and useful tips on early learning, parent and teachers resources, free activity downloads, and more.

Did you know that you can apply for a scholarship to send your child to a private school? Read Conmigo's sponsor, Infinity Auto Insurance, has provided more than 1800 scholarships to help families provide a quality education for their children. Read more about it here.

Anyway, earlier this year, I was approached by Read Conmigo to write a children's book on the topic of homeschooling as a way to teach bilingual families about this schooling option. I was delighted to do so!

In Linda and Reuben Learn at Home, Leonard (Read Conmigo's friendly, lovable, leonine character) meets a new family that has moved in across the street. He discovers that they homeschool and learns what exactly that means. (Note: In the book, I mention that the children take an end of the year test and have to complete 180 days of school. This is true for us since we live in North Carolina, but each state has its own set of rules. Some have more regulations and others have fewer.)

At the end of the book, you'll also find a word search and reading comprehension questions.

I'll admit that I drew heavily on my own family's experience when writing this book. The children - Linda and Reuben - closely resemble my own, as does their homeschool classroom. And I have to thank the illustrator, Justin Dial, for bringing my story to life! The illustrations are just fantastic and SO engaging.

I'm also grateful to Read Conmigo for translating the story into Spanish making it accessible to bilingual and Spanish-speaking families.

To download and read your copy, head over to Read Conmigo's website and sign up for free.

Thank you, Read Conmigo, for asking me to write this story about homeschooling for young readers!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Free Download: Spanish Numbers in the 50s & 60s

Time for our next monthly free download from our wonderful sponsor, Spanish for You! They are focusing on numbers for the rest of the year (you can find their earlier downloads here and here). Most Spanish learning programs teach students how to count through the number 20, but few focus on those higher numbers. 

This month's 8-page mini-lesson will help your young Spanish learner memorize their numbers in the 50s and 60s, as well as how to spell them. The file includes a page of directions, memory cards, and a spelling activity sheet. Worried that you aren't pronouncing them right? They've got you covered with the audio file to help you learn proper pronunciation. 

Remember! Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Verizon Innovative Learning Program #weneedmore

Yesterday, I shared an NBC article on the MommyMaestra Facebook page that talks about how the Latino high school dropout rate has hit a new low while the number of Hispanic students enrolling in college has reached a record high.

Despite this enrollment increase, however, Hispanic students still have a very low college completion rate. Latino males still earn less than 9% of Bachelor's among graduating college students.

And Latinos account for less than 10 percent of the STEM workforce. In today's technology-driven world, that's disappointing. And that's why it's imperative that children get a good education in STEM classes. Because that college degree and subsequent STEM career can make the difference in pulling a family out of poverty.

Did you know that by 2020, 77percent of all U.S. jobs will require the employee to have computer skills? And yet an alarming number of schools in low-income neighborhoods lack the funding or support for technology tools, such as computers or iPads. And who suffers as a result? Yep! Minority students.

So now, Verizon Innovative Learning, the education arm of Verizon Foundation, is focusing on helping Latino students break down barriers in the hopes that they will consider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers.

They are doing so by expanding their STEM & entrepreneurship program for minority middle school boys in 16 cities including areas with high Hispanic population. The program gives students acess to intensive hands-on courses such as
  • mobile app development, 
  • 3D design, 
  • drone creation and execution, 
  • and development of virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. 
As participants in the Verizon Innovative Learning program, students are connected to college mentors and paired for continued programming during the school year. So far, over 2,000 students have participated in the Verizon Innovative Learning program and the results are awesome:
  • 64% are more interested in attending college 
  • 53% are more interested in STEM careers 
  • 47% feel more confident in what they can do 
Currently there are 4.4 million open tech jobs, but millions of kids don’t even know they exist! 

That’s why Verizon Innovative Learning is giving free technology and tech education to kids in need. Check it out...

To learn more and see if there are any programs going on near you, visit the Verizon Innovative Learning website.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Environment Collection for Kids: Multilingual Book Series

Bilingual homeschoolers! Here's a new series you may love.

The Environment Collection for kids is a set of books that focus on introducing young children to the basic building blocks of our environment. With the simple text and illustrations, these books are perfectly geared for kids in preK - 4th grade. For example, in Air (La Tierra), children learn all about how we need air to breathe, how it makes up the atmosphere, what gases are found in it, and why it is important to keep it clean.

This post contains affiliate links.
So far, the titles include Water/El Agua, Air/El Aire, Earth/La Tierra, and Plants/Las Plantas (affiliate links). They aren't actually bilingual books; each book is written in the target language, so if you want English, you can get that version, or you can get Spanish. They've been translated into five languages: English, French, German, Hebrew and Spanish.

The books are written by David Palatnik in partnership with Dr. Israel Felzenszwalb, Ph.D., a biologist and professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The information is acurate and the illustrations are colorful and engaging for young minds.

If you are interested in learning more or want to incoporate this series into your (homeschool) science lessons, visit David's site here. As you can see, they would be a fantastic teaching tool for kids! I love the illustrations and the focused text that is delivered in brief descriptions easy for young minds to understand. Here's a peek at some of the other books...

Disclosure: I received copies of these books for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, September 29, 2017

New Spanish Album for Kids: Primavera {GIVEAWAY}

Where are my parents who are raising bilingual kids? Those of you who have toddlers and elementary-age children should check out this lovely new album from the talented Mariana Iranzi. (I wrote about her here four years ago!)

Her latest album, Primavera (aff), is a collection of 17 original songs that will teach your toddlers and preschoolers about the world around them. From animals to anatomy to the alphabet, Mariana has selected topics that are an important part of a child's education. Take a look at the song titles:

  1. La Primavera Llegó
  2. Voy a Pintar un Cuadro
  3. Todas las Flores del Jardín
  4. Florcitas
  5. Caracol
  6. Cosquillitas
  7. Llueve
  8. Riega, riega
  9. Corazón
  10. Animalitos Sonoros
  11. Mariposa
  12. Salta Conejito
  13. Mariquita
  14. Las Vocales
  15. Rueda, rueda
  16. El Abecedario
  17. Planeta Tierra
The music is fun and joyful - perfect for little ears. Your children will sing and dance their way through the album as they learn about las vocales, caracoles, and la planeta Tierra! But you can judge for yourself. Go and listen to snippets of the songs on her website.

And because Mariana understands that parents and educators want to extend the learning experience, she has created an activity booklet to accompany the album. It includes a picture sheet, a suggested activity page for pre-readers/writers and readers/readers plus music/movement and the lyrics for every song on the album.

The Giveaway

Mariana has graciously offered a digital copy of her new album with the activity booklet to three (3!) MommyMaestra readers.

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 25, 2017

Cántale a tu bebé - Sing to Your Baby

For those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you know that I recently had a baby. That's why posting here on MommyMaestra has been super sporadic lately. My baby has been demanding ALL of my attention - as he should these first few months. We're busy bonding, talking, smiling, nursing, and singing our days (and nights!) away.

This is also why I'm super excited to share with you this resource for new (bilingual!) parents! A few years ago, the picture book Sing to Your Baby (aff) was published by award-winning musicians Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. Their intention was to help parents get over the idea that they need to have a beautiful voice to sing to their children. (Wha-what?!?) I guess lots of parents are too self-conscious to sing aloud to their babies.

But do you know what? Your baby doesn't care if you sound like Linda Rondstadt or Placido Domingo. Your baby DOES, however, need to be spoken to on a daily basis as much as possible. AND studies show that from their first day of life, babies can discriminate rhythmic patterns. Their young brains are primed for music. In fact, we know that singing to your baby can improve both their communication skills and their pre-literacy skills.

When my first child was born, I instinctively sang to her. I think most moms do? I didn't worry about what I sounded like (let's face it - she had nothing to compare me to anyway!). I chose to sing the songs of my own childhood. From "Itsy, Bitsy Spider" and Ernie's "Rubber Ducky" to "Duérmete mi niña" and "Naranja dulce limón partido" to nonsensical little ditties I just made up myself on the fly. I sang away to my first two children born over a decade ago, and my new baby is no exception. But I'm not the only one. Seeing my example, my older son now sings to our new baby, too. :)

Back to the book! Sing to Your Baby is a collection of 11 original songs. They are simple and sweet and will develop your baby's vocabulary. The cool thing is that if you purchase the book, you'll have access to the music download site. There are 22 tracks - two for each song. Why two? Because the authors recognize that women and men sing in different keys, so they've recorded each song in different keys (each with a female and a male singer). Just listen and sing along. Before you know it, you'll be singing the songs on your own anywhere and everywhere!

The picture book itself begins with a note to parents, then has a few of pages with words of encouragement, and then pages with the actual lyrics to each song. At the back of the book is a Parent Guide written by psychologist and educator, Laura G. Brown, Ph.D. She shares tips for developing your baby's learning skills and ways that you can nurture their developmental transitions.

Now for the BEST PART: This month, the authors released a Spanish version of the book! Cántale a tu bebé (aff) is a lovely translation of the original book. The songs are sung by bilingual musicians and native Spanish speakers, Sonia de los Santos and Jorge Anaya.

What I found to be especially touching is that both of these books have been adopted by the Celtino Foundation, who uses the books in schools in Honduras with families who are learning English or simply want to sing to their babies in Spanish.

So if you are the parent of a new baby or if you are expecting or know someone who is, consider investing in this beautiful book!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dolores Huerta Lesson Plans, Activities, Coloring Sheets and More

A few days ago on Instagram, someone asked me about resources for studying Dolores Huerta. Something similar to this post I put together for Cesar Chavez. And after thinking about, I realized that I was guilty of having highlighted Cesar and his work while ignoring Dolores, who was equally important in the work they did...if not more so! And isn't it a shame that her contribution to U.S. history has largely been overshadowed by Cesar's, the activist with whom she partnered to fight for the rights of farm workers. In fact, that iconic phrase - "Sí, se puede!" - that was adopted by our former president, was coined by Dolores in 1972.

While researching for this post, I discovered that a new movie featuring Dolores has just been released. That was a very pleasant surprise! Visit the website to see if it is playing at a theater near you. 

Lesson Plans


Coloring Pages

Sadly, I couldn't find any coloring pages that I like. So, I made one for preschoolers! Pair it with this one I created for Cesar Chavez to talk about the two of them and their fight for farm workers. 


Books (the following are affiliate links)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Printable Downloads for Hispanic Heritage Month

Time is flying away for me. I was shocked when I realized that this week, Hispanic Heritage Month begins! I love this time of year when there is an extra effort to highlight the contributions of Hispanic figures to U. S. history.

As such, if you are looking for some fun but educational activities to do with your kids/students, don't forget that I have quite a few available in my TpT store or here in my MommyMaestra shop!

Hispanics in History Character Crowns

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by playing "Who Am I?" with this set of character crowns featuring 30 influential Hispanics in History. It is SO much FUN!

Each crown comes with a fact sheet and extension strips for making the crown. Directions for assembly and instructions on different ways to play the game, as well as different ways to use the crowns are included.

This set features the following people:

  • Cesar Chavez
  • Dolores Huerta
  • Sonia Sotomayor
  • Ellen Ochoa
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Tito Puente
  • Celia Cruz
  • Roberto Clemente
  • Rita Moreno
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Dara Torres
  • Mario José Molina
  • Diego Rivera
  • Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Sylvia Mendez
  • Salvador Dalí
  • Pura Belpré
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Carolina Herrera
  • Isabel Allende
  • Miguel de Cervantes
  • Carlos Santana
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Tomás Rivera
  • Plácido Domingo
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Sandra Cisneros
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
  • Bernardo de Galvéz
  • Sonia Manzano

TpT   |   MM Shop

Reading Comprehension Passages: 10 Latinas in History (vol 2)

This reading comprehension packet can be used for Women's History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, or any time of the year. It comes with one-page reading passages about the following 10 famous Latinas:

Ellen Ochoa
Isabel Allende
Dara Torres
Frida Kahlo
Linda Ronstadt
Dolores Huerta
Sonia Sotomayor
Carolina Herrera
Rita Moreno
Sor Juana de la Cruz

I've also included reading comprehension worksheets that focus on facts and vocabulary from the passages, a matching activity, dictionary reference, and complete the sentence. Answer key included.

TpT   |   MM Shop

Reading Comprehension Passages: Famous Afro-Latinos (vol 1)

This reading comprehension packet can be used for Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, or any time of the year. It comes with one-page reading passages about the following 7 famous Afro-Latinos:

  • Celia Cruz
  • Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Soledad O'Brien
  • Roberto Clemente
  • Martina Arroyo
  • Pelé
  • Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez

I've also included reading comprehension worksheets that focus on vocabulary from the passages, a matching activity, true or false, describing words, and a Venn diagram for comparing characters. Answer key included. The reading passages are available in full color or black and white.

TpT   |   MM Shop

Hispanics in History Fandex

These fact files may be used as individual bookmarks or a fandex. It features 36 historical figures:

  • Cesar Chavez
  • Dolores Huerta
  • Sonia Sotomayor
  • Ellen Ochoa
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Tito Puente
  • Celia Cruz
  • Roberto Clemente
  • Rita Moreno
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Dara Torres
  • Mario José Molina
  • Diego Rivera
  • Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Soledad O'Brien
  • Sylvia Mendez
  • Martina Arroyo
  • Pelé
  • Salvador Dalí
  • Pura Belpré
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Carolina Herrera
  • Isabel Allende
  • Miguel de Cervantes
  • Carlos Santana
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Tomás Rivera
  • Plácido Domingo
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Sandra Cisneros
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
  • Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz
  • Narcís Monturiol
  • Bernardo de Galvéz
  • Helen Rodríguez Trías
  • Sonia Manzano

Directions for fandex assembly and use, as well as Individual worksheets, cut-outs and answer key included.

NOW UPDATED per request with women on one sheet, men on a separate sheet for easier color paper printing.

TpT   |   MM Shop

Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera Activity Pages

Introduce your students to the famous Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and their respective forms of art with this set of activity pages. In this packet, you’ll find…

• a child-friendly reading passage about the couple and their marriage
• reading comprehension quiz
• short reading passages about each artist’s style of art
• activity pages for creating a self-portrait and a mural
• recommended reading to extend the learning

TpT   |   MM Shop

Friday, September 8, 2017

Free Download: Spanish Numbers in the 30s & 40s

As I mentioned last month, our wonderful sponsor, Spanish for You! is focusing on numbers for the rest of the year. Counting through 20 is commonplace in foreign language learning, but a lot of programs do not focus on those higher numbers, so this is a valuable lesson available for download and I'm super thankful to Spanish for You! for sharing this free download with MommyMaestra readers. 

This month's 3-page mini-lesson will help your young Spanish learner memorize their numbers in the 30s and 40s, including how to spell them. The file includes a page of directions, memory cards, and an activity sheet. As always, it comes with an audio file to help you learn proper pronunciation. 

Remember! Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Every Kid in a Park...for FREE!

If you've followed me for some time, you may recognize the photo above. It was taken a few years ago when my husband and I decided to take our kids on an epic road trip that included visits to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. The trip was truly a remarkable, wonderful experience my family will NEVER forget!

So I'm kicking off September with a reminder for all of you who have a fourth grader in your family: You can get a free pass to visit ANY national park in the United States for free this year! 

Just go to to print out your special pass. It's valid from September 1 through August 31, 2018, and it grants free entry for fourth graders and up to three accompanying adults. You need to print your pass and take it with you when you visit the park. Electronic copies aren't accepted.

Not sure where the closest park to you is located? The website above includes a trip planner that lets you explore parks and sites. You can even reserve a cabin or campsite. There's also a suggested list of things to take with you.

And many of the sites are set up for groups/field trips and have programs created specifically for fourth graders.

PSST! Don't forget about this book (aff) from National Geographic Kids! Your child will LOVE it!


Make it even more unforgettable! Amtrak is offering fourth graders a discount on train tickets. When an adult buys a full-price ticket, you'll get 75% off. Visit the site to learn more.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

All the Way to Havana Giveaway

What would a Back-to-School Fiesta be like without any giveaways featuring new books by Latino authors and/or illustrators?

There have been lots of excellent books hitting the market in recent months. Most recently is the new children's picture book All the Way to Havana (aff) by Margarita Engle. You may remember Margarita's post here on MommyMaestra two years ago for the L4LL Dia Blog Hop.

Margarita is a remarkable Cuban American poet, and currently serves as the national Young People’s Poet Laureate. Many of her works highlight the people and places of her beloved Cuba and her new book is a great example.

All the Way to Havana is the story of a young Cuban boy who is traveling with his family to the big city of Havana to visit his new baby cousin. But first they have to get their family car, "Cara Cara" (a 1954 Chevy 210 series), up and running for the long trip. Once in Havana, the boy is mesmerized by all the beautiful cars, the noise, and the hustle and bustle of a big city. The writing is imaginative and the author's vivid descriptions will appeal to both parents and children.

Mike Curato's illustrations perfectly reflect the vibrant culture and the richness of the architecture found in Havana. (Take a look at the book trailer below!) Best of all, this book lauds the innovative spirit of the Cuban people, who must be resourceful to keep what they have running and in good condition. Curato traveled to Havana to research the book, and he accurately portrays the city and the culture in his illustrations.

But let me tell you why I especially love this book. Not only did my son and I enjoy reading it, but my husband, who rarely looks twice at any book that doesn't have to do with gardening or birds, happened to spot it on the kitchen table and apparently read it. The car on the cover caught his eye and when he flipped open the book and saw all of the other vehicles inside it, he was hooked. And he brought it up to me later, saying that he gave it a "thumbs up." Now, I'm ALWAYS happy when my husband reads to the kids, but it is hard to find children's books that he likes to read to them. So the fact that he enjoyed this book, too, seals it for me. All the Way to Havana is a book the entire family can enjoy. :)

Here's the official book trailer for a sneak peek of the book...

I think this book would be perfect for studies of Cuba, world cultures, family, family vacations/trips, ingenuity, old cars, Hispanic heritage, and more.

You can buy your copy here on Amazon (aff).

The Giveaway

Henry Holt and Company has generously offered to give away a copy of this book to three MommyMaestra readers in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and my Back-to-School Fiesta.

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spanish Champs PreK & Kindergarten Program

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Spanish Champs. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a new Spanish-learning program that hasn't been featured before here on MommyMaestra.

Name of program: Spanish Champs
Target age: Prek & Kindergarten
Amount of materials: Moderate
Price: $12 - $241.50

A few weeks ago, Spanish Champs reached out to me and asked me to take a look at the program and share it with you if it was a good fit. I frequently get requests from MommyMaestra readers who are looking for a good PreK program that doesn't involve a) internet access, and/or b) a lot of screen time.

So if this sounds like what you are looking for, then perhaps I have the program for you!

Spanish Champs has two programs and although they are promoted as being designed for preschool and kindergarten, the lessons can actually be used with children up to 10 years old. The programs have been used by Progressive Language for more than five years to teach Family Spanish, Summer Camps, and Preschool Spanish. Both curricula come with a good number of materials to help parents/teachers teach their children Spanish. 

Spanish Champs 1

The spiral-bound Teachers Manual makes teaching the lessons very easy. Inside you'll find: 
  • a program overview chart, 
  • a sample parent letter (for educators), 
  • an overview of all the resources included in the curriculum, 
  • a guide on how to use the program,
  • progress charts
  • and the lessons
There are 16 lessons in all and each one includes the lesson layout, a take-home activity, and references to illustrations that teachers will find on the resource CD. The manual suggests that each lesson be taught 5 days a week over a 2-week period, and last around 25 minutes. There is a suggested schedule.

Although the curriculum does include a video, the Teachers Manual urges educators not to over use it, but rather to simply use it one or twice a week to supplement the lesson of the day, typically in relation to the song being learned.

I love how the daily lessons are split up into manageable chunks for little learners. The lessons focus on no more than one or two activities to help reinforce specific concepts, sneaking in repetition through different activities. 

Here's a look at Lesson 1 to give you an idea...

Program 1 also comes with three other books: a story book, a coloring book, and one full of songs and activities. As you can see, the illustrations are fun and colorful, perfect for preschoolers.

Spanish 2

Building on what children have learned in the Spanish 1 program, this set doesn't include a coloring book, but it does come with an additional CD featuring new songs and introduces more topics. 

The Teachers Resource CD is basically pdf and Word versions of the workbooks, plus flash cards, lots of activities, lyrics to the songs, etc. So for those of you looking to save money, you could buy the Teachers Manual and the Teachers Resource CD and simply print everything you need for each lesson. Similarly, the Story CD contains fun read-alouds of the stories used in the program.

I personally, prefer the books because it is good to snuggle with your little one on the couch or allow them to turn the pages on their own. They also help keep all of your student's work in one place rather than have coloring pages floating around all over the place.

Again, there are 16 lessons, plus a bonus Christmas lesson. The lessons are more story focused than those in Spanish 1, and the final lesson focuses on a performance that your young students will enjoy performing!

The DVDs feature animated versions of the books. I think it is good for little Spanish learners to watch them because that way they hear Spanish being spoken by someone other than you/the teacher.

I love that both programs have a Karaoke CD so that your little kids can sing along to the melody and you can listen to see if they are understanding/repeating the words and can listen to their pronunciation. And you know they are having fun singing their little hearts out! 

What I like best about this program is that everything is how age appropriate it is. Preschoolers have a really short attention span and this program keeps the learning time short and focused, using songs, stories, role playing, games, and other fun activities to teach Spanish.

You can purchase the materials individually or as a complete set

The Discount

Spanish Champs is offering a 10% discount to all MommyMaestra readers! Just enter the coupon code "mama" when you check out. 

Thanks, Spanish Champs!

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