Monday, September 29, 2014

App Review: Story Bug by Cricket Magazine


When my kids were little, we moved half way across the country far away from family. How I wish I'd had access to an app like this! Cricket Media has discovered a way to eliminate those distance barriers with their latest app, Story Bug. Whether you are a parent who travels far away from home for work, or a grandparent who is looking for opportunities to bond with your grandchild, or a military family that moves on a regular basis, this app makes those special moments with infants and toddlers possible.

Name: Story Bug
Subject(s): Reading
Brief Description: A new reading app that combines video chat with an interactive reader, allowing young people and adults in different locations to read specially curated selections drawn from Cricket Media’s portfolio of acclaimed children’s magazines including Babybug, Ladybug and Click.
Price: Free w/in-app subscriptions
Language: English
Ages: 0 - 6
Device: iOS 

What I like:
This is the perfect app for families! Story Bug allows children and adults who are in different cities, states, or even countries to enjoy reading time together. The app itself is free to download and comes with two free eBooks. Additional books can be accessed via an in-app subscription ($4,99/mo, $14.99/6-mos, $24.99/yr). You only pay for the subscription once and you can add as many family members as you'd like, so even abuelita or Tía María can take turns reading to your nene every day. 

Your subscription gives you access to dozens of books, magazines, and stories from Cricket Media, including Babybug, Ladybug, and Click. More stories are being added monthly.

Since both parties see the same screen, you can read aloud to your child if you are away at a conference, turning the pages at the same time. Both screens even show where the other person is pointing, so you can direct your child's attention to specific images and words. 

You also have the option to upload photos of each user, and these profile pictures appear at the top of the screen, so little children can see the face of their loved one while listening to him or her read the story (and vice versa). 

This is such a great app for early learners and the materials cover critical developmental topics, such as letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and more.

What needs work:
It doesn't appear to be available with their Spanish magazines yet. And it would be especially great if it were available on Android devices, too. 




Disclosure: I received access to this app for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

#EstamosConLosNiños - How to Help the Border Children


In July, I wrote a post to help my readers understand the Child Migrant Crisis. Then I wrote about 3 ways your family can help the Border Kids. While the media has lost their focus on the issue, the reality is that there are still many children who are awaiting immigration hearings.

They still need our help.

Tonight, a special Twitter party hosted by Latism will be showing their support of these border children as they discuss the situation and the special Save the Children donation fund that has been set up to provide critical funding for basic necessities (such as food, clothes, housing, medical care, education, and legal representation) to these children. This fundraiser is being supported by Univision, Catholic Charities, and other organizations.

If you are the type of person who prefers to donated $10 or more to important causes, this may be the solution for you. Perhaps your son or daughter would like to make a difference by raising funds, but doesn't know what to do with the money he or she has raised. This would be a great place to channel those funds.

You can learn more about Save the Children and their work here.

Or if your family/children would prefer to actually purchase items to help the Border Children, then see my post above on three ways to help the Border Kids. You'll find not only ideas for materials/products to purchase, but a link directing you to the charities that are working with the children so you'll know where to ship the items.

To join the Twitter party tonight at 9 pm EST, simply follow the following hashtags:  #EstamosConLosNiños and/or #Latism

I hope to "see" you there!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Worlds Together Cuba Series


A couple of weeks ago, for Hispanic Heritage Month, Master Communications released another set of videos in their Worlds Together DVD series. Three of those DVDs feature Latin American countries: Worlds Together Cuba: Pearl of the Antilles, Ecuador, and Colombia

The 25-minute videos delves into the culture and traditions of each country. You can choose to listen to the video in English or Spanish - or read subtitles in either language. 

While the Cuba video does not delve into the controversial political history of the country, it does talk about the economy, music, food, religion, wildlife, and cultural traditions. Lots of footage of the people and places accompany the narration. It also touches on the island's history. It is a nice introduction to Cuba for children without the heavy issues that go with it.

I had my kids watch it as part of our Hispanic Heritage Month studies. They enjoyed seeing the footage from another country and loved learning more about its people, language, and culture.

The trailer for the video on YouTube is pretty cute, but a little misleading as the video I watched was narrated by a woman who simply acted as a voiceover. There were no children talking about the country.

Other titles in the series include Tibet, East Africa, West Africa, and Ethiopia. 

You can find the whole series for sale on the Culture for Kids website. But I would recommend simply streaming it from Amazon Instant Video for only $1.99. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Benefits of a Homeschool ID Card for Parents and Students


Are you a homeschooler? Yes? Do you have a Teacher's Card?

If you answered "yes" again, then way to go!

But if you answered "no" then let me convince you to print your own - tonight.

If you are a homeschooling parent, then you are an educator, and as such, you should have some form of documentation that identifies you as one for several reasons:

  1. You may be entitled to special discounts for entrance to - or classes at - certain museums and other field trip locations. 
  2. You can also enjoy additional discounts at may of your local stores.
  3. If you are ever questioned by a law enforcement officer as to why your child is not in school, you can prove that you are a homeschooling family. (This is really not likely, but it depends on your state and how serious officers are about such a policy.)
There are so many stores at which you probably shop where you could be saving money. Gift Card Granny (don't laugh!) has done an amazing job of compiling a Complete List of 80 Teacher Discounts. The ones that I frequent the most are Michaels and JoAnn's (we go through a LOT of art supplies around here). I absolutely love that in addition to using my store coupons, I can also whip out my teacher's ID card and get an additional 15% off my purchases. 

How to Get Your Own Homeschool ID Card

It is so easy. 

Some states will mail you a card when you register your homeschool (or you can ask them for one). But if they don't, then you can use one of several places online or create your own using Picmonkey.

My favorite way to create an ID card is through Homeschool Buyers Co-Op. You have to be a member to access their ID card maker, but membership is free (and confidential!) and if you are a homeschooler, you'll want to be a member anyway since the site offers incredible discounts on curricula and other resources that you can't get as an individual homeschooler. 

Once you become a member, you can access their ID card editor and upload a photo of yourself then edit the text on your card. You can also customize the colors and layout to some degree. Then you can either print the final design on your own computer for free, or you can order a sturdier, plastic (PVC) card for $7.95 and have it mailed to your home. You can create and order a student ID card as well.

I went ahead and printed my own card on some heavy photo paper, then laminated it using Scotch Self-Sealing Laminating Pouches (affiliate link). Overall, it took me about 10 minutes. I think it turned out very well and it's easy to just whip it out whenever I walk up to the register at Michaels. (You get a special card at JoAnn's after showing them your teacher's ID.)

So if you are a homeschooling mami or papá, this is one free resource of which you should definitely take advantage!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Teaching Children Financial Responsibility: Hard Lessons

Teaching Kids Financial Responsibility

Tonight, my son learned a very hard lesson that I hope and pray will stay with him his entire life. As part of their schooling this year, my children are learning about financial responsibility. I looked a long time for a curriculum to use and finally settled on Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Junior. So far it has been such a wonderful experience for all of us, but especially for me as I have long struggled with the entire concept of an allowance. (But more about that later.)

Anyway, earlier this week my son went through his savings and counted up all his money. He was quite surprised and pleased at the amount and asked me if he could spend $17 of it on a special toy he really wanted. I agreed since he had chosen to put some of his spending into his savings, but told him that he would have to wait until our next trip into town to get it. He wanted me to order it from Amazon, but I refused because I think he is too young to understand the dangers of ordering online. In my opinion, it is too easy to overspend online if you don't understand the idea of budgeting and the value of money to begin with.

Teaching Kids Financial Responsibility
So finally, after three days of waiting (somewhat impatiently), we prepared to go into town this evening. I told him to get $20 out of his savings, but when I walked up, I found him taking ALL of his money out of his savings and putting it in his pocket. I made him put it all back except for a twenty dollar bill. He wasn't mad, but a little annoyed that I made him do so. Then as we got into the car, I told him to put his twenty in his wallet, which he keeps inside the car.

I had a list of errands to run, so we made a few stops before we arrived at the store where he was going to buy his toy. And then we went in to purchase it.

But his money was gone.

He hadn't put it in his wallet like I had told him and somewhere along the way it must have fallen out of his pocket. We headed back out to the car to see if it had fallen out in his seat, but no such luck. As I shut the door and started the car, the realization sunk in and he began to cry.

I felt so bad for him. It was all I could do not to turn off the car and go in and buy him the toy with the $20 I had in my own wallet. I wanted to so badly, but I realized this was one of those invaluable teachable moments that I wanted him to remember forever. I hugged him and told him how sorry I was that he had lost it.

He wanted to go home and get another $20 out of his savings. That immediately snapped me out of thinking about buying him the toy because what kind of lesson would that teach? If you lose money, don't worry, there's plenty more of where that came from? You can just get more out of savings? Or if you lose money, someone will give it to you anyway?

I refused and told him he was going to have to earn it back with chores. Since the maximum he's allowed to receive each week is directly related to his age ($8), it's going to take three weeks to earn the twenty back since he has to put some away in giving (and spending).

He cried pretty much the whole half hour it took to get back home and then had to be comforted by his father for a little while. But fortunately for all of us, he's a pretty happy little kid so he was back to his smiley little self by dinner.

I hope I did the right thing and that the lessons he learned tonight are:
  1. You have to work hard to earn money. 
  2. Money is valuable and should be managed carefully. 
What do you think? Do you let your children suffer loss and make mistakes without helping them out?


Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 Activities to Practice Uppercase and Lowercase Vowels in Spanish {Printable}


This month's freebie from our sponsor Monarca Language is a wonderful set of activities to practice lowercase and uppercase vowels in Spanish. Perfect for preschoolers and kindergartners, these five pages develop letter recognition.

If you are not familiar with Monarca Language, it is a most fabulous resource for families with preschoolers at home and who are raising them bilingually. If you have chosen to homeschooler your preschooler, Monarca Language has a complete curriculum that you can access online. You can read my review of the program here, and try out lots of free printables from them here on my site.

If you have a 3 or 4 year old at home, it is very important to be working with him (or her!) to prepare him for kindergarten so that he does not start school already behind. Teaching your child is simple, and even more so when you use Monarca Language!


Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review: Good Dream, Bad Dream/Sueño bueno, sueño malo


This book could not have come at a better time. Lately, Diego has been struggling with bad dreams. He actually says they are nightmares and it really worries me! No one likes to have bad dreams that feel so real. The worst part of our situation is that Diego thinks that what goes on in his beautiful head while he sleeps is all his doing. Therefore, when something bad happens, he thinks he has caused it. Well now we can turn it around!

Good Dream, Bad Dream: The World's Heroes Save the Night/Sueño bueno, sueño malo: ¡Los héroes del mundo salvan la noche! by Juan Calle and Serena Valentino is a perfect book for Hubby and me to read with Diego. We always turn to books to help us start conversations with our boys. Our seven year old loved it too because he really is into comics, can read in English and Spanish, and is going through the exact same situation as the main character, Julio.

We are all learning that children like Julio and Diego have bad dreams. But at Julio's bedside, his papá comforts him and tells him that anyone can summon mythic avengers to conquer their fears. Every culture has its own historic champions who can vanquish scary creatures or villains. And as Julio's father introduces those heroes, Julio learns that his imagination is very powerful and can turn his bad dreams into good ones.

Illustrating the world's iconic defenders in a vibrant comic book style, this bilingual (Spanish) story has global appeal. Facing the ancient Egyptian Ra and Greek archer Artemis, to the Asian Monkey King and futuristic Giant Robots, those monsters under the bed and in the closet don't stand a chance! The book leaves an excellent opportunity for curious minds who want to learn more!

If you are looking for a good bedtime story, Good Dreams, Bad Dreams/Sueño bueno, sueño malo is perfect. Here at Mommy Maestra we really believe that books are great conversations starters for lots of important topics. Dreams shouldn't just be brushed off! Bravo to Juan Calle and Serena Valentino for understanding children and showing just how important and powerful their dreams can be!


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Betty Galvan, is writing "for smart and stylish moms" over

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Free Download: Student Desk Plates in English & Spanish PLUS a Giveaway!



September's free download from our sponsor, Lectura para niños is a set of Student Desk Plates. Aren't they super cute?!? I'm cranking up my laminator in the morning to get mine ready for my kids. Remember, your children don't have to be in school to use these. The desk plates make wonderful posters and refrigerator signs, too!

Leah says:

I love these desk plates! I have them on all of my tables! I also have laminated inside my homework folders of for all of my students. The students use them for reference when doing their homework.

For more awesome Spanish materials, especially those that teach children to read in Spanish, check out Lectura para niños on Facebook, Teachers Pay Teachers, Blog, and Pinterest.



THE GIVEAWAY

Lectura para niños has also generously offered one of their Phonics Centers for making words. They are in both fonts for those teachers who use the opposite font. This is a wonderful tool for educators teaching students to read in Spanish. 

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hispanic Heritage Month Trading Cards & MKB Giveaway


I am so delighted to once again participate in the Multicultural Kid Blogs annual Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop! They have put together an incredible set of giveaways, as well as a ton of fabulous posts by the participating blogs (I hope you visit each one for ideas and resources to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month!). Therefore, I want to keep my part of this post short so you can get on down to the good stuff. 


First, if you haven't been following my Facebook feed, I want you to know about the 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month Bucket List that I created for PBS Parents. It's a great starting point for exploring people, crafts, recipes, and traditions that are central to the Hispanic culture. You can download your FREE copy of the bucket list from my post on Adventures in Learning. (It's available in color or black-and-white to save printer ink!)

Next, I want to remind you that MommyMaestra has a TON of HHM resources for you to explore. You can find them all here


And lastly, I want to share with you today's free download: MommyMaestra's Hispanic Heritage Month Trading Cards. This first set features five influential Latinos who have left their mark on our nation's history and culture. They are available in black and white so that your child can color them in, cut them out, and trade them away. We're working on more cards and will share them here over the month as they are completed, so check back often and download additional sets! 

And now, on to the amazing giveaways from MKB!


heritagemonth

Welcome to the Third Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop, hosted this year by Multicultural Kid Blogs and 17 of our member blogs! Don't miss our amazing giveaway, and share your own posts at our linky! Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 every year, "celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America" (from HispanicHeritageMonth.gov) Be sure to visit all of the participating blogs (listed below) and follow our related Pinterest boards:

MKB HHM Twitter PartyDon't miss our Twitter party "Celebrating Hispanic Heritage with Kids," Tuesday, September 23, from 9 - 10 pm ET! Follow #mkbhhm to participate!

MKB Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop: Participating Blogs


Hispanic Heritage Month GIVEAWAY!
This year to celebrate we are giving away fabulous prizes! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post for a chance to win! Please note that there are shipping restrictions on some prizes. In the event that the winner lives outside of the shipping area, that portion of the prize will be added to the following prize package.


Grand Prize Package
Smart Play - Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop
Smart Play Pad (SRP $ 24.99): Interactive tablet like electronic toy makes early learning fun and exciting for little ones. More than 30 touch sensitive keys teach language and pronunciation skills to help prepare children for school. Bilingual feature helps kids learn in English & Spanish. Lightweight and truly portable for on-the-go learning. Ships to US and Canada only.

Traditional Mexican toys and games.
A basket of fun from Escuela Falcón in Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico. This prize includes educational games, ceramic Day of the Dead skulls, a hand-painted ceramic box, wooden toys, and a certificate for 5 hours of Skype Spanish lessons with Escuela Falcón.
A basket from Lanugo with the book "Lula la Consentida,” a limited-edition “Latino de Corazón” infant onsie, and Seventh Generation’s baby product essentials. US shipping only.

Spanish games for kids.
A Spanish edition of the award-winning game Bananagrams.

DVD of Spanish music videos from Rockalingua.
DVD of Spanish music videos from Rockalingua.

Bilingual poetry book from Lee and Low.
Spanish poetry book for kids from Lee and Low.
A Movie in my Pillow and Poems to Dream Together - Books of poetry in English and Spanish from Lee and Low.


First Prize Package

Peru prize basket - Kid World Citizen
A child's sweater and bag from Peru courtesy of Kid World Citizen. The handmade, wool sweater is typical from the Andes and might fit a child ages 2-4. The little backpack is also handmade with gorgeous details typical of the region.

Spanish games for kids.
A Spanish edition of the award-winning game Bananagrams.

Spanish songs for kids.
Chocolalala - CD of songs in English and Spanish from Mister G.

Spanish songs for kids from Mariana Iranzi.
Hola Hello - A CD of children's songs in English and Spanish from Mariana Iranzi.

Spanish poems for kids.
Mis primeros poemas - A book of poems and audio CD for Spanish learners from All Bilingual Press.

Spanish color activities from Mundo de Pepita.
Digital download of Spanish Colors Activities Pack with printable minibooks, games and activity pages from Mundo de Pepita.

Lingua Toys
Spanish activity book with an audio CD with listening exercises for kids between 3-10 years old (value: 12€) from Lingua Toys.

Bolivian Guiro
Hand-crafted guiro (traditional instrument), hand-carved from a gourd in Bolivia with a sun and moon pattern. Great instrument as well as a piece of folk art. From DARIAMUSIC. US shipping only.


Second Prize Package

Handwoven scarf from Nicaragua.
Handwoven scarf from Nicaragua courtesy of Spanish Playground.

Spanish ABC book from Libros Arellano.

Spanish book for kids from Libros Arellano.
¡Las letras! and Señorita Bienvenida en el aeropuerto - Two children's books in Spanish from Libros Arellano.

Spanish songs for kids from Mariana Iranzi.
A CD of children's songs in English and Spanish from Mariana Iranzi.

Children's songs in Spanish from Mister G.
ABC Fiesta - CD of songs in English and Spanish from Mister G.

High frequency words books in Spanish.
Digital download of 6 printable Spanish high frequency words books from Custom Literacy.


Bonus Prize: France Shipping Only!

Las piñatas de Laly
Beautiful piñata created especially for this contest by Piñatas de Laly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link Up Your Posts Now it's your turn to share your posts! The linky will be open through October 15, so come back and share throughout Hispanic Heritage Month!

Enter to Win Monthly Prizes from Fisher-Price® for Your Baby!


This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Fisher-Price® and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

A few months ago, I shared with you a new fantastic campaign by Fisher-Price® for mamis with babies who are about to turn 1 year old (or have recently done so). I love their new Mis Primeras Mañanitas campaign not just because it was designed to specifically help Latino families celebrate their child's first birthday, but also because they are giving away products that promote the development of your child's fine motor skills and more. Some of my favorites include:
  • Baby's First Blocks - develops hand-to-eye coordination, building skills, spacial reasoning/depth perception
  • the Little People ® Lil' Movers™ School Bus - develops hand-to-eye coordination, and social concept recognition through imaginative play
  • and the Brilliant Basics™ Corn Popper® - promotes balance, steadies beginning walkers
The Mis Primeras Mañanitas Sweepstakes is awarding monthly prizes and party ideas to Latino parents. When you enter the sweeps, you become eligible to win 12 Fisher-Price® toys for your baby.
 
But you could also win a Mis Primeras Mañanitas birthday party prize pack with invitations, favors, decorations, and a customized piñata and birthday cake! You will throw the best first birthday party in your town! 

And to help you out, Fisher-Price® has created the most fantastic website to help you plan your nene's first birthday party. You'll find super clever ideas and step-by-step instructions for decorating and recipes, too - all in Spanish! Take a look at some of the images below. You can find easy directions for all of them on the site.


Aren't these fun? I could decide which cake I like best, so I put both of them in here. :)

So don't wait! Enter the Mis Primeras Mañanitas sweepstakes here

And feliz cumpleaños to your bebé!


Friday, September 12, 2014

September Freebie: Chart the Weather in Spanish


The weather across the country has been absolutely crazy! From flash flooding to record heat waves, the climate is up and down and up and down. So this month's Spanish-learning freebie from our sponsor Spanish for You! is perfect.

The Chart the Weather Mini Lesson helps your child learn the weather while keeping a chart. As with all of Spanish for You!'s excellent materials, this one comes with an audio download to help you with pronunciation. 



If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some great downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy.

To supplement this activity, here are some great bilingual and Spanish-language books centered around the weather: (These are affiliate links.)


And check out this cute video:


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Celebrate My Drive Campaign plus Giveaway

photo courtesy of State Farm's Celebrate My Drive®
This is part of a sponsored collaboration with State Farm and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

The thought of my kids driving in a few years scares me to death, so I'm happy when I see resources and programs that promote responsible driving practices among teens. Many of you have older children who are either learning to drive or will soon do so. That's why I want to be sure and share with you this great program from State Farm.


Celebrate My Drive® is a community program that provides an incredible incentive for schools to foster safe driving habits among their students. High schools that sign up are eligible to win grant money for school programs and a private concert by a GRAMMY® Award nominee band!! Students commit to safe driving practices, such as 2N2®: 2 eyes on the road and 2 hands on the wheel.

I hope that we all agree that safe driving habits must be trained from the beginning when your child starts to drive. Did you know that auto crashes are the number one cause of death among teens in North America? And according to the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, risky behaviors while driving—such as not wearing a seat belt, riding in a car driven by someone who had been drinking, or texting while driving—is higher among Hispanic teens. Not surprising, I guess since Latinos are known to be some of the largest consumers of social media, hence LOTS of texting!

So you can see why I believe in this program. It helps protect our children and our families.

Are you wondering how your school can participate?

First, check to see if your child's school is signed up. If it isn't, talk to your school's administrator and see if you can him or her to sign up at www.celebratemydrive.com by October 11th.

Then every day, teens and community members can commit to safe driving from October 15-24 in support of their favorite high school.

If your high school is one of the first 100 schools to generate the most safe-driving commitments between October 15th and October 24th, it will win a grant award of $25,000 or $100,000. And the TOP TWO SCHOOLS will win the grand prize: a private concert by a GRAMMY® Award nominee band!

I also love the State Farm Teen Driving Website. It has fast facts, tips, polls, and skill building interactives for both parents and teens. Their Road Aware 3D tool helps teens learn to scan for hazards, which is important because 40% of teen driver accidents are caused by lack of proper scanning.

Don't forget to follow Celebrate My Drive® on Facebook and State Farm on Twitter.


THE GIVEAWAY

State Farm is giving away a $50 gift card to one MommyMaestra reader. You can use it for anything!

To enter, simply use the rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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