Monday, February 18, 2019

The Powerful You - ¡Tú El Poderoso!

Over the last year or so, I've been watching with a mixture of awe, surprise, and immense respect as young people - especially teenagers - across the country have discovered their voices and started to use them on a national stage. They are realizing that they have power in numbers and that their thoughts and opinions matter. They are becoming activists and changemakers demanding social reform.

I'm amazed because I think most children and young adults have trouble finding their own voice. The tween and teen years are such difficult ones, especially for young girls who really struggle with self-confidence and doubt. My own daughter entered high school this year. I watched her go from a self-confident, outspoken person to one who filled with self-doubt and a wavering self-image. It was a shock for me as a parent, who wanted to nurture her independent and self-assured personality.

That's why when I was asked to share the book, The Powerful You/¡Tú El Poderoso! (aff link), I immediately said, "Send me the book so that I can take a look." And I'm so glad I did.

I can't tell you how reading this book for the first time affected me. It truly does say exactly what I want all of my children to know. It is beautiful and empowering and expresses what I think most parents want to teach their children, even if they don't realize it consciously.

This book is plain and straightforward. It took me just a few minutes to read but affected me profoundly. The pages contain simple, yet powerful messages, such as:

  • I can give you life, but I can't live it for you.
  • I can teach you the difference between good and bad, but I can't make the decision for you.
  • I can teach you about charity, but I can't make you be generous.
  • I can give you liberty, but I can't help you to protect it.
You can't help but put down this book with a totally new perspective. It is loving and inspirational all at once teaching the reader that parents can provide us with all the tools they possess to help us through life, but ultimately, our life's path is determined by our own choices and whether or not we are wise enough to learn and use the tools our parents give us.

Communication between parents and teens is frequently difficult and (in some cases) very limited. Sometimes the relationship has become too strained. And some parents cannot put into words what they wish to convey to their children. This book is a wonderful tool to facilitate these conversations. I think it would be a beautiful birthday book for every teen or tween.

I love it so much, I've decided to buy two more copies so that each of my children can have their own copy when they are old enough to receive the important message of empowerment and taking responsibility for your own actions. 

And the added bonus that just puts this book over the top is that it is completely bilingual with full text in both English AND Spanish! 

I wish I could put a copy of this book in the hands of children everywhere. I wish it were required reading in school.  

The book was written and illustrated by a father-son team. I was reading about them and it made me even more determined to share this with MommyMaestra readers.

The author, Patrick Atkinson, is also a human rights activist. According to his website, he began his career by working with "war zone reconciliation and post-war reconstruction in several nations in Central America during the 1980s." Shortly thereafter, he dedicated himself to working on human trafficking issues in Southeast Asia, and then came back to Central America to establish several charities, including: 
  • the ‘Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons’(ITEMP), one of the United States’ first contemporary anti-human trafficking groups.
  • and The GOD’S CHILD Project, which is a nonpolitical international humanitarian organization that develops and administers health, education, family foster care, community development, and human rights protection systems in the world’s poorest nations. 

He has been knighted by the Spanish Legion(!) and has received numerous international awards in recognition of his dedication to human rights. And he's even the subject of the book: The Dream Maker by Monica Hannan. You can read more about his incredible life here.

Patrick's son, Ernesto "Neto" Atkinson, is the illustrator of this book. The illustrations are beautiful and complement the message very well. I was pleased to also see a bit of Hispanic culture reflected in at least one of the illustrations when I recognized a resplendent quetzal (found in Guatemala and several other Central American countries) flying across a page. Neto has a Masters in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He's been described as an "artist who truly sees art as an active agent of change." I can see that he has learned the essential lessons his father describes in this book and has applied them to his own life to make a difference in the lives of others.

If you would like to purchase this book for your young adult, you can find it below on Amazon:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Susan B. Anthony Glossary for Families

How familiar are you with Susan B. Anthony? I ask because tomorrow is her birthday. She is one of the best-known suffragist leaders, who worked tirelessly her whole life to make it possible for women to vote.

I just wrote an article for another site about Susan B. Anthony's life. She was really remarkable. So in honor of her birthday, I have a gift for all of you. Today and tomorrow only, you can download this new glossary I created with words related to her.

Inside you'll find:

  • full-color (and black-and-white copies) of a word poster, 
  • glossary pages with 14 vocabulary words, such as suffrage, abolitionist, Amendment, activist, and more (also in full-color for bulletin boards, or black-and-white for coloring),
  • two worksheets that children can use to write down the definitions after studying the glossary pages,
  • and the answer key.
To learn more about her life, watch this video:

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Bilingual Valentine's Day Activity Pack for PreK & Kindergarten

Here comes Valentine's. Here comes Valentine's - yay! I just cannot resist all the love. And I suddenly realized that I hadn't made a PreK activity pack for this holiday! I think I have one for all of the other major holidays, so you know I had to put this together.

If you're looking for quick, no-prep, print-and-go worksheets in English AND/OR Spanish for your little ones, take a look at these! Inside this packet, you'll find 15 pages total with activities that focus on the following concepts and skills:

  • counting
  • spot the difference
  • puzzles
  • vocabulary
  • math
  • sequencing
  • tracing
  • maze
  • featured letter
  • beginning letter sounds
  • writing papers

You can find it in my TpT store, and I'll be uploading it to my online shop soon.

And don't forget that last year, I created this SUPER CUTE Valentine's Day Storybook, titled "My Favorite Valentine's Day Gifts." Just print, cut, layer, and staple in the middle.

Boost your child's vocabulary and reading skills with this Valentine's Day storybook. This story lists things that children often enjoy on this holiday, so the student will enjoy coloring while learning the words for "balloons/globos," "candy/dulces," "hugs/abrazos" and more.

NOTE! This file contains THREE books:
• a bilingual book (English & Spanish)
• an English only (for ELL)
• a Spanish only (for Spanish learners)

You can also find it in my TpT store.

Both will be available in the MommyMaestra online shop this evening.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Big Fat Notebooks Series for Middle Schoolers

Last year, I reviewed a product for a marketplace that has since closed. So I wanted to share my thoughts about these books with you here because this set of books has become an invaluable tool for us in our homeschool. In fact, I would say that they are a must-have for ANY middle schooler's home reference library. It's not just for homeschoolers. All kids (and their parents, too!) will love this series which helps describe the most important concepts in all subjects in a clear and concise manner.

This post contains affiliate links.

The Big Fat Notebooks series is set of five books covering all the major subjects in middle school in easy-to-understand detail. They are your middle schooler’s new BFF! The best thing about this series is that it is very reader-friendly and presents the information in an engaging manner with lots of visuals to help your student understand and retain the concepts. Children in traditional schools can use the series to help them complete homework, while homeschoolers can use the books as a curriculum spine, or the base curriculum for your entire school year.

The Basics

The set is made up of five books in all. They are color-coded for easy recollection and cover the following subjects:
  • English
  • Science
  • Math
  • American History
  • World History

The books were created by the same people behind the popular series, Brain Quest. We’ve used their workbooks regularly in our homeschool as a supplement to our lesson or for days when we just need a change from our main curriculum. But the Brain Quest series only goes through 6th grade.

Enter the new "COMPLETE Middle School Study Guides.” They are very different from the workbook sets. There is a greater emphasis on layout and the use of colors. We love how these books break up concepts into short manageable sections that focus on the key concept being taught. The front of the book states that these are “notes borrowed from the SMARTEST KID in class” and the information is definitely arranged in the form of a notebook, with highlights in different colors representing different things (i.e., yellow highlights = important vocabulary, green highlights = definitions, and blue writing = important people, places, dates, and terms). The illustrations are more like doodles that help the note taker to visualize big ideas.

Each chapter ends with a list of questions that helps the student test their knowledge. (It’s almost like a quiz, but the students simply have to turn the page to check their answers.)

The only thing that would make this series better is if they had included an index at the back for easy reference. For instance, my daughter was trying to look up subordinating conjunctions, but they weren’t listed in the Table of Contents because they were included in the chapter with phrases and clauses. So it took a little while to find them.

English Language Arts 

This book covers five areas:
  1. Grammar
  2. Language
  3. Reading Fiction
  4. Reading Nonfiction
  5. Writing

From intensive pronouns and figurative language to setting and tone to plagiarism and citation, your child will learn about these concepts in easy-to-understand language with simple examples. There are definitions, diagrams, doodles, and even mnemonic devices to help your student remember important information.


My daughter often forgets what the difference is between finding the greatest common factor and the least common multiple. Sometimes she needs help remembering how to find the percentage. This book is a fabulous reference and a must-have when doing school work. It covers six areas:

  1. The Number System
  2. Ratios, Proportions, and Percents
  3. Expressions and Equations
  4. Geometry
  5. Statistics and Probability
  6. The Coordinate Plane and Functions

This book is really a goldmine not just for students, but for the parents to whom they turn asking for help! Can’t remember how to convert measurements or calculate simple interest? No problem! You can just look it up in this handy notebook!


This book is my favorite of the set! It covers so much information and I’ve enjoyed just starting at the beginning and taking each section one by one with my kids. Sure they can use it to supplement their science curriculum, but this book is also fun to use as a science spine. Take it one section at a time and then supplement it with activities, books, and experiments!

It covers ELEVEN areas:
  1. Scientific Investigation
  2. Matter, Chemical Reactions, and Solutions
  3. Motion, Forces, and Work
  4. Energy
  5. Outer Space: The Universe and the Solar System
  6. The Earth, Weather, Atmosphere, and Climate
  7. Life: Classification and Cells
  8. Plants and Animals
  9. The Human Body and Body Systems
  10. History of Life: Heredity, Evolution, and Fossils
  11. Ecology: Habitats, Interdependence, and Resources

The doodles are simple but very entertaining, and the explanations are clear and concise. If you could only get one book of the whole series, this would be it!

American History

I think this book is great for explaining the more difficult events in American history, such as the cause behind World War I. I love how superfluous details are left out and the main points are the focus of these books because it really helps to clarify those murky moments in U.S. history.

This book covers ten areas:
  1. Prehistory – Early 1600s
  2. Colonial America, 1607-1780s
  3. American Revolutions and the Early Republic, 1776-1791
  4. American Expansion, 1801-1861
  5. Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850s-1870s
  6. Reshaping the Nation, 1850-1917
  7. World Wars and Modern America, 1900s-1930s
  8. World War II, 1930s-1945
  9. Post-World War II Era, 1945-1980
  10. American History and Current-ish Events

From the Louisiana Purchase to Burr vs. Hamilton to D-Day, this book is a super helpful guide for students studying American history.

World History

And finally, we have world history. From Medieval Japan to the Olympic Games, this book covers tons of information in bite-sized snippets that focus on the key points.

This book covers nine areas:
  1. The First Humans: Prehistory-3500 BC
  2. First Civilizations: 3500 – 300 AD
  3. The Middle Ages: 400 – 1500
  4. Renaissance and Reformation: 1350-1650
  5. The Age of Exploration: 1400- 1800
  6. Revolution and Enlightenment: 1500 – 1865
  7. The Era of Imperialism: 1800-1914
  8. World Conflicts in the Early Twentieth Century: 1914-1945
  9. Post-World War II: The World from 1945 to Today

Overall, I love how these books strengthen a student’s skills for using a reference source. It also empowers them to find the answers they are looking for rather than asking an adult or looking it up on the internet. Actually, it is better! Have you ever looked up the reason for World War I on the internet? Or how to find the least common multiple of two numbers? We like the descriptions in these books best.

For homeschoolers, this isn’t a stand-alone curriculum. It must be supplemented with textbooks or living books and online tools, if you choose to use it as a curriculum spine.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Famous Afro-Latinos Reading Passages

Great news! So many of you have been asking me over the years for a Spanish version of my popular Reading Comprehension Passages: Famous Afro-Latinos. You'll be delighted to know that I have FINALLY gotten it done.

In addition, I've added a page of reading comprehension questions for each reading passage. If you purchased the English packet before today, you can simply redownload the file from your TpT account.

To be clear, this file is now available in three formats to best suit your needs: English, Spanish, and a COMBO pack with both. Click on the links below to download them from TpT.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Free Download: Spanish Valentine Vowels Game

This last week has been super busy as I've been working on a major project that I cannot wait to share with you. But in the meantime, I wanted to be sure to kick of February the right way with a free Spanish download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!

They are just so fantastic, and their latest printable helps your young Spanish learner learn his or her Valentine's Day vocabulary. This holiday game focuses on the vowels and the sounds they make. Isn't Spanish so much easier than English? You know those vowels are the embodiment of consistency; they make the same sound no matter where in the word they appear. Yay!

Today's two-page download includes an audio file to help your young student learn the proper pronunciation. So don't sweat it if you don't speak Spanish yourself and your kid comes to you for help. Just click on the audio file!

Bilingual & Spanish Books About Love!

(The following links are affiliate links.)

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!

Friday, January 25, 2019

BBC News Features Castanet Maker

BBC News does such great segments highlighting people and their trades. This episode is dedicated to Juan Vela, one of the last of the castanet makers. Castanets, as your kids or students may not know, are used in flamenco dancing. Made of small concave pieces of wood, ivory, or plastic, they are joined in pairs by a cord and clicked together by the fingers to accompany the flamenco dancers.

You may enjoy pairing this with my free download, Explore Spain: A Country Coloring Activity.

I really loved watching this! And I think most of you will, too.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Teaching Children about International Holocaust Remembrance Day with Woo! Jr.

Did you know that January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day? What a difficult subject to teach children. But it is an important one. First, so that we can teach history accurately. And second, so that we can foster kindness and compassion in our children.

Are you wondering how to teach your kids or students about the Holocaust? If so, stop over at Woo! Jr. to see the article I wrote for them. You'll learn just what the Holocaust was and why we need to teach it to our kids. There are some lovely activities and excellent printables that you can download, too. Be sure to take a look around while you are there because Woo! Jr. has tons of excellent teaching resources on everything under the sun!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Hispanic American Literature

I've been sharing one-semester resources to supplement or break up your homeschool year. I've already mentioned how we're using Civil Rights: Then & Now, as well as Philosophy for Kids this spring semester.

Here's another one I'm looking forward to using in the fall with my 8th grader, but it would be an excellent resource for high school, too.

Hispanic American Literature is another excellent find that I stumbled upon one year in my local used book store. It was published nearly 20 years ago but is still a great addition to any bilingual or multicultural homeschool or classroom.

The book is a collection of nonfiction, features, short stories, poems, folktales, and drama. The list of contributors is noteworthy; there are works from writers such as Rudolfo Anaya, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Gary Soto, Margarita Engle, José Martí, Julia Alvarez, Octavio Paz, and many others. Most of them are reprinted from larger works.

This book is divided up into five themes: Identity/La Identidad, Earth/La Tierra, Expression/La Expresión, Defiance/El Desafío, and Memory/La Memoria. While the text is mostly in English, there are Spanish words mixed in throughout the book in anticipation of a bilingual reader.

Each piece no matter how long or short is preceded by a "Before You Read" section with information about the author and additional background information about the text. And each work is followed by a section with comprehension questions and suggested activities to extend the learning. This is really a fantastic resource for teachers. Take a look at these sample pages:

My son won't know all the Spanish words, so I'll be there to help him. But some are easily figured out by those who don't speak Spanish simply by the context.

I was able to find three additional copies of this book. If you are interested, they are available on a first-come, first served basis in my online shop.

Con cariño!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Bilingual Martin Luther King Jr. Resources

Over the years, I've created a few different printables to help teach my kids about Martin Luther King, Jr. And since MLK Day is coming up on Monday, January 21st, I wanted to be sure to share them with you in case you are looking for fast, easy printables to share with your kids.

For little ones, here's a fun activity. All you need is crayons or markers! I would first read one of the many wonderful MLK books available. Here's a list of my five favorites that I shared on

In this writing triptych, kids can read a little bit about Martin Luther King, Jr. and read some quotes from his famous speech. They can color it, and draw or paste a picture of themselves on one of the folds of the triptych. Then they can think about the quotes and write a few words (short paragraph) sharing their own hopes for this country.

This simple activity allows students to write their own ending to Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech. They simply color in the base sheet and write in their ending, before coloring in and attaching a flap-style poster to the top. Available in English or Spanish.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with this easy, no-prep, printable poster and glossary! Available in full color or black-and-white, you can decorate your classroom or have your students color in the poster and read the glossary which features words related to Dr. King. 

Love them all? Then SAVE when you purchase the BUNDLE!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2018 Doodle for Google National Winner

This morning, I opened a new tab on my computer to look something up and saw the newest Google. It immediately caught my eye because of the subject matter: Dinosaurs. My 12-year-old is still fascinated by them. And the other thing that piqued my curiosity was the drawing style. It appeared to be drawn by a child.

I also noted that it was a video doodle. Thinking I would show my son, I clicked on it to see what would happen and was delighted to watch the interactive unfold before me. I thought, hey, I need to share this with MommyMaestra readers to inspire them!

THEN I noticed that this was the 2018 Doodle for Google National Winner, so I went to see who it was. And you can't imagine my joy to discover it was 2nd grader Sarah Gomez-Lane! I love it when I see Hispanic kids excelling!

According to the Google page dedicated to the doodle:
"For the first time in Doodle for Google’s 10-year history, Sarah got to collaborate with the Doodle team to transform her artwork into an animated, interactive experience. She also received $30,000 toward a college scholarship, and her elementary school in Falls Church, VA will receive $50,000 to spend on technology to help students like Sarah continue to pursue what inspires them."

How great for her and her school!

Watch the short video sharing Sarah's story here:

If your child has been inspired to enter, the 2019 Doodle for Google is live! Click here to learn what the theme is and find out how to enter.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Philosophy for Kids

Philosophy for Kids
Last year at my local homeschool convention, I was looking through the expo hall trying to find any gems I didn't already know about. There were plenty. And this book - Philosophy for Kids - was one of them!

This article contains affiliate links.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm sharing fantastic resources for homeschoolers who are looking to add something different to their lessons. Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions that Help You Wonder...About Everything! (aff link) by David A. White, Ph.D. is just that.

Why philosophy? Aren't my kids too young for that? Well, one study showed that kids who study philosophy have higher scores on tests of verbal and computational intelligence than those who do not. More than 3,100 children in 48 primary schools who took philosophy classes were shown to have improved their math and reading skills by about two months of additional progress.

There is, in fact, a whole website dedicated to teaching children philosophy. On it, you'll find booklists and many other resources to help you teach your kids at home or in school.

But I personally, love the book I found at the convention. We've been using Philosphy for Kids since August slowly covering one chapter each week. At this pace, we are able to use this book throughout one school year, but if you sped things up and did two or more a week, you could certainly get through it in one semester.

I love this book because it challenges children to think philosophically (duh!) and introduces them to great philosophers in history, such as Plato, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Hobbes, Simone de Beauvoir, Parmenides, and many others.

The 40 questions are arranged into four categories: Values, Knowledge, Reality, and Critical Thinking. Your child will be asked things like:

  • Are you a fair and just person? 
  • Can you lie to yourself?
  • Can you doubt that you exist?
  • Do you perceive things as they are or only as they seem to be?
  • Can you think about nothing at all? (My favorite!)
There are discussions and follow up questions, as well as a section at the end of each chapter titled, "For Further Thought."

Philosophy for Kids

Philosophy for Kids

The great thing is that my son can go through this book on his own, or we can go through it together. the back of the book contains teaching tips for every single question. And there's also a glossary of philosophical terms. 

The book was written by a university professor of philosophy (at DePaul University) who has been teaching to kids for 10+ years. So all the material is very well presented. 

This resource is best suited for children ages 10 and older, or grades 4th - 12th. 

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