Friday, August 22, 2014

Spanish Classroom Poster Set from Monarca Language {GIVEAWAY}

One of the best things you can do to raise literate children, is to create a print-rich environment for them. By now, you know how much emphasis we place on pre-literacy and literacy skills for our children. So you can imagine our delight when one of our blog sponsors - Monarca Language - agreed to giveaway a set of their Spanish classroom posters to one MommyMaestra reader!

We know a lot of Spanish & bilingual education teachers follow along, but this giveaway is also for parents who are eager to nurture their child's biliteracy skills. Are you teaching your child to speak or read in Spanish? These wonderful posters are a great tool for both Spanish learners and beginning readers. They are a lovely way to decorate your child's bedroom, the refrigerator, your home library or classroom (ahem - homeschoolers!), or any spot in your home.

You can use the posters in conjunction with your Monarca Language subscription, or to supplement any curriculum.

Teachers, wouldn't these posters be a wonderful addition to your classroom decor? The set comes with more than two dozen posters - 29 to be exact - covering a range of topics, including the seasons, numbers, shapes, and classroom rules & activities.

I love how they are colorful and adorable, perfect for attracting your child's attention. Parents, in addition to hanging them up around the house, be sure to take the time to point them out and talk about what they represent.

The winner will receive a downloadable file from Monarca Language so that you can print up however many you need. You might prefer to print just a few at a time and switch them out over the course of the year. This helps to keep your child engaged and learning.

To enter the giveaway, just use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

8 Questions to Ask Your Child After School

I have three boys who love my attention! It is difficult to always make one-on-one time with each one, but I really try. Now that school is about to start, I know I will genuinely want to know about my soon to be second grader's day (even back when he was in preschool)! I might not always be able to take him out alone but I make sure to have a lengthy conversation at some point after he gets home from school.

We have learned that Diego likes to unwind right when he gets home from his busy day. He usually spends 30 minutes watching a show, or spends time at soccer practice. Like most moms, I am usually very eager to learn about what happened at school, but I remind myself to give him a little time to just relax. I have also learned not to ask him any open-ended questions that will make him reply with a simple "yes" or "no." When I was teaching in the classroom, I guided parents on how to ask questions after school and would say: You know your child best so strike up a conversation when everyone is relaxed. Another tip: Make sure your questions are very specific!

Here are eight excellent questions to ask your child after school:

1. What was the best thing you did at school today?

2. What was the hardest thing you had to do at school today?

3. Can you name three friends who sat the closest to you on the bus today? During lunch?

4. Did your teacher share any funny stories?

5. Was there anything you needed at school that you didn't have today?

6. What was the best game you played at recess today?

7. What did your friends eat at lunch? What did you have for a snack?

8. What did you read at school today?

These eight simple questions can reveal a whole lot of information for you. As parents, we need to know if a subject is too hard, in order to find ways to help our student as soon as possible. It's also important to see if our children are experiencing positive relationships with teachers and peers. Even the amount of food and water consumed play a huge factor on academic success! Remember that you don't have to ask any questions the minute you see your child...let the day just sink in with your child for a bit.

Good luck! Enjoy the upcoming school year!

top image: CR Photography

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Classroom Labeling with Kid World Citizen {GIVEAWAY}

This post contains affiliate links.

Are you familiar with the blog, Kid World Citizen? If not, you should be! My friend Becky Morales is the beautiful mami behind it. Her site is centered around activities that help young minds go global. From geography to literature to world cultures, you'll find tons of tips and creative ideas for raising a world citizen.

Recently, she teamed up with fellow blogger and author Homa Sabet Tavangar to publish The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners (aff) a remarkable resource for teaching your child about the world. Inside you'll find hundreds of activities including a 12-month timeline, backmapping tips, 50+ ready-to-start projects, and online links.

In addition to her site, Becky celebrates cultural diversity through engaging printables for parents and educators that are available from her TpT store.


Becky has awesomely offered copies of her Bilingual Classroom Labels for two lucky MommyMaestra readers!

This set features world flags as the background for each label and comes with over 275 printable classroom labels, covering: 

- Subjects
- Table numbers
- Classroom objects
- 11x17 Class rules poster (inspired by Whole Brain Teaching)
- Birthday certificates
- Activity center titles
- Calendar terms
- Weather chart
- Seasons
- Math terms
- Number cards
- Science terms
- Blank name plates
- ELA terms
- Art terms
- Lots of blank labels of different sizes!

Classroom labeling is an important part of a language-rich learning environment. Print them on cardstock and laminate them for durability.

To enter the giveaway, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

A Simple Plan Homeschool Planner Giveaway

A Simple Plan Homeschool Planner

To be a successful homeschooling family the number one thing you must be is organized. It's my job to keep our lessons on track so that we don't fall behind and so that I know what in the world we're supposed to be focused on each day.

Last April, as part of my Mami Time Saver series, I shared with you my favorite lesson planner. I was surprised when so many messaged me saying how much they love the planner.

That is why I'm so pleased to be able to giveaway one of the 2014-2015 A Simple Plan Homeschool Planners! Mardel has generously offered one planner to a lucky MommyMaestra reader.

You can read my review to learn more about the planner, but it does feature:
  • Sample pages
  • Weekly schedule forms for each student
  • Curriculum and semester goal pages
  • Yearly overview pages
  • To-do lists
  • Special activities section
  • Reading lists
  • Attendance keeper
  • Space for notes, prayer requests, and supply lists
  • Heavy-duty interior pockets on both the front and back covers
  • Curriculum tracker
  • Grading chart
  • Extracurricular activities tracker
  • Encouraging Scriptures at the beginning of each new month
I used my planner to organize and plan out my curriculum and schedule my lessons for this year. So far things are going very smoothly, and I expect to stay on track.

If you are looking for a wonderful tool to help you stay organized and on schedule, then this giveaway is for you! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!
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Friday, August 15, 2014

A Dinosaur Train Giveaway!

This coming Monday is an active one on PBS KIDS. In addition to Baby Margaret's debut on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, PBS KIDS will premiere “Classic in the Jurassic,” an all-new, one-hour special from The Jim Henson Company’s hit series DINOSAUR TRAIN.

Do your kids love dinosaurs? Mine do. There is a drawer full of the plasic extinct animals in my son's room. Ever since he first saw the series, my son has talked about becoming a paleontologist. I've nurtured his interest in science with books and toys, crafts and activities. As with most 8 year olds, his career goals change almost every day, but dinosaurs remain one of his favorites.

In Monday's special, our kids travel through time with the Pteranodon family to an Olympic-type competition in which dinosaur teams representing three Mesozoic time periods compete in contests. Following the special, new episodes of Dinosaur Train will air on PBS KIDS throughout the week! Your kids will learn about carnivores and herbivores, deserts and more.

Clips and full segments from “Classic in the Jurassic” will be available on, the PBS KIDS Video App, and on Roku and Apple TV starting on August 18. And on August 26, “Classic in the Jurassic” will be available on DVD through PBS Distribution.


One lucky MommyMaestra reader will receive a Dinosaur Train Prize Pack that includes the Classic in the Jurassic DVD and other fun goodies!

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

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Tips from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood on Preparing your Preschooler for a New Sibling

One of the biggest changes in a child's life involves the birth of a sibling. For many families, a second baby is often born when the first child is under five years old. This was our situation. My daughter turned 2 a month before my son was born. I worried so much about how she would adjust and whether she would feel left out or less special. While things did change, my love for her never did.

Is your family expecting another child soon? Do you already have a preschooler or kindergartner? How are you preparing your firstborn? Do you worry about how a new baby will affect him or her? Are you wondering how to tell your oldest child or how to help him or her adjust to a new sibling?

Well, help is on the way with PBS KIDS! This Monday, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is welcoming a new character: Baby Margaret. The one-hour special will give children some of the tools they need to cope with the arrival of a new baby brother or sister. It explores the feelings a preschooler might feel when they find out a new baby is on the way.

Angela C. Santomero, the creator of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, also offers this advice to help parents share the news with their children.
  • Don’t Spill the Beans too Soon – While it’s always helpful to prepare your preschooler about what to expect and talk with them about new experiences, young children don’t understand time the way adults do. Since it can be difficult for them to wait for events happening many months in the future, try to wait as long as possible to tell your child about the new baby.
  • Discuss What to Expect When You’re Expecting – Talk with your child about what to expect from newborns – they sleep a lot, cry, and can’t play games or talk (at least not the same way as your preschooler can)! If you know a family or friend with a new baby, make a brief visit so your child can see firsthand what an infant can and can’t yet do.
  • Crown Your New “Big Helper” – Involve your child in caring for their new sibling right from the start. Encourage them to pick out items for the baby’s room, get the diapers when it’s changing time, and sing or talk to the baby. Giving them specific ways to lend a hand helps preschoolers feel needed and more grownup.
  • Make “Mommy/Daddy & Me Time” – When the baby arrives, set aside “just you and me” times with your older child. Whether it’s a trip to the library or simply reading a story together before bed, it’s important to make sure your older child doesn’t feel left out.
  • Let Them Know How Proud You Are – Help your child to feel proud about being the older brother or sister by showing your appreciation for all the things they can do that the new baby can’t yet accomplish such as using their words. Reinforce your older child’s role in the family as the big brother or sister to the new baby.
In addition to the episode and addition of a new character to the show, they've also released a new app!

Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings is geared towards kids ages 2-5 and is available on iPad. The app is designed to empower kids to identify and express their wide and complex range of emotions. The four socio-emotional activities in the app offer kids a variety of interactive ways to accomplish this.

Inside the app you'll find:
  • Trolley Game – Drive the trolley to discover more than a dozen mini-games about feelings.
  • Sing-Along – Choose from 18 of your favorite Daniel Tiger songs, each one fully animated.
  • Drawing Easel – Use paints, crayons, stickers, and more to express yourself.
  • Feelings Photo Booth – Take pictures of yourself that show lots of different feelings. Daniel will help you pose!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lakeshore's Launch & Match Counting Game {GIVEAWAY}

Launch & Match Counting Game
Time for another great giveaway! This one is for those of you with elementary students. Our friends at Lakeshore have made counting more fun than ever with their lively Launch & Match Counting Game. It is perfect for children in preschool through 2nd grade. If you're looking for a game that strengthens number recognition and counting skills, this would be a wonderful addition to your collection.

To play, kids launch wooden tiles from the dispenser and place them on the blank spaces on their game mats…matching numbers to quantities as they go! The game includes a tile dispenser, 8 double-sided game mats and 40 wooden game tiles. Up to 4 kids can play.


One lucky MommyMaestra reader will win a Launch & Match Counting Game!

To enter the giveaway, simply use the rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Spanish Website for Children Teaches Traffic Safety

Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

There is so much to think about when it comes to your kids going back to school, but perhaps one of the most important lessons we as parents must teach our children has to do with safety. We all want our children to remain safe not just at school, but on their way to school as well. Car crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children ages 2 to 6 years old. Our kids can get hurt in other situations, too, such as riding their bikes or walking to school and even as a bus passenger. 

I think you'll agree with me, though, that teaching a 4 year old about passenger safety, probably isn't the easiest thing to do. But teaching them practical tips can save their lives. Lucky for us, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognized that young children need training in this area and have created a most fabulous bilingual campaign to help us teach our kids traffic safety. The best part is that it is in English... and Spanish!

"¡Piensa seguro, viaja seguro, mantente seguro!” ("Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe!") provides parents with some of the tools they need to help their child walk and ride more safely.

The NHTSA has teamed up with Ludorum, the producers of the Chuggington™ television series, to create an interactive site for children in preschool through 1st grade. This amazing tool makes learning traffic safety fun for children through games, printables, and videos - all of them hosted by the popular characters from Chuggington™: the "trainees" Wilson, Koko and Brewster. (The link here is for the Spanish website, but there is also an English version.)

When your child gets on the site, he or she starts by taking the safety pledge. Afterward, she can explore the site and play the safety game where she advances her train across the game board by correctly answering traffic safety questions. 

The site includes a section where you can download and print posters with safety tips for bikes, walking, bus and car rides. (There are tips for parents, too.) And you can also find a page with printable coloring pages and mazes for your child to enjoy. And lastly, there are fun videos to watch that feature the Chuggington™ characters. 

Don't forget to check out the Parent's section for additional resources!

You can also follow the NHTSA on Facebook and Twitter for additional back-to-school traffic safety tips.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Free Download: Describing with Colors Spanish Mini Lesson... Plus Audio

Have you been following along with our Spanish-learning freebies from our sponsor Spanish for You!? If your child is learning how to speak Spanish, then you know how invaluable their materials are! To celebrate my Back-to-School Fiesta, we have another great free download from them for all of you.

The Describing with Colors Mini Lesson includes five pages of activities plus an audio file to help your student learn the right pronunciation for the vocabulary in this lesson.

Click here to download this file

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.

My Colors My World
And to supplement this activity, here are some great bilingual and Spanish-language books centered around colors: (These are affiliate links.)

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Philips Airfryer & a Croquetas de Pollo Recipe

Since we're on the topic of planning healthy back-to-school lunches for your kids, I thought now would be a great time to share with you my current favorite kitchen gadget. If you follow my Instagram account, you know that a few weeks ago I got a Philips Airfryer. I've been wanting one ever since I happened to see a tweet from Best Buy. I was interested because I read that it fried food with at most two tablespoons of oil. It's the healthy way to fry!

Now you should probably know that against my will, we eat a lot of fried food in this house. Soft tacos, salmon patties, fried okra, chimichangas, fried potatoes...they all make their way to our table on a regular basis. So when I heard there was a new fryer on the market that fries food without you having to immerse it in hot oil, I was almost sold on the idea.

Then I actually got my hands on it.

My daughter and I have been experimenting with it and we are thrilled with the outcome. For the first time ever, I decided to try and make chicken croquetas using a very old family recipe from Spain. My Tía Visi gave it to me when I lived there for a short time after I graduated from college. The idea suddenly popped into my head after I was inspired by looking through the included cookbook and saw recipes for various croquettes. So I asked my daughter if she wanted to learn a family recipe and try out the new airfryer at the same time.  Always a willing assistant in the kitchen, she grabbed her apron and chef's hat and happily helped me with my little experiment to take that old recipe and merge it with a modern appliance.

We were all thrilled with the results!

I'm going to share my recipe below, but don't be passing it all around or I'll get in trouble for sharing it! But first, I want to tell you about the airfryer.

The Philips Airfryer

The most important thing that you know is that you don't add ANY oil to the fryer AT ALL. It uses something called Rapid Air Technology to move the air around your food quickly and precisely for faster cooking and perfect results. The starfish design on the bottom of the drawer circulates the air in some secret, magical way that makes it cook just right. In fact, it cooks so well, the little timer on the front of the model that I bought only goes up to 30 minutes because that's all you'll need to cook anything in this thing. An adjustable temperature control up to 390 degrees lets you fry, bake, roast and grill all sorts of foods.

The only oil I used was two tablespoons of EVOO that I mixed in with the breadcrumbs in which I rolled the chicken. And after only eight minutes in the airfryer, they were almost perfect!

Now, I don't claim to be a food blogger or even a good cook (as is evidenced by the picture above), but these croquetas de pollo were SO GOOD. The only mistake I made was in not tearing the chicken into small enough pieces. (Hey, it was my first time to make these.) We're making more this weekend and have already shredded our leftover chicken from some tacos we ate this evening into what I hope is the perfect-sized pieces.

Do you know what else it cooks? (Ahem. Practically everything.) It makes the BEST cheese sandwiches any of us have ever eaten! We just brush a little melted butter on the bread, then fill it with shredded cheddar, preheat the airfryer, and stick in the sandwich. Five minutes later - BING! It's done! And 5 minutes after that - Whoops! It's gone.

And do you know what the best part is? Clean up is a breeze because you can stick the food basket and the drawer directly into your dishwasher! Boom!

It also comes with a cookbook with recipes for different types of low-fat fried dishes things like potato croquettes, crispy fried spring rolls, bacon wrapped shrimp, cod nuggets, chicken tenders, french fries, and more. The recipes showcase the versatility of the appliance so that you can grill, bake and even roast food healthier, faster and more conveniently.

You can find a ton of videos on YouTube about cooking with the Philips Airfryer, but this one is my favorite. I'm dying to try and cook a steak in it!

Tía Visi's croquetas de pollo

And now! Just in case you'd like to try your hand at making my Tía Visi's croquetas de pollo from my family in Spain, here's a little recipe I modified to be used in our airfryer. They are so good, you will never look at croquetas the same again? Click on the picture below to download/print the file.


Disclosure: I received product for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet {GIVEAWAY}

Last year during my Back-to-School Fiesta, you may remember me giving away a subscription to MOMables, the first meal-planning service for healthy and fresh school lunches. Well, this year, I'm excited to share that Laura Fuentes, the creator of MOMables, has recently released her new book, The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet.

If you are a parent, you need this book. (To be honest, you need it if you are just a human being who likes to eat.)

This amazing little book is full, full, FULL of more than 200 complete lunchbox recipes that aren't just healthy, but yummy, tambien!

Even as a homeschooling mom, I really struggle with what to make my kids for lunch. For the last year, our lunchtime staples include eggs, PB&J, pasta, and sometimes ramen noodles. Wuh. We needed a kick in the pants to get out of that rut and start putting together some healthy meals that boost our energy and ability to focus on afternoon lessons/projects.

When I got this book, my daughter and I started pouring through it to find new ideas for fun meals and snacks. Before I knew it, she was adding to my grocery list! So I figured, why not just have her help create the meals? My little chef loves working with food and creating delicious dishes. As with most kids, because she is involved in creating the meal, she's willing to be a little more adventurous and try new things. Win-Win for me! So I put her to work...

I see a lot of moms buying fancy lunch boxes with compartments in them, but the reality is, I'm not going to spend a bunch of money on one when I can just pick up some disposable storage containers that work just as well, are washable, and ultimately recyclable. I feel better knowing that if it gets chipped, bent up, or a hole, I can just chuck it into the recycling can without thinking about how much money it cost!

Does your child have a food allergy? No problem! You can use this little book to make entire meals that are gluten-, soy-, and/or nut-free.

The recipes themselves are kid-friendly and use wholesome products. On our list of favorites or "to try" are:

  • Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oatmeal
  • Avocado Bacon Melt (Sandwich - delicioso!)
  • Blueberry Heaven
  • Black Bean Quesadillas
  • Strawberry Grilled Cheese
  • Chicken Salad Sliders
  • Honey Mustard Chicken Wrap
  • Chocolate Flautas
  • Baked Raviolis
  • Mini Quiches
  • Homemade Ramen (I really can't wait to try this. The store-bought stuff has SO much SODIUM! Booo!)

My list goes on and on, really, but these are just a few of the yummies we like or can't wait to give a go.

In addition to recipes, the book contains great tips from Laura for making meal prep go faster, as well as organization tips for stocking your pantry/freezer, and which kitchen tools make your life easier.


Laura has graciously offered a copy of her new book to two MommyMaestra readers!

To enter the giveaway, just use the Rafflecopter below.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

6 Back-to-School Tips for Parents

Back to School Tips for Parents

For the first time, my three boys will be attending school at the same time this fall. Because I am a stay-at-home-mom, many will wonder what I will be doing with my extra free time! Let's just say...there won't be an abundance of relaxation hours. My two youngest will only do 3 half days and to tell you the truth, I foresee that when all of the kids start school in September, it will become a little hectic in a whole different way.

Nevertheless, I'm excited for them to start. I love when they come home and share with me all that they have learned in class. As a former teacher, I know how important it is to reinforce what is learned at school and understand how busy evenings and weekends become. Time is precious and we all want things to run smoothly. Here are 6 Back-to-School tips to help you stay organized and prepare all parents for the first days of school.

1) Designate special spaces. Make it clear to everyone at home where backpacks, lunchboxes, sport equipment, homework and notes from school will be kept. There is nothing more frustrating than looking for a field trip form the morning it is due! Also, with everyone's suggestion in consideration, pick a quiet and clutter free space for homework time. Consistency is key!

2) Put the dates in! If you already have the school calendar and extra-curricular activities schedule, write important dates down on your wall calendar, your smart phone and even work calendar! You don't want to miss something special.

3) Go over school rules. This is very, very important. Some school have kids sign "honor codes" now. Make sure you take the time to go over every detail as well as reminding your children what kind of behavior is expected of them. This is also a great time to make sure your children know important phone numbers and address.

4) It's bedtime. Start getting everyone back to a normal bedtime routine. Kids between the ages of 5 and 11 need about 10 hours of sleep! After a long day of learning, their bodies and brains will need that much!

5) Stock up on food. After four years of running around with my oldest after school, I know that one of the most important time savers in my life is having food ready to go. It's helpful to have fruit and veggies washed and cut, frozen fruit bags ready for quick smoothies and even frozen veggies for a quick addition to any meal. Not only does this save time but it also saves money! No need to make stops at unhealthy places on your way home. Plan on shopping over the weekend and giving yourself a little time to prep on Sunday nights.

6) Enjoy the last days of summer! Life should be fun and stress-free for kids (especially during the summer). As your summer weeks start to come to an end, celebrate the start of a new year by doing something special. Be positive about school starting soon! Modeling this type of behavior will get your kids excited too. Have fun!

If you have any other helpful suggestions, please share in the comments below!

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

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