Monday, December 11, 2017

Great Gift Ideas for Bilingual Kids


This year, I thought it best to do a roundup of my favorite gifts for bilingual families. Below are some remarkable products that I think will really appeal to children and even their parents. The criteria I used is simple: It must be fun and educational.

Learning a new language or maintaining one's bilingualism shouldn't be a chore. It should be something that we enjoy doing. I think the products listed below help to promote a positive outlook when it comes to being bilingual.

I hope you enjoy!

This post uses affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps me purchase books and other materials for my own homeschooling family. Thank you!




My Little Donkey/Mi Burrito by Canticos


Ages 5 and under
Most Hispanics have heard the traditional Christmas song, Mi burrito sabanero, and so I think this sweet book by Canticos would be a wonderful gift to give your child on Christmas Eve! Then you can read/sing it together....in English or Spanish or both!




Lingua Garden


Ages 2 - 10 years old
Fun. This online learning program can be summed up in that one word. Lingua Garden is put together by the talented Denise Leitch, a Chilean-American Spanish teacher who worked hard to create an engaging and effective program for teaching little children how to speak Spanish. There are different levels and themes in her classes. I love how organized the program is and how you can track your progress on the same page where you are watching the videos for each lesson or downloading the activity pages. The truth is, Denise really makes this program come alive with her exuberant videos. Learn more by visiting her home page.




Mundo Verde/Green World by Mister G


Ages 2 - 10 years old
This new album by bilingual musician, Mister G, is a must-have! It is a collection of inspiring bilingual songs that encourage people around the world to support of global conservation and action. Each song is unique and many are performed in collaboration with musicians from throughout Latin America and the U.S. From bomba and samba to reggae and bossa nova, there's a little something to thrill every listener. Want to hear a sample? Check out this ADORABLE music video!






Family Poems for Every Day of the Week - Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana by Francisco X. Alarcón


Ages 7 - 12 years old
This new release from Children's Book Press is a must-have for every bilingual family's library! Written by the late Chicano poet, Francisco X. Alarcón, the poems reflect the daily multicultural lives of Latino children. Alarcón's poems are complemented by the vibrant illustrations of Chicana artist Maya Christina Gonzalez. This entire book is a celebration of bilingualism, multiculturalism, and childhood.



Linguacious Card Games


Ages 5 and up
This card game is from a new language-learning startup that focuses on teaching basic vocabulary in foreign languages through the use of fun flashcard games. What sets these cards apart is the fact that they are the only flashcards that feature real pronunciation by native speakers. Each card comes with a QR code, so you will need a QR code reader on your phone to play (but it is easy to download and it's free). And I love that each card focuses on complete literacy: reading, writing, spelling, and pronunciation. Take a look here to read about all the different games you can play with these cards.  The cards are currently available in five languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Hebrew.


Disney Pixar Coco (Remember Me) A LOTERIA Game


Ages 4 and up
So much fun! I included this set simply because the graphics on the cards are SO beautiful and, of course, because the movie was so delightful. Reinforce your child's Spanish vocabulary with this game that includes words and images such as el sol, el nopal, la cama, and many others.



Booklandia Box


Ages 2 - 10 years old
This monthly subscription is the perfect gift for bilingual families as it last ALL YEAR LONG! Each month, bilingual or Spanish books are delivered directly to your doorstep to help develop your child's biliteracy and love of reading. Authentic and original titles in Spanish - not bad translations - are the focus of this wonderful company! The book boxes are designed for families with children ages 2 to 12 years old.



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Free Download: Spanish Numbers in the 80s & 90s

I'm sharing our final free number game download for the year from MommyMaestra's sponsor, Spanish for You!  For the last several months, they have been focused on helping students learn those higher numbers between 20 and 100. Today's download is the final file to help your young Spanish learners. If you missed any of them, you can find the free downloads here and here and here and here

This 6-page mini-lesson will help your young Spanish learner memorize their numbers in the 80s and 90s. The file includes a page of directions, a number grid, a match up activity, a number writing grid, and two games: Go Fish and Battleship. As always, it comes 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!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

New National Geographic Kids from Pley!

Monthly subscriptions are always one of my favorite gifts to give during the holidays because they last ALL year. They also tend to be educational in nature while maintaining that element of fun that kids crave.

Since my two oldest children are animal/nature lovers, I was ecstatic to receive a sample of Pley's newest box series in partnership with National Geographic Kids. Pley is a monthly mystery box club that partners with brands such as LEGO, Disney, Minecraft and more.

When we received the new adventure box, my 11-year-old son was beside himself with delighted curiosity. He tore into it before I could blink and began to triumphantly hold up the different items inside amid shouts of joy.

This month's theme was Sea Animals. Last year for math, we focused on ocean life, so my son was pretty geeked to get a packet on animals with which he was familiar.

Here's a look at what the box we received contained:



The first thing he did was put on his new T-shirt (it is his new favorite) and then grab the chapter book on sharks. It is filled with fun facts and fascinating stories. And afterward, he began punching out the trading cards that have fast facts about specific reef animals.

Then he started going through the activity booklet page by page and filling out everything he knew.


But I think his favorite items out of the box were these miniature whale and clownfish figures. There's just something about miniature figures that enthrall my kids.



Are your kids into stickers? Then they will love the sheet of animal stickers that features animals found in coral reefs. And if you have a child who enjoys new jewelry or accessories, the colorful bracelet will be a happy surprise.



And the fun doesn't stop here in the box because the kit also includes a link to an online game. My son had to select an avatar then learn about his mission to help save the Great Barrier Reef. It included challenges such as selecting the proper gear, marking a map, using your camera to take pictures of sealife, and opening the mission's iPad which has more detailed information about the creatures living in the reef. There are also games that teach kids about the habits of specific animals. For example, there's one game where you have to make the White-Bellied Sea Eagle fly through a certain area and collect fish without crashing into things.

Are you looking for activities to keep the kids busy on long car rides? Do you have a family vacation coming up? Or maybe the wait in the doctor's/dentist's office bores your kid to tears. Whatever your story, your child may love that the box even turns into a fun travel case with the enclosed handle. Just insert it into the designated holes and your travel case is ready to go anywhere.

Do you have an adventurer at home who loves monthly discoveries? If so, I would highly recommend this particular subscription from Pley!


Disclosure: I am a National Geographic Kids Insider which allows me access to new materials from NGK to share with MommyMaestra readers. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Teaching Photography to Kids: The First 5 Steps



The following is a guest post by Dan Barr of KidsCameraGuide.com.


Photography is a wonderful hobby which sometimes becomes a passion and an occupation. We, as humans, love to experience new things and what better way to capture the magic of something new other than photography. Photography inspires us to get out more often, see things from a new light and connect with places and people.

From my experience, I have seen that children LOVE photography. For them, it’s like a game which they can play endlessly, as the opportunities to explore that photography allows them is boundless. In this generation where kids prefer to be at home on their mobile phone or iPad, giving them a camera which doesn’t do anything other than capture photographs, encourages them to get out of the house, look at things in a different light and increase their concentration.

And the most important thing that you need to keep in mind is that a camera is not a bribe you should use to keep your child occupied. Rather, let it be an opportunity for your child and you to bond and spend time with each other.

Here are the first five steps you need to keep in mind while teaching photography to your kid:

1. Deciding on a camera


To learn and indulge in photography, the most important thing that you need is a good, reliable camera. The good news is that the prices of cameras have fallen. In addition to that, camera companies are now focusing on the kid and teen categories too. This helps you get a camera that is customized for you kid. There are excellent guides on the best cameras for kids online. Having a good camera is very important to engage your child. In today’s age where kids are used to technology and mobile phones, it is important to introduce them to a new device that is exclusively for one purpose.

2. Holding the camera


The next important step in teaching photography to your kid is teaching them how to hold it. Kids, in general, tend to move a bit and have an unsteady hand. When a kid first takes a photo, it generally tends to be blurry. This makes the child lose interest in photography as in general a kid’s attention span is very less.



The main reason why a photo comes blurry is that the hand may be unsteady or the hand moves when the shutter is opened. You can help your child reduce the blurriness in this way:

i. Make sure that your child holds the camera with both his hands. With the dominant hand, your child should hold the camera and keep it stable. And use the same hand to press the shutter button. Many cameras have a grip position which the child can use to hold. It’s always good to buy a kid’s camera so that the grip will be as per the child’s hand size.

ii. Ask your child to hold the camera close to his body. When the camera is held close to the body, it gets more balance. Your child can have his elbows against his chest or to the side of his body. The body then becomes a base for the camera due to which the sturdiness increases. Leaning the body against a wall can also help increase the steadiness.

iii. Another good idea when it comes to getting support for the camera is to use a flat steady surface. You can have your kid lean his elbows on a table or on any steady surface to get support so that the steadiness will increase and the blurriness will reduce.

iv. Finally, a good option is to have a tripod. However, when you are dealing with a kid, a tripod may not be a good option as you will need to teach him to use the tripod along with using the camera which may make it difficult for him to learn easily.

3. Focus on one subject


Kids get easily distracted. That is the biggest problem when it comes to teaching photography to children. In addition to that, when your kid will be taking a photograph, there will be many distractions in the view e.g. when your kid wants to click a photo of his new bicycle, there could be bushes around, the pavement, the lawn, your house in the background. You need to teach them to focus only on one subject at a time. So in the above example, they would focus only on the bicycle and walk close enough so that only the bicycle is the subject of the photograph while trying to reduce the potential distractions of the bushes and the house. Another important point you need to keep in mind when you teach your kid to focus only on one subject is to make sure that they check the lighting and angle and then click.

4. People, Objects and Places Photography


The attention you need to give when you are clicking an object, a place or a person is very different. You need to explain to the child the difference in clicking these different types of subjects. Keep in mind that when you are clicking a photo of a place as compared to a person, the imagery which needs to be captured is different. In people, the emphasis would be their expression. In place, it would be lighting, etc. Make sure that your child alternates between clicking people, objects, and places so that the overall expertise of your child’s photography increases.

5. Keep Experimenting: 


The best way to practice photography is to click a lot of photos. Since these days photos are free (unless you are using a Polaroid camera), you can encourage your child to keep clicking as many photos as they can. The things they can experiment are as follows:

i. Camera - Encourage your child to hold the camera, feel the camera, feel the weight of a camera, and get comfortable with the camera and experiment with all the functions and the features of the camera. This will give them an opportunity to learn and also ask you questions which will help the two of you bond.

ii. Clicking - Since photos cost is zero encourage your kid to click a lot of photos. Make sure that they keep changing the subject and revolving between places, objects, and people.

iii. Angles - There are different angles that you can shoot from. From down to up or high to low. You can also show your child how to step back for a wider angle and front to focus on one object.

Make sure that your child is practicing and using different techniques on different subjects each time. This will allow them a wide range of photo experience rather than just focusing on one.

iv. Backgrounds - Making a note of the background is very important: if a person is wearing a white shirt and standing in front of a white wall then automatically the object will blend in the background. You also need to keep in mind that you have to teach your child to scan the background and then look if there are any distractions. If there are, it's better to change the frame of the photo.


v. Distance - Another important thing to do is to teach your child to understand the distance which is required when they are clicking a photo.  Children instinctively want to have as many objects in a screen or a frame as possible.  You need to pay attention to that.  You need to explain to them that if necessary, they need to go closer or farther from the subject so that the image is captured properly.  You need to explain that a single subject is better than many subjects which get lost overall in the frame.
When your child begins to learn photography, encourage them to move forward and backward to understand the distance that is required to have the subject completely in the frame. Once they have achieved a fair amount of expertise, then you can teach them how to use the zoom function.

vi. Lighting - Lighting is one of the most important factors when it comes to the quality of a photo. The light’s origin, the light’s intensity and finally the light direction are the three most important factors. If you correctly use these three factors you will get a great photo.

You need to explain this to your kid and allow them to understand from which direction the light is coming. What is the source of light? Is it the sun? Is it a window? Is it an electric bulb?

Then also look at the subject, and try to understand how the subject facing the light is placed. Inform your kid never to take images when the light is directed to the lens of the camera. The golden rule is that the sun should always be on your back. This is very important so that your child can get a perfect click.

As your child keeps experimenting, he will keep improving his photography skills.

I hope you liked our post on the first five steps on teaching your kids photography. Do comment below if the tips helped. If you have any tips of your own, do share them below.

----

Dan Barr is a photographer, a parent to two girls, and the founder of KidsCameraGuide.com, a blog that is all about teaching photography to kids and kids cameras. You can visit Dan at his website www.kidscameraguide.com or connect with him on Facebook or Pinterest.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Free Download: Spanish Numbers in the 70s



We're almost there! The end of the year draws near as do our free number games from MommyMaestra's exceptional sponsor, Spanish for You! You may remember that they are currently focused on helping students learn those higher numbers that come after 20 in class (you can find their earlier downloads here and here and here). 

This 4-page mini-lesson will help your young Spanish learner memorize their numbers in the 70s, as well as how to spell them. The file includes a page of directions, a seventies' grid, a writing practice worksheet, and a speaking activity. As always, it comes 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!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Homeschooling 101 Facebook Live Event with Read Conmigo


Are you thinking about homeschooling your children? Do you have questions about how to get started homeschooling or where to find resources?

Then I hope you'll join me tomorrow (Wednesday!) night at 6 pm PST/9 pm EST as I partner with Read Conmigo for a Facebook Live event. You'll even get a chance to win a free copy of my new children's book on homeschooling!

Visit Read Conmigo's Facebook page to find out how you can submit questions. I'll do my best to answer everyone's questions in the time allotted. I'll be discussing:

  • how to get started
  • where to find curricula
  • what the laws are
  • how to organize and keep track of your child's lessons
  • how much time it takes on your part as a parent
  • bilingual homeschooling
  • and much, much more.
I hope to see you all there!


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Free Spelling Worksheet


MommyMaestra sponsor, Education.com, has a new activity for readers this month!

Today's activity is a way to boost your child's spelling skills. Watch your student's literacy skills fall into place with the autumn crossword puzzle below. Check out Education.com for more themed printable educational worksheets.


Education.com is an ad-free, online learning program is for students in Pre-K through the 5th grade. Their online activities and printables help boost your child's math and reading skills. For more goodies from Education.com here on MommyMaestra, check out the DIY Dino Bones Activity and the free online math game that strengthens a student's addition skills.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Día de los Muertos Booklets

I couldn't resist one last printable for Day of the Dead. I used these with my kids because they were asking for a simple hands-on activity. So if you are looking for something to engage and educate your kids or students, consider this packet of Día de los Muertos booklets!

This packet features three different styles of books: a flip book, an accordion book, and a booklet. Just choose the one that best suits your needs.

All three are available...

  • in black-and-white or full color, 
  • with descriptive text or blank to allow students to write inside, 
  • and in English or Spanish.
Younger students can simply color, cut and go. Older students can write in descriptions of the elements associated with the holiday. 

Some assembly may be required, but it is easy with just a few pieces of tape, some glue, or a stapler.


You can find this file in my TpT store or in my MommyMaestra shop.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

New PreK Activity Pack for Día de los Muertos

My online store has been super busy with orders for my collection of Día de los Muertos printables. But I couldn't resist updating one of my first products that I listed YEARS ago!

My new Día de los Muertos Pre-K Activity pack has now been updated to include new graphics and new activities in both English and Spanish. Inside you'll find 19 pages with the following...

  • Number recognition (1-10)
  • Find the difference
  • Bigger vs. smaller
  • Montessori nomenclature cards (English & Spanish)
  • Book List of Day of the Dead Picture Books (Bilingual)
  • Maze
  • Tracing sheet
  • Shadow match
  • Vocabulary
  • Writing sheets

The image above gives you an idea of what some of the activity sheets look like. It's designed for children in PreK & kindergarten. I had tons of fun creating them and I hope your young student(s) enjoys them!

You can find it in both my TpT store and my online MommyMaestra shop.



Also, per request, I have bundled five of my activities for elementary-age children. The bundle includes my super popular Ofrenda Labels, as well as my bilingual...
  • Triptych Coloring Pages
  • Puzzle Cards
  • Note Cards
  • Mobile
All of these are quick and simple activities for small hands. Sold separately, these activities total $12.00, but you can save when you purchase the bundle for $10.

You can also find them in my TpT store and MommyMaestra shop.

And don't forget! I have lots of other Day of the Dead-themed products available, including several for older students, too!




Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Llegar a ser Pedro GIVEAWAY


Do you have a béisbol (baseball) fan in your home or classroom? A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to share with you the children's book Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares. I was pretty excited to do so because there aren't that many sports books that feature Afro-Latinos. (Actually, there aren't that many books that feature Afro-Latinos period.) And those books focus on only two sports figures: Roberto Clemente and Pele.

You know I love diversity and I especially enjoy reading about people I haven't heard about before or that are outside of the limelight. I'm not saying that Pedro Jaime Martínez isn't well known, but he wasn't someone that I personally was very familiar with. So it was a pleasure to read his story.

This is the story of baseball legend Pedro Jaime Martínez, the Dominican-American pitcher who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for five teams. Your child will learn what life was like for Pedro as a child in the Dominican Republic before he made it to the big leagues and moved to the United States. You'll read about the special bond he shared with his older brother Ramón, who preceded Pedro to the States as a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. And you'll cheer for him when despite his small size, Pedro becomes one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball.

My only regret has been that this book was only available in English.

But I'm delighted to share that a Spanish version is now available! Llegar a ser Pedro does not disappoint. How fantastic that bilingual readers can now pick up a copy of this beautifully written and illustrated book and read it in Spanish. (Yes! It is a good translation!)


The Giveaway


And because Pedro Martinez’s birthday is today - October 25th - Candlewick Press is celebrating by giving away one autographed copy of Llegar a ser Pedro to one MommyMaestra reader! Thanks, Candlewick!!

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Reading in Spanish Program: Nacho Books

I OFTEN receive messages from homeschooling parents who are looking for a Spanish reading curriculum for their kids. If this sounds like you, read on!

I'm happy to remind you of another fantastic resource on our recommended Spanish Reading program list! You might remember me mentioning Nacho Lectura last year. Well, they recently sent me copies of some of their new books. And by new, I mean that they have now released a United States edition with reading passages dedicated to American symbols such as our flag, coat of arms, and even our national anthem lyrics in Spanish!

I can't stress enough how engaging these materials are. In fact, when I posted about it last year on the MommyMaestra Facebook page, many of you instantly recognized the book (with fondness!) from your own childhood. They are simple and colorful, and they make learning to read and spell fun for kids. I love how they focus on letter combinations, letter sounds, and syllables. And in the back of the book are short reading passages. Take a look...




I also love their Spanish dictionary! Not only does it give the definition of thousands of words in Spanish, but it also has sections dedicated to:
  • the parts of speech (i.e., nouns, verbs, etc.)
  • synonyms
  • capital letters
  • spelling
  • the universe
  • anatomy
  • the senses
  • animals
  • plants
  • inventions
  • and musical instruments





And these books are just the tip of the iceburg...


These resources are a bilingual homeschooler's treasure trove! The dictionary alone is totally worth buying online, and the writing workbook is excellent for beginning writers.

To learn more, visit Cultural Bytes.

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

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!

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