Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Perlita Comes to America

I had the pleasure to read Perlita Comes to America recently and I have to say, although I loved it, it also tugged at my heart strings and left me feeling really sad. I know and understand that children immigrate to the United States every single day; it's a harsh reality. I never read a story that depicts an immigrant experience so well through a child's voice. Because the stories of children who make life-changing journeys are so important, I am thrilled that this new series of bilingual picture books will tell a gentle, honest story of children's feelings through this dramatic lifestyle change.

Perlita is a school-aged girl who has to leave her home in Argentina with her mother so they can join her father in the United States. Author Silvia Perez Arvelo takes the reader along when Perlita has to say goodbye to family and friends in her native country. Although she is thrilled to see her father again and is excited to board the big, shiny airplane, she understands that the transition to her new home in America will not be easy.

Faced with a loneliness and a language barrier in her new city, Perlita and her mother make a new friend who volunteers to teach them English and bake new favorite American treats. They quickly understand what they must do to feel at home in the big city.

A perfect book for children who can identify with Perlita, I personally cannot wait to share this book with my boys. I believe it will help them become aware that hundreds of thousands of children come to this country for a better life. I hope they will also be able to understand the sacrifice many families have to endure and that not all of these types of journeys are easy. I hope that if Silvia Perez Arvejo continues to write about other children's experiences she will find a way to make different stories as kid-friendly as Perlita's. Our kids are smart, need to know the reality of complicated situations such as immigration, but we need gentle voices like Silvia Perez Arvejo's to help parents like us deliver these important stories.

Disclosure: I was given a free download of Perlita Comes America in Spanish and in English so I could review the book. The website does have a free English and Spanish audio version that I know moms would love for a read-along. Please click here to purchase your book.

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Best Buy Education Opportunity to Win $25K for Classroom Technology

© Tyler Olson
Many of MommyMaestra readers are educators in bilingual or dual immersion settings, parents with children in a low-income school, or parent of students in dual immersion schools. If you are one of these, then I really want you to know about this opportunity from Best Buy Education (BBE).

Best Buy Education is currently offering a generous sweepstakes open to all educators and administrators. It runs from now through July 4, 2015 with a grand prize of $25,000 in Best Buy credit, as well as additional prizes of Gift Cards and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablets with keyboards. If your (child's) school could benefit from adding or upgrading technology/devices in the classrooms, then this is a great opportunity to win the technology tools and services your students or child's school need to succeed. Think about all the fabulous educational apps that are now on the market that make concept learning easier!

Unfortunately, this sweepstakes is not open to homeschoolers or preschools. 

Click here to enter for a chance to win and view complete details.

Best Buy Education is a direct-channel division of Best Buy®. They make it easier than ever to give students the tech tools they need to succeed. Their dedicated Account Managers will consult with you, offer knowledgeable, unbiased advice and guide you to the product and service solutions that best meet your needs and budget. Whether you are rolling out new devices in the classroom, launching a Bring Your own Device initiative, or upgrading the technology throughout your school, they can provide the products, support and protection you need.

Best of luck to your school!!!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions, however, are my own. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Free Activity to Build Number Recognition Fluency in Spanish

This post contains affiliate links.

May's freebie from our sponsor, Lectura para niños is a simple set of worksheets to strengthen your child's number recognition fluency in Spanish.

Leah says:
Here is a freebie that I use for number recognition fluency.

The pages are divided into groups of numbers that the students need to practice on. Each day, I will pull the students into small groups for five minutes. Each group will practice the number fluency section that they are working on. The students progress through these pages quickly with just five minutes each day!
Number recognition is one skill set that is taught preschool and students should be completely fluent in both letter and number recognition when they enter kindergarten so that they do not fall behind.

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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

5 Tips to Help Kids Deal with Disappointment

As kids grow older, they start shifting from experiencing life's little disappointment to living through bigger ones each day. Even parents start to feel heartbreak over their children's hiccups or missed opportunities.

Kids start to learn for the very first time that academic tests are super important. They realize that they have to tryout to play their favorite sport and even the most comfortable performers develop stage fright. Some children lash out angrily after hearing or living through a hard disappointment. Some cry. Some withdraw and don't ever want to speak of the situation. Yet others act as if nothing ever happened. No matter how children react, it's best if  parents consistently handle the situation in the same manner.

1) Show empathy. Watching a child swing a bat and miss making contact with the ball over and over is not easy for any parent. Receiving the news that Alex has to work harder in math to keep up with his peers is tough, too.  Nevertheless, parents should always ask for the child's version and perspective of the situation and try to figure out what to do next...together.

2) Show love. Regardless of how the parents feel about the "failed" opportunity, they never stop loving their children. Kids should always know their parents still love and support them during their successes and failures.

3) Don't reward. A call from a teacher to discuss a student's poor behavior is not only hard on the parents but sometimes extremely embarrassing to the child. Even if a child cries (and breaks your heart) and promises to start behaving, it's best if parents don't reward with anything just to try to make him feel better during that difficult moment of discussion. Allowing your children to feel disappointment is okay.

4) Give it time. Try not make a child's failure an instant "teachable moment." Sometimes kids understand a missed opportunity but react positively in disbelief and want to chat about it as soon as possible! Sometimes kids break down and cannot even listen through their heartfelt sobs! Tread carefully before plunging into a deep conversation.

5) Consider it a learned lesson. Kids should know that a failed opportunity and a disappointment will only help them achieve their future goals. Raising resilient kids in a world full of challenges is important and parents shouldn't try to solve all of their children's problems. Listening and practicing positive feedback to help them see what went wrong is key, but allowing the child to feel what they need to feel during a failure is crucial. Parents will soon see that children can become more confident after analyzing their failures and will give them hope that next time things can have a different outcome.

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

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Free Download: Build Your Own Board Games in Spanish

I'm just loving this month's Spanish-learning freebie from our sponsor Spanish for You! And if you have a Spanish learner in your family, I think you will, too.  

The Build Your Own Game Board and Activities comes with activity cards and links to activities and games that boost language learning. This particular freebie focuses on the months of the year, symbols or images associated with each month, and an audio file to help the players/learners with pronunciation. There's also a worksheet at the end for practicing the vocabulary.

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.

Thanks, Spanish for You!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Brain Chase Giveaway!

I am so excited about this summer's learning project for the kids! You might remember that I signed up both of them to participate in Brain Chase Summer Learning Challenge. They've been watching all the video trailers and working themselves into a fit because they just can't hardly wait to get started. (It totally helps that two of the main characters look just like my two kids.)

What has ME so excited is their new partnership with Rosetta Stone, which gives participants the opportunity to participate in a language module as part of their online academic work. When I registered my kids, we had the option of choosing between "learning a new language" and the "writing module." Students will be required to complete 2 lessons (a total of a little over an hour) each week in order to fulfill their language requirement and unlock the next episode. Students can choose from 30+ languages when they register, and will have a week at the beginning of the program in which to switch languages if they prefer. Naturally, we selected Spanish!

You might remember that this year's challenge theme is The Sunstone of Cortes. Check out this awesome video showing how the Sunstone was made to hold the safety deposit key to $10,000 in scholarship money. I LOVE the whole concept of an archaeological treasure - (especially one dealing with Hernan Cortes and the Aztecs!).

Are you wondering what the program is like? If so, check out the new dashboard demo for a hands-on look at Brain Chase. You can interact with last year’s dashboard for detailed explanations about how kids’ work is tracked during the program’s five weeks.

Psssst! Teacher referral reward program

Brain Chase is offering $15 to teachers for each of their students they refer to Brain Chase. Registrants who hear about Brain Chase from a teacher can simply enter that teacher's name and school name at registration. Kids fight summer brain drain to win a treasure... and teachers win too! You can download flyers to share with your students here.

Unfortunately, early bird pricing has already ended. But with their premium pricing package, you also get a Brain Chase-branded adventure backpack, a Brain Chase t-shirt and Sunstone of Cortés patch ($249 for the first registration, and then $149 for each sibling). Later in the summer, these items will be available for a la carte purchase. You’ll be able to find the details on the website soon.

The Brain Chase Library Challenge!

Throughout the month of May, Brain Chase will be hosting a 4-city Library Challenge. In each of the following cities, they will hide a voucher worth $1,000 in a local public library:
Salt Lake City (May 4)
Seattle (May 11)
Boston (May 18)
Orange County (June 1)

A unique riddle will lead adventurers to the exact location of the voucher and a complimentary Brain Chase registration.

The Giveaway

Brain Chase has MOST graciously offered to give one MommyMaestra reader a FREE subscription for this summer's challenge!

To enter, all you have to do is use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with the Motherhood and Brain Chase. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It's Okay - I'm Doin' Good as a Homeschool Mom

DISCLAIMER: This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Minute Maid and DiMe Media. Minute Maid will provide this prize. Minute Maid is not a sponsor, administrator or connected in any other way with the contest – and all opinions are my own.

About this time of year, I tend to somehow end up overloaded. I feel stretched thin and wonder what the heck I’m doing. I struggle to get the school year finished, turn in all my freelance work, run MommyMaestra, answer emails, launch a summer reading program for Latino children, maintain my garden, keep house, feed my family, support my husband, and most important, be a good mom.

There are certainly days when I feel like I’m probably the worst mom on the planet and feel the guilt of not being fully present mentally for my kids 24 hours a day. There are days when my daughter has been talking for five minutes and asks me a question and I blink and realize I have no idea what she said. It drives her crazy. And I don’t blame her.

Sometimes I’ll be reading aloud to my kids from a totally awesome book and my mind will wander to all the things I have to get done before bed. Then I’ll suddenly realize that I have no idea what I’ve just read or what has happened in the last chapter, but apparently it makes sense because my kids are hanging on every word. I didn’t even realize it was possible to read out loud and think about something else at the same time.

There are days when I walk into the living room in the middle of the day and find my kids watching a movie because I got tied up on a conference call. Or days when we come back home from a bajillion errands and I walk into my house and think we’ve been robbed because there is such a mess everywhere and I know I didn’t make it.

There are moments when we are in public and I ask my kid some simple math problem and they have momentary memory loss and I wonder in horror why it is taking them so long to add 2 + 2. And then I think, “That’s it. I’m a total failure as a homeschooling mother. How could I really think I could teach anyone anything?” I concentrate on breathing and looking calm while the witnesses nearby (who send their grand/kids to a traditional school) give me the side-eye, when all I really want to do is look at my kid and say, “Really? You can’t remember here and NOW in front of everyone?”

But it only takes unexpected moments to make all my doubts and fears disappear in an instant. The moments are spontaneous and take me by surprise and it is like someone yanked a pair of really blurry sunglasses off my eyes. Like when it’s my son’s turn to read aloud and I am astonished - and overjoyed - at the ease with which he reads difficult passages. Or when my daughter is doing tricky math problems in her head, and I have to work them out to get the answer! Maybe we’ll be walking across a parking lot and both my kids slip their hands in mine just because.

Or when my daughter laughs and we talk and she is happy and loving and gentle and kind and I know that she is just turning into such an amazing, joyful person with a passion for doing good and making a difference. Or those quiet, early mornings, when my son comes downstairs and peeks into my room, then enters and gently kisses my forehead while he tucks the covers in around me. Or when my husband instinctively reaches out to hold my hand even though he is busy talking to someone or thinking about work.

All these moments combined fill my heart and reassure my mind and I know that I’m “doin’ good.” All the worry and self-doubts melt away, and I embrace those snippets of time and give thanks for my family.

I don’t think I’m the only mom who experiences these feelings of insecurity and guilt.
Which is why I can relate to this video...

What about you? Do you feel like you’re doing a good job? Or do you get overwhelmed like me?

This Mother’s Day, I want to celebrate you. I want to reassure you. I want to recognize all the awesome things that you (or someone you know) are doing.

Do you know a mom who’s doing a great job but may not realize it? Post a shout out or short story about her in the comment section below to let her know that she’s doing a better job as a parent than she may realize. With the comment, you’ll have a chance to win a Minute Maid prize pack, which includes a $50 Visa gift. You can use the gift card to continue “Doin’ Good” with your kids - or give it to someone you think could use it to keep Doin’ Good with her/his family.

Thanks so much to Minute Maid for creating this campaign to reassure and empower parents. To learn more, you can follow Minute Maid online, on Facebook, on Twitter.

Feliz día de la madre.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Early Registration for the 2015 #L4LL Latino Children's Summer Reading Program Opens!

L4LL's 2015 Latino Children's Summer Reading Program

I am SO excited to announce that early registration for the L4LL Latino Children's Summer Reading Program has officially opened!

Over the last two summers, we've listened carefully to your feedback and this year's program reflects your requests.

First, thanks to our underwriters, we're pleased to announce that the entire program is FREE for both families and groups.

Second, you're going to love our new, family-friendly website! Once you register, parents and even children can login to our site on June 1st to access both of our summer reading programs. Here's a brief description of the two and how they differ:

Third, you can officially save the titles of the eight books your child reads (or that you read to your child) over the course of the summer as he or she reads them with our new easy, online reading log.

As in both previous years, both programs are available in English and Spanish, and all of the materials have been updated.

Now the absolute BEST part is our online Summer Reading Camp. Designed for children in 2nd through 6th grade, it includes so many wonderful literacy boosting activities, including original work by Latina authors and illustrators! Your students can explore 10 themes: Art, Music, Sports, Folklore, Food, Summer, Nature, Heritage & Immigration, Family, and Poetry. Infused with culture, each one comes with a reading passage and games or activities that strengthen reading and writing skills, as well as additional reading recommendations to fit each theme.

I can't wait to share some snapshots of the camp with you, but will have to wait until we're closer to June 1st.

And did I mention that this year's program is open to GROUPS for FREE, too?

Educators: Once you register your group, you'll receive a Group Number that you can share with your students. When they sign up with your number, we'll be able to track them in our system and send you monthly reports on how your students are progressing over the summer.

Parents: Need help nudging your child's school to participate? Download and share our flyer with them!

So what are you waiting for? Head over to our new L4LL Summer Reading website and register your family or group!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PBS KIDS Celebrates Día de los Niños with New Spanish-Learning Games, Videos {FREE PRINTABLE}

I am so thrilled to announce that PBS KIDS is celebrating Día de los niños, Día de los libros this year! How wonderful is it to have the holiday recognized on national television? Bilingual families and those with young Spanish learners will find this of special interest.

Starting tomorrow, in honor of the holiday, the PBS KIDS series OH NOAH! is launching new animated videos and games that introduce kids to Spanish in a fun way. (Have you been to their website yet? I so LOVE the horse in the cowboys & librarians video!!!)

The program is aimed at children ages 4-7 and features the funny misadventures of Noah, a little boy not unlike my own, who stays with his grandmother in a community where almost everyone speaks only Spanish. As he learns the language, Noah frequently gets into a predicament but always manages to find his way out and learns with a smile. Here's a teaser:

The show's bilingual education consultant, Mariana Swick, provides guidance on vocabulary and phrases appropriate to teach the show's target audience. She reviews script drafts, animation rough cuts, iterations of games, and drafts of offline activities to ensure that the use of Spanish is correct.

According to Swick, the inspiration behind the show stems from the changing demographics in the US. In response, the NY public television station WNET wanted to add a series to the PBS lineup that introduced Spanish to English-dominant children, including Latino children whose parents are interested in preserving their heritage language.

Swick says that they use a “360-degree” approach to developing Oh Noah! materials. "Stories and interactive games for children," she says, "are connected to bilingual family activities, plans for parents, resources for teachers, and community event kits for out-of-school partners like libraries."

I'm delighted to be able share with all of you MommyMaestra readers one of those materials: the OH NOAH! Family Activity Guide

Happy Día de los niños, Día de los libros!

Disclosure: I'm a PBS KIDS VIP which allows me to find out first about news and resources that are of special interest to my readers. I was not compensated for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Margarita Engle for the 2015 L4LL Dia Blog Hop

It is my greatest pleasure, once again, to be one of the hosts of the L4LL Día Blog Hop! As a co-founder of Latinas for Latino Lit, supporting Latino children's literacy remains one of my biggest passions. I especially love it when I can feature one of the Latino authors or illustrators who create the magical books that reflect the Latino experience for our children. 

This year's Día Blog Hop runs today through Thursday, April 30th. Each day three different authors or illustrators are featured on three different Latina blogs. I hope you'll follow along! You can find the complete schedule here

So without further ado, I'm pleased to introduce poet Margarita Engle writing on this year's theme of "immersion" on behalf of Latino children's literacy.

photo courtesy of Amish Karanjit


Immigrants and refugees are often subject to a unique state of mind called añoranza. It is a form of tristealegría, the sad-happy nostalgia of feeling wrapped in music, feasting, and joy, while mourning the distance that separates loved ones. The children of immigrants may inherit only a slim corner of that world of memory, a corner passed on through stories. Without inherited memories, we don’t know who we are, or where our ancestors originated. By the time añoranza reaches my U.S.-born generation, it bursts with curiosity and wishes.

Writing my childhood memoir required total immersion in a devastating past. Enchanted Air (Atheneum, August, 2015) is the true story of my travels back and forth to Cuba during the revolution and Cold War. Remembering was a privilege, but it was also excruciatingly painful. I cried while writing, and I will cry while reading out loud at conferences. Somehow, at the same time, it is a truly hopeful book. The subtitle Two Cultures, Two Wings was born from the magic of travel. Family visits allowed me to know and love my abuelita, bisabuela, tíos, and primos. Travel gave me the gift of connection and the treasure of compassion. Travel immersed me in tropical nature, Cuban culture, Spanish poetry, and the grief of an enormous before and after that chopped my family in half. The Missile Crisis. Severed diplomatic relations. Loss. More than half a century of hostility between my two countries of origin. During my teen years, it was easier for an American citizen to walk on the moon than to visit relatives in Cuba.

Amazingly, exactly one week before I received advanced review copies of Enchanted Air, President Obama announced the first glimmer of hope for renewed diplomatic relations with Cuba. Irrationally, I felt like my immersion in memories had served as a silent prayer, even though the little book of poems was not yet published, and could never reach the ears of anyone influential enough to determine foreign policy. More realistically, I will acknowledge that writing Enchanted Air has served as a bridge between my childhood and adulthood. With enthusiasm for all bridges between cultures, I dedicated it to the estimated ten million people who are currently stateless as the result of conflicts all over the world. I hope that young readers will read my memories as a plea for peace.


Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many young adult verse novels about the island, including THE SURRENDER TREE, which received the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino, and THE LIGHTNING DREAMER, recipient of the 2014 PEN USA Award. Other honors include multiple Pura Belpré and Américas Awards, as well as Jane Addams, International Reading Association, Claudia Lewis, International Latino, and MANA Las Primeras Awards. Books for younger children include MOUNTAIN DOG, SUMMER BIRDS, ORANGUTANKA, DRUM DREAM GIRL, and THE SKY PAINTER.

Margarita grew up in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during summers with her extended family in Cuba. ENCHANTED AIR, Two Cultures, Two Wings (Atheneum, August, 2015) is a verse memoir about those childhood visits.

Margarita was trained as a botanist and agronomist before becoming a full-time poet and novelist. She lives in central California, where she enjoys hiding in the wilderness to help train her husband’s search and rescue dogs.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dover Masterworks: Color Your Own Spanish Masters Paintings

This post uses affiliate links.

So I was doing research online the other night and look at what I found! Dover Masterworks: Color Your Own Spanish Masters Paintings (aff link) is a collection of line drawings that reproduce some of the paintings of Spain's most famous artists: de Goya, Dalí, Velázquez, Borrassa, Miró, Gris, and others.

Wouldn't this be a great resource for artist studies? The full-color originals are displayed on the inside covers so your child can reference them. Then he or she can color in the black-and-white illustrations on his/her own. Each one is printed on only one side of perforated paper so you can tear the completed page out and frame or otherwise display it!

I think this would be an awesome way to supplement a unit study on: Art, Spanish painters, art history, Spain, and more. You can even use it with several students and have an art show afterward to discuss the various artists.

It is best suited for children in 3rd grade and higher, or 8 years old and older.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

5 Latino Children's Books to Celebrate #EarthDay

Many Latinos enjoy a strong connection to nature. My own love of the outdoors, animals, and gardening comes from my Abuelita in whose garden I spent countless hours playing as a little girl. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that many Latino authors and illustrators have penned books that revolve around nature and the Earth.

While there are many books about our connection to nature, here is a sampling of the Latino children's books that make wonderful reads for Earth Day. You can find more in the Latin Baby Book Store under "Nature Reads." (aff)

The following links are affiliate links.

written and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez

I love this super sweet book for small children! It's gentle message of growth and being unique is relayed by inviting the child reader to imagine how they are like a tree growing strong and free. The illustrations are vibrant and actively engage little minds.

by Pat Mora, illustrations by Meilo So

Truly a remarkable book, it is a "poetic celebration of the movement, moods, and majesty of water on Earth." Not only do the words capture the essence of water, but the illustrations are also a visual masterpiece, each one having been inspired by a specific place on Earth.

by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Lucia Angela Perez

Through poems in both English and Spanish, Argueta teaches the strong connection between humans and nature in this tale about Tetl's, a young boy who feels different and outcast from the other children. But Tetl's grandmother helps him discover his Nahuatl heritage by teaching him the ways of their ancestors and helping him learn to listen to the wind, mountains, corn, and more.

by Francisco X. Alarcon, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez

In this magical journey through one of the wonders of the natural world, renowned poet Francisco X. Alarcón follows the Amerindian oral tradition, allowing the animals to speak for themselves in their own roaring, soaring, fluttering voices. Maya Christina Gonzalez’s glorious mixed media illustrations bring the vibrant colors and textures of the rainforest to life.

by Anna Witte, sung by Brian Amador

The best thing about this book is the sing-along CD that features songs by musician and voice actor, Brian Amador. My kids absolutely loved listening to this book when they were little. The story revolves around a greedy parrot in the jungle who goes around stealing all the fruit...until he learns an important lesson.

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