Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Read Around the World: Golden Tales

Once again, I'm happy to be participating in Multicultural Kid Blogs' annual Read Around the World series. If you haven't been following it, then you are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to discover children's books that reflect the beautiful cultures found around the world. It's easy to travel to foreign lands without ever leaving your house when you have a book in your hand. These stories make excellent read-alouds and are fascinating for the entire family.

As usual, I always have a hard time narrowing it down to just one book. Technically, I think I'm supposed to focus on a book from one particular country, but I'm cheating a little this time and sharing a marvelous title that I use in my own homeschool world studies lessons.

Golden Tales: Myths, Legends, and Folktales from Latin America (aff link) is not a new title, but it has lasting value. I love the variety of stories inside this book and how it reflects the beliefs of so many cultures. You'll read about how the Tainos thought the sea was born, and about the Colombian legend of El Dorado. Beautiful illustrations are interspersed throughout the book, as well as brief commentaries by the author at the end of each story.

So if you are raising a young global citizen or are simply looking for materials to help you with your world studies class, consider this remarkable book by Latina author and illustrator Lulu Delacre.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Keep the Summer Learning Going wtih PBS KIDS

Wow! We're almost to August 1st and that means summer break is quickly disappearing. Have you been keeping up with your kids' summer learning opportunities? Don't worry. That doesn't mean spending hours each day sitting at the table doing worksheets. Remember, learning is supposed to be fun and easy!

You can create unique learning opportunities for your children using simple supplies that you either:

  • probably already have at home, or 
  • can download and print, or
  • buy at your local store.

For example, chalk is incredibly versatile! There are so many learning activities you can do with it. If your kids are spending time outside on the porch or sidewalk, give them some chalk and some directions. Younger children can practice letter identification (write random letters then ask them to circle all the letter "a's" that they see) or beginning letter sounds ("Draw me something that begins with the letter B."), while older children can practice their storytelling skills by drawing wordless stories or playing sidewalk Boggle.  

Click on the image below to download the idea chart.

Things to draw with chalk

Activity kits like the Crystal Mining Kids Lab shown in the top image are also super popular and very educational. You can find similar ones at your local Target, Walmart, or craft store. They're designed to keep your kids busy learning and out from behind a screen.

And of course, there's nothing better than reading books. From activity and craft books to chapter books and novels, your kids will be boosting not only their vocabulary, but their reading and spelling skills, too. 

PBS KIDS has some awesome summer-themed downloads for your family. If your kids watch PBS KIDS shows, they'll be crazy about this year's designs with the Kratt brothers on their reading log and inside their summer adventure booklet. The latter has lots of fun activities such as writing your own creature adventure or making leaf and bark rubbings.

Their summer learning site on PBS Parents also has a daily tip calendar to give you ideas on how to engage your children throughout the summer. And if you're on social media, you can participate in their social media challenge. Just share pictures with the hashtag #MyFavoriteSummer. You can find this week's theme here

And don't forget that PBS KIDS has lots of new summer programs. In fact, the first ODD SQUAD Movie is scheduled to premiere next Monday on August 1st.

So take advantage of all the resources that are available to you and keep your kids learning this summer so that they start school strong this fall!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Free Download: Shapes & Locations Mini-Lesson in Spanish

Are you thinking about homeschooling your preschooler or kindergartner this year? Or maybe your child's school doesn't offer Spanish classes and you'd like them to learn at home. Either way, this month's free download from MommyMaestra sponsor - Spanish for You! - is an excellent resource for youWalgreens.

This mini-lesson comes with activities to help your child learn about shapes and locations, as well as an audio file. 

Bilingual Books About Shapes! (affiliate links)

You may also enjoy these bilingual books for children:

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!

Monday, July 18, 2016

New Bilingual Album: Cuando era pequeña

Hey, Friends!

Hope your summer is going well. I'm on vacation this month with friends visiting us from Bolivia, so I haven't been writing so much. We ALL need breaks from time to time, no? Are you enjoying your summer? Are you spending quality time with your kids?

Well, while you are enjoying family time, I want to be sure that you know about another awesome new bilingual album release, this time from our friend Nathalia Palis-McLaughlin. Cuando era pequeña (When I was Your Age) is fun way for children to learn concepts that they'll be learning in school and in life. With her unmistakable voice, Nathalia will enchant your children with her lively songs. I love how the lyrics weave back and forth from English to Spanish effortlessly to give children a truly bilingual experience.

You can listen to a sample of her album and purchase it on her site here. There are 10 songs on this album that teach children about everything from the dinosaurs to the Amazon. The titles are:
  • Dinosaur Dance 
  • Señor Opuesto 
  • It's My Birthday
  • Pesadillas
  • Qué llueva 
  • When I Grow Up  
  • La Iguana Pepa
  • Oh Math
  • ¿Qué me dices tu?
  • Otra Vez

Keep the bilingual learning going this summer with fun resources like this one that get your kids up, moving and singing in two languages!


Monday, July 11, 2016

15 Ways to Raise Non-Racist Children

Last week was so disturbing in so many ways. I was very disheartened to see all the violence erupting across our beloved country. Racism is an ugly, ugly beast.

Like you, I don't want my children eventually becoming victims of a violent society. As I mentioned in my Facebook post, I don't know how we stop this madness among adults. But I do know that as parents, there's one really big thing we can do to stop it in the future: raise non-racist kids.

Raising children who see beyond the color of a person's skin takes a conscious effort on the parents' part. We must deliberately teach respect and cooperation. We must destroy the "Us versus Them" mentality that has slowly permeated our culture.

The reality is that there are good people in this world and there are bad people. It doesn't matter what color your skin is or what uniform you wear. There are both kinds of people EVERYWHERE.

So we must raise our kids to respect others and not judge someone based on the way they look but on their actual actions. We must assume people are good unless we see them doing otherwise. We must raise children who value life and don't take another person's life lightly, or that think their own lives are more important than others. We absolutely must train our children to communicate effectively, without belittling, cursing, or threatening others even in anger. And we must help our children to have friends of all colors, backgrounds, and nationalities so that they do not fall victims to ignorant stereotypes.

Below are 15 things you can do to raise an enlightened, unprejudiced child who doesn't judge other people by the color of their skin.

1. Don't be a Racist

Model the change you want to see in our society. Model the person you want your children to grow up to be. That means NOT making or repeating stereotypical comments to your children about people based on the color of their skin, the language they speak, the uniform they wear, or anything along those lines. Treat people as individuals not as representatives of an entire race or culture. Your children are watching you even when you don't think they are, and they are learning how to be an adult from you.

2. Vocally Oppose Racism

Even if you aren't racist, society and the media constantly bombard our children with racist images (some subtle, and some not so subtle), so it is up to us to point out why they are wrong if our children see them. Our outrage and disappointment should be visible, but in a controlled fashion. We should explain with great seriousness how these images hurt people's feelings and send the wrong message. Whenever possible, we should relate them to our own children's lives and people they know:

  • "How would you feel if people thought/said these things about you?" 
  • "How do you think [family or friend] would feel if they saw this picture? Wouldn't they feel bad about themselves or hurt that someone thinks of them this way?" 
  • "This isn't true. [Name] isn't like that at all, and would probably be hurt if s/he saw this."

Make your children think about how words and actions have power, and that those words and actions can be used to uplift or tear down.

3. Make Friends with Everyone

Take a minute to think about all the people you know and consider friends. Take a look at your Facebook feed. Is everyone one color? If so, it may be time to climb out of your box. Make an effort to make friends with people and families from different backgrounds, different cultures, different races. You'll be amazed at how enriched your life will become and the significant impact it will have on your child's perspective and treatment of others.

4. Speak Out

Time to put on your big kid underwear and walk the talk. Your child is watching you. Silence is cowardly. Be brave. If you are with your friend, and you see them (or even someone you don't know!) being harrassed, belittled, ridiculed by another person because of their color, language, or appearance, stand up and say something. Show support and solidarity. Bullies are more likely to pick on one person than they are a two or more. Show some class and fight ignorance with intelligence, strength, and dignity. Kick fear to the curb. Racist jokes suck. Don't laugh. Frown and tell it straight: "That's not a funny joke. It's cruel and ignorant."

5. Teach Respect

Everyone deserves our respect. Our kids should assume the people they meet are good people until they have proven/indicated otherwise. "Sir" and "Ma'am" should be a permanent part of your language and your child's as a sign of respect for others. You don't have to agree with everyone, but that doesn't mean it's okay to talk ugly to a person just because they have a difference of opinion.

REMEMBER: You can't control what other people do, but you sure can control your own self. Don't let other people drag you down to their level if they are vulgar or insulting. Treat them how you'd want to be treated.

6. Read Diverse Books

Reading should already be a routine in your home if you have children. They should be reading every day. Make sure that starting from the time they are born, you are reading books that reflect other cultures and people. Don't only read books about white characters. Don't only read books about black characters. Don't only read books about Hispanic characters. Don't only read books about Asian characters. Don't only read books about Native American characters. Don't only read books about Jewish/Christian/Muslim characters. Read ALL of them so that you can begin to understand why other people think or behave the way they do and discover similarities. Stop your kids from thinking of people who look different as "OTHER."

Need ideas for multicultural children's book titles? Multicultural Kid Blogs is a goldmine.

7. Teach Anger Management

Having self-control is the single most important trait a parent can help their child develop. Losing your temper is what 2-year-olds do. Train your kids to respond, NOT to react. I know for a fact that a calm, kind response and even a heartfelt apology can cool another person's anger. Really, it is super hard to keep screaming at a person who is responding calmly and with sincerity. You start to realize how silly and dramatic you sound/look. Remind them that by allowing someone else to make them out-of-control angry, they are giving that other person all the power. I tell my kids all the time, "You are the one in control of your emotions, they do not control you." Here are some great techniques for teaching kids how to control their anger.

And along with this goes the ability and willingness to say "I'm sorry." Teach children that apologizing doesn't make a person weak. It makes a person wiser and kinder. It doesn't mean you agree with someone else, but it does mean you're sorry you've hurt their feelings.

8. Teach Effective Communication Skills

Another valuable skill is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with others. Children should be able to express themselves without physical violence. They should also be able to ask the right questions to understand why another person is behaving in a specific way. 

The first step in conflict resolution is understanding the problem. Did Ana take Aurelio's toy? Why did she do that? How do we stop that from happening again? Is Helen scared of Billy? Why? Helen should be able to explain, and Billy should be able to understand so that if he is doing something wrong or if she has misinterpreted his actions, he can apologize and/or explain himself.

9. Show Them How Empathy Works

Empathy is the ability to recognize, understand and share the feelings another person has. Empathy generally has to be developed because most children are ego-centric and only think about themselves and how they feel. Sadly, if they do not learn to have empathy, they grow up into selfish adults who only think about themselves and their own feelings. Being empathic helps people see situations from multiple perspectives and makes them better problem solvers, a quality highly valued by employers.

One of the best ways to develop your child's sense of empathy is to help them learn to identify their own feelings and then apply them to other people. Asking questions such as "How do you think that made him/her feel?" or "What would have been a better thing to say?" is important for helping kids to think about others.

Here are some evidence-based tips for fostering empathy in children.

10. Kick Jealousy out the Door

Quit worrying about what everyone else has that you don't have. Instead, start helping your child to recognize all the wonderful things with which they themselves are blessed and to give thanks for them. It's a lot easier to be happy for another person's good fortune if you know that you, too, have had many instances of good health, happiness, wonderful opportunities. At dinner each night, ask your children what the best thing was that happened to them that day so that they'll learn to appreciate their own lives.

And don't forget to celebrate the successes and blessings that others experience. Model the behavior you want to see in your children. For example, when a child in their class receives an award or goes on a fantastic vacation, say things like, "Wow! That is so great that Sofia got to travel all the way to Bolivia! I'm so happy for her! She'll learn so much. I'd love to travel, too, how about you?" or "Isn't that LEGO playset that Samuel got for his birthday incredible? I'm so happy for him, he's going to have a great time building it. Maybe we can save up to buy one similar. Which sets do you like?" The key phrase here is "I'm so happy for you/him/her." Because we need to teach our kids that it's important to be happy for others.

11. Nurture a Happy Heart

And speaking of happy, children that are happy are more likely to be successful adults and are less likely to develop mental disorders. They are more optimistic, less aggressive, and less prone to depression. They're more likely to see the good in others and treat others with fairness, not suspicion. It's okay to he sad or angry on occasion, as long as our general outlook is one of happiness. Think about all the truly happy people you know. Can you imagine any one of them treating another person unjustly?

I love the advice given in these 7 secrets to raising a happy child.

12. Develop Your Child's Sense of Social Justice 

Help your child understand that he or she has the power to create change. Help them learn to identify issues and know right from wrong and not be afraid to speak up. Don't be afraid to point out social issues in our time, but be sure to discuss solutions. Because our job is to leave this world a better place.

13. Study U.S. History

And I don't mean study WHITE U.S. history. Study the contributions of ALL Americans. Yes, you should know about Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Lincoln. But you should also know about Agrippa HullWilliam FloraJuan de Miralles Trailhon and General Bernardo de GálvezLoreta Janeta VelázquezCorporal Joseph Pierce, and thousands of others. Teach your kids that heroes come in ALL colors.

14. Learn a New Language or About Other Cultures

It's really hard to learn a new language without learning about the cultures with which they are associated. And learning a new language gets the language learner excited about practicing their new communication skills with other people. Instead of seeing people as "others" - dangerous, abnormal, not like us - they instead see people as positive opportunities with which to interact.

Here's a great way to study culture as part of your curriculum, or simply at home as character development during the summer, after school, or on the weekends.

15. Travel

Traveling has SO many benefits! It can help boost new language skills, reinforce what you've learned about another culture, give you an opportunity to learn and make friends, and help you raise a global citizen who cares about our entire planet and humanity. Teach your children how we are all the same and interconnected. You don't have to agree with everyone else's beliefs, but you should understand what those beliefs are and respect their rights to have them.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Free Download: Captain Mama's STEM Activity

Happy 4th of July!! How are you celebrating the holiday? How about with a simple activity that celebrates the women who defend our country and the freedoms with which it comes? It's perfect! I'm crazy happy to share with you today's gift to MommyMaestra readers from my friend, Latina Air Force veteran and children's book author, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato. You probably remember my sharing a review of her new book, Captain Mama's Surprise/La Sorpresa de Capitán Mamá, a few months ago.

If you've been waiting patiently for it to be released, then today is THE DAY! You can finally order it on Amazon (my affiliate link) or directly from the publisher. PSST! If you order directly from the publisher, you'll also receive an embroidered patch of the book's cover art!

Captain Mama's Surprise is the second book in her bilingual children's picture book series about women and mothers serving in our volunteer armed services. And as I mentioned in my review, this great story includes a STEM activity so students can learn basic aircraft terms and begin to think about airplanes as structural machines that are engineered.

My kids had a great time with the activity, carefully thinking about structure and balance. And I'm delighted that the author and publisher has granted me permission to share this download with you! Your kids will love this activity.

Be sure to order your copy of the book! It is so FULL of information, you'll be happy you did. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Summer Camp @ Home July Calendar

Can you believe July is already here? If you've been using the MommyMaestra free Summer Camp @ Home program, then you'll be happy to know that the July calendar is now live!

You can find it and other summer camp resources here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

123 Andrés Releases "La Semilla"/"The Seed" Educational Music Video

A few weeks ago, I shared with you the new album Arriba Abajo from 123 Andrés. I'll be honest: while the album is in itself fabulous, NOTHING makes me happier than when artists and musicians take their work one step further and create additional materials for families and educators to supplement their work.

So it is with the greatest joy that I get to debut one of the educational music videos Andrés has created to go with his song, "La Semilla" (and in English, "The Seed"). Knowing how plants grow is a basic concept that all children should learn in preschool or kindergarten. The song is an easy way for children to learn about the life cycle of a plant, but the video is a bonus for visual learners.

In addition, you might remember me mentioning a 35-page learning guide that they've created to accompany the album. Well, after you watch the videos below, you can find a few pages from the guide as they pertain to this lovely song at the bottom of this post. Our friends at 123 Andrés have allowed me to share them for free with MommyMaestra readers. You can download it in English or Spanish! Fun and engaging, it is a whole lesson plan that revolves around this one song.

But first, I don't want to wait any longer. Select your favorite language below and then hit play!

Don't forget that you can purchase your MP3 of this song on iTunes and Bandcamp (La Semilla or The Seed).

Enjoy today!

photo credits
Top image: Keyla Sanders

Monday, June 27, 2016

Free Download: Making Words in Spanish (Advanced Level)

Last month, our awesome sponsor, Lectura para niños, shared a free download with MommyMaestra readers that is designed for use with beginning writers. This month's freebie takes those early learners to the next level with this more advanced packet.

This sample packet contains seven activity pages.

The set that the come from actually contains 222 pages. Here's how Leah describes it:

This homework book has five parts. In each mini book, there are 1-3 pages of homework for each reading concept you are working with. If your student is struggling with closed syllables, I would practice first with the phonics center – advanced, with closed syllables, and pull the practice pages from the following mini books.

1-Leyendo Palabras: Whole word reading (32 pages)
The student reads the words in the box above and writes the word below the corresponding picture.

2-Busca Palabras: Word Searches (32 pages)
Find the hidden words from each theme.

3-Escribe palabras correctamente: Unscramble the words (32 pages) Unscramble the words from each theme.

4-Escribe las palabras en las cajas correctas: Write the word in the correct letter boxes. (32 pages)

5-Recorta y pega los dibujos con la palabra correcta. Cut and paste the picture into the correct circle that matches the word. (90 pages) 

If you love these sample pages and would like to get the whole book, you can find it here.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bilingual Travel Games & Free Sample

A few weeks ago, my friend Frances asked me for some travel games in Spanish. They were headed on a road trip and she wanted to use the time to boost her son's Spanish. Just for fun, I made a few pages and then decided that MommyMaestra readers might enjoy them, too. And THEN I thought I better make some English versions for the English-language learners following this blog.

There are 10 travel-related games in all. My kids got in on the creation process. We had such a good time creating the packet! So if you are hitting the road this summer and are looking for some fun games in English OR Spanish that your children can play together or on their own, consider my Bilingual Travel Game packet. You'll find a sample download of one of the games below.

Here's a look at some of the other games available in the complete packet...

To purchase this packet, visit my products page or my TpT store

Happy traveling!

Monday, June 20, 2016

App Review: Yash Math Adventure

As we head into summer vacation, I have to think about how I'm going to keep my kids' reading and math skill sharp without making them feel like we're doing school work. Reading is easy as I simply make regular trips to the library and bookstore to let them choose their own books. But math tends to be another matter. At first, I was having them do one lesson each week from their math curriculum, but that was ALWAYS met with resistance and complaining. And then, I had the opportunity to review a new app by Degenet and my problem was solved! (Pun intended!)

NameYash Math Adventure
Subject(s): Math
Brief Description: A math learning app disguised as an adventure game!
Price: $2.99
Language: Spanish, English, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, and French
Ages: 6+ years
DeviceiOS, Android, Windows, Kindle

Created by a team of Hispanic team of artists, software and game developers, Yash Math Adventure is the most fun math app that we've encountered so far. My son, who is not a fan of math, but loves adventure games, has really enjoyed this app. And so has my daughter who is going into 7th grade. 
From beginning math students to advanced, this is an app that grows with your child. You can change your setting to determine the complexity of the math problems. 

First, you select a profile. Up to three different profiles can be stored at once, so you can either have three different players at different skill levels using the app (like my son who just finished 4th grae and my daughter who just completed 6th), or you can set it up so that one game focuses on addition or subtraction skills (or both!), while another focuses on multiplication and/or division. You can select the difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced).

Then you'll watch a short animation that introduces you to to the game (see more below). After that you begin moving through the levels that include different habitats, such as woodlands, palm beach, hollow caverns, desert valley, hidden falls, and mount lava.

In true Mario Brothers fashion, you'll be collecting coins, dodging creatures, jumping and swimming your way to success. Sometimes you'll have to push a lever to open a gate and in order to push it you have to successfully complete a math problem. Or if you accidentally get stung by a bee or fall in a pit, you have to answer another math problem. There is a nice balance of adventure and math in this app so that your child doesn't get annoyed by the amount of math problems, but isn't just sitting there playing some mindless game, either.

And MommyMaestra readers will love that this app is that it is available in SIX different languages. You don't have to buy separate apps. When you start the game, just click on "Options" and then select your preferred language. There isn't a lot of reading or language involved, just a fun animated introduction before the game begins. It basically tells you that some bad guy has hidden coins all over the world and you have to go and collect them to save the day. 

You can also turn off the music, sounds, or reset the game from the Options menu. The music isn't obnoxious and the graphics are rich and colorful.

We also love the little student with his backpack. He's cute, but my daughter does wish that the game offered the option of a little girl, too.

So if you're looking for an app that your kid will actually enjoy and that hones his or her math skills at the same time, this is it! You can play this game year round, or save it for the summers. 

Visit their website to learn more. Enjoy! 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mundo Lanugo Revives Traditional Latino Games

By now we all know that play is serious business for children. For thousands of years, children have learned through traditional games. From socialization to developing their fine motor skills, these games teach valuable concepts. But in today's tech-obsessed society, many of those traditional games are being forgotten and lost. (I actually wrote about this SIX years ago here.)

So you can only imagine my excitement to learn that our friends at Mundo Lanugo have decided to help preserve these precious traditions. Every Thursday this summer, they are releasing a new video on their YouTube channel. Each video teaches a traditional Latino game such as A la vibora de la mar, A la rueda, rueda, Chicle Americano, and many more. 

Subscribe to their YT channel, then tune in each week to learn a new game for your children to play. You'll find the videos for these games here. Mundo Lanugo has already released two videos. 

And, yes, they are the cutest thing ever. Narrated by children, your children will be excited to learn these new games. I love how they include the words on the screen so you can sing along. And I especially love how these songs take me back to my own childhood and a cassette tape with all these songs that I absolutely loved and played over and over again.

These videos help develop your child's vocabulary and language skills by nurturing their sense of rhythm, encouraging their imagination, and through repetition.

Take a look to see for yourself:

I know your nenes will love these games. Enjoy!


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