Saturday, December 7, 2019

Venezuelan Christmas Spotlight: Hallacas

(Source: Wikimedia) Hallacas con pan de jamon, Venezuelan food
Recently, I was researching for my new country coloring activity focused on Venezuela and I stumbled upon some great videos dedicated to making hallacas. (I'll tell you right now, I love watching cooking shows. So you know what's coming, right?)

Now, I've never had an hallaca, but after reading about them and watching a ton of videos online, I really, really want to try one.

(Source: Wikimedia) Hallaca ingredients :: Tomas Rojas 

Very similar to tamales, hallacas are a cornmeal dish with a filling of chicken, beef, or pork. Typically, they include other ingredients such as raisins, capers, and olives. Unlike the tamal, which is wrapped in a corn husk, hallacas are wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled. This dish is traditionally served around Christmas and New Year.

(Source: Wikimedia) Hallaca after steaming :: Jaimeluisgg

One of the comments I heard most while watching videos is how moist and flavorful they are. And as you can see from the picture above, they certainly look deliciously moist.

But the best thing I found online was the following videos. Watch them with your children  - maybe you might just want to try your hand at making some with your kids this holiday season!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

High Five Bilingüe Magazine Cyber Sale

Opportunity Alert! 

I was looking for a magazine for my 2yo for the coming year. Right now is when all their subscriptions are on sale. So I went to check out the Highlights website and...

For those of you looking for bilingual (Spanish) magazines for your kids to gift for the coming year, check out Highlights' High Five Bilingüe Magazine for kids ages 2 - 6. It's on sale this week for 50% off the cover. Don't miss it!

Find it here on Highlights' website and check out all their other products on sale for the holidays.

You can also order it from Amazon (aff link), and it comes with an automatic renewal.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

“Get Out the Mad” Cookies Recipe from PBS KIDS

Hey! It's National Cookie Day! 

What a great day. I celebrated early by making chocolate chip cookies last night. Ha!

But let's talk about turning this day into a teachable moment. PBS KIDS has put together a recipe for making "Get Out the Mad" Cookies. Inspired by DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD, making these cookies helps encourage social-emotional skill development. Baking these cookies with children not only hones math skills, but also encourages conversations around an array of emotions, which helps social-emotional skill development. In order to make the most out of the educational baking activity, start by asking your child what some common feelings are and when last time they remember feeling happy, sad, mad, etc. was. Then, explain that there are things they can do when they’re angry besides shouting or hitting, like pound on clay or dough. Research shows that kids learn the most when the adults in their lives talk to them about what they’re watching and how they’re feeling.

So here are the directions for making some awesome cookies with your little ones!

“Get Out the Mad” Cookies:

  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Bowl
  • Cookie sheet

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Ask your child to help measure out the ingredients. This is a great opportunity to talk about reading numbers and following directions carefully. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

  1. Give your child a manageable chunk of dough. It’s okay for your child to mash it, knead it, and pound it. The longer and harder your child mixes the dough, the better the cookies taste!

  1. When the mixing is done, show your child how to roll the dough into balls about the size of ping-pong balls, and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

  1. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Final TpT Sale of the Season!

Yikes! I forgot to tell you about this one! Don't forget that the final TpT sale of the year is happening. Today is the last day to take advantage of the discount on my ENTIRE store!

Search your wish list for those favorite holiday items. Here are just some of the items you might have been waiting to come around:

NEW this year! I've finally bundled my elementary files for Las Posadas. My five most popular activities for this tradition are available now. Reading passages for older children also available.

This printable booklet of popular villancicos is easy to print and go.

Here's a fun booklet of aguinaldo lyrics

My Parranda Reading Passage sheds light on this Puerto Rican tradition.

Introduce your students to el Día de los Reyes with this printable minibook! One-page reading passage for older children also available.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections

Throughout my life, I've known quite a few collectors. My 'Buelita had a lovely collection of figurines she kept on a special bookshelf. Our neighbor collected stamps. And once, I visited the home of a woman who apparently collected everything. (Seriously, each room was dedicated to a specific collection - dolls, antique kitchen gadgets, figurines, thimbles, etc.)

My own children have had their share of collections. When they were younger, they were fascinated by objects that they found in nature - abandoned birds' nests, empty cicada shells, unusual stones or wood fragments, driftwood, feathers, seashells, and more. Even though most of the items have been discarded, there are still a few of those most precious finds that sit on their bookshelves today. The photo at the top of this page is from one of our beach trips six years ago. My girl collected all of the items, with the mermaid's purses being her most valued discovery.

When I was a little girl, I started a rock collection. I was too little to know what I was doing, of course, but my mother used to tell the story of how I made a little box and placed a bunch of rocks in it and labeled each one. I was smart enough to give them scientific-sounding names as she thought I had actually looked them up. She was so proud of me. Sadly, I didn't continue the practice of labeling rocks as I grew older, but I did continue the habit of collecting stones and gems (rose quartz, geodes, etc.) that I found to be unusual or beautiful.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago while searching for gifts for my General Science class that I teach at our local homeschool co-op. Michaels had a box for rock collectors with separated compartments and I thought about how rock collecting must still be a thing for kids or the store wouldn't bother selling those display boxes.

So I looked up information on kid collectors. According to an article from the Child Development Institute, "Hobbies teach children to set and achieve goals, solve problems and make decisions. They can also set the course for what your child becomes later in life as they often turn into lifelong interests or careers."|

Psychology Today has a good article, too, describing how collecting things exercises a child's imaginative and cognitive skills. The authors remind us that children have been collecting items in their immediate environment for hundreds (may I say thousands?) of years. It's a way of making sense of our world and develops our sense of order and understanding.

In the Psychology Today article, the authors talk about how schools used to encourage kids to collect things as a hobby. Show and tell was often the time for sharing your prized collection of baseball cards, china dolls, comic books, or patches. And they lament the fact that the hobby of collecting is no longer given any attention in schools.

Maybe children don't collect things the way they used to? I find that hard to believe. Either way, I encourage you to nurture your children's passions and urge them to start a collection. It leads to research, organization, identification, creativity, presentation, and so much more.

The types of collections are really quite endless. Buttons, books, erasers, stickers, pins, marbles, toys, shells, rocks, Star Wars, LEGO, Harry Potter, Doctor Who... a child can collect anything.

Which leads me to today's book feature.

Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections is a new children's picture book by Michelle Schaub. It's the story of a student who has been given a school assignment to bring to class something that they collect. And one student doesn't have a collection, so she goes around and asks friends and family about their collections.

I love the concept of the book. And it is a well-written collection of poems. Every time you turn the page a new collection is featured. And the author tells you about all of the collections in poetry form.

I also enjoy the fact that the illustrations are by Carmen Saldaña, an artist who lives in northern Spain!

Here's a peek:

This might make a good gift for Christmas Eve - if you celebrate Jolabokaflod (Christmas Book Flood!) and gift a book to your loved ones.

You can find this book on Amazon.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Stocking Stuffers for Kids

I cooked. I feasted. And I was overwhelmed with gratitude. How thankful I am for my dear family, friends... and my work here on MommyMaestra. I so enjoy watching my kids learn, learning myself, and sharing what we've learned with you.

Now, I turn my focus toward finding gifts of value for my children and yours. Gifts that our children will learn from. Gifts that they'll enjoy for more than 5 minutes. Gifts that have a lasting impact by developing a skill or nurturing their curiosity and creativity.

Today, I'm highlighting stocking stuffers. Here are some of the ones I've found that I love. You can find them and see my complete list by visiting my Amazon Idea Lists. For this list, click on "Stocking Stuffers."

This post contains affiliate links.

At the top of my list is a Dora and the Lost City of Gold DVD. I can't help it. My kids loved it and so did I. I'm not putting an age range on this one. You know your kids best and whether or not they'll love it. You've probably already seen it! And it is a great family movie. 

For young dinosaur lovers, I have two little products that I love. First is this stocking-sized dino dig.  It's a quick activity that yields a tiny treasure they'll delight in. I'm going to say this will work best for kids 6 to 10 because there are little bitty parts (choking hazard for little kids!). 

The second is this dinosaur skull comb and brush set! Okay, this is just super cute. And it is a good choice for younger children (still not for kids under 3!). And it helps encourage good hygiene habits and taking care of their appearance. :) 

Are you raising a reader? Check out this Digital Bookmark and Reading Timer that helps them track their progress! I wish someone had gotten me this when I was a kid. (Okay, I'm sure they didn't exist back then.) Yay for technology! Ages 5 and up.

Or maybe you have a young scientist. It doesn't matter, really. Who wouldn't love a Pocket Volcano? Hello? Ages 5 and up!

I actually heard about this book - A Velocity of Being - on NPR and listened to an excerpt of the passage that Shonda Rhimes contributed. It was amazing. I want to read this book for myself! But I'm getting it for my 15-year-old. 

It includes letters from Jane Goodall, Neil Gaiman, Jerome Bruner, Shonda Rhimes, Ursula K. Le Guin, Yo-Yo Ma, Judy Blume, Lena Dunham, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Jacqueline Woodson, as well as a ninety-eight-year-old Holocaust survivor, a pioneering oceanographer, and Italy's first woman in space. And all of the proceeds from this book go to the New York Public Library systems. Here's a description of the book:
In these pages, some of today's most wonderful culture-makers―writers, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and philosophers―reflect on the joys of reading, how books broaden and deepen human experience, and the ways in which the written word has formed their own character.

For little explorers, the new series from Encantos is a must! Tiny Travelers has just launched and their first two books are about Mexico (shown) and China. Here's a description:
Tiny Travelers is inspired by a world of cultures. The Tiny Travelers “Treasure Quest” Series takes its readers on a fun-filled journey to discover what makes each country special. Each illustrated spread invites children to discover hidden "treasures" - icons, animals, statues, instruments and more - that make up the rich cultural heritage of each country.
In Tiny Travelers Mexico Treasure Quest, readers journey from the mariachi-filled plazas, to the Pyramids of Teotihuacan. From the Lucha Libre ring, to the flower filled boats of Xochimilco, tiny travelers will enjoy getting closer to Mexican culture making magical discoveries along the way.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Bilingual Thanksgiving Printables

Are you looking for some no-prep, print-and-go activities to keep your kids busy while you cook/clean/decorate/entertain guests/whatever this Thanksgiving? Check out my downloadable files!

Teach important concepts for preschool and kindergarten with this 15-page, Thanksgiving-themed activity pack!

Learn about acrostic poems with these Thanksgiving-themed acrostic poem writing pages! Includes directions and examples in both English and Spanish, as well as 5 different acrostic pages with prompts of varying length and difficulty. There's also a blank page to allow children to use their own focus word.

Boost your child's vocabulary and reading skills with this Thanksgiving storybook. This story lists things for which children often give thanks on this holiday, so the student will enjoy coloring while learning the words for "friends/amigos," "family/familia," "grandma/abuelita," and more. Just choose the book that best suits your needs...

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

Boost your child's reading and writing skills with this minibook of Thanksgiving words. The pages show items typically associated with Thanksgiving, so the student will enjoy coloring while learning the words for "corn/maíz," "turkey/pavo," "harvest/cosecha" and more.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Free Download: Thanksgiving Family Recipe Cards

Does your family have special dishes (aside from the traditional turkey and stuffing, I mean) that you make to celebrate Thanksgiving? Do you incorporate your family's heritage and culture in those dishes? For example, do you add a special twist such as jalapeños or chipotle to your sweet potatoes? Those are precious traditions that are unique to your family.

Photo by Jeanine Thurston

Over the years, I've posted about super delicious dishes that my Latina friends prepare at Thanksgiving as a way to honor their heritage. Here are some of them:

Don't they all sound wonderful? The camotes al chipotle is my favorite and I try to make it a few times during the fall.

While you are planning your menu for Thanksgiving, why not take the opportunity to turn this time into a teachable moment and spend some quality time with your kids. I've created these free Thanksgiving recipe cards (available in English and Spanish) so your child can write down your family's favorite recipes for the holiday. It would make a wonderful family heirloom or even a lovely gift to share with family.

Thank you for being a part of the MommyMaestra family. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Education Website

Do you have a young conservationist in your home? Or a bird lover? Or are you trying to incorporate more lessons in your classroom that talk about nature, conservation, and citizen science projects?

Then Cornell Lab of Ornithology's education website needs to be on your go-to list.

It is one of the best avian education sites for students. I've been using their citizen science projects for years with my kids. And I recently started following their Facebook page.  

Sot let me tell you about the resources they offer.

Bird Academy

Bird Academy is the section of their site that offers online, interactive learning courses, videos, and games. Registration is free, but not all the courses are. 

I haven't actually used this section, so all of this information is based on what I read on the website. But it looks like there's a nice selection of online courses, including:
  • eBird Essentials (FREE)
  • Understanding Bird Behavior
  • Feeder Birds: Identification and Behavior (of the birds that come to your backyard bird feeder)
  • How to Identify Bird Songs
  • Nature Journaling and Field Sketching
  • and more...
You can complete these courses at your own pace. I think that most of them come with recorded lectures and learning games. 

These are awesome! This section has 175 videos about birds that are found around the world. It's easy to filter them by one or more of the 12 topics listed in the sidebar. These topics include migration, anatomy, habitat, behavior, etc. They are fascinating looks into the lives of birds with experts who explain behavior, 

Here are two examples:

I love these so much! I'm not sure that I would call all of them games, though. Some are just really interactive powerpoints and videos. Most are geared for kids 13 and older, but there are some for younger children. They teach kids about bird anatomy, songs, behavior, and more. My favorite is All About Feathers and the section on Meet a Feather Scientist. FASCINATING!!

This section is the jackpot for educators! And for those of you wondering, yes, they have an area just for Spanish-speakers.

It's also divided up into different areas:


Here is where you'll find everything from free curricula to all-inclusive kits for K - 12 students. They've made it easier for you to find what you need by dividing the grades up into the following:
  • K - 2
  • 3 - 5
  • 6 - 8
  • 9 - 12


This part of the site is just for teachers. Here's where you'll find free webinars, online courses, educator retreats, credit options and where you can find trainers in your area.

My son a few years ago participating in Project FeederWatch, a citizen science project.


This area is full of stories about citizen science, habitat improvements, bird investigations, and more. You'll discover what incredible educators like you are doing around the world. You can even share your own story.

BirdSleuth Investigator

The latest issue of the student magazine, BirdSleuth Investigator, is available as a free download! I just downloaded it myself and it is such a great resource for kids. Written and illustrated by kids around the country, this magazine shares their research projects that are the result of their burning curiosity. You can also find out how your students can get their work published in next year's issue.

The digital version is free, although you can purchase a hard copy in the store.


Of course, sometimes as educators, we need materials that we can hold in our hands to reference or use to teach. You can find supplemental materials like these in their online shop.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Free Download: Thanksgiving Fun Spanish Freebie

Thanksgiving might just be my favorite holiday! Do you love it, too? If so, this month's free download is for you! MommyMaestra sponsor Spanish for You! has created a special Spanish Thanksgiving fun freebie to develop those vocabulary words associated with the holiday.

Celebrate el día de acción de gracias with this five-page download that includes an instruction sheet, three sheets of picture cards for playing the game "matamoscas" (don't know this game? Don't worry! There's a link to directions on how to play!), and a vocabulary worksheet.

And if you are looking for Thanksgiving-themed children's books in Spanish to practice reading and using your new vocabulary, check these titles out on Amazon:

Remember! Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Learning Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

I have been on the hunt for some serious learning toys for my two-year-old. I don't want to buy him mindless toys that just blink and make noise and, in the end, really have no redeeming value. You know what I mean?

So I've been searching for toys that teach important concepts that he'll love and play with for more than 20 seconds.

I've found some great ones and have listed them here in a growing list of fabulous toys for kids 2 - 4 years old. Just click on the tab that says Learning Toys for Toddlers & Preschoolers.

I want to know, what are YOUR favorite finds for this age group? I want to know! If it is something you love, tell me why so that I can consider getting it for my kid and to share with other MommyMaestras!

Here are some of my top choices from the list...

Mini Motor Math Activity Set 
Includes Counting, Pattern, Addition and Subtraction Activities
Ages 3+

For a long time, I've had my eye on something similar but it used owls. Then I read the reviews and realized the set doesn't come with enough owls! So then I discovered this set and I think it solves the issue. It's great for counting, color recognition, and pattern recognition, to name a few. 
Plus, my boy will love it.

Alphabet Acorns Activity Set
78 Pieces, Visual & Tactile Learning Toy
Ages 3+

I just bought this set for my little guy. Each acorn has a surprise hidden inside that begins with the letter on the acorn. What a great way to help teach the alphabet!

Veggie Farm Sorting Set
Pretend Play Food, 46 Pieces
Ages 3+

This is another awesome activity for busy little fingers. Kids can learn colors, numbers, and foods with this little set. I love that it utilizes the entire box, including the lid!

Like these ideas? Check out my list! It has lots of other great choices.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Smokey Bear LIVE: An Interactive Webcast

The fires in California have been in the news a lot these days and weigh heavily on my mind. There's also a good learning opportunity here for kids, so I wanted to make sure you know about a FREE, live, interactive webcast about Smokey Bear that is happening TODAY, Thursday.

It will be a live, interactive, question and answer program with fire prevention experts from Lincoln National Forest near Capitan, New Mexico.

The program will be webcast from the Lincoln National Forest near Capitan, New Mexico where Smokey Bear was found and became the living symbol of the advertising campaign to prevent wildfires. This is the 75th birthday of Smokey’s wildfire prevention campaign.


Multiple viewing options are available and participating is easy.
Chose the best way to watch and participate:

9 - 9:50 a.m. Alaska Time
10 - 10:50 a.m. Pacific Time
11 - 11:50 a.m. Mountain Time
12 - 12:50 p.m. Central Time
1 - 1:50 p.m. Eastern Time

Will begin 10 minutes before the program.


  • On a form on the website
  • To
  • Or post them on Facebook

You can also meet experts from the USDA Forest Service who will be answering your questions:

Love this post? Share it!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...