Thursday, February 4, 2016

Free Download: Valentine Card Game in Spanish

Who's ready for Valentine's Day? Your young Spanish learners are! Thanks to MommyMaestra sponsor Spanish for You! and their downloadable Valentine Card Game. Spanish for You! shares free monthly activities that help your child to learn Spanish in a fun way.

This month's download is super cute and introduces Valentine vocabulary such as corazón, beso, chocolate, flores, and many more. The rules are easy; just print the cards, deal, and play. The first player to get 3 and 4 of a kind wins! Parents, if you or your young students aren't sure about the pronunciations, you'll enjoy the accompanying audio to help you with the pronunciation of each word.

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, February 2, 2016

Free Download: Beginning Sounds Review in Spanish

It's time for another great download from our sponsor, Lectura para niños! Today's download is a sample of worksheets reviewing beginning sounds in Spanish.
Leah says...

Here is your February’s freebie! This is a sampling of a bigger book. With this book, each new section of the book has several practice pages from the “NEW” letters in each theme. The kids practice writing the begging sound from each picture, then they have to decide which picture starts with the beginning sound. There are enough pages to practice in class as well as send home for homework. I like this book because the students will have had enough practice in class which will allow them to do the homework on their own without help.

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.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Mariachi Flor de Toloache

It's Friday! From the sunny countryside of my in-law's home in Texas, I want to start your weekend off with a Tiny Desk Concert from All Songs Considered on NPR. I hope you and your kids enjoy listening to Mariachi Flor de Toloache as much as we do.

(If you can't see the video below, you can click here.)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes Contest

So today, I discovered this awesome contest for high schoolers. The National Science Foundation is hosting the Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes contest. The concept is creative and challenging; each student must research the field of nanotechnology and invent a superhero whose powers are based on current nanotech advances or that may be possible in the future given the current nano research. My kids aren't old enough, but they would SO be all over this if they were!

The students can win cash prizes: $1500 for 1st place, $1000 for 2nd place, and $500 for 3rd place.

But here's the catch: the deadline is next Tuesday, February 2nd! That's super short notice, I know, but I only found out about it. But I know that if you have a science-loving student or one that is a comic book aficionado, he or she could knock this out over the weekend.

Who: High-school students, individuals between the ages of 13-19 years old. Homeschoolers welcome.

What: A written entry explaining the original superhero and nanotechnology-driven costume, gadget, vehicle, or other gear, with particular emphasis on the research behind the nanotechnology, and a 90-second video OR one-page comic strip introducing the superhero and the student's nanotechnology gear. Entries are scored based on creativity, scientific accuracy and the visual appeal of the comic strip or video.

When: Submissions are due by midnight February 2nd.

Where: The competition's online platform, where you can learn more about the challenge, access resources, register and submit your written entry and comic or 90-second video. Three finalists must attend and present their superhero at the 2016 USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., April 16-17, 2016. All expenses will be paid for the student and a parent.

For more details, check out the Entry Guidelines.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Microsoft Launches Minecraft Education Edition

Do you have a Minecraft-obsessed kid in your house like I do? Actually, I have two of them. Well then perhaps you'll be delighted to hear that Microsoft has bought MinecraftEdu and is expanding it into a major resource for classrooms. It will be available as a free trial this coming summer.

Here's a direct quote from their announcement:
In the spirit of the Minecraft community, we are dedicated to making sure Minecraft: Education Edition is shaped in the coming months by a growing community of educators online at We’re also excited to also share that these community pages will host a variety of resources like lesson plans and a new Minecraft Mentors page that allows educators experienced in Minecraft to connect with those interested in trying it for the first time.
I have to admit that I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Minecraft because it concerns me that my kids are so addicted to it. But at the same time, I love the concept behind the game. I originally thought of it as virtual LEGOs, but really, it is so much more than that.

Anyway, I feel that if there is a way that I can use this program that my kids love so much in an educational manner to teach or reinforce concepts they are learning in school, then it is a win-win for everyone.

Monday, January 25, 2016

STEAM Skill Building with Keva Blocks

Screen time is a constant struggle around my house. My kids are constantly yammering, "Can I please get on the iPad/Kindle/computer?" We had to go to a firm schedule of 1 - 1.5 hours a day from this time until this time for it to work, and only if all their school work is complete and they've done chores and some reading. Their other excuse is that they are bored. So I've set out to find new products that keep my kids engaged and busy when they aren't on tech, and I'm going to share them with you. Today, I'm all about Keva Blocks!

This post uses affiliate links.

A few months ago, I bought a set of Keva Colors (aff). It comes with 120 planks, all the same size in four different colors. It's all about the stacking. You don't use glue, nor do they come with connectors. The set does, however, come with an idea book, and both my kids used it to create various masterpieces, including these:

But really, the sky's the limit with these blocks because your kids can build whatever their imaginations come up with. My daughter made this barn and corral. 

And my son also built this marble run...

I love this set because there's no age limit and because it embodies the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) concepts of engineering and arts. My kids must use their own creativity and ingenuity to build. It's not easy to make stairs with planks, you know!

I also love how much time they spent playing with it! So as far as I'm concerned, this set of Keva blocks gets an A+.

I looked it up and Keva has a whole collection of blocks (aff) in various play sets. I'm looking forward to buying another one simply because my kids had such a good time with this one and I love how great it was for developing their engineering skills...and their creativity!

If you're looking for a product that is fun, educational and keeps your kids entertained while they are off tech, you might consider Keva blocks.

Have fun building!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Creative Teen Opportunity from Youthvine

Do you have a young teen in your house? Would they love to earn a $10 Amazon gift card or more?? Over the last few weeks, my daughter has been participating in a fun survey from Youthvine. The online community of tweens and teens works with brands to help the latter better understand what kids want.

This particular survey is just what my daughter loves: an opportunity to share her opinion and how she thinks a company can improve their products based on her likes and dislikes.

It's all about mouthwash flavors. And she certainly has an opinion on this because, unfortunately, we spend a LOT of time at the dentist and she has to devote extra attention to her daily oral care routine.

There are three easy phases and my daughter has completed two of them. For the first phase, she just answered an online survey of what she does or doesn't like about mouthwash flavors. KIDS WILL GET A $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD just for completing this survey. (Woohoo!) And they will also be entered to win one of three $100 Amazon gift cards. (My daughter would be ecstatic if she won this!!)

Forty kids will go on to be selected to create a collage for an extra $10 Amazon gift card. This was super fun for my daughter because she chose to use an online collage builder for her project. But kids can draw or cut and paste theirs if they prefer and just upload a picture.

What I love:
My child is not contacted directly by the research company. She used the online survey to answer her questions and then she uploaded her completed collage. I was able to supervise the entire process. I knew what was going on the whole time and am their point of contact.

They are specifically looking for young teens, so if you have one in your family and would like to have him or her take the survey, click here.

Have fun!!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are strictly my own.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Review: A Superpower for Me

2016 is going to be a remarkable year. In just a little less than 10 months from now, the country will be electing its next president. If you are like me, you may be thinking about how you are going to turn this into a teachable moment for your kids. Which I why I am happy to share with you a new book by Mariana Llanos.

This post uses affiliate links.

by Mariana Llanos
illustrated by Daria Tarawneh

What happens when you discover your parents have an amazing superpower? And that one day, you'll have it, too? You get the makings of an engaging book for children.

This is such a great little book to introduce kids to the power of voting and make them excited about doing so. I love how Mariana has written this book using easy to understand language to explain what it means to vote and how important it is to do so.

I also love that neither the front cover or the back one gives away what the superpower is, so if your child doesn't know about this book, he or she will have fun trying to guess what sort of superpower the mother has.

In addition, she's included a several sections in the back of the book. The first one talks about the difference just one vote makes.(Did you know that just one vote in Congress allowed the Republic of Texas to join the United States?) Your kids will also learn what a democracy is and where the word comes from.

The last two sections discuss the Electoral College and the amendments to the Constitution giving African Americans, Native Americans, and women the right to vote. 

This is a great little book to explore how our nation works and to encourage social responsibility. It's especially timely, given our current election year.

And you know what the best part is? It's available in Spanish, too!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

App Review: WILD KRATTS Baby Buddies

Did you know that there's a new PBS KIDS app out? And it features one of my son's favorite shows: WILD KRATTS!

Name: WILD KRATTS Baby Buddies
Subject(s): science (basic needs, biology)
Brief Description: An interactive app for kids that teaches children about animal care and animal science.
Price: $1.99
Language: English
Ages: 3 - 8 years
Device: iOS, Android

My animal-loving son absolutely adores this app because it allows him to take care of baby animals. He joins Chris and Martin Kratt as they care for young creatures on the African Savannah. There are five different ones: a baby elephant, cheetah, crocodile, zebra, and aardvark. Within the savannah, each species lives in a different niche and has different requirements for survival. Your child will learn how to feed, wash, protect and play with each baby animal.

For each species, Chris or Martin activate their creature power to be more like a parent to that animal. Your child will learn about the different adaptations each animal has. For example, your child may learn that baby cheetahs have a different pattern to their fur to help them look like badgers and scare hyenas away.

The only complaint my son has is that there are only African animals - he'd love to see more species from around the world!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review: Languages4Kidz Early Language Learning Program

Today, thanks to Multicultural Kids Blog, I have a chance to share with you Languages4kidz, an early language learning program for teaching Spanish and English to children 6 and under.

Name of program: Languages4kidz
Target age: birth to 6 years
Amount of materials: Moderate
Price: $75 - $104 (for packages)
MommyMaestra Rating: ♥♥♥


I didn't receive a full program package for this review, but instead, was sent samples of materials from several different packages, including two eBooks, three MP3 song clips, and a teacher's guide for the Kindergarten program. I didn't use this with my children, who are older, but reviewed the materials myself. Here are my thoughts on this program...

This program is an introductory program for families with infants and toddlers. The immersive program has a simple assortment of materials including:
  • Read-aloud books in the target language
  • Downloadable songs or CDs
  • Teacher guides & lesson plans

The goal of the program is to expose children to the target language (English or Spanish) as early as possible. There are four main packages, each one designed for use with children of different ages: babies 3-24 months, toddlers 2-3 years, preschoolers 3-5 years, and children 5-6 years.

The books are engaging and teach basic concepts that you might find in a Pre-K or kindergarten program. They are fun read-alouds for both the reader and the listener.

The teacher's guide I received is for children 5-6 years old. The lessons are structured as such:
  1. Warm-up
  2. Circle time
  3. Theme focus
  4. Theme song
  5. Creative workshop
  6. Story time
  7. Wrap-up
The teacher's guide is very comprehensive, explaining child development at the beginning, a thorough description for using the guide, and then the lessons. The music time can include songs, nursery rhymes or fingerplays. The guide gives examples of ways to make the reading time more interactive using several different methods, such as echo reading and choral reading.

The lessons are very much activity-based, and they are fun for the children. However, this is not a no-prep program. There is a good deal of preparation required on the teacher's part. They may need to draw/create materials to use in their lessons, or gather ingredients/materials for the activity that are not included in the packet. For example, here's a partial list of the materials you'll need for lesson 1.

This program also requires a teacher who is fluent in Spanish. So if you are a parent or teacher who speaks and reads Spanish, this may be a good fit for you. If you don't know Spanish, then you'll more than likely need to pass because you won't know how to pronounce the words and phrases listed in the lessons. 

Overall, the lessons are fun, instructional, and well thought out. Mrs. Graciela Castellanos is the founder of the company. According to the website, she is a native of Venezuela with nearly 30 years of teaching experience. 

You can download examples from the website.

Overall, I think this is a nice program for educators who are fluent in the language and have the time to devote to preparation.

If you'd like to learn more, visit Languages4kidz.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Martin Luther King Jr. Bilingual Writing Activity

On Monday, our nation will be celebrating the values of equality and peace with a national holiday. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an opportunity for us to discuss the actions of this historic civil rights leader, and how they affect us today.

If you're looking for a fun little activity to do with your children, check out my bilingual writing activity on TpT or here on MommyMaestra. It only takes 20 - 30 minutes to complete and helps students to think about the question: What would make the world a better place? My kids enjoyed doing this activity this morning.

The activity is available in English and Spanish.

If you are looking for books to share with your children, take a look at my list of 5 Books to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. There are tons on the market, but these five books approach the subject from different perspectives focusing on the man and/or his message.

You can also find more ideas and resources on my Martin Luther King Jr. Pinterest board.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January Bilingual Multimedia Materials Giveaway

Time for our monthly giveaway from the generous writing duo Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy! This set of multimedia materials is mentioned in their Transformative Calendar, a free download for parents and educators. It is full of suggestions for books and poems appropriate for different dates throughout the year.

This month's Multimedia giveaway includes:

Books + DVDs

1. Island Treasures + DVD My Journey as an Author by Alma Flor Ada

2. Vuelo del quetzal from Puertas al Sol Quince Años Edition by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy + DVD El encuentro mágico con el folklore infantil by Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy


3. Arrullos de la sirena poems by A.F. Ada, voice and music Suni Paz

4. Gathering the Sun poems by A.F. Ada, voice and music Suni Paz

Book + CD:

5. Música amiga Number 2 Canta la letra by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, music by Suni Paz


FIVE lucky MommyMaestra readers will win one of these materials.

To enter to win, just use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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