Wednesday, January 18, 2017

6th Annual Invent It Challenge

One of my favorite parts of running MommyMaestra is being able to share fun opportunities for your children or students. I especially love it when there are contests that both homeschoolers and students in traditional classrooms are eligible to enter.

The Global Spark!Lab INVENT IT CHALLENGE is a competition that encourages students ages 5 to 21 around the world to find solutions to global problems. This year's Challenge invites kids to think about a real-world environmental issue and design a planet-friendly solution. When asked to identify and solve a global health issue, last year's winners created a wearable warning system that helps prevent frostbite, a massage rope to aid injured athletes, and an ingenious water filtration system.

The Challenge offers eligible children from around the world the opportunity to showcase their creative thinking on a global stage, with the opportunity to win exciting prizes such as:
  • a patent consultation from Nelson Mullins, 
  • LEGO kit, 
  • books from Smithsonian, 
  • and subscriptions to Cricket Media's Science Magazines.

Individual students and entire classrooms serving children between the ages of 5-21 are encouraged to participate.

As part of the Invent It Challenge, kids are guided to look at the world around them and think about the environmental challenges facing people and their families, communities and the world. Specifically, the Challenge encourages them to tackle issues such as water scarcity, climate change, air or water pollution, endangered species and natural resource loss.

I would love to see a Latino student win this year! You can find way more information on the Invent It website.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Los Bloguitos: A Spanish Blog for Children

Do you know about Los Bloguitos? It is the most wonderful Spanish blog for children that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! Run by my Latino children's author René Colato Laínez, this blog is a delightful compilation of stories, poems, illustrations, and more written completely in Spanish for children.

Spanish-dominant and Spanish-learning children of all ages will benefit from the site, which boosts literacy skills and supports imaginative development through short stories, poems, word searches, comic strips, anecdotes, and fun activities. Small children will enjoy looking at the short videos and illustrations while having the poems and short stories read to them. Older kids can enjoy reading the excerpts for themselves or by contributing works of their own.

Yep, you read that last part right. Your Spanish-speaking students or children can submit their own work to be featured on the website.

In addition, there are many talented authors and illustrators who contribute to the site. So it is an excellent example of the diversity of the Latino voice and culture.

What a great tool this is for developing a Spanish learner's vocabulary, as well as a way to develop a child's confidence in writing and illustrating!

If your child has a piece published on Los Bloguitos, please let us know so we can share it!

Monday, January 16, 2017

PBS KIDS Launches New 24/7 Channel

Did you know that starting today, PBS KIDS is launching their new 24/7 channel? It's part of their mission to make high-quality, educational television available to families at any time of the day or night. 

Families will be able to access the new channel on-the-go with the digital live stream which complements on-demand clips and full episodes (these continue to be available for free on the PBS KIDS Video App and streaming via Viewers will be able to watch the station-branded live stream through and on the PBS KIDS Video App, which is available on a variety of mobile devices, tablets and over-the-top platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Xbox One and Chromecast.

To be honest, I'd much rather my kids be watching PBS KIDS than most of the junk that's on now. IF my kids are going to be watching TV, I'd rather it be educational. And fortunately, my kids love shows like WILD KRATTS and ODD SQUAD.

While it is important to limit your child's screen time, it sure is nice to know that there is a channel you can let them watch without having to monitor it for commercials and inappropriate shows. Thanks, PBS KIDS!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr. Writing Triptych Activity {Bilingual}

On Monday, we'll be celebrating MLK Day across the country. His speech has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks. Last year, I created a writing activity for children in upper elementary/lower middle school. And earlier this week I shared a free, simple color-by-number activity for introducing Martin Luther King, Jr. to younger children in preschool and lower elementary.

But I have one more printable I want to share. It is designed to make children think about what they would like to see happen in our country. In this writing triptych, kids can read a little bit about Martin Luther King, Jr. and read some quotes from his famous speech. They can color it, and draw or paste a picture of themselves on one of the folds of the triptych. Then they can think about the quotes and write a few words (short paragraph) sharing their own hopes for this country.

I would recommend that you pair this activity with one of the books from my list of 5 Books to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Read the book(s) first and then hand out the activity and give your student(s) time to complete it.

The activity is available in English and Spanish and you can find it on TpT.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction & Fantasy

As my oldest child enters junior high and prepares for high school, I've been researching more and more upper-level materials. And I know that many MommyMaestra readers have more than one child, some with teens who are navigating high school. So when Wings Press reached out to me about reviewing their new title for young adults, I agreed.

Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction & Fantasy is a collection of two dozen stories centered around Latino sci-fi. What was that? I imagine you asking. For most families, this is something rare and intriguing. Although there are more and more science fiction books or series for children emerging with Latino protagonists, this is not a genre commonly found on bookshelves in libraries or bookstores. This particular book is best geared for older teens and adults.

What makes this particular anthology so fascinating (aside from the incredible stories themselves) is the list of U.S.-based established and new authors who have contributed such mind-blowing pieces. They are diverse with roots in eight different Latino cultures. Ana Castillo, Kathleen Alcalá, and Junot Díaz are just a few of the talented authors whose work is featured in this book. Here's a peek at the table of contents to give you an idea of the contributors and the titles of their works to whet your appetite:

Editor Matthew David Goodwin, an assistant professor in English at the University of Puerto Rico, has done a remarkable job assembling this collection. Rich in science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism, these short stories will challenge the imaginations of readers. In one story, a woman travels to a small town in northern Spain to learn about her family's heritage only to be transported back in time. In another, a sheriff is called out to the outskirts of a small town in New Mexico to investigate a UFO siting. And in one tale, we get a glimpse into the lives of vampires. Latin American folklore shows up in a modern U.S. city and the result is creepy and mysterious. From Texas to the Dominican Republic to outer space, this book takes us on an adventure through space, time, and cultures.

Some of the tales left me spellbound and I couldn't stop reading until I had finished the story. But I'll admit that some left me scratching my head wondering what in the world just happened. Ha!

I love that the book is so creative in terms of presentation. Not all of the stories are written the same way. Some are short stories, others are poems, one is a play, and there is even a story told through pictures.

It's important to note that this book is not for younger children. A few of the stories have strong language and there are some graphic scenes.

But if you have a teen who reads and studies Latino literature, this is a must-have. The diverse voices and writing styles represented help young readers to explore literature and introduce them to the limitless imaginations of writers.

Best of all, it shows that the Latino experience can be expressed in any genre; there is no limit on authors and illustrators. And likewise, your child's culture goes with her no matter where her interests lie.

Homeschoolers and high school classrooms alike will benefit from incorporating this title into their required reading.

This book is available on Amazon. Or you can click on my affiliate link below to purchase it:
Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction & Fantasy

Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Spanish Interactive eBook: Coco y Coca tienen miedo

Today, I'm delighted to share with you a new book written by my friend, Carolina DuFault. If you don't follow her blog, La Clase de Sra. DuFault, you should stop by and check it out. On it, she shares tips and information for the Spanish classroom.

Carolina also spends a lot of her time creating printables and eBooks, such as this one.

Coco y Coca tienen miedo is an interactive book that engages your child. Every page invites the reader to use his imagination to draw the characters or setting. The books is carefully designed to develop a child's reading comprehension and creativity. I love that children can read the passage at the bottom of the page, and then fill in the blank spaces on the pages to complete the picture.

I especially love that this activity allows children to see their own ideas and drawings become part of a book. What a great way to nurture a future author or illustrator!

The story itself is simple: Coco and Coca are two Doberman Pinschers who are very friendly and smart. But sometimes they are misunderstood. This book talks about prejudice and gossip, which we often give more attention to than what we should. Young readers will go on Coco and Coca's adventures and learn that there is more to a story than what you might think!

You can find Coco y Coca tienen miedo (afflink) on Amazon. And to check out more of her wonderful printables, visit Carolina's TpT store.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr. Coloring Activity

Next Monday, we'll be celebrating the life of a man who fought valiantly for civil rights in a time of great upheaval. Despite the threats to his life, Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke up for the freedoms and equality of all people.

Now more than ever, we as a country need to remember those beautiful words that King spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. We must strive for a world in which all people are treated with respect and all children are appreciated for their unique qualities. We must reject actions and laws that discriminate or foster violence and hostility. And we must establish a country in which people are not judged based on their skin color, but by their actions alone.

Last year, I shared a writing activity for children in upper elementary/lower middle school. Based on King's speech, it only takes 20 - 30 minutes to complete and helps students to think about the question: What would make the world a better place?

This year, I have a simple color-by-number activity for introducing Martin Luther King, Jr. to younger children in preschool and lower elementary.

It's bilingual and it's free. Enjoy!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Free Download: Spanish Words Ending in "ción"

I'm so excited to welcome back MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You! for another year!

This month's freebie from Spanish for You! is a set of worksheets that you can use to help your child with those pesky Spanish words that end in "ción."

This printable 2-page activity comes with an audio file for learning proper pronunciation. Your little Spanish learners will learn key words such as "educación," "celebración," and "acción."

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!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Día de los Reyes Writing Activity

Does your family celebrate Día de los Reyes? If so, you may enjoy this writing activity available in my Día de los Reyes Decorations Packet. It includes cutouts of various colored sneakers and letter writing pages so students can write to the Reyes with a wishlist in English or Spanish. Then they just roll it up and stick it in the sneaker that is pasted to a sheet of colored construction paper. It's super fun!

The Decorations Packet also includes:

• a festive banner to print and hang, 
• photo booth props, 
• and shoebox decorating sheets for those who put out a box of grass for the camels. Each sheet contains a different scene for children to color in, and the sheets are available for small and large boxes...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

#TpTAñoNuevo Sale Ends TONIGHT

Hey! Have you heard? There's another awesome sale going on and it features top-notch products in Spanish from some really talented teachers on TpT.

Each teacher participating in the sale has listed a couple of their best Spanish materials at 50% off their normal price, and many have their entire stores on sale, too.

I've listed my Spanish Reading Comprehension Passages: 10 Latinas in History packet and La Casa del Árbol Activity Pages for Books 1 - 3 packet at half off, plus put my entire store on sale for 20% off.

And don't forget that I have some really wonderful products for available for learning about and celebrating Dia de los Reyes!

But here's the catch: The sale ends TONIGHT (Tuesday, Jan 3rd) at midnight!

So if you're looking to stock up for the year or just want a few products to make it through the week, now's your chance! 

Just head over to TpT and search the hashtag #TpTAñoNuevo or click here.

Happy shopping!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bilingual 2017 Resolution Chart for Kids

¡Próspero Año Nuevo!

2017 has arrived and I greet it with renewed energy and optimism. As I have done for the last couple of years, I'll be having my children sit down to think carefully about the coming year and set some goals for their education.

I want to start off the new year sharing with you a free download that will help guide your children and encourage them to set their own goals for the year. I think kids should have a vested interest in learning and by including them in the planning process, I think we empower them to see their education as not just something they have no control over, but a responsibility they enjoy.

Don't worry! The chart is simple and easy. It asks them to list three items in four different categories. This should be fun, so don't pressure them to write down the same responses that you would write. :)


Friday, December 30, 2016

The Best of MommyMaestra 2016

Dear Friends and Familia,

2016 is almost over. And I have to say that I am so glad because for me, both emotionally and politically it has been awful. I'm not sure if 2017 is going to be a good year for our country, but it will certainly be one that highlights change and the people who are willing to stand up for what is right. 

That said, there were a lot of really great things about 2016 for me personally. The most important being my finally being able to take both of my children to Spain to meet my father and his side of the family. Making those connections is such a blessing for my children and a gift that is far more valuable than anything I could buy them. 

In addtion, 2016 was a great year for MommyMaestra. So many wonderful guest contributors were featured on the blog and they all shared remarkable reviews, tips, resources and information. I must thank each and every one of the guest contributors to this site, who share such wonderful content.

I also discovered my new passion for creating educational materials that parents and teachers can download and very soon, I'll be unveiling something new and wonderful as a result.

Over the last few years, I've done a "Best of MommyMaestra" post highlighting popular posts (and ones I really enjoyed writing or reading) for each month of that year. It is always so rewarding to go back over my site during the past year and discover which posts were the most popular.

But first, I want to thank MommyMaestra's wonderful sponsors who share such fantastic freebies every month to help MM readers teach their children a new language or new skills and concepts. A giant abrazo to Spanish for You!. I'd also like to thank Risas y Sonrisas for their support of MommyMaestra and articles to help parents raising bilingual children. I want to encourage each of you to visit their sites where you'll discover wonderful products to help you raise multilingual kids. And if you are a parent or educator who has downloaded their free content from MommyMaestra, please take a moment to just say thank you to them so they'll be inspired to continue to provide you with such great materials.

Please remember: MommyMaestra is always looking for guest contributors. Maybe this is the year when you will sit down at your computer and type up your first article sharing your experience. We want to hear and share your stories to inspire other Latino families to get involved in their children's education. We want you to be excited about the things your child is learning and to take an active role in their journey of discovery. 

When I first started MommyMaestra almost 5 years ago, I only knew of a handful of Latino homeschoolers and there were NO blogs dedicated to education for Latino families. Today, it is rare that a week goes by when I don't get an email or message from a mother (sometimes a father!) who is looking for curricula, has questions about how to start homeschooling, or needs resources for helping their child improve in specific subjects at school.
A giant abrazo to you all. May 2017 be a wonderful year for your familia.


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."
This post shares MLK resources for you to use as you introduce your child to one of the world's most famous civil rights activists.


Rosita's Strawberry Cream Cheese Tortilla Wraps

"A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Carmen Osbahr, the talented Latina behind the Rosita muppet. She is funny, vibrant, smart, and just as lovable as the characters she makes come alive on screen. And more importantly, she is making a difference in the lives of children all across the country - especially Latino children who have the opportunity to relate to and learn from the bilingual Rosita and Ovejita characters."
I don't share a lot of recipes on MommyMaestra, but this one that I created in honor of Carmen and Rosita and Valentine's Day, was super popular!


"Learning about Mariachi music is a wonderful way to explore the Mexican culture. I hope you find some resources below that help you teach your students about this unique art form - from the distinctive costumes they wear to the instruments they play."
This post turned out to be extremely popular with MM readers!


"This printable activity teaches key vocabulary associated with parks. The 4-page download comes with vocabulary cards, worksheets, and directions. Not sure of the pronunciations? No worries! It also comes with the audio to help you with the pronunciation of each word. This time, Debbie has included a few other wonderful goodies for you to use, as well!"
I'm so thankful to Spanish for You! and all their wonderful monthly freebies for parents and educators to use while teaching children Spanish. Debbie's activities do a great job of boosting Spanish vocabulary in young learners.


"NACHO: Libro Inicial de Lectura is an awesome workbook printed in Colombia by SUSAETA ediciones. They publish a collection of (Spanish) reading and writing books for kids ages 4 - 13. This particular book is the first in the series, and helps beginning readers to master writing and reading by learning syllable combinations."
One of the requests that I get on a regular basis is for materials that teach children how to read in Spanish. I always refer parents to my FAQ page located in the top menu of this website, but reviews of products like NACHO remain extremely popular.


"If you have children beginning the Magic Tree House books in English OR in Spanish, I hope you'll consider this activity packet I put together. It covers the first three books in the series and has activity pages to boost your child's reading and writing skills."
I absolutely love creating downloads for MommyMaestra readers. Some are free and some have a small fee (to help pay for all the graphics I buy!), but the latter usually come with sample pages if it is a big file. This particular product - La Casa del Árbol - was created when a reader asked me about Spanish materials to supplement the Spanish books, but we couldn't find any!


"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."
This was, perhaps, the most viewed post on MommyMaestra in 2016. And it has such a good message with so many ways for us to raise respectful, peaceable children, that I consider it one of my best. 


"The other part of my co-op day and the biggest chunk of my responsibility is high school Spanish 2. This class is quite a challenge to teach in just one hour of class time per week. In the past, I have struggled with trying to use a textbook and/or class handouts to accomplish this very difficult learning experience for my students. However, this past school year, I found what I consider to be the best learning experience possible for these students. I use two online resources:"
MommyMaestra is blessed to have wonderful guest posts from moms who homeschool their children or have found great resources and are willing to share their tips with other MommyMaestra readers, like this one from Andrea Contreras, a stay-at-home homeschooling mother of nine children. 

Thanks to ALL the moms out there who have shared their expertise with us!


"Despite their best efforts at encouraging their kids to speak Spanish, when only one of the parents is bilingual, they find that after a certain age, their children always revert back to speaking English at home, because mom and dad both understand it. This can even be the case in households where one parent makes the effort to exclusively speak in Spanish to the child as he or she grows up. Once kids start attending school in English, it tends to completely take over the other language at home."
Wow! September was SUCH a great month! It was really hard to select one post to feature because with so many great guest contributors and blog hops happening, all of the posts were really close. From picture books that teach Hispanic Heritage to exploring Spain with kids to what is Worldschooling, MommyMaestra was a wealth of information. Click on the subtitle "September" above to see all of the great content from that month.


"When I was a kid there weren't ANY chapter books featuring Latino characters, much less any centered around a LatinA. That's why young Latinas today are so lucky to have not just one, but a whole slew of titles from which to choose. If you're looking for titles that reflect a young Latina's experience that your child or students can relate to, check out these series and stand-alone stories."
Book reviews remain one of the most popular posts on MommyMaestra.


"The time to protect our families is here. We need to give our children the tools they need to defend themselves. Those tools include Caution, Strength, and a Voice. To avoid violence, we must talk openly with our children about the possible dangers they may encounter and prepare them to think quickly and act accordingly. We must urge them to be ever vigilant, aware of their surroundings, and mindful of who is nearby."
My open letter to Latino parents remains one of the most viewed posts on my site. I encourage parents to prepare for the coming years and to prepare and protect their children from the growing racism that is spreading across our country. 


"I started looking around to see what new resources were available for celebrating this nine-day tradition, and was DELIGHTED to find a read aloud on YouTube of Tomie dePaola's excellent children's picture book, The Night of Las Posadas. It's one of my favorite stories about this holiday event."
Stumbling upon new and exciting tools and resources for parents and teachers is what started MommyMaestra. So it is fitting that December's favorite post was this YouTube read aloud centered around Las Posadas.

See you next year!

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