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:

Monday, November 4, 2019

Printable Fall Bucket List

Fall is officially here. For some of you, it's been here for a while already. Don't forget about this printable Fall Bucket List that I created many years ago. It's still one of my faves for celebrating autumn.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween from MommyMaestra.

Wishing you all a super-safe Halloween!

I've been missing this week because...Life! But I didn't want to miss the holiday on here.

Remember to check your kids' candy before they eat it. Here are some good tips from the Channel Islands police on how to check your child's candy.

And here's a little treat from me to all of you!


Monday, October 28, 2019

PBS Celebrates Día de los Muertos

One of the things I love best about PBS is how hard it works to be inclusive and to reflect the experiences of their viewers. From Sesame Street to Molly of Denali, I feel like the shows on PBS KIDS introduce children to a diverse world and also help empower children from a variety of backgrounds. And the same is true for their programming for adults.

Did you know that PBS has quite a few resources for Día de los Muertos? Sometimes it's hard to get things exactly right, but most of the time, the introduction (to children) is pretty accurate. I've chosen my favorite episode, craft, and lessons that introduce Day of the Dead to families.

First, for the children...


One of my son's favorite new PBS KIDS shows, Let's Go Luna!, has an episode dedicated to the Day of the Dead! Click here to watch it online - just skip to the second half of the show (12:00) to watch it.

PBS Parents

PBS's website for parents also has this super fun tutorial for creating Day of the Dead Candle Magnets. They are just the cutest and pretty easy for older children to make on their own!

PBS Learning Media

There are a few different lessons on here, but these two are my favorites. The first is a comprehensive unit with multiple videos. The second is a nice introduction to the holiday from a personal point of view.


And finally, for teens and adults, there is a wonderful documentary available for streaming on Artbound has this Día de los Muertos episode that features an "altarista" from L.A., and also talks about the history of Day of the Dead in this country.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

New Movie: Día de Muertos

Stop the press! Did you know that Mexico is coming out with a new animated video called Día de Muertos?!? (And if you did, why didn't you tell me?!)

I just saw this official trailer from Videocine. It looks incredible! I can't wait! Do you think they'll release it in the U.S.? I have no idea, but I hope so.

Here's the summary from imdb:
In the Mexican town of Santa Clara, lives Salma, a 16 year-old orphan who never got to meet her biological parents. The only story she's been told her whole life is that they abandoned her. Salma has spent most of her life dedicated to searching out clues for her parents' identity and their whereabouts with little to no luck, until she discovers a special book that is filled with stories of Santa Clara and the history of their people. With this new special book, Salma sets off onto an adventure with her two brave and heart-warming foster brothers, Jorge and Pedro, to find the missing links to her family's heritage in hopes to finally get to meet her long lost parents.

Watch and see if you're as excited as I am about this. Sorry to my non-Spanish readers. It's only available in Spanish as far as I can tell...

(Lots of exclamation points in this post, I know. Sorry about that, but I'm just so psyched about it and can't wait to see it for myself!)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Story Time from Space

I can't think of anything much more exciting for a young child who is crazy about reading, space, and astronauts than to be read to by an astronaut who is in space!

Did you know that's a thing? Because I didn't. So I'm pretty excited about the new website, Story Time from Space, from the Global Space Education Foundation. They send STEM-related children's books (most of them about space) to the International Space Station (ISS), where astronauts film themselves reading the books. Those videos are then edited and uploaded to the Story Time from Space website for everyone to enjoy! So far, I've counted 20 books that have been read aloud and uploaded.

The astronauts on the ISS are also conducting experiments that reflect or reinforce the concepts in these books. You can find some of the ones that they've already completed under the Science Time Videos tab in the menu bar.

The Global Space Education Foundation is also working on curricula and activity guides to complement these books. The first one - Newton's Law of Motion - is available for sale on the website.

They've even posted their first video in Spanish with astonaut Joseph Acaba (the first Puerto Rican astronaut!) reading Max viaja a Marte from the Japanese laboratory in the International Space Station.

Another Hispanic reading in space is Serena Maria Auñón-Chancellor (a Cuban-American astronaut) reading Luciana, Braving the Deep. What I enjoyed most about this particular video was how she paused here and there to give commentary about something in the story and how it relates to the work that the astronauts do on the space station.

If you want to learn more, follow Story Time from Space on Facebook. I just did!

I mean, really, how is this not the most fantastic thing? It's perfect for families, educators, or both (homeschoolers).

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Book Review: Paquito y Abuelito

Paquito y Abuelito
It occurred to me that I have never done an actual review of the book, Paquito y Abuelito. Everyone knows its sister title, Rosita y Conchita, but few actually know what this other story by Eric Gonzalez is about.

So let me tell you why I love this book just as much as their first Day of the Dead story.

Día de los Muertos has arrived, but for Paquito, it's just another day. He prefers to spend his time playing video games and is bored by most everything else. Then his Grandmother, his Abuelita, walks in with a box full of stuff and asks him to set up the altar in honor of his late Abuelito (Grandfather) for that evening's festivities. Paquito is apathetic, but agrees.

He goes back to his video games when all of a sudden Abuelito appears and takes Paquito on a journey that shares his adventurous life with his grandson. And he uses NICHOS to do so.

The book Rosita y Conchita taught us all about the significance of the altar and the ofrendas. Now, Gonzalez introduces readers to another Day of the Dead tradition: nichos.

I love the creativity and humor in this story and I think you will, too. The illustrations are (again) bold and vibrant and full of action. It's impossible for kids to read this book and not get engaged in both the storyline and the visual story. Take a look at some of the inside pages...

I also love that the main characters are male, for those of you whose children may have thought Rosita y Conchita too girly. This book is really the perfect complement to the other and a must-have for any home or school library.

The best thing about these books is how the author has included full text in both English AND Spanish.

And just as they added a section in the back of the first book with a sugar skull recipe and directions on how to draw Rosita, the Muertoons characters are back at the end of this story with directions for making your own nicho (so funny!).

Want to get one for your family or someone you know? You can buy your copy from my online shop. But for guaranteed delivery by Nov 1st, please order by Wednesday, October 23rd.


Teaching Cumulative Tales

illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

Do you teach your students/children about cumulative tales? Cumulative tales are stories that build on a pattern. There is a strong, central theme, and a LOT of repetition. It begins with one image, item, character, or event, and then adds another. Each time another element is added, the previous elements are repeated. This repetition makes cumulative stories a great tool for speech therapy, language learning, and building literacy fluency.

Perhaps the most famous example would be The House that Jack Built. The illustration above was published in 1877 by Randolph Caldecott. But the tale itself is much older than that. It was passed on by word of mouth for years (possibly even a century or more!) before it was first published in 1755. Dare I say that the structure and story is as popular today as it was then? I don't know, but I can state in all honesty that this was one of the stories I was told as a child, and one that I've read to my own children.

Another recognizable example would be the children's rhyme and nonsense song, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. This one, though, was written a looooong time later - the 1940s, actually. But it is still beloved by children and families today for its sheer absurdity.

Cumulative tales may or may not rhyme. Some involve tongue twisters. They are frequently humorous. Oftentimes, the story has a surprise ending. Or it may start with a problem which each repetition attempts to solve. Most of the time, the new story elements are kept relatively short and simple. The tales involve strong imagery, so the focus tends to be on nouns and adjectives. But always, they repeat the part of the story already told.

I was thinking about this the other day and wondering how I could teach this to my children. So, I created a Halloween-themed printable that would do just that.

My Halloween Storybook & Cumulative Tale Lesson gives younger children a printable storybook that they can color in. It is the story of a little witch's house. Short and sweet, it focuses on relationships while utilizing mainly nouns and adjectives.

THEN, the file includes an introduction to cumulative tales and provides graphic organizers that guide your children/students through the process of creating their own.

And, yes, it is available in English and Spanish. Though I should note that the Spanish translation is not a direct one (that would sound weird), but keeps true to the essence of the story.

Click on the link above to visit my TpT store to purchase your downloadable copy.

And if you are looking for more cumulative tales to share with your children, here are a few suggestions that you can find on Amazon (affiliate links)...



Monday, October 21, 2019

PBS Shows on DVD: The Berenstain Bears & Dinosaur Train

As the busy holiday season approaches, parents look for ways to give their kids some downtime at home but still keep them learning or busy. If this sounds like you, then maybe you'll love learning that last month, PBS KIDS released new DVDs of their popular shows The Berenstain Bears and Dinosaur Train.

DVDs are a great alternative to just putting on the TV and letting your kids watch for hours. You can control not only the content, but the amount of time spent watching AND you can do it commercial free. :)

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS: Tree House Tales, Volume 1 has 26 stories from this beloved bear family. I love this show because of the important values it teaches, such as kindness, consideration, respecting others, and more. I don't worry about what my child is learning when he watches it. And did you know that you can find lesson plans and activities for the Berenstain Bears on PBS?

DINOSAUR TRAIN: Dinosaurs Big and Small was also released on DVD. It contains 10 episodes focused on - Yep! - shapes and sizes. Lots of great math concepts taught in these episodes: comparing, shapes, counting, and more. And like the other one, you can find great lesson plans for Dinosaur Train online. Check out PBS Learning Media.

Oh, and you can also stream some of the episodes from these DVDs on the PBS KIDS Prime Video Channel!

But if you are traveling and looking for something to keep the kids occupied on a long trip, both DVDs are inexpensive and can be found on Amazon:

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Skeletitos: Make Every Moment Count

If you haven't heard, the lovely people over at Canticos have launched a new line of products. Skeletitos is a new set of stories with a Day of the Dead theme.

The first book was published this month. Skeletitos: Make Every Moment Count is a fun little board book that has a unique presentation.

First, at the beginning, you can find a link to the Skeletitos website that offers free downloadable activities (coloring pages and cut-out masks) to accompany the book. You also find out that there is a Skeletitos app available on the App Store and Google Play. This will allow your kids to sing along as you/they read the book.

There's also a page dedicated to space where your child can draw their own face in the picture frame. Will they choose a calavera face? I recommend that you take the time to read the book together first to inspire their imagination before pointing out this page to them.

Then the actual story begins. Susie Jaramillo (the author and illustrator) already has a way of presenting board books in an unusual way. Her Canticos line contains accordion-fold board books that can be read one way in English and the other way in Spanish.

Susie continues that interactive board book approach by having the inner pages fold out. And the first offical page of the story folds out into a manipulable clock, which you can then leave open as you read the book. It is so much fun!! AND educational! On each page, the clock strikes a differen hour and the skeletitos do something different. Your children can change the hands on the clock to match each hour and thereby learn to count and/or how to tell time as they read this book. 😍

Check out this video from their YouTube channel:

I believe they have seven books in this series planned and the next one debuts next year and features the adventures of Skeletina.

Anyway, it is because of the unusual but engaging presentation of this book and its fantastic educational component that I have added this to my list of favorite books for Day of the Dead.

It is available at Target and Amazon:

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