Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Art for Tweens & Teens: Inky Art School

Homeschoolers! Do you have a budding artist in your home? Are you looking for a short series of fun lessons for them to do (preferably taught by someone else, perhaps online)? Oh, and for FREE?

Let me tell you about my latest obsession.

Have you heard of Johanna Basford? She's the Scottish artist who essentially created the adult coloring book craze. And she's also created Inky Art School.

I stumbled upon her by chance and am now completely obsessed - not with her coloring books, but her online 10-day art class based on her latest book, How to Draw Inky Wonderlands (aff link). The book basically teaches you how to draw many of the images in her books. But you don't HAVE to have the book to follow along. She provides free downloads if you want them. Or you can just DRAW.

I'm currently on Day 6 of Inky Art School, and I love the techniques she teaches. I've often struggled to find the right illustrations or graphics for my printables and books. A few times, I've created my own, but I agonized over them. After watching this and just trying the techniques, I think I finally have the confidence to do more of them.

Johanna is a fun and easy teacher. She actively shows you how to create images and encourages you to be creative and expand upon what she's taught.

You can find all of the episodes, downloads, materials and more here on her website. Don't worry! You don't have to go and buy a lot of stuff! The main things you need are paper, pencil, eraser, and a felt-tipped pen. I went ahead and bought the Layout Paper that she recommends and I LOVE it way better than the tracing paper I was using. (I didn't even know it existed and am so happy with it!)

So if you have a young artist looking to gain confidence and learn new techniques, this is a must-do. Each episode is around one hour long. And you can pause it as often as you want, rewind it, or whatever while you practice and draw along with her.

Watch the trailer for Inky Art School...

Monday, January 20, 2020

Goya's Culinary Arts Scholarships

Heads up! Do you know a college freshman majoring in Culinary Arts or Food Sciences?

If so, make sure they know about Goya's Culinary Arts Scholarships! The annual (and renewable!) scholarships are for full-time study at an accredited two- or four-year college or university of the student’s choice.

Each year, students are awarded $5,000 and may be renewed three more times for a total of $20,000!

But you need to act fast because the application deadline is February 17, 2020.

To be eligible to apply for the scholarship, you must meet the follow criteria:

  • Be a United States citizen, a legal permanent resident, or a student granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
  • U.S. citizens must provide a copy of their birth certificate, U.S. passport, certificate of citizenship or naturalization certificate.
  • Permanent residents must provide a copy of their current permanent resident card or a current passport stamped I-551.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) must provide a copy of their DACA approval letter.
  • Have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or its equivalent.
  • Candidates must be obtaining their first undergraduate degree.
  • Must be willing to complete 10 hours per month of community service.
  • Must be entering an accredited two-year or four-year institution as freshmen and majoring in a full-time Culinary Arts or Food Sciences program for the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Applicants may also be children of a Goya employee, broker, or independent driver provided they meet all other eligibility requirements.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Biblioburro: Lesson Plans, Videos, Books & More

Biblioburro Lesson Plans, Videos, Books

Do you know about Luis Soriano? Are you looking for resources to teach about this remarkable man who travels far and wide the mountains of Colombia on his little burro to deliver books to children in remote villages?

His story came across my desk once more this morning and I started thinking that I should share some resources for his inspirational story. So here you go!

This post contains book affiliate links.

Printable Activities & Lesson Plans:




Below are the two children's books that I love. I'm starting with Monica Brown's "Story Behind the Story," in which she shares how she was inspired to write Waiting for the Biblioburro (aff link). This post was originally published first on the Latin Baby Book Club, which is no longer available online.

Esperando el Biblioburro (Spanish edition) 
By Monica Brown
Illustrated by John Parra

The Story Behind the Story
by Monica Brown

I love librarians.  Like me, (and I’ll bet you too if you are reading this), librarians are book people. Book people find joy between the pages of a book, but their passion doesn’t stop there. True book people must share books with others. They believe that placing books in young hands and sharing stories with young minds is meaningful. Luis Soriano is a book person. Luis first came to my attention when I read the New York Times article, “Acclaimed Colombian Institution has 4,800 books and 10 legs” by Simon Romero. Fascinated, I did some research and came across Valentina Canavesio’s short film Biblioburro—The Donkey Library. The story filled me with joy and not a little pride in the resourcefulness and passion of the Latino culture that Luis and I share. Growing up, Luis Soriano did not have the benefit of extensive formal studies and unlimited financial resources. What he did have was vision—and two donkeys named Alfa and Beto. For years, Maestro Soriano has delivered books in rural Colombia to children who don’t have access to libraries. Some don’t even have teachers or schools. But Luis, who received his school degree at 16, and then became a teacher and librarian, has made it his life’s work to change that.

When I wrote Waiting for the Biblioburro, I didn’t want to presume to tell Luis’s story for him, so I created a fictional story inspired by his, from the perspective of a little girl whose life he changes. I contacted Mr. Romero, the writer, and Ms Canavesio, the filmmaker, and through them, reached Luis himself. I knew as I was writing this book that I wanted Luis’s blessing 
— I was lucky enough to get it, and to get to know Luis over the phone and through emails. I also wanted to make sure that his foundation shared in the profits from this work, which my publisher made happen. When I first spoke to Luis over the phone and across thousands of miles, I was felt that I was in the presence of greatness—he is great man with a great heart. Luis shared with me his wish to sow the seeds of creativity and to cultivate dreams in the minds of children.

After talking with Luis, I felt inspired to write an imaginative rendering of Luis’s legacy — a legacy not only of literacy, but of sharing one’s own stories with the world. My story is about a creative little girl named Ana who loves books and reading, but who doesn’t have access to a library, books, or even a teacher.  It’s her story of waiting, discovery, and finding a voice.

I hope that Ana’s story, like Luis Soriano’s vision, will inspire us all to be literacy workers and activist librarians, teachers, parents, and friends. What would you do to bring books to children?  Would you ride a donkey for miles, risking attack and robbery? Would you build a library with your own hands? Luis Soriano did. And we can too. 

Watch the book trailer:

Visit Monica at

** MommyMaestra note: If you visit Monica's website you can download a curriculum guide for her book for free!

by Jeanette Winter

What a treasure this little book is! Biblioburro is based on the true story of Luis Soriano, a bibliophile and school teacher, whose desire to share the beauty of words with others takes him on a selfless mission throughout the isolated villages of northern Colombia. In 2000, Luis began carrying books to the people in remote areas of his country. His initial collection of 70 books has grown to over 4,800!

Winter tells the joyful story of how Luis began his work and some of his experiences as the mobile "librarian" who delivers books with the help of his burros, Alfa and Beto.

Winter's folk-like artwork is - as usual - a visual treat for children, and captures the tropical setting beautifully. My own children enjoyed drawing scenes and characters from this book after reading it.

You can read more about Luis's fascinating story in this 2008 New York Time's article. I think you might love him by the end. (And be sure to take a look at the slideshow!)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Encouragement for Parents with Children Reluctant to Learn Spanish

© Can Stock Photo - creatista

My oldest son ended our fall semester at our homeschool co-op with a C in Spanish... and that's only because he participated in class and that was factored into the grading!

I'm telling you this because the truth is for some of us, it's hard passing on our heritage language. Even though Spanish was my first language and was spoken most of the time at home, once I started going to all-English schools and - most significantly - once my great-grandmother passed away, Spanish wasn't spoken all that often. And I was certainly never formally taught it. 

So although I understand it perfectly and can speak it well enough (I do make a lot of mistakes at times), Spanish hasn't been something that I easily passed on to my kids. 

Maybe you feel the same way?

When my kids were little, we did a lot of Spanish. I have bookshelves bulging with Spanish-language and bilingual books. I read to them in Spanish all the time because I wanted their ears to hear the nuances of the language and my daughter had excellent pronunciation (and still does). She currently takes Spanish in high school at a private school and is getting A's. We're planning on her going to Spain this summer to stay with my family, which should be a really great experience for her and help her to improve her Spanish.

But that middle kid has resisted me the whole long way. 

We've tried so many homeschool Spanish curricula and classes. And I thought, well, maybe he just doesn't want to learn it from ME. So I signed him up for Spanish in our new homeschool co-op that we attend each week. Pero nada. His teacher says he's a great kid, but he totally bombed the tests. And I would beat my head against the wall every week helping him with his Spanish homework. 

So this semester we are doing something different and so far, I'm hopeful. Now he is doing Duolingo on a daily basis. And I haven't had to help him once. And he doesn't resist when I ask him to get it done. He even does it on his own without me asking!

I'm hoping to mix in some Spanish for You! lessons as we go along this semester. I'll let you know how this goes.

But I wanted to share all this because so often people say, "Oh! You're MommyMaestra! You've raised bilingual kids! You know how to do it. Tell me how." Ummm, no. I've never claimed to be an expert on raising bilingual kids. I struggle with it just as so many of you do. But I am always happy to research your dilemmas and help you find answers so that we can all learn from them. 

And I wanted to tell you: Don't give up. 

Don't give up because your kid refuses to learn. Don't give up because they're "too old." Don't give up because it's so hard. 

Sometimes you just have to keep trying different ways until you stumble upon the best program or practice for your kid.

I hope I've finally stumbled upon the one that works for my middle kid.

Fingers crossed!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Free Download: Spanish-Speaking Countries Wordsearch

It's a new year, a new decade, and a new opportunity to learn a new language. Will you be teaching your middle schooler a foreign language this year? Have you settled on Spanish? Are you looking for a great curriculum that teaches the language in manageable chunks? Maybe you are wanting a Spanish curriculum that helps with pronunciation because you aren't a Spanish-speaker yourself or your Spanish is a little rusty!

If any of the above sounds like you, then you must check out MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You! They've been supporting MommyMaestra for several years now and even if they didn't, I would be recommending them for your children because they have so many great lessons. 

I ALWAYS say that before you buy a curriculum, you should visit their website and look at or download their sample lessons. In the case of Spanish for You!, you can click on the link in the bottom paragraph and take a look at all the free samples they've shared with MommyMaestra readers over the year. When you fall in love with them, you can go buy their program, which is available in compact, affordable, themed packages. Just pick the one you want to try first and go!

This month's freebie is all about Spanish-speaking countries. The two-page file contains vocabulary in Spanish for the countries where the language is spoken. Your young Spanish learners can practice with the wordsearch and simple worksheet that teaches phrases, countries and geographic regions. And, yes, an audio file is included to help you with pronunciation.

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, January 3, 2020

Printable Día de los Reyes Resources

Will your family be celebrating Día de los Reyes Magos on Monday? If so, be sure to check out my post that lists TONS of resources for exploring and celebrating the holiday. You'll find everything from books to music to videos.

I also have several printables, such as the one shown above of reading passages, coloring pages, and letter templates that you may enjoy, too. You can find them in my TpT store and my MommyMaestra online shop.

My favorite activity for the holiday is this Reyes Writing Activity. It is part of the decorations packet that you can use to decorate your house or classroom. Do you put your shoes at the end of your bed or do you set out a box of hay for the Magi's camel? If it is the latter, you'll enjoy the printable coloring sheets to use to decorate your box!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Free Printable Bilingual 2020 Resolution Worksheet for Kids


That's my word for 2020. A new year. A new decade. And I believe that anything is possible... especially in my own life. I simply have to believe it and so, for this coming year, I believe that what I want is possible. I can be productive, successful, and financially stable even with a 2-year-old in the house.

I have a billion ideas that are always blooming in my head. So many great ventures waiting for some attention. They just need some energy behind them.

There are other goals on my list for this year. I need to develop my time management skills. I want to work on my patience. I'd like to read this book. And I want to learn more about Latin American countries, their customs, traditions, and people.

My annual resolution charts have already been printed and are ready for my two older kids to fill out today. I don't really like the word resolution, though. Think of these more as goal worksheets. Resolutions, too often, are abandoned within a few weeks. We can't guarantee that everything no our worksheets will get done, but it certainly gives us something to work towards.

This year, I've decided to hang the worksheets in a place where we can see them throughout the year. I've always placed them in our homeschooling binders, but I've decided this isn't visible enough. I need to be reminded of my goals, and I think my kids do, too.

So if you'd like to use this printable with your own children, you can download it free below. The file contains both an English and a Spanish worksheet.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Update on the Migrant Children's Book Drive

Dear Friends,

I want to close out the year here on MommyMaestra with a sincere thank you and update regarding the Migrant Children's Book Drive. Back in June, I was feeling helpless and angry about the situation along our border. Thinking about the children made me ill - and it still does. Then, I saw one piece of good news on TV. After watching the segment about how Save the Children was helping the lovely people of Deming, New Mexico, to run a humanitarian shelter to help the people (many of the families, and over half of them children) who were being released from the detention centers.

I asked Save the Children if they needed Spanish-language books for the children, and when they said yes, I decided to host a book drive to get as many books as possible. I reached out to all of you here on MommyMaestra and on social media. I wrote emails to authors and publishers. And the books just started coming and coming and coming.

The notes that many of you included were so heartfelt and moving. It was very emotional. And I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and willingness to join me in trying to do something nice for these families. To lighten their young spirits, if only for a short while... but maybe longer.

The books were used inside the Child-Friendly Spaces and Mother/Baby Areas that Save the Children managed inside the shelters in Deming and Las Cruces, NM. But in addition, we sent more books so that the children passing through could take one with them on their journeys.

And then I learned about the wonderful work that REFORMA's Children in Crisis Task Force was doing along the border here in Texas and also in California. So any books that came in that were not approved by Save the Children, were shipped to them, too.

In all, we have sent around 3,000 children's books - mostly Spanish, but some in English and some bilingual - to these two programs. We've stopped collecting books, mainly because fewer families are coming across (due to changes in Mexico's handling of the situation) and fewer are being released. (Please note that there are children who have been separated from their families who are still being imprisoned in the horrid camps.)

But I wanted to share one last thing with you. I received this email a couple of days ago from Carolyn Miles, the Chief Executive Officer at Save the Children. This is really meant for all of you in the MommyMaestra community who gave so generously to the book drive.

You have made a difference. 

And I want you to know that as the year closes, and carry that feeling with you into the next decade.

Muchisimas gracias! You are all wonderful human beings.

Click on the image of the letter below to make it bigger so you can read it easily.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Make & Play Nativity

I love collecting nacimientos (nativities). I have quite a few in my collection. So when I saw this, I was excited because it is a great way for me to pass on my love of them to my kids.

Make & Play Nativity (aff link) by Joey Chou is an interactive book with press-out pieces that assemble to make 20 figures for a 3D nativity. They are pretty simple - most only have three pieces to put together (the manger is the only one with more and it comes with directions for putting together the five sections). And they press out very easily without ripping. So this book is perfect for little hands.

I sat down with my 2-year-old and helped him assemble these pieces.

And the book also comes with additional activities. There is, of course, the nativity story, to read with your child after you have assembled your pieces and set them up. Then you can sing one of four carols - the lyrics are included.

Older children can go on to do one (or all!) of the crafts listed in the book, such as making a Christmas star or advent calendar.

And I was delighted to discover that all the pieces fit back inside the book, so when the season is over, I can put them back in and save it for next year! With a little care, this book should last for several years.

Overall, this little board book is just a gem for children. It is probably best suited for kids 3 to 7 years old, though you can enjoy it with your 2-year-old, as I did, and some older kids might enjoy the activities, too.

You still have time to get this book before Christmas if you use Amazon's Prime 2-day shipping.

Monday, December 16, 2019

8 Picture Books for Jolabokaflod That Feature Latinos

For the rest of this week, I'll be focusing on books to give on Christmas Eve. The last few years, our family has adopted the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve. It's called Jolabokaflod ("Yule Book Flood"). Friends and family give books as gifts. As a result of this tradition, Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world.

Jolabokaflod started during World War II when so many items were being rationed. But in Iceland, paper was not restricted and so book giving was easier. As a result, Icelanders gave books to be opened on Christmas Eve. The tradition was so popular, it has continued to grow and is now spreading to other countries.

There are SO MANY wonderful books to gift your children, so I want to dedicate this week to sharing titles that are just fabulous in case you are looking for ideas. But seriously, just go to the bookstore and look around. It's hard not to find lots of titles your kids will love.

Since we have eight days until Christmas Eve, I'm starting with a list of eight picture books by or about Latinos. You can find many of them in your local bookstore, or you can order them from Amazon and get them in 1 or 2 days with Prime.

¡A leer!

This post contains affiliate links.

by Elizabeth Rusch
illustrated by Teresa Martinez

Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet is the biography of Dr. Mario José Molina, the researcher who discovered the horrifying effects of CFCs on our planet's protective ozone layer.

It is an inspiring book because not only does it talk about his discovery and successful activism, but it also shares how Dr. Molina has hope about our current climate issues because he's already lived through the first environmental crisis and seen how universal action can happen and make solutions work.

by Margarita Engle

Dancing Hands is the story of Teresa Carreño, the prodigy pianist from Venezuela who began playing the piano as a little girl and composing her own music by the time she was 6. Not only did she play for President Lincoln as noted in this lovely story, but apparently for the famous composers Rossini and Liszt, too!

¡Solo pregunta! (Spanish edition)
written by Sonia Sotomayor
illustrated by Rafael López

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges--and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we're not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.

byJacqueline Woodson
illustrated by Rafael López

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

We all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

Be Bold! Be Brave! 11 Latinas who made U.S. History
Sé Audaz! Sé Valiente! (Bilingual book)
by Naibe Reynoso
illustrated by Jone Leal

A bilingual book that highlights 11 Latinas who excelled in various fields including medicine, science, sports, art and politics. By presenting the true biographical stories of these outstanding Latinas in rhyming verses, young readers will easily follow their journey to success.

Under the Mambo Moon
by Julia Durango
illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck

On summer nights Marisol helps out in Papi's music store. As customers come and go, they share memories of the Latin music and dance of their various homelands, expressed in a dazzling array of poetry. The diversity of Latin American music is brought to life in poems that swivel, sway, and sizzle with the rhythms of merengue, vallenatos, salsa, and samba.

All Equal: A Ballad of Lemon GroveTodos Iguales:Un Corrido De Lemon Grove
written and illustrated by Christy Hale

In the summer of 1930, the Lemon Grove School Board decided to segregate the Mexican American students. The board claimed the children had a "language handicap" and needed to be "Americanized." When the Mexican families learned of this plan, they refused to let their children enter the new, inferior school that had been erected. They formed a neighborhood committee and sought legal help. Roberto, a bright boy who spoke English well, became the plaintiff in a suit filed by the Mexican families. On March 12, 1931, the case of Roberto Álvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District was decided. The judge ruled in favor of the children's right to equal education, ordering that Roberto and all the other Mexican American students be immediately reinstated in the Lemon Grove School.

This nonfiction bilingual picture book, written in both English and Spanish, tells the empowering story of The Lemon Grove Incident--a major victory in the battle against school segregation, and a testament to the tenacity of an immigrant community and its fight for equal rights.

Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War
written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953)—or Luz—believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Downloads for Celebrating Las Posadas

¡Oye! Las Posadas start on MONDAY! 

Are you looking for easy activities that you can just download and print for your students or little ones? I have a variety of them for children in Kindergarten through 8th grade.

New this year is my Las Posadas BUNDLE (shown above), which gives you ALL the elementary grade products for a discount!

Read about the rest of my Posada printables below.

This is my most popular product. It includes THREE printable booklets full of coloring pages of items most closely associated with Las Posadas. The three booklets are:

• a bilingual book (English & Spanish)
• an English only (for ESL)
• a Spanish only (for Spanish learners)

This is actually my favorite activity of all! A full-color, printable calendar celebrating Las Posadas. This calendar follows the nine-day celebration that begins on the 16th of December and ends on Christmas Eve.

Parents and children can print out the calendar and the images that accompany it. Each image includes a bilingual description (English & Spanish) that explains its role in the posada. Children cut out the images and paste them onto the calendar once a day during Las Posadas.

This file contains two printable book of words closely associated with the tradition. One book is in English and the other is in Spanish. The emphasis is on writing practice for students in Pre-K through 2nd grade.

Introduce your students to Las Posadas vocabulary with this fun little coloring book. Features those items most closely associated with the celebration including the peregrinos, the sheet music, luminarias, and various foods typically served at las posadas.

Help the peregrinos arrive at the posada! Players first color in the game board, then cut out the game cards, or make their own. Using a die or the spinner (included) players make their way across the board using beans or buttons to move across the game path. The first one to reach the house wins!

For older children, there's no better way to teach your students about Las Posadas, than to let them experience one for themselves! This DIY Posada Kit comes with everything you need to host your own posada. It includes:

• An invitation template in English
• Luminarias tutorial
• Papel picado tutorial
• Piñata ornament tutorial
• Recipe resources
• Lyrics in Spanish and English
• MP3 resources for downloading the song
• Printable templates of the candle and Mary, Joseph, the angel and donkey.

This is a one-page history on Las Posadas, a Mexican Christmas tradition. Your students will learn about this holiday tradition. This informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. Includes an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key. Includes both the English and Spanish versions for your convenience.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Free Download: Christmas "What do You Like?" Survey

Wow! We are down to the last month of the year. I want to take a moment to thank MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, for being such a strong supporter of not just this site, but also this community of bilingual families, bilingual homeschoolers, and bilingual educators. Their freebies are awesome, but their program is even better and definitely one of the best available for older children.

This month's freebie is centered around Christmas vocabulary. The two-page file contains key vocabulary related to the holiday. Your young Spanish learners can practice with the survey sheet and the audio file.

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!

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