Friday, August 26, 2016

Kidflix Global: International Films for Children and Families


Hi, Friends! I have a wonderful new resource to help you as you raise global citizens. Remember that we want our kids to be able to compete, collaborate, and excel in our global community, and to do that requires that we give our children plenty of opportunities to see and experience other countries and cultures. Let's destroy racism, fear, and stereotypes. Let's raise thoughtful, compassionate, and successful kids.


Do you know about Kidflix Global (KFG)? It is a film distribution company that brings fabulous, award-winning, international family and kids films to parents seeking to teach their children “how” to think in an international arena through films that portray “children growing up in different cultures beyond familiar environments.” Kids learn, discover, and interact with KFG films that help them become globally conscious contributors to society.

You have three options for viewing these movies:

STREAM: to your TV, computer, tablet or phone.

RENT: Do you have limited internet? No worries. Just visit their site, select the movie you want to watch, choose "Rental" from the drop-down menu, and rent your film for $6.95.

BUY: Do you or your kids have a favorite that you want to watch over and over again? Buy it! The movies sell for the regular retail value.

This is a relatively new company, so the selection isn't huge...yet. But they are launching new movies and series regularly. In fact, I had the opportunity to review the new Lotte from Gadgetville shows. This sweet television series comes out of Estonia and features the adventures of Lotte, a little dog with a tender heart. In her first adventure, Lotte is traveling south to take a little bird, Pippo, whose wing was injured during migration down to join his flock. Here's a peek:




The storyline is creative and different from most of the ones we see here in the States. It is dubbed in English, but you do have the option of Spanish subtitles. (However, this series is geared more for younger children ages 2 and up, so really, I think it would be better if it offered a dubbed Spanish version since the intended audience is too young to read.) But if you have a child who is learning English, or is bilingual, this is a lovely series! They even have a website in English for you to explore more about Lotte.

Other films they carry are from Norway, Germany, Japan, USA, Estonia, England, Switzerland, Canada, Russia. It is a fantastic collection! From You can see a full list of their films here. And KFG also offers study guides to accompany each movie so that you can extend the learning experience.

I haven't seen any from Latin America or Spain yet, but I was told that they have been searching for Spanish films but find for their target age group (6-14) - it is a bit difficult. They have targeted more Spanish and English films as their next step! If you have recommendations for family films from Latin America or Spain, you should leave a comment below or contact them directly.

Overall, this a great resource for all families, especially homeschoolers.

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

National Geographic Kids Insider


I'm super excited to share that I've been selected to be one of this year's National Geographic Kids Insiders! This means that as an ambassador for NGK, I'll be learning about new products and opportunities that you can use with your kids to boost their knowledge of this world we live in. From animals to world cultures, I hope you'll check in here at MommyMaestra to read about amazing wildlife, our national parks, outer space trivia, and so much more. 

Some of you long-time readers may remember that I used to be a zookeeper many years ago. In fact, I married another zookeeper, who now oversees an amazing collection of birds at our country's largest bird park. So naturally, our fascination with animals has been passed down to our children who have an intense love of nature, as you can see below, or if you scroll through my IG account.

There just aren't enough visible Latino biologists, naturalists, zoologists, etc. We want to change that and help you nurture your children's love of wildlife! So get ready to learn about some great books, apps, videos, printables, and other resources created just for families like ours.

¡¡Abrazo!!




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: Sing-A-Lingo Online Spanish Program for Preschool

I have recently had a lot of parents writing me asking about a good Spanish-learning program for their preschoolers. Most of the ones I've reviewed here on MommyMaestra are for slightly older children, so I was really happy when I was contacted my Sing-A-Lingo to share a review of their program for children ages 4 - 6.

Name of program: Sing-A-Lingo
Target age: 4-6yo (preschool)
Amount of materials: Comprehensive
Price: $25 - $95/month
MommyMaestra Rating: ♥♥♥♥


Sing-A-Lingo is a preschool Spanish program available to parents and schools. They offer various learning materials: CDs, DVDs, and singable books, as well as activities via their online program. I received their trilingual book, Buenas Noches, Amigos, which is pretty great because it is fun and full of vocabulary in three languages (Spanish, English, and Chinese!). You can even go to their website and download two free songs. And as you go through the book, you can find prompts for which track on their CD to listen to while reading the book.

The program is centered around the "Tricycle Learning Method" which combines music and movement with second language learning. So you'll find activities where your children have to get up and move while singing songs in Spanish.


I was so impressed with their online program. Once you login, you find yourself at your home page. The dashboard isn't cluttered with too many options. Instead, you have three simple options to start with: "Resources," "Getting Started with Your Subscription," and "Unit #1 Yo me llamo."

Under "Resources" you can find an overview of the unit topics and the vocabulary that you'll cover over the 9+ weeks. You can also find videos describing the teaching methods used in the program. A Spanish dictionary, a list of common expressions, and more videos covering additional techniques or projects are also included.

I think parents and teachers will love the layout of the actual lessons. The activities are presented in a very organized sequential manner. Videos accompany each concept or activity being taught to help you (the educator) see how to teach each one. If you prefer to read exactly what to say, the script is there. And you'll read exactly what concept and technique is being presented for each activity.

Here's a peek at lesson 2 so you'll get an idea of what I'm describing:


Don't you just love the layout?

Each month, you gain access to four additional units.

I reviewed the Kids+You+Class+Home Program, but Sing-A-Lingo has a variety of programs available at various subscription levels to meet your needs, whether it be as a teacher, homeschooler, or parent.

If you have limited access to internet, this probably isn't the program for you, however, you may enjoy Sing-A-Lingo's CDs, DVDs, and sing-along books.


Disclosure: I received materials and access to this program for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Rafi & Rosi Book Series for Intermediate Readers & Download

The shelves next to my desk are loaded with new books awaiting review on MommyMaestra. Every time I think I'm finally shrinking the pile, new books show up in my mailbox. I could probably just post about them every single day of the year and never run out. It thrills me to see so many bilingual and bicultural books that reflect the Latino experience being published!

I want to start off this week with a series from the amazing author and illustrator, Lulu Delacre. Rafi and Rosi is a new reprint of her series for intermediate readers that features the adventures of a brother and sister. The cutest thing about it is that Rafi and Rosi are coquíes! Do you know about the coquí? It is a tiny frog from Puerto Rico known for its nighttime singing. Everyone in Puerto Rico knows about el coquí.

So that's why this series is so fascinating. Because until now, there haven't been any leveled readers created for bilingual speakers here in the States (if I'm mistaken, please let me know!). And the fact that this series focuses on cultural traditions, reflecting the experience and traditions of Puerto Ricans makes it unique.

Both books contain three stories. The first book, Rafi and Rosi, introduces you to the brother and sister on their island home. Rafi is the older brother and frequently plays tricks on Rosi, who believes every word her big brother says. In the second book, Rafi and Rosi Carnival!, the two coquíes celebrate Carnival in Puerto Rico.


I love that in this first book, your child isn't just reading stories, but also learning valuable lessons in science and world cultures. For example, in the first book, your child will learn about sand, iron, and magnets. She'll also learn about bioluminescence in the Parguera Bay in Puerto Rico, mangroves, and hermit crabs. In the second book, your child learns about Carnaval, vejigantes, periscopes, floats, and more. Delacre has even included instructions in the back of the book for making a wagon float, a periscope, and a vejigante mask!

Of course, you'll be delighted to learn that the books are available in English or Spanish, so you can choose the one that best suits your child's needs.

These books are a must-have for bilingual homeschoolers, dual language classrooms, and school libraries.

Buy them here using my Amazon affiliate links:


And to extend the learning, I've created a free download with some easy comprehension questions for you to ask your child/student after they have finished reading each story. Yes, they are in English and Spanish so you can choose which one best suits your needs.




Friday, August 19, 2016

DLee's World: New Bilingual Preschool Learning Series

Do you know about DLee's World? It's a new bilingual preschool learning series. I've had tons of emails over the last couple of months from parents who want to begin homeschooling their preschooler. If you are one of those, then here's a new tool for you!

Last month, I was sent copies of the three books shown above for review. I love the illustrations, the storylines are engaging, and the Spanish is very well done. The first five titles in this series are:

  1. DLee’s Color Hunt, 
  2. DLee’s Outdoor Countdown, 
  3. DLee's First Day of School, 
  4. DLee's Nighttime Scare, and 
  5. DLee's Bad Day

These books are centered around DLee and her adventures in preschool. The books focus on themes that preschoolers must learn; how to count, identify colors, deal with the first day of school, how to handle a bad day, etc. And the best part is that the author (who is self-publishing her books) is making all of her books available as bilingual stories with full text in both English and Spanish. Although there are only five books currently in print, the author has many more in production!

I also love that (as you can see in the image above) the books are inclusive with a multicultural cast of characters to reflect our diverse classrooms and country!

Diana Lee Santamaria is the author and publisher of this series. She's an educator with a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education who has written this book series to act as learning tools for teachers, families, and children. Diana Lee, who has been an early childhood educator for the last eight years, wanted to create books that were authentic to her students while enhancing their overall developmental abilities.

I think it is awesome that if you visit DLeesWorld.com, you'll also find free lesson plans to accompany each book.



I'm most excited to see more and more resources becoming available for bilingual families!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

WordWorld's It's Time for School on DVD


One of the best concepts for an educational TV show, in my opinion, is WordWorld. It really was a genius idea for helping children grow up in a print-rich environment. But did you know that you can buy the show on DVD? I didn't until PBS KIDS sent me a copy. And I thought that it would be great to share it with you since with school starting, this particular WordWorld DVD is especially timely.

WordWorld's "It's Time for School" collection features eight different stories, starting with Shark's First Day of School. It's a sweet episode that helps prepare children for their first day in a school setting. Like many kids, Shark is afraid to go, but with the help of his good friend, Duck, he finds the courage he needs. Cat, the teacher, is encouraging and fun and by the end of the day, he's had a great time.

I love that this DVD set also comes with a learning and activity book featuring the WordWorld characters. Inside are coloring pages and activities that help children learn to associate the characters with their written name.

You can also visit the WordWorld website where you'll find interactive books, apps, and games to extend the learning your child gets from each episode. There's even a section for parents and educators with links to pages that describe the show's educational approach and tips for teaching at home or in the classroom.


If you'd like to buy your copy of this awesome little DVD to share with your preschooler, visit the PBS Educational Media shop.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mamá the Alien, Mamá la extraterrestre Review, Giveaway & Download


Today, I'm so happy to share with you a new children's book out by my friend, René Colato Laínez. If you haven't read any of his children's books to your children, you should go check them out (aff)! They are always top notch and so when I was asked to write a review of this book by Lee & Low as part of a blog tour, I was eager to accept.

René's latest book, Mamá the Alien, Mamá la extraterrestre, tells the story of how one day Sofía makes an amazing discovery about her mother. When Sofia's basketball knocks over her mother's purse, a card falls out with the word "ALIEN" written across the top! Sofia is astounded to discover that her mother is from outer space and begins to research extraterrestrials. She then begins to wonder about her own identity; does this mean she's half an alien, too? This story is a creative twist to the immigration theme.


As you can see, Laura Lacamara's illustrations are simply phenomenal. I love how colorful this book is and how each illustration fills the page. It is warm and vibrant, and we couldn't wait to turn the page to see what came next.

This book would be a great supplement for lessons on immigration, family, research, aliens, outer space, citizenship, and more.


I couldn't resist creating a few printables to extend the learning. Inside this little packet, you'll find 12 activity sheets (6 in English and 6 in Spanish). They are divided into three levels; Level A is best suited for children 4 and under, Level B is for those 4 - 6 years old, and Level C is for those 6 years and older. But as with all educational materials, you should use the sheets that best meet your child's skill level. I've been careful not to write ages on the sheets so you can choose whenever ones you prefer. The level is listed in the top right corner. They're just for fun, but do require your child to follow simple directions, do some reading, or writing.


And while I was exploring this book online, I found this cute book trailer on René's YouTube channel! Check it out:



The Giveaway 

Lee & Low is graciously offering a copy of René's new book to one MommyMaestra reader. Wouldn't this be a fantastic addition to your home or school library?

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, August 15, 2016

2 Free Online Tools for Teaching Spanish in a Homeschool Co-Op Setting

Thanks to homeschooling mom, Andrea Contreras, for sharing her experience with the MommyMaestra community! If you'd like to share your homeschooling tips, experiences, materials, please contact me.

My name is Andrea and I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mother of nine children. We are a biracial/bicultural family, as my husband is Mexican and I am Caucasian. We live in Texas and have homeschooled our children for the past 14 years. Our oldest son is a homeschool graduate and we should finish our homeschooling journey in approximately 2033.

One of the many “hats” I wear as a mom is that of Spanish teacher in our local homeschool co-op. We meet up with about 50 families once a week for a whole day of cooperative learning. Each week, I teach Spanish to several age groups. I have a “splash of Spanish” with the combined groups of 1st/2nd graders and 3rd/4th graders. This is about 15 minutes of Spanish vocabulary. The kids absolutely love this time each week.

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: Conjuguemos and Duolingo. After an entire year of using these two resources, I believe my students left my class with a much better understanding of the language, as well as a much broader vocabulary.

As always as a homeschooler, I will tweak my system a little for this year, but I am so excited to have found these websites. Now I will tell you a little bit about them and how I use them.

First I use Conjuguemos as an activity and quiz creator. It also serves as a storage system for the activities I create. It can also be used to keep track of student activity and grades. Each student has his/her own account and can access the activities I have created for them.

Duolingo is the backbone of my class. It is an interactive, game-like website with a touch of social media. The students and I each have a Duolingo profile and we follow each other’s progress through the course of the program. The Spanish-language course is split into three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced, with many skills in each level. You have to pass a skill to unlock future skills. You can maintain your “streak” by not missing any days of practice. You also earn “lingots” as you advance, which can be used to “purchase” things from the “lingot store.” This program also has a teacher dashboard where student progress can be monitored and activities can be assigned. There are many other features of the program that I have not yet utilized with my students.

I really love that Duolingo has research-based language-learning experiences. I love that the students can communicate and compete with one another in their learning, like they do in a game. I love that Duolingo offers apps so students can access the “game” on their hand-held devices. But most of all, I love that Duolingo offers great, fun language learning for FREE!




Friday, August 12, 2016

Giveaway: Original Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) Songs for Children


Today, I have new and really unique educational materials to share with you. Earlier this summer, I was contacted by Sarah Aroeste, a bilingual artist based in the U.S. who specializes in the fading Spanish dialect called Ladino (also known as Judeo-Espanol). Do you know of it?  Her new children's album was released last spring. It's called Ora de Despertar (Time to Wake Up) and it’s the first ever Ladino music album for families!

I just found out recently that my great-grandfather was a Sephardic Jew, so naturally, I was intrigued by this album!

I think it is a special way for Sephardic Jews and their children to celebrate their language. I also think it is a fascinating opportunity for educators to talk about dialects, specifically Spanish dialects, and a way to explore how these two languages are similar and different.

Background


Sarah says she grew up with Ladino spoken in her home. She wrote this album so that her family's language would be passed down to her kids and so that they can grow up in a world where Ladino still exists.

According to Sarah, the title, "Ora de Despertar",  is a slight play on words. For children, it’s the title track and is a playful song about the rituals of waking up in the morning. For adults, it’s a “wake-up” call that we have to start passing our cultures down to our children or they will get lost.

Her style is a combination of Sephardic Jewish tradition with contemporary influences, such as rock, pop, and blues.

The Album


The album features 11 different songs, whose subject matter ranges from teaching basic greetings, mealtimes, animals on a farm, parts of the body, nature items, and more. Most modern Spanish speakers will understand much of the songs, although some pronunciation and spellings are different.

Want to hear what her songs are like? You can listen to some examples of her songs on her website.

Here's a list of the track titles:
  1. Ora de despertar
  2. Las komidas
  3. Mi famiya
  4. Saludos
  5. Kualo tienes?
  6. Las manos
  7. Kuantos animales
  8. Si yo era el sielo
  9. Komo vas a ser?
  10. La riza
  11. Nochada buena

I like the fact that the album comes with a songbook and a teaching guide. The songbook has the sheet music and the lyrics in English and Spanish. The teaching guide is not a huge file or comprehensive guide, but it shares a brief description of each song and recommends ways to extend the learning.

Animated Videos


The album also comes with a fully-animated video series for those of you with children who enjoy watching them. And they are available on Vimeo instead of YouTube, giving them some small measure of security from inappropriate content.

The Giveaway


The really cool thing is that Sarah has agreed to giveaway one set to a MommyMaestra reader!

To enter to win, please use the Rafflecopter below.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent copies of these materials for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Develop your Child's Handwriting with BIC Fight for Your Write


This post is written in conjunction with Bic and The Motherhood. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Some of you know that we've already started our school year. As a homeschooling family that travels a lot, I prefer to start our school year promptly on August 1st. It gives me an opportunity to ease into school without a lot of stress, focusing on fun new curricula before I start concentrating on those skills with which my kids struggle. (This can be a bit tricky since my kids are so different and they have strengths and weaknesses in different areas.)

One of the best things about homeschooling is being able to choose which skills I want my kids to develop better because I know those skills will be valuable to helping them become successful adults. Skills like handwriting.

I'm not just focusing on it because I'm a writer. It's because I know that research proves that developing strong handwriting skills impacts other areas, such as critical thinking, reading comprehension, fine motor skills development, creativity and even self-confidence.

While my daughter has a writer's heart, I've really struggled with getting my son to write simple sentences. For years, he's resisted simple writing assignments. I was frustrated, not understanding why he was that way when my daughter could write entire novels by the time she was 10.

But this year, I finally had a breakthrough when I discovered that my son appears to have dysgraphia, a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper. He actually has very neat handwriting, but it takes him a long time to put his thoughts down on paper, if he's able to do so at all.

I'm still learning about how to proceed. Mostly I see articles recommending more verbal and typing work instead of handwriting. And while I can live with this to some extent, I know that my son needs to know how to write. So I continue to move forward with small writing assignments, not pushing, but allowing him to move forward at his own pace. And I look for ways to make writing more fun.

One of those ways includes making the entire process more exciting by giving him writing tools he enjoys. And I'm so thankful that this year, I discovered new products from Bic to make this journey a little bit easier!

So as part of our first day of school ritual, my First Day of School Gift to my children included pencils in bright colors, pens with multiple ink options, and colorful mechanical pencils. These were all new and different tools for my son to use, so they make him want to write. While I know that the novelty of these instruments won't last forever, they've really helped to kick off our school year on a positive note.


#BICFightForYourWrite


Bic has a contest dedicated to getting kids writing. They want to know what YOUR kids would do if they were principal for a day! All you have to do is have your child write out his or her ideas and you could WIN a $10,000 scholarship!

Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com now through August 15th to enter BIC’s If I Were Principal For A Day Contest and learn about more ways to celebrate handwriting. No Purchase Necessary. U.S. only, 21+. Ends 8/15/16. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com for Official Rules and details.


To get my kids into this contest, we talked about one thing they each learned last year, which subjects were hard for them, what they were looking forward to this year in school, and one thing they really wanted to learn about before the December holidays. My son prefers drawing to writing, so I use this to our benefit and have him create comics where he can draw all he wants, but he also has to write thought bubbles, speech clouds, and more.

Then I had my kids write out what they would do if they were the principal of a school for a day. My daughter went ahead and created the poster you see at the top of the page using her 4 color pen. But my son needed a more manageable writing activity, one that was very focused but still fun. Big blank pages aren't productive for us at this point. So I created a small writing prompt on a card where he could fill in the blanks. All he had to do was think of one thing he would do as the principal. And so he did.



Because I enjoyed creating these simple, focused writing cards, I wanted to share them with MM readers, too, so you can download your free copy by clicking the link below. And yes, they are available in English AND Spanish.

Free Bilingual Writing Activity #BICFightForYourWrite





Want to make a difference?


For every pledge to celebrate handwriting made by a parent or educator on their website, Bic will donate a pen or pencil to AdoptAClassroom!

And I hope that you'll join me tomorrow (August 11) for a one-hour Twitter party at 1 p.m. E.T. Just follow #BICFightForYourWrite.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

NEW BILINGUAL One-Minute Science Mysteries!

Last month, I was delighted to discover a new bilingual book featuring one-minute science mysteries in my mailbox.

When I was a kid, I LOVED reading mysteries. My grandfather had a giant book of works by Dashiell Hammett that I discovered and read when I was only ten or eleven. From that point on, I loved mysteries. For my birthday or Christmas, my mom would buy me 5-minute mysteries because she knew how much I loved them.

Now, I've passed on my love of mysteries to my own daughter. A few years ago, I introduced my own girl to mysteries with Bella's Mystery Deck and then more recently, I bought my daughter her first 5-minute mysteries book and she LOVED it.

So you can only imagine my extreme joy when I received a copy of the book, One-Minute Mysteries: More Short Mysteries You Solve with Science!/¡Más misterios cortos que resuelves con ciencias.

This book contains 45 different brainteasers whose solutions require your science knowledge. And the best part is that all of them are in English and Spanish. On the left page, you'll read an English one-page mystery, and on the right page, the same mystery is available in Spanish. Once you think you've solved the brainteaser, just turn the page to read the answer and see if you were right!

The mysteries were written by a father-daughter team, Eric and Natalie Yoder, and the book covers earth, space, life, physical, chemical and general sciences. Your son or daughter might try to figure out why cucumbers won't grow or how to use magnets to determine if something is made of pure silver.

And here's the part that will excite many MommyMaestra readers: I don't know who translated the text into Spanish (it doesn't say anywhere), but whoever did it, did an excellent job.

With 52.6 million native or bilingual speakers living here in the states, it's critical for us to see more bilingual education materials on the market. Because there is such a lack of bilingual materials in areas like science, this book is a treasure for homeschooling parents who are looking for ways to make learning fun, while nurturing their child's bilingualism. Dual language teachers will enjoy using this book as a fun time filler with their classes.

It is best suited for children ages 8 - 12.

So if you are looking for a fun way to keep your kids' science skills sharp, this book is for you! Visit the publisher - Science Naturally - website to learn more about it, read some sample mysteries from the book, and place your order.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Risas y Sonrisas Discount and Giveaway


I just LOVE it when my annual Back-to-School Fiesta series kicks off each year because that means I get to share with you incredible giveaways, opportunities, discounts, and new tools that are available for families and educators who are headed back to school.

Already I've had numerous emails from homeschoolers AND educators asking me about Spanish curricula that they can use this coming year. If you've been wondering the same thing, then today's post is for you!

If you are a homeschooler...


Risas y Sonrisas is a fabulous MommyMaestra sponsor and they have graciously agreed to giveaway one of their comprehensive Homeschool Curriculum sets to a MommyMaestra reader! You can read my review of their excellent program here.

If you are already convinced that this is the program for you and you don't want to wait to see if you've won this giveaway, then here's another gift from Risas y Sonrisas: get free shipping on your order with the coupon code, READYTOLEARN.

If you are an educator...


And you're interested in purchasing the Complete School Program, Risas y Sonrisas is offering MommyMaestra readers a 20% discount (school program only - sorry, no free shipping)! It comes with a one-year interactive online program for teachers to use in the classroom. Just enter the coupon code, SCHOOL20, when you place your order.

To learn more about their Complete School Program, click here to visit the Risas y Sonrisas website.

To enter to win the Homeschool Curriculum, simply enter the Rafflecopter below!

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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