Saturday, December 24, 2011

MommyMaestra Wishes You a Feliz Navidad...

The abuelos have arrived and the presents are wrapped. Buenas noches to all and to all a....

A Song for Nochebuena {Video}

Last week, another Mommy Maestra, Sara Horlick, contacted me to tell me about her lovely music. How perfect, I thought, would it be to share this on Christmas Eve?

And yes, it is perfect. May you all enjoy a perfect Nochebuena with your familia....



Friday, December 23, 2011

Bilingual Christmas Decorations {Printable}


2011 has been an incredible year. I still can't get over how fast MommyMaestra has grown, and am so grateful for our growing community of Latina moms who are concerned and dedicated to their children's education.

I am going to end this year by spending some serious bonding time with my familia, so I will be mostly offline this coming week. I do have a few posts scheduled, but I'll be happily disconnected. Los abuelos will be arriving on Christmas day, and we have some serious fun planned for this coming week. I'll be devoting all of my attention to that.

I would encourage ALL of you to take this final week of 2011 and spend it completely, whole-heartedly, and joyfully focused on enjoying your families. Get away from the computer, get out, and make it a point to laugh 25 times a day.

But before I go, I wanted to give you all one last gift this year. It is a simple packet of bilingual decorations that includes:

• 1 reversible, bilingual banner (Merry Christmas on one side, Feliz Navidad on the other)
• A set of 4 napkin rings/water bottle labels
• A set of 4 place cards
• And 4 nutcracker cut-outs.

It is not fancy, just fun for the kids. Something to do to help decorate and prepare for Sunday's festivities. To download the pack, click on the image above.

Until next year, un abrazo a todos!

Felices fiestas....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Handmade Navidad: From la Cocina

Okay,  we're getting down to the wire. Time to raid the kitchen (and maybe the grocery store) and start a bake-a-thon in la cocina.

We're getting a little tired of the traditional chocolate chip cookies we usually bake (okay, we're not really tired of them, but we're trying to be adventurous!) so we are mulling over some of these fabulous recipes we've found online. Some of them have to be made outright and packed in a decorative container, but others could simply be gifts in a jar with the ingredients attractively layered.


Ingredients in a Jar as Gifts:


by Sweet Life Bake
Polvorones de Chocolate by Sweet Life Bake. I think these dry ingredients would look lovely layered in a mason jar. Don't forget to include a recipe card!


Mexican Hot Chocolate by Una Taza de Chocolate. I would shave the chocolate tablets, put them in the bottom of an icing piping bag, and then sprinkle them with the salt, chile, and cinnamon with a final layer of the semi-sweet chocolate pieces on top. Don't forget a recipe card!



Ready-Made Food Gifts:

After reading Marta's post about how she likes to give Creme de Vie, or Cuban eggnog, I started noticing some of the posts my other amigas Latinas were sharing with their own versions of eggnog. Here is a little list of some great recipes for making this popular drink. Just package them in beautiful bottles from Pier One or World Market and give to your favorite amigos...

Rompope: Mexican Eggnog from Sweet Life Bake

Ponche Crema (Venezuelan Eggnog) from Mami Talks

Coquito (Puerto Rican Eggnog) from Modern Mami

• Also, Sazón Boricua has several recipes for coquito - and they ALL look incredible.  


from Multicultural Familia

I also LOVE Multicultural Familia's recipe for Tortilla Snowflakes with Cajeta. And while I think these would be great to make and give, I also think it would be fun to put together a little kit for making these that includes tortillas, snowflake cookie cutters, your homemade cajeta from Monday's post, and the other ingredients!

Bizcochos by Muy Bueno Cookbook. I had a hard time deciding which category to put this in, but since the recipe makes 300 cookies, I thought it might be best to make them with your children and then slide the finished biscochos into an icing piping bag and close with a beautiful ribbon.

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Handmade Navidad: 5 Fun and Easy Pine Cone Crafts

There is no scarcity of pine cones around our place. One little walk through our front yard will yield a bucketful of cones of all different shapes and sizes. This year we've decided to put them to good use and I've been searching the web for clever gift and decoration ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:

from MamiTalks.com
If you are looking for decorations, I love these little pine cone trees that my friend, Dariela, shared on her blog, Mami Talks. They are so simple to make, and yet they look lovely with the little splash of color from the small pom-poms.


Mummy's Busy World teaches you how to make sparkly, festive pine cones with just a little bit of paint and glitter. These could be used as decoration, or given as gifts.


Last year, The Magnifying Glass shared easy directions for making cinnamon-scented pine cones. We love this idea and are making some to give as aromatic fire starters. We've even gone a step further to create peppermint potpourri using the same directions, just a different essential oil and a variety of cones of different shapes and sizes.

from MarthaStewart.com
Also on the gift-giving front, I think these pine cone picture frames are genius! Naturally, they are from Martha Stewart (how does she make things look so classy and why can't I think of them first?!) Her site doesn't mention the hanging pine cone ornaments in this picture, but I think they would be terribly easy to make using real pine cones. A little white or silver spray paint and some velvet ribbon, no?


Have you visited The Magic Onions blog? She has two tutorials for creating wax-dipped pine cone ornaments. One of them uses crayons and the other uses beeswax. Both are beautiful and worthy of gift giving.

Con mucho cariño...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Latin-Inspired Ornaments

Today's post is a collection of my favorite Latino-themed ornaments on the web. I've been so pleasantly surprised by the creativity and the ingenuity that has gone into making them! I especially like how these can be given as gift sets, or used to decorate your own tree. And I think every child might love to make their own versions of these ornaments.

Happy crafting!


Muy Bueno Cookbook found some easy buñuelo tree ornaments on Chef Marcela's blog. I love how they turned out, and I think the red velvet ribbons go perfectly. Don't you think these would make a lovely gift set? Just carefully pile them into a decorative tin and give...

Ruby from Growing Up Blackxican recently shared her miniature posada piñata ornaments on Spanglish Baby. They are adorable and easy for your children to make.  


Oh Happy Day also teaches you how to make some adorable mini-piñatas. I think they could easily be made into ornaments with a little bit of yarn or twine. These are a little more complicated and probably best suited for older children.

First Palette has a simple poinsettia ornament craft that I really like. I'm thinking of having the kids make some of these using tiny, gold bells in the middle.

I also like these stained glass poinsettia ornaments made out of paper towel tubes on the Crafty Crow!! Gorgeous, no?


My friend, Lisa, who recently created a tutorial for MommyMaestra on making your own traveling nacimiento, has also created a tutorial for New Latina on making felt ornaments.

Con mucho cariño...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Handmade Navidad: Dulce de Leche


Madre mia! Do you realize that Christmas is only ONE week away?!? We still have people on our list that we haven't bought any gifts for! Two little problems: We don't know what to buy some of them, and we've run out of dinero. (Ay, that second problem really stinks.)

Okay, here's another problem: My kids are now old enough to want to give gifts, too. But they haven't got any dinero, either (or at least none that their mami will let them spend. "No, m'ija, you may not touch your savings."), AND they want to MAKE their regalitos.

What's a mami to do?

Lucky for me (and you), I have a magic list of ideas - all inexpensive or free, depending on what you have on hand around the house. So relax and enjoy this week of MommyMaestra's Handmade Navidad!

To begin, Marta shares with us her culturally inspired, super easy - yet classy! - handmade gift idea: Homemade Dulce de Leche...




Could it possibly be any easier? ¡Creo que no! This is such an easy gift to make with your kids. But please be careful and let mami be in charge of removing the cans from the hot, hot water.

Marta says:

"You can load up multiple cans in the crockpot. The time is the same. There's NO DANGER OF EXPLODING CANS. I make these ALL THE TIME. I sometimes use a pressure cooker if I'm in a hurry. No explosions yet.

Also, be sure to wait until the can is cool enough to touch. About 30 minutes. The may still be on the warm side, and the dulce may still be hot (it's amazing that way), but if you can handle the can, you can open it."

You can read more about what inspired Marta's making dulce de leche video in her article on the Tiki Tiki blog.

The amazing and talented Marta also gives Cuban eggnog, otherwise known as Créme de Vie, during the holidays. The recipe is also very simple (but includes a wee bit of rum, which I imagine you can leave out if you are making it for children).

And to make things even better, Marta has created and shared some free printable labels to attach to your Dulce de Leche and Créme de Vie regalitos. [Insert squeal of pleasure here.] If you download them, please take a moment to leave a comment on the blog thanking her for her generosity and creativity!


Con mucho cariño...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beauty and the Beast Coloring Pages


Did you know Beauty and the Beast is coming back to theaters on January 13th? I'm so excited! This is my favorite of all the Disney movies. And I'm even happier to be able to share these coloring pages of your favorite Beauty and the Beast characters with you. 





Thanks, Disney!

Con cariño...

Las Posadas Navideñas: A Personal Video

Today officially marks the day that las posadas navideñas begin. I'm a bit nostalgic thinking about - and missing - the posadas of my childhood. I'm sad, too, that this is not something my children get to experience now. I toyed with the idea of throwing my own posada, but there is only one other Latina in this area - and she's from Colombia, so I'm not even sure she'd know the melody of the song traditionally sung. :(

So instead I must be content to present the tradition to my children through videos and books. As I end this year's series on las posadas, I want to leave you with this beautiful video by my friend, Maura, of The Other Side of the Tortilla. If you stop by her site, you can read more about the history of the tradition.




May you all have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Crafting: Traveling Miniature Nacimiento {TUTORIAL}


I am so excited to be able to share with you this tutorial for creating your own traveling nativity, that was lovingly created by my friend Lisa Renata of Sabor a Cajeta for her own children and yours. If you haven't visited her beautiful blog, please do. And if you like this tutorial, please, please leave her a message below thanking her for all the hard work she put into creating it for MommyMaestra readers.   ~xo


We are in the middle of the Holiday Season. Some are getting ready to travel afar and visit loved ones for the festivities. Some are staying home and celebrating. Many will be attending Posadas. Unfortunately, where we live there is no one I know of that celebrates Las Posadas, something I loved doing as a child.

Our house is decorated and we have a Nacimiento displayed, in fact, we have the entire Bethlehem City. You know, one of those really-nice-don't-touch-or-you'll-break kind. Yea, that kind? For the longest time I wanted a small set for my kids, one that they could play with. We received a beautiful one from the grandparents, but it is still breakable. The chiquitos can play with it, but they can't really take it along with them. This year I decided I needed to make one for them. I'm a great believer that one learns best through hands-on play. That is exactly what I want for my kids. To learn about the reason for the season, sort of say, through play. So I made them this:



It is perfect! It is small enough that they can take it where ever they choose to, even travel with it on a plane, or a car, if need be.

Want to learn how to make it?

This is what you need to do:



To begin, start by painting all the faces. Let them dry completely before you begin to paint another layer.



Next work on Maria (Mary). I find her to be the easiest to paint. After painting the face (and letting dry), paint her blue dress and head scarf. It is very simple, just paint it all blue. Once you've done that and it has completely dried, add some details with a deeper blue (or you can leave it as it is.) Finally, with a black permanent marker, add some hair locks around the face and also add the eyes, mouth, and nose.



Continue with the Angel.




1. Paint face and body. 2. Paint hair. 3. Add dress details with a gold permanent marker. 4. Cut out wings out of wool felt. 5. Glue with hot glue (or any other strong adhesive). 6. Front view. 7. Back view.

For José (Joseph) and the Reyes (Wise Men) you are going to follow similar steps.

After the faces have dried, add the hair, mustache, and beard following the steps below. To make them each a little different, I colored their hair in different shades.



Again don't forget to...




Now you'll add the finishing touches to José (Joseph):




After painting the face and body and letting it dry completely, add the head scarf following the steps above.


Those wise Reyes:




Add details to each garment with a gold permanent marker. Make each crown a bit different.

For the Niñito Jesus (Baby Jesus) you will need two tiny pieces of felt. One in off-white the other in tan.




Cut your off-white piece of felt about an 1 inch square. Then a tiny oval piece using the tan color. Glue the tan piece in the center of the 1 inch square (see above), then start to fold each side and keep in place with a dab of glue. (Follow steps above). Finally, round the tip of the corner about the baby's head. You now have a swaddled Niñito Jesus.

Lastly, decorate your box however you like. I wanted to leave some of the natural wood showing, so I just added color in certain areas. I also added small "x" details with a gold permanent marker.



Once everything is completely dry (about an hour or so), then:




Listo! You are done.

Now give it to a little someone you love and let them:




Have fun crafting!

-----------------------------------------



Lisa Renata is a US-born Latina who experienced Mexican culture first-hand when she lived there as a child. A book lover, a mama raising her two kids bilingual, and a crafter- with a camera always in her hands. You can often find her interpreting and testing for the local school district ESOL program, working on her blog Sabor a Cajeta, or making new items for her Etsy shop SaborCajeta.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

4 Children's Books to Celebrate Las Posadas

This Friday, families across the country (and the world) will begin celebrating the Christmastime tradition of Las Posadas. We've share a series of posts on this topic, including yesterday's hot chocolate recipe by 12-year-old Angelica (feel free to leave a comment for her with some words of encouragement!). Today I wanted to share with you my list of favorite posada books. If you can't find them at your local library, they are available in new and gently used copies from the Latin Baby Book Club's online bookshop.



The Night of Las Posadas begins in a small town outside of modern-day Santa Fe. Sister Angie, who coordinates the town’s celebration, is excited over the fact that this year her niece and nephew will play the role of Mary and Joseph in the posada. But tragedy strikes when Sister Angie comes down with the flu and Lupe and Roberto’s car breaks down in a snowstorm. It then takes a miracle to save the town’s procession.



Uno, Dos, Tres, Posada! by Virginia L. Kroll

A simple counting book that centers around the posada tradition and takes the reader from the preparations to the end of the posada celebration.



Carlos, Light the Farolito by Jean Ciavonne and Donna Clair

This unique holiday story introduces a Christmas custom practiced in parts of Mexico and near the Mexican border of the United States: Las Posadas, a traditional reenactment of the Nativity. On Christmas Eve, Carlos is dismayed to see the procession of neighbors and friends coming up the front walk. His parents and grandfather aren't home yet-so it's up to Carlos to take over Grandfather's role as the Innkeeper. But he's so frightened, he can hardly breathe, let alone sing! Carlos's triumph over his shyness, and the joyful celebration that follows, make this a satisfying story for any season.


by Albert Zabel, Deborah Somuano

Las Posadas introduces a creative & diverse way to celebrate the Christmas story in song and drama. It celebrates the Mexican Christmas tradition of Las Posadas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate {RECIPE}

by Angelica



We’re gearing up for Las Posadas!! We’re gearing up for Christmas!! How fun!!

Can you tell I’m excited? I love Christmas. In the first two weeks of December our house swings into Holiday mode decorating, baking, wrapping and shopping. I enjoy decorating and baking, but following my mom from store to store is not my idea of a fun day.

Mid December we begin our wind down. We cut back on school, activities, and outings and turn to family. Family arrives for extended visits, we watch holiday movies and we prepare for Las Posadas.

Las Posadas begins on Dec 16th. These days are dedicated to sharing the journey of Mary and Joseph as they searched for shelter in Bethlehem. Every year we take part in Las Posadas with our church and community. The Peregrinos will walk from house to house seeking a place to stay the night. Three homes are visited, but only the third will allow us in. This house will host the Posada that evening.

A posada celebration consists of tamales, ponche navideno, hot chocolate, sweet bread and atole. Traditional Mexican songs will play as the children bang on a piñata hoping to fill their bag with candy. Small bags of oranges, apples, candy canes and peanuts are given to the children at the end of the evening.

Tamales taste even better with hot chocolate. I would like to share one of my favorite hot chocolate recipes with you today. Happy Holidays!


Mexican Hot Chocolate

Los Barrios Family Cookbook

serves 3 or 4
3 cups milk
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tablet Mexican Chocolate (such as Nestle Abuelita or Ibarra brand), broken into pieces
Sugar to taste (optional)


1) Combine the milk and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until the milk is hot, but not boiling. Add chocolate and stir until melted.

2) Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, and sweeten with sugar, if desired.

Read more at Sweet Life Bake.

 ----------------------------

Angelica ~ A 12yr old homeschooler with dreams of becoming a pastry chef.
Addicted to comics, food network, and carnival rides, Angelica loves taking over her mom's kitchen. She is currently working on perfecting her pie crust while her family reaps the benefits. You can find her sharing her baking skills over at Sweet Life. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spanish Christmas Cards {Printable}


Yesterday, Tara asked on the MommyMaestra FB page if I had any ideas or templates of Christmas cards. I thought that was a great idea! We make cards all the time for birthdays and such, so I put together a few easy-to-print designs.

If you are looking for some simple holiday cards in Spanish, here are four designs for you to print up. They include an image with either "Feliz Navidad" or "Felices Fiestas" on the outside, and they are blank on the inside to be personalized by your child/student. They come two to a sheet.

(I also have images of children with blonde hair. If you'd like me to customize some cards for you, just contact me.)

These cards are now available for purchase through my TpT shop.

Enjoy!

Con mucho cariño...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Scholastic Releases Lesson Plans for War Horse

Okay, I interrupt this series of posada-related resources to share with you another great resource from Scholastic. I'm not sure if you know about Steven Spielberg's latest epic-adventure, War Horse, but I'm already making plans in my head to go and see it. The film, first published in 1982, is based on the young adult novel by Michael Morpurgo. Dreamworks Pictures' War House is set to be in theaters on December 25th.
To give you an idea of what it is about, here's a sneak peek:



My children are probably still too young to see this film, but for those of you with older kids, why not take advantage of the opportunity to use this movie as an educational resource? To make it even easier for you, Scholastic has created a Teacher's Guide for grades 8 - 12 on using historical fiction in the classroom. Their site includes lessons, printables, the trailer you see above, and a fun, interactive game (I am an Eagle!).

After seeing the trailer above, I was sold and plan to head to the theater with my box of Kleenex in hand. I hope you all have the opportunity to see it as well.

Have a great weekend!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Diego Rivera Lesson Plans, Books, and More


Niños pidiendo posada by Diego Rivera

In honor of Diego Rivera's 125th birthday which was celebrated today around the world, I thought I would share this mural he painted of children participating in a traditional posada. I knew that he must have painted something in honor of this event, given his passion for portraying the daily lives and cultural traditions of his people. A little digging yielded the picture above. (Please ALWAYS preview sites that you google/find in a search engine without your children nearby, as some have bad links that show highly inappropriate images.)

It occurred to me that I don't have any posts dedicated to Diego. I have one sharing resources for studying Frida Kahlo, but poor Diego had not yet been featured on MommyMaestra. So I am pleased to share with you some of the resources that I have recently found, and others that I have already used with my own children. Enjoy!


LESSON PLANS


• Surprisingly, I found a really good lesson plan on Crayola's website. It is a clever way to introduce your children to Diego's world and get them to thinking about the same issues that he would have thought about.

Deep Space Sparkle has what appears to be a really good 16-page booklet on the artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. You can learn more about it - or be inspired by it - by visiting their site.

Denver Public Schools has put together a more detailed lesson plan for 3rd grade. I think it can easily be adapted for older or younger students.

• I also like American Masters' lesson plan on pbs.org.

• Also, this page on Garden of Praise has a pretty concise biography of the artist.

Learn, Create, Love has this lovely Rivera painting lesson plan.


COLORING PAGES & MORE


The Museum Chick has the perfect coloring page of Rivera's The Flower Carrier.

• And I like this mural template from Art Projects for Kids.


BOOKS






And lastly, if you happen to live in the New York area, the Modern Museum of Art currently has some of Rivera's work on display...


MommyMaestra's Three Favorite Versions of the Las Posadas Song

When I searched Amazon for songs on las posadas, I got a whole list. But three in particular stood out in my eyes...er, ears. If you follow the link their Amazon page, you can listen to a sample of each one. I'm so happy to share these three inexpensive and very different versions that would delight any Latino household.


Las Posadas/Entren Santos Peregrinos by Donna Peña is a beautiful version that immediately brings to my mind the memories of my youth. Sung by adults, this slow and lyrical song might work best for more serious situations that demand a bit more sophistication, or as calming music before your child's bedtime. It is available on her album, Diciembre en Mexico ($8.99), or as a single MP3 for $.99. It is also available in a CD format ($36.75 and up).






Las Posadas with Violin and Guitar by the Stanley A. Lucero. This instrumental version would work really well as background music for an actual posada. I think teachers might also enjoy this version for teaching their students the song for a performace without the disctraction of the vocal accompaniment. It is available on his album, Fiestas y Cuento-Cantos ($8.99), or as a single MP3 for $.99. It is also available in a CD format ($20.36).



Las Posadas by the Christmas Children's Choir. I love the joyful sound of children singing this traditional song! I can see how this particular version would be a hit in homes and classrooms around the world. It is available on their album, Villancicos de Navidad ($8.99), or as a single MP3 for $.99. It is also available in a CD format ($15.99).

Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Time for Posadas

At this time of year, I start thinking about my favorite cultural tradition of all: Las Posadas. I have such deeply moving memories of my childhood associated with this tradition. I remember cold nights standing outside a home (mine or someone else's) pidiendo posada with a group of friends and family, joyfully singing our hearts out. I remember pinched shoes and frosty breath, slim, white candles and steaming champurrado. But mostly I remember love and family and smiles and laughter. How I miss those beautiful nights!

I am happy to dedicate a series of posts over the next few weeks to this beautiful tradition. Don't forget that I have an article with lesson plans, books, and activities related to las posadas that you might find helpful.

Lastly, I want to leave you with this beautiful video of images from a traditional Mexican posada.

Enjoy!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Merry Navidad! {GIVEAWAY}



With la Navidad quickly approaching I am trying to sneak in one or two more giveaways before it is too late. This may be one of my favorites. Today's giveaway is part of MommyMaestra's collaboration with authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy.

Merry Navidad! Villancicos en español e inglés/Christmas Carols in Spanish and English is written by Ada and Campoy, and is illustrated by Vivi Escrivá (I truly love her work).This collection of villancicos and the history surrounding them captures the warmth and spirit of the holiday traditions of Latin America and Spain. The book includes both the Spanish versions - chosen by the authors - and their English adaptations written by Rosalma Zubizarreta. I especially like that her translations are not literal and choppy, but instead capture the essence of each song with rhythm and grace.

Here is a bit of the history shared by the authors in their introduction to the book:

"Villancicos accompanied the Spanish settlers up the mountains, through the deserts, and into the jungles of the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America. In the course of these travels, some changes were introduced. Eventually new villancicos were created, reflecting the people, rhythms, and cultures of the various regions of Latin America.

We have selected here some of the best-known villancicos from the Spanish-speaking world. In addition, we have included others that celebrate regional traditions, such as Las Posadas, a central feature of Christmas in Mexico, and the Puerto Rican aguinaldos. The book is organized chronologically, celebrating events taking place between December 16 and January 6.

Villancicos offer a unique glimpse of the value of family in Hispanic cultures. Their lyrics draw many parallels between the home life of a Latino family and the Holy Family in Bethlehem."

They have also included musical arrangements for your reference. This book is simply beautiful and should be in every single Latino family's home library collection.

In addition, I want to thank Santillana publishing company, who has also graciously offered a copy of Celebra la Navidad y el Día de los Reyes Magos con Pablo y Carlitos as a giveaway for MommyMaestra readers.

Celebra la Navidad is part of the authors' Cuentos para celebrar collection. In this particular story, Carlitos writes a letter to the Three Kings asking for lots of presents. Later, he decides to write a new letter and gives up some of the things in his wish list in exchange for a bigger gift for his older brother, who is teaching him how to ride a bike and lets him use his own big kid’s bike. At the end, everyone wins. :)

But what I liked best about this book is that it has a section  in the back dedicated to Christmas and Three Kings Day. It has so many great pictures that represent multicultural families and cultures all over the world celebrating these holidays. This book is a wonderful tool for teachers.

THE GIVEAWAY

I have one copy of each book to giveaway and will choose two winners.

To enter to win, simply leave a comment below letting me know which book you'd like to win.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Sunday, December 11th. The winners will be chosen using Random.org. and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! 

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1.) Leave a comment telling me which is your favorite villancico! 
2.) Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win a copy of Merry Navidad a bilingual children's book for the holidays. http://bit.ly/unWhzK @LatinMami Spanish #reading #giveaway
3.) Blog about this giveaway and include the link to your post in the comments below.

Don't forget to let me know by posting a separate comment for each entry!
By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!


Disclosure: This giveaway is offered in collaboration with the authors. I have not been compensated in any way for offering this giveaway, and it results from my contacting them and asking for a contribution to our Music in Education series.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bilingual Winter Calendars {PRINTABLE}



The holidays are almost here! Are you ready?

In honor of all the festivities going on this month, MommyMaestra has some awesome resources to share and another great giveaway. I'm looking forward to telling you some of the educational and fun presents I've got on my list for the kids, as well as some of the decorations that we're working on.

But first I'd like to announce that MommyMaestra is now on etsy. We've had just so many ideas floating in our heads over here, that we'd like to make them available to you. So over the next couple of weeks, we'll be adding more printables, activities, etc. to our shop and we hope you'll take a little time to visit it.

I know many of you use the printables with your own children and students. And because I want to remain loyal to my readers, I will be offering some of the printables for free here first. BUT only for a 48 hour period.

(However, if you'd like to support this Mommy Maestra who is also trying to scrape together un poquito de dinero to buy her niños great educational products, not to mention pay for all the graphics I'm buying, you are more than welcome to wait and/or buy directly from my shop. Gracias!)

And so, without further ado, here is my collection of blank, bilingual, winter calendars for use in the home or classroom. This collection will be available for free until 11:59 pm Monday, December 5th. They are also available for purchase in my new etsy tiendita!


As usual, I welcome any and all feedback. If you notice any mistakes, or would like a custom design, please contact me.

Enjoy!

Con mucho cariño...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Teach Your Kids Compassion with Heifer International

One of my favorite charities is Heifer International. Instead of flipping through toy catalogs, why not spend some time with your kids this holiday season looking through Heifer's gift catalog and choose a way to support a family in need?  Kids will love picking out a goat, cow, chicken, or even a water buffalo! Take a look at this short video...



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Get Rewarded for Doing Good: DailyFeats.com



It's crazy. But I love it! Who would have ever thought you could get rewarded just for doing "good things?" I found out about DailyFeats.com at the Blogalicious conference last October. I didn't understand at first what it was all about. I mean, I was confused. Someone I don't know is going to reward me for doing small, positive acts? Seriously?

I've only just signed up and started figuring out how the system works, but I can see so much potential in this site! Especially as a mom. Which is why I want to feature them today, since this week on MommyMaestra.com is all about teaching our children to do good, to be thoughtful and giving.

The website is simple. You just register, and then every day (or whever you want) you can log in and check off the good things that you did that day. Possible good actions include:

• !earthscience - Learn something about the nature of our planet
• !sendanimalfacts - Share an e-card that teaches about wildlife
• !familydinner - Sit down to dinner with your family
• !museum - Visit a museum!
• !grandparents - Spend time with your (or your kids') grandparent(s)
• !familytree - Research and create your family tree
• !donatefood - Donate to a food bank or food pantry
• !sharehistory - Share an interesting historical story with someone
• !classicalmusic - Listen to a work of classical music
• !holdthedoor - Hold the door open for someone
• !bekind - Treat others with kindness

You get the idea. The list goes on and on and on! I think the thing I like best about this site is that it makes us conscious of our daily actions. It encourages us to do good. I think I'm less excited, really, to get my "rewards" as I am to simply monitor my own behavior. And I am  thinking of creating an account that I can manage for my kids. I think they will simply love being able to click on the "stamps" and push the "I Did It" buttons, which record your good actions.

And if you are not so into redeeming your rewards, you can also choose the option to redeem a "donation reward." DailyFeats partners
with various organizations and non-profits. When you redeem one of the donation rewards, their partner makes a donation to the specified nonprofit. (There are no tax implications for our members -- it's just good karma.) This is a great way to use your points to help contribute to positive change.

So if you are looking for a pretty neat and unusual way to teach your children to be generous and charitable, try out DailyFeats.com. I'd love to know what you think of it.

Con mucho cariño...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Season of Giving: Starr Readers


Starr County is one of the poorest counties in the nation. Many families often live in colonias without health care or sewer service. Schools in this area struggle to provide new materials for their students. But the librarians are smiling - thanks to Starr Readers, and the woman behind the organization, Karen Furlong.

Karen is a flight attendant for a private aviation company. But her not-so-secret passion is actually books, and for the past seven years, the Texas native has been collecting and donating books to nine libraries in Rio Grande City public schools. Last year, she bought and delivered around 4,000 books. The number of books she buys is made possible from the generous donations of caring people across the nation. This year, Karen's goal is to purchase 6,000 books and she has teamed up with the publishers Scholastic and First Book, which give her dramatic discounts and allow her to purchase from them directly. This does not include the large number of used books that she receives and which she donates to the libraries themselves. She insists, however, that each child in the school district also receives a new book of their very own to hold, read, and enjoy. 

Some of the titles she intends to deliver this year include We'll Never Forget You, Roberto Clemente and Waiting for the Biblioburro and Balloons Over Broadway. I think this would be a most lovely way to teach your children/students the spirit of giving. As a parent, I think it would be great to take your kids to your favorite bookstore and pick out a few of their favorite titles to share with the children of Starr County. Or you could simply tell your children Karen's story and get online to look at the pictures she has on the Starr Readers website. Once there, you could click on the "Donate" button and give together.

If your family would like to donate to Starr Readers, please try to do so by the end of the year. Afterwards, Karen and her mamá, Evangeline Rodriguez Marino, will make their now traditional drive down to Starr County to deliver their gifts in time for Día de los Reyes. You can donate directly on the Starr Readers website. Remember, as little as $5 can buy one or two books! Or to donate gently used books, please contact Karen through her website for more information.

All donations go directly to buying the books!


Con mucho cariño,

Build Your Own Gingerbread House with RMHC



The Ronald McDonald House Charities is one of my favorite organizations because they provide so much support for families who are experiencing difficult times. They are focused on providing for the critical needs of children. And over 50% of children seen by doctors and dentists on Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles are Hispanics. During this Season of Giving, they have the huge task of raising $550,000 by December 31.

Since we are talking this week about raising thoughtful and philanthropic children, I am excited to share the fun, simple and interactive way in which parents can educate their children on the
importance of “giving.” Families can go to their Season of Giving page 
and, for a small or
big donation, they can decorate their own virtual gingerbread houses.


The more houses you build, the more families they can host at their Ronald McDonald Houses. The donation to RMHC will help keep families together while their child is receiving critical medical care, especially during the holidays.

What a great way to teach your children about others in need! I think this is a great way to foster compassion in our children, and help them to associate good feelings with the act of giving.

Feel free to like RMHC on Facebook, and I encourage you to share their gingerbread house interactive with other families.

Con mucho cariño...




Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for writing this post. I strongly support this worthy charity.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

MommyMaestra Challege: One Idea for Raising Philanthropic Children


One of the things that bothers me this time of year is the focus on materialism that seems to run amok. Everywhere we look there are commercials and ads targeting a child's (and an adult's!) selfish desires. As a parent, I think it is a really difficult time for us to avoid a bad case of the "Galloping Gimmies," as the Berenstain Bears so eloquently put it in one of their episodes.

A few years ago, I was helping out in the kitchen of one the annual Christmas plays my kids' preschool puts on. One of the other mothers was rattling on about what her children were wanting/getting for Christmas. I was nodding politely, only half listening, until she mentioned one of those giant dinosaurs that was automated or whatever. It was the "big thing" that year, and we had seen it in Target. My son had gazed up at it in awe and demanded we add it to his list. I took one look at the outlandish three digit price, and immediately dismissed it. Seriously? Why would I spend a couple hundred dollars on a toy that takes up too much space, is too loud, has no educational value, and will be forgotten in a few weeks? I was totally horrified that this mom would waste so much money...much less brag about it.

I couldn't help but think of all the other things she could buy, or the good that she could do for someone else with that money.

Lately, it seems like I spend almost every shopping trip saying "No!" to my kids' pleas for at least a dozen toys. So I have to wonder, how do parents teach their children to be satisfied with what they have? How do we teach them to think of others who are less fortunate? Even harder, how do we make charity a habit in our children's lives?

Here's my preliminary plan of attack:

Tomorrow, I'll be pulling out a box for the kids to fill with toys they no longer want/play with. Their challenge is going to be to create a gift box for other children like themselves, who don't have any toys to play with. We'll then take the box to Goodwill together.

The challenge for them? Letting go of stuff.

The challenge for me? Being willing to accept some of the (sentimental) things they want to let go of.

I also want both of them to take the time to make something with their own hands to give to someone else. So we'll be brainstorming ideas of not only what to make, but who to give it to. I'll share our list with you tomorrow.


In the meantime, here are some great books I've found online that I think have potential. I haven't read them, so if you have, I'd love to hear your feedback...

The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving by Ellen Sabin

Raising Charitable Children by Carol Weisman

How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist: 330 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Home, Community, and World - at No Cost! by Nicole Bouchard Boles

This isn't much, but it's a start. I hope to be able to make more progress after you participate in my little challenge...


The MommyMaestra Challenge:

I would like to challenge you all this week to come up with one idea or activity to help your children understand the value of giving to others. Share it with us so that we might all be able to benefit and perhaps use it with our own families.

Buena suerte!

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