Saturday, April 30, 2011

Curious George Celebrates Mother's Day - Latin Style

We have a pretty strict TV schedule in this house. In fact, the only thing my kids are allowed to watch is PBS - and even then they are only allowed few select shows on the occasional afternoon. You already know that Word Girl and Wild Kratts are, of course, "must-see" shows in our animal/book-loving home. And the other show is Curious George. Ever since both of my kids were pequeninos, they have been avid fans of of this monito tan curioso. When she was younger, my daughter used to close her eyes tight and run out of the room whenever she got scared that George was going to get into trouble (and he always does), but would peek around the corner out of curiosity to see exactly what he was up to. And I think that the reason that I love George, is because he has been around ever since I was a kid (and that's a long time, I'm here to tell you!)

Although my kids are older now, the still love this little monkey, and on Saturday mornings, will quietly sneak into the living room to watch him while mami gets an extra 30 minutes of sleep!

So we were especially excited when last week I received a special advance screening of the new Curious George® episode premiering this coming Friday, May 6th. But we were even more delighted to discover that the episode, "Mother's Day Surprise!" celebrated Mother's Day - LATIN style! In it, George is helping his amigo, Marco, set up a surprise party for his mami. With the help of Marco's sister (and of course, the Man with the Yellow Hat - What IS his name?!?!) George and Marco make a piñata in the shape of Huddley, the dog, and other decorations. Having made our own piñatas before, both my kids were excited to watch one of their favorite TV characters do the same. Take a look...



In addition to the preview DVD, our screening party package also included two bilingual books featuring Curious George, a magnet, seed packet, pinwheel activity booklet, and a packet of microwavable popcorn. My daughter quickly snatched these up and sat down to read them to my son. The books were: Curious George Plants a Seed/Jorge el curioso siembra una semilla and Curious George at the Baseball Game/Jorge el curioso en el partido de béisbol.

Now, if you'd like to watch this sweet episode of Curious George, it will air Friday on PBS Kids. And in the days leading up to it, you can watch more adventures that Jorge el curioso has with his amigo, Marco. You can also visit Curious George's website to find printables, video clips, and games. In fact, soon you'll be able to help George and Marco choose a piñata, decorate it, and then WHACK it to break it open and get all the treats inside. The game will allow your child to learn the Spanish words for numbers, colors, etc.

(Incidentally, the Executive Producer for Curious George, Dorothea Gillim, is also the creator of Word Girl - our favorite show of all time. And so, I think that Ms. Gillim may also be my favorite producer of all time!)

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know that PBS is launching another new series called Noah Comprende, where kids can learn Spanish. I have noticed PBS has been looking to celebrate Hispanic Heritage more and more. And this is yet one more reason why I, for one, love this station.

Bien hecho, PBS.

Disclosure: As I stated in the post above, I did receive a screening party package, which I shared with my children to see their response. As usual, all the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Scholastic Summer Challenge Is Waiting For You!


The Scholastic Summer Challenge has officially begun! Last year, students around the world logged 52,710,368 reading minutes. Were you one of them?

Studies show that many children fall behind during the summer months and have to relearn concepts in the fall once school starts again. One way that parents can help their children is to encourage them to set up a summer reading program. Make it fun by printing up reading charts, bookmarks, book plates, and more. Then sit down and set goals together. For example, you might decide that your child should read 15 minutes a day, one chapter book a week, or 20 pages every night before bed. Be sure to reward your child for the effort that he or she puts forth.

Latino children especially, need to work on developing and maintaining their literacy skills. Summer is a valuable time that parents can use to help their niños strengthen their reading skills. This is also an opportunity to read books that your child will enjoy, but might not get a chance to read in school. And I also believe that this is the perfect time to promote cultural pride and explore the diversity both within our Spanish-speaking world and outside of it. To help you get started, download the Día de los Niños Booklist that the Latin Baby Book Club has put together to celebrate diversity within the Latino culture.

If you decide to participate in the Scholastic Summer Challenge, your child can go to their site and log their reading minutes. And as added incentive to read, your child can tackle weekly challenges and be entered to win digital prizes for completing weekly goals.

Parents can also use the site to learn ways to encourage their child to read more this summer, find booklists, print activity sheets and reading certificates, as well as download the Family Participation Guide, which helps you discover ways to use the Summer Challenge at home. The guide include pledge cards, reading logs, a certificate of achievement, various Word Girl activity sheets, and more. You can even sign up to receive weekly emails about your child's reading success.

Teachers can also use the site to track their students reading progress throughout the summer. They can take advantage of the booklists, too, and download the Classroom Participation Guide to incorporate the Summer Challenge into lesson plans.

The best part of this summer reading program is, in my opinion, the fact that it is easy and open to children and families everywhere.

To register your children or students, head on over to the Scholastic Summer Challenge website and get started!

Con mucho cariño...

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way to write this post. We are just avid readers and Word Girl fans! Word up!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ways To Celebrate Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros/Children's Day, Book Day


I don't remember ever celebrating Día de los niños when I was a child. Probably because we didn't really have this holiday back then - at least not here in the United States.

But this Saturday, my family will be celebrating Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros, otherwise known as Children's Day/Book Day. This holiday finds its roots in the 1925 "World Conference for the Well-being of Children" held in Geneva, Switzerland. Countries all over the world, like Japan, Turkey and India, have adopted their own versions of Children's Day. But the holiday didn't blossom here in America until 1996, when author Pat Mora became inspired by the Mexican holiday, Día de los niños, and thought to combine the holiday with literacy for children. A year later, Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros was born in the United States and Mora soon found support from across the country.

This holiday was created for the honoring of our children, who represent the hopes and dreams of every family and community. They are our future. And the path that our history will take, depends upon their choices and actions. It advocates literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds, as essential to their mental development and well-being.

Although this will be the 15th anniversary of Día here in the States, I have only known about it for a few years. And since then, I have been developing ways to celebrate it with my family. Some of these are posted over on the LBBC (each year we celebrate it for the entire month of April). But if you are looking for ways to honor this holiday on Saturday, here are a few of our better ideas:

• First and foremost, give your kids a good breakfast. No, I'm not just saying this because Kellogg's is sponsoring this post. I'm saying it because I've seen how a bad breakfast - or none at all - can have some seriously negative affects on my kids' ability to focus, read, and have a good time learning. I doubt they are that different from your own kids! Read more here or aqui.

Make your own book! Better yet, make it bilingual! It's easy if you follow these simple instructions over on the LBBC. 

Take a family trip to your local bookstore and splurge on one book for each member of your family.

Throw your own Día Party! Invite all of your friends (or your child's friends) over for book party and take turns reading passages from your favorite books. Or throw a Book Swap Party where each person brings some gently used books that they are ready to trade out. You can find some great printables for invitations, bookmarks, buttons, flyers, and book plates here.

• Go to the park and read poetry out loud. You can either take your favorite book of poems or write your own!


Read Book Fiesta! written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael López.

Send a Día-themed e-card to all your family and friends!

Download a Día "Tool Kit." There are quite a few of these tool kits now available online. I like this one from the Texas Library Association (and also made possible, I might add, by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation!). But all you have to do is Google "Día tool kit" and you'll be able to take your pick!

Learn the official Día song!

Celebrate El Día del Niño with a free trip to the movies. Here’s how:

* Buy any three Kellogg cereals (8.7 oz or larger) or EGGO Waffles (6 count or larger) and receive a free kids movie pass (up to $7.50 value) with mail-in official order form.

* The order form can be found on special packages of Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Krispies. Tear Pads are also available in the cereal aisle or from an EGGO freezer cling.

Visit the Maya & Miguel web page dedicated to Día.

Find some fun printables online that promote literacy. You can create flip-books, monthly activity calendars (in Spanish and English), and even your own Lotería game boards!

• And lastly, run by your local library and check out a whole pile of books that celebrate diversity.


If you are a follower of our sister site, The Latin Baby Book Club, then you already know that we are celebrating Día all this month with author/illustrator interviews, giveaways, tutorials, book reviews, and guest posts by some of your favorite authors. So be sure to check us out!

Con mucho cariño...


Disclosure: I am participating in a blogging program from the Kellogg Company and Latina Bloggers Connect, and this post makes me eligible to win a $35 payment. However, Día is a holiday that is dear to my heart, and all the opinions expressed here are purely my own. (I just figure why not get paid for doing something that I am already doing, no?)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Free Education Guides for African Cats


Warning: Lots of gushing ahead.

Yesterday, our family finally went to see African Cats. Now, you know I am a former zoo keeper, right? And my husband is still in the field. So we are pretty critical when it comes to animal movies. Neither one of us is an easy audience when it comes to nature films. But I have to say, that this movie was beautiful. I couldn't get over the footage. Almost each frame could have been frozen and sold as a portrait of nature.

The film is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, and he does an incredible job. I was worried that the story line would be too anthropomorphic (too "humanlike"), and it does, in fact, revolve around two families - a lone cheetah mother with 5 cubs and a pride of lions. But the story line does exactly what I imagine Disney wants: It provides a way for regular people, far removed from the wild African savanna, to emotionally connect with nature. My children were completely engrossed by the movie (okay, so was I). And yes, we cried, and worried, and breathed sighs of relief at various points in the movie.

It is rated "G" and I think that this is pretty much accurate, for although the film shows scenes of the cheetah and lionesses hunting, there is no gore, and I don't really remember any shots of the cats actually killing their prey. And while the movie is suspenseful, there are not really any scary scenes - but the lions' growling does get a bit LOUD at times. My son covered his ears, but didn't shut his eyes. Wow. Now that's power.

Now, on to the good part. Disney, in its wisdom, has put together quite a few printables to supplement this film. You can see one over on Spanglish Baby. But here, I want to share with you a couple of resources for teachers and homeschoolers (parents can download them, too!).

The Activity Guide is an eight-page document with several activities and notes for educators. I printed these up today and used them with both of my children (one is in PreK, and the other in 1st grade). They really enjoyed the activities and I was surprised at how much they had learned from the movie. My daughter has been studying habitats in science, so this fit in perfectly! This guide introduces the topics:

• Where do lions and cheetahs live and who are their neighbors?

• How are living things connected on the African savanna?
• What adaptations help lions and cheetahs survive on the savanna?
• How do lions and cheetahs spend their day?
• What tools and technology do researchers use to study African cats in the wild?
• What can you do to help protect African cats?
 
 

The Educator's Guide is a more comprehensive download with over 120 pages of lesson plans and activities. I have downloaded it and am looking forward to using it in a mini-unit study this summer. It meets many of the National Science Education Standards. It is primarily geared for students in grades 2 - 6, and includes a lot of detailed information about the African continent with a special emphasis on the savanna eco-system. It then goes on to focus on the big cat species of Africa. It is awesome.



You can also find these files and much, much more over on the Disney site for this movie.


Enjoy!

Con mucho cariño...

Disclosure: Although Disney has allowed me to share these activity guides with you, I was not compensated for writing this post. All the praise is purely my own!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Learn and Earn Center from Scholastic and Kumon



I have loved Scholastic for a long time now. They have created so many great books and teaching materials for parents and teachers. I've used a lot of their books with my own kids. And here is another opportunity that they are offering families...

Scholastic has partnered up with Kumon to help your child develop their math and literacy skills. Their Learn and Earn Center allows you to download math and reading activities for children ages five to 12. By completing the sheets, your child can earn up to FIVE free books from Scholastic.

So head over there and take a look!

Con mucho cariño...

Disclosure: I have not been compensated for (or even contacted about!) sharing this information with you. It is all purely my own Scholastic love :) 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bilingual Activities, Crafts, Books and More for Earth Day

This page is being continually updated as I discover new resources. For the most up-to-date information, be sure to start by checking out my Pinterest board on Earth Day.


Activity Sheets & Lesson Plans

Primera Escuela has a good number of activity sheets for parents to download. Best for preschoolers.

ABCTeach has a lot of great printables for Earth Day.

Be sure to take a look at Enchanted Learning's site. They have a ton of crafts that are related to the earth and wildlife.

For older children, teachers be sure to check out Canopy in the Clouds. I wrote about this incredible site a while ago, and now their Spanish site, dosel en las nubes, is up and running!

Proyecto Bosk is a Spanish website for children that helps students think about climate change, global warming and care for the forests. Download the 30-page "actividades" booklet for excellent handouts for students.


Crafts & Printables

 The Latin Baby Book Club just posted a tutorial for how to make your own bilingual book using recycled materials.

Crafting a Green World has some fabulous crafts using recycled materials, like this chalkboard globe

No Time for Flash Cards has a cute tutorial on how to make a (recycled) earth.

Spanish Earth Day or Environmental Unit Vocabulary and Activities from Liz's Lessons.

Me on the Map bilingual activity in Spanish or English by Mrs. Castro.


Earth-Loving Websites

Reciclando en la escuela is a fabulous site, written completely in Spanish, with some of the most imaginative ideas for recycling materials into educational tools/toys/activities.

The Magnifying Glass is another favorite of mine. And all this week this nature blog has been celebrating Earth Day. Go have a look-see.

What Eats? is a food website for kids. Lots of easy information here that will fascinate your littles.


Books

Earth Day--Hooray! (MathStart 3) by Stuart J. Murphy

Earth Day: An Alphabet Book by Gary Kowalski

The Earth and I by Frank Asch

Talking with Mother Earth/Hablando con madre tierra: Poems/Poemas by Jorge Argueta and Lucia Angela Perez

When Jaguars Ate the Moon: And Other Stories About Animals and Plants of the Americas by Maria Cristina Brusca, Tona Wilson

El Gran Capoquero: Un Cuento de la Selva Amazonica (The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest) by Lynne Cherry

Imagina un mundo mejor by Yanitzia Canetti.

• Check out the Latin Baby Book Club's bilingual/bicultural book list for Earth Day.

 
Con mucho cariño...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Brief History of Cascarones

At the insistence of una amiga, I finally got my act together, and helped my kids make cascarones. To be honest, it was our first time to do so.

And since I promised to go over and post a picture of our finished creations on Thoughts of a Mommy's FB page (She is collecting pictures! Go post yours over there!!), I couldn't do that without first sharing them with you.

But before I do, I want to be sure and share with you the history of cascarones (thank you, Claudia, for asking me to do so!) because it is very interesting.

What Are Cascarones?

First off, in case you don't know, cascarones are brightly colored/decorated eggshells that are filled with confetti. They may be simply made by children, or elaborate, hand-painted masterpieces by artists. Here in the States, they are used during celebrations, typically around Easter. In Mexico, they are popular during the time of Carnaval. But really, people may use them during any festive occasion.


Where Did They Come From?

According to historians, cascarones originated in China. It is rumored that Marco Polo first brought them to Italy, and on to Spain, and they eventually made their way to the Americas. In the beginning, the eggs were quite elegant and valuable; instead of confetti, they were filled with perfumed powders, making them popular with high-society women.

They became quite popular in Mexico in the 1860s, after Emperor Maximiliano's wife, Carlotta, introduced them to the country. In Mexico, the powders were replaced with confetti and given their name "cascarones," the plural form of "cáscara," which means shell in Spanish.

Today, the tradition of making and using cascarones to celebrate is mostly popular in the Southwestern United States, though areas of Mexico still use them. Many say that good fortune falls upon the person who has un cascarón cracked over their head - and smashing one on someone's head is actually a sign of affection. Young adults often use them to engage in mild flirtation.

I've created a bilingual minibook for elementary-aged children with this history. It includes coloring pages and even directions for making your own cascarones. It's a fun little resource for parents and teachers.



You might also be interested in these two books:

The Legend of the Cascaron by Roxanna Montes-Bazaldua (only available on Kindle with full text in both English and Spanish)

Dance of the Eggshells: Baile De Los Cascarones (English and Spanish Edition) by Carla Aragon



How Do You Make Cascarones?

Spanglish Baby and Prudent Baby both have fabulous posts on making cascarones, so I'm not going to give you step by step instructions. But I will share with you a quick photo tour of our adventure in making them:

First, we drained the eggs by making a small hole and then washing out the empty shell.
Then we colored them using a traditional egg coloring kit.

While the colored eggs were drying, we spent ages making confetti using
colored cardstock and a hole punch.


Hours later and with sore hands, we finally had enough confetti and eggs!

We made a simple funnel from some recycled paper, then added two spoonfuls of confetti.

A little glue around the edges of our hole....


Followed by a nice tissue paper "cap"


A few stickers and other embellishments, y ya! The cascarones are done!
(A few were lost in the whole process. Empty eggshells are a little delicate - especially when handled by little fingers.)

Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Girl Scouts Launches Hispanic Recruitment Campaign

This is a guest post by columnist, Mercedes Olivera.

When you invite a young girl and her family to check out a camp site for the summer, better be prepared for 20 members of la familia to show up – everybody from the grandparents to the aunts and uncles who want to see what la niña will be experiencing.

It’s just one example of some of the cultural challenges the Girl Scouts is finding out it must deal with as it launches a Hispanic recruitment campaign to attract young Latinas.


As part of a national rebranding effort to revitalize and update its image as it nears its 100th anniversary, the national organization recently started this outreach effort to attract more girls from the fastest-growing population in the nation.


Understanding demographics can mean the difference between growth and stagnation for many organizations. And like many advertisers and companies, the Girl Scouts have seen the new Census numbers that show Hispanic families tend to be larger than most.


They also exhibit the kind of family values that have made the Girl Scouts such a venerable household name.


It is a natural step for an organization that has a tradition of accepting girls from all backgrounds.


“We want them to know that Girls Scouts meets their values,” said Gwyneth Lloyd, chief program officer for the Hispanic Welcome Initiative of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.


But recruiting Hispanic girls into scouting has required an extra touch. It wasn’t simply a matter of translating its information materials into Spanish, Lloyd said.


It was far more a question of reaching out culturally.


“Rather than push the girls to get involved, we realized the need to push for families,” she said.


Like so many other issues and events in Hispanic communities, scouting is a family affair, it turns out.


Once the family gets involved, the girl does, too. And so does la mamá.


“Once the mother grasps who we are, then they absolutely show their willingness to volunteer and work with the troops,” Lloyd said.


The northeast Texas organization, which serves 35,000 girls and 16,000 adult members, is designing a welcoming initiative for Hispanic families that will launch this fall. It has already developed an interactive bilingual web site and quadrupled its bilingual staff.

In addition, it gives all new Hispanic troop leaders a set of materials that include a bilingual program manual and adult guide.

It seems to be off to a good start of reaching its goal of increasing its Hispanic membership from its current 19.6 percent to 25 percent.

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

For more information about the Girl Scouts' move to involve Hispanic families, take a look at this article.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day With a Picnic and a Movie

This coming Friday is Earth Day. There are just SO MANY ways to celebrate this day and almost every blog I follow is talking about it.

I've already mentioned that this weekend, we'll be going to see Disney's new movie, African Cats. Yay! I can't wait! And my kids are excited, too. I hope you get to go and watch it, too. Remember that a portion of the proceeds from the opening week's ticket sales will be donated to the African Wildlife Foundation through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to protect the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor, a passage between the Amboseli, Tsavo West and Chyulu Hills National Parks that is frequently used by lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, giraffes and a host of other animals in the African savanna.

In addition to movie watching, I think we'll also be participating in the Nature Conservancy's Picnic for the Planet celebration. We're actually creating our own meet-up with school friends. My daughter is working on her invitations.

One other activity that I am working on (thanks to Sabor a Cajeta for sharing on FB!) is B Kind 2 Earth Day. So this week I will be posting the activities that my family is working on to help us remember to appreciate and respect our home planet. Last week, I shared a few photos that reflect the arrival of spring to our area. Here are a few more...


:: Azalea

:: I love irises!

:: Solomon's Seal

:: More iris...

:: Oak-leafed Hydrangea

:: Lily of the Valley

Con mucho cariño....

Monday, April 18, 2011

Language Impairment in Bilingual Children: Part 2


Last year, Dr. Elizabeth D. Peña, professor of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Texas at Austin, and her colleague, Dr. Lisa M. Bedore, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, agreed to write a series of posts on language disorders in bilingual children. For the last 10 years, Dr. Peña and Dr. Bedore have been researching language disorders in bilingual children, in order to come up with an accurate test to assess this problem. Such a test would help school pathologists to determine if a bilingual student does indeed have a true speech-language disorder, or if he or she is simply in a normal stage of development for learning two languages at once.

Their first article on Mommy Maestra discussed whether or not bilingualism can slow down language learning, as well as whether or not children with a language impairment can learn a second language.

Today they share their second article which helps parents of bilingual children to understand what language impairment is, what it looks like, and what to do if you suspect that your child has it.

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

Language Impairment in Bilingual Children
by Elizabeth D. Peña & Lisa M. Bedore
University of Texas at Austin


One of the challenges faced by speech-language pathologists is knowing if a child who is exposed to two languages has a language impairment. Children who have exposure to two languages or who know one language and are in the process of learning another may make errors that are like those that children with language delays or language impairment make. It’s hard to know whether these errors are indicative of language impairment or the normal influence of one language on another. Let’s start by quoting our friend and colleague Kathryn Kohnert that bilingualism does not cause language impairment.


What is language impairment?

Language impairment is a delay or deficit in language compared to age peers. Some language impairments occurs due to a health condition (e.g., hearing loss) or developmental disabilities (e.g., Down syndrome), or can be acquired (e.g., via a head injury). Some language impairments don’t have a known cause. Language impairment without an obvious cause occurs in about 7% of the population. There is no reason to believe that this percentage would be higher in bilingual children.


What does language impairment “look” like?

Children with language impairment can have difficulties in understanding or learning new vocabulary; they often make errors of grammar; and sometimes they have difficulties with the social aspects of language. Many children with language impairment make speech sound errors such as mispronouncing /r/ or leaving off parts of sound blends (tain instead of train). Remember, all children sometimes make these kinds of mistakes as they learn language and as adults we make language errors once in a while. But, the pattern of errors is a prominent feature of the language of someone who has language impairment. There are similarities and differences across languages in terms of children’s error patterns.

For example, there are similarities between languages in the kinds of vocabulary difficulties made by children with language impairment. Often, these children have delays in learning words or they don’t know words well. For example they may not know what words mean the same things or what categories of objects they relate to (e.g., bark is a sound a dog makes and the outer layer of a tree trunk. Signs of language impairment patterns often show up in grammar. The patterns of errors are different because the languages are different. In English for example, children have particular difficulty with verb tense. They will often delete verb tense markings “Every day he run” instead of “he runs” \or delete the past tense –ed as in “They walk__ to the store yesterday”. In contrast, errors in Spanish might include errors of agreement by gender, “El mesa” or number “La niñas” or omitting pronouns (e.g., le, la, los) as in “ __ dio a él un libro.”


What about bilinguals? When do we know if they have language impairment?

It is true that many of the error examples we give above are also characteristic of normal errors that children make in general when learning a first language and when learning a second language. What’s important to keep in mind is the degree of errors. If children are making more than 20-25% errors in their better language then it’s a sign of possible language impairment. Children with language impairment make errors in both their languages and like with monolinguals, the errors occur often—not just once in a while.


What should you do if you suspect that your child has language impairment?

You should contact a bilingual speech-language pathologist. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has a great number of resources. Your school district can also do an evaluation of your child’s speech and language. In this regard, remember that there are relatively few bilingual speech-language pathologists and fewer still who have specialized training in bilingualism. So, ask what they know about bilingualism. If there’s no one with the training, ask for a consultant. Also, it’s important that your child be tested in both languages in making a determination of language delay or impairment. Do not let school personnel put off evaluation until your child learns more English. Early intervention will help get the best outcome for your child. If your child has language impairment, do not let anyone tell you that your child cannot become bilingual or that he or she cannot handle two languages. That’s simply not true.


To find out more about language impairment and bilingualism go to: http://2languages2worlds.wordpress.com/





Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekend Links: Math Manipulatives to Guayaba Cream

Ultimate List of Printable Math Manipulatives & Games :: Jimmie's Collage (Quick! Bookmark this page! These are the BEST resources!)

I’m White, My Daughter is Latina, and I Buy Black Dolls :: New Latina (A powerful article on helping our children to embrace multiculturalism.)

The Bookshelf: El Alfabeto Cubano :: Dos Borreguitas (Cute!)

Action Pack :: Whipup.net (Can you believe the 2nd issue of Action Pack is already out? 25 pages of ad-free activities.)

Mi Guitarri Music!! :: Wanna Jugar With Migo?

Organizing Your Homeschool Library :: Heart of the Matter

10 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Run Smoothly :: Homeschool Classroom

Waldorf Education: Behind the Silk Curtains :: Simple Homeschool

Your Parenting Style. A Quiz :: The Tiki Tiki


Delicious Recipe: Lime Ice Cream with Guayaba Cream and Pepita Brittle :: New Latina (Because I am weak - and everyone should enjoy Life now and then, no?)


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Free Winnie the Pooh Coloring Sheets

Can you believe that Easter is only a couple of weeks away? Can it already be APRIL? It feels like we just had New Year!

Well, even though I am on short and easy posts this week, I wanted to share some exclusive Easter-themed coloring sheets of our favorite Hundred Acre Wood characters, that Disney has created in honor of the new Winnie the Pooh movie coming out in July.




In addition, the creative geniuses over there have come up with some extraordinary ways to decorate your Easter eggs - Pooh-style! Here are a few ideas:


WINNIE THE POOH is our beloved 'hunny'-loving bear, so why not choose one of his favorite things - a honey jar - to create as an Easter egg? You want it to look like a real honey jar so use tape to cover the top of the egg where the lid will be and also a wide strip of tape around the middle for the 'HUNNY' label. Boil half a cup of water, mix in 30-40 drops of blue food dye, and one tablespoon of white vinegar.

When it cools, gently lower the egg into the pot. The longer the egg remains in the pot, the darker the color gets! Once you are happy with the color, take it out with a spoon, dry it and remove the tape. Then stick the word 'HUNNY' in tape to the egg, and pop it back in the pot, just for a few seconds to make the 'label' pale blue.

Finally, you can use acrylic paint for a blob of honey and leave the word 'HUNNY' in the egg's natural color. If Pooh could see your Easter egg, he might think it looked so much like a honey jar that he would keep it in his personal collection!


TIGGER would be ecstatically happy about painting Easter eggs. You could have a go at painting an egg that looks like Tigger! First, use an orange watercolor crayon to paint the entire egg orange. While it dries, bounce around a bit - Tigger - style! Then draw in the tiger stripes with a steady hand and a black marker and fill them in with a black watercolor crayon. You can use a pink button for the nose and draw on eyebrows, eyes, mouth and whiskers with the black marker. Tigger-tastic!


EEYORE we all know would probably be less excited about painting Easter Eggs, so why not create one of his favorite food -- thistles, of course! All you need are some crayons, a little spinach and also purple and green acrylic paints. Draw the thistle with a crayon, to prevent the area from being dyed. Boil the spinach, letting it simmer for 45 minutes. Put the egg into the water to color it green. The crayon colored thistle won't dye (due to the wax in the crayon), so you can use acrylic paints to finish your egg. Even Eeyore would have to admit it looks pretty sweet.


PIGLET loves his friends, and his motto is "Even if you are rather small you can still have a very big heart." Why not paint a Piglet style Easter egg, with huge hearts on it? First, draw seven hearts with a marker, and then use small pieces of sponge with different colors to paint the egg. You can paint the whole egg pale blue like the sky and then paint each of the hearts with one of the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Piglet would love this Easter egg because it's small and cute, just like him!


Con mucho cariño...

Disclaimer: Disney provided me with these ideas and coloring sheets. I was not compensated for sharing them with you.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Viva la primavera!

This week is shaping up to be a very busy one around here. Between meetings, my son's school play, and my daughter's 4-H field trip, I'll be struggling to get it all done.

And don't forget that we have dedicated this entire month to celebrating Día de los niños, Día de los libros over at the Latin Baby Book Club. There are giveaways, guest posts, and free downloads going on over there.

So I know, dear readers, that you will understand if this week there may be a few missed posts, or some super simple ones - like this one with these images I snapped this weekend. ¡Viva la primavera!

:: Tulip


:: Isn't it extraordinary? Maravillosa!


:: How perfect are these bleeding hearts?


:: My 'Buelita loved irises, so they have a special place in my heart.


:: The azaleas around my house are amazing!


:: Qué está pensando este lagarto verde? I like to think "¡Hola, Muchacha!" But in reality it is probably more like, "¡Oye, déjame en paz, Mujer!"


:: A discovery in one of our nest boxes! A flying squirrel...


:: And just because I couldn't resist this little close-up. ¡Mira, qué cara!



Con mucho cariño....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Online Science Websites for Children in English and Spanish


The other day I set out to find science sites in English and Spanish that offered lesson plans, experiments, or were otherwise child-friendly. You can't imagine how delighted I was to find that someone had already done my homework for me! I had thought to begin a long list of sites here, but instead I have just a few that have already done the research and that present links to sites in an organized manner. Enjoy!

TRABAJOS PRÁCTICOS Y EXPERIENCIAS DE LABORATORIO - This first site is perhaps the best site out there for bilingual science resources. It lists around 149 sites from around the world in both English and Spanish. This should be your go-to source.

Ciencia para chicos may be my next favorite. It also lists sites in both English and Spanish, and though there is some overlap, they are for the most part different links.

ABChicos.com lists a variety of sites, though not quite as comprehensive as those mentioned above. I have not gone through all of them, but I think they are Spanish-only sites.

TryScience is an American site out of NY that has published a website in a variety of languages including English and Spanish. I like this one, too.
 
This is a short list, but believe me, these few links will provide you with a wealth of information!
 
Con mucho cariño...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Disney's African Cats


For all my animal loving readers (and I think almost all of you are), I want to remind you that Earth Day is coming up quickly. And because this week is dedicated to encouraging our children and students to pursue STEM careers, I want to be sure and share the upcoming release of Disney's African Cats.

This movie features the real-life love, humor and determination of the kings of the African savanna: Mara, an endearing lion cub who strives to grow up with her mother's strength, spirit and wisdom; Sita, a fearless cheetah and single mother of five mischievous newborns; and Fang, a proud leader of the pride who must defend his family from a rival lion.

AFRICAN CATS is Disney's third release under the Disneynature label, after OCEANS last year, and EARTH in 2009.

My kids do a LOT of research on animals in our science lessons. We just finished animal classification and are currently studying about habitats, so we are extremely anxious for this movie to come out. And with summer quickly approaching, I am looking for more "fun" topics to explore with the kids. Perhaps we could spend some time investigating predators, Africa, grassland habitats, or simply big cats?

And one of the best parts of going to see this movie is the "See 'African Cats,' Save the Savanna" program. During the film's opening week (April 22-28), a portion of the proceeds from that week's ticket sales will be donated to the African Wildlife Foundation through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to protect the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor, a passage between the Amboseli, Tsavo West and Chyulu Hills National Parks that is frequently used by lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, giraffes and a host of other animals in the African savanna.

As a former zoo keeper, I can't stress how desperately funding is always needed by conservation organizations. This is one of the ways that an ordinary person not in the field of conservation biology can contribute and help make the world a better place by preserving the habitat and lives of these precious animals.

Here's your sneak peek of African Cats-





I hope you will all be celebrating Earth Day in a couple of weeks and look forward to hearing about it. And if you go see this movie, let me know what you think of it!

Con mucho cariño...


Disclosure: Although I was contacted by Disney, who provided me with the images and video seen in this post, I have not received compensation  for writing it.

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge



Wow. Now that I start looking for programs that encourage children to pursue STEM careers, it seems like they are flying at me from every direction. I've already mentioned a few on our Facebook page, in case you don't follow.

This latest contest has a deadline that is quickly approaching. But I know that there a many children who can easily meet it. The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is a science competition for 5th - 8th grade students. Because research shows that science test scores start to drop in middle school when interest in science begins to wane, the Young Scientist Challenge focuses on this age group to encourage and reward children to develop their curiosity and hone their scientific knowledge.

Ten finalists will be selected to receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City to compete in the final challenge in October. The winner will receive $25,000, a trip from Discovery Student Adventures, a Contest Trophy, and the title of "America's Top Young Scientist."

Entrants should identify an everyday problem related to the way we move, the way we keep ourselves healthy, or the way we make a difference. The problem should directly impact them, their family, their community, or the global population. The idea must be a new innovation or solution, and cannot simply be a behavioral change or a new use for an existing product.

To enter the competition, students must create a single one- to two-minute video that:

* explains the problem and how it impacts them, their family, their community or the global population;

* describes a new innovation or solution that could solve or impact the problem;

* explains the science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics behind their innovation; and

* illustrates how their innovation could both address the everyday problem they've identified and have a broader impact locally or globally.

To get your kids started, take a look at these thought starters.
 
 
You can see the videos of previous winners here.
 
The videos will be evaluated by a panel of judges on the basis of creativity, persuasiveness, classroom suitability, and overall presentation. Videos will not be evaluated on production skills and may be recorded on cell phones or simple digital cameras. All video entries must be submitted online at www.youngscientistchallenge.com by 5:00 p.m. EST, April 15, 2011.  Judges will review the video submissions and choose 10 finalists and up to 51 merit winners: one from each state and the District of Columbia.

The 10 finalists will be paired with 3M scientists to complete a summer assignment having to do with innovation. Together they will work virtually through pre-assigned objectives with resources and support provided by Discovery Education.

Parents and teachers, be sure to check out the page with lesson plans related to this year's topics. And on the good side, they also have a page where you can download a letter to the parents in English or Spanish. (Not quite as bilingual-family friendly as the Design Squad Nation contest, but algo es algo as my mami says.)

For more information on the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, go to www.youngscientistchallenge.com.

Con mucho cariño...

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