Friday, July 29, 2011

Children Inspire Design {GIVEAWAY]



Today, I'm so delighted to introduce you to a company I discovered a couple of months ago, and the lovely lady who founded it. Children Inspire Design is a celebration of world cultures through the melding of art and eco-consciousness. Created by Rebecca Peragine, the goal of the company is to help children learn compassion for our planet and the people who inhabit it. Most of the products have been designed by Rebecca, who focuses on creative recycling, and many are available in multiple languages. I love how her art is also educational, and I think both children and adults will enjoy each piece.

She was kind enough to share her story here...


What motivated you to start your own company?

My husband and I (my husband's Italian, I'm American) met and lived in Mexico for 4 years before the birth of our first son. We lived in a beautiful place in Mexico with a very international community. You'd hear a dozen languages in a day and it was beautiful. It was the biggest piece that was missing when we came back to the States, something I felt that my children should be able to experience. So I used that as the base of Children Inspire Design. We both owned our own businesses there, so when we came back to the States, it was a natural next step for me. I already had a taste of being an entrepreneur.


You mention on your website that part of your desire is to inspire children to celebrate the "beauty of different world cultures." Why is this important to you? Why should it be important to others?

We're a multicultural family and I wanted to make sure my children were surrounded with images from each culture. It made me start thinking that there are so many families like ours with very little to offer in terms of culturally rich decor and teaching tools. So I slowly started creating art that incorporated a global and environmental element, including multiple languages. Our world gets smaller and smaller everyday and I really feel like our children are going to experience a future where their peers across the world will be right at their fingertips. We're already experiencing that on some level now. I want my children, and I think other parents do too, to instill a respect and curiosity for other cultures and traditions.



Can you tell us about your educational line of products for parents with young children just learning to read and count?

I created a line of alphabet, number, and animal cards and posters meant to be used as both decor and flash cards. They are simple starter words that will make learning a second language easy for both parents and kids. We're also about to launch a line of printable flash cards in 10 languages that takes learning a little deeper by offering almost 400 words in 12 different subjects.


You have a new line coming out, Fresh Words Market, would you tell us about it?

Fresh Words Market is a line of art for the space where adults and children meet. It's a more sophisticated line with inspirational messaging meant for both adults and kids. We've used this line as a tool for organizations to raise funds by creating an ambassador's program. Organizations sell our products and we donate 50% of proceeds. It's been a great success so far, I'm really proud of it!


Anything else you'd like to share?

Children Inspire Design is also about to launch the One Mother to Another Initiative where we partner with women's cooperatives in Mexico and Haiti to create beautiful recycled decor for your home (see the recycled birds and garland images). The proceeds are returned to the cooperatives to help grow business and aid in community development. It's been my favorite project by far!


THE GIVEAWAY

Rebecca has kindly offered one of her beautiful Spanish Compassion Posters to a MommyMaestra reader. The poster is part of her Spanish Global Child Collection. Wouldn't this make such a great art piece for your child's room?

To enter, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Friday, August 5th. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! Open to United States residents only.

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1.) Blog about this giveaway and include the link to your post,

2.) Tweet the following: Children's Global Compassion Poster giveaway on MommyMaestra.com http://bit.ly/oxvlyt #giveaway

3.) Follow Children Inspire Design on Facebook,

4.) Follow MommyMaestra on Facebook.

5.) Take the anonymous, one-question poll in the sidebar.


Don't forget to let me know by posting a separate comment for each entry!


¡Buena suerte!



This giveaway is now closed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Educational Products for Preschoolers


When buying toys for your preschooler, simple is always better. If it's got batteries, look the other way. Some of the best learning takes place when the child uses his imagination to the max and creates the sounds or movements himself.

When you think about purchasing toys, books, or other items for you preschooler, take a moment to ask yourself these questions:

• Does the toy reinforce educational concepts (i.e., math, reading, etc.)?
• Does it promote creative or critical thinking skills?
• Is it complicated or simple?
• Does it overstimulate (is it noisy/blinking/moving/etc.)?

In addition, preschoolers should be immersed in a language rich environment, so look for products that have letters, numbers, and other symbols that help build pre-literacy skills. I also love toys that have a multicultural theme (like the Spanish blocks shown above). Because we live in a global society, and also because the point of this blog is to talk about ways to incorporate culture into our children's education, I like to keep an eye out for products that reflect the beauty of both the Latino culture and others.

Here's a list of some of my favorite products for preschoolers. Feel free to leave a comment with your own recommendations.

LEGOs - Bah! You already know how much I love LEGOs. We have a giant box full of assorted parts that is played with at least once a day. (My son has a secret collection of boats, spaceships, and who-know-what-else hidden under his bed so that his sister doesn't confiscate them.) And these, in my mind, are one of the top three toys in the history of the world. There are so many possibilities in a box of LEGOs. And the best part is that if you buy a kit, all those parts can go together to create something completely different from what they were designed to make.Wooden Blocks - Wooden blocks provide endless opportunities to build and create. Partnered with small people or animals, they can become buildings, corrals, zoos, cabins, gates, fences, homes, etc. Buying alphabet blocks only amplifies their educational value.

Costumes - Playing dress up is an important form of play. Role playing allows them to explore and develop their imagination, and it also has a physical effect on their brains. After Halloween sales often have great bargains. But you can also just give your children some of your old clothes, a pair of 'Buelita's heels, or one of Abuelo's hats.

Play-doh/Modeling Clay - Some of my kids' best times have been spent sitting at the dining room table creating meals for their stuffed dolls. Or sometimes they set up a candy shop and concoct beautiful delicacies to tempt the palate. Other times, they just goof around making shapes, figures, or whatever else strikes their fancy. I like that they can take a blob of play-doh and form it into letters, numbers, etc.

Dominoes/Cards - Perfect for helping children learn to identify numbers and count. I also have two sets of wooden dominoes that have animals instead of numbers on them. These are still great, because the kids are using matching skills and learning about animals. And after observing other people's children, I've sort of come to the conclusion that kids just love card games. Buy a set of cards and play Go Fish or War or Spoons. Or pick up a deck of UNO cards. Not only will they learn numbers, but colors, too!

Flash Cards - Along the same lines, flash cards with any number or themes (animals, dinosaurs, people, etc.) are great for playing memory. And kids can also use them to sort into different categories (ie, by color, classification, number of legs, feathers or hair, etc.).

Con mucho cariño...


Everyday Activities That Teach Your Preschooler


If you are homeschooling for the first time, try not to get overwhelmed by all the curricula, activities, downloads, etc., that are now available online. The worst thing you can do is get carried away trying to teach too much information. This is preschool - not grad school!  

Their actual "school time" shouldn't really last longer than an hour or two each day. Some only school their preschoolers two (T-Th) or three (M-W-F) times a week. Remember, they are learning so many other things throughout the day! And you can still create fun, teachable moments in your daily life. Here are a few enjoyable - but educational! - activities to help your preschooler strengthen their skills:

Bring on the laundry!

Socks, socks, glorious socks. Who knew the lessons hidden in a pile of clean calcetines? Wash a load of socks, then toss them on your bed and have your preschooler sort away. Understanding "pairs," counting by one's and two's, and shouting out colors as she goes are just a few of the basic skills she'll be learning.

You can also show them how to fold hand and dish towels, as well as their clothes. This simple act promotes self-sufficiency and really challenges their hand-to-eye coordination. It is also an opportunity to introduce them to sequencing and fractions: "First, fold the towel in half. Next, fold it in fourths (or half again, depending on your perspective).

And don't forget about showing them how to hang laundry on a line to dry. Using clothes pins really helps them to develop that pincer grip they'll soon need to write their names...and everything else.


Set the table...

Arranging napkins, plastic cups and plates teaches preschoolers about helping around the house. It also makes them think of numbers. How many are in our family? How many place settings do we need on the table? Giving your child a job also helps to build self-confidence and feel like a valuable member of the family.

And along those same lines, let your child fill up salt shakers. This can be tricky for little fingers, but it really helps to develop hand-to-eye coordination!


Stacking cans...

After your weekly (or in my case, almost daily) trip to the grocery store, have your child carry in lighter bags. If the bags are too heavy, give him the task of holding doors open. Both actions serve to reinforce the idea of helping others. Once inside the house, assign him the task of unpacking and stacking the canned goods. Be sure to caution him about stacking them too high!


Sweep them off their feet...

The simple act of sweeping the floor can entertain a child for ages. To make it even more enjoyable, buy a small broom that is just right for his or her age. In fact, small hand brooms that come with a small dustpan are perfect for cleaning up messes. Lots of homeschoolers use "sensory" bins with their children. These are made up of one small to medium tub that is partially filled with beans, rice, or other substrate. Small items with various textures can then be buried in the substrate, which almost always spills out onto the floor below making it the perfect opportunity to whisk out those hand brooms! But be sure to keep an eye on children during this activity. Putting a bean or grain of rice in the mouth is dangerous and a big no-no!


Gardening 101

Watering the plants - inside and outside - is a great way to teach science. From planting seeds to watching them grow, your child will be fascinated by the process. Learning to identify living things and what they need to survive are really big concepts. So be prepared to answer questions! Brush up on your plant anatomy before hand.


Everybody do your share...clean up!

Teaching children to put away their toys, hang their coats, and make their beds will save you endless work. (Trust me.) But it also reinforces the idea of orderliness, and the concept of "A place for everything, everything in its place."

Teaching your child to be neat can be a difficult task, but it is an important one that they will be able to apply in almost all areas of their life. These actions also teach them responsibility and the value of working together as a group.

How do you teach your child through daily activities?

Con mucho cariño...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bilingual Preschool Planner {Free Download}


Starting homeschooling can be super exciting... and super stressful. Over the weekend, I received a letter from a reader about whether or not to homeschool in Spanish. Blanca and I emailed each other back and forth some more and she also asked me how she should structure her day.

I don't really have an answer for this because I think that everyone homeschools differently. And each homeschooling family is structured differently based on the needs of the family. That is the glorious thing about homeschooling: YOU get to decided how and when and what you are going to learn.

I do think that each family goes through a period of adjustment when they first start homeschooling. It takes a little trial-and-error to figure out the best routine. And I think that it changes over the year.

The biggest thing I learned when I first started was that timing is everything. A "lesson" should really only last 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the child. I was pushing my child too hard the summer before I started. Sitting her at a table with "fun" workbooks and expecting her to complete 5 pages. Pftht! ¡Que locura!

After my curriculum arrived and I began officially teaching Kindergarten, I quickly learned the value of time and to keep things moving. We completed our daily lessons within two and a half hours. I think preschool will go by even quicker.  

But don't get me wrong. There is no cut-off time for any given subject. If you find that your preschooler is really fascinated with sorting her connecting blocks into different colors, and she wants to do it for 45 minutes - let her! On the other hand, if your son refuses to count his 123's, then it's time to move on. Chihuahua, some days just aren't good for math. :)

All that said, I understand that a person has to start somewhere in order to get anywhere. So I have created a set of bilingual preschool planning sheets, to help you get started. These sheets are not complete, as I have no idea how or what you plan to teach your child. But the point is to help you get organized and put your plans down on paper. Sit down Sunday night and plan your week. But remember to stay flexible and don't expect to accomplish everything you plan for the week.

There are two sheets for each set: One in English and one in Spanish. Each sheet has extra room at the bottom for you to write in additional subjects (social studies, bible study, music, etc.) IF YOU WISH. Please don't feel like you have to fill it all in.

They are completely black and white to save your color ink cartridges. Just print, hole-punch, and keep in a binder.

If you download a copy, please let me know what you think of it. If you have a suggestion on ways to improve it for everyone, or if you see a mistake, drop me a message.




And here are a couple of articles I wrote last year to help you with homeschooling:

How to Start Homeschooling
How to Organize and Keep Track of Your Child’s Lessons
• Six Qualities That Help You to Be a Successful Homeschooler



Un abrazo...

More on Homeschooling Your Preschooler

photo by mmolinari
This is quickly turning into Preschool Week here on MommyMaestra.

I just want to discuss a few more things in answer to more questions I received. I am really excited that so many of you are considering preschooling your kids at home.



Why Preschool?

You might be wondering what the big deal is, and why preschool is so important. As I mentioned in this article, the main reason for preschool is to prepare your child for Kindergarten. Children who are preschooled have "better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills," according to W. Steven Barnett, PhD, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research.

If you are planning to enroll your child in a public/private school for Kindergarten, or a dual immersion program, then preschool also helps children develop their social skills. This can be harder to do with homeschooled children, unless you are teaching more than one child, or your child is involved in additional classes or activities outside the home. If you are planning to send your preschooler to a classroom setting for Kindergarten, then work on things like raising your hand to ask or answer a question, taking turns, and talking in front of others (show-and-tell). 

Perhaps if you know other moms in the area, you can create a weekly or bi-weekly get together where the kids work on a craft or other activity together to learn some of the "social graces." This will also help them begin to learn to share the teacher's attention, wait patiently, and not interrupting when others are speaking.

Sometimes homeschooled kids can be very self-centered (sorry!), so it is important for parents to carefully navigate their role as educator so that they are there to help their children when they need it, but also encourage them towards self-sufficiency and to think of others.

Preschool also provides the child with structure. Up to this point, many children may not adhere to a specific schedule - with the possible exception of a sleep routine. When you become a parent for the first time, all the experts are shouting "Get them on a schedule!!" Easier said than done, no?

Preschool is your opportunity to finally establish a set routine with your child, if you haven't already. Lots of homeschool experts will tell you that children learn better when they are on a schedule. There are no surprises (or very few) and a child knows what to expect, what is expected of him or her, and in turn develops a greater sense of security.


This is also a great time for your child to begin to learn responsibility. I like to emphasize that now they are crossing the line and becoming a "big" kid. Big kids get jobs. They have to put away toys, get dressed, brush their teeth, comb/brush their hair. Sometimes they can help set the table, and maybe help prepare snacks or meals. They can feed a pet, water plants, or wash some windows.

This is such a fabulous time for all of you. As parents, we have the bittersweet experience of planting the seeds of responsibility and self-reliance. Our children have the wonderful opportunity to nurture their sense of curiosity and explore their world.

Con mucho cariño...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Q & A: Should I Homeschool My Preschooler In Spanish, English, or Both?

Photo by epSos.de         (I just love this little kid in the front!!)

This weekend, I received the following question from a reader:

Hi Mommy Maestra! Thank you for your recent entry about whether a preschool curriculum is necessary. I have a 2 1/2 year old son and a daughter that just turned 4. I am planning on homeschooling their preschool year and maybe longer. I'm hoping they get into a Spanish dual immersion program in Kindergarten. My goal is for them to become bilingual. At this point, we have only spoken to them in Spanish and I'm not sure if I should be introducing them to English...especially while teaching them. Do I just handle Spanish or both? Any feedback from you would be appreciated!

Thank you,
Blanca Pedroza


Dear Blanca,

Thank you for your email. A dual immersion program would be wonderful! How I wish I had that option!!

I am super excited for you, as I know you are about to begin a really fun time in your children's lives. As far as whether or not to introduce English, I don't think it hurts anything, but continuing in Spanish would be better. The reality is that they are not going to have trouble learning English if they go to school in this country. By third grade they will probably be fluent in English, too.

Many people fear that by teaching both languages they will loose their Spanish, but as long as the emphasis is placed on the mother language, your child can distinguish the difference and figure it out. However, having a firm grounding in your mother language allows you to transfer those skills towards learning a second language. I was raised with both languages at once. But unfortunately, I never received any formal training in writing Spanish, and to this day I am nervous and uncomfortable doing so. I can make myself understood, but my grammar is atrocious!

If you were planning to homeschool, I would suggest that you wait until Kindergarten to begin teaching English. If you are planning to send them to a dual immersion school, I personally, think you should wait and continue with Spanish. Give them a firm grounding so that by the end of preschool, they are able to recognize the alphabet and numbers, etc, in Spanish. This will be an advantage and allow them to transfer these decoding skill when the school begins teaching them English.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of preschool lesson plans available in Spanish. Try using some of the ones I mentioned in my previous article on preschool curricula. The great thing, though, is that at the preschool level, kids cannot read yet, so most of what they are learning centers around basic concepts such as letter and number recognition, shapes and colors, etc.

You can easily use English resources (and there are many!), but teach them in Spanish to your child.

These are just my humble opinions. I am not an expert in any way, but I am happy to share with you my thoughts as I know that as Latina moms we need support and advice from time to time with regards to our children's education.

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask. If I don't know the answer, I can find someone who does. I hope this helps, Blanca!

Un abrazo,
~Monica


Are there any readers experienced in teaching preschool in Spanish? Won't you share your suggestions, thoughts, and/or resources with Blanca?

UPDATE: There's really no right or wrong here. They key is to be an actively involved parent. For those of you wanting to homeschool in English, take a look at my friend, Roxana's encouraging article about her Spanish-speaking daughter's first year in an English-only school.

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Week's Target Finds

Yesterday I went through our homeschooling and art cabinets trying desperately to create some order in our lives and prepare for the beginning of school. I've assigned each child their own shelf, which will contain their art bins, pencil boxes, their dry-erase boards, and a few workbooks.

Have I mentioned that this is my favorite time of year to go through the dollar section at Target? It is a teacher's paradise! I keep finding super deals that I can use in school. Take a look at my Target finds from Monday:



I was super happy with the alphabet bingo. I prefer to use hands-on activities because they learn so much faster that way. They also have math bingo and time bingo.

And aren't the mini dry-erasers adorable? I'm planning to give each of my children one dry erase board and eraser as part of their "first day of school" gifts.

The notebooks were actually only $.40 - can you believe it?!? I've decided I didn't buy enough of them. So I'm going back to get an armful soon. I can never have too many notebooks!!

Con mucho cariño...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Vacation Is Half Over!!

I woke up the other day and suddenly realized that summer is half over for us. I broke out into a cold sweat when I realized that the first day of school is only about a month away. This is my first year to teach both kids at home. I've had it easy the last two because my son was attending a private preschool in the mornings three days a week. So I'm a little nervous.

But I've got a plan. I'm going to combine a few of the subjects and teach them History, Geography, Spanish, Music, Art, and Science jointly. They will have separate Reading and Math lessons, and my daughter will also have Spelling and Grammar.

Although I have pretty much settled on the curricula I plan to use, I haven't finished purchasing all of them! Naturally, this adds to my stress level.

Plus, I am planning to incorporate some new practices, including a variation of this calendar board. (I'm working out my own bilingual materials.)

And I am toying with the idea of using the workbox system, but modifying it to fit our needs. I love how organized it is, but our lessons are very interactive and I have to be there to help direct sometimes, so I wouldn't set it up quite the same way.

I have tentatively scheduled August 29th as our first day back to school.

Eeek!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Good Librarian Is a Valuable Asset

photo by Mosman Library
I have a love/hate relationship with summer. I love the lack of a schedule. And I hate the lack of a schedule. I feel like we are all over the place. But I love the freedom to do whatever we feel like.

I am super grateful, though, to our local library and their summer reading program. Once a week we meet there and the kids go off to learn about one of the continents. They've already done Australia, Asia, and Europe. I'm not sure what is on the agenda for this week, but I guarantee it will be fun thanks to our super wonderful librarian.

Good librarians are a blessing. Really. We had one a few years ago, who cut the story time. She was not on my "happy" list. (Okay, maybe I'm just bitter because she yelled at me once when I forgot to turn off my cell.) We did not use our library much at all during that time. But after about a year and a half or so, she quit to go back to college and study Forensic Science or something like that.

And then God was good and sent us Brenda. (Insert los angelitos singing.)

Brenda is a former teacher. And she immediately reached out to the homeschool community here in town wanting to know what books we needed and how she can better serve us. She started up the story time again, and throws wonderful birthday parties for Dr. Seuss. Oh, and she allows us to have our 4-H club meetings there. We love her.

This summer her reading program is all about geography. Each child has drawn a different country and will have to give a short presentation at the end of the month. She was told participation in the summer reading program would be small. (I think she mostly expected our little homeschool group of about 15 kids to be the only ones involved.) But the first day, I had to drop my bags and quickly help sort folders and "passports" and all that kind of good stuff. She had 50+ kids sign up. And she loves them all.

Does your library offer any children's programs? Do they work with homeschoolers? Why or why not? Can you offer to volunteer for story time? Or maybe offer to come in once a month for bilingual story hour?

Does your library have a good librarian? If so, take time to tell her "thank you!" She - or he! - can be such a valuable addition to your child's academic life.

Con mucho cariño...

Link Love: MAMIVERSE.com


Yesterday, a new digital magazine officially launched. MAMIVERSE.com has been created for modern Latina moms who are looking for a way to connect with each other and stay updated on the latest health, fashion, and education trends. I am delighted to be a regular contributor to another site that is concerned about the future of nuestros niños.

I encourage each of you to take a quick peek at their "schoolMami" section, where they discuss some really great topics related to education. From facts about dyslexia to finding out if your child is ready for advanced placement classes, you'll find informative articles for parents who homeschool and those with children in public or private schools.

My favorite Crafty Chica, Kathy Cano-Murillo, has a few articles on ways to encourage your child's inner artista. You'll love her how-to for making gourmet glittered crayons. (I know what's on our list of things to do this week!) 

Personal finance expert, Carmen Wong Ulrich, shares some savvy tips for back-to-school shopping, and teacher, Monica Rohr, has some excellent suggestions for school year success.

Con mucho cariño...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Should You Purchase a Preschool Curriculum?

Last week, I had this question on the Mommy Maestra facebook page:


And because I had this question myself a few years ago, I want to share some of my own thoughts on this subject.

First off, I want to say that having young children at home is such a fun and exciting time. There is so much to do and learn and play! Some of you may wonder what the big deal about preschool is anyway. I mean, it's not mandatory. Why bother?

Here's a great article that came out last month about a long-term study on the importance of preschool and how it can have such a profound effect later in life. Who knew preschool could have such a long-lasting effect? Children who attend preschool and have involved parents are more likely to have a better self-esteem, higher IQs, and fewer behavioral problems. They have higher literacy rates, test scores, and graduation rates. They are also less likely to repeat a grade level, smoke, dropout, or experience teen pregnancy. 

The point of preschool is to prepare your child for Kindergarten. A good preschool works to develop a child's fine motor skills, emotional and social development, as well as their math and literacy skills. Learning through play is emphasized. A child in preschool will explore their environment (ie., the weather), be introduced to numbers, colors, and the alphabet. They will learn about and use their senses to observe the world around them.

Amber asked, "Which preschool curriculum should I use?" But the bigger question is: Do I need to buy a preschool curriculum?

Personally, I don't think you need one. There are so many resources online, that you could easily put together your own using downloads/printables, simple toys, and crafts or household items.

Instead, I would recommend two great books:

•  What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: Get Ready for Kindergarten (Core Knowledge Series) by Core Knowledge Foundation. This book (like the others, is beautifully illustrated and includes dozens of classic read-alouds. It has a section for literacy that includes poetry, rhymes, fables and other stories, as well as art, music, history, and science. I would use this as your spine, and supplement it with activities, books, and manipulatives. Unfortunately, this book is only available in English. However, they have translated into Spanish the books for K-3rd, which they have made available for FREE on their website. 

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition) by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. While this books is written for homeschoolers who plan to use the Classical method, it is an incredible resource for any educator. Bauer and Wise talk about preschool and basically say that you don't need to purchase a curriculum. One of the most important points is that you read to them. A lot. And I agree with this.

Since most children cannot read at the preschool level anyway, I would encourage you to simply use the English resources which are written for English-speaking educators anyway, and just talk to your child in Spanish while you are teaching. You can substitute Spanish children's literature for the English recommendations. And most of the activities a preschooler does are visual/tactile, so there's no problem there.

Take a look here for a list of homeschool curriculum standards for preschool through 12th grade.

Other great resources:


Consider buying (or downloading for free) some preschool packs which are filled with games and activities, usually centered around a particular theme. Some of my favorite sites are:

Homeschool Creation's Preschool Packs - I have really enjoyed printing some of these and am, in fact, planning to use some of them with my Kindergartner. Jolanthe also has some customizable preschool planning pages that you might find especially helpful.

1+1+1=1 - Carisa is a friend of Jolanthe's and has some equally adorable preschool packs, calendar printables, color by # alphabet pages (sorry, English only!), Montessori printables, and so much more.

Confessions of a Homeschooler - I really enjoy Erica's blog. She has a lot of very creative ideas, activities, printables, and more. Take a look at her Letter of the Week and Math Skills sheets.


BILINGUAL:

• By far one of the best bilingual sites for pre-K and kindergarten is KinderLatino where you will find tons of free printables in English and Spanish for your little ones.

• I really like DJ Inkers' bilingual alphabet and number booklets. 

Primera Escuela - Lots of free printables on this site.

Enchanted Learning also has tons of printables in Spanish (and English).

Preschool Prep Company has some really great DVDs available in Spanish and English. This link is for their Spanish ones.

Flapjack Lapbooks - This company has some awesome lapbooks available in English and Spanish. (I'll be reviewing them soon!)



Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Should You Get Your Teenagers Vaccinated?

This is a sponsored post.

Vaccines are not just for young children. I've already written about how homeschoolers are required to maintain their child's immunization record, now I want to take a moment to encourage those of you who are Latina moms and/or have older children, to talk to your doctor about vaccines for preteens and teenagers.

Do you have an 11 to 18 year old? If so, it may be time for a booster shot to update any childhood vaccines that may have weakened. In addition, as kids get older, they are more at risk for catching certain diseases, like meningococcal meningitis, so they need the protection that specific vaccines provide. Remember that vaccines are designed to work WITH a body's healthy immune system to protect it from certain diseases. The bodies of most older children and adults can use vaccines effectively.

But the most important thing I want to do in this post, is encourage you to get your children the HPV vaccine. The rate of cervical cancer is two- to three-times higher among Latinas.  The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. It also protects against HPV types that cause most genital warts, as well as the HPV types that cause anal cancer. So both boys AND girls should receive this vaccine around the ages of 11 and 12.

To learn more about vaccinations for preteens and teens, take a look at this article from the CDC.

We can't always protect our niños from the dangers in this world. But this is one area where we as parents have the power to keep our children safe.

Con mucho cariño...

Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this post. However, I am very passionate about the health of our children and all opinions expressed in this article are completely my own.

Yes, Homeschoolers Do Need to Vaccinate Their Children


If you are planning to homeschool your children, or if you have just finished your first year, it is important to know that most states (if not all!) require you to maintain your child's vaccination schedule the same as public schools.

The topic of vaccinations is a really sticky one. People are very passionate on all sides about it. Some vehemently oppose giving their children vaccinations, while others insist on them.

I won't tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do. But here's what I think and what I have done with my children. I don't object to vaccinations. I think they have saved thousands of lives. But I do object to the age at which we vaccinate many of our children. A child's immune system is at a critical stage at the time of birth, and through the first few years of life. They rely heavily on the immunity they receive from their mother's milk to protect them. But many children these days - for whatever reason - are not breastfed. Vaccines are designed to work with your body's immune system to protect it from various diseases. They can't do this if your child's immune system is compromised or still not fully developed enough to handle the drug.

My kids were breastfed for a little more than their first year of life. And I chose to immunize them on an alternate vaccination schedule. While they have received their vaccinations, we chose to delay the timing in which they received them. This worked best for our family because my children still received the medical benefits of vaccinations, and I as a parent received the peace of mind knowing that their little immune systems were functioning properly so that the vaccinations could be most effective.

UPDATE: After a comment on the MM FB page, I did more digging and found that every state except Mississippi and West Virginia offer exemptions. You can read more about it in this HSLDA article.
If you are a parent, you should do your research and make an informed decision. Do what you think is right. Remember that no one cares more for your child than you do.

Con mucho cariño...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Best Latino Children's Literature to Read with Your Child

Last week, Parenting.com shared their list of the best books to read with your child. While they had a lot of great titles on there, I was pretty disappointed over the fact that they did not include any Latino children's literature...and, no, Skippyjon Jones does NOT count.

When I shared this on Facebook, some of you asked for a list to supplement Parenting's article. So here, mis amigas, is a short list of some of my favorite bilingual or bicultural books that I would have included in that article had I been the one to write it.

Enjoy!


(English and Spanish Edition)
by Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy

The most comprehensive collection of nursery rhymes, lullabies, riddles, proverbs, folklore, and even villancicos that is available in the U.S.



by José-Luis Orozco

A fantastic collection of Latin American finger rhymes and songs, this book is filled with vibrant illustrations as well as music notations.



 
Under the Lemon Moon
by Edith Hope Fine

The moving story of a young girl who awakens one night to find an intruder stealing the lemons from her lemon tree. During her quest to find the theif, she learns a powerful lesson of compassion and forgiveness.



by Jerry Tello

The hilarious story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears...with a Latin twist!


(Pura Belpre Medal Book Illustrator)
by Pat Mora

Doña Flor is a giant lady who lives in a tiny village in the American Southwest. Beautifully written and illustrated.



(Dual Language Edition)
by Lucia M. Gonzalez, Lulu Delacre

The classic Cuban folktale of a bossy rooster on his way to his uncle's wedding.







Monday, July 11, 2011

Bargain Finds at Target


Have I mentioned that I love the Target dollar section this time of year? I picked up the above items for roughly a dollar each, with the exception of the glues, which cost .20 cents each. The best finds for me, were the dry-erase writing boards. They are, in my opinion, an essential product for homeschooling families of K-3rd because you will use them daily. They also allow you to save on money and cut down on the amount of paper you use.

Most of the other items are for an idea that a friend of mine gave me a couple of years ago. During the school year, I keep a "School Shop." It is my reward center. During the week, my kids can earn school "money." They can then use it to "buy" things out of the shop. I try to keep the products educational or school related in some way - NO candy. But things like erasers, pencils, notepads, mini-clipboards, puzzles, stamps, books, crayons, mini-markers, etc., are in high demand. So I keep my eyes open throughout the year when I visit Target, Michaels, or other stores.

This not only rewards the kids for hard work, but it also teaches them about couting money, how prices work, and saving.

How do you reward your children?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Frida Kahlo Lesson Plans, Activities, Coloring Sheets and More

"I am not sick. I am broken.
But I am happy as long as I can paint."
~Frida Kahlo


In honor of Frida's birthday (July 6th!), I thought it wise to put together an education page. Frida is actually a difficult character to study - especially for young children. Her life was filled with so much pain and suffering - and quite a bit of other adult subject matter - that I strongly recommend that parents review ALL lesson plans ahead of time for appropriateness. I have, however, found a couple of great coloring pages for children, as well as lots of books. Also, please check out my Pinterest board on Frida Kahlo for Kids which has some incredibly beautiful finds.


Lesson Plans

Jimmie's Collage again, is my go-to place on the topic of artists. She has a great Artist Study on Frida, and even includes notebooking pages.

PBS has made a Teacher's Guide and Parent's Guide available based on the Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. 10th -12th grade.

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.

Coloring Pages

HubPages has a version of one of my favorite Kahlo self-portraits (the one with the monkeys!) that I think your child would enjoy.

SuperColoring has Frida's Roots page available as a coloring page.


Books

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas, 24 Activities (For Kids series) by Carol Sabbeth

Frida Kahlo: The Artist who Painted Herself (Smart About Art) by Margaret Frith and Tomie dePaola

Frida (English Language Edition) by Jonah Winter and Ana Juan

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky and David Diaz

Frida Kahlo (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia


Arts & Crafts

Eclectic Chica has two great posts on art activities centered around Frida. See her two posts: Part A and Part B.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas, 24 Activities (For Kids series) by Carol Sabbeth (see link above in "Books")

 Take a look at these Frida Kahlo paper dolls on Amazon.

• I really love this magnetic dress up set, Frida's Frocks and Smocks Dress Up Set, on the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild. They also sell this wonderful little set of Artist Finger Puppets, which includes Monet, Dali, Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo.


Videos & Apps

• You may also enjoy sharing this great video that morphs the self-portraits of Frida together.

• Check out the app Frida's World, now available on iTunes.

Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spanish Resources for First - Third Grade

A few weeks ago, an anonymous reader wrote in and generously shared the following resources with me. These are all Spanish resources for various grade levels that she has used with her own kids. This collection is the result, I can tell you, of a LOT of time, energy, and research. I am so happy to be able to share them with all of you. So bookmark this page and enjoy!


A great resource for 3rd graders from the Secretary of Education from Nuevo Leon, Mexico. It is a 14 page review of reading comprehension and math. I think there are also editions for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/36578/Cuaderno-de-Practicas-Escolares-de-Tercer-Grado


Reading comprehension for 2nd-3rd grade:

http://www.reglasdeortografia.com/testcomprension1ciclo02.html

http://www.aplicaciones.info/lectura/lecpeq35.htm

http://www.lacasainfantil.com/materiales-y-recursos/por-que-las-abejas-producen-miel-actividad-para-ninos


Reading comprehension for 1st grade

http://www.aplicaciones.info/lectura/lecpei09.htm

http://www.aplicaciones.info/lectura/lecpei03.htm

http://www.aplicaciones.info/lectura/lecpei01.htm

http://www.aplicaciones.info/lectura/lecpei04.htm

http://www.lacasainfantil.com/materiales-y-recursos/fichas-de-lectura-para-ninos

https://picasaweb.google.com/GUASIGUASIN1/RECURSOSLITERARIOSPOEMAS#5355772907729282706


Great writing, thinking, describing exercises that are in really easy to print out pdfs for 1st-2nd grade:

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/primer/f93.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/primer/f90.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/primer/f94.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/segundo/s35.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/segundo/s53.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/segundo/s75.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/primer/f50.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/primer/f88.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/primer/f87.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/vinculo/pdf/primer/f89.pdf

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_TJ8od57mycs/TS9q3CdF25I/AAAAAAAACEA/NAQhl5GSWXM/control%20de%20lengua_Página_34.jpg?imgmax=640

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_TJ8od57mycs/TS9q3CdF25I/AAAAAAAACEA/NAQhl5GSWXM/control%20de%20lengua_P%C3%A1gina_34.jpg?imgmax=640

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_C6z3kpb4SwQ/SrgLvSBxC8I/AAAAAAAAL2c/Oa2PLMNnxk4/animales1.JPG?imgmax=640

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_LckiCfSXCNY/SdLAgxGdN9I/AAAAAAAAFSM/6Rmr2tJdCvw/varios.jpg?imgmax=640

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_TJ8od57mycs/TS9qpiCvfAI/AAAAAAAACDM/FbL3dBgJILg/control%20de%20lengua_Página_20.jpg?imgmax=640

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_TJ8od57mycs/TS9qpiCvfAI/AAAAAAAACDM/FbL3dBgJILg/control%20de%20lengua_P%C3%A1gina_20.jpg?imgmax=640

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_C6z3kpb4SwQ/SrgLuw6_HcI/AAAAAAAAL2M/zFb8diLBmjo/alimentos.JPG?imgmax=640


Many color full page pictures of animals with accompanying description. Great for color printout 3rd grade:

https://picasaweb.google.com/GUASIGUASIN1/LIBRODELOSANIMALES#


Math addition exercise with accompanying picture to color in for 1st-2nd grade:

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_7EtdcXu0XMg/TOJIJugmM7I/AAAAAAAAGqY/M_Omx0CV7Ss/010401%20Sumas%20sin%20llevar%203%20d%C3%ADgitos%20colorear.jpg?imgmax=640

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_7EtdcXu0XMg/TOJHsJUjSNI/AAAAAAAAGpU/JtgQ25PkH0Q/010102%20Sumas%20sin%20llevar%201%20d%C3%ADgito%20Oculto%20H.jpg?imgmax=640


Con mucho cariño...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bilingual Resources for Kindergarten

Last month, I received this question on the blog:


Many of you may be wondering the same thing. So since this is a great time to be talking about the different curricula out there, here are some resources for you...


First of all, if you are new to the site, please take a look at some of my archived articles. If you are thinking about Kindergarten and what to teach, you'll want to read the following:


Homeschooling Your Kindergartener, Part One - This article discusses how to structure your lessons.

Homeschooling Your Kindergartener, Part Two - Discusses timing and the bilingual aspect of homeschooling.
 
Homeschooling Your Kindergartener, Part Three - Discuss what exactly to teach in Kindergarten.

 
If you read these, then you should have a good idea about what your kids should be learning in Kindergarten. Your curriculum should be rich in manipulatives and literature. Now you can do one of two things: find resources/lesson plans to teach the various subjects, or buy a complete curriculum.
 
There are a ton of complete curricula out there in English. I began with Calvert and loved it. The whole thing really helped me learn how to structure our class time. Buying a complete curriculum is usually pretty pricey. But many will allow you to set up monthly payments.
 
A few other English curricula that I thought were interesting include:
 
Oak Meadow - I haven't used this myself, but I have read a lot of very positive reviews and have never read anything negative about them. You can download a sample lesson on their site. It doesn't say it on their site, but I think that I remember reading somewhere that they take more of a Waldorf approach.
 
North American Montessori Center (NAMC) - A complete Montessori homeschool curriculum.
 
Simply Charlotte Mason - Everything you need to know about the Charlotte Mason method. The site includes free ebooks, guides, and worksheets.
 
Ambelside Online - A free online curriculum dedicated to the Charlotte Mason method. Lots of people talk highly of this program.
 
 
Spanish curricula:
 
Santillana USA - The world's largest distributor of education materials in Spanish. They now have a US site, so you don't have to place an international order.
 
Rod & Staff - A Christian-based curriculum. Lots of people have mentioned using this program, but when I called to ask questions about it, the person at the other end of the line spoke only English and didn't really know anything about it. Ummm...
 
Educazion - Offers a completely Spanish curriculum.
 
 
Spanish resources: (Note- if you go this route, please, please consider buying one of the Core Knowledge series books so that you know what you should be covering throughout the year.)
 
Hampton-Brown - Has a great selection of Spanish language products, specifically literature.
 
Paso Partners - Science curricula for K - 3rd. In English or Spanish.
 
Yellow Umbrella - Math workbooks in Spanish.

Primera Escuela - Has lots of great worksheets in Spanish for kids. Especially Spanish alphabet printable worksheets and mini-books.

Enchanted Learning has a lot of Spanish worksheets, too.
 
Lectura Para Niños - Learning to read in Spanish. You can download some samples of their Kindergarten worksheets by clicking on the link in the MommyMaestra sidebar.

• Lastly, take a look at this page for resources on learning to read in Spanish.

Con mucho cariño...

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