Friday, November 30, 2012

Cyberchase 3D Builder App


I'm finishing off this week of Apps for Gifts series with one for older children. Cyberchase 3D Builder from PBS KIDS is designed to help kids understand how 3-dimensional geometric shapes are made from simple 2-dimensional ones.


Name: Cyberchase 3D Builder 
Subject(s): math (engineering)
Brief Description: A 3D puzzle game that introduces players to geometry concepts.
Price: $1.99
Ages: 6-9

What my kids like:

There is a short animated video at the beginning of the game that establishes the story line and explains why they are putting together these 3-dimensional shapes. My son enjoyed watching the clip, but even more, he loves the interactive component of the game. He has to rebuild the houses in Botopolis, which were accidentally flattened by the bumbling bots Buzz and Delete who pushed their spaceship's zapper button by mistake.

There are eight levels (neighborhoods), each one more difficult than the last. To rebuild the houses, in each neighborhood, my kids have to use their fingers to fold the 2D shapes into 3D structures. It is sort of like origami, but on a virtual level. Each level provides a picture that looks like the building you are trying to construct. As the levels get harder, though, you are given more choices including stacking, turning, and even choosing which shapes to use.




What I like:

There is a lot of conceptual thinking required for this game. I played it myself and was so engrossed trying to visualize how which shapes would fit the models once they were assembled. Level 7 and 8 were hard! Not unreasonably so, but enought to challenge young (or old!) minds.


I also love the number of challenges. By the end of the game, over 70 flat 2D shapes transform into 40 3D structures. And I like how it is paced. You cannot go on to the next level until you have successfully completed the one before it.



Enjoy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lee Paso a Paso Spanish Reading App

app_read_in_Spanish

Update: For my complete list of apps to teach kids how to read in Spanish, click here.

Today's app was recommended by a reader. Lee Paso a Paso is available in a free Lite version, or a more comprehensive version available for purchase here. I would recommend you download the free version and see if you like it, first.

I don't have any experience with it, but I wanted to share it with those of you looking for Spanish educational apps. You made it pretty clear on FB that you want Spanish apps that are interactive and require thinking on your child's part. So I thought the best way to do this feature was to share the developer's explanation of the app and let you be the judge.

Name: Lee Paso a Paso
Subject(s): Spanish, Reading
Brief Description: A phonics-based app to teach Spanish reading skills using a step-by-step methodology.
Price: FREE for the Lite version, $1.99 for the complete version
Ages: 4 and up?


Product Description:
Go step-by-step by learning the sounds of vowels, and identifying syllables and their sounds to form words. With the use of images, letters. and words children build skills to read on their own.

*** Great for kids who speak Spanish as a first language and are just starting to read
*** Great for kids and adults who are learning Spanish as a second language, helps them with vocabulary, identifying sounds of letters and words.
***Learn skills with games to achieve prizes. Use syllables to form words. Match words to pictures. Complete words with missing syllables.

With Full Version obtain….More than 130 images and more than 200 words and more to come…
Currently 15 letters and 60 syllables covered, more to come in future updates.

Choose different levels of difficulty-
Level 1 … Step by step… Learn step by step one letter at a time; earn prizes as you advance thru the games.
Level 2 … Practice…. Choose which letter to practice, have a greater range of words and images to practice with.
Level 3 … Expert … Choose which game to practice, all the letters and images are presented in the game in no specific order.

You can also watch an introductory video in English or Spanish.


Apps that teach Spanish literacy

reading in Spanish


Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures: LIONS {GIVEAWAY}



This month, Ranger Rick turns 50 years old. So to celebrate this beloved character in my home, the next application in our Apps for Gifts series comes from the National Wildlife Federation. Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures: LIONS is the first in a new series of apps highlighting different animals.


Name: Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures: LIONS
Subject(s): science, reading
Brief Description: An interactive storybook introducing children to the natural history of lions.
Price: $4.99
Ages: 4-7


What my kids like:

There is so much to do! This multimedia storybook features not only animated characters, but includes slideshows, audio shorts, and video, too. The book consists of three different categories: PLAY, EXPLORE, and CREATE. The PLAY section has five different games - Jigsaw Puzzles, What's wrong with the picture?, Photo Safari, Hide & Seek, and Match the Sounds. My favorite of the five is the Match the Sounds game. As a former zookeeper, you know I was shouting out the answers to the ones I thought I knew, much to my children's dismay. (Oops!) My kids loved all of the games, but maybe the Photo Safari was especially fun for them as they have to search for the lions by moving the iPad all around and then snap their picture.

The EXPLORE category takes your child on a tour through the grasslands of Africa where they learn various facts about the habitat and the animals within it. Along the way, they can stop and watch videos, flip through slideshows, and play some of the games from the PLAY section.

The CREATE option contains four different activities including a sticker board, animal piano, animal builder, and trail tales. These are ALL super fun. The Animal Piano displays a small keyboard and when you push a key, the lion above roars (he has a different pitch for each key). The Sticker Board allows you to design your own grassland picture using stickers of various animals found in that habitat. Trail Tales is sort of a Mad Libs type of activity where your kids choose words from a list and then the words are plugged into a short story that they can then read. But maybe the funnest and silliest activity which has kept my kids enthralled is the Animal Builder activity. Here they get to "build" their own strange animal by selecting various body parts from a menu.


What I  like:
A lot of thought and work has gone into this app. There's a lot of learning happening through fun, interactive play. I especially love the mix of animation, video, and audio technology. There is a lot of attention to detail, and the subject matter is certainly captivating.

The familiar character, Ranger Rick, is one of the narrators and guides, helping my kids to navigate the app through helpful prompts and comments. Lars the Lion is the other narrator and guide. He's a lovable male lion that teaches children about lions in general with his easy-going attitude and knowledgeable commentary.

This app is totally worth the price. I've seen more expensive apps that don't have near the amount of detail and options as what this app offers.

I would absolutely purchase this app as a holiday gift for my kids and I can't wait for the next one to launch. You can download Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures: LIONS here.

Other Notes:This app is not available in Spanish. If you'd like to see the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) offer this app in Spanish, let them know in a comment at the end of this post.

THE GIVEAWAY

NWF has offered to giveaway a free download of this app to one MommyMaestra reader.
To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Wednesday, December 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! (If I have no way to contact you, I'll have to choose someone else!)

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1) Follow Ranger Rick Magazine (@RangerRickMag) on Twitter.


2) Follow the RangerRick FB page.

3)
Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win a free download of the new app Ranger Rick Appventures:LIONS from @LatinMami & @RangerRickMag http://bit.ly/Stt7aD #giveaway

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

By entering this giveaway, you agree to
the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited. This giveaway is available to readers outside the United States.

¡Buena suerte!


Disclosure: NWF sent me a free download of this app to review.

This giveaway is now closed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Los Pollitos Bilingual App


Continuing with our Apps for Gifts series, today's featured app is Los Pollitos. It is created by Cantos, a new developer focusing on introducing music, Latin American culture, and the South American rain forests to children up to 5 years old.


Name: Los Pollitos
Subject(s): music, culture
Brief Description: An interactive story introducing children to the Los Pollitos song in both English and Spanish.
Price: FREE
Ages: 1-4


What my kids like:

The interactive aspect. For example, at the beginning of the story, they have to help the chicks hatch by tapping the screen to crack the eggs. Then they have to tap on the hen to make her feed the chicks. There are other elements on the screen they can interact with, and at any time, they can tap on the chicks to make them say "Pío" - and they do so in different tones.

They also love the subject matter (because anything with animals is great in their eyes), and the trip back to when they were younger and I would sing this to them.

What I like:

I love that we have the option of changing the song to be in English or Spanish or even whistling, as well as the option of having it sung by an adult or by a child. Oh, and it includes
celebrity guest singer Julio Briceño from Los Amigos Invisibles in his first foray into children's music.
And who can resist sharing this beloved song that is sung by mothers throughout Latin America? What a great opportunity for those of us who may have forgotten its existence in our childhood. I also love the graphics and the sweet ending to the story.

But for me the best part is that the app is FREE, so anyone can download it right now!





Enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rounds: Franklin Frog App {GIVEAWAY}


Today on MommyMaestra, I'm launching a new holiday series called Apps for Gifts that focuses on educational apps to give young children. As more and more families become tech savvy, parents are searching for educational apps to offer their children. So I'm delighted to dedicate this week to apps for iPad or iPhone that are perfect for gift giving. The apps have been tested by my children and come highly recommended.

Let's begin with a new app by Nosy Crow. Rounds:Franklin Frog is their first in a new series of multimedia, interactive life-science/non-fiction apps based on circular characters whose real life stories start where they end. It follows the life cycle of a frog through three generations.


Name: Rounds: Frankling Frog
Subject(s): Science, Reading
Brief Description: An interactive life-science, non fiction app following the life cycle of a frog.
Price: $4.99
Ages: 3-6



What my kids like:

My kids are miniature scientists and love anything related to nature and animals. They are little frog lovers, so they really like the subject matter.


Both of them love the graphics, which are simply darling. You can see for yourself in the images below.

They also like the interactive aspect of this app. To learn more, or make the frogs move/speak, they have to tap or swipe the screen.




What I like:

I love that the app has text tracking, the words to the story appear on the screen and if your child is a beginning reader and chooses the option of a narrator, the words on the screen light up as each one is read aloud.


I also love the calm, soothing background music. It makes this app a perfect way to transition excited kids into calmer, more relaxed frame of mind. I think it would probably be a nice app to play together (grand/parent and child), allowing for further discussion about the elements of the frog's life cycle, habitat, and behaviors.

This app does a great job of describing not only the life cycle, but also the habits and adaptations, predators and prey, and even the seasons making it a valuable teaching tool for children in Pre-K through 3rd grade.

Other notes:

The narrator is a young child with a British? accent. This doesn't bother me, in fact, I really appreciate it because it helps to tune my children's ear to different types of accents. I like the diversity.

This app is not available in Spanish. But I bet if they get enough positive feedback on this subject, maybe that could change? I know that a LOT of you teachers and parents raising bilingual children would love it even more if it was available in Spanish. ;)

THE GIVEAWAY

Nosy Crow has offered to giveaway a free download of this app to one MommyMaestra reader.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, December 3rd. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If I have no way to contact you, I'll have to choose someone else!)

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1) Follow Nosy Crow (@NosyCrowApps) on Twitter.


2) Follow the NosyCrow FB page.

3)
Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win a free download of the new science app Rounds: Franklin Frog from @LatinMami & @nosycrow http://bit.ly/TcFIgM #giveaway

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

By entering this giveaway, you agree to
the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited. This giveaway is available to readers outside the United States.

¡Buena suerte!


Disclosure: Nosy Crow sent me a free download of this app to review.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Be a Part of Giving Tuesday



Do you know about Giving Tuesday? It's not a new idea, but this year it is blossoming into a national movement. Taking place on November 27th, Giving Tuesday is a call to action that urges everyone to demonstrate generosity and compassion by contributing to their local charities as a way to improve their community.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I as a parent can help teach my children to be kind, appreciative, compassionate, and giving. How do I develop their ability to see others who are less fortunate and to feel moved to help if they are able? I want so much to instill in them a strong sense of social responsibility, so that they can grow up to be contributing members of our society.

Giving to others is a valuable lesson. It helps us to stop focusing on ourselves for the moment, and to think about someone else instead. I really think that in giving, we become happier. We begin to see how blessed our lives really are, when we see the struggles and challenges that other people often face. Frequently, it makes our own difficulties seem smaller and less serious.

More than anything, I want my children to grow up happy, healthy, and ready to work hard to leave this world a better place.

So this is why I'm thinking hard about Giving Tuesday, and how we as a family can contribute. I see so many options available. Here are just a few:

- Donate items like blankets, socks, or boxes of tissue to our local nursing home,

- Collect canned goods for our local food pantry,

- Giving our local library some of the many books we own and no longer read,

- Buy craft/activity kits to donate to our local nursing home,

- Gather items (shoes, coats, blankets, etc.) to give to our local Mission store,

- Buy, donate, and plant bulbs at our local park.

It is simply a matter of choosing where we want to focus.

But the reality is that Giving Tuesday is so much more than just a one-time event. It is a mindset that should stay with us all year long. How can we make our community a better place? What can we do to improve it for others?


After all of the emphasis placed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is - in my opinion anyway - a better way to help us remember that the important thing in life is not material wealth, but rather the spirit of love, generosity, and compassion.


With this in mind, our local homeschool group got together last week and made Thanksgiving cards for the elderly living at the nursing home here in town. We then delivered them on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. This event touched my 8-year-old daughter. Though she was scared of some of the residents, she bravely entered the rooms with me or the other children, to wish the elderly a happy Thanksgiving and give them a card. Before we left, she asked me if we could do this again soon. I wish all children could experience moments like these and learn to see others with compassionate eyes.

I hope that this weekend you will think about how your family can participate in Giving Tuesday's movement...AND keep it going throughout the year.


For more ideas on how your family can participate, follow #GivingTuesday on Facebook and Twitter. Or simply visit their website.


Un abrazo....

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Break Specials: Camotes al chipotle



Today's culturally-inspired Thanksgiving Day recipe comes from mi amiga, Maura, over at The Other Side of the Tortilla. Her mouth-watering blog will steal your heart because in addition to out of this world recipes and photos, she also frequently shares fascinating snippets of Mexican history and culture.

I made her Camotes al chipotle recipe last year several times and it was a big hit. Though, I admit that because my kids are not too big on chipotle, I simply left that one ingredient out. Don't be afraid to modify any of the recipes you see me - or anyone online, for that matter - sharing with you. Making them your own, creates your personal family dish. You know. The one your children will remember when they are 82.

Thanks to Maura for allowing me to share her remarkable and beautiful video with you.

Enjoy!





This post is part of a series of Thanksgiving Day recipes with a cultural twist shared each year during Thanksgiving week here on MommyMaestra. To view other delicious recipes, follow our Thanksgiving Break Specials.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Break Specials: Pumpkin Spice Flan

Last year, I dedicated the week of Thanksgiving to incredible recipes of traditional meals or ingredients reserved for this holiday....but with a cultural twist. So if you are looking for a few cultural Thanksgiving menu ideas, check out my series of Thanksgiving Break Specials, like this one...



Pumpkin Spice Flan
by Flanboyant Eats

Hello Fall. Here we are, another season that brings about lovely weather, colorful foliage and warm comfort food. In all it’s marvel, summer can wear us out. It’s nice to transition to a place of coziness.

For me, fall means endless cooking and working  with seasonal vegetables and ingredients to create aromatic and super delicioso meals and treats.

Of all those fall harvest fruits and vegetables, pumpkin somehow jumps out at me as my fave. I want to make a myriad of things with this squash veggie. Have you had pumpkin soup with a hint of ginger and brandy? You’d definitely be in for a delightful surprise. While savory meals keep the heart warm and the stomach satisfied, there is nothing like finishing up your evening with a luscious dessert.

When it comes to pumpkin, the only dessert that screams and begs to be made with the orange blossom is the famous Latin flan!


To view the complete recipe, please click here.

Thanksgiving Break Specials: Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting


This delicious recipe comes from our 12-year-old homeschooled contributor, Angelica.




Pecan pie is king at our home on Thanksgiving. My dad, momo (grandmother), aunts’, uncle and mom are obsessed with pecan pie. We make a few, buy a few, and the family is sure to show up at our door with a few. My mom’s in charge of Thanksgiving, she works her magic on the food and I’m given reins on the sweets.
 

So this year we’re mixing it up a bit, cause I’m in charge and this girl wants pumpkin bars. Pumpkin bars piled high with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of nutmeg. These bars are easy to make, can feed a crowd, and fit nicely snuggled between all those pecan pies!


Easy Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Bars
4 eggs
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
1-2/3 cups Sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

For the Bars
In a bowl, beat the eggs, pumpkin, oil, and sugar until well blended.
Combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Pour into an ungreased 15 x 10in baking pan.
Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.
Cool.

For the Frosting
Beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, butter and vanilla in a small bowl.
Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.
Frost bars.

Makes 2 dozen.
-----------------------------------------------

Angelica ~ A 12yr old homeschooler with dreams of becoming a pastry chef.

Addicted to comics, food network, and carnival rides, Angelica loves taking over her mom's kitchen. She is currently working on perfecting her piecrust while her family reaps the benefits. You can find her sharing her baking skills over at
Sweet Life.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Gratitude Ritual


(Rickydavid/Flickr)

The following is a guest post by Carla Molina of the blog, All of Me Now.

Last year, I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon for 30 days of gratitude in November. Everyday I'd post the things I was grateful for and also what my two daughters gave thanks for before bed. It provided some heartfelt and funny posts.


An old friend commented; she told me I was doing such a beautiful thing for my daughters and teaching them an important lesson. Her words really made an impact. It made me wonder why we only ever gave thanks during the month of November. And so, I ventured into creating a daily gratitude ritual.

We tried different things - giving thanks during a meal, while making dinner, during bath time, in the car - but what everyone naturally gravitated toward was giving thanks at bedtime.

Every night after the girls are snug in their pajamas, I turn out the lights and light a small candle. We each take a turn giving thanks for three things then blow out the candle. Once we've all had a turn, I light the candle one last time and we each make a wish and blow out the candle together. Most recently, my oldest has added her own little touch and, as the candle goes out, she whispers, "Let our wish come true."

There are nights when we're so past their bedtime, I want to skip it so I can get some work done while they sleep. Other nights I simply forget to pull out the candle. But my girls never forget. Every night they ask for it. I think it's a wonderful way for them to go to bed with positive feelings in their hearts.

This year I skipped the 30 days of gratitude on Facebook. It's become a yearlong tradition. And while friends can no longer share in the things we give thanks for, I know our daily practice has a much greater impact on the hearts of my daughters.

How do you encourage your kids to practice gratitude?

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



Carla Molina is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on Latina.com, SpanglishBaby, Tiki Tiki Blog and in the soon to be launched Vida Vibrante. A Jersey girl gone New England, Carla is a homeschooling mom passionate about raising her two daughters by example. When she's not taking in a movie or devouring a good book, you can find Carla directing and producing her local Listen To Your Mother show which hits the stage in May 2013. Keep up with Carla at her personal blog, All of Me Now.

Friday, November 16, 2012

MommyMaestra's Thanksgiving Resources

I'm ending this week with a recap and reminder of all the Thanksgiving resources I've already shared here on MommyMaestra (and a few other places) over the last few years. This way you don't have to go digging around the blog trying to find them. Good stuff coming up next week!

PRINTABLES

Bilingual Thanksgiving Mobile - This mobile has proven to be one of the most popular fall printables that I've made. It is a lot of hands-on fun and preschoolers can even put it together with just a little help from an adult.

Bilingual Fall Activity Pack - Perfect for keeping your preschooler, kindergartner or first grader busy one day this week while you're working on Thanksgiving preparations.

Bilingual Bookmarks - Download this set of three bilingual bookmarks for free at my TpT store.

The Muppets' Road Trip Game - If you're driving long distances to visit los abuelos this holiday, check out this fun set of printables created last year for the premiere of the last Muppet movie.


HISTORY

Top 5 Thanksgiving Myths - How many of these myths did you believe were true?

Bilingual Resources for Thanksgiving - A great list of awesome resources, some in English and some in Spanish.

10 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Thanksgiving - 10 great ways to spend staying busy with your kids Thanksgiving week on Mamiverse.


BOOKS & CRAFTS

MommyMaestra's Thanksgiving Pinterest Board - Have you seen my board, yet? It's FULL of Thanksgiving goodness!!

Bilingual Thanksgiving Books - The giveaway is now closed, but the books are still wonderful!


RECIPES - Check out these Thanksgiving Week Specials...

Guavalicious...Turkey?

Pumpkin Empanadas

Butternut Squash Tamales

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Know the River Loves Me/ Yo sé que el río me ama

This book reviews is part of a series created in honor of National Picture Book Month. Some are new and some are not, but all of them are a visual feast - and the storylines aren't so bad either! Today's title comes from Children's Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books...

Written and illustrated by award-winning artist, Maya Christina Gonzalez, I Know the River Loves Me/Yo sé que el río me ama embodies the need that children everywhere have to see their own faces reflected in the world around them. 

I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Gonzalez talk at a conference several years ago, where she shared bits of her childhood and discussed how she never saw her own face in literature or Disney movies. Now as an adult, she has dedicated her time to creating pieces that show the beauty in diversity, and that reflect the faces of the audience for which they are written and illustrated.

I Know the River Loves Me her second book that she has both written and illustrated. The story line is so beautiful and strong with powerful imagery. It is about a young girl who walks down to meet one of her best friends - the river. In the flowing water, she finds acceptance, joy, and a reflection of herself. If only every child could find this perfect friend who loves unconditionally and mirrors their inner beauty!

The illustrations are wonderful mix of black-and-white and vibrant color. Throughout most of the book, only Nature is drawn in full vibrant hues, but both the speaker and her backpack full of manmade objects are drawn obviously lacking in color. I love the flowing movement of the water and how the girl's hair drifts softly in its current.

This book makes my kids want to run and jump in a river. And me, too, for that matter.

This book is perfect for parents and teachers who want to discuss with their children or students the following topics: inner beauty, interconnectedness, nature, self-esteem, and finding time to love ourselves.

Written with full text in both English and Spanish. Best for children ages 6 and up.

If you'd like to purchase your own copy of The River Loves Me/Yo sé que el río me ama, please visit the Latin Baby Book Club's online store. We have both new and gently used copies available.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Geography Awareness Week

Are your kids learning geography in school? Do you teach them about other countries at home? Can your child read a map? Does he know the cardinal directions? Can she read a compass?

I hope you answered yes to all of these questions - or at least one!

All week we are celebrating Geography Awareness Week, which emphasizes the importance of geography education and geo-literacy. This year's theme, Declare Your Interdependence, explores the ways in which we are all connected with each other. From the daily decisions we make to the clothes we wear and the food we eat, we rely on the hard work of other people in other countries to supply us with goods and services.

To help us all out, the National Geographic Education website has put together a Toolkit with resources and printables for hosting your own event, be it as a group or simply at home with your child. In addition, you can find activities, profiles, maps, videos, and more on their site.

They've also put together the interactive game, Global Closet Calculator, in which students discovere their own global network by rummaging through their closet to see where most of their clothes come from.

I've shared our geography study resources for elementary school before, but there are really so many wonderful geography-themed books, games, and websites out there that I thought I'd list a few more here.

IN ENGLISH


- Shake the States app This is so much fun and I am absolutely amazed how quickly my kids have learned where the states can be found in the US. If fact, a few months ago we were watching Jeopardy! and one of the questions was about a state. It showed an image of the state, and my daughter immediately recognized Iowa. Seriously, who recognizes that shape? (Sorry, Iowans.)

- The Amazing Pop-Up Geography Book (Amazing Pop-Ups) by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels

- Got Geography! by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Philip Stanton

- Geography For Fun Projects by Pam Robson

- Brainbox All Around The World

- Name That Country Game


IN SPANISH

- Chile has put together what is without a doubt one of my favorite sites in Spanish. Mi Geografía is divided into three sections (Kids Ages 5 -10, Ages 11 - 17, and Parents & Teachers) that are filled with printables, videos, games, trivia questions and more. It is just so well done. Try it and see what you think.

- Dibujos para pintar is another good website with interactive games to teach geography.

- Como aprendi geografia/ How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

- El maravilloso mundo de la geografia by Kate Petty

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About Christmas! {GIVEAWAY}


Do you have special movies that you watch to celebrate certain times of the year? For me, the winter holiday season (including Christmas & New Years) is never complete without watching It's a Wonderful Life. Oh, and of course I can't forget The Sound of Music and The Ten Commandments at Easter.

But I can't remember watching many children's shows, with the possible exception of Charlie Brown who always had some ubiquitous holiday special going on throughout the year. 

So I think it is exciting that PBS has announced that the first-ever Cat in the Hat Christmas special, THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS! is scheduled to air on November 21st. The adventure finds the Cat in the Hat, Nick and Sally on a journey around the world to help a lost reindeer find his way home to Freezeyourknees Snowland in time for Christmas.  On the way, the Thinga-ma-jigger breaks down, and they depend on a variety of animals – from African bush elephants to bottlenose dolphins to red crabs – and their remarkable abilities to help them make an amazing journey home.

My kids watched it already and it was awesome. We love the rhyming dialogue and the songs and the science. My kids are science and nature geeks (as befitting any former zookeeper's child), so of course they love The Cat in the Hat series which is written to introduce children to science concepts. And mixing science with holidays is even better. Take a look ...



This one-hour special premieres on Wednesday, November 21 on PBS KIDS, with encore presentations throughout Thanksgiving weekend and in December (check local listings).
But in addition to the show, PBS has launched a new online game Freezeyourknees, Follow Me, Please! featuring Ralph the Reindeer who is a long way from Freezeyourknees Valley. The Cat in the Hat is giving the lost reindeer a ride home when the Thinga-ma-jigger suddenly loses its power and makes an emergency landing. Only you can guide Ralph back to his family in time for Christmas – with help from some amazing animal friends! Grounded in an animal science curriculum, Freezeyourknees, Follow Me, Please! offers players three levels of game play, each level with its own animal-themed “Follow Me” challenge.



THE GIVEAWAY

PBS has graciously offered a THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS! Prize Pack that includes a DVD of the new episode, a copy of "Walkin' in a Sticker Wonderland!" (a new sticker book based on the show), and a Cat in the Hat mug. Wouldn't this be a great Christmas gift?

To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment below. 

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, November 19th. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If I have no way to contact you, I'll have to choose someone else!)

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1) Follow PBSKIDS (@pbskids) on Twitter.


2) Follow the MommyMaestra FB page.

3)
Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win a Cat in the Hat Knows About Christmas Prize Pack from @LatinMami & @PBSKIDS http://bit.ly/ZcvrXw #giveaway

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

By entering this giveaway, you agree to
the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!


Disclosure: I am a PBS Ambassador and received a sample prize pack and DVD to review.

This giveaway is now closed.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tomorrow is Malala Day


Tomorrow has been designated Malala Day. Have you heard her story? Malala Yousafzai is the young girl in Pakistan who has been fighting for the education of girls in her country. in 2009, she began writing a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym, describing her life under the Taliban and expressing her thoughts about the importance of educating young girls. In 2010, the New York Times filmed a documentary about her and she became more vocal about her position. Desmond Tutu nominated her for the Interntaional Children's Peace Prize and she even won Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize.

In retaliation, the Taliban, who view girls' education is an obscenity, horrifically shot her in the head last month on October 9th. Ironically, their cruelty has only brought her greater fame and highlighted the cause for which she is fighting.

You can learn more about her story watching this video by ABCNews.com.


Her story is not uncommon. Across the globe, 32 million girls around the world are denied daily their right to go to a classroom and learn. But this issue often goes unnoticed. Too often the voice of girls and women are silenced, their education suppressed, because an educated woman is a powerful thing. We see the foolishness of war. Because of our role in our families, we seek peaceful relationships and cooperation among members. We are the voice of sanity in an insane world - and we are exactly what the world needs to settle differences and find common ground.

The Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education has taken up Malala's issue and are declaring November 10th a global day of action for Malala and all the other girls around the world who are denied an education. Tomorrow, Gordon Brown, Former British Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education, and his wife Sarah will travel to Pakistan to deliver to President Zardari their million-plus petition to make education a reality for all Pakistani children.

If you'd like to join me in showing support, you can sign the petition at www.iammalala.org.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Night Time Story

In honor of National Picture Book Month, I'm happy to share a series of book reviews introducing you to some incredible picture books for children. Some are new and some are not, but all of them are a visual feast - and the storylines aren't so bad either! So let's kick off with a new title from Independent Publishers Group (IPG)...


A Night Time Story
By Roberto Aliaga, Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer

The perfect bedtime tale, A Night Time Story is a beautifully illustrated work about how every evening, the Night comes to tuck a little child in before bed. In her hands, she carries dozens of stories and picks new and exciting ones to tell each time, allowing the child to drift off to sleep and dream. From sweet stories at the fairground to mysterious stories in the desert, this little child can enjoy an endless number of dreams and make them his or her own.

Sonja Wimmer's illustrations are soft and whimsical, great for inspiring dreams in your own children. I love that the main character is drawn in such a way that it could be either a boy or a girl depending on who is reading the story.

Roberto Aliaga has written several childrens books in Spanish. Jon Brokenbrow translated it to English, and it appears to be a literal translation that seems to flow well, though a wee bit choppy in a spot or two.

This lovely picture book is just one of the titles IPG distributes from the Spanish publisher Cuento de Luz. It is available in hardback or as an eBook, and is also available in Spanish. Best suited for children ages 5 to 7.

I leave you with a couple more images from the book...




Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Vote Because...



Are you voting today? I am. Because I believe in democracy. And a democracy can only exist when the people have a voice and use it.

A democracy depends on the education and involvement of it's citizens. The famous philosopher, Plato, basically held the position that uneducated people who did not learn about the government were more likely to fall victim to tyrants. If you don't know the rules or the issues, then someone can lie to you, forcing you (whether you know it or not) to do what they want you to do, instead of what is good for everyone.

Plato said that ignorant people will always obey tyrants.

And I would add that those who do not voice their opinion (even if they are wrong), risk being imprisoned by their own silence.

Everyone has the right to vote. It doesn't matter who you vote for (okay, yes it really does!), but I certainly wouldn't presume to tell anyone who they should vote in favor of. You're an intelligent person and everyone has the right to vote for whoever they feel has the country's best interest at heart.

I look at my personal Facebook page and see about half my friends fiercely in favor of one candidate/party, and the other half passionately supporting the other. Does voting one way or the other make them good or bad? No. It makes them human. It makes them people with free will and the right to make their own voices heard. I love them regardless of who they support because I know that what it boils down to is values and each person trying to elect the person they think will be best for the country. Some people only care about family values. Others are mainly concerned about the economy, while others are deeply concerned about health care.

I'll be honest and say that the top three issues that influence my opinion are:

#1 - The way I think people should be treated.

#2 - The education of our children.


#3 - And the importance of working together despite differences of opinion to find solutions that benefit the most people and our country as a whole.

Our country owes it to our citizens to provide them with caring, educated people in power who have a strong sense of social responsibility and justice.

It's up to us to put them in place. There are millions of people around this world who do not have the basic human right to vote for the person they think will do a better job leading their country. I would be sick to my stomach knowing that I treat my ability and opportunity to vote with indifference because I don't agree 100% with the candidates. Honestly? I can't think of a single person on the planet with whom I agree 100% on every issue. And I'm not so conceited as to think I know the right answer to everything.

Don't let yourself be led silently, or you may not find yourself in a very good place. You don't have to be rude or obnoxious or belligerent. You can be thoughtful and firm, always thinking of others.

Go out and vote.


And don't let anyone stop you.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Final Rumbo al College Webinar Airs Wednesday


This is the final webinar in this four-part series. The bilingual webinars are free to all who register. Click here to sign up and watch.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lingual: The Multi-Language Learning Application {GIVEAWAY}



There's a new multilingual app about to launch that parents and teachers should know about. Lingual is an interactive iPad application. The immersion game will be available as a free app possibly as soon as next month. With three language options, Lingual will teach English, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish through both audio and text. I love that players will also be introduced to geography and culture through various maps and famous landmarks.

The application is designed by Tiny Factory, and they are using Kickstarter to help finish funding the last of their project. If you'd like to help them make Lingual a reality, consider becoming a backer. By contributing to this project, you have the option of receiving certain gifts associated with the game, such as flash cards, posters, and a glass copy of artwork found in the app. They've already raised over $4,000 of the $5,000 they need to get funding, so every dollar counts!

Here's a short video introducing the app...



THE GIVEAWAY

Lingual is offering one of their beautiful game art works printed in glass and signed by the artist to one MommyMaestra reader. Valued at $80, it is a treasure for any family.

This is for the collectors and the language education supporters. You will receive 1 8”x10” game play concept art signed by the artist and printed to glass. Glass print will be of a monument from an English, Mandarin or Spanish journey.

To win this giveaway, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Friday, November 9th. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If I have no way to contact you, I'll have to choose someone else!)

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1) Follow Lingual on Twitter (@catchlingual) and send them a tweet between now and Friday, November 9th, 2012.

2) Follow the MommyMaestra FB page.

3)
Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win a glass art piece from @LatinMami & @catchlingual #giveaway

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

By entering this giveaway, you agree to
the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post.

 
 
 

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