Friday, June 28, 2013

Mi Abecedario: Spanish Edition



If you have followed me over at the Latin Baby Book Club, then you'll know that I'm a bit of a nut about abecedarios. I don't know why. But I just love alphabet books in any language, really.  

So I wanted to share with you Mi abecedario by Maria Parrish. The illustrations are insanely cute and I love the simple, but engaging layout of the book. It is currently only available as an eBook, so make sure your have a Kindle or Kindle for PC (it's free!) or Kindle for iPad or Android before you purchase it. 

This beautiful book is a great introduction to the Spanish alphabet for both Spanish-language learners and native speakers. Remember that if you have a child under 5 years old, you should be working with them at home to prepare them for entering kindergarten and starting school. ESPECIALLY if they are not enrolled in a preschool. Letter identification is a critical skill that they need to master before they can start reading. So why not teach them in a fun way with abecedarios?

You can find Maria's beautiful eBook here on Amazon.

And here is a sneak peek at some of the images in this beautiful book for children: 




Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I did receive a free digital copy of the book for review purposes. All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Movies: EPIC!

Last week on a whim, I decided to take the kids to a movie in a nearby town. The movie theater itself was a bit of a creepy adventure as it was inside an abandoned shopping mall and the only people we saw the whole time was the ticket seller and the theater manager. The kids wanted to leave as we were walking up to the ticket counter, but we decided to give the whole thing a chance and go in.

We were the only ones in the theater. 

But we had our hearts set on watching Epic. And. We. Loved. It. 

I'm excited to say that I have a nice surprise for you concerning this movie, so be sure to check back here soon!

In the meantime, if you haven't taken your kids to see the movie yet, here's a sneak peek!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Spanish Word Wall and First Book Tips


We hope you caught last week's post on introducing creative writing to kids in any language! As promised, here is the final project that the book, Rocket Writes a Story, by Tad Hills, inspired my six year-old to write his own-in Spanish!

Just like the main character in the book, my son Diego searched for inspiration for his Spanish word "tree". Although his tree was up and done for a few days, once he was ready to start his story, he realized his word tree had to grow some more. I was happy to help him express his thoughts in Spanish, help him add words to the wall and let his imagination go!


The lines on his paper had to be perfectly straight! Hmmm, reminds me of someone I know. ja! 


Because Diego understands Spanish a lot more than he speaks it, he had a little trouble translating on to paper what he wanted his story to say. His traditional classroom has many word walls and I knew he was already in the habit of looking around the room for help in spelling or coming up with "juicy" words. 


As you can see, we added more Spanish words to the tree. It was so rewarding to see his eyes light up when he realized everything he thought in English, could be written in Spanish! 


Diego wrote his first Spanish book (two chapters and six pages long) and boy, was he proud! He read it to his grandmother and to his father as soon as he walked in the door. He also kept saying that he had enough, "subjects" on his tree to write another story soon. This Spanish word tree isn't going anywhere for a while!

A few tips:

Creative writing can be frustrating (I know it, first hand!) so make time to be available if kids need to process their thoughts with you.

Writing in the child's minority language will be hard but not impossible. They should be encouraged to write simple sentences at any age and any language.

Take small steps. Notice we did this project by reading a book first, then writing single words, reading the book again, creating an "art project" and then finally writing a story.

Once the book is in development, encourage your child to look back at their story to see if they have used a word they need again. Not only do they have the word wall as a reference point, but now a new source as well.

Writing is just as important as reading for academic success. An early start is so beneficial. Keep your summer occupied by asking your child to tell you a really good story-on paper.

Enjoy!
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Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Scholastic's 100 Summer Steals



Heads up! Now through July 1st, Scholastic's Teacher Express is having their 100 Summer Steals sale. Hundreds of eBooks will be specially priced between $1 and $5, including Spanish & ELL resources.

I just bought $310 worth of eBooks to prepare for this next school year for only $32! Woohoo.

The eBook above caught my eye because a few days (weeks?) ago someone asked me on Facebook for sight word materials in Spanish. Maybe this will help? Although, these particular words don't look like sight words to me...

Enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Virtual Field Trip: Sesame Street Visits Our National Parks

Okay. Because we're Sesame Street fans, AND because we love our national parks, AND because we love wildlife, you know that I simply can't resist sharing one of the six videos in the new series by Sesame Street and the National Park Service, which explores our nation's parks and introduces them to our children. I picked the following video to share with you because as you may or may not know, my husband is the general curator of a bird park (so we love birds, too).

This new series introduces kids to habitats, families, and the seasons. On the Sesame Street website you'll also find an educator's guide, vocabulary sheet, free printables, and much, much more. So take your child on a virtual field trip this summer to the Grand Canyon!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

#FightLatinoObesity with a Homeschool PE Curriculum


This post contains a referral link. This helps support the work of this site. Here’s my full disclosure policy.


As you have probably figured out by now, I'm always looking for ways to #FightLatinoObesity and the health risks associated with it, especially in our children. I know that it affects our kids' ability to function on a daily basis, and affects their performance in school.

So I think that this homeschool PE curriculum from Family Time Fitness for families in K - 8 is a great idea! (And I'm so excited about it that, yes, I'm using my affiliate link.) Since you know that I homeschool my kids, one of the areas that I think about a lot is PE. We're lucky that our local YMCA offers homeschool classes in swimming and gym, and there are other sports programs around. But even so, there's often months when our travel schedule doesn't allow me to sign my kids up for classes that I know we won't be around to complete (and I DON'T like paying for something and not getting my money's worth). That's why I've been thinking about investing in a curriculum like this. Has anyone tried one? And if so, what did you think?

According to EduCents' site, the curriculum comes with a startup/training guide for parents, and 260 lesson plans for activities that last 30 to 45 minutes. The lesson plans come in a PDF format that includes a list of supplies, warm-up activity, cool down and suggested outdoor activity. This would be a great program not just for homeschooled children, but also parents who want their kids to be more active, especially in the summer.

I have not used the program, but I think it is a fabulous idea. How about you?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rocket Writes a Story in Any Language


Have you had a chance to read Tad Hills' sequel to How Rocket Learned to Read? Rocket Writes a Story is an adorable picture book suggested for children 4-8 years old. I would recommend it to all teachers and parents who would like to introduce creative writing to their students and children of all ages.

Rocket and his teacher, the little yellow bird, come back in this second book ready to start the process of writing. The little yellow bird encourages Rocket to gather new words to help him come up with ideas for a story. Rocket agrees and creates a word tree, later he goes on long walks for inspiration and when he is ready, he writes every day. He comes up with a wonderful little story that will captivate young readers.


My soon to be first-grader and I started the process of creating his own book after reading Rocket Writes a Story. Diego seemed very interested in trying Rocket's creative and organized writing approach. My wheels were spinning to make it more challenging for him, so I encouraged him to make a Spanish word wall!
After we read Rocket Writes a Story the first time, I found leaf printables, made copies, and had Diego help me cut them out. We later read the book for the second time, discussed it a bit more and had him start thinking of words he knew in Spanish or words he wanted to learn. He went around the house looking for the names of objects he would write on his leaves, and like Rocket, he quickly drew the picture as well (perfect for those learning a new language!). Diego was most intrigued with translating articles, conjunctions and prepositions (little bird calls them "little words")! I love how he understood that they were an essential part of writing.
We set the leaves aside and will continue to build our tree in the next few days. Thank goodness for the long summer days. I am also helping him bind paper for his Spanish story book. I can't wait to share the final project with you.

Remember to have fun with projects like this. Reading, writing, math and science should be explored in a fun way during the summer months to keep kids' skills sharp! I sighed with relief that Diego loved the idea of writing in Spanish (his grandmother is visiting and perhaps her Spanish-only conversations motivated him).  Of course, this writing activity would have been great in English too!

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Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Get Latino Teens Reading



In case you missed it, yesterday Latinas 4 Latino Literature announce the Young Adult Challege portion of their Latino Children's Summer Reading Program. To motivate teens to read this summer, they're giving away 10 Chromebooks and 10 Nexus 7 tablets donated by the summer reading program's naming sponsor, Google.

To be eligible to win, the teens must read 8 books over the summer and submit a video book review on one Latino (children's) literature title that they've read. Easy, no?

So if you know or have a child between the ages of 12 and 18, it's time to get them reading!

Learn more here.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

10-Year-Old Sebastien De La Cruz Sings National Anthem @ Game 3 of the NBA Finals

I've been a fan of 10-year-old Sebastien de la Cruz ever since I saw him singing his heart out on America's Got Talent last year. He won my heart instantly - and no doubt thousands of others - with his amazing voice, charm, and sincere face.

Last night, Sebastien took his turn singing the national anthem at game 3 of the NBA Finals in his hometown of San Antonio. Once again, his beautiful voice has moved me to tears. He seems to be embody the hope and possibility found within all of our children. A bright future where their talents are supported and applauded, and their amazing contributions are appreciated.

Even when the fears of the uneducated rears its ugly head, Sebastien responds with grace and confidence. I ask myself, would my kids respond in a similar fashion? Or would they be intimidated? Afraid? Too hurt to respond? Angry? Moments like this remind me to teach my kids to love and believe in themselves and their heritage.

Bravo, Sebastien. But more importantly, bravo to his parents.

And in case you missed his singing the national anthem, here you go! Sing it, M'ijo!

Teachers Re-Energize This Summer!


Whether you are teaching one child at home or you are about to release 30 kids from your class for the summer, it is no doubt that all teachers need some personal time during the summer months to prepare for the next school year. Many of you will clean out and organize your rooms, some of you will continue to teach throughout the summer and or perhaps will attend conferences to continue to work on your own education. It is often forgotten that teachers need to recharge too. Some like to think teachers are lounging by the pool every day but most don't even get a chance to do that at all! I remember working my second and third jobs during the summers "off"! No matter what, teachers, you need to stop to take care of yourself. You give so much throughout the regular school year so it is necessary to take moments for yourself. How else can we become better educators, mothers, and students ourselves if we don't take a little time?

Here are 7 tips to help you organize some of your summer days for relaxation and inspiration to better prepare you for the upcoming school year:

1) Travel. If you get a chance to go to a beautiful island or to a foreign country, enjoy!! Disconnect and just relax. You never know what might inspire you to develop a lesson to take back to your students. If you are not able to go too far away, I find that day-trips across town or a couple of nights to a nearby city are just as relaxing. Museums in a nearby town are my favorite when I can't go too far. My children learn and I watch out for what peaks their interest.

2) Read.  Anything! If you want to catch up on the latest thriller or dig into that historical-fiction novel that is too heavy to carry during your commute, just read. Sit back and relax. My mother is coming this summer for three weeks and she has promised to spend time with the kids so I can finish a couple of books I started months ago!

3) Take an art class. A music class or a dance class are good ideas as well. Taking classes outside of your teaching subject matter is great for the soul and your overwhelmed head! They also foster creativity and inspiration. I'm always looking for something new and I like classes that I don't have to commit to long-term. A fun, spontaneous, and different class where you are not the one teaching can be so beneficial.

4) Meet up with a different group of friends. You know what I love about my girlfriends? They are all SO different. I also like meeting their friends because women are so interesting, full of ideas and have unique work experiences. Hang with your teacher friends, of course! But don't be shy about meeting new friends too. I bet you'll learn something new.

5) Pamper yourself. Take a day (or a few for this one!) to give yourself a spa treatment. I know some friends who like to take care of their own manicures and pedicures. I suggest that if you can splurge a little, make an appointment at your favorite spa. You need a massage. You might need a facial too. Wink wink.

6) Get outside. Gardening, hiking, or running can be very relaxing and inspiring. Whatever your favorite outdoor activity may be, it is important to reconnect with nature. Our teaching jobs take place in the same room every day. Some teaching conditions are not always ideal. This is your time to take advantage of the weather and ground yourself a little to earth. Picnics under a tree are my favorite.

7) Hang out with kids of different ages. I had the opportunity to teach preschoolers in Tokyo and what a difference from American middle-school kids! I found inspiration and ideas for my regular students from that experience. I never thought I could bring more picture books into the secondary classroom but little children taught me that I could. Borrow your nieces and nephews or attend family events and mingle with different ages a little more. Pick their brain or just listen to their conversations for some clues on what they are really into.

Teachers deserve a break! A little re-energizing and inspiration this summer is a must! Concentrating on just you for a few days or a few weeks will be very valuable to your students and to yourself. Enjoy!

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Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Spanish Preschool Curriculum Review: Monarca Language & {PRINTABLE}

If you have a 3- or 4-year-old child at home, then this summer is the perfect time to start preparing them for entering school and kindergarten. I want to emphasize once again, how important it is for children this age to either attend a preschool or be worked with at home to develop the skills they'll need when they enter kindergarten. I am reminded of a 2000 study by the department of education that showed that half of the Latino children starting kindergarten could not recognize all the letters of the alphabet, no surprise given that Latino kids are less likely to be enrolled in a preschool program than any other group.

I have
written extensively about the importance of parents working with their children at home to teach them basic concepts such as letter and number recognition, shapes, colors, and more. You can find tons of bilingual resources here on MommyMaestra simply by searching for "preschool" in my sidebar.

And now I have a new one to add to the list! I recently had the opportunity to explore Monarca Language, an website with high-quality materials in Spanish for 3 and 4 year olds. The subscription-based site covers math logic and pre-literacy skills, as well as fine-motor coordination, reasoning and attention span.


With a subscription you can get access to the following themed printables and activities: Seasonal Materials, Reading & Writing Corner, Math Circle, and Coloring Activities. (The coloring pages are actually free to everyone.) And you don't have to worry that your kids will get bored with the same old worksheets because they are adding new materials every month. They even include phonetics instruction, in addition to letter recognition. I was impressed to read that 85% of the participating children finish the program reading and writing efficiently.

I really do like the easy and age-appropriate printables. They use many of the concepts my own children used when learning to recognize numbers and letters. Best of all, you can choose the level of difficulty and proceed at your child's own pace. All of them are in Spanish, with easy to understand directions in both English and Spanish for teachers and parents.


The fact that they include math is especially exciting as so often program focus on pre-literacy skills and forget or ignore early math skills. Really and truly, as I looked throughout this program I was very pleased to see that it covers all of the basic skills and concepts a child would learn in preschool.

I also love that there is no long-term commitment and you can cancel your subscription at any time. This makes me feel like Monarca Language is so confident in their materialsprintables, activities, and newsletter. You can even test it out with a one-month free trial.


FREE PRINTABLE

The kind people at Monarca Language have allowed me to share the following printable with MommyMaestra readers. It is part of their Seasonal Materials and features La Primavera: Animales de la Granja. Best suited for 3 year olds.

If you already subscribe to Monarca, leave some feedback in the comments to help other readers decide if this is a program for them.

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Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, however, I did receive a one-month access to the site for review purposes.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Spanish App: Aprendes Con la Selva poderosa: ¡Los animales!


Spanish app alert! Aprendes con just released their newest Spanish app: Aprendes Con la Selva poderosa: ¡Los animales! And yes, it is free. If you would prefer to play it in English, you can find that version here.

This app focuses on Life Science and is designed for children ages 3 - 6. It teaches them to recognize animals, identify their appropriate habitats, and associate key vocabulary words to describe each one.

You know we're big fans of iLearn With and all of their early education apps for children. We haven't played this one yet, but all of their apps are high quality, educational, and mostly FUN.

If you download and play it, let us know what you and your kids think of it!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Always Reading: Word Problem Resources

 
As school lessons are coming to an end, I love that I am seeing so much encouragement for parents to support their children's acquired skills from the school year well into the summer months.  Reading is fundamental for success in overall academic careers. Children who read outside the classroom (especially during summer months) can maintain or gain knowledge. Adding additional reading to other subjects such as math, is a bonus!

Our family has recently fallen in love with resources that encourage word problems.  As a Language Arts and Reading teacher, you know what my passion is! My husband on the other hand, is a math guy and he is teaching our sons to love math right from the start. We have found a happy medium for our evening routines while working with our oldest who is finishing up kindergarten.

Math word problems are more complex than common math problems. Reading and comprehension are required in word problems in addition to basic math skills.  Also, in order to solve math word problems, kids must be able to understand the relationship between math equations and simple everyday situations. Diego loves to hear an interesting story right before a problem. It keeps him engaged and it also helps him understand that we use math every single day. Practicing math word problems helps children analyze, use logic, concentrate, listen or read attentively, and dissect a complex piece of information by reading something carefully.

Here are some of my recent finds to help us with our summer reading and math practice.  All resources are available for all different grade or skill levels. I hope you and your family will be able to use some of these this summer. Enjoy!

Websites: Bedtime Math, Math Playground, Super Teacher Worksheets, and Kid Zone.

Apps: Bedtime Math, Banana Math, Ace Math, and App Tutor.

Workbooks: Math Basics: Story Problems, Brain Quest

Do you have other resources for word problems that you love? Please add in the comments below!

Disclaimer: Links to Amazon are my affiliate links. Thank you.

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Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Learning: Geography, Culture, & Reading


This post contains a referral link. This helps support the work of this site. Here’s my full disclosure policy.

For the next few months, I'll be focusing on summer learning and all the great activities you can do to keep your kids from experiencing the dreaded "Summer Brain Drain" where students forget and lose the equivalent of one to three months of learning.

So I was more than happy to accept the offer to be a Little Passports ambassador (this is an affiliate link). I had actually already just subscribed to their USA edition, where we get activities and information on two different states each month, and I plan to continue it.

As an ambassador, I get a subscription to their World Edition and updates that I am allowed to share with all of you. I'll just be writing about our experiences once a month so you can see how the program works and decide on your own if it will work for your family.

Signing up for the program is super easy: All you have to do is go to their website and select which edition you want (World Edition or USA Edition), then choose your subscription plan according to your budget. You have the option of a monthly, 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month plan.

On their site you can find a complete description of each package, including what materials your child will receive and which countries/states will be covered. You can even find samples of the montly adventures you'll receive.

We received our first World Edition last week. It came with a suitcase filled with goodies, including a world map, passport, activity sheet, stickers, boarding pass (with directions for going online and accessing the Little Passports interactive pages with additional learning resources), a disposable camera, and an introductory letter from Sofia and Sam, your young tour guides on your adventure around the world.

My kids loved having a child-sized suitcase they can keep all of their materials in and a passport to travel the world. The activity sheet was super fun requiring my kids to decode some numbers to learn how to say hello in different languages. At the bottom of the sheet, they had to use the map to locate the capitals of different countries in order to find the answer to another question. On the back they get to practice their math skills by counting flags to answer a different question.

I really love how this program gives my kids a chance to practice their reading, geography, and even math skills with the very first package. And it's fun for them! They loved looking through all of the materials, especially their little passport.

In a few weeks, I'll share more of our experience with the program.

And if you're already sold, you can go and sign up via my affiliate link here.


Disclosure: I am a Little Passports affiliate. All the links used in this post are affiliate links.

Monday, June 3, 2013

L4LL Launches Latino Children's Summer Reading Program



In case you missed seeing it this weekend on my Facebook page, I just wanted to share with your the official launch of Latinas for Latino Literature's biggest project yet: The Latino Children's Summer Reading Program!

It's true that there are other summer reading programs by recognizable giants in the education world, and some even offer Spanish-language components to their program. But our program is the only one online designed specifically for Latino families with children who are newborns all the way up through high school. We know that parents are the key to success, and so we even provide those of you with children who are still too young to read a way to help them develop their pre-literacy skills so they can start school well prepared.


So I'm sure that you will forgive me for neglecting MommyMaestra last week. My dear amiga, Viviana (The Wise Latina Club), and I were "burning the morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and midnight oil" (as she likes to put it) while getting everything ready to launch on Saturday. We are especially thankful to Google, our naming sponsor, who has partnered with us to bring you additional tools and resources to help promote literacy in your home. And who spent hours patiently teaching us everything we needed to know to do things right. Their team is simply fabulous.

With the Latino Children's Summer Reading Program, we challenge Latino students and parents of young children to read a minimum of 8 books during the 10-week summer vacation period. We've created printables like pledges you and your child can print, sign, and hang up to help remind you to read every day this summer. You'll also be able to download reading logs, and even a certificate of achievement that you can present to your child at the end of the summer. All of our printables are available in English or Spanish.


And because we love to see Latino children's literature in the hands of our kids, we also put together three reading lists with some titles that we love and recommend. They are not mandatory, just fun suggestions.

In addition, we'll be revealing lots of great resources, more printables, as well as contests and prizes throughout the summer.

And the absolute bestest part ever? IT'S ALL FREE!

Just head right over here to register and start downloading all the free reading goodies.

Happy reading to all!

Con mucho cariño...


~Monica


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