Monday, July 29, 2013

#SummerLearning: Science! Raising Tadpoles from Your Garden


Grandpa arrived late in the evening last July 3rd. It had been raining for days here in NC. So early the next morning, the kids grabbed Grandpa's hand and pulled him outside into the field near our house. Not long after the door shut behind them, my son came running back in holding out his fingers to me and sticking to them were a few slimy, clear blobs that had a dark spot in the middle.

"Frog eggs!" he announced triumphantly.

"Really?" I asked.

"Yes!" he said. "I found them in a puddle in the field."

"Hmm. Why don't you put them in your bug jar?" I suggested.

They spent the better part of an hour outside, and finally returned to the house with their jars full of dirty water. By that evening the dirt had settled and we could see a minature world inside.

The next morning, my husband lifted the pillow off my head to kiss me good-bye as he left for work. Before leaving the room, he mentioned that our kids were in for a surprise because the frog eggs had hatched. I grunted something unintelligible and went back to sleep. But when I awoke, my son's gap-toothed grin accompanied this...


Upon closer inspection, we discovered quite a few of these little wriggly tadpoles. So we spent the next few days watching them wriggle and grow. Before we knew it, they were quite large and it was time to transfer them to a larger container.


By this point we were worried about what to feed them, so we did a little research online and decided to boil some romaine lettuce for 10 minutes, then stored the pieces by freezing them in an ice cube tray with some water. The voracious little tadpoles ate two ice cubes of lettuce a day - sometimes more.

And the next thing we knew, we had back legs...



And then front legs!



And then their little tales began to disappear.



Then our babies were almost all grown up!


But then they were no longer content to eat lettuce. So it was time, I told my daughter, to let them free. And that's what she did a few nights ago during our last rainstorm. Well, she let two of them go. And we still have three that she is feeding fruit flies to. But after releasing the first two, she came back in broke into the absolute biggest smile on her face when I told her that she was now an official wildlife rescuer.

Science and learning opportunities are everywhere around us. We just have to be ready to grasp the opportunities when they pop up, before the chance to learn something incredibly beautiful and real slips away.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Experience Colors Without Using Sight On L4LL



How do you describe colors to a person who cannot see? I absolutely love the idea of the book, The Black Book of Colors, which does exactly that and introduces children to the concept of blindness. I love that this book helps children understand and experience if only briefly what it is like to live without the sense of sight and how to use other senses to describe things. If we are to raise global children, we must not only expose our children to different cultures, but to different lifestyles and abilities within our own.

So I'm excited to share that Latinas for Latino Lit has partnered with Zoobean to giveaway not just one, but THREE copies of The Black Book of Colors! This is a weekend giveaway that ends Monday night, so head over there right away and enter to win your own copy!

The book was also originally written in Spanish by the Venezuelan author, Rosana Faria, and if you go over to the L4LL website, you'll find some free downloadable reading guides to accompany the book in both English AND Spanish.

This is an awesome opportunity, Amigas! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

App Review: Princesses Learn Spanish


Name: Princesses Learn Spanish
Subject(s): Reading, Spanish
Brief Description: A perfect app for the child who has mastered basic Spanish sight words. 
Price: Snow White is FREE! Others: $1.99
Language: English and Spanish
Ages: 4 and up 

What Daniella Likes: Daniella is a six year-old bilingual girl who reviewed Princesses Learn Spanish with me. She has mastered the basic Spanish apps that seem countless out there; she was ready for the next step. I helped her mother find something that ended up being perfect for Daniella's English reading level, with a sprinkle of complete Spanish sentences for her to read. She was intrigued by the theme behind the app: princesses! Daniella liked that the app also offered other activities. She enjoyed the options to color, sing, read and play different games. She tried the FREE Snow White sample, but she knows there are stories about other princesses available that she is really looking forward to purchase. 





What I Liked: I like apps with a lot of different activities, as Daniella pointed out as well. I also like apps with substance! I appreciate that Snow White is free, but if my child wanted an app like this one that offers a 21 page story, for $1.99? Yes, please! Especially with all the Spanish included. As I read along with the the voice-over in the story, I was pleased to hear up to two full Spanish sentences on each page! The child can follow along with the narrator and start to really begin reading in Spanish; the proper next step for Daniella. 

I felt that the games offered the basic sight word concept that Daniella and my own son have mastered with Spanish apps. Nevertheless, the songs included were a special treat because they were all in the Spanish language. 


Compatible with: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch
Related apps: Princesses Learn French and Princesses Learn Chinese

Has your child tried Princesses Learn Spanish? What did you think?

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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, July 21, 2013

Games for Language



The following post contains an affiliate link.

It's been a while since I've posted a review of Spanish learning programs, but you'll be please to know that I have three on my editorial schedule for this summer. I'm starting off with Games for Language because this week on Educents, they have a super deal (affiliate link) where you can purchase a 6- or 12-month subscription for 43% off the normal price.

Games for Language is an online program best geared for older students (teens and adults) who have some sort of previous knowledge of the language (though that is not a requirement). However, my son who is seven had fun playing some of the games after watching me do so. I would bet that middle schoolers would also really enjoy this program.

The site offers games that build vocabulary and focus on conversational language acquirement. You currently have the choice of 4 languages (Spanish, Italian, French, and German) though they are currently developing a version on English for Spanish Speakers, but it is not for sale yet.

I had the chance to review the site, so naturally I chose to explore the Spanish 1 course, where I first discovered the "game board" shown here (It actually starts with Scene 1, but I forgot to snapshot it):


Each scene centers around a travel scenario. So for example, the first game in Scene 1 focuses on travel words when you are on board an airplane flying to Spain. When you click on your first game sequence, you'll then be presented with list of games you'll be playing to master vocabulary...



It's best to start with the first game as each game builds upon the vocabulary you've learned in the previous games. Scene 2 (shown above) has a variety of fun games to play, some of them different from the ones in Scene 1. Here's a few screenshots of the individual games, though not in any particular order:



At the end of the scene, you have a chance to listen to a story that uses all of the vocabulary and phrases you've just learned. And you can finish up by recording your own words so that you can adjust your pronunciation accordingly.

I really enjoyed going through this site, but definitely think it works best with students who already have some knowledge of the target language. It is a great tool for mastery. And I love how Games for Language continues to provide resources for their subscribers by adding to their site and via their Facebook page (which is continually updated with links, tips and mini-lessons) and blog. On the site, you'll also find a dictionary and soon they'll be adding complete vocabulary lists and mp3 audios of all six (6) levels.

Games for Language is a fun way to complement more comprehensive courses and can be used as a weekly reward or incentive.

Click here to learn more about the methodology behind this program.

If you think this might be the right program for you or your child, don't forget that now's a great time (affiliate link) to subscribe for less!

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, though I did receive access to the site for review purposes and I have used my affiliate link in the post above. All thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Multicultural Kid Blogs' Pinterest Scavenger Hunt


It's time for some summer fun - but this time it's for parents!! This year I'm happy to be participating in the Pinterest Scavenger Hunt, a contest sponsored by Multicultural Kid Blogs to celebrate the official launch of their website.

The Scavenger Hunt will run from July 15 to July 28. Participants have until July 31 to submit their entries, and the drawing will take place on August 1.

You could win one of four fabulous prize packages full of educational, bicultural goodies!

Details about the Scavenger Hunt can be found below.

Today’s Clue
"Enjoy the beach from home!"

Now take a look around on this site and try to find the post that fits the clue. Once you think you’ve found it, pin it to the Pinterest Board you’ve created just for this contest.

A full schedule and rules of the game can be found below.
 
How to Play:
Create a Pinterest board specifically for the contest and name the board “Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt.”

Each day a new clue (or two!) will be revealed. Follow the clue to the blog of the day and pin the post described in the clue. (Any image from the post is fine).

The final clue will be given July 28. Participants will have until midnight Pacific time on July 31 to finalize their boards. The drawing will take place on August 1.

Winners must have pinned all of the correct posts to their board. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn.

Good luck, explorers!


Scavenger Hunt Schedule
(Visit the Scavenger Hunt main page for a full list of clues as they are revealed).

July 15
All Done Monkey
Crystal’s Tiny Treasures

July 16
The Squishable Baby
SpanglishBaby

July 17
Be Bilingual

July 18
the piri-piri lexicon
MommyMaestra

July 19
Creative World of Varya
Expat Life With a Double Buggy

July 20
Sprout’s Bookshelf
Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

July 21
Open Wide the World
MotherTongues

July 22
MarocMama
Head of the Heard

July 23
For the Love of Spanish

July 24
InCultureParent

July 25
Crafty Moms Share
The Art of Home Education

July 26
The European Mama
Spanish Playground

July 27
Vibrant Wanderings
A Hotchpotch Hijabi in Italy

July 28
Kids Yoga Stories
Adventure Bee

Final day to enter the contest is July 31, 2013, at midnight PDT. Drawing will take place on August 1, 2013.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: Pink Fire Trucks


I love children's books that are all about empowering our kids to shuck stereotypes and follow their own dreams, blaze their own paths. So when Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri sent me a copy of her latest book, Pink Fire Trucks, Los camiones de bomberos de color rosado, I was delighted to find a story that does just that for our young girls.

The story follows young Gladys Elizabeth during Career Day at her school. When asked to draw what she wants to be when she grows up, Gladys draws a big, pink fire truck. Soon a boy in her class named Rudy laughs and tells her she has to stick to a "girl job." Qué, qué? Fortunately, she doesn't think twice about standing up for herself, though the boys remain unconvinced. A few days later on their field trip to a local fire station, however, Gladys Elizabeth and her classmates are surprised to meet a female fire fighter. But it isn't until Gladys Elizabeth must help Rudy that mindsets are truly changed.

This lovely book is written with full text in both English and Spanish making it another great resource for bilingual families.

Take a look at the book trailer:



My daughter, who is very much a girl who knows her mind and doesn't believe in gender roles, loved this book. She says that what she likes best is how the girl proved she could do what she wanted in the end.

Validation, people. It's what we all want, no?

Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri is the author of another book - Rubber Shoes: A Lesson in Gratitude - that I reviewed last year, and which focuses on developing character and values.

Both books were illustrated by Lina Safar, whose beautiful watercolor drawings are lively and sweet, as you can see from the book trailer.

Visit Barbieri's website (Chucho's Books!!) to learn more about her books and to make a purchase. Or you can find this book on Amazon.com.

And you might take a look at my Pinterest board on Fire Fighter Crafts for ideas on how to supplement this book with fun crafts and activities!

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review. I was not compensated in any way and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

App Review: Bill Nye The Science Guy



Name: Bill Nye The Science Guy
Subject(s): Science
Brief Description: Sit down at Bill Nye's desk and explore the amazing world of science!
Price: FREE
Language: English
Ages: 6 and up

What my kids like: My kids are science geeks, so they loved everything about this app. From flying their own rocket to the different planets in our solar system, launching satellites and taking pictures to decoding face scrambling technology to digging for artifacts. The app even includes a tutorial on how to tie a bow tie, which they got a kick out of. And of course, they loved the sound effects and the Bill Nye theme song that runs a few times in the app.



What I like: I like apps that allow my kids to develop their science skills period. There aren't a ton of games or activities in this app (what do you expect - it's free!) but the ones that are there are fun and informative. I especially like the Book of Do-It-Yourself Experiments that gives instructions for easy experiments that kids can do at home using common household items to study science concepts in action.

I also enjoyed the fast facts that the Bill Nye bobble-head doll sitting on the desk spews whenever you click on it.

The optical illusion section is fun and even surprised me, which I think both my kids enjoyed, too!



Notes: This app does offer in-app purchases, so if you don't want your kid buying Bill Nye episodes and such, make sure that your account is password protected and that your child doesn't know what your password is. It's also only available in English.

Monday, July 15, 2013

SummerLearning: Mayan Mysteries


The following post contains an affiliate link.

Today's summer learning resource is totally awesome. We discovered it through Educents on Saturday and my kids and I absolutely LOVE it. Have you already heard about Mayan Mysteries? It is an interactive, online game that teaches kids all about the Maya culture through stories, challenges, and games that take your child on a super fun adventure.



Looters have been stealing ancient Maya artifacts and it's up to you and your team to solve the mystery ans stop the thieves. Your child joins Team Q in their quest to find a lost Maya city. Along the way, they'll have to find clues and complete various challenges (more than 300!) to progress. Your child (and maybe you?) will get an in-depth study of the Maya culture. They'll learn about various Maya sites (like Tikal, Cerén, etc.), explore the Maya calendar, and even try their hand at Maya math. They'll discover artifacts and learn about real archaeological techniques, and decode glyphs.


Technically it has been created for kids 11 years old and older in 5th through 9th grades, but my son who is starting 2nd (okay, he's pretty smart) was fascinated and so was my daughter who is starting 4th. I had them read the story, and asked my daughter to help my son with the harder words. But when she left the room, my son discovered the audio button which reads aloud the text. Either way, it is an awesome read and both of them loved the adventurous feel of the game.

You can also find a series of lessons and printables on the Scholastic website. They're easy enough to print up at home or at school. In addition there is an in-game encyclopedia that encourages students to explore topics and retain information ranging from the Maya governmental system to farming practices and Maya beliefs about time.

I simply love this program which teaches everything from geography and culture to social studies, reading comprehension, science, math, and even spatial reasoning. The content is aligned with the Common Core Standards for Language Arts and Mathematics, in addition to the National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards. I would think that this would be a really great addition to any classroom curriculum, and in fact, Educents has the classroom edition (affiliate link) for up to 30 students at half off the normal price.



This is certainly a high-quality educational game that is well worth the money. But you can play a free demo of the game at the Dig-it Games website to decide for yourself.

Parents can also purchase a single-user subscription of the game for $21.99. BUT the game is now available on iPad, too, and you can get it for $9.99.  I have purchased the iPad app for my kids simply to save me minutes on my Internet plan.



Disclosure: I learned about this site through the Educents website and am using my affiliate link for the classroom edition discount. However, I paid to download the app onto my iPad for my kids. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Free Beach-Themed Printables


I'm so happy to be able to share with you these free Spanish printables from Monarca Language. Every month, we'll have a few pages that you can print out for your preschooler, to help them prepare for entering kindergarten.

This month's theme is the ocean. Though the printables are in Spanish, the instructions are in both Spanish and English for those of you who may not be completely fluent in both languages, but are trying to raise bilingual children.

The first printable is a set of vocabulary cards that your child can color in, cut out, and use to tell a story. And the second printable is a matching page to develop fine-motor skills, as well as vocabulary.

I think that these printables would go really well with some fun ocean-themed crafts like the ones on my Ocean Life Activities board on Pinterest.

And you can follow up with some of these awesome books on ocean life...

In English:

Latino Children's Literature: 
Wordless Picture Books:

And in Spanish:

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

3 Read-Aloud Books to Spark Creative Conversations with Your Child

Have you ever found yourself in a coincidental reading moment? I had 2 last Monday! My family and I were in a bookstore during a tornado while reading books with titles such as Stuck and Courage! The other coincidence is that our three special finds were books with the centralized theme of displaying different scenario outcomes for the one single situation or idea. This type of text gave my son and me an opportunity to continue a conversation listing our own thoughts long after we were done reading. While huddled away from the windows and in the dark (the power went out!), we threw ideas back and forth, imagining other possible outcomes in the book. An experience I will never forget! 

I hope you don't have to be huddled in a dangerous situation to experience such moments with your child! Teaching reading strategies such as making predictions and summarizing a story can happen with most books and can happen naturally. Visualization and making connections are a lot more fun when engaging the reader to contribute to the author's ideas. Certain books allow this to happen. Here are three great ones we found while taking shelter! 


Stuck by Oliver Jeffers is a simple yet very silly story of Floyd's kite getting stuck in a tree. He throws a shoe at it to get the kite down. The shoe gets stuck and...the list of Floyd's crazy ideas to get his kite down goes on and on. At the end of the book, Diego and I talked about what we would have done in that same situation. Although more reasonable ideas came up, we had a great laugh at making other silly stuff up too. 


Courage by Bernard Waber not only gave us a child's perspective of what is courage but we also read what a typical grown-up and even what a pup considers courage to be! One of my favorite descriptions of courage was, "Courage is deciding to have your hair cut." Another thoughtful one, "Courage is admiring (flowers) but not plucking." We got to read about the big ones too, like a firefighter's courage or being the first one to say "I'm sorry."  Talking about this character trait taught me a lot about my son's fears and his discovering what I find to be courageous was invaluable too. 


The World Belongs to You by Riccardo Bozzi was a lot more sweet and serious than the other two books just mentioned. Nevertheless, the conversational theme continues. With this book, we found a lot of opportunities to compare and contrast. "You are free to be happy" is one of the messages in the book and it is illustrated with shapes that form an ice cream cone. On the opposite page, the shapes are distorted, showing the spill, with the text, "but it won't always be easy." A coming-of-age book and a perfect gift for any child reaching a milestone, this book gave us countless opportunities to discuss how the perfect scenarios can sometimes come to an end. 

Bravo to books for keeping us distracted and occupied during a scary time! Adding our own ideas to the authors' wonderful books was a lot of fun and allowed us to sit tight and listen to each other's ideas. I loved the creativity behind all the discussion! 

Encouraging reading during the summer months is very important. The "extras" you do with your young students are a guaranteed bonus for the child's reading development and their creativity. The quality time spent is priceless too! Take a few moments after reading with kids to see what else they have in mind. You might find ideas that will make you wonder, why didn't the author think of that? 

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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, July 9, 2013

Host Your Own Summer Reading Party



Can you believe that the summer is just about half over?? Madre mia! Where is the time going? We have been busy, busy, with swimming, science experiments, movies, and...READING! Of course, we are participating in the Latino Children's Summer Reading Program. But that's not all. We're involved in our local library's SRP, and are keeping up with several reading sites for fun ideas, crafts, printables, activities, and more. And one of my favorites is Education.com, which has a free DIY summer reading camp that they've created in cooperation with PBS KIDS. I love the fact that all of these reading programs can complement each other and keep my kids busy every week with literacy-based activities.

This past week, we even hosted a summer reading party for some of our friends using a kit from PBS KIDS. It included books, postcards, reading logs, bookmarks and more. And while all the goodies were fun, it was the activity we chose to engage the kids that was really the best part of the party.

Education.com has many activities to choose from, but we decided to work on maintaining and developing their math skills with the Math Bugs activity. A dozen kids attended our little party and all of them enjoyed the idea of making bugs out of numbers. From ladybugs out of zeros, to a pair of butterflies from the number eleven, the kids used their imaginations to make all sorts of crawly insects like spiders, moths, snails and more. We had the older kids helping the younger ones and even one of the adults jumped in on the action and made her own craft. :) And I think seeing an adult participating helped to motivate some of the kids. The supplies were simple: colored pencils, construction paper, pipe cleaners, googly eyes and glue! I think the neatest part is that after they create their insect masterpieces, they can then use their numbers to build simple or complex math problems by adding, subtracting, or even multiplying the numbers together.

But really, there are SO MANY great activities on the site to consider. Younger children may enjoy making their own I Spy Alphabet Bottle, while older kids my prefer Word Girl's Synonym Salad. But don't worry if you have a wide age range of kids. Just do what I did and put the older kids in charge of helping the younger ones assemble their crafts. 

Now why can't you host your own reading party? All you have to do is print up some bookmarks and reading logs, read a few books, and then choose a craft to keep the kids engaged and excited about summer learning. You could even invite each guest to bring a book to swap and at the end of the party, each guest takes home a new book to read. (We're all about recycling, you know.)

Just look at all the fun these kids had:


Keeping the kids involved in summer learning activities is really important to me because experts say that all kids lose ground – in math, reading or other areas – if they don’t engage in learning activities over the summer. So in addition to summer camps, vacation bible school, and our reading programs, I'm scouring the web and even looking at television programs.  PBS KIDS is in the middle of 10 weeks of themed programming to inspire children ages 2-8 to explore and learn. Each week features episodes from a different PBS KIDS series.

The line-up includes:
  • WILD KRATTS – “Bug Week,” starting June 3                       
  • SUPER WHY! – “Super You Week,” starting June 10
  • SESAME STREET – “Literacy Quest Week,” starting June 17           
  • MARTHA SPEAKS – “Puppy Week,” starting June 24           
  • CURIOUS GEORGE – “Creative George Week,” starting July 1                     
  • DINOSAUR TRAIN – “Dinosaurs A-Z” starting July 8             
  • DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD – “Let’s Play Outside Week,” July 15                  
  • THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT! – “Let’s Get Wet Week,” starting July 22        
  • ARTHUR – “Sports Week,” starting July 29               
  • WORDGIRL® – “What’s Up With WordGirl Week,” starting August 5
Remember that it is important to limit your child's screen time. But I do admit that in the summer, I'm not as strict as I am during the school year. I take comfort in the fact that I know they are watching educational programming and I don't have to worry about commercials, or the content of the shows they are watching.

How do you keep your kids busy learning throughout the summer?

Disclosure: I am a PBS KIDS Ambassador, which means I occasionally receive special announcements and educational products to review and share with you. All thoughts and opinions are my own, however. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

#SummerLearning Science Activity



My kids are natural-born scientists. They LOVE to perform experiments. So most days there is something going on in my kitchen or on the side porch that requires my kids to wear their "lab" coats. Most recently, inspired by last week's fireworks during the 4th of July, my son had a blast doing this Nebraska Fizz Project that Little Passports shared with us (I'm a Little Passports Ambassador, remember? So this is my affiliate link). He experimented with his rock collection.

“The fizz test” is a test that uncovers whether rocks in your own backyard have limestone in them. This experiment was inspired by Nebraska, which has the nation’s largest limestone deposit. If a rock contains limestone, you’ll hear that familiar fizzing noise that you hear during a 4th of July fireworks show!

Here's some background information and the instructions for conducting your own experiments. If your family tries this, let us know what your results were!

The Nebraska Fizz Project

Background Information
The nation’s largest limestone deposit stands in the Nebraska town of Weeping Water. Limestone is a sedimentary rock (a rock made of compressed, small particles). It contains a compound called sodium carbonate. When you pour acid-based liquids on limestone, the sodium carbonate fizzes, creating a gas called carbon dioxide.

Follow the instructions below to conduct your very own limestone fizz test!

Ingredients

  • 3 rocks from your neighborhood
  • Damp paper towel
  • Pointed object (nail, small shovel or pick)
  • 3 tsps vinegar (this is your "acid")
  • Dropper or straw

Instructions
Clean your rocks with the damp paper towel.

Use your pointed object to scratch the surface of each rock. Your goal is to scrape some powder from the rock (not all rocks will be soft enough to allow this—that’s part of your test).

Use your dropper or straw to place about one tsp of vinegar on the area where you scratched. Watch what happens!
Results
- If it's difficult to scratch the rock, and the vinegar doesn't cause a reaction, the rock is NOT limestone.
- If the surface of the rock is easy to scratch, and the surface bubbles or fizzes, it IS limestone!


CONCLUSION
- If one of your rocks proves to be limestone, it means the ground in your neighborhood is similar to the ground in Nebraska.

- If your rocks aren't limestone, it means the ground in your neighborhood is made of different compounds than the ground in Nebraska. 

*Test as many rocks as you'd like!

Disclosure: I'm a Little Passports Ambassador, which means that among other things,  from time to time, they provide me with awesome activities and other ideas to share with you, dear readers!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Celebrate the 4th with Captain Mama

This post uses affiliate links.

Happy 4th of July!!

I am so happy that today I get to join in the book tour for the new release, Good Night, Captain Mama (affiliate link). Appropriate, no?

There are not many (are there any?) books about Latinas in the military. So this ground-breaking bilingual book is a special treat for not only military families, but also for the Latino community as a whole. Our girls need to be empowered to be the captains of their own lives, and this book is a great tool for teaching them to do so.

Good Night, Captain Mama/Buenas noches, Capitán Mamá is lovely story about a young boy and his mother, who happens to serve in the U.S. Air Force. One night as she gets ready to leave for work, this military mami patiently answers all her son's questions. Marco wants to know all about what his mother does at work and what the patches on her uniform represent. His mami uses the patches to help him - and the reader! - understand what it is like to serve in the U.S. Airforce. I really like how in the back of the book, you can find a blank template that you can copy/print and have your child create their own unique patches.


The illustrations are exceptional and enrich the story line very well. Linda Lens does an amazing job of capturing the details of the patches and military equipment, as well as expressing the tenderness between the mother and her son. It looks to me like she's used colored pencil, which is another neat aspect of the book...at least for my own art-loving children.

Parents can continue the lesson after reading the book by visiting Captain Mama's website, where they'll find additional photos and other resources.


Inspired by her own son, the book was written by former military pilot and instructor, Captain Graciela Tiscareño-Sato. During her active duty military career, she lived on four continents and received many medals for her work in the air and on the ground.

Already Good Night, Captain Mama has made it onto Amazon's Best-Seller List (under Children's Latino & Military) and Hot New Releases lists! If you'd like to get an author-signed copy, visit Graciela's site, www.captainmama.com. While supplies last, for every book ordered at that site, you’ll receive a military-style embroidered patch of the book’s cover art. Amazon buyers who send their order receipt to info@gracefullyglobal.com will also receive patches. 

And if you need yet another good reason to buy this book, you should know that a portion of all sales will be donated to V-WISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship), a training program operated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, which educates and mentors women veterans through entrepreneurship to pursue self-employment as a post-service career.

For mamis and papis who are looking for a book that encourages and inspires their children - and especially their girls - to follow their dreams, this is the perfect book for you. I love how it honors the loyalty and bravery of our women serving in the U.S. military.

If you'd like to follow the Blog Tour, the schedule is below:Mon July 1 NW Prime Radio
Wed July 2 Latina Book Club
Tues July 3 Knitting and Sundries
Thurs July 4 Mommy Maestra & NBC Latino

Fri July 5 Amoxcalli

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Latina Moms Are Thinking About Cell Phone Safety

My kids are young - both under 10 to be exact. And already they've been begging me for a cell phone because they see their cousins or friends with them. I don't know if I'm old-fashioned, but I don't think they need one.

I mean, when my daughter was begging me the other day I said, "What do you need a cell phone for? You're homeschooled. If I want to tell you something, I'll just look at you and tell you. If your friends want to talk to you, they can call the house. If you want to call them, you can pick up the phone at home and call them."

She says, "But Mama, they have cool apps!"

I said, "So what? We have an iPad. Do you think that if we agreed to give you a cell, that we'd buy an expensive iPhone? Umm. I don't think so. You can buy your own iPhone when you graduate from college and are living your dream."

But the reality is that more and more parents are buying their kids cell phones. And I get it. Because most kids go off to school, and let's face it: that is getting scarier all the time. There are so many dangers nowadays that parents want a connection to their child available all the time.

So when I saw the following graphic, it really made me stop and think. I had never thought about how phones can be used to track your child's whereabouts, or that they lock when your child is driving. I didn't even know that these were options. Wow. The technology! And it made me think about how my kids will be teens before I know it. And I want to be prepared for how I can keep them safe when they get there.

What about you? Does your child have a cell phone? Why or why not? Do you use any of the safety features?


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Learning: A Child's Life in the Andes


Today's post is a part of my Summer Learning Series with ideas and activities for helping your child avoid summer learning loss.

Last May, I was contacted by Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou, a talented musician and multicultural folk singer. She's also the owner of the site, DariaMusic.com, which introduces world music for children.

Daria has a new book and CD available - and it is a GOLDMINE of educational material for parents who are looking for fun projects to keep their kids busy learning this summer.

A Child’s Life In The Andes is a 35 page eBook that brings the culture of this historic region alive through rich photographs and kid-friendly information. Your child will learn all about the Quechua culture: from geography to songs and instruments, to what it's like to be a child in the Andes, to the food and animals of the region.

Within the pages of the eBook you'll find three children’s activities, eight coloring pages, two language pages, and a word search that features new vocabulary. 


Although I recommend this eBook as an exciting way to keep your kids learning this summer, it is also perfect for classroom use or as a homeschooling/home study resource as well. 

Activities Include: 

Make Your Own Panpipes 
Make Your Own Rainstick 
Stuffed Animal Parade (Corrido De Cuy) 

Chapters In The Book Include:  


Geography 
About The Songs 
About The Instruments 
A Child’s Daily Life 
Animals In The Andes 
Foods In The Andes 
Languages Of The Andes (Spanish and Quechua) 



Coloring Pages Include: 

Charango (stringed instrument) 
Zampoñas (panpipe) 
Guitar
Chapchas (rattle)
Bombo (drum) 
Llama 
Armadillo 
Condor 




We've been exploring the booklet this week, listening to the beautiful music, and learning about the different songs. My son had the best time assembling his own zampoñas...





Daria's music CD is available from iTunes and Amazon as an mp3.  The CD and book combination can be purchased from TPT or from DARIAs Little Village Store.

Monday, July 1, 2013

3 Ways to Carve Out Me Time

© kentoh - Fotolia.com


The following is a sponsored post.

Whether you are a homeschooling mom or one with children who attend a traditional school, I have no doubt that your life is insanely busy with a full schedule. And in addition to being moms, we are so many other things to so many other people. We are also wives, daughters, sisters, or friends – sometimes all of these. We’re active in the PTA, at church, and maybe our local non-profits. We go to work or run businesses out of our home. We teach classes, run fundraisers, work out, and go to school functions.


When Blue Bunny asked me to write about this topic, I said yes. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now because I have friends and people who write and ask me: Do you ever take time for yourself? The short answer is: YES.

Otherwise, I’d go nuts.

I need time to decompress and just be me without having to answer to anyone else. I need time to just think about things I love…or not think at all. And I believe it is important for all of us to take the time to do so. I know that it makes me a happier person and a more relaxed mom (and probably an easier to get along with wife). But how do you carve out time when your schedule is jam-packed?

Here are three ways I make time for myself. 



Lunchtime Is My Time


As a homeschooling mom, I have to establish boundaries and the first thing that I do every day is make lunchtime my "me" time. After I make my kids lunch, I take my own food and head to my office. When I am eating at my desk, my kids aren’t allowed to bother me. They have to hold their questions until after lunch, or go ask their dad. I use the time to catch up on emails, revel in Pinterest, or read. In between picking crumbs out of my keyboard, that is.


Nighttime Is Quiet Time


At night, after everyone else has gone to bed, I usually work, but sometimes on the weekends, I just sit and relax with ice cream (in the summer) or hot chocolate (in the winter). This is the time I get to spend creating printables, reading, or even watching episodes of Downton Abbey. Sometimes I just sit and listen to…nothing! The sound of silence in this noisy house is blissful. (Or at least it is as long as I know that everyone is safe and sound in their beds. Silence in the daytime makes me suspicious or nervous!)



Mom’s Night Out



And lastly, once a month (or less frequently), I meet the other homeschooling moms in my group for a mom's night out with dinner at our local Italian restaurant. This is actually my favorite me time because my husband watches and feeds the kids, while I enjoy the evening talking with girlfriends and eating yummy food. Who can beat that? This usually takes a little more preparation on my part since my husband doesn’t cook much, so I usually leave a complete meal in the crock pot to make it easier on everyone.

I wonder, how do you find time just for yourself?

I want to thank Blue Bunny Ice Cream for inviting me to write this post and the samples of ice cream they sent my family. After spending the afternoon engaged in a scientific study (hooray for dry ice!), we gobbled down some of their Sweet Freedom Krunch Lites. The chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream has no sugar added, which is very important to me.  


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for it and even got some free ice cream!! All thoughts and opinions, though, that are shared in the post above are completely my own.

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