Friday, November 29, 2013

BIG Discounts for Educational Product Subscriptions this Holiday Season

This post uses affiliate links, which help keep me in business!

Pssst! This is a biggieIf you are thinking about gifting a subscription-based product like a magazine, book club, or montly activity, NOW is the time to do it! I absolutely love to give subscriptions to the kids for Christmas and their birthdays because it is the ONE gift that truly lasts the entire year when they receive new, educational, and fun products in the mail every month.

And I'm REALLY excited that I have special discount codes for you from three awesome companies.


Fill Their Minds with Cricket Magazines


I've already written about how fantastic Cricket en español magazines are, and the giveaway I did on MommyMaestra was very popular. I'm thrilled that they've chosen to become a MommyMaestra sponsor. But the absolute best part is the fantastic discount that they are offering on all of their magazines to you! Get up to 60% off a subscription to any of their magazines - even the English ones. This is the lowest price they've offered all year.

Now through December 31st, you can get both a print and digital subscription for only $19.95 when you use the code: N5032

The hardest part is deciding which magazine to sign up for!




This Holiday, Give Your Child the World with Little Passports


Starting today, Little Passports is having a huge sale. 

Every month, follow Little Passports characters Sam and Sofia as they embark on a new country adventure. Your first month’s Explorer Kit arrives in a suitcase and contains everything your child needs to get started learning about our big world: a letter from Sam and Sofia, a map, a passport, stickers, access to online games, and more. Country-specific packages filled with fun souvenirs, letters, stickers, photos and activity sheets arrive every month thereafter. Get started with Little Passports today, subscriptions start as low as $10.95! (And that's without the discount!) 


Here are the details and discount codes you don't want to miss:

Details:

  • From November 29th - December 2nd: 50% off first month of monthly subscription with code: BLACK50
  • On December 3rd: 40% off first month of monthly subscription with code: BLACK40
  • On December 4th: 30% off first month of monthly subscription with code: BLACK30


Restrictions
Discount is valid on first month only. All discounts are off of the retail price excluding the shipping and tax. Offer valid on new subscriptions only. Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer valid from 29th Nov - 2nd Dec.



Receive a New Book at Your Door Every Month


Zoobean is a curated catalog of children's books and apps. This amazing little company makes it easier for you to find remarkable books for your child. Each month, they deliver a handpicked book to your doorstep, with reading guides and app recommendations sent straight to your inbox! You can look through their online catalog for free to see some of the wonderful titles they offer.

Now through Monday, Zoobean is offering big discounts with 55% off of the first month of a monthly subscription and 10% off of any gift (up to a $20 value).

Details:
  • Save 55% off first month of a monthly subscription with code: SMARTMOMMY
  • Save 10% on Gifts, up to $20 Value, code: SMARTMAESTRA

Feliz Navidad from Best Buy


Sponsored content

Today's post is all about some of the great products you can find at Best Buy plus two coupons for up to an additional 15% off already discounted tech "toys."

I have to tell you that I've already been shopping this year. A few weeks ago, I headed to Best Buy with a gift card in one hand and a very specific list in the other. (I like to do my research ahead of time, and go through the stores once without buying to see what products they carry and get prices. I had already done this, so I knew exactly what I wanted when I entered the store. In fact, I had even discussed with my children what were some of the gifts they really wanted this year, and we looked them over at several stores.)

So when I entered the store, I went straight to the tech toys section shown above. My kids and I had gone back and forth for a long time over whether or not it was time to "graduate" from the old Leapster handheld gaming system, to the newer LeapsterGS or LeapPad or something altogether different like the Nabi 2 or Ninetendo's 3DS. I rejected the 3DS immediately because very few of the games are actually educational (Boo!), so no deal for me. I really liked the Nabi 2 because of all the parental controls I read about and the educational content, but ultimately the kids said no because they really wanted the LeapFrog toys. I'll talk more about these in a later post.

Right. So here is what I bought...


Both the LeapsterGS and the LeapPad2. I decided not to go with the LeapPad Ultra because I wasn't ready for them to have that WiFi connection just quite yet. They can get on their computer in our library at home where we do school and I'm better able to monitor their activities online. My daughter chose the Super Animal Genius Explorer game shown at the bottom, and my son chose Disney's Brave Explorer game.

I also bought a ton of batteries to run these and more. It seems like we go through a LOT of batteries at my house and the price just keeps going up and up! What's with that?

I mentioned that their school computer has Internet access, but actually, their receiver had broken, so I also picked up a new WiFi USB Adapter for their school computer. My kids have a hand-me-down computer from a friend, who had gotten a new one. Their computer is a Dell and really like new and probably even better than this one I'm typing on, but it needs an adapter to pick up the WiFi signal. So I'm pretty happy with this purchase, too, as it gives them protected online access. (I'm the protection.)


And I got the kids the movie Epic simply because we loved it so much when we saw it this summer. You know my kids are nature lovers and this movie sparked their imagination and inspired them to dream up stories just like it in our own backyard.

But I admit, I didn't just shop for the kids...


I cheated and bought myself an early Christmas present. Already this Hamilton Beach - Set & Forget 6-Quart Slow Cooker is saving my sanity. I bought it because the my old crockpot was overheating and burning the food. I had to cook everything on low and it still ran too hot. But I didn't realize how bad things had gotten until I set this new one up and made a perfectly cooked roast last week. Seriously, I thought I would cry it was so beautiful! This week we ran out of propane gas and have decided to change gas companies. But they can't deliver until Monday or Tuesday. So guess what? I have three nights in a row of slow cooker meals planned. :) Do you use a slow cooker like this one? I've never had a programmable one and am SO loving it! (Really, I know it's pathetic to get so worked up over a crockpot, but anything that makes my schedule easier is a blessing.)

But I may be most excited about my new Dyson Digital Slim. It's supposed to be the most powerful cordless vacuum. Seriously. TWENTY minutes of constant high suction. No more tripping over cords. And no more cobwebs on the ceiling! AND I can take it to church to clean (do you have any idea how hard it is to vacuum between pews and the pew seats themselves?). It's craziness. Again, it makes my life a little less insane and therefore I ♥ it!

At any rate, there were tons of other products that I could have purchased, and many are still on my watch list, such as these from Fisher-Price that are oh-so awesome, but a little too young for my kids:



The Coupons

But good news! If your children are the right age for these great toys, here's a coupon for you that's good online or in the store. It's good for 15% off Health & Fitness and Fisher Price & Mattel Toys. (Psst! It's also good for the Shine Elegant Wearable Tracker that I talked about here.)

And if you have older children, here's another coupon for 10% off Headphones and Portable Speakers.


Disclosure: I am a Best Buy Brand Ambassador which allows me to share great deals and information with you on a regular basis. I was compensated for this post, however, all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Free Bilingual Thanksgiving Placemat {PRINTABLE}

Thanksgiving Printables in Spanish

Tomorrow is almost here! Need a quick fun printable for your child to work on for a few mintues while you get things done? Here's a free placemat printable for them to draw what they are thankful for.




Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: Playskool's Showcam {Giveaway}


MommyMaestra Holidays (#MMHolidays) are here!

So I'm kicking off things a little early because I have a few giveaways that I do not want to run all together and I know that many of you will be shopping this coming weekend! Maybe you can mark this one off your list? If you are looking for ideas for educational products to gift to your children this holiday season, I have already put together a fabulous (FREE!) Holiday Gift Guide filled with lots of great products. But in addition to the guide, I'll be sharing reviews of other fun and educational products (not featured in the guide) plus a few giveaways, too!

The Playskool Showcam
Retails for $64.99

First up is the Showcam by Playskool. What makes this little digital camera so special is that it is also a projector, displaying the fabulous pictures your child has taken onto a wall or screen. Your child can also have fun chooing from more than 50 silly effects to dress up their photos. My 7-year-old son loved taking pictures of us wearing crowns, hats, and more. He even begged us to take photos of him after he chose what designs to add to the photo. The buttons and levers on the camera are all large and colorful, perfect for little fingers.

This camera is really designed for younger children - I would say the best age range is 3 to 7 years old. However, I also used it with my 9 yo by giving her an assignment to go around and take pictures of different leaves, then come back and give me a report while projecting the photos she took onto the wall.

You can even save, print, or share your child's photos by hooking it up to your computer. You'll need a USB cable, though. (Not included!)

The Showcam is a great way to nurture your child's inner photographer and encourages him to look closely at his environment. You can make it more educational by assigning a presentation like I did with my 9 year old, and then sending them out to collect images for it.


The Giveaway

One MommyMaestra reader will receive the Playskool Showcam! How great is that? You get to stock up on holiday gifts and don't even have to buy it. :)

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 25, 2013

Educational Holiday Programming from PBS



Do you have kids at home this week? PBS KIDS has special holiday programming beginning today! I'm sharing a schedule below of some of the great programs coming up this holiday season in case you'd like to look through it and see if there is anything you know your child would enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD
Snowflake Day! – Premieres on November 25
In this thirty-minute holiday musical episode, the Neighborhood is celebrating Snowflake Day! Daniel has a very important role as the snowflake in the Neighborhood’s Snowflake Day Show and he can’t wait to say his lines! The Enchanted Garden is full of excitement and winter cheer as everyone pitches in to make the celebration a true Neighborhood success!

A Snowy Day – Premieres on December 2
It’s snowing in the Neighborhood! Miss Elaina is coming over to Daniel’s house to play in the snow. When it’s time to go outside, Mom Tiger helps Daniel change out of his pajamas into clothes that will keep him warm and he learns how important it is to choose the proper clothes.



THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS! 
– Airs on November 27, 28, 29, 30 and December 1, 13 and 24
A PBS KIDS holiday tradition, this 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. With gorgeous animation and pull-out-all-the-stops musical numbers, THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS! will have families singing and celebrating all season long.

Elmo’s Christmas Countdown 
– Premieres on November 27, repeats on December 11 and 25
Theres a miracle on Sesame Street in this special holiday tale. Elmo, Abby Cadabby and their new friend Stiller the Elf (voice of Ben Stiller) are going to count down to Christmas with the Christmas Counter-Downer. But all the counting boxes have gone missing and Christmas may never come again! Can Elmo, Abby and Stiller the Elf save Christmas? With the help of very special guests Sheryl Crow, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Ty Pennington, Steve Schirripa, Tony Sirico and Kevin James (as Santa Claus), Elmo and friends learn to believe in Christmas miracles.

CURIOUS GEORGE
A Very Monkey Christmas – Airs on December 9, 14, and 25
Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat are having a wonderful time getting ready for Christmas. There’s only one dilemma  neither of them can figure out what to give the other for a present! In the end, both gift-giving predicaments are simply and beautifully resolved, revealing the true spirit of the holiday season.

ARTHUR’S PERFECT CHRISTMAS 
– Airs on December 10 and 25
Everyone’s favorite aardvark gives kids a new spin on seasonal traditions in his first one-hour primetime special, showing children many ways to celebrate “the holidays.” Plans are underway in Elwood City for the best holidays ever as Arthur, D.W., their family and friends make preparations for perfect gifts, perfect parties and perfect family traditions for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and even “Baxter Day” (Buster and his mom’s special celebration). The only problem is, just like real life, perfection is hard to attain and things start to fall apart.

SHALOM SESAME 
Chanukah: The Missing Menorah – Check local listings for air dates 
Moishe Oofnik is selling 2,000 year old sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts traditionally eaten on Chanukah), and Anneliese is bringing her family’s menorah to light at Shoshana’s in celebration of the first night of Chanukah. Grover the waiter is serving levivot (potato pancakes or latkes), when he and Anneliese are both startled by Brosh and a chicken. Anneliese’s menorah (a nine-branched candelabrum) goes flying. Anneliese can’t find her menorah anywhere, so everyone helps her look. The pressure is on to find it before sunset, and everyone sings a song about the search. Finally, Avigail finds it and everyone heads inside to light the candles. In the end, the Sumsum crew lights the menorah together and sings a song.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Parental Controls with Zact Available at Best Buy Mobile Specialty Stores


Sponsored content

If you are a parent who is considering buying your child his own mobile phone for the holidays, one of the main things you should be thinking about is parental controls. I firmly believe kids have to learn how to manage a cell phone responsibly. They have to be trained to have self-discipline, learning when it is okay to use a phone and when it isn't - like when they are in school or driving a car.

Why you should consider using parental controls:
• To limit phone use during school, while driving, in church, at the dinner table, while doing homework, and after 10 pm.
• To limit texting during specific times like those mentioned above,
• To control which apps your child has access to and when
• To monitor how much time your child is spending on talking on the phone or texting friends
• To ensure that your child can still call you directly at any time day or night.

This is one of the reasons why I REALLY like Zact. You can set allowances on the amount of talk, text and data, set curfews, set allowed or blocked contacts, allow or restrict internet use, and control which apps your child has access to. You control all of it from your own smartphone. And you can make exceptions so that your child can still call you even after curfew or during restricted times (like at school). Look how easy it is...



All Zact plans are shareable, so you can share the same pool of talk, text and data with your kids (or anyone in your family) without having to pay hefty line fees.

We don't use our landline at home any more, and only keep it for emergencies or for the kids to talk to 'Buelita every now and then. Instead, we rely on our cell phones, but our high monthly phone bills make me want to cry. That's another reason why Zact is worth considering. THERE IS NO CONTRACT! They work off the Sprint cellular and data network, so you get nationwide coverage. (Note: If you do not have Sprint service in your area, this is not the right plan for you.) BUT you get to customize your plans. The à la carte plans are what make Zact extremely attractive (in my opinion) because you can NEVER go over your limit. You get notifications when you get close, and right then and there (or whenever), you can add more minutes/data. And if you don't use all your minutes, you can apply the left over ones to the next month's service. You only pay for what you use.

Want to know what the average bill with Zact is? $22 a month! [insert angels singing here]

You can only purchase Zact at Best Buy Mobile Specialty Stores, though. So if you think this might be the answer for your familia, check them out. For more information, just click on the Zact link above.



--------------------------------------------------
**Explore Best Buy Mobile specialty stores – these shops are found locally in malls or in your neighborhood shopping centers, and are focused on mobile devices and accessories. Shop for the latest smartphones and tablets from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and Zact from all the top brands, along with stylish accessories to suit your lifestyle. The staff is highly trained, yet non-commissioned, so they can help determine the right phone for you, as well as compare plans across the carriers. They can set up and activate your new phone, transfer your contacts and data and set you up with the complimentary Walk Out Working™ program. To find a Best Buy Mobile specialty store, go to www.BestBuyMobile.com

Disclosure: I am a Best Buy Brand Ambassador which allows me to share great deals and information with you on a regular basis. I was sent a phone and given a free 4-month plan with Zact to learn about the service and what it has to offer. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Photo: © Monkey Business - Fotolia.com

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: The ABC's of Australian Animals


Raise your hand if you take Yoga classes. Now raise the other one if your kids take Yoga classes, too! A few months ago, my kids thought a Warrior pose was something the characters in Mulan did. But how things can change in the matter of one month...or even one day!

As a homeschooler, I'm always looking for ways to get my kids moving. I actively seek out products and resources that make them focus on making their bodies strong and healthy. But my kids are already extremely active on their own, so a product that slows them down and helps them find a teensy bit of inner peace is like gold for me.

The ABC's of Australian Animals is a fun interactive Yoga book for kids. Each page focuses on a different letter of the alphabet and includes an Australian animal whose name begins with that letter, and a yoga pose for your child to try. As you can see, the illustrations are lovely.


Some days we go through the book randomly trying to do the poses. Other days, I have the kids do one of the poses whenever they need a mental break during school. 

To make things easy on us (the readers), the author - Giselle Shardlow - has listed all the poses together in case we want to run through them all without going through the whole book. I've been toying with the idea of starting off our mornings going through all the poses to prepare us for learning. Doesn't that sound like a great way to start your day? I need to get out my old Yoga mats and blow off all that dust, because I'm reminded that those long ago days when I took Yoga classes were one of the few times in my life that I felt truly healthy and fit.

I also like that there is a Parent-Teacher Guide included in the back. It gives helpful tips like carefully choosing complementary music to make the moment more inviting and relaxing, or developing breath awareness by having your child practice inhaling and exhaling in a "light-hearted way."

Although I think this book is targeted toward preschoolers and kindergartners who are learning the alphabet, my older kids in 2nd and 4th have enjoyed looking through the book and practicing the poses. 

And I know that you, dear readers, will love the fact that the book also comes in a Spanish edition!



I think this would make a great holiday gift, don't you?

But there's more! If you visit the Yoga Stories website, you'll find a coloring books and other themed Yoga books (like beach life and jungle animals). And, yes, they're available in Spanish, too!

Con cariño...

Disclosure: I received a copy of The ABC's of Australian Animals for the purposes of this review.



21 Reasons Why Geography Matters

Are you celebrating Geography Awareness Week? My latest article on NBC Latino shares five great resources for exploring geography with your child. But here are 21 reasons why geography matters. Click on the image to download your own poster.

photo courtesy of: Marshall Daly, National Geographic Education Programs 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spanish Language Activity: Gracias Turkey


This past weekend, my boys and I did a very spontaneous and sweet Thanksgiving art project. Diego, who is going on seven, was telling us that his class is starting to talk about all things Thanksgiving. I thought about how it would be nice to do something for the upcoming holiday that could be appropriate for all ages while focusing on Spanish.  Diego could practice Spanish writing and spelling by including the things he is grateful for on a silly turkey. His little brother, Santi, is turning three next week and I thought we could review colors, shapes and basic Thanksgiving words in Spanish while he put his turkey together.


All we needed was construction paper, scissors, glue, googly eyes, popsicle sticks, a pencil and a marker. Diego and I cut out circles in two sizes, triangles and "feathers". Both boys had a good time assembling their own turkeys with very little help.


While Diego first made a list of the things he is thankful for in English, I reviewed basic colors and shapes in Spanish and had a very simple discussion on gratitude with my little guy. His Spanish is picking up nicely! Diego and I cheered Santi on in Spanish, "A la bio! A la bao..."


It's really helpful when older brother Diego understands the importance of Spanish "lessons." Although, we speak it at home, we are not always consistent. It is always easier to explain things in English to them so I find these projects special because they give it an extra effort since we are all especially conscious of our Spanish time.

 

All on his own, Diego wrote that he is grateful for his family, delicious food, cool books, nice art, and school. Be still my heart! 

 

I was amazed to find that he knew to use the adjective after the noun when he translated his list to Spanish. I didn't teach him that! It means he has been listening and understands how Spanish works!

 

I didn't correct Diego's spelling either. I wanted to see how many mistakes he made and if there was a pattern. I was thinking about a future lesson.  Interestingly, I found two. He spelled "deliciosa" with and "s" instead of a "c". He also used a "q" for "escuela," but knew it was wrong and he insisted I help him! 


Santi did a great job with his turkey. He practiced waiting his turn, he listened to the Spanish conversation and used his fine motor skills by putting a turkey together! So cute! 


Diego had a second chance to write his Spanish words on the feathers. He was so happy I let him use a Sharpie marker so he didn't mind writing the words again! Jaja! MY smart move! Practice makes perfect, doesn't it? 


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


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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving Native American Word Scramble {PRINTABLE}


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which help support the work of this site.

More Thanksgiving goodies for you! This one comes from Little Passports, for whom I am a Brand Ambassador. I'm very appreciative of sites and companies that encourage and help parents and teachers to raise global citizens in terms of introducing them to countries and cultures around the world. But I'm especially pleased when I see those that help us to see the diversity within our own country. 

If you haven't heard about Little Passports yet, take a look at this fun and adorable word scramble activity sheet that they are letting me share with you. It is just a sample of the wonderful activities that come in the Little Passports package every month, to educate your little ones about different states and countries all over the world! As an ambassador for Little Passports, I receive a year's subscription to their World Edition package. But because we like them so much, we voluntarily get the USA Edition too, thanks to my mom who has purchased the subscription for her nietos. I think your kids would love the USA Edition, too!

Print out this sheet for some fun with your kids and visit their blog for updated content. 




Monday, November 18, 2013

MommyMaestra's Holiday Gift Guide


I'm pretty excited about today's post because I'm so happy to share with you my first MommyMaestra's Holiday Gift Guide! Each year I typically review various educational products that I recommend for holiday gift giving. Sometimes I do giveaways. And, yes, I'll still be doing those this year, but I thought it would be fun to put together a holiday gift guide. Guess what? It was fun. I'm already seeing ways to improve and have next year's guide in the planning stages, if you can believe it!

I hope you enjoy looking through the guide where you'll find fun, educational products for kids. From infants to teens, there's something for everyone - including bilingual families. Later this week, I'll have a simple printable that you can download with links to each of the products. That way you can save your color ink for more important things. :)

Happy Holidays!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Monitoring Physical Fitness with a Shine Tracker from Best Buy


So I mentioned that as part of my commitment to fighting obesity and health risks among Latino children, I'd be sharing more content for keeping your kids (and your family!) active and healthy. Today I'm reviewing the Shine Elegant Wearable Tracker from Misfit.

Do you have any experience with a wearable tracker? I've never used one before. But I can certainly see how this would be a great way to motivate kids to get up and moving throughout the day! A tracker monitors the amount of activity you produce in a day. But the Shine Tracker takes it a step further and keeps track of your activity level, calories burned, how well you sleep, and more. All of these factors contribute to how well a child can focus and learn, impacting their academic performance.

This tracker has a crazy, futuristic design and how they make these things work is absolutely beyond me, but the monitor piece uses a halo of 12 LED lights that help you track your progress throughout the day and even allows you to tell time with a tap of your fingers! My son had fun pretending to be a secret agent talking into his "watch" as he darted around the house from one hiding place to the next.

The Shine is even water-resistant for up to 50 meters, so you don't have to take it off in the summer when you hit the pool or the beach! And Misfit has created a variety of accessories to allow you to wear your Shine in the way that you prefer: as a necklace, watch, or simply attached to your shoe while running, cycling, and much, much more.



If you have a kid who needs a little motivation when it comes to being active, the Shine Tracker is great. BUT you must have an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 to work it because you have to download the app, then enter your goal activity level, and sync your Shine every day to measure your progress. I would actually have liked this product more if I had been able to use my iPad instead. 


The educational benefits are excellent too. For example, you could have a different member of your family wear it each day for a week and then have your kids create a graph to compare each member's level of activity. Or you can have them measure their activity level over the course of a month and use a bar graph to look for patterns or periods of high/low activity. Or perhaps you could have your child set a goal and then calculate what percentage of that goal he or she actually met.

Shine is exclusively available in additional colors at Best Buy including Silver, Black, Champagne and Topaz.

Shine Features: 
•Activity Tracking, 
•Steps, 
•Activities: Swimming, Biking, Tennis, etc., 
•Sleep, 
•Calories, 
•Clock, 
•Waterproof, 
•Extra Accessories (includes Magnet clip), 
•Leather Bands, 
•Sport band, 
•Necklace

Shine is a gorgeous device that will empower people to be more proactive about their personal health. So if you'd like to try it out, you can buy your own Shine Elegant Wearable Tracker at Best Buy. (Pssst! It's on sale this week!)

Disclosure: I am a Best Buy Brand Ambassador and received a Shine Elegant Wearable Tracker for review purposes.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

McDonald's Encourages Family Literacy


As a mom, I really, really appreciate it when fast food restaurants seem to make an effort to entertain my kids with educational products. Guess what's in the Happy Meals this week? Books! Yes, books! I can't tell you how awesome it is to see books in a Happy Meal. I'm not that big a fan of plastic toys that my kids play with for an hour then leave laying around the house, forgotten forever. But books - now there's a treat that lasts and even benefits my kids for a long time.

Apparently, the books are part of McDonald’s initiative to celebrate the joy of reading with a Happy Meal program that features four different original books focused on nutrition, imagination, and play. Each book comes individually wrapped and includes a bookmark that encourages kids to pick up a book and read. Children can even write three of their favorite book titles on it.


And these books are funny. Oh, they aren't heavy classics, of course. But simple, fun stories that engaged my kids and made them laugh. And they have power, because my kids didn't just read them once. But over and over again. In fact, my son picked out The Goat Who Ate Everything as our bedtime read. Much shorter than our usual stories, but it had him in stitches and sent him off to sleep with a smile on his face.


I also enjoyed the fact that each story had a message about eating healthy:

• Ant Can’t – A book about Ant, a bite-sized bodybuilder, who is big on encouraging physical fitness through exercise and eating right.
• Doddi the Dodo Goes to Orlando – A book about Doddi the Dodo, a happy-go-lucky bird, who travels the world. She eats right to stay focused and alert because this dodo is always on the go-go.
Deana’s Big Dreams – A book about Deana, the world’s smallest dinosaur, who has big dreams. Milk and fruit help feed her imagination so she can grow tall and reach the sky.
The Goat Who Ate Everything – A book about a goat who has a big appetite and struggles to eat smart. But when he does, he feels great and becomes the playful kid everyone loves.


So I want to take this opportunity to say: McDonald's, let's see more books like these that tickle our children sense of humor, and help them develop their literacy skills in a fun way. And maybe you can go one step further and throw in a few bilingual stories to reach the one group of children in our country who consistently come in last when it comes to literacy skills? 

I guarantee the response would be enormous. :)

Disclosure: McDonald's sent me extra copies of these books for review purposes. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Día de acción de gracias Printable Game Cards & Audio

Actividades para el día de acción de gracias

This month's great freebie from our sponsor, Spanish for You, is a set of game cards plus audio file. If your child/family is learning Spanish, this Thanksgiving-themed activity is great fun.

The game cards and activities are available as a pdf file download. You'll find seven pages with pictures and words to introduce new vocabulary associated with this holiday. The game cards may be used to create your own board game to make sentences in Spanish about fall and Thanksgiving. There are also additional activity sheets so your kids can practice using the words they've just learned.

As with all of Spanish for You's printables, you'll also find an audio file that you can use in conjunction with the pdf file.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Free Spanish Reading Game: Tema 2: Centro foneticos

Interactive games for Spanish readers

Today's awesome freebie from Lectura para niños, is an interactive game that makes learning to read in Spanish FUN for your kids. Leah explains...

Mimio file - Tema 2: Centro foneticos - haciendo palabras nivel basico is one of 9 themes of the phonics center.

These are phonics centers using the MIMIO software which you can get at www.mimio.com under support and downloads for Mac, Windows, or Linux users.

Each phonics center introduces 2-3 new letters from each theme. Theme one in the curriculum teaches the vowels. The phonics center theme 2 introduces the letters M, P, and S. This phonics center allows the students to learn new vocabulary that creates 2 syllable words with basic open syllables. On each page there is a vocabulary picture card at the top that has sound attached to it. The children can click on each picture to review the picture vocabulary. There are 4 letters at the bottom of the page in random order. Tell the child to repeat and segment the word to syllables. Pull the letters up one at a time to form the syllables in each word. Once the syllables are formed, have the child pull each letter down one at a time while saying the sound. This helps the child segmenting words into sounds. Repeat this process pulling each sound down one this time to form the word. Once the word is formed, the children can click on the pencil on the "tools bar" to practice writing the word. Once they have written the word, they can print the page for the teacher to save in their portfolio for conferences. These are great performance tasks to see if the students have understood the concepts of segmenting and blending words into syllables and sounds. There are between 11-14 pages in each of these downloadable phonics centers. 

Take a look at these sample pages...

Spanish reading games



These phonics are the same as: Spanish: Centro Foneticos 003: haciendo palabras: Nivel Basico DIGITAL but in digital format. Both Centers use the same picture vocabulary, but these are in an electronic form so students can have independent practice.

All of these MIMIO phonics centers are available on Lectura para niños' TPT site.


Thank you, Lectura para niños!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Free Día de Acción de Gracias Printables for Pre-K

Preschool Thanksgiving printables in Spanish

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

I am absolutely loving this month's free Thanksgiving- and family-themed printables from our sponsor, Monarca Language!

The Día de Acción de Gracias Word Search is great for helping kids develop vocabulary, letter recognition skills, and introduces spelling.

The family tree activity is simply adorable and I love how it helps develop a child's fine-motor skills and reinforces the concept of family relationships as they draw their family members in the tree. It even boosts pre-math skills as they practice counting from one/uno to five/cinco.


Additional reads in Spanish (All book titles are affiliate links):
Also, don't miss my bilingual resources for Thanksgiving!

And just for fun, I found these two episodes of Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving episode...in Spanish.

Enjoy!



Friday, November 8, 2013

The LEGO® Movie is Coming...

It's true. This Lego-loving family is excited...


Thursday, November 7, 2013

5 Things To Consider When Choosing Bilingual Homeschooling


Please welcome Denise Leitch, author of today's awesome guest post.

“Bilingual what?” was the first thing that came out of my mother’s mouth when I was informing my parents that, as a family, we had decided on bilingual homeschooling for our children’s education. I just laughed - I may have also rolled my eyes - switched to Spanish, and started desde el comienzo. I began to explain what homeschooling is and how it works to my Chilean parents.

To me, for cultural and personal reasons, it is important to have my parents’ approval and support with the most important decisions in my life. Even though I am a grown, independent woman, I am from Chile and due to culture and my family’s ways, having their support is truly valuable.

I knew that homeschooling would not be their first choice, nor their most desired option for their grandchildren (due to ignorance on the topic more than anything else), but I did not let this be an obstacle in making my final decision on bilingual homeschooling.

Are you considering bilingual homeschooling for your children? If so, what is stopping you? What obstacles are you facing? Why haven’t you taken the plunge yet?


Yes, I know, it is not an easy step.

To be honest, I can tell you that I had quite a few rational reasons why I should not homeschool. So by no means was it an easy decision for us either.

Bilingual homeschooling was the right choice for us, I know that now.

What about you?

I want to share with you five tips that may help you arrive at your final decision as you consider this option for your family.


1. Be honest with yourself and find your own reasons and motivations for choosing bilingual homeschooling.



Bilingual homeschooling should not be picked because it is the new trend nor because it is what so-and-so advised you to do.

Yes, bilingual homeschooling is pretty cool. I have to admit it, but it is not easy and it is definitely something you cannot ‘wing.’ This is coming from a person who has been teaching foreign languages to young children for over 10 years and I still think it takes a lot of planning and dedication.

One of the questions you should ask yourself is: What are your reasons and/or motivations for considering bilingual homeschooling? Whatever they may be, they need to be strong enough to propel you through good times and tough times.

I can assure you that once you have your own reasons why you are choosing bilingual homeschooling, you will succeed.

So, establish your goals and go for it.

From my perspective, if your ultimate goal is for your children to be multilingual and multicultural, then bilingual homeschooling is definitely a great option for your family.

My top three motivations are:

  1. Minority language becomes just as important
  2. Keep culture and heritage
  3. Travel flexibility

What are yours goals, motivations, and reasons for choosing bilingual homeschooling?

2. Don’t drown on all the information that is available ‘out there.’ Do what works for you. Find your own unique rhythm.


Too much information can be overwhelming, do not let it get to you! And definitely, do not let it stop you.

Know what resources are available, but do not depend on them nor let it overwhelm you to the point where you no longer want to try it.

I say this because I know the feeling and I still do. I see what other families are doing, read about their exciting projects, trips, ideas and I think to myself, I am not capable of that. Well, that is because I am not them! I am me and that is OK. Our family has its own rhythm. It works for us. Do what works for you!

When you add another language to your curriculum, it gets a little trickier, but remember, there is no right or wrong. Try some of the tips you find online, in books, podcasts or wherever, but do not get discouraged if they do not work in your home. There are many resources and philosophies out there. But again, the bottom line is, do what works for you!

As a foreign language instructor to young children I have had to do this on a regular basis for the past 10 years!

Find resources that will match your rhythm.

3. Find the right support. You are not alone.


Even though there are many homeschooling groups and tons of websites about it, you still feel alone once you take the first step. But guess what? You are not alone! Just remember that.

I have joined a few homeschooling groups through Facebook that have been the perfect support. To be honest, I have yet to truly participate and collaborate, but knowing that they are there for me if I need help and support is just what I need. There are many wonderful websites such as this one that will provide you with all kinds of information and support.

Take action and find the support that will match your needs.

4. Embrace the concept of learning together. Make mistakes.


It is OK to admit that we do not know everything to our children. Learning together is a beautiful process and a powerful one. And in terms of planning, I feel that as long as I stay one step ahead… we are good.

As we considered the idea of homeschooling, reading and writing in English was a big obstacle for me. After 15 years of living in the United States, I still make mistakes on a regular basis and I do not know all the phonetics and grammatical rules there are to know. I felt weak and incapable of teaching our children the ‘right way’ if I did not master the language myself. Man, was I wrong!!

To my surprise, my children seem to enjoy this side of me that makes mistakes and needs assistance. They gain lots of pleasure when Mami has a hard time pronouncing a word in English. Not to mention that they feel empowered by helping me and teaching me! They become my mentors. What a beautiful and exciting moment that is. I welcome it and use it to understand in more depth how they feel when they are being corrected and guided as I teach them other languages and subjects.

As you adventure into bilingual homeschooling, you will make mistakes and you will mispronounce things. Should this stop you from doing it? No! Learn from your mistakes together, have your children involved as much as possible and allow them to be active participants in the learning process. Empower them. Allow them to shine.

Finally, I should note that if there is something I do not know, we search for the answer together. In addition, if I am suppose to teach them about something I am not familiar with, I make sure to learn about it before I sit down with them and work on it together. I just try to stay one step ahead when possible so I do not get too overwhelmed.

Learning together is very powerful, embrace it and enjoy it! But most importantly, do not be afraid to make mistakes.

5. Deciding on the target languages.


Growing up in a multilingual environment is one of the best gifts we can give our children. I truly believe in this statement. If you agree with me, then bilingual homeschooling is definitely something to consider or even try in your home.

Some of you may not be fluent in the target languages.

Don’t let this stop you.

Some of you may not know how to break it down and teach it to your young children.

Don’t let this stop you.

Some of you may not know what languages to focus on.

Don’t let this stop you.

You get the idea.

No matter what your obstacles are if you have a great goal in mind for your family and you feel passionate enough to go after it and attain it, I say there should be nothing to stop you.

Take the plunge. You will see that step by step, one day at a time, you will make it. This is a wonderful adventure and a beautiful journey to enjoy as a family.

Resources:

If you are a book worm like me, here is a list of books to get you started. This is the same list I recommend to all the parents of my students who -like you- have the goal to raise multilingual children.

If you are more of a visual person and like to watch informative videos or look at colorful infographics about raising multilingual children, here is some information I have gathered in my ‘Benefits of Multilingualism’ board on Pinterest.

If you are wanting to see a list of useful links all about bilingual parenting and multilingual education, click here.

Finally, I welcome you to visit my site for supplemental resources. On a regular basis, I post about what I am doing at home and in the classroom. And recently, since we took the plunge, I have also started sharing our bilingual homeschooling adventure.

I can only hope that these resources will help you (1) determine your goals, motivations, and reasons for choosing bilingual homeschooling, (2) find what matches your rhythm, and (3) inspire you to take action and find the support that will match your needs.

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


Denise Leitch is a devoted mother of two and an energetic educator who specializes in early childhood and elementary foreign language education. She believes in the power of collaboration and lifelong learning.

Her goal is to help, motivate, and inspire her readers over at her blog, linguagarden.com.

Love this post? Share it!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...