Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best of MommyMaestra 2014

Dear Friends,

A year ago today, I published a review of the Best of MommyMaestra posts for 2013. It was fascinating to assemble and look over some of the wonderful posts of the past year and discover which ones were the most popular. I had so much fun, I wanted to do it again.

First, I want to thank MommyMaestra's wonderful sponsors who share such fantastic freebies every month to help MM readers teach their children a new language or new skills and concepts. A giant abrazo to Lectura para niños, Spanish for You!, and Monarca Language.

I also must thank all of the guest contributors to this site, but most importantly, Betty Galvan from My Friend Betty Says, who shares such wonderful content with us.

MommyMaestra is always looking for guest contributors. We want to hear and share your stories to inspire other Latino families to get involved in their children's education. We want you to be excited about the things your child is learning and to take an active role in their journey of discovery. When I first started MommyMaestra almost 5 years ago, I only knew of a handful of Latino homeschoolers and there were NO blogs dedicated to education for Latino families. Today, it is rare that a week goes by when I don't get an email or message from a mother (sometimes a father!) who is looking for curricula, has questions about how to start homeschooling, or needs resources for helping their child improve in specific subjects at school.

Un aplauso to each and every one of you. May 2015 be a wonderful year for your familia.


January

Free Sample of Advanced Spanish Phonics Center Homework Book

"Today's freebie from Lectura Para Niños is 14-page sample of their Advanced Phonics Center Homework book. For those of you teaching your children to read in Spanish, it is a wonderful treasure!"
The most popular post of January was this awesome freebie from MommyMaestra sponsor, Lectura para niños.



February

10 Ways to Improve your Child's Spanish Vocabulary at Home

"Lately, as my 21 month-old is starting to speak and as my seven year-old is using scientific words in English that I have no idea how to translate, my frantic Google search is often a reminder to seguir adelante with my efforts to continue to teach Spanish to my three boys."
Betty's most popular post this past year shared her secrets for boosting her children's Spanish vocabulary at home.



March

"I thought now was a great time to share lesson plans, activities, crafts, books, and more for learning about this legendary activist."
There are so many great resources now available about Cesar Chavez! Check out my post that gathers everything in one place for your historical figure study.




April

"The issue of reflection, or rather the lack of it, for my daughter, her friends, her cousins and my students is what lead me to write. I knew a group of children who were caramel-skinned, spoke Spanish and shared housing with extended family members. I watched them use the word American to mean white, draw themselves blond, hesitate to enter parks where everyone else was white and looked at us weird when we spoke Spanish."
Don't miss this must-read article by Latina author Amy Costales! It's personal and deeply moving.



May

"Spanish immersion is perfect for our family. [My daughter] had not been exposed much to Spanish at all before this. After a few weeks she came home saying a few words, singing a few songs. We both nearly sobbed and fell over with joy upon hearing the first song she sang us in Spanish!"
Texas mother of two, Francesca, shares her experience with her daughter's first year in a Spanish-immersion kindergarten.  




June

"Summer is a nice break from school but it doesn't mean your child has to stop learning. If you don't want your child to miss a beat, have them practice and do a little from the list below every day."
Betty has put together a fantastic list of activities for easy, fun summer learning! 




July

"I've been so disturbed lately reading the hateful rhetoric about the 50K children who have crossed the Texas border in the last year or more. It appears to me that people are confusing two very different and separate situations: the immigration issue and the unaccompanied minors crisis.

If you don't know much about the children who are crossing from Mexico into Texas, here are the facts..."



August

"The Describing with Colors Mini Lesson includes five pages of activities plus an audio file to help your student learn the right pronunciation for the vocabulary in this lesson."
In August, MommyMaestra sponsor shared their monthly freebie with MM readers to celebrate Back-to-School!



September

"If you are a homeschooling parent, then you are an educator, and as such, you should have some form of documentation that identifies you as one for several reasons..."
If you are homeschooler, be sure to read this post to learn why you should have a homeschool ID card, where you can use it, and how to create your own.



October

"Are you setting up an ofrenda in your home or classroom? These labels help to explain to visitors the various elements in the display."


November

"Do you have a child in your life that struggles with learning or attention issues? Are you looking for ways to help or cope? Then you need to know about a new comprehensive, FREE online resource for parents and kids ages 3 to 20."



December

"I honestly think the best way to teach children about Las Posadas is by having them participate in one. That is a treasured memory from my own childhood and I started thinking about how awesome it would be if parents and teachers could host their own posada at home or at school."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Free Download: Bilingual Christmas Gift Tags


So I just can't help myself. I made these bilingual Christmas gift tags for us and decided that they were so cute I had to share them with all of you. The set comes with a sheet of gift tags with 12 different designs in English and another in Spanish.


Feliz navidad, ya'll!



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Teaching Kids About Giving with Frigidaire & Best Buy

This is a sponsored post.

With Christmas and the opening of gifts less than a week away, I am still working on teaching my children to focus on those less fortunate and develop their Spirit of Giving. Over the last month or more we've worked on handmade gifts for our family and friends, we've also tried to spread the message about non-profits across the country who do so much good in their communities, and even donated some of our earnings to a few of them. Today I want to talk about how you can help your local community.

I know that during the holidays, there are usually lots of fabulous deals on major appliances. Perhaps you are planning on buying one for yourself or maybe for los abuelos? Or maybe, as the end of the year approaches, you are already thinking about making some tax-deductible donations to help you when tax time rolls around in a few months. Or maybe you just want to help teach your children about the spirit of giving to those who have less.

If so, I want to encourage you to think about donating a new or gently used appliance to your local chuches, food pantries, and community centers who serve at-risk families.

I'm so thankful that this year, Best Buy and Frigidaire made it possible for me to donate a new Frigidaire Gallery 30" Induction Range to our local church. The church is located in a low-income neighborhood and during the spring and summer months feeds some of the poor and homeless in the community. It's been bothering me so much that the equipment in their kitchen is badly outdated. I'm not sure what type of oven they had, but it was badly rusted. It had a double oven (one on top and one on bottom) and the bottom one didn't even work, neither did one of the stovetop elements and one of the knobs didn't even match the stove! I don't know how they managed to cook on that thing.


Anyway, we asked them if they would accept the donation of a stove and they readily agreed. The new Induction Range was a big deal for everyone! The new technology took a bit of figuring out, but it is so efficient now and makes cooking meals easy. The biggest difference is the induction range, which transfers heat directly to the cookware leaving the cooktop cooler to the touch so your spills don't burn and stick!

The only thing is, though, that not all pots and pans work on the stove. Since the heat is transferred magnetically, you have to use stainless steel pots (Note: not all stainless steel works!). But we got this 10-piece set of reasonably priced cookware which works beautifully. (Psst! Lots of department stores have this on sale during the holidays!)


Anyway, the induction range comes with five cooktop elements, including a food warmer, so if your bread/soup/vegetables are finished before the roast, you can still keep them warm. There are various settings, but one of the best features is the power boost that allows you to boil water in under 2 minutes! (Champurrado, anyone?)

And the oven! It's fantastic. You can choose from a normal baking setting or the convection oven, which circulates the air prefectly around your food, cooking it faster and more evenly. It also comes with a delay-bake, which allows you to program the time to start baking at a certain time in case you want it to start warming up while you are driving home from work/school/shopping or are otherwise busy.

It also comes with an Effortless™ Temperature Probe that allows you to set the desired finished temperature and alerts you when that temperature has been reached. The oven then holds the desired temperature of the meat by switching to a keep warm function for better cooking results. How crazy wonderful is that?

All of these features make it easy to create large meals when feeding a lot of people.

Here's a video to show you exactly what I've been trying to describe:



The church members were so thrilled with the new stove and we immediately tried it out with a few dishes... which came out beautifully, I might add. 


I was so happy that my daughter had the opportunity to experience this moment of giving so that she could learn how important it is to give selflessly to others and help make a difference in someone's life. And I hope it made her realize that it's important to think about purchasing big-ticket items for others (not just ourselves), such as non-profits, churches, cultural centers, and other organizations who play a vital role in a community.

Now we just need to get them a new refrigerator!

May your holidays be filled with loving and giving.


Disclosure: I am a Best Buy Brand Ambassador and was compensated for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions listed above are stictly my own. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Free Download: A Handmade, Heartfelt Gift for los Abuelos

This post contains affiliate links. 

We've been struggling this year to come up with great gifts for my parents this holiday season. So after much deliberation, we had a genius idea: A handmade book of poems.

"Grandpa loves haikus!" my daughter said. And promptly sat down to compose her own.

Loving this idea, we realized a nice cover and some decorative pages were in order. And in the end we were so happy with the results that we agreed this was something to share. So I've made a file available for our simple pages. It comes with a cover in English...and in Spanish. You'll also find some blank pages to go inside the booklet. Print them front and back, then fold them in the middle, stack them, and staple along the center crease.


Your child doesn't have to just write haikus either. These pages are prefect for any type of poetry. You can even write out your favorite poems by other authors to present to your abuelos (or other family members!).

Here's an example: I got out our favorite book on Spanish poems for kids - Todo es canción (aff link) by Alma Flor Ada - and chose a poem perfect to include in a book of poems for los abuelos.


I hope that I've taught my daughter that sometimes the most valuable gifts don't cost a lot of money. Sometimes the most valuable gifts come from the heart.

From our family to yours, we hope you enjoy this free download to help you give a heartfelt gift this holiday season.

Día de los Reyes Giveaway: Gifts by eeBoo


We are so excited to present you another fantastic giveaway! Actually, we have two! Thanks to our dear friends at eeBoo, a boutique toy manufacturer that specializes in beautiful and well-made educational games and gifts like I Never Forget a Face Matching Game and Natural & Earth Science Flash Cards.

My family has I Never Forget a Face Matching Game and everyone absolutely loves it! The game tiles are sturdy (perfect for those rough little boy hands we have around here!) and not only are the images for the concentration game visually stunning but also culturally refreshing! There are 24 faces to match and the little people hail from Mexico to Myanmar!


eeBoo is also giving a second winner a pack of the Natural & Earth Science Flash Cards. The learning tool offers six categories. My oldest boys would love to dig into the Mammals and Underwater Life flash cards! On one side of the card, a beautiful illustration is depicted. When flipped over, you can learn a bunch of facts about the featured image.

Both these eeBoo products introduce children to the world, work on concentration and memorization, as well as generating conversations with friends and family!

THE GIVEAWAY


eeBoo has donated a I Never Forget a Face Memory Game to one Mommy Maestra winner! Just in time for Día de los Reyes Magos ~ Three Kings Day!

eeBoo has also donated a pack of Natural & Science Flash Cards for another Mommy Maestra reader.

To enter to win, simply use the Raffecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Betty Galvan, is writing "for smart and stylish moms" over


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

App Review: Magicflix

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Magicflix and Latina Bloggers Connect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

One of the things that has always bothered me about letting my kids watch videos online is the adult content that frequently works its way onto the screen through ads or links. It drives me crazy that inappropriate content is may only be a click or two away.  It is something that every parent should be on the look out for. How I've longed for sites that have lots of parent approved content for children! So I'm absolutely thrilled to have discovered Magicflix, a new app that curates kid-safe, kid-friendly content! Read on to learn more...

Name: Magicflix
Subject(s): science, math, Spanish
Brief Description: A safe, curated video service for kids
Price: Free
Language: English, Spanish
Ages: 0 - 12 years
Device: iOS, Android

What I like:
I love that I don't have to watch over my children's shoulder to make sure that they won't be exposed to any content that is inappropriate. Their videos are good "edutainment" - they entertain kids while teaching them new things. When I visited their site to learn more about the app, I read that a Montessori teacher is in charge of their curation process for videos, so the criteria is based on Montessori guidelines. (That's a WIN! in my book.)

And I know that many MommyMaestra readers will love that the app includes Spanish and bilingual videos, too, including some of our favorites by Music with Sara, guiainfantil.com, and more.

This app was created by moms, who like myself were looking for age-appropriate and positive clips. It makes me feel more confident in the product knowing it was created by other moms. While they have a great selection of videos currently available, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing more added. I would like to see more categories for geography, world cultures, craft tutorials, how things are made, and holidays included.

When you download the app, you get a free trial period. I'm not sure how long this lasts as I didn't see any details about it in the introductory email that I received. But the email does also give you a link back to the Magicflix site where you can make video recommendations or add your own child's videos to their account. (PLEASE use caution when doing this and do not include videos that reveal your address or where your child goes to school.)

What my kids like:
They love the variety of videos on so many different topics, but especially science. My kids can learn about everything from birds of paradise to dolphins to tsunamis. My son loves the funny (sometimes) animated characters. It's obvious that the selection of videos are from companies that create content specifically for children.

They also love that they can save all of their favorite videos in one spot so that they don't have to search for them in the different categories.

So if you are looking for an app to gift this holiday season, be sure to consider Magicflix!




Monday, December 15, 2014

Tutorial: Fast & Easy Papel Picado Banner



Las Posadas start tomorrow and I don't even have any decorations up! So I decided to throw together this simple tutorial for fast and easy papel picado. It's a good activity for kids 8 years old and up. 

Papel picado is the Mexican folk art of paper cutting. Traditionally, elaborate designs are cut into the layered paper using chisels and other paper cutting tools. This project uses colored cardstock and paper punches that are easy for children to manipulate safely. To make your own miniature papel picado banner, here are some simple directions.

Materials:
  • Colored cardstock in festive colors
  • Punches with different designs (My favorites are the Martha Stewart square punches. I can usually find them on super sale at Michaels or TJ Maxx.)
  • Decorative scrapbooking scissors (optional)
  • Yarn or ribbon


Directions:


Cut your cardstock into 4” x 6” rectangular sheets or use pre-cut pieces.



Remove the top portion of your center punch, and center one sheet on the base plate.

Next replace the top. You don't have to worry about centering it; the magnets will pull it into place. It is helpful to hold the cardstock in place, though, with one finger as the motion of the punch sliding into place can pull the paper off to the side.

Then your child/student can simply push down on the top! It should punch very easily.



Use smaller punches to decorate the edges. Optional: Use wavy scissors to make a decorative edge along the sides and bottom, or use a decorative edge punch. 

TIP! Save your punched out pieces for colorful confetti for your cascarones





You may want to trim the top piece off so that all of the pieces of paper are a uniform size and to create a small strip for sliding the ribbon through. At the top, use a small round or rectangular punch at each corner, about ¼” from the top.

Cut a long piece of yarn or ribbon. The length will depend on how many papel picados you make, but for 10 sheets cut a ribbon about 77 inches long to allow for ½ an inch in between each piece, plus an additional 3 inches at each end to create a loop for hanging.



Thread the ribbon through the two holes at the top of each papel picado piece.

Make a loop at each end and hang!



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gift Giving with Nikon from Best Buy

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Last week I shared with you three cameras for photography students and one of them was a Nikon. If you read that post then you know that I've been a Nikon gal for a very long time - at least 15 years, but probably longer than that! The reason is that it is a professional camera that gives me awesome photographs every time. I can use them for work, but more importantly, I can use it to capture images of my family, friends, and life that I want to remember forever. What's more, I can use these photographs as part of my gift giving.

This week I want to focus on handmade or custom-designed gift giving. And I want to start off with gifts for the abuelos. I have a horrible time thinking of gifts to give my parents each year. They have everything, really, and when I ask them what they'd like, they always say, "Oh, nothing. Don't spend your money." Ugh.

Does that sound like your parents?

But I know that I can't go wrong when the gift is made by or about my children. And I imagine that most grandparents are delighted with gifts that have something to do with their grandchildren. Which is one of the many reasons why photography plays such an important role in our lives. Since we live so far from los abuelos, photographs make it possible for me to share important moments in my children's lives with my parents and in-laws.

We have given everything from personalized photo calendars to photo albums to personalized mugs and mouse pads. Sometimes we just send a framed photo. It doesn't matter what I send, because as long as it includes a photograph, it is a hit.

But these quality gifts deserve quality images and for those I can rely on my Nikon.

Last month, I had the opportunity to upgrade my Nikon D3000 with the new Nikon D3300 and it is FABULOUS. Everytime I upgrade, I'm thrilled with all the new features.

The Nikon D3300 comes with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm lens for capturing great images up close or further away. The ISO 100-12,800 is great for getting good pictures even in low light conditions. It is fun and easy to use. In addition to the regular photo modes (portrait, action, close-up, landscape, etc.), it also has a Special Effects feature that includes:
  • Night vision
  • Super vivid
  • POP
  • Photo illustration (SO cool!)
  • Color sketch
  • Toy camera effect
  • Miniature effect
  • Selective color (I ♥ ♥ ♥ it!!)
  • Silhouette
  • Hi Key
  • Low key
  • HDR painting
  • Easy panorama (I wish I'd had this at the Grand Canyon!)

It is absolutely amazing. I'm still experimenting with all of these, but what I love best so far is the Enhanced Guide Mode that allows me to take a photograph and then go back and crop or apply special effects (such as soften, selective color, photo illustration, and more) to photos I took in the past.

As a parent, I also love that the cold- and shock-resistant design shields the camera against accidental drops and the elements.

For me, the best part of my latest upgrade is the WiFi connectivity, because I love to share my favorite pictures via my personal Facebook page or on Instagram. I can now do that (I never could before!) thanks to the Wireless Mobile Adapter WU-1a. This awesome little tool just plugs in to your Nikon and transfers images directly from your camera/SD card to your smartphone so you can share your pics on your social media. You can attach it directly to your camera strap so that when you are ready to use it, you just pop it out of its little case and plug it in. It works with the Nikon WMU app that you download (for free) to your camera and the best part is that you can even control your camera with it and use your smartphone to see what you camera sees and even take the picture from far away. So if you want to take a family portrait shot (and be in the picture, too!) you can set up the camera and then go sit in the shot and take the picture by simply pushing a button on your smartphone. Awesome!!


If you or your husband are avid photographers capturing the beautiful moments in your every day lives, but you only have a little point-and-shoot camera, then consider upgrading to a Nikon. Not only is it a valuable gift for the you, but also for those around you who will benefit from all the amazing memories you preserve at the click of a shutter!


Disclosure: I am a Best Buy Brand Ambassador and received product for the purposes of this review. However, all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Free Download: Dress the Snowman Game in Spanish


This month's free download from our sponsor Monarca Language is this adorable Dress the Snowman game. The perfect winter activity, your preschooler colors in the game cards then chooses one to draw on the muñeco de nieve.


Before you play the game, you might watch the following videos to build your child's level of excitement.

For more fun, your child might enjoy watching this video on how to draw a snowman...



And then he or she might love to watch this short story in Spanish by one of our favorite YouTube channels: Videocuentos!



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Las Posadas Game


Are you following MommyMaestra on Facebook? If so, you should hop over there and download my last Facebook Freebie of the year. But it is only available for a limited time. I had so much fun creating this Las Posadas game for kids. It's just a sample of some of the great activities you'll find in the Multicultural Kid Blogs' Celebrate Christmas Around the World packet (and hey, it's on sale!)

If you are not following me on Facebook...you should be!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

3 Cameras for Photography Students from Best Buy


This post is made possible by Best Buy. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Do you have a budding photographer in your family? Has the time come for you to think about (and perhaps invest in) a high-quality camera for your tween or teen? If so, the holidays are the perfect time to surprise your photography student with the tool they'll enjoy most: a new camera or camcorder. Below are three amazing cameras that are now available from Best Buy.


Sony Alpha α6000 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera


You'll love this compact system camera with the world’s fastest autofocus. This Sony Alpha A6000 features a 24.3-megapixel, Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor that makes it easy to shoot scenes in stunning clarity. I like the fact that you can manipulate the display to review your photographs comfortably. I also love Sony lenses because they are probably the best ones on the market for taking good photos in low-light situations without a flash. So if your child takes a lot of indoor photos, consider buying him or her a Sony camera.

It also comes with built-in Wi-Fi that lets you share stored content across devices.

Learn more here.



Samsung Galaxy Camera 2


If your son or daughter loves your smartphone's camera, then this may be the camera for him or her! This amazing little digital camera allows you to shoot, share, and use Android Apps. It's like a smartphone without the phone!

This Samsung Galaxy 2 digital camera's 16.3-megapixel, 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor allows you to capture sharp images and high-definition video footage. The 4.8" touch screen simplifies operation, and built-in Wi-Fi makes sharing stored files easy.

Learn more here.


Nikon D5300 DSLR w/18-55mm VR Lens


I'm a Nikon gal. I've had one for the last 15 years or more. I love the photographs I get. And each time I upgrade, the experience just gets better. So if you have a responsible teen who absolutely loves photography and is ready for a professional camera, I highly recommend a Nikon. This is a major investment, so think carefully before you purchase. I also recommend you buy the Protection Plan, especially if you are gifting this to a teen or younger.

This Nikon D5300 DSLR camera comes with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II lens that enables you to capture sharp photos and video footage. Optical image stabilization helps prevent blurring to ensure image clarity. It is a DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi so you can capture high quality photos and share them instantly.

You know you'll have amazing pictures, too, 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor delivers incredible detail and gorgeous enlargements

Captures high-resolution images up to 6000 x 4000 pixels.

The scene modes include: portrait, landscape, child, sports, close-up, night portrait, night landscape, party/indoor, beach/snow, sunset, pet portrait, candlelight, blossom and more.

Learn more here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Free Download: Christmas Connect Four in Spanish



This post contains affiliate links.

We are absolutely loving this month's free printable from our sponsor, Spanish for You! It is a Christmas Connect Four Activity plus audio file for your young Spanish learner!

This fun activity sheet introduces your Spanish-language learner to Christmas-themed vocabulary. It includes vocabulary picture cards, and a Connect Four game board. The accompanying audio file is a bonus for parents and children who are learning proper pronunciation.


To accompany this unit, check out these bilingual books on Christmas.
The following links are affiliate links.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The 2014 MommyMaestra Holiday Gift Guide


Time for the 2nd Annual MommyMaestra Holiday Gift Guide! Phew! This year has been so busy, I wasn't sure we'd get this together in time. But I was fortunate to team up with my favorite Betty, a regular contributor to this blog and publisher of My Friend Betty Says, as well as Melanie Edward, publisher of ModernMami.com.

So the gift guide is finally here and FULL of educational (some bilingual!) goodies for children. From babies to teens, there is something in this gift guide for all the kids in your life. Just click on the links in the guide to learn more and purchase any of the items.

Happiest of holidays to you!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Target Wish List App Helps Parents Find Gifts

This post is made possible by Target. All thoughts and opinions expressed below are my own.


Every year I have a little piece of paper that stays in my purse. On it is a scribbled list of items that my children want for Christmas. I don't typically buy everything on the list, but I pick and choose the items the want the most or that I think have the most value. This year, though, things got a little easier for me with the Target Wish List app.

This new app is free to download and allows you to create wish lists for up to 10 people. You can even share their lists with family and friends. It is a lot like a Target wedding or baby registry.

Once you've downloaded the app and signed into (or created) your Target.com account you can begin creating profiles for your kids. My kids had fun choosing their own avatar and then exploring "Santa's Workshop." Each room is a different area and items from that section pass by on conveyor belts. You can click on items to select them and add them to your wish list.

The app also works with the Target Holiday Toy Catalog, which you can pick up at your local store. All you have to do is hold your mobile device (phone or tablet) directly over the page and click on the "+" buttons to add specific toys to your wish list. (Psst! If you hold the device over the cover of the catalog there is a fun surprise for you!)

Target Wish List App

Once your child has finished his or her list, s/he can even send it to Santa with the Letter to Santa option! It requires your child to sign their name using their finger and then boosh! Off it goes to the North Pole.

If your family doesn't do Santa, or the kids are too old, then you can just save it and share it with friends.

Parental Guidance for Using the Target Wish List App


Target Wish List App
- Limit your children's list. It would be easy for kids to go through and just click on an outrageous number of items making it hard for parents to pick from. I suggest you give your kids a limit and tell them they are allowed to pick 10 - 20 items for their wish list with the understanding that you may choose only a few of those items for Christmas. I impressed upon my kids that they had better select only their favorite items because otherwise I may choose one they don't like as much because I assumed that they really wanted all of the items listed.

- Don't use their real names. This is especially important if you'll be sharing their list with friends or family. You'll be entering a shipping address, which may or may not be your home address. Maybe it is the overprotective mom in me, but I know there is no guarantee that the list won't end up in a stranger's hands. So I use nicknames or other ID's such as "Monica's Daughter" or "Brad's Son" to identify my kids. If you aren't sharing the lists, but just using them for yourself, use nicknames to identify your kids.

- Share it only via text or email with only close friends or family (ahem...los abuelos!). You'll have the option to share it via twitter (I don't know why you would do that), or Facebook, too. Just be thoughtful in your decision.


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