Friday, December 30, 2016

The Best of MommyMaestra 2016

Dear Friends and Familia,

2016 is almost over. And I have to say that I am so glad because for me, both emotionally and politically it has been awful. I'm not sure if 2017 is going to be a good year for our country, but it will certainly be one that highlights change and the people who are willing to stand up for what is right. 

That said, there were a lot of really great things about 2016 for me personally. The most important being my finally being able to take both of my children to Spain to meet my father and his side of the family. Making those connections is such a blessing for my children and a gift that is far more valuable than anything I could buy them. 

In addtion, 2016 was a great year for MommyMaestra. So many wonderful guest contributors were featured on the blog and they all shared remarkable reviews, tips, resources and information. I must thank each and every one of the guest contributors to this site, who share such wonderful content.

I also discovered my new passion for creating educational materials that parents and teachers can download and very soon, I'll be unveiling something new and wonderful as a result.

Over the last few years, I've done a "Best of MommyMaestra" post highlighting popular posts (and ones I really enjoyed writing or reading) for each month of that year. It is always so rewarding to go back over my site during the past year and discover which posts were the most popular.

But 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 Spanish for You!. I'd also like to thank Risas y Sonrisas for their support of MommyMaestra and articles to help parents raising bilingual children. I want to encourage each of you to visit their sites where you'll discover wonderful products to help you raise multilingual kids. And if you are a parent or educator who has downloaded their free content from MommyMaestra, please take a moment to just say thank you to them so they'll be inspired to continue to provide you with such great materials.

Please remember: MommyMaestra is always looking for guest contributors. Maybe this is the year when you will sit down at your computer and type up your first article sharing your experience. 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.
A giant abrazo to you all. May 2017 be a wonderful year for your familia.


January


Martin Luther King Jr. Bilingual Writing Activity

"On Monday, our nation will be celebrating the values of equality and peace with a national holiday. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an opportunity for us to discuss the actions of this historic civil rights leader, and how they affect us today. If you're looking for a fun little activity to do with your children, check out my bilingual writing activity."
This post shares MLK resources for you to use as you introduce your child to one of the world's most famous civil rights activists.


February



Rosita's Strawberry Cream Cheese Tortilla Wraps

"A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Carmen Osbahr, the talented Latina behind the Rosita muppet. She is funny, vibrant, smart, and just as lovable as the characters she makes come alive on screen. And more importantly, she is making a difference in the lives of children all across the country - especially Latino children who have the opportunity to relate to and learn from the bilingual Rosita and Ovejita characters."
I don't share a lot of recipes on MommyMaestra, but this one that I created in honor of Carmen and Rosita and Valentine's Day, was super popular!



March


"Learning about Mariachi music is a wonderful way to explore the Mexican culture. I hope you find some resources below that help you teach your students about this unique art form - from the distinctive costumes they wear to the instruments they play."
This post turned out to be extremely popular with MM readers!


April



"This printable activity teaches key vocabulary associated with parks. The 4-page download comes with vocabulary cards, worksheets, and directions. Not sure of the pronunciations? No worries! It also comes with the audio to help you with the pronunciation of each word. This time, Debbie has included a few other wonderful goodies for you to use, as well!"
I'm so thankful to Spanish for You! and all their wonderful monthly freebies for parents and educators to use while teaching children Spanish. Debbie's activities do a great job of boosting Spanish vocabulary in young learners.



May


"NACHO: Libro Inicial de Lectura is an awesome workbook printed in Colombia by SUSAETA ediciones. They publish a collection of (Spanish) reading and writing books for kids ages 4 - 13. This particular book is the first in the series, and helps beginning readers to master writing and reading by learning syllable combinations."
One of the requests that I get on a regular basis is for materials that teach children how to read in Spanish. I always refer parents to my FAQ page located in the top menu of this website, but reviews of products like NACHO remain extremely popular.



June


"If you have children beginning the Magic Tree House books in English OR in Spanish, I hope you'll consider this activity packet I put together. It covers the first three books in the series and has activity pages to boost your child's reading and writing skills."
I absolutely love creating downloads for MommyMaestra readers. Some are free and some have a small fee (to help pay for all the graphics I buy!), but the latter usually come with sample pages if it is a big file. This particular product - La Casa del Árbol - was created when a reader asked me about Spanish materials to supplement the Spanish books, but we couldn't find any!



July


"Raising children who see beyond the color of a person's skin takes a conscious effort on the parents' part. We must deliberately teach respect and cooperation. We must destroy the "Us versus Them" mentality that has slowly permeated our culture."
This was, perhaps, the most viewed post on MommyMaestra in 2016. And it has such a good message with so many ways for us to raise respectful, peaceable children, that I consider it one of my best. 



August



"The other part of my co-op day and the biggest chunk of my responsibility is high school Spanish 2. This class is quite a challenge to teach in just one hour of class time per week. In the past, I have struggled with trying to use a textbook and/or class handouts to accomplish this very difficult learning experience for my students. However, this past school year, I found what I consider to be the best learning experience possible for these students. I use two online resources:"
MommyMaestra is blessed to have wonderful guest posts from moms who homeschool their children or have found great resources and are willing to share their tips with other MommyMaestra readers, like this one from Andrea Contreras, a stay-at-home homeschooling mother of nine children. 

Thanks to ALL the moms out there who have shared their expertise with us!



September



"Despite their best efforts at encouraging their kids to speak Spanish, when only one of the parents is bilingual, they find that after a certain age, their children always revert back to speaking English at home, because mom and dad both understand it. This can even be the case in households where one parent makes the effort to exclusively speak in Spanish to the child as he or she grows up. Once kids start attending school in English, it tends to completely take over the other language at home."
Wow! September was SUCH a great month! It was really hard to select one post to feature because with so many great guest contributors and blog hops happening, all of the posts were really close. From picture books that teach Hispanic Heritage to exploring Spain with kids to what is Worldschooling, MommyMaestra was a wealth of information. Click on the subtitle "September" above to see all of the great content from that month.



October




"When I was a kid there weren't ANY chapter books featuring Latino characters, much less any centered around a LatinA. That's why young Latinas today are so lucky to have not just one, but a whole slew of titles from which to choose. If you're looking for titles that reflect a young Latina's experience that your child or students can relate to, check out these series and stand-alone stories."
Book reviews remain one of the most popular posts on MommyMaestra.



November


"The time to protect our families is here. We need to give our children the tools they need to defend themselves. Those tools include Caution, Strength, and a Voice. To avoid violence, we must talk openly with our children about the possible dangers they may encounter and prepare them to think quickly and act accordingly. We must urge them to be ever vigilant, aware of their surroundings, and mindful of who is nearby."
My open letter to Latino parents remains one of the most viewed posts on my site. I encourage parents to prepare for the coming years and to prepare and protect their children from the growing racism that is spreading across our country. 



December



"I started looking around to see what new resources were available for celebrating this nine-day tradition, and was DELIGHTED to find a read aloud on YouTube of Tomie dePaola's excellent children's picture book, The Night of Las Posadas. It's one of my favorite stories about this holiday event."
Stumbling upon new and exciting tools and resources for parents and teachers is what started MommyMaestra. So it is fitting that December's favorite post was this YouTube read aloud centered around Las Posadas.

See you next year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Free Downloads: Bilingual Gift Tags & Christmas Poem


The week has been so busy preparing for Christmas and the arrival of family and friends! I'm sure you can relate.

So before I sign off for the year to spend the rest of the time with my family (and I hope you do, too!), I want to remind you of two freebies for MommyMaestra readers. Gifts from me to you.

First, get the kids involved in gifting with my bilingual Christmas gift tags. The set comes with a sheet of gift tags with 12 different designs in English and another in Spanish.

Second, many years ago, my mother published an adaptation of the famous poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in one of her columns (she has been a journalist my whole life). The adaptation has a Latin twist. It was so good, that I wanted to share it with you. So I received permission to create this FREE DOWNLOAD of 'Twas the Noche Before Christmas. This version was written by Samuel Saenz, who is now retired and living in Texas.

I've created three different little "posters" so you can choose the one you like best, print it and share it with your children, all your friends, or just hang it in your house for some holiday decoration.

¡Feliz Navidad a todos!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Keep the Kids Busy Learning about Christmas Around the World


Are you looking for a fun activity to keep your children busy during the Christmas hustle and bustle, then I want to remind you about a great download from Multicultural Kid Blogs! 

A few years ago, I joined forces with some wonderful ladies (Judith from Little Bilingues and Julie from Open Wide the World) to create the Celebrate Christmas Around the World packet for MKB. It remains one of my favorite projects because it has so many great activities inside it. I had so much fun working on the Mexico and Puerto Rico sections. 

This fun and educational packet features the Christmas traditions and celebrations of six countries: Brazil, France, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Sweden.


Each country includes:
  • a Cover Page
    The cover page features the country’s flag & a Christmas greeting in the language of the country.
  • a Page of Country Facts This page includes the country’s official and common name, its location circled on a world map, capital city, location, population, official language(s), and an interesting fact.
  • 2 Pages on Christmas CelebrationsThese two pages share the important and traditional celebrations of the country, and include cute graphics for students to color.
  • a Christmas ActivityThe activities range from a word search to a DIY board game!
  • a Special Holiday RecipeMake and taste a traditional holiday recipe from each country.

After completing the packet, students will have the opportunity to show what they have learned by answering 12 comprehension questions, two for each country.

We hope you and your students enjoy this peek into Christmas celebrations around the world! 

You can purchase and download your packet on the MKB website or in their TpT store.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Printable Booklet of Villancicos and Aguinaldos



Only a few more days until Christmas! And we are looking forward to caroling around our town sometime this week with our friends. :)

And that reminds me, if you are planning on singing together as a family on Christmas eve, or maybe you'll be caroling in your neighborhood, then don't forget about my printable libros full of villancicos and aguinaldos!

Both booklets are available IN SPANISH ONLY, and only contain the lyrics. The musical score is not included.

The villancico booklet includes the following songs:

  • Noche de paz
  • Arbolito, arbolito
  • Mi burrito sabanero
  • Los peces en el río
  • Fum, fum, fum
  • Dime Niño
  • Adoremos
  • Pastores venid 
  • Campana sobre campana
  • El tamborilero
  • Ya vienen los Reyes Magos

The aguinaldo booklet includes the following songs:

  • Estrella de Belén 
  • Arbolito, arbolito
  • Alegres venimos
  • Pobre lechón
  • Traigo un ramillete
  • Las Navidades
  • Alegría
  • Venid Pastores
  • Linda parranda
  • Flores de aguinaldo
  • Aguinaldo de la Trulla

Want to see what they are like? Here's a sample for you to download.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Night of Las Posadas Read Aloud


Today is December 16th and the official beginning of Las Posadas. I started looking around to see what new resources were available for celebrating this nine-day tradition, and was DELIGHTED to find a read aloud on YouTube of Tomie dePaola's excellent children's picture book, The Night of Las Posadas (aff). It's one of my favorite stories about this holiday event.

So I thought I would share it with you here. It was uploaded for the St. Helen School music class. It's very much an English-speaker production, but a great read for Spanish immersion classrooms anyway. I love that they have different voice actors representing the different characters.

I hope you enjoy it!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

7 Ways to Foster Kindness in Children This Holiday Season


Acts of service and kindness should be practiced all year long. But winter, especially, holds many challenges for those who have less or are disabled in any way. It's easy for us to remember to help family and friends, but helping strangers is the ultimate act of love and it's important for us to nurture this thoughtfulness and consideration for others in our children.

I know this is a really busy time of year for families. It certainly is for mine! But think long term and about the qualities of love and kindness and social responsibility you want to foster in your children. Make time to do for others this holiday season, and if you can, do so again in the Spring. Mark it on your calendars as a reminder to do acts of kindness until eventually it becomes a habit and you don't need those reminders anymore.

Not sure where to start? Here are some simple ideas for you and your family to make this world a better place...

Make Dinner for Others


Is there a family in your neighborhood that is struggling financially? Or maybe you have an elderly neighbor? Or a couple with a new baby? Maybe a new family has recently moved in. Whatever the case, taking the time to make a meal for another family is a true act of kindness and friendship. It doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. Even a one-pot meal with a loaf of French bread is a blessing during this busy and cold time of year. If you don't have time to make a meal, how about picking one up from a local restaurant and delivering it?

You can find easy meal ideas here:



Collect for Others


LOTS of drives are going on at this time of year! Help one or more of them out by organizing a collection in your child's school or in your neighborhood. Here are just a few items that are collected by shelters and nonprofit organizations:
  • canned goods for food banks
  • toy drives for lower-income families
  • book drives for shelters and schools
  • adopt-a-family by foster care agencies


Help the Elderly


Perhaps you have an elderly neighbor who has a tough time getting out in the winter. Some acts of kindness might include:

  • raking up the leaves in their yard
  • picking up the pine cones in their yard
  • taking their newspaper/mail up to their front door and handing it to them
  • making them a meal
  • picking up groceries for them
  • mailing any bills/letters they have
  • rolling their trash cans down to the curb/back up to the house
  • walk their dog


Make Holiday Cards


Nursing homes are frequently in desperate need of some cheer. Break out the markers, stamps, etc. and have your children (or their class!) make holiday-themed cards and posters. Then as a group, deliver them to a local nursing home. Ask the staff if you can go to each room and personally deliver the cards because just a smile and some kind words can truly brighten up a person's day, especially if they aren't having a good one.

You can even take it one step further and get a group of children to put on a concert by singing holiday songs for the residents. That will really put a smile on their faces! But make sure that you coordinate the date ahead of time with the staff.


Donate Coats & Blankets


Some say that we are heading into a bitterly cold winter. Many homeless people are in desperate need of coats and blankets. So next time you head to the store to pick up coats or blankets for your own family, consider buying one or two extra to donate to a homeless shelter. Even if you don't have extra cash to buy a new coat, look through your closet at home and find those pieces of outerwear that no longer fit or that your family simply doesn't wear anymore and donate them to someone who needs them.


Write Letters to our Troops


There are many awesome programs that deliver letters to our troops stationed overseas. Far away from family and country during the holidays can be hard for many of our military men and women. Your simple, handwritten card can provide encouragement and happiness, reminding them why they are fighting for our country and thanking them for their service. Here are four awesome programs you can explore:




Donate Food to Pets


Don't forget about our four-footed friends! Compassion isn't just for people but also for companion animals and wildlife. Many animal shelters are seeking contributions of pet food, bowls, waterers, pet beds, bones, and pet toys. Consider picking up a 50 lb. bag of pet food, or putting together a little gift basket with items that your local pet shelter can use.

Monday, December 12, 2016

#RespetoParaTodos: A FREE Spanish Download for Parents & Teachers


The Spanish version of our #RespectEachOther packet is now available!! You may remember that this packet includes:

  • posters to be placed as visual reminders
  • an educator's guide
  • discussion questions & guide
  • resources for parents
  • phrases parents can use when talking to school officials about their child being bullied
  • plans for students on how to deal with a bully
  • writing prompts
  • writing pages
  • and a recommended reading list

I'm super grateful to Lorraine Ladish and her team for this Spanish translation. We hope that you'll find this tool to be a helpful resource for your Spanish classrooms and families.

You can download both the English and Spanish versions here:



And remember, if you are a blogger or website manager, please feel free to share this on your sites, listserves, and facebook groups.

This packet is free to download and you may share it with everyone you know. If you are a blogger or have your own website, you can use one of the following images to post on your site and use this link to direct visitors to our downloadable packet: http://bit.ly/2gju6MR

You can even upload the packet to your website and offer it as a free download. 



Friday, December 9, 2016

Crafts, Printables, and More for Las Posadas


Las Posadas officially begin exactly one week from today. I've already printed up my Las Posadas Countdown Calendar and have it ready to go.

If you are looking for resources to celebrate this holiday tradition, MommyMaestra has got you covered!!

Below are my favorite crafts, printables, books, and more.


Lesson Plans & Books


By far this is the most comprehensive list of Las Posadas lesson plans, recipes, videos and more.

Here are four books about Las Posadas.


Videos & Music


My friend, Maura, from The Other Side of the Tortilla, shared this lovely video of her family's posada celebration.

Are you looking for music for your event? Here are my Three Favorite Versions of the Las Posadas Song that you can find and download from Amazon.



Crafts


A couple of years ago, I made this tutorial for Fast & Easy Papel Picado Banner. We can actually make his banner for any festive occasion, but especially during Las Posadas.

Also, one of my most popular posts remains this tutorial for creating your own luminarias.

Older children may enjoy making these piñata star ornaments filled with goodies.



Printables


In my store, you'll find the following printables that you can immediately download upon purchasing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

4 Books for Young Trivia Lovers



If you have young adventurers at home who absolutely love learning amazing trivia, then you ought to consider buying some of these fabulous books from National Geographic Kids! Now more than ever, it is so important to introduce our children to other cultures and the amazing planet where we all live. Nothing combats ignorance and stereotypes faster than education...but learning doesn't have to be boring!

NGK has been one of our favorite resources for YEARS. So I was really hopeful when I applied to become a National Geographic Kids Insider and my whole family was beyond the moon when I was accepted. Why? Not only do I get to review great new materials like those listed below, I'm also able to share something that we love with MommyMaestra readers through reviews and occasional giveaways.

Every year, the kids beg me for the Almanac. And they spend forever reading it cover to cover and spouting off crazy facts. One year, someone gave my son his first set of Weird But True books and after that "Did you know...?" became a common refrain in our house.

So I want to encourage you to buy books for your kids this holiday season. And if you are looking for fun and educational titles, then be sure to check the following titles out.

This post uses affiliate links. See my sidebar for more information.



National Geographic Kids ALMANAC 2017 - $11.50


I'm not surprised that this is NGK's bestselling children's book, since my boy snatched it up as soon as he saw it and took off for the couch for some serious reading time. This book explores what's new in our world and is jam-packed full of scientific discoveries, wonders of nature, marvelous cultures and so much more. You'll find trivia, games, lists, longer stories and full-color photographs.

Your kid will learn about everything from armadillos and big cats to carnivorous plants and types of clouds to daring women in U.S. History. That's not even a drop in the bucket to the amount of information packed into this 352-page book!

New features include highlights on National Geographic Explorers and their amazing projects (plus, ways you can get involved!); a tour of history's most famous sites; an updated "Fun and Games" chapter filled with all-new games, jokes, and comics; an exclusive sneak peek from a National Geographic Kids Chapters book; all new weird-but-true facts, crafts, and activities; a new special "17 Facts for 2017" feature in every chapter; updated reference material; and much more.

Best suited for kids ages 8 - 12.



Nat Geo Kids National Parks Guide USA (Centennial Edition) - $10.50


A few years ago, my husband and I took the kids to the Grand Canyon and then up to Yellowstone. It is a family trip that we'll never forget. If you've never been to a national park, I want to encourage you to seriously think about it.

This past August, the National Parks Service celebrated its 100th anniversary. In preparation, this awesome guide was published earlier this year. And it is SO MUCH FUN! If your family is planning to travel to one of our National Parks this coming year, or if you've already been to one and simply want to expound upon that experience, then you need to get this book! Even if you don't have current plans to visit a National Park, it's a great way to experience one or more of them from the comfort of your own couch!

From Acadia National Park in Maine to Zion National Park in Utah, this book is full, full, FULL of wonderful information. We learned about parks we never even knew about! And it includes maps, lists, tips on things to see and a checklist of things to do, plus much, much more.

THIS is a book for young adventurers and travelers!

Best suited for kids ages 8 - 12.



Weird But True 8 - $6


The latest book in the Weird But True series, this one has over 300 new extreme, ridiculous, and amazing facts. Science, space, weather, geography, food, pop culture... Your child will read about everything! As usual, the photos and illustrations are stunning.

This is a great little book can go anywhere, but is especially perfect to keep in the car or bathroom and even makes an excellent bedtime read.

Best suited for kids ages 8 - 12.




Famous Fails - $11


This is such a fun book! It shares amusing stories about failures in history; your kids will learn about people, places, ideas that started as total flops. In fact, even in the book itself has mistakes in it!

I love how it reinforces the idea that sometimes, in order to succeed, we first have to fail. That sort of perspective releases our children from the pressure of trying to be perfect and always getting things right the first time around. In fact, my favorite quote from the book is this one by Tomas Edison:
"I have not failed 10,000 times;
I've successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work."
Your kids will laugh their way through this book that includes silly side features help to analyze the failures: "Lesson Learned," "It Could be Worse!," "Losing Combinations," and a "Fail Scale" help readers navigate the different kinds and scopes of the mistakes made. Read to learn what went wrong, what went right, and what kids can learn from each failed attempt.

Best suited for kids ages 8 - 12.

Happy learning!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Free Download: A Bilingual Christmas Booklet

December has arrived and Navidad is only a few weeks away! This month's freebie from our sponsor, Spanish for You! is a bilingual booklet that you can use to boost your child's Spanish vocabulary associated with Christmas.

Today's printable is a 4-page activity that comes with an audio file for learning proper pronunciation. Your little Spanish learners will learn key words for the season while assembling and reading their booklet, and there is also a bilingual Christmas dialogue you can print up and use to practice speaking aloud.


Spanish & Bilingual Books About Christmas 

(affiliate links)


Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Monday, December 5, 2016

App Review: Mundo Lanugo en Navidad


Last year, I did an app review of Mundo Lanugo's first app celebrating Hispanic heritage. And now I get to do that again. Their newest app is a celebration of Christmas...Latino style!




NameMundo Lanugo en Navidad
Subject(s): Spanish culture & language
Brief Description: An interactive, Spanish app that teaches children about Hispanic culture and language through holiday-themed animated videos and interactive games.
Price: $1.99
Language: Spanish
Ages: 2 - 5 years
DeviceiOS & Android

Your child will LOVE listening and dancing to the villancicos on this app! Or they may prefer to create their own music by dragging Lanugo characters holding different musical instruments onto the stage. 





The app also allows your creative child to dress up like their favorite Christmastime characters, such as one of the Reyes Magos, an elf, or even Mary, the mother of Jesus. Or they can build a guitar with Muki!




If you have children who love to spend time in the kitchen, they'll enjoy whipping up some holiday dishes with Chuy, or decorating their own virtual gingerbread house. :)

And finally, your child can enjoy two matching games. In one, they must match the items in their menu bar with the correct picture, and in the other, they must sort/match shapes.

Here's an idea of what the app is actually like. Wouldn't it make a fun, educational gift for the holidays? Give it to them early so they can get into the spirit, or play it on trips you might be taking this holiday season. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Santero's Miracle Website




Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared a list of bilingual books for the holidays? One of the books I listed was The Santero's Miracle by Rudolfo Anaya. It is simply a stunning book for the holidays because of both the storyline and the rich illustrations by Amy Córdova.

Well, if this is a book that you have purchased already or are planning to buy and use with your students/children, you should know that NMSU has a website dedicated to The Santero's Miracle with activities for children that are related to the themes in the book. And as you can see, it is available in both English and Spanish.

It also includes interviews with Rudolfo Anaya and Amy Córdova.

For teachers, this is an excellent tool to extend your students' learning. For parents, this is a fun resource with a few simple activities and information to share with your children.


If you are looking to purchase the book, you can find it here (afflink).

About the book... 

In The Santero's Miracle, don Jacobo has a dream that, in the end, is a reminder that miracles do happen.

Don Jacobo is teaching his visiting grandson Andrés how to become a santero. Christmas is coming, snow is falling in the village and the two are working on a carving of San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers.

The half-finished carving stands in the living room beside the two oxen and the angel that don Jacobo carved earlier in the month. The snow-covered mountains are beautiful, but the road to the village is impassable. Andrés' parents will not be able to get to the house for the holiday, and don Jacobo's neighbor, don Leopoldo, is desperately ill and cannot get to the hospital.

Then comes don Jacobo's dream; San Isidro is plowing with the two oxen and the angel is helping. "But we don't plow 'til April," don Jacobo muses upon awakening. "What does it mean?"

And a reminder...

The Santero's Miracle covers themes of home, family, tradition, imagination, culture, and community. It reminds us of much that is special about New Mexico: our rural villages, beautiful mountains, centuries-old traditions, strong families, diverse population, and welcoming communities united in history and culture.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Subscription Gifts for Kids that Last All Year

You know what I love? Gifts that last the WHOLE YEAR LONG. That's why I've loved giving my kids subscriptions to magazines. But in recent years, a whole new breed of subscription services has developed: Monthly activity boxes.

These are insanely awesome because most contain activities that can be done throughout the month. So I thought that today's theme of gifts for children should be subscription boxes. There are many others available, but the ones below are my favorite picks for MommyMaestra readers (and my own kids).

This post contains affiliate links. 


Booklandia
$25 - $37/mo

Booklandia is a monthly service of bilingual and Spanish children's books delivered directly to your mailbox. The book boxes are designed for families with children ages 2 to 12 years old.

Each month, your child will receive 2 carefully selected titles. You can see examples of the book titles here.

First, you need to choose which type of box you're interested in. There are five options: 
  • Board books ($25/mo)
  • Spanish Picture books ($27/mo)
  • Spanish chapter books ($27/mo)
  • Bilingual picture books ($27/mo)

Then, you have to select the frequency from the following options: 
  • monthly
  • 3-month ($3 off)
  • 6-month ($14-18 off)
  • 12-month (1 month free)

Then, you just pick up the book, sit back, and read! This seems like the perfect gift for a bilingual family. And there's even a gifting option so you can purchase a subscription for your grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or godchildren.


Little Passports
$11.95 - 17.95/mo

Are you raising a global citizen like I am? If so, then be sure to check out Little Passports! This awesome company offers four different monthly subscriptions to help your child go on a global adventure and learn about the world around them. My kids had so much fun with this program. We did the World Edition. But now that they are older, I'm looking into the new Science Expeditions program to strengthen their STEM skills. To see what each program comes with each month, click on the "Little Passports" title above for a complete list.

Early Explorers (3-5 yo)

Preschoolers explore a new world theme each month like Music, World Landmarks, and Dinosaurs. Each monthly package includes a 20-page activity booklet, fun souvenirs, trading cards, letters, photos, stickers and more.

World Edition (6-10 yo)


Discover a new country each month with pen pals Sam & Sofia! Packages include letters, fun souvenirs, activity sheets, stickers, photos and more, plus access to the Boarding Zone for more online games!

USA Edition (7-12 yo)


Discover the USA with monthly activities, games, science experiments & more! Two new states are featured each month in our 32-page activity-packed State Journal, along with stickers, postcards, pop-out models and access to more facts and activities online.

Science Expeditions (9+ yo)


Every month, your child will receive a package full of science experiments and STEM-related activities with themes like rockets, forensics, caves and crystals, northern lights and magnetism, hydrology, and so much more!




Green Kid Crafts
$17.95 - 19.95/mo

Green Kid designs and delivers hands-on, award-winning, and eco-friendly Discovery Boxes, Creativity Kits, and STEAM Kits (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).

What I like is that you can choose from four options:
  • monthly ($19.95)
  • 3-month ($19.95)
  • 6-month ($18.95)
  • 12-month ($17.95)

Each month, your Discovery Box will have a new theme and earth-friendly materials to complete 5 to 8 different projects.



Magic School Bus Science Club
$119/year (PSST!! This is 50% OFF for 2 more days!!)

Grab this incredibly fun 12-month subscription of Ms. Frizzle-approved, wacky experiments delivered to your doorstep for award-winning science FUN! It's 50% off and you get FREE shipping in the US. Ships to Canada for $2/month and all other countries for $4/month. Receive a Magic School Bus science experiment shipped to you during the middle of each month for 12 months and include them into your science curriculum.

It's created for kids ages 5 -12.

Each kit includes:

  • Detailed, large 12-page colorful manual that is full of experiments and topic information 
  • Each manual is based on the popular Magic School Bus books and TV series 
  • Includes an adult section so that adults with no science background will find the kits easy to use 
  • Materials and information necessary for a range of interactive experiments
  • Online Clubhouse for further exploration on each kit topic 
  • Certificate of Completion

Monday, November 28, 2016

Educational & Bilingual Toys for Children 4 & Under




Last week, I avoided the Black Friday sales and all of the commercialism that goes with it. I really wanted to just focus on family and actually be grateful on Thanksgiving.

But I do realize that the holidays are quickly approaching, and I would be remiss if I didn't share some of the great, educational products that are now available for children. You may have already purchased gifts, or you may still be looking for ideas of things to help boost your child's vocabulary and basic skills. So here are a few of my favorites this year.

Today's theme is "Bilingual Tots!" I know many of you who follow MommyMaestra are working hard to raise bilingual children. So I want to be sure and share these excellent toys that promote multilingualism. Most have English and Spanish options, one also includes French, and a couple don't have any language associated with them so you can use whichever language you prefer.

Either way, I hope you enjoy this collection of educational gifts that help develop important skills in a fun way.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure in the sidebar.


Counting Chameleon
Amazon.com, $21


This puzzle teaches numbers 1 to 15 on one side and spells out the number names in both English and Spanish on the reverse. Made from sustainably harvested rubber wood with non-toxic, child safe stains, the puzzle includes a 7"x10" wood tray for storage and display. Available in English & Spanish.



Magnutto Make a Mood
Marbles: The Brain Store, $25


Children learn to understand, express, identify, and appropriately respond to emotions and to feelings as they create facial expressions. This set includes a list of emotions, examples of facial expressions, and sample role-play questions contained on tri-lingual (English, Spanish, French) activity cards.


Amazon, $25

Made from eco-friendly rubber wood with non-toxic, child safe stains, this 26-piece puzzle features one animal for every letter. Uppercase on one side and lowercase on the other teaches alphabet letters while developing fine motor and problem- solving skills.


Colored Cups & Balls
Educents, $24


This puzzle teaches numbers 1 to 15 on one side and spells out the number names in both English and Spanish on the reverse. Made from sustaina



Baby Einstein Octoplush
Amazon, $16


The Baby Einstein Octoplush is a soft, multi textured, developmental plush toy. Young babies can hug Octoplush to hear a Baby Einstein melody and explore the textures for tactile development. As baby grows, colorful stitched satin patches on velour legs invite baby to learn color names through repetition. Squeeze each leg to hear color names in English, Spanish and French. Patterns of the color names are also printed on the underside of each leg in multiple languages.



VTech Count and Learn Turtle
Amazon, $13


Encourage early math skills with the Count and Learn Turtle by VTech. Press the light-up number buttons to hear the friendly turtle count and say each number. Choose the addition activity, and the turtle will help your child add two numbers and light up the correct number of buttons. The turtle also features two rollers that introduce shapes, colors and instruments and will add fun sounds into the melodies and sing-along songs in the music activity. For even more learning fun, switch to Spanish mode and the turtle will teach numbers, counting, colors, shapes and instruments in Spanish.



Arriba Abajo
Amazon, $9


ARRIBA ABAJO is a fantastic compilation of songs in Spanish and English that teach children basic concepts such as syllables, vowels, and more. It is an explosion of creativity, rhythm, and learning. This CD has 20 songs; 10 in Spanish and 10 in English. What absolutely amazes me is how Andrés is able to create these songs in both English and Spanish and stay true to the lyrics.

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