Friday, April 21, 2017

Poesía Alada: poesía y arte para volar

Poesía Alada: poesía y arte para volar
Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? When my kids were little, poetry was a regular part of our reading routine. I still love incorporating poetry into my children's homeschool lessons from time to time. It has so many benefits!

For younger children, poetry helps boost their vocabulary and develops their sense of rhythm and language skills. Rhymes and rhyming improve reading, writing, and spelling.

For older children, poems help with memorization and teach children to look for deeper meanings within a text. They also learn patterns of speech and how words can be used in multiple combinations to create new meanings.

Poetry has ANY language.

So today, I'm excited to share with you a new poetry title from author Mariana Llanos. And this one is completely in Spanish!

Poesía Alada: poesia y arte para volar (aff link) is a beautifully written and illustrated collection of Spanish poetry for children. Mariana has written many wonderful children's books, some of which I've reviewed here on MommyMaestra. But this is her first book of poetry. It is also the first book she's written originally in Spanish.

And I love them all. Because for some reason, they seem to transport me back to my own childhood, which was full of Spanish dichos, poesía, and rimas tradicionales. So, naturally, I feel this should be a must-have for bilingual family home libraries!

Here's a sample. This is the poem for which the book is named...

Poesía Alada

Poesía es cuento
y canción con alas.
Poesía es locura
que brota del alma.
Poesía es música
que ilumina al alba.
Poesía son letras 
que forman baladas.
Poesía es el trinar
de aves en la mañana.
Poesía es el rayo 
tierno del sol.
Poesía surge
revuelve y embala.
Poesía descansa
aprieta y arranca.
Poesía vive y respira,
despojada de toda razón.
Poesía se acurruca
en un rinconcito del corazón.

Beautiful, no?

The poems are about topics to which children can relate - the seasons, the ocean, ice cream cones, reading, animals, clouds, and many others.

Poesía Alada: estaciones

Another unique feature of this book is the black-and-white illustrations. Seven artists (including the author) have created drawings to accompany each of the 27 poems. The whimsical images enrich the poems for young minds. Personally, I plan to use this like a workbook and let my children color in the images.

Poesía Alada: Chaclacayo

Mariana has also included a note at the end of the book describing her lifelong love of poetry; how it started and its impact on her life.

This book is a new release, just published this month. I highly recommend it to read to both younger and older children alike.

Poesía Alada: poesia y arte para volar (aff link) can be ordered on Amazon.

And remember, Mariana is an enthusiastic educator and writer. She visits schools around the world through virtual technology to encourage children to read and write. She offers many free author-Skype opportunities for teachers . The Skype visits are designed around four different lesson plans that last about 45 minutes. Wouldn't that be a fun class to do at the end of the year with your students?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lion’s Story: To Homeschool a Special Needs Child

As we continue to support Autism Awareness Month, I'm happy to publish this exceptional article by Suzanne Mahoney, a Spanish-American mother of two in a multilingual household. She's homeschooling her special needs child and shares helpful advice and resources for parents who are considering homeschooling as an option for their own family.

Lion’s Story: To Homeschool a Special Needs Child

Homeschooling a special needs child can be challenging, but it is rewarding not only for your child’s accomplishments but your own. In Lion’s case, we have seen both sides of the education fence; public school and now for the last year, homeschool. Lion, now 15 years old, has a variety of obstacles to overcome. Some of his diagnoses include cerebral palsy and autism. He is also non-verbal and (until a couple of months ago) a non-walker. Homeschooling challenges can be especially complicated when there are multiple spoken languages in the home. Since birth, Lion had been immersed in a household where three or four languages were being spoken continually. He grew up understanding three of them well. More recently, he has mainly been in a bilingual environment (English-Spanish) and because he was attending public school, his education was solely in English. Now that we are homeschooling, Spanish has been incorporated as part of his communications program.

When the homeschooling of a special needs child, in any language(s), is being considered, you must ask yourself, “Why do I want to do it?” It will be a lot of work, the time commitment may be huge, and not all expenses that you think are necessary will have external funding. But...

Homeschooling empowers both the child and the parent so that what you thought would be an impossible task, is made possible with patience, insistence, and persistence. The attained goals become your reward and your family’s quality of life also improves.

Choices and Sources
Once you have your “why” then what are your choices and sources? Visiting your state’s Department of Education website will be the place to start. It not only outlines the steps to take, but it should also have a wealth of supportive educational materials to guide and assist you. Most importantly, it should contain the legalese and statutes pertaining to Special Education and the available homeschooling programs within your state. This will better prepare you for knowing the what, when, where, why, and how of the homeschooling mission. I cannot stress how important it is to know your legal rights when it comes to children with disabilities, so though it is often time consuming to sit down: just do it. Understand it. It helps to invite a friend over for coffee to assist you in comprehending the lingo involved. Ask a community outreach program or find a local homeschool support group for feedback and ideas. The better informed you are, the better planning, services, and funding you will be able to obtain for your child. Yes! You can homeschool your child and get a few “perks.” It is a matter of knowing what is available in your area and what your child really needs. Check out this page on HSLDA for information about Special Education Provisions in the 50 States and Territories.

To our surprise, our state offers flexibility in providing “perks” that I had not anticipated. For example, you can homeschool and still have the district provide speech, occupational, physical and behavior modification therapies. You can also have your child participate in the school’s extracurricular activities (such as sports, theater, band, etc.) and have transportation provided. The caveat? An IEP (Individualized Education Program) and associated goals would then be required to be written by the IEP team.

Virtual School enrollment may be another alternative worth considering depending upon what your State offers. Florida does require that homeschooling be logged, documented, and be available for review upon request.

For now, we wanted as much detachment and freedom as possible from school districts to allow Lion to catch-up in as many of his academics and life skills as possible. Well, we are proceeding with our own carefully crafted goals and we are experiencing fabulous results!

Considerations and Goals:
Each child is unique. His interaction with others is unique. His current school environment is also unique. So, you must create your goals and be realistic in doing so.

Years ago, I remember setting a goal for my child to learn to use his “AAC communications device (his voice)” to say “hello” independently. This seemed to be a logical, realistic, and very valuable skill; a first step towards communicating with us. This basic goal is successfully taught to special needs children similar to Lion.

At that time, he was attending public school. The frustration that we had was in working with the school to design appropriate goals that would benefit Lion. Unfortunately, the school told us that they knew our child better than we did and that we must follow their lead. They stated that they were the educators and we were not. We were overruled many times in the IEP meetings and elsewhere. It turned out that the school’s main driving force was not in benefiting Lion but in limiting the amount of time that they were willing to spend on him. They even stated that the time dedicated to his individualized academics was “15 to 20 minutes a day.” We were informed that there were “other students in the classroom to take care of.” Nor could we get a dedicated aide assigned to him within the IEP. Their methods were not well thought out, were not stressed at school, and were ineffective. For us to do something else at home was too confusing to Lion. We helped as we could but knew that the situation was not what it should be. As a result, Lion lost years. Such is life. But it was very frustrating!

At the same time, while attending school, Lion attained a simpler goal. He learned to feed himself. All I heard from school was that he either needed yet another adaptive spoon or that he had refused to feed himself and thus needed to be fed by someone at school. My solution? I took it upon myself to ignore the school’s methodology and applied my own methods during dinner time. My goal was to accomplish his training in six months. To my surprise, with hand-over-hand methods and a bit of insistence, in less than a month he was eating with minimal assistance. A month after that, he was independently feeding himself. He would still come home from school with the same notes of nonattainment and insist on being spoon fed by me because he had been spoon fed at school. He really had them fooled and they did not take the time needed to listen to me, so they could understand, insist, and change Lion’s behavior. It took us an hour to dine then. But today, he can eat as quickly or as slowly as need be. He has mastered the fork, too! I thought I would never see the day when I would finally sit and enjoy eating without having to feed him.

Be as Creative as You Want
Homeschooling for Lion is not the traditional paper, pencil, and book program. Just as technology has enabled “normal” homeschoolers to explore a vast wealth of global encyclopedic information, so has technology blessed our “special needs” children with the ability to access programs and communication platforms. This is especially evident for those children for whom talking and/or writing was not possible in the past due to physical or mental impediments. Now, many of these challenges have been alleviated by technical solutions that, while not perfect, are certainly helpful.

Lion’s first two years of homeschooling include three global goals:

1) Lion will communicate with minimal assistance using an AAC communication device (we use ProLoquo2go software) with family and friends,

2) Lion will walk independently (using a walker) on both even and some uneven surfaces (trails, the playground, etc.),

3) Lion will learn a variety of self-living skills; undressing and dressing with minimal assistance, toileting skills, transitioning in/out of a chair and the car from his walker or wheelchair, etc.

Just like any human being has good and bad days, so do our kids. The exception is that our children’s behavior tends to be more pronounced than children who don’t have special needs. When Lion wakes up with a cute half sneer in his mouth and the attitude of, “Oh, I’m broken and I can’t get up…” that’s when I know I need to forget what I had planned for that day and revisit what actually is possible to accomplish together. Math? Well, in our house, bread needs to be made. So, counting while measuring ingredients and integrating this activity into the use of his communication device may be the only types of things that can be accomplished… that day.

When his attitude is good, he does much more and it thrills me that he enjoys most of it. Quite a change from his public school days.

We have found that teaching methodologies and best practices may be obtained and learned from surmountable sources of data. Usually, they are available at our fingertips via the internet or a visit/phone call and thus our only limitation is the time it takes to find, question, read, understand, and then apply them. But not everything works for your child.

Homeschool Accomplishments
Remember Lions’ three global goals that I mentioned? It is almost time to write new goals - over a year early! Half a year into his schooling, Lion has almost completed goals #2 and #3 and has made great progress with goal #1. It is amazing to see Lion spontaneously communicate with us and voice new words in new ways. Lion is beginning to break the “autistic ice!” Sometimes he is so happy with his new skills that he breaks down in a fit of giggles!

Additional Resources
I've also found very useful resources available on the following websites:

Looking Forward
There’s a lifetime for learning. Don’t rush. Do it right. The old adage that you must sometimes slow down to speed up is, oh, so true!


Suzanne Mahoney is a homeschooling a Spanish-American mother of two. She's also a Board Member of Family Network on Disabilities (FND), Board Member of the Family Network for Special Needs Fund Trust (FNSNTA) and past Board Member of the Florida Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers (FICCIT)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#TeachersAppreciateTeachers Classroom Makeover Contest

It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and you know how much I appreciate all the hard work that homeschool and public/private school teachers do for their students. So when I saw that Carson-Dellosa Publishing is hosting a contest in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I wanted to share because the grand prize winner and their nominator will receive a classroom makeover from Carson-Dellosa! 

Carson-Dellosa Publishing wants to hear about the exceptional educators who are making a difference in the lives of children—while also supporting their colleagues! Now through April 23 (that's this SUNDAY!), teachers can nominate a fellow teacher who has helped them get to where they are today. 

To nominate them, visit Carson-Dellosa's Facebook or Instagram pages and tag them in the comments, add the #TeachersAppreciateTeachers hashtag, and explain why they should be appreciated.

I looked through the contest rules, and nothing says that homeschool teachers aren't eligible. So I'll be putting in for it, too.

One grand prize winner and their nominator will each receive a $400 Carson-Dellosa gift certificate for a classroom makeover.

Three runner-ups and their nominators will each receive a $50 Carson-Dellosa gift certificate.

I'm sure you're familiar with them, but Carson-Dellosa Publishing is a fantastic educational product company. On their site, you'll find everything from classroom organization to learning centers to guided reading. They have products for homeschoolers and special needs. I really enjoy looking through their products.

Winners will be revealed during #TeacherAppreciationWeek. The grand prize winner and their nominator will receive a classroom makeover from Carson-Dellosa!

There are not a lot of nominations as far as I can see, so your chances are good. I'd love to see some Hispanic, homeschool, or bilingual ed teachers win!

Good luck!!

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post. This is just me sharing info I saw on my FB feed and an opportunity for my educator followers! xo

Monday, April 17, 2017

Homeschooling in the United States

Homeschooling has been around for centuries, not just in this nation, but around the world. Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Sandra Day O’Connor, Alexander Graham Bell, Beatrix Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louis Armstrong, Sor Juana de la Cruz...all benefited from a home education.

Homeschooling is considered the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 2 million homeschool students in the U.S... and that number only increases each year.

Although homeschool has been traditionally associated with conservative Christians, the reality is that today, homeschoolers are very diverse and they encompass every walk of life: rich, poor, liberal, conservative, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, religious, non-religious...homeschooling is for everyone. (Notably, it is quickly growing in popularity among minorities.)

Families decide to homeschool their children for a wide variety of reasons. Some are disappointed in their local school options, while others homeschool for religious reasons. Some families travel a lot, and others simply want to nurture family relationships. Parents may decide to homeschool for their child’s safety (bullying issues), or they may have a child with health problems or physical/learning disabilities and can’t get the resources and support they need from their school district. Many child athletes are homeschooled to make more time for their rigorous training schedules. And some parents may choose to homeschool in order to nurture and strengthen their child’s bilingualism. The reasons vary from family to family.

Homeschooling is parent-led. This does not necessarily mean that the parent teaches the child everything (although they might). The beauty of homeschooling is its flexibility. Kids might learn their core subjects from their parent(s) or take classes on specific subjects online or at a local education center. Their entire curriculum may be online and parents don’t teach at all. Or maybe they are part of a homeschool group that meets once a week where the students learn all the subjects in a group setting, then spend the rest of the week at home doing assignments and memorization work.

You DON'T have to spend a fortune to effectively educate your children! On average, families spend about $600 a year per homeschool child. Curricula vary in price. A good, accredited curriculum can cost upwards of $1000 a year, but many families buy the same curriculum gently used on eBay for half or less. In addition, there are many inexpensive or free lesson plans and materials available on the internet and in local libraries.

Remarkably, homeschool students on average score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. Their performance is not impacted by their parent’s level of education or income. They tend to be more mature, more disciplined, and more confident than their public school counterparts. In fact, as a result of their overall academic and social performance homeschoolers are being actively recruited by colleges (see section 8).

Homeschooling can begin at any grade level. While many homeschoolers are educated at home throughout their grade school and high school years (K - 12), there is a large number of children who are only homeschooled for a fraction of this time.

Homeschooling is allowed in all 50 states.
Each state has different laws about homeschooling; a few are more restrictive, but others have very little regulation.

Overall, the popularity of homeschooling has waxed and waned in U.S. history, but currently, it is on the rise and provides an opportunity for parents to oversee their children’s education and help nurture their unique talents.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Homeschooling Multiple Children

Tiany homeschooling her children 

The following is a guest post by Tiany Lindemann Davis, a Salvadoran-Nicaraguan-American homeschooling mother of four & founder of The Homeschool Lounge.

As the homeschooling mom of four boys ages 10, 12, 14, and 16, the most common question I am asked when I tell people that I homeschool is "How do you manage to teach so many grade levels?"

For many homeschool families, this is the most difficult part of home education.

Teaching multiple children together

If you are struggling to teach multiple grade levels, you are not alone. Homeschooling families vary in size and usually have children in multiple grade levels, sometimes ranging from infant to high school. Trying to keep up with teaching multiple children can be daunting, to say the least.

If you can relate, don't lose heart — you can peacefully and successfully teach multiple grade levels.

There are many different approaches one can take to homeschooling multiple grade levels. Here are just a few strategies you might try to implement in your homeschool.

Schedule a block of time with each child

While you work with one child the others can do independent work, one child can read aloud to siblings or older siblings can buddy up and spend that block of time working with younger siblings.

Combine subjects

Science, social studies, history, art, literature, and geography can easily be combined and taught to multi-aged groups. You can read aloud as a family using textbooks or living books and give the older children age-related supplemental activities, worksheets or independent reading on the subject. My Father's World curriculum offers a multi-age family learning cycle.

Unit studies

Unit studies work well with all ages and allow you to teach children the same subject tailored by grade level. While younger children might tell a story through art or play-dough, older children might write a report or take part in a more advance science experiment. You can take some time to create your own unit study or purchase ready-made unit studies by subject.

Try online classes

Older children can easily work independently through computer-based or online learning with curricula such as Switched On Schoolhouse, Time 4 Learning, A+ Interactive Math, IXL and Teaching Textbooks. There is also the option of video learning through a virtual school such as Abeka.

Set up a Workbox System

The Workbox System is a system created by Sue Patrick that can be customized to your family's individual needs. Children are assigned a drawer or set of drawers, cubes or folders for their subjects and daily assignments. I use one drawer for books and one drawer for the day's workbook assignments for each child, and each day the boys go to their drawer to get their assignments and books and start their lessons for the day. Sue Patrick's goal in creating the Workbox System was to reduce organizational time and increase the child's self-control, independence, and learning. This is the perfect solution for large homeschool families.

Use daily life experiences as teaching opportunities

The greatest lessons are those that build and strengthen relationships within the family, and these lessons will be found in everyday life experiences. Cook a meal together for math, building a new fence with dad, or grow a garden as a family.

There will still be days when homeschooling multiple grade levels and personalities feel overwhelming and chaotic but with a bit of planning, a working system in place and much determination you can homeschool multiple children and still keep your sanity.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Little Passports Science Expeditions & a Sale!

A few months ago, I signed up for the new Little Passports Science Expeditions. It's a monthly subscription that brings various science projects to your doorstep for your kids to explore. We've had subscriptions to their World Edition and USA Edition in the past and my kids loved them. Now that they are older, we decided to try out Science Expeditions.

Our first packet arrived last month and we were NOT disappointed! The first kit was all about forensic science and one of the activities was to isolate the DNA from a strawberry. 

This post contains affiliate links.

Here's what this kit included:
  • An introductory 16-page comic book with glossary and bonus activities
  • An activity direction guide
  • A lab notebook for recording your observations
  • A fingerprint analysis card
  • An achievement badge for forensic science
  • All the equipment needed to conduct the experiment, except for the strawberry and a few household items;
  • Access to bonus online videos and science content

My son started off reading the comic book to learn the various terminology associated with the

Then he prepared his notebook and started setting up for his experiment.

If you're wondering how difficult the experiments are, here's a video for the DNA activity:

Science Expeditions: Berry DNA Video

As you can see, the activities are just challenging enough to keep your kids' attention without frustrating them. :) They are LOADS of fun and lots of learning taking place!

Super fun, right? This next month, my little scientists will be learning about vision and optics. They’ll build a camera obscura, a thaumatrope, and a spinning top with an optical illusion. We're excited for the kit to arrive!!

FYI - the time to sign up is NOW because Little Passports is celebrating its eighth birthday with a super sale (aff link)! But you'll have to hurry because the sale ends THIS Friday!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bilingual Easter Book of Colors

Bilingual Easter Book of Colors

Five years ago, I created an Easter-themed book of colors in Spanish. It was past time to get an updated look! So I'm happy to share that for this year, this printable booklet has been updated to include three books:
  • one bilingual version with text in both English and Spanish
  • one Spanish version for Spanish learners
  • one English version for ESL learners

The text, font, and design were tweaked too, to make the booklet more visually engaging for young students, who read the text and color in the pages to agree with the words. 

It is so adorable that it may be my favorite printable for little hands. :)

You can find the new, updated version available here in my shop, or in my TpT store

Friday, April 7, 2017

Educational Easter-Themed Toys from HearthSong

Easter is on its way. And rather than just give kids candy, I love it when I see my friends posting baskets full of educational toys that help nurture happy, imaginative children.

Do you do Easter? If so, do you create an Easter basket full of goodies? Maybe you need some ideas. Below are some lovely Easter-themed toys I found over at HearthSong. (But really, they can be enjoyed year round!)

This post includes affiliate links.
Wooden Bunny Hutch

Wooden Bunny Hutch (Ages 3 and up)

I love products that encourage imaginative play! There's lots here for kids to see and do: an eight-piece fence to set up; the carrot house to visit; a dinner of eight carrots to fix in the bowl and serve to the six busy bunnies; the water bottle to fill… it may start as pet care play, but exciting bunny-ville adventures are sure to follow.

Budding gardeners can add to the play value of the Wooden Bunny Hutch by "planting" their own garden with the wooden My Little Garden Set that includes fences, wheelbarrow, basket, gardening tools, a pail, seeds, plants, and flowers. (Sold separately.)

Easter Chocolate House

Easter Chocolate House (Ages 4 and up)

Where do chocolate bunnies live? In chocolate houses (that have room for their ears) nestled along Bunny Trail Lane, of course! Build one just like theirs so you can celebrate spring's sweetness in sunny bunny style. It's easy with this kit that includes pre-formed solid-chocolate sides and roof, and pink, purple, yellow, and green candy-writer gel pens for both "cementing" the house together and surrounding the house with sunshine and flowers, and two containers of colorful confetti (1 oz. of Daisy Shapes and 1 oz. of Easter Mix).

Simply use the candy writers to cement the chocolate pieces together. Squeeze the gel along the edges of the walls and roof, and press gently together. Let stand for about 15 minutes, then decorate. (Candy writer colors may vary.)

A fun family project!

• Build a chocolate house—with room for bunny ears
• Kit includes pre-formed solid-chocolate sides and roof
• Pink, yellow, and green candy-writer gel pens
• Candy writer colors may vary
• Two containers of colorful confetti (1 oz. of Daisy Shapes and 1 oz. of Easter Mix)

Crafty Creations Egg Decoupage Decorating Kit

Crafty Creations Egg Decoupage Decorating Kit (Ages 5 and up)

Easily adapted for making cascarones!!

Get the whole family together for an afternoon of fun, creativity, and egg decorating! This Egg Decoupage Decorating Kit includes a variety of art-inspired decorating methods and effects that offer many options for kids to craft cool Easter-egg decorations: one sheet of illustrated spring-themed die-cut designs, one sheet of animal-photograph die-cut designs, and one sheet of tattoos—plus tissue paper, glitter, ribbon, "jewels," glue, a brush, an inspirational and instructional poster, and a storage box with dividers for storing keepsake eggs.

This set of three Goose Eggs makes a really special place to apply these special decorating techniques (sold separately)!

• Upbeat, creative egg-decoupage decorating kit the whole family will enjoy
• Includes a variety of art-inspired decorating methods and effects
• Includes: one sheet of illustrated spring-themed die-cut designs,
• One sheet of animal-photograph die-cut designs
• One sheet of tattoos
• Tissue paper, glitter, ribbon, "jewels," glue, a brush
• Inspirational/instructional poster
• Storage box with dividers for storing keepsake eggs
• This set of 3 Goose Eggs makes a really special way to demonstrate special decoupage effects (sold separately)

Bunny Travel Buddies Sewing Kit

Bunny Travel Buddies Sewing Kit (Ages 8 and up)

It’s “sew and go” with this cute sewing kit that includes everything needed to craft a complete lilliputian play set (two bunnies, a small pillow, blanket, and tin “townhouse”) out of pre-cut felt pieces, polyester stuffing, child-safe needle, and thread!

• Craft a cute play set with this sewing kit
• Play set includes two bunnies and a small pillow and blanket
• Tin acts as the play bunnies’ “townhouse”

Includes pre-cut felt pieces:
• Polyester stuffing
• Child-safe needle
• Thread

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

PBS KIDS Celebrates Autism Awareness Month

Sesame Street's New Autistic Character Julia

As you may know, April is Autism Awareness Month and in an effort to promote awareness, acceptance, and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder, PBS KIDS will be airing special shows featuring autistic characters throughout the month. PBS also has great online resources for parents and teachers to learn more. Here are some of the resources you'll find:


Arthur Autism Episode


PBS KIDS airs episodes featuring characters with Autism during National Autism Awareness Month. Includes a premiere episode of SESAME STREET featuring a new muppet character, Julia, who has autism.

  • 4/10       Sesame Street “Meet Julia” **NEW**
  • 4/10       Dinosaur Train “Junior Conductors Academy”
  • 4/10       Arthur “When Carl Met George/D.W. Swims with the Fishes”
  • 4/11       Arthur “Pets and Pests/Go Fly a Kite”
  • 4/12       Arthur “Carl's Concerto/Too Much of a Good Thing”
  • 4/13       Arthur “He Said, He Said/Bunny Trouble”

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spanish for You! Special Discount for MommyMaestra Readers

Thanks so much to MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, for the following special offer for MM readers.

Get a set of 5 learning songs FREE!

If you’ve been looking for a fun and easy-to-use Spanish homeschool curriculum for your kids grades 3-8, Spanish for You! has a great offer for you!

With the purchase of any Mi vida (My Life) themed, year-long homeschool package ($39.95), you get the 5 Mi vida supplemental songs FREE! ($8.99 value)
There are 5 units in the Mi vida package with one song for each unit. The unit songs are: My House, My Room, My Family and Friends, My Activities, and My Classes.

The songs provide an effective and FUN way for students to practice or review each unit's material. They are provided in MP3 format with lyrics in PDF format so your kids can sing along! 

Some great things to know about our curriculum:
• You can use one package ($39.95) with several children at the same time. For example, if you have children in 4th, 6th, and 8th grade, you can use one grades 5-6 pkg. with them all!
• Interactive games and activities are woven into the daily lessons so they can all practice together in fun ways. 
• All materials are reusable! 
• 30-Day Money Back Guarantee 

Come learn more about the Mi vida homeschool package and hear song samples here

If you would like to read some homeschool reviews on the curriculum, take a look here.

To get your FREE songs, use the discount code: mommymaestrafreesongs 

Offer valid through April 2017. Be sure to add the songs to your cart! A big GRACIAS to Mommy Maestra for so generously connecting Spanish for You! to her homeschool readers!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A List of ESL Resources

A List of ESL Resources
I'm happy to be kicking off April by participating in a language resources collaboration with Bilingual Kidspot. Since I often get questions from parents speaking Spanish to their children who ask about when and how to introduce English to their kids, I'm covering ESL resources today.

There are certainly hundreds of resources available. From online games and apps to books and videos, I've done my best to share a list below of some of the best I've found. If you have a particular resource that you have found to be really helpful with your ESL students, please share!

This post may use affiliate links.

Language Apps & Online Programs


International Children's Digital LIbrary

Online Bookstores

Learn English Kids

ESL Websites

Recommended Textbooks, Lesson Plans, & Workbooks

Recommended Children's Books

Additional Resources & Helpful Articles

If you'd like to discover resources to 15 other languages (including Spanish), be sure to check out Bilingual Kidspot's Language Resources for Kids from Around the World!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bilingual Easter-Themed Activity Pages for Preschool

I've got several new projects in the works, one of which I can't wait to share with you. But it's not quite done yet. So in the meantime, I'm happy to announce that I have a new more comprehensive Easter-themed activity pack available for your little preschoolers!

I felt like I needed to replace the older Easter worksheets I'd made a few years ago. And since lots of MM readers are always writing me asking about preschool resources, I decided to expand the file with additional activities that help develop those skills your children should be learning in preschool to prepare for Kindergarten.

I really wanted to incorporate Latino culture in the packet, so in addition to the Easter Bunny and Easter chicks, you'll also find activities that feature one of my favorite Hispanic traditions: cascarones!

This packet is heavy on developing number recognition through fun counting activities. You'll also find pages that help your child recognize patterns and shapes.

And I didn't forget those vocabulary and pre-writing skills! Strengthen pencil grip and beginning letter recognition with tracing activities.

There are 10 pages of different activities and they are available in both English and Spanish so you can choose the ones that best suit your needs.

You can find this new packet both in my TpT store and here on MommyMaestra in my new shop.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Tips for Homeschooling with Toddlers & Newborns Underfoot

When I wrote a post debunking some of the myths surrounding homeschooling, this was a comment that a reader left:

hs with toddlers.png

It is such a good question because I know many parents are nervous about trying to homeschool school-age children when they have demanding and busy little toddlers or babies in the house, too.

The main thing is to spend time with the little one first doing a special activity like reading or playing together. Little ones crave one-on-one time with Mami (and/or Papi), so before you focus on your older kids, give your younger ones the attention they crave.

Then there are quite a few options that homeschoolers use:

Purchase a no-prep curriculum (or one that requires little preparation on your part).

Your older child should be able to get out and complete at least one or more activities/subjects on their own. This is even easier when you buy a no-prep curriculum. Don’t get me wrong: no-prep doesn’t mean you don’t spend time helping and guiding your child. It just means that you don’t have to spend a lot of time getting materials ready for class. And older children should be able to read the directions and begin the work on their own.

Plan your lesson time around your younger children's naptime.

If you have your baby or toddler on a consistent naptime schedule, then you may be able to use this quiet time to teach your young student. Even if your baby doesn’t sleep long enough for you to finish homeschooling, try to concentrate the more difficult subjects that require your active input during this time.

Create a "quiet time" box of goodies.

This would include special toys that your younger children can ONLY play with while you are doing school with your homeschool child. Keep them in a large tote or several boxes that you can switch out during the week. Make sure the toys aren’t noisy or obnoxious. Things like play-doh, LEGOs, pipe cleaners, sensory bin, lacing activities, and special art materials make good choices.

Invite the younger child to "do school" with you.

Give them their own assignment(s) - drawing, coloring, playing with clay. Usually, this only works for one activity because their attention span is so short, but you might be able to squeeze 15 - 20 minutes out of them and then give them a snack that you prepared earlier. That's another 10 - 15 minutes.

Don't be afraid to take breaks.

You don't have to sit down and knock out the whole day's worth of work in one sitting. Maybe you focus on math and reading in the morning and science and geography after lunch. Some families find the evenings work best for homeschooling, when both parents may be home to take turns watching young children.

Invest in a good baby wrap or sling.

Little babies can stay content for an amazingly long time nestled against mom's chest in a baby sling. Musical boucy chairs and high chairs are also great for keeping baby safe and nearby while you work with your child. If they are old enough, teething rings and toys are good for entertainment.

Hire a Mother's Helper.

I've never done this, but I've read of homeschool families who do. This might be a teenager or adult who spends time watching the younger children while you are focused on your older child's schooling. They may read to the little ones, play with them, feed them, etc.

Other suggestions:

Jamerrill Stewart of says that she has her kids play outside for 30 minutes to 2 hours before starting school.

Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool switches off and has older children take turns playing with babies/toddlers while she works with first one child and then the other.

And check out Lauren Hill’s comprehensive Pinterest board dedicated to this subject.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Free Art Lesson: Ladders in Art

A few years ago, I was fortunate to be able to share with you "Teaching Art to Preschool and Early Elementary Age Children," a guest post by art educator Sharon Jeffus, the founder of Visual Manna. Today, I welcome her back to MommyMaestra with an original lesson for MM readers. Enjoy!

Ladders in Art 

by Sharon Jeffus  
Copyright 2017

Younger children enjoy looking at master artwork.  Verbal skills are enhanced as they talk about the artwork.  An art project relating to the masterwork develops their fine motor skills and enhances language skills as well.  Teaching vertical and horizontal line is important.  A ladder is very basic and simple in structure.  In a ladder, we see vertical and horizontal lines. The line is the first element of art.

One of my favorite pictures of a ladder is this picture of the professor standing on the ladder by Carl Spitzweg.  He calls the wonderful picture “The Bookworm.”

“The Bookworm” by Carl Spitzweg

Do you think this man loves to read?  Can you guess how many books are in the picture?  It is fun to imagine.  Long ago some people had libraries full of books in their home.  You might see a ladder in a home or library, or you might see a ladder beside a tree.  August Macke did the painting below of a man climbing a ladder.  How many people do you see in the picture?  What is the lady doing?  Sometimes someone will hold a ladder to steady the person climbing it.  Do you think that there is a cat in the tree?  Why?

 "Obsternte" by August Macke

Ladders have been used for hundreds of years.  The man on the ladder below lived long ago.  The picture was done by an artist called Signorelli in the 1500’s.  What is the man doing on the ladder below?  What do you see in the background?  Things in the foreground are larger and things in the background are smaller.  Do you any cars in the picture?  Why? Do you see the horse in the background?  Do you think the man is building something?

'Man on a Ladder' by Luca Signorelli

We are going to do a picture of a ladder together.  We will make a tree first and then we will make a ladder next to the tree.  You will need paper, pencil and crayons or markers.  We are going to start with the letter “Y” and create a tree.  Follow the directions below to make a tree with a ladder.  It is an apple tree.  When you draw a ladder, you make two vertical lines.  A vertical line stands straight and tall.  You then put horizontal lines to connect the vertical lines.  Horizontal lines are flat.  The teacher can also cut strips of paper and the children can paste the ladder together.

To learn how to make this tree in all the different seasons, go to my lesson here.

There is also a Bible story about a famous ladder.  You can go here to read about it.

You can go to my website at to learn about teaching programs available.


Sharon Jeffus graduated from John Brown University with a B.S.E. in Art Education and is the founder of Visual Manna. She has written over 22 books and has created the Visual Manna Teaching method which incorporates the elements and principles of art, art history and a variety of techniques in media along with each lesson. You can go to for more information. Her books and materials are carried by Rainbow Resources.

You can email her at

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

¡Todos a comer! A Mexican Food Alphabet Book

This is a sponsored book post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It may use affiliate links.

I have a soft spot for abecedarios. I just love books that teach the alphabet to kids... especially when they are bilingual! And today's book has one more bonus: culture. 

¡Todos a comer! A Mexican Food Alphabet Book (aff) is so much fun. It includes one food or dish for each letter of the Spanish alphabet (with the exception of W). The layout of each page consists of a delicious picture with Spanish text on the top and English on the bottom. 

The photos are colorful and feature some of the most popular dishes in Mexican cuisine. There are history lessons embedded in the short descriptions that will give parents additional topics to discuss.

Parents can read to their children or older children can read it on their own. This book makes a great read aloud and I love how it encourages communication between the readers. Each food description ends with a question designed to make young minds think for extended learning.

And just for fun, the author has included a picture glossary in the back of the book of Mexican cooking utensils, such as a comal, a cazuela, a molinillo and others.

Families with young children should have a growing collection of books at home to be read over and over to their little ones. And for those with children learning to read, a set of alphabet books - or abecedarios - are a must! They allow children to see how letters are used in different ways and how they make up the basis of our language. Alphabet books develop literacy skills and help prepare children to begin the process of learning to read. So it is imporant to have abecedarios that are fun, colorful, and engaging. ¡Todos a comer! does just that. 

But don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling hungry after you read it!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Celebrate Mr. Rogers' Birthday with PBS {Free Download}

Did you know that today is Fred Rogers' birthday? He would have been 89 years old. When I was a kid, I rarely missed an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. I loved learning about how things were made in those little video clips he often showed and I was positively enthralled by Lady Aberlin in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

As an adult and a parent, I have a totally different view and a profound respect for Rogers' advocacy for children and education. He testified in court and before the U.S. Senate on behalf of children's programming. Rogers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, some forty honorary degrees, and a Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, was recognized by two Congressional resolutions, and was ranked No. 35 among TV Guide's Fifty Greatest TV Stars of All Time. Several buildings and artworks in Pennsylvania are dedicated to his memory, and the Smithsonian Institution displays one of his trademark sweaters as a "Treasure of American History."

To celebrate Fred's legacy and encourage fans to share their personal stories of how Fred, PBS and member stations have positively impacted them, PBS will be celebrating his life all day today on their social media. Be sure to keep an eye out for their posts!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a new animated show on PBS KIDS based on one of Rogers' characters in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Today, there's a Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Trolley-themed takeover of and a special new Trolley kart in PBS KIDS' online world Kart Kingdom (now also available as a free app for iPad).

They've also created these new Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood iOS stickers and added them to the free PBS KIDS sticker pack. You can download them here:

Disclosure: I'm a PBS KIDS Ambassador, which allows me to share special news and materials with my readers. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Magic Tree House Classroom Challenge

This year, the Magic Tree House will be celebrating its 25th anniversary. Hard to believe, isn't it?!? The popular series is just as fun to read today as it was back then. To celebrate, MTH invites students and teachers around the world to participate in their Magic Tree House Read Around the World Classroom Challenge!

If you are raising global citizens, you probably are already familiar with this series, which has books with settings all across the world. So participating in the challenge is easy. According to the website:
  • Magic Tree House adventures take place all over the world. Together, set a goal for how many titles you would like to read about each continent. The books can be read alone, in pairs or groups, with older reading buddies, or read aloud by you. As you help students select books, keep in mind that there are now three distinct lines in the series that are explained on the back of this page.
  • Download the starter materials. Hang up the poster to record your students’ progress and place the accompanying seals on each continent on the map as reading goals are met. Hand out the enclosed Progress Tracker Cards to each student, which you can use to track their individual progress.
  • Once you’ve reached your goal, take a photograph of the poster and upload it here along with an official submission.
  • You will receive a confirmation that you and your students are official Magic Tree House World Travelers and a certificate of achievement will be e-mailed to you.

Three random classrooms will be selected to receive:
  • A Skype classroom visit with Magic Tree House author Mary Pope Osborne
  • A class pizza party to celebrate their achievement
  • A full set of Magic Tree House books

To sign up and download the materials, visit the Magic Tree House Teacher's Club website.

.,.and in Spanish (like these)!
(aff links)

And don't forget that I do have an activity kit to accompany your reading of the first three books in the Magic Tree House series. It's available in English and Spanish. Click here to read more about it and to download a free sample.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spanish Movies with English Subtitles for Classrooms

A week or so ago, a thread popped up in a Facebook group asking for movies in Spanish with English subtitles that were appropriate for classroom settings. There were some interesting suggestions that some teachers shared. So I decided to do a little research and this is what I found.

IMPORTANT: Many of these movies are made in other countries. It is imperative that you watch the movie before showing it to your students so that you can check for any inappropriate content and take note that some trailers before the movie may also be inappropriate!! I've tried my best to only select movies that are family friendly, but I have not seen all of them.

This post uses affiliate links.

Atlético San Pancho

A group of kids has a dream: to play a soccer championship and to win. Their dream is going to be fulfilled by Don Pepe, an old guy with lots of expectations for his kids.
Rated: Unrated

NOTE: This movie has been highly recommended by Spanish teachers. Read the reviews on Amazon.

The Harvest/La Cosecha

Every year there are more than 400,000 American children who are torn away from their friends, schools, and homes to pick the food we all eat. Zulema, Perla and Victor labor as migrant farm workers, sacrificing their own childhoods to help their families survive. THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA profiles these three as they journey from the scorching heat of Texas onion fields to the winter snows of the Michigan apple orchards and back south to the humidity of Florida's tomato fields to follow the harvest. From the Producers of the Academy-Award® nominated film, WAR/DANCE and Executive Producer Eva Longoria, this award-winning documentary provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of these children who struggle to dream while working 12 14 hours a day, 7 days a week to feed America.
Rated: Unrated

Viva Cuba

In a tale akin to Romeo and Juliet, the friendship between two children is threatened by their parents' differences. Malu is from an upper-class family and her single mother does not want her to play with Jorgito, as she thinks his background coarse and commonplace. Jorgito's mother, a poor socialist proud of her family's social standing, places similar restrictions on her son. What neither woman recognizes is the immense strength of the bond between Malu and Jorgito. When the children learn that Malu's mother is planning to leave Cuba, they decide to travel to the other side of the island to find Malu's father and persuade him against signing the forms that would allow it.
Rated: Unrated

Which Way Home

This award-winning film and Academy Award nominee takes viewers along on freight trains with children from Mexico and Central America who are trying to get across the U.S. border and to a better life. Cammisa captures children begging for food, hopping the trains, and clinging to the tops of their dangerous rides. The film crew is so close to the action, viewers can almost feel the train lurch. While the journey itself is wrenching and suspenseful, Cammisa's best decision was to allow the travelers--adolescents without money, adult supervision, or basic human comforts--to do most of the talking. Their guileless recounting of how they came to be riding "The Beast" and what they hope for makes this an exceptional program. The risks of this activity are highlighted through the introduction of a young woman who lost her legs and a family that receives a coffin bearing the decomposed remains of a son who died on the trip. The film offers no solution but illustrates with each frame that finding one is crucial. Viewers who are moved to get involved can do so through the website Bonus features include deleted scenes and English and Spanish versions of the film. Strongly recommended for children's and immigration advocacy groups and general viewers.
Rated: Unrated

Under The Same Moon (la Misma Luna)

In her feature film debut; director Patricia Riggen weaves their parallel stories into a vividly textured tapestry of yearning and devotion that portrays a child's courage and tenacity, and a mother's sacrifice. Nine-year-old Carlos aka Carlitos (Alonso) is one of the countless children left behind by parents who come to the U.S. seeking a way to provide for their families. His mother; Rosario (del Castillo) has worked illegally as a domestic in Los Angeles for four years; sending money home to her son and mother to give them a chance at a better life. When the death of his grandmother leaves young Carlitos alone; he takes his fate into his own hands and heads north across the border to find his mother. As he journeys from his rural Mexican village to the L.A. barrio; Carlitos faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles with a steely determination and unfettered optimism that earn him the grudging respect and affection of a reluctant protector; a middle-aged migrant worker named Enrique (Derbez). The unlikely pair finds its way from Tucson to East L.A., but the only clue Carlitos has to his mother's whereabouts is her description of the street corner from which she has called him each Sunday for the last four years. Unaware that Rosario is only hours away from returning to Mexico to be with her son; Carlitos and Enrique desperately comb the vast unfamiliar city for a place he has seen only in his imagination.
Rated: PG-13

A Better Life

Carlos Galindo always dreamed of a better life for his wife and newborn son when he crossed the border into the US.  But when his wife left him, Carlos's only goal became to make sure his son Luis was given the opportunities he never had. 

From the director of About A Boy comes a touching, multi-generational story that follows father and son as they embark on a physical and spiritual journey where they discover that family is the most important part of the American dream.
Rated: PG-13

El Estudiante

After retiring to the beautiful Mexican town of Guanajuato, a 70-year-old decides to follow his dreams and enroll at the university where he stumbles upon a new generation and they are bound together by the novel Don Quijote de la Mancha.
Rated: PG-13

The Colors of the Mountain

Young Manuel lives with his hard-working farmer parents in the remote, mountainous region of the Colombian countryside. While the adults in their lives try to avoid both the armed military and the guerrilla rebels fighting each other in the area, Manuel and his friend Julián are obsessed with playing soccer any chance they get. Shortly after his birthday, the new ball Manuel received as a gift gets kicked off to a minefield, and he, Julián and their albino friend Poca Luz will do everything in their power to recover their prized belonging an essential part of their everyday lives and dreams.
Rated: Unrated

**Note: The reviews on Amazon say this is a great movie but is very sad. Be sure to watch it yourself first to determine it if is okay for kids!

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