Saturday, July 13, 2019

Creating "Go Packs" for Migrant Children

One of the most wonderful things that I've noticed about our Migrant Children's Book Drive is how many people are saying thank you. Most of the packages arriving from caring people who have ordered books from our recommended titles Amazon List include a section where the sender can write a note on their gift receipt.

I read each note when I open the packages. Over and over again, I see the words "Thank you so much for letting us help." And it has really made it clear how people don't just want to give money to a worthy cause (though I have NO DOUBT that money is needed to help these families with legal fees, medical fees, etc.), but they want to give someTHING that is going to directly impact these families, specifically the children.

We have all felt helpless about the crisis along the border and the horrid camps where children are being kept in the worst conditions imaginable. It seems like there's so little we can do other than protest, call our politicians, or put pressure on the companies funding these private prisons.

So, I think that is why the book drive has been so successful.

And yet even so, people are still messaging me or leaving comments asking, "How can I do more?"

That's why I wanted to share another possibility. I've been working with Save the Children on the book drive. And yesterday, they sent me this flyer describing another way people can help.

Remember, these children and their families have already been in a detention center. They've been released and are now free and legal to move about the country to travel to their sponsor family, with whom they will stay until their court hearing in which their appeal for asylum will be heard.

Go Packs are small bags with activities, nourishment, and comfort that the children can take with them as they leave the shelter and Save the Children and travel to their sponsor families.

Maybe you can organize a kitting event with your students, club, team, youth group, or organization? I would recommend approaching a local business or nonprofit to underwrite some of the content, such as the small backpack which will hold all the supplies. For example, I found these on Oriental Trading and these on Amazon. Your local dollar store should have all the other items (except, maybe the Spanish-language book?) listed on the flyer above.

Just remember that a minimum of 25 bags will be accepted by Save the Children. If your organization can help, contact me through my blog or Facebook page and I'll put you in touch with Save the Children.

Thank you for your compassionate, helpful hearts.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

How Read Conmigo Makes Their Children's Books

The other day, I stumbled upon this awesome video that shows you the creation process behind the Read Conmigo books! I was intrigued and figured that you and your children might enjoy learning how this company prints their books. (I'm reminded of when I was a young girl watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and they used to have those videos of how things were made. I loved those videos!)

I've been a fan of Read Conmigo for a long time. In fact, a few years ago, they published my book, "Linda and Reuben Learn at Home." My children's book introduces the reader to homeschooling. I patterned the children in it after my own and one of the parts reflected our own home classroom at the time.

Read Conmigo is a free service. Just sign up on their website. ALL of their books are available online in a digital format. And new books come out three times a year.

Once you do, check out this video of how they make their books!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Free Migrant Children's Book Drive Flyers for Educators, Parents

Shortly after launching the Migrant Children's Book Drive, I had an independent Spanish teacher with lots of classes throughout her area message me and ask me for some flyers to pass out to all her classes. Of course, I said yes.

Then I noticed another comment from a reader who is a Girl Scout troop leader and she wanted to use this as her troop's community service project. Wow. So I thought, well, I'll just make a flyer for that, too.

And then I started thinking about my nieces who frequently have birthday parties in which they ask their guests to donate money or products to a particular charity of their choice (one year everyone brought dog food to donate to the local animal shelter). So I though, well, I'll just make a flyer for THAT, too!

Next thing I knew, I had a handful of flyers drawn up with different wording to fit different situations.

If YOU are an educator or team or club leader who would like to use the book drive as your community service project, I think that maybe you will find these flyers helpful.

Or maybe you'd like to have your family and friends donate books for your birthday. There are flyers for you, too. :)

And OF COURSE I would be happy to customize the text for any situation. Just contact me!

And if you decide to use the book drive for your group's community service project, please let me know so that I can acknowledge and thank you properly!!

Thank you all for your support.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Using Storyboards to Boost Your Child's Reading Comprehension

Summer is an excellent time to work at home on important literacy skills. But developing and maintaining these skills doesn't have to seem like school work. There are lots of fun activities and templates you can use with your children.

Learning to read involves many different skills: letter recognition, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. It's not just about making words out of letters or sentences out of words.

Reading comprehension plays a major role in your child's literacy. Being able to read words is of no use if you don't understand what they mean or how they relate to each other in a sentence. Reading comprehension is a skill that is developed over time and has to be taught to children in addition to basic decoding skills.

This is why I love activities that help children to think about what they've read and the meaning of the story. One of my favorite tools is the storyboard. It is quite simply a visual template that your child can fill with words or drawings related to the book he or she has read.

They are extremely versatile. In the example above, we used the book ¡Olé! Flamenco by George Ancona. In the center circle is the title of the book, and the surrounding spaces are filled with the elements most closely associated with the traditional Spanish dance.

Typically the center space is reserved for the main subject of your storyboard. Your child can write in the title of a book, the main character, or something else. Consider these potential topics:

- Character traits of the hero
- Character traits of the villain!
- Different settings found in the story
- Sequential events (i.e., in the Three Little Pigs, FIRST the pigs left to build their own houses. SECOND the first little pig built a house of straw, THIRD the middle pig built a house of sticks, etc.)
- Comparing and contrasting; take two characters and on the left side of the page, show what they have in common, but on the right side of the page, show what is different about them.

The absolute best part of using storyboards is that you can use them in any language! Or more than one; we used both Spanish and English in the storyboard above. You can also make them as simple (with fewer lines for younger children) or as complex (more lines for older kids) as you want.

The neatest part is that the storyboards can be used for multiple subjects including science, history, geography, and others.

Storyboards are easy to create yourself, but I made a set of them which I sell in my online TpT store.

Happy reading!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Migrant Children's Book Drive

Like a lot of you, I'm upset. Why? Because I keep reading about the atrocity happening to children along the border. We have a crisis unfolding and no one seems capable or willing to fix it.

Even compassionate citizens who are trying to donate the items that the Border Patrol claims it is in dire need of are being refused. It has made me feel powerless to stop the mistreatment - many would say abuse - of these migrant children.

But aside from writing my senators and representatives to object, I realized that there is one thing I can do: help the families that are being released.

The Backstory

I finally saw one good piece of news regarding these families seeking asylum on NBC. The piece talks about how citizens from one of the poorest towns in our country have stepped up to help those families who are being released by the Border Patrol to go to their sponsors and await their asylum hearings. When Border Patrol started leaving families in front of their local McDonalds, the community opened their hearts and created a humanitarian shelter to help these families get started with everything from basic supplies (most arrive with nothing but the clothes they are wearing) to guidance on where they are, and how to get to their sponsor families.

In the piece, I learned that Save the Children has also stepped in to assist these shelters by setting up two of their disaster-proven programs: Child-Friendly Spaces and Mother/Baby Areas. The segment included an interview with actress Jennifer Garner, a board member of Save the Children, who was visiting the shelter. And one image, in particular, stood out to me...

There aren't that many books in the background. And none - well, maybe one? - of them appear to be Latino children's literature. Most are (I'm assuming) translations of popular children's books. Because I can't imagine that any of these kids arrive knowing English. Bilingualism is surely a luxury in the countries from which they are fleeing.

So I reached out to Save the Children and guess what? They're desperate for new Spanish-language books.

They want to use these books in the shelters where they have set up their Child-Friendly Spaces and Mother/Baby areas. In these areas, their staff and the parents will read to children during the short time that they are at the shelter. Save the Children would also like to be able to send a book along with as many children on their journey to their sponsor family as possible.

I know that books don't seem like something these families urgently need. Most of you may be thinking it's more important for them to have basic necessities such as soap, clothes, diapers, etc. The shelters are receiving lots of these donations from the community and independent organizations.

But books are important to these children also. Many of them have never been read to. Why? Because books are a luxury when you are suffering and fleeing from violence and poverty. And a book is such a treasure to the families because it represents something that they are trying to attain: Hope of a better life for their children.

A better life includes a good education to lift them out of poverty. And a good story is a precious gift to a child because it sparks their imagination, encourages them to dream, and can even motivate them to pursue that dream as they grow older.

The Book Drive

So after talking with Save the Children, I've decided to host a book drive for these migrant children and their families.

The nonprofit is urgently seeking new books in Spanish for children anywhere in between the ages of 2 and 18. These books will be used not only in their shelters to be read during storytimes by their bilingual staff, but we would also love to be able to receive enough books to send a book along with as many children on their journey to their sponsor family as possible.

Currently, they have around 200 children and their families coming through the facility each day. Save the Children has made a 2-year commitment and expects to serve between 10,000 and 50,000 children each year.

So you can see how ambitious our goal is - we'd like to get as many books as possible.

And we invite you to join us, not just in donating books, but in sharing this drive with all of your family and friends.

If you need ideas for which books to purchase, I've created an Amazon gift list with a variety of Spanish titles. If you purchase from this list, the books will be shipped to our receiving center for these shelters and Save the Children.

If you are an organization or publisher and would like to make a large donation of books, please contact me for more information. Save the Children is a nonprofit and is happy to provide you with a letter for your tax deductions.

Thank you ALL so much for your compassion and kindness for these children and their families.


I am so delighted at the remarkable response I've received to the book drive. I spent the weekend responding to messages from:
  • individuals wanting to donate books,
  • individuals who have already bought and donated books off of the Amazon list,
  • authors and publishers who have agreed to send books ASAP!

And I'm also excited to have the #latinaboomermom, Maritere Rodriguez Bellas join our team! If you live in California, be on the lookout for ways to donate books in person. Follow Mari here!



Are you thinking of choosing the Migrant Children's Book Drive for your group's community project? Or thinking of celebrating your birthday with a book drive?

We have free flyer templates for you to use. Click here to download them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Summer Reads: Explorer Academy

I finally have time to share another title in my Summer Reads list for 2019. (Psst! If you want to see the entire list, check out my Idea List on Amazon. aff link)

This post contains affiliate links. See my sidebar for further explanation. 

This was actually first on my list for this summer because my 13 yo son had read the first book last fall and was totally sold. I picked up the second book at Barnes and Noble not long ago and he was so excited to get the second book that he devoured it in two days. He said it was even better than the first. And he's anxiously awaiting the release of the third book in September. (Seriously, as I sit here typing, my son is going on nonstop telling me everything about the series.)

Explorer Academy is a new series by National Geographic Kids. My kid says it's like National Treasure meets A Series of Unfortunate Events (the one on Netflix). It's full of intrigue, adventure, genius children, and modern technology.

Cruz Coronado is the main character (I love that he's Hispanic!) who applies to an exclusive school that trains adventurous and gifted students to become professional explorers. His mother was a scientist who worked there developing a secret formula for cell regeneration, but she died under suspicious circumstances in a lab explosion. Now, in addition to his studies, Cruz is on a hunt for her secret formula.

There are cool gadgets and cryptic puzzles scattered throughout the book. My son loves that the series is full of adventure but is reality based. He says it has awesome gadgets inspired by real tech devices. And the adventure doesn't have that feeling of fantasy, which he enjoys, but knows it could never happen. With Explorer Academy, the adventure seems almost attainable. "It could happen," he exclaims.

Here's what I like about it: I LOVE the diversity of the characters! They represent so many different cultures and as a reader, you learn about them and their backgrounds. And most of these multicultural characters are talented, skilled students.

Also, National Geographic has created an entire support site for the series. Their website introduces you to the stories and the characters, but it also allows for extended learning with educational games, articles about the real technology that inspired the gadgets in the book, and even interviews with real scientists doing amazing things around the world.

I also like that although the book is written for older children, it still contains some illustrations. They're much more grown up, of course, including photographs, maps, and information based images. Oh, and some are cleverly fused images of photographs with the illustrated character embedded. But our kids are such visual learners and the illustrations serve to complement the storyline and motivate the reader to continue on.

Really, this series stays true to the spirit of National Geographic, encouraging the reader to explore, appreciate, and protect the world around us. So it's at the top end of my Summer Reads list for 2019.

You can find the book series here on Amazon, and visit their website to see the games and explore all the materials they've shared.

Monday, June 24, 2019

13 Free English & Multilingual Online Books for Children

It pains me deeply to read that parents are choosing to keep their children home out of fear resulting from the president's threat of mass raids. But I totally get it because I would, too. This means no summer camps or trips to the library. No bookstores for storytime.

Or maybe you are a family on a budget and summer camps aren't on your list for this year so you are looking for free resources online to keep your kids busy an entertaining fashion, of course.

Or maybe you are just looking for ways to supplement your child's activities over the course of the summer.

If any of these sound like you, there are still ways to help maintain and even continue to develop your child's literacy skills at home during the summer.

I started looking for free online children's literature that you can access from home and was pretty excited about all of the ones that are available. Here's what I found:

  1. International Children’s Digital Library - Available in 5 languages! Read my review here.
  2. Read Conmigo - English and Spanish
  3. Unite for Literacy - 2 written languages (English and Spanish), PLUS 43 languages for narrated stories!! WOW!
  4. Magic Keys - English only. Pretty simple
  5. Free Children Stories - English only
  6. The Library of Congress - English only
  7. Magic Blox - Books in 6 languages!
  8. Oxford Owl - English only. Free ebooks for kids 3 - 11yo
  9. Storyline Online  - Famous actors read aloud children's books. English only. Includes teacher's guides
  10. Open Library  - Mostly Classics
  11. Project Gutenberg - Also mostly Classics. Available in 4 languages, but not Spanish.:(
  12. Children's Books Forever - 12 different languages!!!
  13. Aaron Shepard's World of Stories - Folktales, fairytales, legends and more

Also, don't forget that I have printable FREE Summer Camp @ Home Calendars for children ages 6 to 10ish! You'll find book recommendations and more.

Friday, June 21, 2019

New Titles in Heritage Journal Series: Guatemala & France

I'm so happy to share that two more titles have been released in my Heritage Journal Series! I had several requests for a heritage journal that explores Guatemalan heritage. So I wrote My Guatemalan Heritage Journal (aff) to help kids explore and document their heritage... and I had a lot of fun researching it.

**And I'm pleased to say that now through August 1st, I'll be donating a portion of the sales of My Guatemalan Heritage Journal to Save the Children for the work they are doing for the asylum-seeking families in Deming, NC.

In addition, I've started working on a series of non-Hispanic titles, starting with My French Heritage Journal. A French version will be coming out soon. And I'm working on Spanish translations of the titles that explore Hispanic heritage. So keep an eye out for these.

As with my other heritage journals, these two books contain:

  • a journal cover page,
  • "This journal belongs to" page,
  • a map for coloring in where in Guatemala/France their family has lived,
  • a page allowing children to write where their family has lived,
  • a page for drawing or pasting your family's crest coat of arms,
  • pages for drawing a family tree,
  • a page for drawing or pasting snapshots of family members with lines for titles and captions,
  • a page titled "Why I consider myself to be Guatemalan/French" with writing prompts and room to write down thoughts and answers,
  • 17 journaling pages with small cultural images and fun facts from Guatemala/France, plus one blank journaling page to be reproduced as often as you like,
  • 3 pages to share favorite family memories or stories with space for adding photos or drawing pictures,
  • 4 pages for recording family interviews,
  • 4 pages dedicated just to photos,
  • 1 sketch pad page,
  • and a family recipe cover page and actual recipe page.

I loved learning about some of the fascinating facts, crafts, and traditions most closely associated with these countries. For example, in the Guatemalan journal, your children/students will learn about places such as Tikal and Pacaya, as well as products like jade, cacao, and coffee. They'll read about worry dolls and huipiles, then discover the resplendent quetzal.

In my French journal, they'll read about famous landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre, as well as the traditional game of boules and the popular Tour de France. They'll also be introduced to French cuisine and famous people.

All these and so much more are found within the pages of these journals. They are here to guide your children as they explore their family heritage and provide a place to record their discoveries. These are designed to be family treasures to be passed down from one generation to the next.

You can find a complete list of all the titles in my Heritage Journal Series here.

And to see some sample pages, take a look at this post that I wrote for the launch of the series.

If you've purchased or plan to purchase any of these titles, I would like to ask that you please, please, please consider writing an honest review on Amazon. Those reviews help my journals show up to families searching for these titles. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Read Around the World: Kutu, The Tiny Inca Princess

Every year, I'm so happy to participate in the Multicultural Kid Blogs' Read Around the World Summer Series. I love learning about new children's books that bring the world to a child's hands. They're a valuable resource when you are raising global citizens who can successfully relate and communicate with anyone.

My selection this year is KUTU: The Tiny Inca Princess - La Ñusta Diminuta by the talented Mariana Llanos.

There are so many things about this book to love. It is such a good story about a tiny princess who sets out to save her town by bringing water to it after a long drought. Even though no one thinks that she can help the town because of her small size, she sets out on her own to find help.

Kutu is a fictional character. And the story is original; it is not the retelling of an Inca legend. But the story represents Inca culture and many of the characters in the story are the gods that may be found in Quechua legend. I love that the author has worked to stay true to this ancient culture.

In addition, this book is not just bilingual with full text in both English and Spanish, but it also has Quechua words and phrases sprinkled throughout the story. 

And the illustrations are so adorable!! They are childlike and colorful with an attention to little details that truly represent the culture. My own toddler, who is still too young to understand the storyline, was captivated by them. 

This is just one of the wonderful titles you can find in my 2019 Summer Reads. To see the complete list, click here.

And if you would like to follow along MKB's Read Around the World Summer Series, click here. Because there are some seriously incredible books being shared.

Happy reading, Amigos!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Guy Crafter's BLANK Bead Pattern Journal

My kids have long been fascinated by Perler beads. In the beginning, they tried some of the patterns that come with the beads. But it wasn't long before they were bored with them and their own imaginations took over. Their beadcraft was influenced by everything they loved: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, How to Train Your Dragon, animals, airplanes, Minecraft, and so much more.

This post contains affiliate links.


Although my daughter enjoyed creating designs with these fusible beads, it was really my son who took everything to the next level. He wasn't content with the flat patterns he found in books. And before I knew it, he was creating 3-D figures that required snapping or hot-gluing separate pieces together.

And I can't help but think that the time he spent just letting his imagination go to design and assemble these pieces was extremely valuable. So when he said he wished that he had documented his personal patterns somewhere, we decided to make it a reality and create our own Blank Bead Pattern Journal. Mainly because the blank books already out there, really didn't have all the spaces necessary for him to properly record his patterns.

He wanted space to indicate how many boards were needed for the pattern and which board the design currently showed. He wanted space for notes or instructions especially for those patterns that required multiple boards and/or assembly. And he wanted to be able to lay his board directly over the pattern and have it fit perfectly so that he could create the bead craft quickly and accurately.

Do you have a young artist like this? One who takes what they've learned and creates something unique and complicated of their own? Do you have a kid crazy about Perler beads and beadcraft?

Then check out my son's first book. Guy Crafter's BLANK Bead Pattern Book (aff) is tailored with the serious beadcrafter in mind.

And with some prodding, I've convinced him to start working on his own pattern book, too.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

PBS Launches Spanish-Language Versions of PBS KIDS Programs

Stop the press! I just found out that PBS is launching Spanish-language versions of some of its top kids' shows! I get questions from readers all the time when I share news about PBS KIDS shows, asking me if they are available in Spanish. I was always sad to say no. But not anymore!

Here are the shows you can find on their PBS KIDS Amazon Prime Video Channel:

  • and CAILLOU. 
There is a total of 30 episodes of PBS KIDS programming available in Spanish. And if you are a subscriber of the PBS KIDS Amazon Prime Channel, you won't pay any extra fee for the newly available programs.

Hopefully, they will be expanding the number of shows...(Psst! WILD KRATTS, please! I mean, Aviva already sprinkles a teensy bit of Spanish in every now and then. )

Thanks, PBS KIDS!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Free Download: Animals and Verbs Activities in Spanish

I don't know about you, but my summer is just as busy as my school year has been. We've already been to the zoo twice in the last two weeks! 

Speaking of animals, if your kids are working on their Spanish this summer, then don't miss this month's download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You! Inside you'll find activities to teach animals and verbs.

The four-page download has one page of directions, charade cards, blank bingo cards, and a worksheet. You can also use the animal cards to play a memory game. (There are lots of games in this freebie!) It also comes with an audio file to help kids learn the proper pronunciation. 

Remember! 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!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Learning Toys for Toddlers

The World Health Organization recommends that children between the ages of 2 and 4 spend no more than one hour staring at a screen each day (newborns up to age 2 should have NONE). But that's super hard for parents in today's technology-driven society. Screens are everywhere! And it is especially difficult for those of us with older children or nieces and nephews who whip out their phones when they come to visit.

This post contains affiliate links. 

There are two ways that I personally battle this. The first is to spend a LOT of time reading. We have books everywhere in the house. And my 21-month-old constantly brings me books to read. I try really hard to stop what I'm doing and read to him when I can. Or I make one of my older kids read to him.

The second way is by providing my kid with plenty of non-electronic toys. I try to focus on toys that inspire imaginative play or that develop important fine-motor skills. With two older kids, we still have tons of leftover action figures, animals, blocks, and vehicles.

But I also am building up my collection of wooden puzzles and learning toys. Two of my favorites are the bilingual wood puzzles shown at the top of this post from Begin Again. The chameleon puzzle is still a little hard for him to put together, but he loves playing with the pieces and watching me put it together. I use it to teach him colors and take my time showing him how the pieces connect together. I also love that it has the words and numbers printed in English and Spanish on the individual pieces, which helps me raise him in a print-rich environment.

The other is a gear stacker. It's super fun and an important toy for developing his fine-motor skills through stacking (a very important activity for toddlers). It also has the colors printed in English and Spanish on the gears.

He plays with both of these on a daily basis and I'm always having to hunt down pieces that he's carried off. I love that he loves them.

Recently, I bought a lacing apple for quiet play in church. I used it for the first time last Sunday and it was a success! Sorry, I left it at church, so I can't take a picture. But it is the same one in the middle of the image below.

You can find these and many others on my Learning Toys for Toddlers Idea Page on Amazon. Here's just a peek at some of the toys I recommend because I already have them or I want to buy them. Check out the little robots! Those are next on my list to purchase.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Summer Reads & Giveaway: Carmen Sandiego

Last week, I shared on the MommyMaestra Facebook page that I had actually won a giveaway for a change. Usually, I am the one giving stuff away. And the reason I won is that I was sharing the giveaway because I knew how much you all would love it.

So, I was thrilled but surprised to get the news I had won! My oldest kids who grew up watching the Carmen Sandiego series with Rita Moreno and who have already watched the new series on Netflix were crazy happy about the books. And here's why...

My older son is a graphic novel lover. I usually don't buy him that many because I want him reading books with more text and less distraction. But every now and then we get a few just as a treat and to reward his reading. So the first book that we received is Carmen Sandiego: The Sticky Rice Caper. And, yes, it's a graphic novel. In this book, Carmen is headed to Indonesia to stop VILE in the capital city of Jakarta. It's pretty action-packed. So, naturally, my son is all over it.

The second book, Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, is what really piqued my girl's curiosity (and intrigued me, too, I'll admit) because in it Carmen shares her own backstory for the first time. I also loved that Gina Rodriguez wrote the foreword. Neither one of us has read it yet, but it's on my girl's list for the summer.

Several of you asked me on the Facebook post about where to get the books. I looked it up and found them both on Amazon here and here, as well as at Target. You can even order them online from Target and have them shipped for free to your nearby store.

Oh! And, yes, I found a Spanish edition on Amazon.


As you can see from the top picture, I received several copies of Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego? So you know I want to share them with you. If you have a Carmen lover in your house, this would be a fun read for summer!

I'm giving away a copy of Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego? to two (2) lucky MommyMaestra readers. NOTE: These copies are in ENGLISH ONLY.

To enter to win your copy, just use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 27, 2019

"Eating Healthy" Children's Books in Spanish

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post does contain affiliate links.

Summertime is a great time for kids to work on forming healthy habits to last them through the school year. Eating healthy and being physically active are two examples of this.

But it is still really hard to convince kids to trade sugary treats for fruits and veggies. Probably because they don't really know HOW certain foods benefit their bodies.

Enter! This website is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity due to poor nutrition and the lack of strenuous physical activity among our youth. They've started a series of books to help kids make wiser choices for healthier lifestyles.

And what makes them special and unique is that these books are available in English OR Spanish! You choose which language works best for your family or classroom.

Silvana Sánchez Lira is one of the company's two co-founders. She's also the author of some of the books, including Eat This, Try That / Come esto, prueba aquello (aff). It's a picture book that tells the story of how certain foods look like specific body organs, and how these foods benefit the organs nutritionally. For instance, walnuts provide your brain with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B. And a walnut looks a lot like a tiny brain, too! It really is very clever!

This particular book is available in hardback, as an eBook, and as a coloring book. I think these would be great to go with physical fitness, PE, or sports summer camps.

The other book that Sánchez Lira has written is Junk Invasion: The Great Battle / Invasión chatarra: la gran batalla (aff). This picture book teaches kids about good eating habits and what a healthy diet looks like. Body organs are characters in the storyline, as are junk foods and fruits and veggies. They are all fighting a battle for control of your body. It's a fun and educational read. And at the end are some activities for kids to complete that support healthy eating choices.

This series is super entertaining and the illustrations are excellent. I think young readers will love the action-packed storylines.

If you're looking for a way to sneak in some learning this summer that reinforces healthy habits that will hopefully last a lifetime, check out these books! You can buy them directly from their website or from Amazon.

Friday, May 24, 2019

3 Apps to Nurture Little Engineers

Kids and tech. 

This summer, many parents will be fighting this combination as best as they can. But keeping children off tech devices complete is unreasonable and unlikely...but very likely to result in a lot of resentment from both parties. 

So instead of trying to keep kids off of tech, it's better two take a 2-step approach by... 

  1. limiting their time, 
  2. and managing the content to which they have access.
(You can do both of these with a little help from Circle.)

Part of managing their content has to do with introducing your kids to fun and engaging games and apps that are also educational. At least that way you know that that there is some sort of redeeming value in what they are staring at for ages.

As part of my Summer Prep series, I'll be sharing apps and games that you can trust and that have educational benefits. But I want to be clear: These are for children ages 5 and older. I do not believe children younger than this should have screentime! And the older ones should be carefully monitored and limited, too.

That said, I want to share three games/apps that will nurture your child's engineering interest and skills. Take a look for yourself...

Name: Jet's Bot Builder
Brief Description: An interactive app for kids in which they design and build a robot and travel through space with Jet and friends. 
Price: FREE 
Language: English
Ages: 5 and up
Device App Store, Amazon and Google Play, and for desktop play at

Jet’s Bot Builder is one of the latest apps created by PBS KIDS. As with all of their products, learning is at the heart. According to them, this app is an adaptive gaming experience that’s uniquely designed to cater to children’s individual learning progress, providing scaffolding where they might need it and leveling up to match learning pace. Kids add new parts to their robots in order to get through obstacles as they go from Earth to the moon to Mars and beyond. Each planet has a new challenge for the robot. Kids can build new parts and swap them around to find the best way to solve each level, learning critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they do.

Features include:

  • Core engineering practices to foster flexible and problem-solving skills
  • 5 fictional planets to discover
  • 45 levels + 5 unique challenge modes that provide endless level exploration
  • 12 robot parts to craft, with endless color variations
  • Closed captioning support
I trust PBS KIDS products because I know that they are focused on children's well being and education. So that's why this fun game makes the list. I also love that it can be played on a desktop and not just on a phone or tablet.

Name: Inventioneers
Subject(s): physics, engineering, critical thinking
Brief Description: An awesome app that introduces children to learning about real-time physics and the science behind different features like air, fire, magnetism and jumping bunnies. 
Price: FREE (Sample version) $4.99 (Full version)
Language: English
Ages: 6 and up
Device App Store, Amazon, and Google Play

I love this app! And, more importantly, so does my kid. It is totally worth the $4.99 for the full version. In this game, you can create your own crazy, fun inventions! With the help of the Inventioneers - tiny helpers with unique characteristics - you can invent fun, creative and often quite weird inventions. A lot of inventions are included in the game, the more you solve the more parts you receive for your own inventions. Along the way, your child will learn about physics concepts such as force, push, pull, swing, launch, bounce, drop, and more...

FYI - My kid is 13 and still loves the challenge of this app. 

Name: Tami's Tower
Subject(s): engineering, problem solving, critical thinking
Brief Description: An awesome app that introduces children to learning about real-time physics and the science behind different features like air, fire, magnetism and jumping bunnies. 
Price: FREE (Sample version) $4.99 (Full version)
Language: English & Spanish!
Ages: 5 and up
Device:  ENGLISH: App Store, Amazon, and Google Play   SPANISH: App Store, Amazon, and Google Play

New from the Smithsonian Science Education Center, Tami’s Tower: Let’s Think About Engineering is an educational engineering design game that will help teach your student how to design a solution to a problem using basic engineering design principles.
Features include:

• Aligned to educational science standards for kindergarten through second grade
• Designed for emergent readers
• Grounded in educational psychology research
• Metacognitive prompts provide students an opportunity to monitor and assess their own confidence
•  Teachers can assess student responses to metacognitive prompts through an in-game 
summary screen
•  In-game tutorial to teach students how to play
• Introduces students to engineering design principles
• Students will learn how the shape of an object can help it function as needed to solve a problem
•  Students can reflect on previous attempts to improve the design
•  Students can design a level in Sandbox mode
•  Designed to be used in the classroom or at home

And I think MM readers will love that it is also available in Spanish!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The 2019 L4LL Latino Children's Summer Reading Program

The 2019 L4LL Summer Reading Program is now live and available in the L4LL TpT store

If you're looking for a summer reading program created by Latinas for Latino children, this one really is remarkable. It has undergone a lot of changes as we have strived to find the best way to make the program accessible to families and educators.

The program includes tons of printable materials and culturally-based activities for your children to do on a variety of themes. Take a look...

Our free BASIC Summer Reading Program 

This consists of printable resources to help your kids have fun reading in English or Spanish during the summer. It contains:

• Our 2019 Summer Reading Lists
• Reading passport
• Reading logs
• Bookmarks
• Postcards
• Pledges
• Certificate of completion

You pick the materials that best suit your family’s/student’s needs.

Each year, we update our Summer Reading Lists to include new titles. You’ll only find Latino children’s literature on our lists as we strive to highlight this small – but important! – genre by Hispanic authors and illustrators. Choose books from our suggested 2019 reading lists of Latino children’s literature, or pick your own. Our program is easy, flexible, and fun!

ALL of the activity pages are available in English and Spanish.

Our Summer Reading CAMP 

This is a 10-week DIY Summer Reading Camp with culturally-based activities to develop reading and writing skills. It is for children ages 6 to 12 years old and includes more than 100 activity sheets designed to boost literacy skills over the summer break, as well as additional tools for educators and students. The program also includes original reading passages and illustrations by Latino children’s authors Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy, René Colato Laínez, and Lulu Delacre.

Each week covers a different theme:
  1. Art/Arte
  2. Family/Familia
  3. Folklore/Folclore
  4. Food/Comida
  5. Immigration & Heritage/Inmigración y herencia
  6. Music/Música
  7. Nature/Naturaleza
  8. Poetry/Poesía
  9. Sports/Deportes
  10. Summer/Verano

You can now buy the individual themes or save 10% when you buy the complete CAMP!

Again, all the activities are available in English and Spanish.

Happy reading!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Summer Reads: The Boy Who Touched the Stars

Time for my next pick for MommyMaestra's Summer Reads list for 2019! (Last week, I shared the first title.)

I'm also pretty excited about today's book recommendation because it is an autobiography of someone whose story I've been following for several years.

The Boy Who Touched the Stars, El niño que alcanzó las estrellas (aff) is the true story of José Moreno Hernández, an American engineer and former NASA astronaut. Read about his childhood when he worked alongside his parents as a migrant farmworker and his fascination with space. Your child/student will learn about the important role his 2nd-grade teacher played in his life, encouraging his parents to stay in one place so that José could focus on his education, and how she nurtured his love of astronomy, books, and learning. 

José eventually became an electrical engineer, and together with a colleague, developed the first full-field digital mammography imaging system. He continued to pursue his dream of becoming an astronaut. Even though his NASA application was rejected 11 times, he kept applying until he was finally chosen to become an astronaut as a flight engineer on the Space Shuttle Discovery and flew to the International Space Station.

Read this inspirational book to learn what his parents' recipe was for helping him to achieve his dream!

This book is SO well written and presented in a very organized manner. And the fact that it is presented with full text in both English and Spanish is awesome!!

Oh, and the illustrations are excellent, too! Take a look...

Really, overall this bilingual picture book should be getting an award. I'm so happy to have read it. I love it. Love it!  

This book will be released on Friday, May 31st. Ask for it at your local library (demand that they carry it!), or purchase your own copy here on Amazon. (aff)

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