Friday, August 30, 2019

Jump Into Spanish



Are you teaching your kids Spanish at home? Are you looking for a support group to help you through the school year? My friend, Kali, from For the Love of Spanish is getting ready to launch a new term of Jump Into Spanish!

This is a paid membership group (one-time fee $99). Designed for children ages 3 to 9, the program consists of six 12-week terms in all, so it's like a 2-year program, and the lesson plans are all sent directly to members' inboxes each week. There's also a FB group connected to it for further community/support.

If you are a homeschooler, you'll probably understand when I say that this program follows a Charlotte Mason approach. Each month there is a suggested poem, folk song, and weekly vocab themes. Each lesson should take approximately 15 to 20 minutes a day.

Here's Kali's schedule:


  • MONDAY: Vocab + Learning a classic folk tale in Spanish (This coming term, they’re working through La gallinita roja [The Little Red Hen].)
  • TUESDAY: Vocab + Spanish poetry (The kids actually memorize a few Spanish poems each term!)
  • WEDNESDAY: Vocab + Game (Just any little game you choose to make the learning fun…I make suggestions in the weekly emails.)
  • THURSDAY: Vocab + Booklet (I make a little booklet you print out each week…kids add the illustrations or sometimes just color in the illustrations.)
  • FRIDAY: Vocab + Folk Song (They work on memorizing a few Spanish folk songs each term.)


The new term starts on September 2nd, but she lets people join at any time.

Go visit her site to learn more. (Psst! Scroll down to the bottom of the page and read the "What Will We Learn?" section!)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Review: Kids Learn About Their Bodies with Dr. Bonyfide


Some homeschoolers are always on the search for comprehensive materials on specific subjects. If you are one of those, then today's post is for you!

Dr. Bonyfide (aff) is a comprehensive series of workbooks that introduces young children to anatomy - specifically, the skeletal system - through engaging characters, rhymes, and illustrations. This is truly a high-quality series from Know Yourself Academy, a company dedicated to building self literacy in children.



Self Literacy


This was a new term for me. I have, of course, heard the terms preliteracy, adult literacy, and even digital literacy. But self literacy? What is that? I wondered. Then was delighted to discover that it means having a working knowledge of your body and your mind. According to Know Yourself Academy’s website, “If you are self literate, you are happier, more confident, and better equipped to handle decisions for yourself and your health.”

What an empowering skill for every person to have! Naturally, I was eager to begin developing my children’s own sense of self literacy.

Dr. Bonyfide Workbooks


The focus of this series is the skeletal system. Your child will learn the names and functions of all 206 bones in their body. There are four workbooks in all:

Dr. Bonyfide Presents: Bones of the Hand, Arm, and Shoulder (Book 1)
Dr. Bonyfide Presents: Bones of the Foot, Leg, and Pelvis (Book 2)
Dr. Bonyfide Presents: Bones of the Rib Cage and Spine (Book 3)
Dr. Bonyfide Presents: Bones of the Head, Face, and Neck (Book 4)

Although I suppose you could begin with any of these books, I would strongly recommend starting with the first one because I think it is the easiest. These workbooks cover a TON of information, carefully teaching in manageable chunks so that children don’t become overwhelmed. And more importantly, each book builds on what your child has learned in the previous book.

The series is named for Dr. Bonyfide, your osseous guide on this journey through the body. He (she?) makes jokes, wears costumes, and even speaks Latin. The Doc’s sidekick is Pinky Le Darpals, a young girl who teaches the reader things like the Bonyfide Hand Jive and how to pronounce those longer, complicated words.



The workbooks are full of rhymes, puzzles, comics, games, fun facts, and even a pair of “x-ray vision” glasses at the back that you can use to discover secret images and words on specific pages. Your child will write, draw, and laugh their way through the activities. An answer key for the written activities is included in the back of the book, as is a glossary. There’s also a certificate of completion that you can fill out and present to your student.

These books definitely don’t read like traditional textbooks with gobs of writing on each page. Instead, the information is broken down and the illustrations dominate each page making this a perfect educational resource for visual learners.

Kinesthetic learners will also appreciate how the text regularly asks the reader to stand up for physical activities that demonstrate various concepts in the book. Your child will stretch, jump, balance and clap their way to understanding.

Osteology, triquetral, and scaphoid are just a few of the impressive terms your child (and maybe you!) will learn as you move through these books. DON’T worry! Your child doesn’t have to memorize all of them! The point of these books - in my opinion - is introducing your child to the bones and making him familiar with his own body.



The books say they are “for ages 6 to 206!” I agree. We are using these workbooks as part of our homeschool anatomy studies and my kids, who are 10 and 12 years old, are really enjoying the time they spend drawing, writing, coloring, and more. In fact, after learning about the bones in their hands (the 14 phalanges, which are made up of distal, intermediate, and proximal bones), my kids and I then spent time using our phalanges to fingerspell our names in sign language using the photo alphabet provided in the book.

I read the text aloud so that we can all benefit from the information being presented. Plus some of the words may be a little tricky for my 5th grader to pronounce. I find this to be an excellent resource for our homeschool lessons. However, this series could also be used in a homeschool co-op setting or in a traditional classroom.



Totally Worth It!


I strongly recommend that homeschool families, science educators, and school librarians invest in this comprehensive, (ironically) meaty series. The teaching approach of these books is remarkably engaging and effective.

My inner digital designer loves the layout of these books, while the artist in me appreciates the creativity in the illustrations. I also love that each book begins with a quote by a famous historical figure, each one on the theme of knowing thyself. And lastly, I am grateful to see that the characters depicted are inclusive, reflecting the diversity of our country. Our children deserve to see themselves reflected in the books they read, including textbooks.

You can order your set here (aff).



Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Make the Time to Read


The following article is part of a series of guest posts on biliteracy by Dr. Carlos Ulloa. Originally published on the L4LL website, both have given me permission to reshare these valuable articles to help parents raising bilingual and biliterate children. Thank you, Dr. Ulloa!

The ritual of a bedtime story in English or Spanish is a beautiful opportunity to bond and unwind with your child. Reading is more than building your child’s vocabulary and comprehension in two languages; reading helps your child define his or her relationship with the world. When you find your son or daughter’s just-right book, the nighttime read or reread will become your own oasis for those few moments before you both retire and recharge for the evening.

One of my kindergarten parents has been reading to his daughter since she was in her mother’s womb. There isn’t a night that goes by when he doesn’t read to his daughter. What he shared really stuck with me. “Look at where you spend your time and your money. This will give you a clear indication of what you value.”

I also love to share the example of my three-year-old nephew who thought books were the coolest Frisbees. He comes from a family of readers but unlike his older siblings, he would not have anything to do with books. In listening to his words, I discovered that if I said the word truck, I had his complete attention. I found the just-right truck books for him at our local independently-owned bookstore. His idea of a good read turned out to be a board book with multiple visuals of every kind of truck imaginable and one-word captions describing each truck. He lugged those books everywhere, even to bed! He asked everyone to read to him his three new books, over and over again. Yes, his truck books were his entry into the meaningful and relevant world of reading!

My son, on the other hand, preferred listening to audiobooks while commuting. A perfect opportunity to use our downtime to engage in a book. My son allowed his imagination to come up with the visuals while he listened to the story in the car. His idea of a great book meant a world of fantasy where he could look out the window or close his eyes and see all of the pictures in his head.

While reading with your child, consciously ask questions aloud of the author, story setting, characters, and/or plot. This is what great readers do in their heads and you can model this for your child. Put yourself into the book and honor your child’s responses. Your child’s taste in books will evolve over time. 

The key is to respect the books your child loves. When you do this, you will be able to build a bridge and introduce to your child the books you love. Your child will come to respect your opinion when it comes to books because you have built this trust and respect for books.

As parents, we must learn to create a balance in the home with television time, computer time, and unstructured time during the day. My biggest sigh comes when I see multiple screens in a traveling vehicle or every member of a family on their own personal tablet or device. Whatever happened to reading a great book, singing, engaging in a conversation, or gazing out the windows while traveling?

There are a growing number of books written in English and Spanish. Your local library, your child’s school library, or your local independently-owned bookstore are the best places to start. 

To nurture your biliterate child, start by checking out Pura Belpré Award-winning books. The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate. For a list of current award and honor books, check out the Pura Belpré home page.

In making your reading time relevant, look for books that honor and nurture your child’s interests. Just be aware that your son or daughter’s choices in books will evolve as he or she gets older. Regardless of age, great books are a powerful mirror and window to the world. Your example as a reader and your enthusiasm and passion for reading can be one of the greatest gifts you pass on to your child. Your time is one of your greatest resources. Value your time with your child, reading the just-right book. Sooner than later, your son or daughter will be out of the nest and you will wonder, “Where did all the time go?”

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Dr. Ulloa y su Tía Chepa
Dr. Ulloa grew up speaking Spanish with his mother and English with his father.  He is currently a Dual Language reading teacher in the Escondido Union School District and a lecturer in the Dual Language and English Learner Education Department at San Diego State University. Dr. Ulloa has over 28 years of experience as a director of curriculum and instruction, elementary teacher, Descubriendo la Lectura/Reading Recovery teacher and parent involvement specialist.  He served as a commissioner on the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), an advisory board to the California State Board of Education from 2012 to 2016. Ulloa earned his bachelors at San Diego State University in Liberal Studies with a Spanish Bilingual Emphasis, masters degree in Education from Harvard University and doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Ulloa can be contacted at CarlosUlloaJr@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Tips for Non-Spanish Speaking Parents Raising Bilingual Children

© Can Stock Photo  ylivdesign



The following guest post is by Debbie Annett, founder of Spanish for You! Thank you, Debbie, for accepting my request to write on this topic!

Non-Spanish speaking parents can still raise bilingual children. There are many paths that can be taken. Some people have access to dual-language programs where their children attend the local school and are immersed in Spanish everyday. Dual-language programs do the work for you. This article is for those who don’t have an option like that.

I will provide you with a suggested path that considers your time and budget. Everyone has different amounts of time and money they can give to this effort. So, the goal is to provide a path where just about anyone can help their kids become bilingual by adulthood or maybe sooner.

You will see that this path takes years. But know that along the way, your child will be achieving ever higher levels of language proficiency. So even though Spanish fluency may not be reached until later, you will see an increasing ability to communicate. That is exciting!

So, let’s get on with this suggested path to bilingualism!

Begin Early 


As many people know, the earlier you begin learning a language, the easier it is to learn. Starting early takes advantage of your child’s “brain” ability to learn languages more easily and become savvy linguists later.

However, you can begin at any age, so if you are reading this and your child is already in elementary school or older, don’t worry! It is still ever so possible!

Begin with a Structured Spanish Program 


No matter what age your child is, using a structured program will guide your efforts. A structured program will lay things out for you so your child can systematically and sensibly build their skills.

If your child is not yet school age, look to enroll in a baby or toddler Spanish class together. Or, look at programs to use at home, such as Little Pim or others. Once you have a program in place, you can supplement if you’d like. For example, expose your baby or toddler to music or videos in Spanish. See if you can purchase bilingual baby/toddler books in Spanish that come with audio so you can read and listen together. At this early stage, you are developing their ear for the language and getting those brain connections going.

If your child is in elementary or middle school, you can use a program like mine, Spanish for You!  My program provides you with step-by- step, daily lessons that you can do at your own pace. The lessons are in bite-size chunks and are filled with easy-to-do activities. You can even learn Spanish along with your kids if you want!

The program works to develop the child’s ability to understand, speak, read, and write in complete sentences using content that is useful in everyday life. It also prepares your child to succeed in high school Spanish. You can learn more about Spanish for You! for home use here.

Whether you choose my program or another, just make sure it seems like a good fit for you. My program comes with a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee, so you can see if it’s a good fit. Be sure other programs you consider offer you a way to try without risk.

Another option at the elementary or middle school age is to find an enrichment class. Some schools or organizations offer after-school Spanish, and some homeschool co-ops offer classes. But be sure that your child will learn more than just vocabulary, phrases, and some songs. At this stage, it is best that your child learn how to use the language, not just memorize groups of words or phrases.

Take 4 Years of High School Spanish 


The next step on this path is to take 4 years of high school Spanish. Since your child has already been learning Spanish, he/she will excel with confidence at this higher level. Take advantage of conversation or other elective Spanish classes if offered.

Also, if your child has been doing a structured program, such as Spanish for You!, for a few years or more, you may want to ask the school or your homeschool class instructor, to evaluate him. They can determine if he/she could begin higher than first-year high school level.

Supplement Elementary, Middle School, and High School Learning 


You can supplement your child’s elementary, middle school, or high school learning in many ways. It isn’t necessary, but these are ideas in case you are interested:

• Visit places where Spanish is spoken, such as local restaurants, grocery stores, etc.,

• Visit Spanish-speaking countries. Some families go on mission trips through church or other organizations. They interact with native speakers as they provide charitable services.

• Enroll in a Spanish summer immersion camp such as Concordia Language Villages. This is a neat option, but it can be pricey for some families. So don’t feel you have to do it.

• Listen to music, watch videos, and read bilingual books with audio if available. Your child won’t understand everything, but he/she will pick things up. If watching videos, it helps to run subtitles in English or Spanish while the video is speaking in Spanish.

• For high school students who have had Spanish for several years, take a look at my blog post on suggested reading for them.

• Find someone to practice conversation with your child. Read my blog post on this here.

Take College Level Spanish 


If your child attends college or even if he/she doesn’t, continue the learning at the college level. Your child can major or minor in Spanish. If he/she doesn’t attend university, take advantage of classes offered at your local community college. Take conversations classes or other non-grammar based classes such as literature. If you are unsure about which classes your child would qualify to take, then ask to take a placement test. Community colleges and universities have these available to you.

Do a Study Abroad Program 


Students can do study abroad programs beginning in high school and through college. In these programs, students live and study in a Spanish-speaking country. There are many exchange programs available for high school students and you can usually find out about these at your local high school.

If attending a university or community college, you’ll almost always find a study abroad office with lots of possible programs. Some programs go for an entire academic year while others offer you weeks at a time in Spanish-speaking countries.

I consider study abroad programs to be the “icing on the cake” when learning a language. The student becomes highly challenged to use his/her accumulated skills with native speakers on a daily basis. Such a neat experience!

From personal experience, I recommend a minimum of 5-6 months where Spanish will be spoken every day. But, if that is not doable for you, any amount of time will be beneficial.

Conclusion 


That is it! It takes years, but is doable for just about anyone. The biggest expense comes with the study abroad. At that point, the money investment is worth it. And if your child has enjoyed the experience, he/she can endeavor to find future work or other activities that put him/her in communication with Spanish speakers frequently!

If you have any questions about getting your child started learning Spanish, feel free to contact me. Also, feel free to browse my blog for practice ideas as well as other language learning information.

Monday, August 26, 2019

7 New(ish) Science Books for Children


Science.

So many people seem to be against it these days. It breaks my heart that somehow, someone has created this idea that believing in science means disbelieving in God. That science and religious beliefs can't co-exist or that one denies the existence of the other.

What? Here's MommyMaestra's stance: They both can exist and support the existence of the other. Sometimes we may not know how, but that's okay. I come from a pretty strong scientific background. And the more I study science, the more I personally see evidence of intelligent design.

I normally stay away from religion on this website because I have followers of all different beliefs. And arguing religion is NOT something I'm at all interested in doing. But I know a lot of MommyMaestra followers are religious (because I frequently get lovely emails from you all in which you reference your beliefs, even if it is simply to wish me a blessed day. Thank you!).

And more importantly, I see how denying science is wrecking our planet. The current situation in the Amazon and the denial of climate change when the hottest temperatures on record have been observed the last several years and the mind-boggling number of super hurricanes affecting the world are just a few examples.

So, I wanted to share with you a few remarkable books on science for children to read at home or in the classroom. I sincerely hope that you teach science to your kids no matter what your personal beliefs are and I encourage you not to see science as the denial of God, but rather as proof of God's existence.

And if you don't believe in God, well, then here are some awesome books for your kids.

Enjoy!

This post contains affiliate links. See sidebar for details.


by Chris Ferrie

From amoeba to zygote, atom to zero-point energy, Baby University ABC's Four-Book Set includes fun and easy introductions to mathematical and scientific concepts for every letter of the alphabet. If you're looking for STEM-minded boss baby toys, books, and gifts, check out the full Baby University series, including ABCs of Biology, Organic Chemistry for Babies, and 8 Little Planets.

This four-book set includes ABCs of Space, ABCs of Mathematics, ABCs of Physics, and ABCs of Science.



by Dr. Bruce Betts

Astronomy for Kids shows stargazers how easy it is to explore space, just by stepping outside.
With this book as their guide to the northern hemisphere, kids will learn to find and name amazing objects in the night sky. Fully illustrated with fun facts throughout, kids can point out sights to friends and family, saying things like, “that’s Jupiter,” and, “those stars are the constellation Cygnus the Swan,” and maybe even, “that group of stars doesn’t have a name but I think it looks like my dog getting belly rubs.”



by Charlotte Foltz Jones 

Popsicles, potato chips, Silly Putty, Velcro, and many other familiar things have fascinating stories behind them. In fact, dozens of products and everyday items had surprisingly haphazard beginnings. Mistakes That Worked offers forty of these unusual tales, along with hilarious cartoons and weird and amazing facts. Readers will be surprised and inspired!





It's the 10th anniversary of the world's best-selling almanac for kids! This year the Almanac features all-new content, interviews with explorers in each chapter, a special look at what was going on in the world when the first National Geographic Kids Almanac came out 10 years ago, plus the results of the 2019 Almanac Challenge and a new Challenge for kids who want to get involved with helping our planet.



by National Geographic Kids

Food chemistry, atom crashing, wave power, food chemistry, and robots! These are just a few of the topics covered in this fantastic new science encyclopedia, which presents a comprehensive overview of physical and life sciences from A to Z. Super smart and kid-friendly, it’s packed with full-color photographs, weird but true facts, amazing statistics, do-it-yourself experiments, plus profiles of scientists and National Geographic's explorers who rock the world of science. Keep up with the changes happening all around us with this stellar science reference book.



Soic y Sot: Los microchips (Spanish version - shown above)

Two microchips named SOIC and SOT go on a journey through an electronics assembly line. From shipping boxes, through the soldering process, assembly and test, the chips learn about the world outside, and what they were born to do! The perfect picture book for our littlest electrical engineers and technologists to be.



by Joyce Lapin

If you had your birthday party on the moon, what would it be like? Blast off to an extraterrestrial celebration and find out! This cool picture book combines fun and facts to help kids learn all about outer space.  

Have your birthday party on the moon and everyone will come! After all, who wouldn’t want to ride in a rocket and celebrate for a day that lasts as long as a month on Earth? Then, young partygoers could romp in a low-gravity playground; watch candles and balloons behave weirdly in the Moon’s atmosphere; and see why the “moon angels” they make in the thick carpet of lunar dust will last for thousands of years. With each discovery, kids learn the science behind the surprise, explained in terms they’ll understand. Complete with sidebars and a glossary, this entertaining adventure is perfect for sharing at home and at school.




Friday, August 23, 2019

Great Spanish Songs for Your Classroom!

The following is a guest post by Risas y Sonrisas founder, Leticia Smith.

What do you want to achieve with music in your classroom? Some songs are designed to teach specific vocabulary lessons while others can teach cultural lessons or simply be fun to sing.
To effectively use music to accelerate learning, it is important to pair the song with movement, pictures, or lyrics so students understand what they’re singing. After students learn the song, continue to activate the vocabulary with visual aids, games, acting, writing, and drawing.
Here are four options for great songs for your classroom! ¡Qué disfruten!


Sing-Alongs for Younger Kids

Sing-along songs are simple and easy to learn. Some of the songs have the same tune in English and Spanish, which helps students learn to hear and repeat Spanish words. These songs are best used with pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms but can also work with elementary-level students. They tend to tell fun and silly stories rather than teaching specific vocabulary. Here are a few YouTube channels with colorful and cute bouncing-ball videos.



Cri-Cri: El Grillito Cantor (Cri-Cri, the Little Singing Cricket)

Cri-Cri’s songs are full of fun storytelling, cute characters, and a variety of musical styles. They work with a variety of elementary ages, but are best used with students who already have some Spanish vocabulary. Cri-Cri has been popular with children in Mexico for generations, so your students can gain some cultural knowledge along with the music! Their YouTube channel is full of songs with which children can sing along.



Miss Rosi

Miss Rosi is an educator and singer based in Peru. Her gentle, folksy songs for children are easy to sing and tend to have a moral, natural, or cultural lesson. Again, these songs are presented only in Spanish. Her YouTube channel videos include lyrics.

Risas y Sonrisas

If you’re looking for songs to teach vocabulary by theme, Risas y Sonrisas Spanish for Kids is your best bet! The fun and catchy songs present vocabulary with fun visuals and the option of using American Sign Language to make the connection with its meaning. Then, the vocabulary learned through the songs is reinforced with a complete set of immersion-based printed and digital games and activities. The program also includes songs that tell fun stories or teach about Hispanic culture. The curriculum contains over 40 original songs, many of which are available on their YouTube channel



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Leticia Smith is originally from Mexico City and has lived in Austin, TX since 1986. She received a BBA with a Minor in Marketing from Texas State University and an Accelerated Learning certificate from the University of Houston. Not knowing then the impact it was going to have in her future, she worked four consecutive years in the university's Spanish department where she acquired invaluable experience teaching college students twice a week and offering tutoring services. Later, when she had the opportunity to teach children, she discovered that her true vocation was to teach and inspire others to put joy into learning. Her years of experience as a Spanish instructor teaching children in all grades at elementary schools eventually led to the development of her award-winning program, Risas y Sonrisas.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

National Geographic Learning & Cengage



Heads up, homeschoolers! I wanted to make sure that you know about the Spanish/Dual-Language materials available from National Geographic Learning.

Their materials cover:

  • Literacy
  • Reading
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • and Language Development






You can take a look at their online catalog here.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Raising a Biliterate Child: Set a Good Example

photo courtesy L. C. Ladish

The following article is part of a series of guest posts on biliteracy by Dr. Carlos Ulloa. Originally published on the L4LL website, both have given me permission to reshare these valuable articles to help parents raising bilingual and biliterate children. Thank you, Dr. Ulloa!


Model, Model, Model

What do I mean by model? You are your child’s first teacher and what you say and do will highly influence your child’s bilingual and biliterate self-image. Your example and how you approach the world will help carry your child through his or her life. What you do will be imitated. What you say will be repeated, shared, minced and eventually outlast you.


Nurture your child’s two languages and vocabulary by embracing your cultural roots and passing on your favorite dichos y refranes. Those oral proverbs, phrases and saying you have heard your parents, abuelo, abuela, tíos and tías use while growing up are rich with not only wisdom, they cross generations and cultures. Those words carry meaning and will stimulate your child’s thinking and oral language development in two languages.

Children love to learn new words when they are used in the context of a lively conversation. Dichos y refranes also make for an engaging conversation during those transition times during the day; such as commuting, grocery shopping, cooking or getting ready for bed. Talk to your child about the message in your favorite dichos y refranes. Ask him or her what the message in the phrase is trying to convey. Together you can come up with examples to reference the dicho or refran to give the phrase life or find a comparative phrase or saying in your child’s second language. Each time you introduce new words in Spanish or English, you are building knowledge, stimulating connections in the brain and reaffirming how words can get you thinking and wondering in two languages.

Begin writing down those favorite dichos y refranes that personally influence what you most value. Record your thoughts, your child’s thoughts, your parent’s thoughts, your abuelito and abuelita’s thoughts on those favorite dichos y refranes. If you want to get extra creative, begin creating, sculpting or collecting photos to pair with your recorded dichos y refranes.

Although most dichos y refranes can be literally translated, your child will learn that sometimes words get lost in translation or the words just don’t flow so poetically in the other language. Sometimes when translated into English or Spanish you will need less or more words to express your meaning. Your child will learn to appreciate the beauty of two languages through dichos y refranes.

What words do you want your child to own and live by? You may be inclined to go to the web and look up what other people have to say about dichos y refranes. You can go there but if you listen to your own words and reflect on the wisdom passed on to you, those dichos y refranes will come to you. Think about the words you really want to pass on to your own child and you may just hear your mother, father, abuelita or abuelito’s voice in your mind.

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Dr. Ulloa y su Tía Chepa
Dr. Ulloa grew up speaking Spanish with his mother and English with his father.  He is currently a Dual Language reading teacher in the Escondido Union School District and a lecturer in the Dual Language and English Learner Education Department at San Diego State University. Dr. Ulloa has over 28 years of experience as a director of curriculum and instruction, elementary teacher, Descubriendo la Lectura/Reading Recovery teacher and parent involvement specialist.  He served as a commissioner on the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), an advisory board to the California State Board of Education from 2012 to 2016. Ulloa earned his bachelors at San Diego State University in Liberal Studies with a Spanish Bilingual Emphasis, masters degree in Education from Harvard University and doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Ulloa can be contacted at CarlosUlloaJr@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Giveaway: Strong Roots Have No Fear


Friends, I love the subject of today's giveaway. This book is for every single parent. We should all be striving to raise children to have the courage to forge forward on their life's path and to be themselves as they were created to be.

Strong Roots Have No Fear (aff) by Aditi Wardhan Singh is a parenting guide that gives moms and dads the tools and confidence to help prepare their children to thrive in a multicultural world. Singh draws upon her own childhood experiences as well as her current parenting choices to counsel the reader. 

The book itself is divided up into 20 chapters. Here's a sampling of some of the themes:
  1. Being an Empowered Parent
  2. Big Emotions
  3. Multilingualism
  4. Creating a Love of Reading
  5. Motivating Self Reliance
  6. Cultivating Talent
  7. Igniting Curious Learning
  8. Imparting Self Moderation
  9. Gender Equality
  10. Counter Bullying
  11. Preparing for Tragedies/Predators
  12. Infusing Your Heritage
  13. Celebrating Diversity
  14. Ingraining Racial Equality
  15. and more...

I love Singh's voice - at once she's both authoritative and personal. Through her writing, she is encouraging and determined. She tells us what to do and how to do it. And she gives examples from her own life to help us understand.

The most powerful statement in the book that I read was this one...
"The secrets lie within our own childhood."
And it is so true! I think back to everything I am and I think the largest and most essential part of me is a result of my childhood and my family. Whether I am like them or not, I made the choice (whether I realized it or not) to do so.

Singh says, "You cannot stop your little ones from growing up and walking into the big bad world, but you can create within them the strength to face it. Every challenge, every fear.

For me - with children ages 15, 13, and 2! - this book was super meaningful. It helped confirm what I knew I needed to do for my youngest, and imparted wisdom when dealing with my oldest. It understood my own feelings of fear and inadequacy and gave me peace and confidence.

One of the most important parts of her book, I thought, was the section on preparing your children for tragedies, and how to identify and deal with bullies or predators. Really, I am a neurotic parent when it comes to my children being around strangers. I trust nobody other than my immediate family, and even then, I am always watchful for the smallest of signs. It's terribly sad to be that way, but in today's world, I think we have to be. And it was wonderful to read the words that validated my caution. But also great to read about ways to teach your children to be vigilant and give them the tools for self-preservation.

If you have followed MommyMaestra for any time at all, you know how strongly I champion teaching our children about their own heritage so that they grow up knowledgable and proud of it. Because doing so provides them with an inner strength that I think you can't get anywhere else. So, of course, I was delighted to see the author also teach this in her chapter on Infusing Your Heritage.

Overall, I think this book is a must-have for EVERY parent! You will feel so much better after reading it. And especially for parents who send their kids off to school, this is one read that will help lessen your anxiety.

If you'd like your own copy, then you can find it here on Amazon (aff link). OR you can enter...

The Giveaway


The author has kindly offered one copy to a MommyMaestra reader. (Yay!)

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Review: Whistlefritz Spanish Learning Program



As another school year begins, it's time for a new review of another Spanish-learning program. You can find a complete list of programs available for homeschoolers here

Name of program: Whistlefritz (Educator's Spanish Collection)
Target age: Preschool - early elementary
Amount of materials: Comprehensive
Price: $139 - $169.99
MommyMaestra Rating: ♥♥♥♥


THE REVIEW:


Whistlefritz is a complete program designed for preschoolers and early elementary students. What I love about this program is that each lesson is centered around an activity that teaches a specific concept and new vocabulary. Little kids are so hands-on and project/game-based learning is often the best type of education that they can receive.

I received a copy of Whistlefritz's Educator’s Spanish Collection. This includes:
  • 1 lesson plan book
  • 1 set of DVDs and CDs
  • 1 set of Memory Matching Cards (game)



The book contains 40 lessons each of which takes 30 - 40 minutes to complete. The spiral curriculum builds on previous lessons and allows children to master their Spanish by providing them with multiple opportunities to revisit previously taught concepts. 

Some of the lessons are cross-curricular, teaching not only Spanish, but also science, art, and even physical education. ***Added Bonus: because most of the lessons focus on preschool concepts, I think this curriculum would work as a preschool curriculum for Spanish-speaking children.

Each lesson contains two sections. The first has...
  1. a description of each lesson
  2. the goal
  3. the objective
  4. vocabulary
  5. materials
  6. estimated time to teach
The second section is on the activity itself and it has...
  1. the focus (and review)
  2. teacher input
  3. guided practice
  4. independent practice
  5. the closure
  6. and extension activities
Quite a lot of thought has gone into each lesson and I really appreciate the guided practice section because it is thorough and provides the teacher with exact text to help their students.

Although the text is written in English, Spanish text for all speaking scripts is included. But there is also a completely new Spanish version available here, making this a good choice for immersion programs/homeschoolers.



I really love that the video series is purely supplemental and not a required part of each lesson. They are occasionally recommended in the extension activities. I feel like kids today already stare too much at screens. But these short videos are a fun way to complement the lessons. In some of the videos, students meet Fritzi the mouse who is always in the middle of some sort of adventure. He really is adorable. But they are all about learning the concepts being taught.



And finally, there are the CDs. They are full of fun music that will make your kids move! Carnaval is the most recent release and it is really just top-notch. Listen to clips of the songs yourself here. My 2yo just can't help but dance when the music starts.

Overall, I think this is a really great program for little ones. You don't have to take my word for it, though. As always, I recommend that before you purchase ANY curriculum in any subject, always visit their website first and download samples. When you go to Whistlefritz, you can listen to a sample, watch a clip, or download a sample lesson to see if this will be a good fit for your (home or school) classroom.

Disclosure: I asked for and received this curriculum for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

FIRST LEGO League


Do you know about FIRST LEGO League?

I first learned about it online and so I decided to find out more. My oldest son and I just attended our first introductory meeting and I think we are both very excited about it. If you've never heard of it, FLL is a team-building, STEM competition coopertition that focuses not on winning, but on growing and developing our children's skills.

Wait, coopertition? Yes, I know that is not a word. But it was the one used by the engineer at our meeting. She admitted that it was a made-up word that combines the words cooperation and competition. And she said the goal was not to win, so much as to learn how to work in a team and to develop FIRST's core values in the students.

According to the website, FLL...
"...is the most accessible, guided, global robotics competition, helping students and teachers to build a better future together. The program is built around theme-based Challenges to engage children ages 9 to 16 in research, problem solving, coding, and engineering. The foundation of the program is the FIRST Core Values, which emphasize teamwork, discovery, and innovation. Students emerge more confident, excited, and equipped with the skills they need in a changing workforce."
It sounds like SUCH a great opportunity for kids to nurture their STEM skills, learn to work in a team environment, and direct their energies toward improving the world we live in.

Watch this:




This year's global challenge has been announced and the theme is: CITY SHAPER and the challenge is to



Teams can be found all over the United States...and also in 97 other countries.

The entire event - from the start of the planning to the final competition - all takes place within about five months. Our team has already received its gameboard (shown below), and they will begin to build the modules that go on the board. Then they will build a robot and program it to approach each module and complete a specific task. There are 10 modules in each.

There is a strong focus on teamwork, communication, and problem solving. They want your children to enjoy the competition, while striving to improve themselves, and helping the other teams along the way.

Overall, I think it will be a fabulous experience for my son, but it is a major time commitment that I hope we can meet. If you have a budding engineer, lego lover, or breathing tween/teen, then maybe this would be for him/her, too!

Visit their website to find out if there are any teams near you.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Free Download: Multi-Subject Binder Inserts



Are you signed up for the MommyMaestra newsletter? If so, be on the lookout for it in your inbox. This next newsletter has a new freebie for you: Binder Inserts.

A few weeks ago, a MM reader was looking for binder inserts for the Spanish classes that she's teaching. I made them for her and then decided to go ahead and make them for all the subjects. I hope I didn't miss any. If you have a subject that you'd like me to add, just contact me and let me know!

They are available in English and Spanish, with space at the bottom of each for you to write the child's name and grade.

If you don't get my newsletter, you can sign up here and you'll get access to the freebie right away.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Braum’s Book Buddy Program


Braum’s Book Buddy Program is officially open for enrollment! You have until August 31st to sign up.

This reading incentive program is open to students in 1st through 5th grades. Each child can earn up to six Braum’s ice cream treats per school year just by reading. And, yes, homeschoolers can participate!

The program starts on October 1st and runs throughout the school year. Kids receive a Braum’s Book Buddy booklet in which their teacher records how many books the child has read. One sticker = one book. After six books have been completed, the child gets a coupon for a free treat from Braum’s.

Who doesn't love that? I wish I had a kid old/young enough to participate!

There are just a few criteria to participate, including how your school MUST be located within 30 miles of a Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Store.

So, this is super fun! Go sign up!


Monday, August 12, 2019

5 Tips to Nurture a Biliterate Child


The following is the first in a series of guest posts on biliteracy by Dr. Carlos Ulloa. Originally published on the L4LL website, both have given me permission to reshare these valuable articles to help parents raising bilingual and biliterate children. 

Dr. Ulloa will expand upon some of the tips he outlines in this article as this series continues during MommyMaestra's Back-to-School Fiesta. Thank you, Dr. Ulloa!


Below are some tips to consider as you help instill the ongoing love of reading, writing, listening and speaking in two languages with your child.

1. MODEL, MODEL, MODEL

Model fluency by speaking, listening, reading and writing to your child daily.  If you want to develop a bilingual and biliterate child, you must be a strong and consistent example. When you embrace the gift of speaking, listening, reading and writing in two languages, you are passing on a family value that can be passed on for generations. Accept it, you are your child’s first teacher! Do not relinquish this important responsibility to anyone.


2. MAKE THE TIME TO READ   

Make time to read with your child every day. There is nothing like escaping into a great book with your child. Reading should not be a chore. Discover familiar and new books you would like to read with or to your child. Find your child’s inner passion and find all books and websites related to his or her favorite topic.

While reading, consciously ask questions aloud of the author, story setting, characters or plot. This is what great readers do in their heads and you can model it for your child. Put yourself into the book and honor your child’s responses.

There are a growing number of books written in English and Spanish. Your local library and your child’s school library are the best places to start. Start by checking out Pura Belpré Award-winning books. The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate. For a list of current award and honor books, check out the Pura Belpré home page.


3. MAKE TIME TO WRITE

A simple and fun prewriting activity is to consciously talk about new and familiar words when you are walking, driving or cooking. When encountering new words, be curious about them, help your child define the new word by breaking the word apart to find smaller words within the word.

Writing is a process. Consider writing a letter to a family member in Spanish or writing down a favorite family recipe. Card making is also a wonderful and purposeful form of reading and writing.

Expand from letter writing to recording family anecdotes, saying and writing captions to include who, what and where on the back of your family photos.


4. TAKE THE TIME TO LISTEN 

When you are at home or in the car, listen to songs in both languages. Talk about the lyrics. What is the singer trying to say? Audiobooks in English and Spanish are also a wonderful way to bridge into your child’s listening comprehension.


5. CALL HOME

It is never too late to give your child the gift of biliteracy. Language and culture cannot be separated and if you can’t make trips to visit abuelita and abuelito, call them on the phone.

Nothing is sadder to a Spanish-speaking grandparent or relative than when a child cannot communicate with a family member because they do not speak or understand the same language. When you value biliteracy, you are giving your child a life-long gift and a sincere purpose to read, write, speak and listen in two languages.

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

Dr. Ulloa y su Tía Chepa
Dr. Ulloa grew up speaking Spanish with his mother and English with his father.  He is currently a Dual Language reading teacher in the Escondido Union School District and a lecturer in the Dual Language and English Learner Education Department at San Diego State University. Dr. Ulloa has over 28 years of experience as a director of curriculum and instruction, elementary teacher, Descubriendo la Lectura/Reading Recovery teacher and parent involvement specialist.  He served as a commissioner on the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), an advisory board to the California State Board of Education from 2012 to 2016. Ulloa earned his bachelors at San Diego State University in Liberal Studies with a Spanish Bilingual Emphasis, masters degree in Education from Harvard University and doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Ulloa can be contacted at CarlosUlloaJr@gmail.com

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Free Download: #ElPasoChallenge



This week, while reading about the horrific mass shooting in El Paso (in my home state), I stumbled upon this one article highlighting the efforts of 11-year-old Ruben Martinez.

Deeply disturbed by the shooting, the sixth-grader wanted to do something that would help his community. And after being challenged by his mom to think of an idea that shows the kindness of El Paso, he wrote down a whole list of ideas.

And he started the #ElPasoChallenge.

He is challenging everyone to do 22 acts of random kindness in honor of those who perished that day.

I love your challenge, Ruben. And to help you with it, I've created these two pages (available in English and Spanish) that list ideas of ways to be kind, or allow you to record your acts of kindness.

It is free for everyone to download and use.

Thanks, Ruben.


Friday, August 9, 2019

The Grammar Missions Giveaway!



Six years ago, I shared with you one of my favorite resources for teaching elementary kids grammar: Super Grammar (aff link)!

You can see above why I like it so much. It's because my kids LOVED it. My two oldest, who hated boring worksheet activities related to grammar, totally got into the action and adventure hidden inside this book. And I was able to use the characters to teach and present important grammar concepts in a way that my kids could enjoy learning. Read my post here to see how I used it.




Anyway, Super Grammar has now opened a store on TpT! Do you know what that means? NO WAITING! You can now buy and download a digital copy of their updated 2nd edition of Super Grammar instantly.

In addition, they have now come out with an additional resource that is just SUPER helpful. Grammar Missions is the awesome workbook that I wish I'd had six years ago. It goes perfectly with Super Grammar and contains more than 140 grammar mission assignments.



This workbook has a section for each Super Grammar super-team, and each super-team section is color-coded to match the color-coding in Super Grammar. Also, to keep things organized and easy to follow, the super-teams and their superheroes in the workbook appear in the exact same order and progression as they do in Super Grammar.

So if you have a 3rd, 4th, 5th, or even 6th grader who loves action and adventure and needs a grammar curriculum that's different and fun, this may be for you!



The Giveaway


Tony has graciously offered to give a Super Grammar Power Bundle to one MommyMaestra reader. This bundle contains:

  • the second edition of Super Grammar (with some expanded content)
  • the Grammar Missions workbook
  • a set of Super Grammar Mini Posters
  • and a set of Super Grammar Mini Lists

This is an awesome deal! And if you have a kid in 3rd through 6th grade who desperately needs a more engaging grammar curriculum, you should enter to win it!!

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

Good luck!

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