Saturday, December 7, 2019

Venezuelan Christmas Spotlight: Hallacas

(Source: Wikimedia) Hallacas con pan de jamon, Venezuelan food
Recently, I was researching for my new country coloring activity focused on Venezuela and I stumbled upon some great videos dedicated to making hallacas. (I'll tell you right now, I love watching cooking shows. So you know what's coming, right?)

Now, I've never had an hallaca, but after reading about them and watching a ton of videos online, I really, really want to try one.

(Source: Wikimedia) Hallaca ingredients :: Tomas Rojas 

Very similar to tamales, hallacas are a cornmeal dish with a filling of chicken, beef, or pork. Typically, they include other ingredients such as raisins, capers, and olives. Unlike the tamal, which is wrapped in a corn husk, hallacas are wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled. This dish is traditionally served around Christmas and New Year.

(Source: Wikimedia) Hallaca after steaming :: Jaimeluisgg

One of the comments I heard most while watching videos is how moist and flavorful they are. And as you can see from the picture above, they certainly look deliciously moist.

But the best thing I found online was the following videos. Watch them with your children  - maybe you might just want to try your hand at making some with your kids this holiday season!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

High Five Bilingüe Magazine Cyber Sale

Opportunity Alert! 

I was looking for a magazine for my 2yo for the coming year. Right now is when all their subscriptions are on sale. So I went to check out the Highlights website and...

For those of you looking for bilingual (Spanish) magazines for your kids to gift for the coming year, check out Highlights' High Five Bilingüe Magazine for kids ages 2 - 6. It's on sale this week for 50% off the cover. Don't miss it!

Find it here on Highlights' website and check out all their other products on sale for the holidays.

You can also order it from Amazon (aff link), and it comes with an automatic renewal.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

“Get Out the Mad” Cookies Recipe from PBS KIDS

Hey! It's National Cookie Day! 

What a great day. I celebrated early by making chocolate chip cookies last night. Ha!

But let's talk about turning this day into a teachable moment. PBS KIDS has put together a recipe for making "Get Out the Mad" Cookies. Inspired by DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD, making these cookies helps encourage social-emotional skill development. Baking these cookies with children not only hones math skills, but also encourages conversations around an array of emotions, which helps social-emotional skill development. In order to make the most out of the educational baking activity, start by asking your child what some common feelings are and when last time they remember feeling happy, sad, mad, etc. was. Then, explain that there are things they can do when they’re angry besides shouting or hitting, like pound on clay or dough. Research shows that kids learn the most when the adults in their lives talk to them about what they’re watching and how they’re feeling.

So here are the directions for making some awesome cookies with your little ones!

“Get Out the Mad” Cookies:

  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Bowl
  • Cookie sheet

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Ask your child to help measure out the ingredients. This is a great opportunity to talk about reading numbers and following directions carefully. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

  1. Give your child a manageable chunk of dough. It’s okay for your child to mash it, knead it, and pound it. The longer and harder your child mixes the dough, the better the cookies taste!

  1. When the mixing is done, show your child how to roll the dough into balls about the size of ping-pong balls, and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

  1. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Final TpT Sale of the Season!

Yikes! I forgot to tell you about this one! Don't forget that the final TpT sale of the year is happening. Today is the last day to take advantage of the discount on my ENTIRE store!

Search your wish list for those favorite holiday items. Here are just some of the items you might have been waiting to come around:

NEW this year! I've finally bundled my elementary files for Las Posadas. My five most popular activities for this tradition are available now. Reading passages for older children also available.

This printable booklet of popular villancicos is easy to print and go.

Here's a fun booklet of aguinaldo lyrics

My Parranda Reading Passage sheds light on this Puerto Rican tradition.

Introduce your students to el Día de los Reyes with this printable minibook! One-page reading passage for older children also available.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections

Throughout my life, I've known quite a few collectors. My 'Buelita had a lovely collection of figurines she kept on a special bookshelf. Our neighbor collected stamps. And once, I visited the home of a woman who apparently collected everything. (Seriously, each room was dedicated to a specific collection - dolls, antique kitchen gadgets, figurines, thimbles, etc.)

My own children have had their share of collections. When they were younger, they were fascinated by objects that they found in nature - abandoned birds' nests, empty cicada shells, unusual stones or wood fragments, driftwood, feathers, seashells, and more. Even though most of the items have been discarded, there are still a few of those most precious finds that sit on their bookshelves today. The photo at the top of this page is from one of our beach trips six years ago. My girl collected all of the items, with the mermaid's purses being her most valued discovery.

When I was a little girl, I started a rock collection. I was too little to know what I was doing, of course, but my mother used to tell the story of how I made a little box and placed a bunch of rocks in it and labeled each one. I was smart enough to give them scientific-sounding names as she thought I had actually looked them up. She was so proud of me. Sadly, I didn't continue the practice of labeling rocks as I grew older, but I did continue the habit of collecting stones and gems (rose quartz, geodes, etc.) that I found to be unusual or beautiful.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago while searching for gifts for my General Science class that I teach at our local homeschool co-op. Michaels had a box for rock collectors with separated compartments and I thought about how rock collecting must still be a thing for kids or the store wouldn't bother selling those display boxes.

So I looked up information on kid collectors. According to an article from the Child Development Institute, "Hobbies teach children to set and achieve goals, solve problems and make decisions. They can also set the course for what your child becomes later in life as they often turn into lifelong interests or careers."|

Psychology Today has a good article, too, describing how collecting things exercises a child's imaginative and cognitive skills. The authors remind us that children have been collecting items in their immediate environment for hundreds (may I say thousands?) of years. It's a way of making sense of our world and develops our sense of order and understanding.

In the Psychology Today article, the authors talk about how schools used to encourage kids to collect things as a hobby. Show and tell was often the time for sharing your prized collection of baseball cards, china dolls, comic books, or patches. And they lament the fact that the hobby of collecting is no longer given any attention in schools.

Maybe children don't collect things the way they used to? I find that hard to believe. Either way, I encourage you to nurture your children's passions and urge them to start a collection. It leads to research, organization, identification, creativity, presentation, and so much more.

The types of collections are really quite endless. Buttons, books, erasers, stickers, pins, marbles, toys, shells, rocks, Star Wars, LEGO, Harry Potter, Doctor Who... a child can collect anything.

Which leads me to today's book feature.

Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections is a new children's picture book by Michelle Schaub. It's the story of a student who has been given a school assignment to bring to class something that they collect. And one student doesn't have a collection, so she goes around and asks friends and family about their collections.

I love the concept of the book. And it is a well-written collection of poems. Every time you turn the page a new collection is featured. And the author tells you about all of the collections in poetry form.

I also enjoy the fact that the illustrations are by Carmen Saldaña, an artist who lives in northern Spain!

Here's a peek:

This might make a good gift for Christmas Eve - if you celebrate Jolabokaflod (Christmas Book Flood!) and gift a book to your loved ones.

You can find this book on Amazon.

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