Friday, September 18, 2020

Connecting to Our Hispanic Heritage through Online Classes

connecting to Our Hispanic Heritage through Online Classes

The following is a guest post by educator and mother, Lidia Aguirre.

I’m always looking for more ways to help my daughter connect to our Hispanic heritage. Growing up with a Mexican father, I was naturally exposed to my Mexican roots. However, as a third generation American, my daughter does not always get that same level of exposure. She is guided by me, a single mother who was born and raised in the US and speaks better English than Spanish. I have worked hard over the last 20 years to develop full fluency in Spanish, and I’m even a Spanish teacher now, but I have to confess that English still comes more naturally to me.  

Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle when it comes to bilingual parenting and maintaining a strong connection to our heritage. I’ve accepted that I can’t do it alone, and I’ve finally realized that I don’t have to. Even if we are staying home more in 2020, there are still ways to find support and to foster that connection to our Hispanic heritage that I so deeply crave. 

Facebook has been a great way for me to discover online events in Spanish for kids. We have attended a lot of fun kids classes in Spanish over the last several weeks, and there is one in particular I want to share with you. We’ve been taking a virtual ceramics workshop through a museum association in Argentina! The organization is called "La Asociación Amigos del MAP." There are various workshops and lectures for both adults and children listed in the “Talleres y Charlas” section of their website. They also have a Facebook page you can follow. 

Here’s a picture of us with some of our latest creations:

We have loved this experience so far. The instructor has been fabulous! My main purpose for signing my daughter up was to boost her Spanish and to help her connect with kids who live in a Spanish-speaking country. As a bonus, I’ve learned a lot as well. The instructor often discusses Pre-Columbian art as we’re working with the clay, so I’ve gotten a few art history lessons just by listening to her interact with the students. Everyone in the workshop has been so welcoming, and it’s been wonderful to practice our Spanish in such an authentic way. I hope we get to visit Argentina in person someday soon!


Lidia Aguirre is an educator, mother, and writer for hire. She has worked in K-12 Texas public schools and now teaches Spanish at the community college level. She founded the website Spanish From a Distance to support world language teachers and learners. You can follow her Facebook page to stay up to date on blog posts and teaching resources. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Passing on My Bolivian Heritage through Dance

Julie is the third person from the right in the blue dress.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the following is a guest post by mom of 2 boys, Julie Santelices, who shares how she is passing on her Bolivian heritage and culture to her children.

It’s 7 pm on a rainy weeknight. The members of my Bolivian folk dance group are gathered for practice after a long day of working, mothering, or both. The occasional crack of thunder outside reminds us of the storm rolling past. But inside is a safe and familiar refuge. Hand-painted Indigenous artwork adorns the walls while the comforting smells of cafécito and baked humintas waft from the nearby kitchen. All the furniture has been pushed aside to make room for us to practice our choreography.  Our performance songs play on repeat. We synchronize our spins, jumps, and steps for a couple hours until we are either satisfied, exhausted, or both.  

When I get home, my two kids are already asleep. I used to feel a twinge of guilt that I had missed their bedtime stories and goodnight kisses. Now I remind myself that folk dancing isn’t just for me, it’s for them too. I begin my night time ritual and step into a shower. Under the warm water, it’s quiet and I reflect on my slowly evolving dance practice. How learning the steps of my ancestors feels both humbling and empowering at the same time. How dance education has become my way to honor the generations before me and the ones yet to come. Folk dancing makes me feel like an important link in the infinite chain of my heritage.

My first dance lessons weren’t in a dance studio. Rather, my early childhood memories of learning los pasos were in my mother’s suburban kitchen. The same room where I watched her prepare meals and share chismes with her friends. There was a small TV in the corner of the kitchen, but when it wasn’t on, my mother was the most entertaining thing to watch. She would go about her business while booming ballads and pulsing cumbias crooned from the Spanish language radio. I learned the words to familiar songs and sang and danced along with her. I wanted to move with my mother’s grace and confidence. She owned the room, with a sway of hips or a stomp of her feet. A dish towel would circle rapidly over her head as she demonstrated the quick cueca steps for my wide eyes.  

Bolivian dancers

My mother never gave herself the gift of joining a folk dance group. I think she would have appreciated the discipline it requires, and enjoyed the sisterhood that comes with belonging to a performance group. I still thank her for teaching me to love dancing, and more importantly: to love my raices.  I reassure her that I’m passing on all this knowledge to her two grandchildren; that we are all learning together how to heal through dancing. Healing the enduring damage of colonialism. And that dance is like a salve on all that weighs heavy in our hearts.  

Now my own two sons watch me with wide eyes when they see my dance group performances. When they hear the familiar sounds of indigenous instruments, their shoulders bounce, their feet tap, and they understand that tradition flows through their DNA. My children are learning folk dances right along with me. I’m hoping to teach my children what our ancestors already knew: that the dance lives within us. It is an immense honor to do justice to each dance step. I never forget that each dance carries meaning, purpose, and retells our ancestors’ stories in a way that history books cannot. 


Julie Santelices is a Bolivian mamí and lover of languages. She is raising her two multilingual littles in Central Florida.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Free Hispanic Heritage Month Digital Classroom


Today, Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off across the country. I've been thinking for a while about which resource to share on the first day of this celebrate this month-long celebration. And then, like magic, a fabulous mom in our Hispanic & Bilingual Homeschoolers Facebook group shared this!

This is an amazing Hispanic Heritage Month virtual classroom. What an awesome resource! And it is FREE! 

Created by a remarkable group of educators, you can find:

  • videos of biographies and book read-alouds, 
  • maps of Spanish-speaking countries, which lead to... 
  • pages dedicated to each country, 
  • images, 
  • written biographies, 
  • infographics, 
  • and more.
I love that students can watch YouTube videos safely without having access to inappropriate content. So much work has been put into this content wise, as well as to make it visually engaging and interactive for students. Some slides even have music! 

If you're looking for free resources to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, this should probably be at the top of your list!

And if you are wondering...yes, you can make a copy. Yes, you can use it in your classroom. And, yes, you can share it with everyone.

Go and enjoy.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Barton Reading and Spelling: Expensive, Boring, and Effective

The following is a guest post by Stacie Servantes Farias, a Mexican-American mom of 5 who does not blog because she is too busy reading other blogs to write one of her own.

The Basics

Barton Reading Spelling is an Orton-Gillingham based reading and spelling program created by Susan Barton. According to the Barton website, the Barton system “is a great tutoring system for children, teenagers, and adults who struggle with reading, spelling, and writing due to dyslexia or a learning disability.”

Barton Reading and Spelling has 10 levels that range in price from $300 - $350 per level. All students must pass the free Barton Student Screener in order to be able to use the program and all tutors, or parents who “tutor” their own children, must pass the free Barton Tutor Screener. There are several other requirements to be a Barton student (or at least be able to benefit from the Barton program) that are listed here.

The Real Review

Now that I have explained all the basic information, let me give y’all the real deal from a homeschool mom who has tutored her kids through 7 of the 10 Barton levels. 

Barton Reading and Spelling is VERY expensive, as far as homeschool curriculum is concerned. We have paid $350 for just one level?!?!? And all you get is a large spiral-bound manual, some colored tiles, and a set of DVDs!!! 

Yup. A lucky set of circumstances helped us to cover some of these costs, but yes. We paid $300 to $350 per level for a box with a giant manual, some colored tiles (although the tile app is better) and a set of DVDs. The plus side of Barton is that it has a very high resale value. Most families buy one level at a time and list that level “for sale” on eBay or various Facebook groups and easily get back $250-$300 back. That money goes into buying the next level their kiddo needs. Another plus is that many Barton parents later invest in becoming certified Barton tutors and begin to tutor other children. Overall, tutoring your own children is still astonishingly cheaper than paying a tutor to do it for you. 

Barton Reading and Spelling is VERY boring. LOL! This does not sound like an endorsement but it most definitely is, after an explanation. Barton was originally written for adults and so there are no cutesy pictures or anything of ANY visual interest in the student pages. The practice stories are drab. The procedures of Barton are so repetitive that you may require a caffeine boost to get you through them. But the repetition is key! The formulaic, systematic, and yes boring, procedures are exactly what a dyslexic student needs to recall and retain the many skills that are needed to read and spell. This is the secret of an Orton-Gillingham based program and why it works. And by the way, Barton is scripted. Moms, you CAN teach your child using this system by watching the DVDs, then doing the lessons from the script. That’s all you need. 

Barton Reading and Spelling is VERY effective. I have seen it in my own children. Their spelling is not perfect 100% of the time but they now have tools to help them. My children can break apart syllables. My children know what schwa is. My children are helping their younger siblings learn how to read using Barton techniques. Wha?!?!? Yes! I caught my dyslexic 12-year-old explaining to my 7-year-old why “y” makes different sounds at the end of a word. It’s called the Cry Baby Rule, thank you Barton!! 

With regards to my children’s reading skills, Barton has been effective in 2 ways. First, my children have stopped guessing at words (at least in front of me) and my children can read words that they have never encountered before by breaking apart syllables. Many people think this is the same as “sound it out,” but it is not the quite the same. There is a system for breaking apart syllables to determine what sounds the letters make and my kids understand this because of Barton. If you are more convinced by numbers, take a look at these studies about Barton’s effectiveness. 

Disclaimer! I could not possibly say everything there is to say about the Barton experience. Some days it just clicks and some days we have to close the manual and take a break. And what can I say about Susan Barton herself? She is a queen, A QUEEN!! If you watch this video of Susan Barton explaining signs and symptoms of dyslexia, you can see how much she cares and how much she knows. When you hear the story about her nephew, grab a tissue. 

Please! If you suspect dyslexia in your child or children, I highly recommend checking up Susan Barton’s two websites:
Do NOT be put off by the early 2000s look of the websites. LOL! The information is up-to-date.


Stacie Servantes Farias is an Army wife and mom of 5 with a “very healthy” obsession for Snoopy, Disney movies, Audrey Hepburn, Dr. Pepper, Whataburger, books, and homeschooling. Originally from Mission, Texas, Stacie and her high-school sweetheart hubby live with their kids and dog in a different home every few years, because that is the military life. She has big plans to write a book exploring her theory that La Llorona drowned her children because they would take their socks off all over the house and then would complain that they never had clean socks! Stacie also thinks she is really funny, but she is mostly lame. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Printable Downloads & Boom Cards for Hispanic Heritage Month

This year seems like a it has a million days in it, but somehow Hispanic Heritage Month has still managed to sneak up on me! So I'm turning to printable downloads or online activities to use with my son.

Here is just a small list of the printable or digital resources that I have available. You can find these and more in my TpT store

This year, I've only had time to create one new resource, but it is great for distance learners. My Hispanic Heritage Month Reading Passages & Comprehension Boom Cards are easy to use while still rich in content. You can purchase them on TpT or directly from my shop in Boom Learning.

This is the latest one I've made and is only in English (Spanish is forthcoming when I get some time). But I have several others in both languages available.

Are you new to Boom Cards? If so, here are a few quick tips:

  • Boom Cards are fast and easy. Similar to an interactive digital flash card, Boom Cards may be played on any touchscreen device, or PC w/a mouse. 
  • Completely digital, there is no printing, cutting, or laminating required.
  • The cards are self-grading, so if the student gets one wrong, they know right away and can try again. 
  • Teachers may assign card sets to their students and track their progress.
With my boom cards, students read through a few pages of information, and then answer 8 - 10 self-grading comprehension questions by clicking on the correct answer. 

Hispanic Heritage Month Boom Cards

Hispanic Heritage Month Boom Cards

If you're interested in downloads that you can print off and use at home, consider these resources. They are available in both English and Spanish.

Designed for older children, this 79-page unit allows students to choose from a list of 100 Hispanics in world history to research and share. The list is available in two formats:
  •    The historical figures are arranged by century starting with the 1400s to the present
  • The historical figures are arranged by field of influence, including musicians, artists, activists, scientists, athletes, writers, journalists, actors, leaders & politicians, and other notable figures.
Pages for note-taking, research, and one-page presentations are included, as are additional pages for comparing/contrasting historical figures, word association, and listing new vocabulary.

In addition, date cards and information labels are included for creating a timeline display on a wall.

This bundle shows 4, but I have activity packs available for six countries: Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Spain, Peru, and Venezuela. More countries are on the way, so just check back. Each one introduces children to the country with a printable map for them to color in and fact page with facts numbered to match the images on the map. 

These fact files may be used as individual bookmarks or a fandex. It features 36 historical figures. Directions for fandex assembly and use, as well as individual worksheets, cut-outs and answer key included.

Hispanic in History Character Crowns (shown at top of page)

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by playing "Who Am I?" with this set of character crowns featuring 30 influential Hispanics in History.

Each crown comes with a fact sheet and extension strips for making the crown. Directions for assembly and instructions on different ways to play the game, as well as different ways to use the crowns are included. Available in English AND Spanish.

One-page reading passages about the following 10 famous Latinas:
  1. Ellen Ochoa
  2. Isabel Allende
  3. Dara Torres
  4. Frida Kahlo
  5. Linda Ronstadt
  6. Dolores Huerta
  7. Sonia Sotomayor
  8. Carolina Herrera
  9. Rita Moreno
  10. Sor Juana de la Cruz
I've also included reading comprehension worksheets that focus on facts and vocabulary from the passages, a matching activity, dictionary reference, and complete the sentence. Answer key included. ENGLISH AND SPANISH.

A set of one-page reading passages about the following seven famous Afro-Latinos:
  • Celia Cruz
  • Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Soledad O'Brien
  • Roberto Clemente
  • Martina Arroyo
  • Pelé
  • Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez
Reading comprehension questions for each reading passage are included. I've also added reading comprehension worksheets that focus on vocabulary from the passages, a matching activity, true or false, describing words, and a Venn diagram for comparing characters. Answer key included. The reading passages are available in full color or black and white.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Free Download: Spanish Lesson on Giving Commands

One of the most important lessons in Spanish is the one that teaches the imperative verb tense. But we don't see that highlighted ever in the PR for Spanish programs. It's weird because being able to tell people to do things is an important part of speaking any language! So I'm pretty happy with this month's free download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!

This month's freebie is all about telling others to do things. Sounds bossy, doesn't it? But trust me, it's not! When we are with people we tell them to do things all the time - Look at this! Write this down. Listen to this song. Leave it on the table. Come with me! I could go on and on.

This 5-page file includes an instruction page, two command and supportive vocabulary card pages, and two activity pages. There's also an audio file to help with 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, September 4, 2020

A Montessori PreK 9-Month Planner

Did you guys know that I have a book out to help you plan and record your Montessori lessons for preschool? It can be used by new or veteran homeschoolers, as well as Montessori school teachers.

Montessori PreK: 9-Month Lesson Planner is a thick book. There is a LOT of room for writing down and storing activity ideas, making booklists, recording themes, and then the actual daily lesson guide sheets for you to fill in.

The first section includes a 9-month calendar for writing down all your monthly themes. There are also 28 pages for recording your favorite activities to reference as you fill out your planner each month. 

Then there are nine sections for planning your monthly lessons. Each section includes space for listing all the materials you’ll need for the month, a section for writing down the book titles you’ll be using, and finally pages for recording up to three activities for each daily lesson. There are 28 pages in each month for four weeks' worth of lesson planning.

If you're interested in learning more about the Montessori learning/teaching method, check out these ... 

Monday, August 31, 2020

Resources for Bless Me, Ultima

The one book that changed my life and opened up a whole new world to me was Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. I read it my Junior year in high school while taking a Multicultural Literature class. Before this I had NO IDEA that there was a whole genre dedicated to Latino lit. And I was so overwhelmed to see so many of the traditions and, yes, even figures from my childhood it literally made me weep. Until I was around 14, my childhood was steeped in Mexican culture. Mostly thanks to my great grandmother, with whom we lived. But she passed away when I was 12, leaving behind a giant hole that I never knew was there until I read Anaya's book. 

A year or so after her death, my mother and I moved away and I started at an all-English school where I think that maybe I was one of only two or three Hispanics in the upper school. My mother was busy working and all the traditional customs or events that we would participate in were left behind. My heritage and culture quietly slipped away a little more and more each day. 

Until I read that book.

I never met Anaya. But when he died not long ago, I felt so deeply grieved. I think it was because of that precious gift of my past and myself that he gave to me. And today, now that both my great grandmother and mother have passed away, I feel that my connection to my culture tries to quietly slip away every day. And if it weren't for my children and my decision to continue MommyMaestra and my work writing education materials, I think I would sadly drift into the mostly white culture that surrounds me. I fight every day to hold on to the little girl who celebrated las posadas, ate authentic chalupas, received "limpias" from my 'Buelita, and wore traditional dresses to celebrate every 16 de septiembre. 

So in honor of Señor Anaya, I want to dedicate today's post to his remarkable book that saved me. I've been thinking of having my older kids read it this year and watch the movie. Perhaps you'd like to do so, as well.  

The following links are affiliate links.

The Book

There are actually two versions of the cover, but the content is the same...

And did you know it is also available in Spanish?

The Study Guide

This probably excites me more than anything else. The Study Guide Student Workbook has 114 pages and works for both public/private school and homeschool classrooms. But note: it is only available in English.

Here's another one:

And on TpT, there is a whole ton of downloadable resources!

The Movie

Sadly, the price of the DVD has soared in the last few weeks. But you can still rent or buy it from Amazon Prime for a reasonable price:

An Interview with Rudolfo Anaya

Here's a few fabulous interviews with the author...

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Free Typing Lessons & Games Online

Another unexpected result of the distance and online learning has appeared! There have been a lot of parents asking about typing lessons for their kids. For many, typing isn't taught in schools (and I bet those schools are now re-evaluating that!). So parents are looking for online programs. And it's a bonus if those programs are FREE!

So I started looking at some of the suggestions that many veteran homeschoolers have been sharing. Here is a short list of awesome online typing programs. I've noted if the language can be changed for Spanish and English instruction.

Online Typing Programs

Typing games for younger students:

Image © Can Stock Photo - zurijeta

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Reading Passage Boom Cards in English & Spanish


Are you looking for distance learning resources? I have a new series of reading passages on Boom Cards with comprehension questions available in English and Spanish. 

These are based off of my printable one-page reading passages, but have been reformatted for digital learning. They include a colorful layout and new images. The best part about them is that 8 comprehension questions are SELF-GRADING! (Awesome!)

So far I have uploaded Spanish and English versions of three different subjects: Las Adelitas, Los Mariachis, and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

The Spanish versions are excellent for heritage speakers, immersion students, and advanced Spanish speakers.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Free Online Piano Lessons: Encore Music Studio

Are you looking for a way to start or maintain your child's piano lessons from home during the pandemic? Or maybe you're looking for lessons that fit your budget? Check out Izzie Chea! Ms. Chea teaches voice, piano, and flute out of her home in Texas. Her Facebook page is Encore Music Studio.

Oh, my gosh, friends. She is the nicest and so much fun. Ms. Chea is a virtual piano teacher giving FREE fun piano lessons on YouTube and Facebook live. She gives full, 30 minute piano lessons to kids, teens and adults. She gives LIVE lessons on Facebook every Friday at 1:00pm CST!

Watch her introductory lesson below. It is the first lesson in her children's series. She tells you which books to purchase for the lessons, explains how a piano works, how to hold your hands/fingers, where the different keys are, and more.  If you love it, you can join her private Facebook group Encore Music Makers.

Now, guys here's the thing. Ms. Chea is SO NICE to offer these lessons for free. She's made this a donation-based studio. So if you decide to participate in these lessons, after you buy your books, PLEASE consider donating whatever you can on a weekly or monthly basis via 

We're here to help each other and $5/mo or even $10/mo if you can spare it for piano lessons is a deal you won't find anywhere!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Cultural Bytes Online Spanish Courses

A lot of parents are looking for online courses as part of their homeschool lesson plans for this fall... especially first-time homeschoolers and those whose children were in immersion programs last year.

So I'm excited to share that Cultural Bytes has offered one of their foreign language courses to be part of the Back-to-School Fiesta!

Cultural Bytes is based in Southern California. It provides immersion classes for Spanish, French, and Mandarin. In addition to teaching the language, they also focus on cultural awareness. And the classes also focus on four skills:
  1. reading
  2. writing
  3. listening
  4. speaking
Their classes are fun and engaging thanks to their differentiated learning approach and game-based environment.

The Giveaway

Cultural Bytes is offering 1 FREE online class (35 minutes) of the language of your choice! The options are: Spanish or French or Mandarin.

Try it out and see if it is a good fit for your family!

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Back-to-School with 123 Andrés

Learn Spanish with your Kids -- a fun Back-To-School Giveaway with 123 Andrés

For a few years now, we've been highlighting the amazing albums and videos by 123 Andrés. The musical duo, Andrés and Christina, are well-known among bilingual and Spanish-speaking families. In fact, they won a Latin Grammy for Best Children’s Album in 2016 for their album, Arriba Abajo.

I love 123 Andrés because of the educational component that comes with ALL of their songs. And it is no surprise because Christina has a Masters in Education and was once a public school teacher. 

I'm so delighted to be able to offer a great giveaway for a MommyMaestra reader!

Win this bundle of musical learning fun:

  • Hola Amigo: Songs of Friendship  album
  • Hola Amigo/Hello Friends picture book from Scholastic
  • Una Idea Tengo Yo album
  • Canta las Letras (2019 Latin Grammy-nominated album!)

123 Andrés is releasing a surprise digital album – Hola, Amigo: Songs of Friendship. The album, due out Aug 21, contains remastered versions of Hola, Amigo in Spanish and English, and eight more songs that explore the theme of friendship, in two languages. The album and the picture book with Scholastic both celebrate 10 years of  123 Andrés music for kids. The bundle also includes two recent and acclaimed albums by 123 Andrés.

For more information and the latest live stream concert schedule, please visit

The Giveaway

One MommyMaestra reader will win this great package!

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Making the First Day of School Special (Free Downloads)

One of the things I've strived to do each year is make the first day of homeschool special. It doesn't matter when you start - summer, fall, or some other time. That first day is important. I want my kids to look forward to the new year and start the whole thing off with a positive mindset. 

Here are five ways to make that first day special.

Start it off with breakfast

Lots of people make special breakfasts on the first day of school. Maybe it is their favorite meal. Or maybe you get really creative with their food to make them smile and brighten their mood.

Perhaps, you involve your kids in the making of breakfast and take time to talk. Ask them what fun things they'd like to do this year in school - make a list of their ideas, then try to incorporate as many as possible.

Or maybe making breakfast together IS the first lesson of the year! So many great concepts for math, science, and literacy can be taught this way. And the best part is you get to eat the yummy results of your work.

Take a back-to-school picture

ALWAYS take a picture of their child sometime during the first week of  a new grade. Even if you don't do it on the first day because things happen (you forget, you're waiting for new photo props, the kids didn't cooperate, someone has bedhead, whatever!), take it the next day or sometime that week. 

In fact, take LOTS of pictures throughout the year because you can make your own yearbooks at the end of the year. 

And let me give some advice for this year -- make sure you put "2020" somewhere in the picture, such as on the board they are holding: "First day of 9th grade - 2020!" Because you're going to want to remember this year. And even if you'd rather forget it, this is a great photo for your child to have years from now as proof they made it through!

Begin with a field trip

Well, that's a little harder to do this year. But if you can make it to a state park or other outdoor venue, go for it! And if you can't, don't worry. There are a whole ton of virtual field trips you can take. I have a whole page full of them listed in my free 2020 Life Skills Lists (in English and Spanish!).

Make a time capsule

This is super fun! It doesn't have to be big. You can even use a Tupperware container or coffee tub that is just for this purpose.  Be creative about what you include. You can take a video of your child and ask them to describe what this year has been like (2020!!). Or if you are going to use this time capsule every year, put a journal in it and have them write about what the year has been like so far and what they hope for in the months to come. Throw that back-to-school picture in there. Let them put whatever they want in there. If they have successfully gotten rid of their pacifier, throw it in. If they made it through reading War and Peace, add it! 

You can also have them fill out this FREE Goal Worksheets for the School Year. It's been updated this year to include pages with graphics and font better suited for older children.

Give gifts

Throughout the year, I set aside money to purchase new school supplies that I know my kids are going to need for the next school year. I think getting new supplies helps get their excitement going. So for my daughter this year, I bought her gel pens, an assortment of pens with colored ink that she was begging for, new headphones for all her online classes, a new case for her phone, and books. My middle kid, who is entering 9th grade got a graphing calculator, craft tools, and books. My youngest who's starting preschool got a LOT of manipulatives, games, and books to help teach all those fun skills and concepts that kids learn in PreK. 

I usually wrap things up and I add special labels that remind them what grade they're going into (when you homeschool, you tend to forget what "grade" you're in!). Here's a peek at my daughter's gift bag: 

And here is another example from years gone by:

If you'd like to use these labels, you can download them for free here. They've been available for a few years here on MommyMaestra, but I just updated them also with a variety of graphics to account for a variety of children and ages.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Martín y Pepe - Spanish Beginning Reader Books


Friends, I'm excited about today's giveaway! (I know, I'm excited about ALL of them!) But this one is special to me because this series of books is loved by my 3yo. 

Last year, I shared these books with you in a sponsored post. Not only did I fall in love with the simple storylines and the beautiful illustrations, but so did my youngest. 

THEN, when I was hosting the Migrant Children's Book Drive last year, Dana Ryan - the author of this series - reached out to me and donated 40 copies (10 of each book). Y'all, I just really love this series and both the author and the illustrator. 

Rosa C. Lopez is the artist. She's brilliant. I actually had her create some art for me for a current project I'm working on and it was remarkable the choices she gave me. I had such a hard time narrowing it down and had to ask my own children to help me choose. And they had a hard time, too. Rosa is THAT good. 

Here's a time-lapse video of her working on the most recent book released in this series. Watch her brilliance in action... 

The Giveaway

Dana has SO kindly offered to give away one complete set of these beginning readers to one MommyMaestra reader! 

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter below. 

Good luck, friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 17, 2020

Nacho Books

One of the things that I see coming up a LOT these days from parents raising bilingual children is a request for materials that teach children how to read in Spanish. Especially from parents who had children in immersion PreK and are now homeschooling them for Kindergarten.

A few years ago, I reviewed the Nacho (lectura) books from Susaeta. They have been SO POPULAR! So many parents have said that these were the books they used to learn to read. 

But the biggest hangup was that they are published in Latin America. Fortunately, there is one place here in the States where you can order them: Cultural Bytes

The Giveaway

But I'm very happy to announce that our friends at Cultural Bytes are offering a set of these awesome books for one lucky family.

This set includes (all shown above):
1- Nacho Lectura Inicial De Lectura (estados unidos)
1- Leo y Escribo 1
1- El Gran Nacho

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 14, 2020

3-Month Subscription to Booklandia

Friends, for a few years now, I've been sharing about Booklandia. It is such a remarkable company and I'm excited to include them again in this year's Back-to-School Fiesta.

Booklandia - based out of Oakland, CA since 2016 - specializes in Spanish and Bilingual books for kids and teens. They assist families and schools in building inclusive and representative libraries through their subscription boxes, online store, book sets, and book fairs.  

Here's a note from the owner, Maceo Cabrera Estevez:

We are happy to offer Mommy Maestra's audience an opportunity to join the Booklandia community in this giveaway of a 3-months subscription.  The winner will choose from our Board Books, Bilingual Books, Spanish Picture Books and Spanish Chapter Books Boxes and will also receive a coloring page and bookmark each month.

Visit us at

The Giveaway

As stated above, Booklandia has graciously offered a 3-month subscription of the Booklandia Box of your choice to one MommyMaestra reader!

To enter, simply use the rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Act It Out Shakespeare

Today, I have the pleasure of a special feature. 

There's no giveaway associated with this because the creator is using the profits from her sales to pay for her ballet class. She's 12 years old. 

Julie Cerdas is the writer at the site, Nurturing Learning. Her family homeschools. A few years ago, while studying King Lear with another family, they tried to find paper puppets to supplement their lessons and make it a little more interactive for the kids. But they couldn't find any. Her daughter was inspired to create her own, and then, Act It Out Shakespeare was born. 

Her daughter has created a set for Shakespeare's The Tempest. But she didn't stop with just puppets. She also adapted the play to include only the characters for which there are puppets, but still presents the complete story arc of the play. So in all, her digital set comes ready for download with 11 puppets to cut out and glue to popsicle sticks (if desired), a play, and a list of characters per scene so you can easily assign roles without going through the entire play.

She's also created a set for A Midsummer’s Night Dream and is working on Much Ado About Nothing. I love that she's made the former available in different versions: full-color or outlines to allow children to color their own should they so choose. 

Children are amazing. Their creativity knows no limits. And parents who nurture not only their child's creativity but their entrepreneurial spirit deserve praise. 

So if you are studying Shakespeare in your home or school classroom and would like to buy a set, visit their online shop

Well done, young one!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Spanish Alphabet Books for PreK & Kindergarten

So many families raising young bilingual children are searching for resources right now to help their preschoolers and kindergartners learn to read in Spanish.

We are lucky to have Spanglish Schoolhouse participating in this year's Back-to-School Fiesta! They have generously offered their Spanish Alphabet Books Bundle. And what I love about it is that parents don't have to be native speakers to help their children learn!

Why? Because this set comes with QR codes . And although the student resources are 100% Spanish, the teacher instruction pages are in English.

This DIGITAL DOWNLOAD bundle is fantastic for practicing letter identification, syllable counting, and beginning sounds in Spanish (or sonidos iniciales).

Every consonant book has all five vowels represented. (The exception is c & g, because there are two versions for those letters: hard and soft.)

Each letter comes with five resources:

Flipbook with QR Code

A printable book children can color, cut, staple, and read to practice beginning sounds in the context of a predictable sentence. These have QR codes, so children can scan and read along with the flipbook using any QR code reader on a phone, tablet, or computer.


This is a full-color version of the above flipbook being read. NOTE: The QR code connects children to files in Google Drive. You will want to be sure your district does not block Google Drive files. 

Trace & Match

Trace the word and match it to the correct picture.

Word Puzzle & Syllable Count

Children use the word bank to match the word to the correct picture, then count and circle the correct number of syllables.

Word & Picture Puzzles

Use these to introduce the vocabulary for each letter, as matching puzzles, or to play memory or Go Fish.

What a FABULOUS resource, no?!?

Visit Spanglish Schoolhouse to learn more and watch the video

The Giveaway

Spanglish Schoolhouse is offering their Digital Download Spanish Alphabet Book Bundle to one MommyMaestra reader.

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Spanish for You! Homeschool Package


Friends, we have been so fortunate to have Spanish for You! as a MommyMaestra sponsor for years now. If you follow this blog, you know how awesome they are. The monthly freebies the offer you are some of the most popular posts on this blog. So many Spanish learners with children in middle school use these freebies to supplement their lessons. 

And Spanish for You! continues their generosity by providing one of their themed homeschool packages for this year's Back-to-School Fiesta!

Giveaway Product Description: 

Spanish for You! Themed School-Year Homeschool Package for Grades 3-4, 5-6, or 7-8, plus coordinating optional workbook and supplemental song set. Value: $70.89. 

Choose any ONE of our year-long themed packages in the grade level of your choice found here. Grade levels indicate the age/grade of your child, not Spanish experience. 


• This prize is not for co-op class use. 

• If you choose Estaciones, Fiestas or Verbos, there are no optional workbooks and no supplemental song sets available yet for these school-year themes. 

Special Discount for ALL entrants: 

Get $6 off any school-year homeschool package with code: MM6 through August 2020. 

Spanish for You! Program Highlights: 

• No Spanish experience needed by parent or child. 

• Daily Lessons 15-20 min. or at your own pace. 

• Teach multiple ages together with lessons tailored to their age/grade. 

• Fun and interactive bite-sized lessons kids enjoy! 

• All materials reusable. 

• Kids can work independently, together, or you can learn as a family. 

• Kids learn to use everyday vocabulary, verbs, and grammar to communicate in complete sentences through listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities. 

• Affordable at $39.95 for a school-year package that you can reuse! 

Great for Homeschool Co-ops too! Makes teaching your classes EASY and FUN! And, transitions for teaching online easily. Learn more here.

The Giveaway

As stated, Spanish for You! is generously offering one of their homeschool packages to TWO MommyMaestra readers. 

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 10, 2020

Giveaway: 6-Month Subscriptions to FLANGOO

Do you guys know about Flangoo? It is the digital Spanish eReader service from Teacher's Discovery. All the books have full-chapter audio, comprehension questions, and other neat features (like QR codes). It's like Netflix for Spanish readers.

There are currently 18 readers available, but I know that they are working on adding a lot more, so it will be expanding its content significantly. Currently, their library of readers include Mira Canion, Jennifer Degenhardt, Blaine Ray, and more.

I reviewed some of the titles from their enhanced readers last September. Go take a look if you'd like to see the features and images of the inside pages.

One subscription is good for the teacher plus up to 150 students! So teachers, this is a really good giveaway for YOU!

If you want to try it out first, they are offering a free week trial. Go see all the high-quality readers they have!

The Giveaway

Teacher's Discovery has generously offered a pair of 6-month subscriptions to FLANGOO!

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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