Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Free Bilingual Homeschool Planner

With so much uncertainty surrounding the coming school year, a lot of parents are looking seriously at homeschooling their children. We've been busy on our new Facebook group for Hispanic & Bilingual Homeschoolers. A lot of our members are thinking about homeschooling this coming school year and are asking questions. We're there to encourage and support you!

Between the launch of the new group and the sudden realization that the MommyMaestra FB page has hit a milestone - more than 10K followers! - I wanted to celebrate by offering something of value to my followers. So I've taken my Bilingual Homeschool Planner and am offering it via my newsletter. And, yes, it has both English and Spanish pages.

If you'd like your copy, sign up! This month only, new subscribers to my monthly newsletter will immediately get to download their copy. If you are already a subscriber to the newsletter, keep an eye on your email this weekend. I'll send out the download then.

This free download is for the black-and-white, printer-friendly versions of the planner. If you want the full-color version, you can find it here in my online shop.

Thanks to everyone for supporting MommyMaestra and the resources we share!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Free Download: El Parque y Colores

Are you able to get out of the house where you live? I have a lot of friends who are making trips to their local parks with their kids (and masks!) to get out of the house. But I do have other friends who are really missing their park trips because they've been closed.

If either of these two situations sounds like you, make sure you check out this month's free download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You! 

This month's freebie is all about learning the colors... and trips to the park! The four-page file includes an instruction page and vocabulary list, picture and color cards, a speaking activity page, and a Speak, Listen, Do activity (with a discount code for any Spanish for You! purchases!). 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!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Hispanic & Bilingual Homeschoolers

For a couple of years, now, I've been dragging my feet. It's been apparent to me for a while that Hispanic and bilingual homeschoolers need one national group where we can ask questions and get support from each other. I'm talking about answers to questions not normally found in other homeschooling groups, such as where to find bilingual materials, how to incorporate culture into our lessons, where to find co-ops with other Hispanic or Latino families, and how to find basic homeschool information.

With this crazy pandemic, the need for this group finally overwhelmed me. So I have finally gotten my act together and asked a few other Latina homeschooling moms to help me get this group off the ground.

I'm happy to announce that today, we are launching the Hispanic & Bilingual Homeschoolers group on Facebook. Are you looking for answers, curricula, or simple support? Come and join us!

Our mission statement:
Hispanic & Bilingual Homeschoolers is a supportive community which brings together homeschooling families from across the United States and the world. We work to provide information and support among homeschoolers in our community and oppose any kind of discrimination. Our mission is to inspire and support homeschooling parents, caregivers, and educators raising the next generation of global citizens. We do this by creating educational and parenting content which celebrates Hispanic and Latinx cultures, languages, and belief systems and by promoting diversity in all its forms while recognizing our common concerns and dreams for our children.
We aren't there to criticize members in the group or others outside of it. We're here to help each other succeed in our journeys to homeschool our children, whatever the reason may be. 

If you are a Hispanic or bilingual homeschooler - newbie or veteran - we would love for you to join us and ask questions or share advice. We even have a few giveaways to celebrate our launch!



Monday, June 29, 2020

Summer Reading Book Packs Available

Like so many others, I've been cleaning the house during our self-imposed quarantine. It's allowing me time to reorganize and purge in preparation for the next school year.

And while I was cleaning the bookshelves next to my desk, I realized that I have accrued a LOT of books to review for MommyMaestra or other sites over the years. Most of them are like new. And I did buy specific titles to sell in my online shop simply because I enjoy them and think they're great for kids.

So instead of hauling them off to my local used bookstore or selling them on Amazon, I thought that I would give MommyMaestra readers first pick. I have clumped them into packs. I will not sell individual books. I honestly don't have time to make a million trips to the post office to mail them. So I have put some of the ones from my shelves into summer reading packs that are grouped by reading age.

If you are interested, click on the link for each pack.

Enjoy the summer reading! (Or use them next school year?)

Summer Reading Pack #1

For preschool & early elementary

Includes the following books:

  1. The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote by Tony Johnston, illust. by Tomie dePaola
  2. The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos by Lucía González, illust. by Lulu Delacre
  3. Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers, illust by Julie Maren
  4. The Park Our Town Built / El parque que nuestro pueblo construyó by Diane Gonzalez Bertrand
  5. Oh No, Gotta Go! by Susan Middleton Elya, illust. by G. Brian Karas (not shown)

Summer Reading Pack #2

For kids ages 8 - 12

Includes the following books:

  1. From Farmworker to Astronaut/De campesino a astronauta by José M. Hernández (Bilingual)
  2. The Shameless Shenanigans of Mister Malo/Las terríbles travesuras de Mister Malo by Alidis Vicente (Bilingual)
  3. The Taco Magician and Other Poems for Kids/El mago de los tacos y otros poemas para niños by Diane Gonzalez Bertrand (Bilingual)
  4. Vincent Ventura and the Mystery of the Witch Owl/Vincent Ventura y el misterio de la bruja lechuza by Xavier Garza (Bilingual)
  5. Ghost Fever/Mal de fantasma by Joe Hayes (Bilingual)
  6. Hammer of Witches by Shana Mlawski (English only)

Summer Reading Pack #3

For TEENS or YOUNG ADULTS (or ADULTS!) only. These two books are in SPANISH ONLY. They're hardbacks that are harder to find in bookstores.

This pack features two Spanish titles by the wonderful Isabel Allende:

  1. El bosque de los pigmeos
  2. El reino del dragón de oro

Summer Reading Pack #4

For teens and young adults.

Includes the following books:

  1. Drawn to You by Janel Rodriguez Ferrer
  2. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
  3. All the Stars Denied by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
  4. Shame the Stars by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Summer Reading Pack #5

For teens and young adults.

These contain adult themes, so keep that in mind. Includes the following books:

  1. On the Other Side by Ray Villareal
  2. Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez
  3. Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Thursday, June 25, 2020

It's National Pollinator Week!

© Can Stock Photo - artjazz

National Pollinator Week? What's that?

This week, all across the U.S., states are celebrating National Pollinator Week. This is the time for celebrating these remarkable creatures by creating friendly outdoor environments for them and spreading the word about the important role they play.

2020 has been THE year of the garden. Everyone I know seems to be growing their own vegetables or spending more time landscaping their yards thanks to the pandemic and (self) quarantine. We are no exception, though we typically garden throughout the year. So a lot of people are looking at making their gardens pollinator friendly... for the benefit of their gardens.

Pollinators help plants reproduce by transferring pollen between flowers and sometimes between plants. Pollen is produced by the male parts of a flower. When it transfers to the female part of a plant, fertilization happens and seeds are produced. For those of us growing vegetable gardens, this results in beautiful fruits and vegetables.

There are many types of pollinators, but the most common ones are bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats. (Honey bees alone are an essential part of our commercial crops. They're responsible for more than 15 billion dollars worth of fruits, nuts, and vegetables!)

Plants go to a lot of effort to attract pollinators. They produce flowers of different shapes, colors, and fragrances. For example, long tubular red and purple flowers are preferred by hummingbirds who use their long bills to drink the nectar deep inside.

Ah, the nectar! That's the plant's most precious lure and reward for pollinators who cannot resist the sweet liquid.

Some pollinators are very specialized. The squash bee, for instance, only feeds on squash, pumpkin, and gourd flowers.

But pollinators, in general, are endangered. Pesticides, especially, have had a harmful effect on pollinator populations.

Which is why we celebrate National Pollinator Week.

And as part of my way of celebrating, I've created a printable information sheet and coloring page that the kids can color while learning which type of flowers attract different pollinators. Click here to download them.

And don't forget that I have a free board game you can download and print, too. It's a sample activity from my larger Bees of the World Packet.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Homeschooling vs. Distance Learning: What's the Difference?

I can't tell you how many times I saw people complaining on Facebook toward the end of the school year about how much they hated homeschooling. But upon further reading, they talked about how stressful the zoom meetings were or how they didn't understand what the teacher was expecting or couldn't figure out the assignments.

This isn't homeschooling. It's distance learning. And the two are VERY different.

Distance learning is any form of remote learning where the student is not present at school but is being taught through communication with the school/teacher. Correspondence courses are a typical form of distance learning. They typically grade the assignments and keep track of all their grades.

Homeschooling is when a parent or other caregiver is physically present in the home and actively teaching the student. It is HOME education and the biggest difference is that the caregiver (usually a parent) is the primary educator.

Oh, sure, homeschoolers can take online courses or even attend classes outside the home (in a co-op, or at a museum/zoo/gallery, etc.). In fact, most homeschoolers have very active schedules outside the home. For example, last year, in addition to his school work at home, my homeschooled 14 yo had Civil Air Patrol meetings on Tuesday nights, taekwondo classes on Wednesday mornings, and we attended a homeschool co-op on Fridays where he took Texas History, World Geography, Drawing, and Spanish. When it was closed because of COVID, he finished the first two classes on Zoom.

But the difference is that I remained his primary teacher, overseeing all of his classes, teaching the majority, making sure that he completed assignments for all of his classes, and keeping track of all his grades. His main schooling was done at home.

Many of you are thinking about keeping your kids home this fall. And you are thinking about how your kids are going to learn.

If you enroll your child in an online program (a public school course that teaches everything), then you'll be doing distance learning.

If you yourself, buy a curriculum that you will teach or help teach and you are keeping track of your child's assignments and grades, then you will be homeschooling.

To be clear, even if you have a high schooler, who can pretty much do most of the work on their own, you'll still be homeschooling if you are keeping track of grades and assignments and oversee their transcript (even if you have someone else put it together).

I hope this clears everything up!

Friday, June 19, 2020

3 Things to Do to Start Homeschooling

© Can Stock Photo / jolopes

It's time to talk about beginning homeschool. So many people are looking ahead to the fall and realizing that given the current state of things with the pandemic, there's a good chance that schools may not reopen and many don't feel safe sending their child to school.

If this sounds like you, then it is time to start preparing to homeschool. Here are the steps that I recommend you take to get started.

This post may contain affiliate links.

1) Research

Once you have decided to take the leap and homeschool your kid(s), then the first thing you need to do is a little research so that you can make some decisions. 

I wanted to share this list of the posts I wrote right after I started MommyMaestra. These all reflect the things I thought about or learned when we were starting. And there are also some posts from guests who contributed their perspective and tips for navigating homeschool as Latino parents.

So if you are thinking about homeschooling your child, these are all good posts to read to prepare yourself. 
All these and so much more are included in my book, The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling. You can find it on Amazon (aff link)...

2) Decide on a Homeschool Method

Or a combination of methods. Don't worry. It isn't set in stone. You may discover that what you thought you would enjoy most isn't actually what works best for you and/or your child. But we all have to start somewhere, no? So carefully review my post with a brief description of homeschooling methods. Think about what your child enjoys and see if you can find one that appeals to you. You might even ask your kids what they think and include them in the decision.

3) Look for a Curriculum

Honestly, THE BEST ADVICE I got when I first started was to get a complete curriculum. I can't remember if I bought one gently used on eBay or if a homeschooling friend lent me theirs after they were done. But either way, this absolutely 100% helped ME understand my child better and made teaching so much easier. I learned what was a realistic amount of time was for my child to spend on any one subject - it was WAY shorter than what I was trying to make her do! I also learned how to teach and what to teach. 

If you pick a particular homeschool method, you can easily Google it plus the word curriculum. The one thing I want to recommend is that you ALWAYS download the sample pages that the program offers so that you can see what it is like before you buy it. Even if you buy it on eBay, go first to the publisher's website and download the samples.

For a complete curriculum, here are some of the more popular ones with curricula for PreK - 12th grade:

Again, these complete NEW curricula can be very expensive. But homeschoolers often take good care of their curricula so that they can resell it as soon as they are done. So look for gently used ones available on eBay or also on Facebook homeschool buy/sell/trade groups.

4) Familiarize Yourself

I know. I know. I said three things. I'm sneaking in a fourth, but really it could be part of #3. 

This is actually just a reminder. After you've purchased your first curriculum and received it in the mail, go ahead and open it and look through it yourself BEFORE you start teaching. Don't be surprised. Read through the first few lessons in their entirety so you can get an idea of what will be happening.

Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Taking Time for Your Kid's Mental Health

Creative Commons / Kristina Alexanderson - Flickr

Hey, Friends. 

Normally, every year about this time, I'm raving about avoiding the summer slide and sneaking in a bunch of learning with your kids.

But I'm not doing that just yet this year because I honestly have not been doing that with my kids. This year has been rough on all of us and I think our kids need a break. They need time to just be with you without pressure or stress. I know, I know... easier said than done. But I do think it is critical for us to spend a few weeks focusing on our kids' emotional health. 

In fact, I feel this is so important that I wrote about it for PBS SoCal. Hop over there and read about the different ways that you can focus on their mental health by helping them let their worries go and feel a sense of security.

Anxiety manifests itself differently in children. They complain about their stomach. Or they have "bad attitudes." Or if they are younger, they start crying or whining a lot more than usual. If your kids seem mad or difficult or argumentative, maybe that's their way of asking for help. They need reassurance from us. They need to know things are going to be okay. Even if you think they won't be, you need to provide that sense of love and security that your kids need from you.

So don't worry about what they're learning - or forgetting! - right now. Focus on comforting and creating as peaceful a home environment as you can. Help them learn to face difficult times and survive the storm without sacrificing their emotional well-being.

I'll be providing resources soon for summer learning. But before you worry about that, take care of this.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Brenda's Story on Homeschooling

Friends, a MM follower on Facebook reached out the other day to share her featured video on Education Today. I wanted to share it with all of you here today because for those of you who are on the fence about homeschooling your children, this may be the encouragement you need.

Brenda's story is in Spanish. Feel free to share it with your Spanish-speaking friends! She's a great example of how and why more Latinos are homeschooling their kids.

¡Gracias, Brenda!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Preschool at Home: A Guide for Caregivers

Every year, I get a few emails from people wanting to preschool their children at home and asking how to do it. But 2020 has forever changed the way parents look at education and I have so many asking for guidance. Some want to keep their preschoolers at home this fall just to be on the safe side, while others aren't even sure if the schools will open at the end of summer. I've even had a message from a grandmother who was going to be preschooling her grandchild. I can't tell you how much I loved that.

This post contains affiliate links.

So I decided that what was needed was for me to put all my posts and advice together, update them,  add printable tools (planners, checklists, and more), and put them in a simple guide that parents can purchase and have at their fingertips for referencing and making notes.

So I'm happy to announce my latest book, "Preschool at Home: A Guide for Caregivers."

And, really, this is a simple guide. It only has 52 pages. And that's because preschool shouldn't be hard. It should be fun and educational. It doesn't take all day; an hour or two, three times a week is sufficient. (You can do more or less!) Basically, this guide lists the important skills and concepts that you should be teaching your preschooler to prepare them for kindergarten...and for life!

Inside this guide, you'll learn:
  • why preschool is so important, 
  • its lifelong benefits,
  • the pros and cons of buying a curriculum,
  • what exactly your preschooler should be learning,
  • everyday activities that teach your preschooler,
  • books, toys, and online resources,
  • how to plan your lessons,
  • a special section for families wanting to preschool in Spanish,
  • reproducible planners, checklists, and more.
I should make it clear that this is NOT a curriculum. There are no day-to-day lesson plans. But there is information and examples on how to make your own and how to plan out your week/year. And there are planning pages for you to copy and use.

If you've purchased my book, The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling, then a lot of this information is already in it (minus the reproducibles). 

If you would prefer to have the planner pages (includes pages for Montessori method) and other printables in a PDF form, just email me a receipt of your purchase and I'll send you a file.

That's it! If you - or someone you know - are planning to homeschool your preschooler and are looking for a little help getting started, check out this book! I think it will help you.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Free Download: Racial Justice & Equity Glossary Packet

One of the ways that I deal with difficult situations is by letting my creative side work to produce something that I hope will help parents and children. 

With so much happening and all the social media and news outlets focused on the current situation, there are a lot of words being put out there that kids don't understand. So I started going through articles and social media posts and writing down those words that kids (and adults!) may not be familiar with. I did this for myself, too. I had no idea what redlining, allyship, or microaggression meant. 

So with the help of some friends, I put together this vocabulary list and then put them all into a glossary. I'm sure that there are many words I've missed, but this is still a great start for helping tweens and teens understand all the terminology being used. 

This Racial Justice and Equity Glossary and Poster Set includes the following:

- poster (full-color & black-and-white) featuring key terminology
- 55 words or phrases plus their definitions
- write the definition worksheets (plus answer key)
- discussion questions
- research and write worksheet
- a list of types of ways to protest
- a list of famous protesters
- and blank writing pages.

You can download it for free on TPT  or from Google Drive.

I hope you find it helpful for talking with your kids about what is happening in our country.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Free Download: Spanish Alphabet Learning Activities

Is learning Spanish on your list of summer activities to keep your kids busy? If so, make sure you look back at all the excellent free downloads from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You! Their program is designed to help your kids learn Spanish even if you can't speak it yourself. 

This month's freebie is all about learning the alphabet. The four-page file includes an instruction page (with a discount code for future orders!). A letter worksheet, pronunciation guide, and activity sheet. 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, May 29, 2020

How I Talk to My Teen about What is Happening in our Country

Last night, around midnight, I found my eldest teen sitting on the back steps of our house crying. When I opened the door and asked what was happening, she said, "I hate this country." She bawled in my arms and showed me all the outraged social media posts she had seen about what was happening and the innocent lives that were being tortured or lost. She was overwhelmed by the horror.

At first, I hugged her and told her, "It's okay." I was on automatic pilot trying to soothe her. She immediately said, "No! It's NOT okay!" And she was right.

I can't tell you how hard I prayed to have the right words for her.

So I told her, "You're right. It's not okay. And I'm really glad that you can see that."

We went on to talk about how our country was terribly broken right now. That it has been for a long time but that things have gotten worse in recent years. And people are angry and tired of being ignored.

People should be outraged. They should be livid that there is so much injustice, racism, and just plain evil in this world... and especially outraged that it is still happening in our country.

We talked about how looting is wrong, but their protests, anger, and emotions were totally justified.

We talked about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We talked about school shootings. We talked about children being separated from their parents and kept in cages or deported back to countries where they have no parents or families.

I talked about how all of this racism and hate wasn't new, but that it is now becoming visible to everyone and cannot be ignored.

I told her how proud I was of her for being upset and angry and just knowing how wrong it is to treat people so horribly. We talked about how God is not a respecter of persons and that we are ALL EQUAL in his sight. I told her how we are all the same no matter what we look like on the outside. And we are all precious and valuable.

My daughter kept whispering that it should be instinct not to kill a person. That pretty much broke my heart.

I talked about how no baby is born racist. That it is a learned characteristic. Learned from examples. And it comes from a lack of education and a lack of exposure to people of all different walks of life.

I told her that her generation actually gave me a lot of hope. Because young people today are finding their voices and they aren't afraid to use them. People like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, Greta Thunberg, Mala Yousafzai, Autumn Peltier, and so many others.

I think that just talking about it was very therapeutic for her. She calmed down and was able to control her tears. Knowing that her feelings were justified and that she wasn't alone in feeling them was really important to her. So was letting her know that I was proud of her outrage and her ability to see the absolute wrongness of the whole situation.

These difficult issues are just exacerbated by the pandemic. Which makes our journey as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a nation that much more difficult.

Don't be afraid to talk to your children. This is the perfect time to talk about the beliefs you hold to be good and true and right. Encourage your children to be brave in the face of adversity. To realize that they can be hurt for speaking the truth. But that ultimately staying true to ourselves and beliefs is worth it. And speaking up for those who are wronged, hurt, or worse is important otherwise we are guilty of the sin, too.

Silence is acceptance.

Silence is approval.

We are better than that.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Special Finds: Frijolitos Books

I was going through some boxes in my storage unit this weekend and found copies of the original Fijolitos books. I'm not really sure if this company still exists. I cannot find their books on Amazon or anywhere else online. Anyway, I thought that a MommyMaestra reader might want these little treasures, so I'm selling them as a set.

Filled with culturally relevant illustrations and themes, both books present the text in both English and Spanish. Picadillo the Armadillo/Picadillo el Armadillo is the first book in the series and follows the mischievous antics of Picadillo when he is found and taken in by an excited young girl named Lilia. He is accompanied by Albondiga, the Mariachi dog, who at first tries to keep Picadillo out of trouble, but finally winds up joining in on all the naughty fun. The ending is warm and sweet and teaches a good life lesson about not judging a book by its cover. 

But my favorite book is the second one in the series, Tuguita Tere: A Home for My Books/Un Hogar Para Mis Libros. The book centers around (surprise!) Tuguita Tere as she celebrates her 5th birthday and eagerly applies for her very own library card. Tuguita is an imaginative bibliophile, always dreaming up adventures based on the books that she reads. I really like how the book references historical figures (ie, Frida and Sor Juana Inés to name a few) – this would be a great way to introduce your children to other historical children’s books, too. The back of Tuguita’s book even includes a history of the piñata (Did you know it was originally an Italian game? I didn’t!) and a nice little section with tips about reading to your child. Both books even include lesson plans for teachers and parents in the back. 

So if you’d like to pick up your very own copy of one (or both!) of these fun books, click here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Celebrate World Bee Day!

Jon Sullivan / Public domain

Did you know that today is World Bee Day? Bees play SUCH an IMPORTANT role in our earth's ecosystem. Without bees to pollinate 75% of the world's flowering plants, entire ecosystems would would be affected or lost. The honey bee alone pollinates 35% of the world's food crops. Here in the U.S., the honey crop was worth more than $300 million just seven years ago.

But bees all around the world are in decline. We need to educate our children about bees and foster a sense of appreciation and preservation in our youth.

To celebrate World Bee Day, I've put together this packet. Bees of the World Fandex & Activity Sheets is designed to teach your children/students all about bee biology with reading passages, coloring pages, worksheets, and a printable board game. In addition, they'll learn about 9 different types of bees using the printable fandex, which also serves as a reference for the worksheets. This file is English only, but I'll work on getting a Spanish version available by June 1st.

You can find it (and a list of the bee species covered), here in my TpT shop. 

MommyMaestra subscribers! Be on the lookout for a free download in this month's newsletter. It is a sample of the big packet. I hope your kids have as much fun playing it as I did making it.

Long live the bees!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Earth School

Hey, friends! Have you heard about E
arth School? It's amazing and I've thoroughly enjoyed learning about it. My 14yo has just started it.  

Earth School is a 30-day (not including weekends) interactive adventure through the natural world. Hosted on the TED-Ed website, a new "quest" is posted daily (five days a week). Each quest includes a video and lesson plan. The program was launched on Earth Day (April 22nd) and it runs through World Environment Day (June 5th). It focuses on nature and our relationship with or dependency on it. 

Each week has a theme. They post on a 5-day week plan, so there are six weeks of content. The themes are: 
  • The Nature of Our Stuff
  • The Nature of Society
  • The Nature of Nature
  • The Nature of Change
  • The Nature of Individual Action
  • The Nature of Collective Action

A partnership between the UN Environment Programme and TED-Ed, Earth School is FULL of amazing videos. Here's an example from Day 1...

TED Ed is alway high-quality education programming. So I trust them when it comes to my kids. 

If you'd like to check it out with your family, visit TED Ed's Earth School site.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Las vacas no pueden saltar - Cows Can't Jump

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

I frequently get requests from bilingual families for book recommendations. And now that I have an almost preschooler in my house again, I'm always on the lookout for bilingual board books with full text in both English and Spanish. But they can be hard to find. So after I saw a copy of Las vacas no pueden saltar (aff link), I knew it was a good fit for MommyMaestra readers.

In fact, while I was looking at a review copy of the book, my 2-year-old walked into the room and immediately crawled onto my lap demanding that I read it to him. Which I was happy to do. When we finished, I asked him what he could and couldn't do. He said he couldn't fly, but that he could jump, jump, JUMP. (He then promptly proved it.)

Have you seen the English version, Cows Can't Jump, by Dave Reisman? Well, the bilingual version is even better because it allows bilingual families or classrooms to choose which language they want to focus on while reading. And the storyline is equally fun in both languages for little people with big imaginations. 

Reisman's book introduces children to animals and their abilities. You'll discover not only what specific animals can't do, but also what they CAN do. Check out this excerpt from the book...
"Los gorilas no pueden nadar...pero pueden columpiarse. Las jirafas no pueden columpiarse...pero pueden galopar.
Gorillas can't swim...but they can swing. Giraffes can't swing...but they can gallop." 
And so this book goes, on and on, animal after animal, teaching children all about animals and their special skills. Beautiful in its simplicity, the literacy nut in me delights in all the action verbs that children learn about as they go through the book.

For these exact reasons, this book is a treasure for language learners, also. What a great way to teach vocabulary - especially Spanish reflexive verbs!

The illustrations are engaging, too. Each page shows the subject animal doing - or not doing as the case may be - the various activities. Take a look...

What I love best about this book is how it prompted my toddler to go and find all his animal figures and start playing with them. Imaginative play is so important! And that, to me, is what makes a book a keeper.

Las vacas no pueden saltar / Cows Can't Jump is available both in paperback and board book versions.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Free Download: Spring Fun Bilingual Booklet

One of the good things to come out of self-isolating during this time has been all the attention my garden is getting! I'm thankful that the pandemic didn't hit us during the winter (I realize that we may be in for it next winter), and that we've had spring weather to let us spend time in our yard and garden.

So that's why this month's download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, is perfect.

This month's freebie is spring fun booklet. The two-page file includes an instruction page and set of questions to answer after reading the booklet. 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!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Why We Stay at Home (Free eBook)

Check out this adorable eBook that is available for FREE! Written by two medical students from Southern California, Why We Stay at Home helps explain to kids why they are staying home during the pandemic. It's short and sweet and has great illustrations. I especially love that the main characters are children of color because we just don't see enough diverse children's books, especially on this topic.

Samantha Harris is studying to be a pediatrician and Devon Scott is going into orthopedic surgery. The cool thing is that this is just their first book in a series.

Click here to download your free copy of Why We Stay at Home: Suzie Learns about Coronavirus.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Teacher Appreciation Week TpT Sale

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!

And as they do every year, TeachersPayTeachers is having a sitewide sale. NOW is the time to go through your wishlist and buy what you've been waiting for.

Everything in my store is fully discounted the maximum that they allow (20%), PLUS an extra 5% from TpT itself. Go and stock up, friends!

Here are a few suggestions...

Monday, May 4, 2020

Cinco de Mayo Printable Resources

Cinco de Mayo is almost here! Need fast, printable, no-prep materials? Check out these options:

Good for larger families with multiple children, you can let them choose the style of booklet they'd like to use: a flipbook, an accordion book, and a booklet. All three are available...
• in black-and-white for coloring in
• with descriptive text or blank to allow students to write inside,
• and in English or Spanish. 

This interactive notebook delves deep into the REAL history of the holiday and the impact it had on U.S. history. This set includes:
• Notebook cover page
• Close reading passage on the history of the Battle of Puebla
• Close reading passage highlighting the biography of General Ignacio Zaragoza
• 4 Information templates & map
• Discussion questions

These 8 coloring pages are an introduction to the REAL history of Cinco de Mayo. From General Zaragoza to Napoleon III, your students will learn about the impact the Battle of Puebla had on U.S. history through brief descriptions in English and Spanish that are easy for young children to understand.

The REAL History of Cinco de Mayo Reading Passage (4th - 8th)

A one-page history on the Battle of Puebla and Cinco de Mayo. From Benito Juarez's decision to stop paying foreign debts for 2 years to the significance of the battle on U.S. history, this informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. Includes an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.

Available in English and Spanish, this set has 9 designs in each language with writing lines for both beginning and advanced writers.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Barnes & Noble National Children's Short Story Contest

Do you have a budding writer in your home? I would really love to see Hispanics represented among the 15 winners! It's important that our stories be included and published. But that means that we have to write them. Encourage your children to enter!

Barnes & Noble is calling on children ages 6-12 to share their original short stories for a chance to be published in a book as well as receive a signed edition book from bestselling author Gail Carson Levine.

“We believe in the power of stories to inspire and bring joy, particularly in challenging times such as the one we’re living in now,” said Jackie De Leo, Vice President and General Merchandise Manager of Bookstore at Barnes & Noble. “Our Children’s Short Story Contest was created to be a fun and motivating outlet for young writers to share their work. We can’t wait to see the submissions, and although we can’t share all of them, we’re looking forward to publishing some budding authors in a book to be showcased by Barnes & Noble.”

Parents or legal guardians can submit on Fifteen select entrants will be published in a book sold exclusively at Barnes & Noble this holiday season, with proceeds going to charity. The fifteen winners and fifteen runners-up will also get a signed book from bestselling author Gail Carson Levine, who will be writing a forward to the published book.
  • Parents or legal guardians can submit an original written or graphic short story on behalf of children ages 6 – 12 from April 27 through May 29 on
  • Entries should include the parent or legal guardian’s name, email, and address. Only the child's first name and age should be provided with your entry.
  • The work must be an original written or graphic story.
  • Suggested word count is 300 - 800 words or 4 pages of a graphic story (black & white).
  • The fifteen winners and fifteen runners-up will get a signed book from bestselling author Gail Carson Levine. Winners and runners-up will also have the chance to be featured on Barnes & Noble's social channels.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

New Books to Celebrate Día

I have a ton of new books that I have been wanting to share with you. Since we are celebrating Día de los niños/Día de los libros this week here on MommyMaestra, now is a great time!

Buying new (and old!) titles by multicultural authors has multiple benefits.

First, you are supporting these authors, many of whom have seen the launch date of their new titles postponed because of the pandemic. It seems silly because now, more than ever, books are precious and desperately needed by children and families across the country and the world.

But publishing companies are hard hit, too. Many are having to work from home or furlough their employees. And printing companies have also been closed down. So when you purchase - or pre-order!! - one of these books, you are helping a lot of people.

Last, and perhaps most important, you are helping your kids. You're providing them with opportunities to read stories about their own culture that they might not get in their schools. Or you may be exposing them to other cultures as a way of breaking down stereotypes and helping them understand different customs or outlooks. Or you may be simply providing them with a chance to escape the (boringly?) familiar confines of shelter in place. Or giving them a way to escape the stress of a pandemic that is hurting not just our country, but the world.

So there you have it. Three good reasons to buy books for your kids. And if they are books written by or about Latinos, even better!

Here are my recommendations for today.

¡A leer!

The following Amazon links are affiliate links.

Picture Books for Young Readers

Written by Monica Brown
Illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

Here's the book description, but let me tell you. I've already seen the book and it is such a great story. If you have young children who love adventure and are looking for some inspiration, this is it.
Growing up in the late 1800s, Julio Tello, an Indigenous boy, spent time exploring the caves and burial grounds in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes. Nothing scared Julio, not even the ancient human skulls he found. His bravery earned him the boyhood nickname Sharuko, which means brave in Quechua, the language of the Native people of Peru.

At the age of twelve, Julio moved to Lima to continue his education. While in medical school, he discovered an article about the skulls he had found. The skulls had long ago been sent to Lima to be studied by scientists. The article renewed Julio's interest in his ancestry, and he decided to devote his medical skills to the study of Peru's Indigenous history.

Over his lifetime, Julio Tello made many revolutionary discoveries at archaeological sites around Peru, and he worked to preserve the historical treasures he excavated. He showed that Peru's Indigenous cultures had been established thousands of years ago, disproving the popular belief that Peruvian culture had been introduced more recently from other countries. He fostered pride in his country's Indigenous ancestry, making him a hero to all Peruvians. Because of the brave man once known as Sharuko, people around the world today know of Peru's long history and its living cultural legacy.

written by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez 
illustrated by Laura González

With Spanish vocabulary and a clever counting concept, this poetic story shares the life cycle of a Mexican jumping bean. This curious jumping insect is actually a seedpod from a shrub called yerba de la flecha, into which a caterpillar burrows, living inside the pod until it builds a cocoon and breaks out as a moth. Perfect for preschoolers and prereaders, this creative picture book explores the Mexican jumping bean's daily life and eventual transformation and escape from the pod.

written by Raul the Third
colors by Elaine Bay

In this new Vamos! title, Let’s Go Eat, Little Lobo is excited to take in a show with wrestling star El Toro in his bustling border town. After getting lunch orders from The Bull and his friends to help prepare for the event, Little Lobo takes readers on a tour of food trucks that sell his favorite foods, like quesadillas with red peppers and Mexican-Korean tacos. Peppered with easy-to-remember Latin-American Spanish vocabulary, this glorious celebration of food is sure to leave every reader hungry for lunch!

Jam-packed with fun details and things to see, the Vamos! books are perfect for fans of Richard Scarry and Where’s Waldo?

written by Michael Genhart
illustrated by Priscilla Burris

When both grandpas, Abuelo and Opa, visit at the same time, they can’t understand each other’s language and there is a lot of silence. The grandson’s clever thinking helps find a way for everyone to share the day together as two cultures become one family. This unique book includes a bonus fold-out and a note from the author sharing the true story of his own family.

written by Naibe Reynoso
illustrated by Jone Leal

A bilingual book that highlights 11 Latinos who excelled in their professional careers and made U.S. history by accomplishing something that hadn't been done before in their respective fields which include science, sports, the arts and politics. By presenting the true biographical stories of these outstanding Latinos in rhyming verses, young readers will easily follow their journey to success. Each persons biographical story is written in both Spanish and English to encourage and promote bilingual literacy. Some of the men highlighted include Cesar Chavez (Activist), Jose Hernandez(Astronaut), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Playwright), Jean-Michel Basquiat (Artist), Julian Castro (Politician) and more.

written by Juan Felipe Herrera
illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Have you ever imagined what you might be when you grow up? When he was very young, Juan Felipe Herrera picked chamomile flowers in windy fields and let tadpoles swim across his hands in a creek. He slept outside and learned to say goodbye to his amiguitos each time his family moved to a new town. He went to school and taught himself to read and write English and filled paper pads with rivers of ink as he walked down the street after school. And when he grew up, he became the United States Poet Laureate and read his poems aloud on the steps of the Library of Congress. If he could do all of that . . . what could you do? With this newly translated illustrated poem of endless possibility, Juan Felipe Herrera and Lauren Castillo breathe magic into the hopes and dreams of readers searching for their place in life.

by Steven Wolfe Pereira & Susie Jaramillo

In Tiny Travelers Puerto Rico Treasure Quest, readers journey from the historical city of San Juan with its famous "El Morro" fort, to the beautiful bioluminescent bay in Vieques. Tiny Travelers will enjoy getting closer to Puerto Rican culture, and seeing why it is called “La Isla del Encanto” (the island of enchantment).

Each illustrated spread invites children to discover hidden "treasures" - icons, animals, statues, instruments, and more - that make up the rich cultural heritage of Puerto Rico.

Books for Middle Schoolers

Written by Mae Respicio

Lou Bulosan-Nelson has the ultimate summer DIY project. She's going to build her own "tiny house," 100 square feet all her own. She shares a room with her mom in her grandmother's house, and longs for a place where she can escape her crazy but lovable extended Filipino family. Lou enjoys her woodshop class and creating projects, and she plans to build the house on land she inherited from her dad, who died before she was born. But then she finds out that the land may not be hers for much longer.

Lou discovers it's not easy to save her land, or to build a house. But she won't give up; with the help of friends and relatives, her dream begins to take shape, and she learns the deeper meaning of home and family.

by Hilda Eunice Burgos

Her last name may mean kings, but Ana María Reyes REALLY does not live in a castle. Rather, she's stuck in a tiny apartment with two parents (way too lovey-dovey), three sisters (way too dramatic), everyone's friends (way too often), and a piano (which she never gets to practice). And when her parents announce a new baby is coming, that means they'll have even less time for Ana María.

Then she hears about the Eleanor School, New York City's best private academy. If Ana María can win a scholarship, she'll be able to get out of her Washington Heights neighborhood school and achieve the education she's longed for. To stand out, she'll need to nail her piano piece at the upcoming city showcase, which means she has to practice through her sisters' hijinks, the neighbors' visits, a family trip to the Dominican Republic . . . right up until the baby's birth! But some new friends and honest conversations help her figure out what truly matters, and know that she can succeed no matter what. Ana María Reyes may not be royal, but she's certain to come out on top.

by Carlos Hernandez 

A brilliant sci-fi romp with Cuban influence. Among many other challenges, Sal and Gabi have to try to make everything right with our world when there is a rogue Gabi from another universe running loose.

Sal Vidon doesn't want to live a Mami-free life. Pulling different versions of his mother from other universes is how he copes with missing his own, who died years ago. But Sal's father, a calamity physicist, is trying to shut down all the wormholes Sal creates, because Papi thinks they are eroding the very fabric of our world. All of Papi's efforts are in vain, however, because a Gabi from another universe has gone rogue and is popping up all over the place, seeking revenge for the fact that her world has been destroyed. While Sal and Gabi work together to keep both Papi and Rogue Gabi under control, they also have to solve the mystery of Yasmany, who has gone missing from school. Could it have something to do with the wormhole in the back of his locker?

by Kim Baker

Newt Gomez has a thing with bears. Last year he survived a bear attack. And this year, he finds an unusual bear statue that just might grant wishes. Newt's best friend, Ethan, notices a wishbone on the statue and decides to make a wish. When it comes true, Newt thinks it's a coincidence. Even as more people wish on the bear and their wishes come true, Newt is not convinced.

But Newt has a wish too: while he loves his home on eccentric Murphy Island, he wants to go to middle school on the mainland, where his warm extended family lives. There, he's not the only Latinx kid, he won't have to drive the former taco truck--a gift from his parents--and he won't have to perform in the talent show. Most importantly, on the mainland, he never has bad dreams about the attack. Newt is almost ready to make a secret wish when everything changes.

Books for Young Adults

by Matt Mendez

Juan has plans. He's going to get out of El Paso, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and make something of himself--or at least find something better than his mom Fabi's cruddy apartment, her string of loser boyfriends, and a dead dad. Basketball is going to be his ticket out, his ticket up. He just needs to make it happen.
His best friend JD has plans, too. He's going to be a filmmaker one day, like Quinten Tarantino or Guillermo del Toro (NOT Steven Spielberg). He's got a camera and he's got passion--what else could he need?
Fabi doesn't have a plan anymore. When you get pregnant at sixteen and have been stuck bartending to make ends meet for the past seventeen years, you realize plans don't always pan out, and that there some things you just can't plan for...
Like Juan's run-in with the police, like a sprained ankle, and a tanking math grade that will likely ruin his chance at a scholarship. Like JD causing the implosion of his family. Like letters from a man named Mando on death row. Like finding out this man could be the father your mother said was dead.
Soon Juan and JD are embarking on a Thelma and Louise­-like road trip to visit Mando. Juan will finally meet his dad, JD has a perfect subject for his documentary, and Fabi is desperate to stop them. But, as we already know, there are some things you just can't plan for...

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 

by Margarita Engle 

As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling, and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse.

A restless and romantic soul, Rubén traveled across Central and South America seeking adventure and connection. As he discovered new places and new loves, he wrote poems to express his wild storm of feelings. But the traditional forms felt too restrictive. He began to improvise his own poetic forms so he could capture the entire world in his words. At the age of twenty-one, he published his first book Azul, which heralded a vibrant new literary movement called Modernismo that blended poetry and prose into something magical.

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