Friday, April 16, 2021

Resources for Celebrating Selena Day

Put on your most purple outfit and order some pizza because April 16th is officially Selena Day!

It’s a day to celebrate and honor the life of Tejano music’s most cherished icon, Selena Quintanilla Perez. Back in 1995, while fans all over the US, Mexico, and throughout Latin America were still grieving the death of their beloved star, then-Governor George W. Bush declared that April 16th, Selena’s birthday, would be an official Texas holiday.

I still recall fondly watching Selena Y Los Dinos in concert when I was little and never imagined all these years later I’d be looking for ways to celebrate the life of this singer in my homeschool.  Yet, here I am and I’m happy to report there are a few wonderful resources available to make this day a memorable homeschool event!


First, if you can get your hands on this book called Queen of Tejano Music: Selena, do it! It’s Just. So. Lovely!!! Here’s a review with all the details.

Here are a couple of other children’s books about Selena you may want to buy OR consider asking your library to purchase them!   

Lesson Plans and Activities

If you want to check off a few school subjects for the day, try using some of these lesson plans from Little Bee Books and Teachers Pay Teachers.

There are many more resources on TPT about Selena, but here’s a tip for searching, type out “Selena Quintanilla Perez.”  Just “Selena” will take you to thousands of lesson plans about Selena Gomez.  


Here are a couple of kid-friendly websites for your Selena research.

Movie and TV Series

Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos make “Selena,” the movie a must watch! But as a parent, I do believe you have to discern what age would be appropriate. There are no bad words or smut.  But there is the infamous and hilarious bustier scene, a scene where some rockers trash a hotel room, and Selena and Chris’ romance. There are themes dealing with racism and sexism. And of course, there is the end with Selena’s tragic, senseless, and violent death. I’d recommend that parents preview the movie first and IMHO, the best ages for this movie are middle school and up.

On Netflix, there is the new “Selena: The Series Part 1” with Part 2 to premiere next month. This series would not hold a youngster’s attention. I recommend middle school and up with the parent preview first. This series does an excellent job of depicting Selena’s and the entire Qunitanilla family’s struggle to make it in the music business. Their determination and creativity are inspiring. 


Probably the most important thing you and your family could do is to simply listen to Selena’s music.  Music was her gift, her calling, the driving force in her short but brilliant life.  No need to buy if funds are tight because YouTube has them all on the Selena Official channel.

You can listen to her albums, watch her music videos, and see concert clips.  My family’s favorite to watch are clips from Selena’s performance at the Astrodome. Here she is singing her most famous song, “Como La Flor”:

Selena’s life has left a lasting mark on my family and we will definitely be celebrating this April 16th with Coke, pizza, and Doritos (you’ll get why this menu after you see the movie ;)) and some of these activities. We hope you and your family do, too!  If there is any doubt about the significant impact of Selena’s legacy around the world, just watch this absolutely adorable video that just went viral 3 weeks ago with almost 4 million views! 

Proof that Selena’s talent is timeless.


Written by:

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, April 15, 2021

Guacamole: A Cooking Poem


Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar, A Cooking Poem

by Jorge Argueta
illustrated by Margarita Sada

Groundwood Books (Libros Tigrillo) never fails to deliver beautiful stories filled with culture and warmth. Written by the poet Jorge Argueta, Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar, A Cooking Poem (aff link) is more than just a simple recipe centered around the traditional Latin dish. Instead, it is a glimpse into the world of a child who creates something special for her family using her imagination and joyful spirit.

Told in the first person, our narrator is a young girl for whom aguacates resemble green precious stones,  limes are like big crystal marbles, and their seeds like little pearls. This delightful book comes with full text in both English and Spanish. 

Young chefs will thoroughly enjoy this book. Immediately after reading the book, my daughter made out our grocery list to include cilantro and aguacates. I love books that call children to action and appreciate how Guacamole inspires children to get in the kitchen and put together a simple dish that everyone will enjoy.

The illustrations are so creative and engaging for young readers. I like how Sada has given the reader images that reflect the imagination of the young girl in the tale.

Here's a sample passage from the book...

Ahora le agregas sal, no mucha.
Cántale a la sal
cuando la agites,
para que como pringuitas
de llovizna blanca
caiga sobre el aguacate verde.

Sal salita de mi salero
échale la sal primero.

Now add salt, not too much.
Sing to the salt
as you shake it
so that little spatters
of white drizzle
fall like rain on the green avocado.

Salt, salty salt from my saltshaker,
salt goes in first.

If you loved Argueta's book, Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem (aff), you'll love this next book in the series!

Parents and teachers can use this book to make guacamole with their children and then talk about the concepts of family, imagination, similes, poetry, and cooking.

If you would like to buy your own copy of Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar, A Cooking Poem, here's my affiliate link to it on Amazon:

Monday, April 12, 2021

Real-World Science: Scholastic Pathways

Do you guys know about Scholastic Pathways? It's a must for educators teaching science to 6th - 12th grades. 

This website has resources (magazines, lessons, activities, and videos) on real-world science topics - and they're all FREE!

The topics include: 

  • Microscopes & Imaging
  • Superbugs
  • Circadian Rhythms
  • Regeneration
  • and Basic Science

Each of the topics comes with an educator's guide, magazine, printable activities, and digital tools that basically consist of an interactive program and a Kahoot game. Actually, all of the materials I just listed are available online in a digital format. 

BUT educators can also order print copies - up to 100 copies of the magazines for their students and a limit of five educator's guides.

The interactives are like virtual classrooms in which you click on specific parts of the image and it yields information in the form of texts and photos. It's fairly engaging for kids. 

Overall, this a fabulous resource for middle and high school students. Homeschoolers especially should take advantage of it and the wealth of information it has for young learners. 

Check it out yourself!

Friday, April 9, 2021

Studying the Immigration Experience with Children

When I sit down to read the news these days, I keep seeing story after story about the huge number of migrants who are coming to our borders. 

Most of them are children.

If you've been following MommyMaestra for long, you know that two years ago, I hosted a book drive for migrant children. The tremendous hardship that these kids are going through is unimaginable to most of us. Actually, it's something we don't want to imagine. Because the reality is horrific.

So how do we have these conversations with our children to educate them about what is happening? How do we present the plight of these migrant children in a compassionate and humane way? How do we explain why children are leaving their countries, their families, and coming here without frightening our kids or teaching them to make (inaccurate) assumptions or to be judgmental? 

One way to do this is through books. Stories have power. When we talk with someone in person, it is too easy to stop listening - to interrupt. But when we have a book, the story is there for us to read in its entirety. I can't imaging how challenging it is for an author to write about the topic of migrant children. But I'm so grateful that the authors listed below have taken on this burden in an attempt to humanize these innocent victims who are so often vilified or mistreated. 

I thought now would be a good time to share resources with you.

Lesson Plans


Next, I love this Ted Talk by author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh. You'll find out why he began writing children's books and how his illustrations are inspired by Ancient Mexican art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. He also discusses why he has chosen the themes of migration and comparing/contrasting the lives of Mexican and American children for his children's books. It's a great listen and I encourage you to take the time to watch the video.

Children's Books about Immigration

In addition, here are some of my favorite children's books that put the immigration experience into a form that kids can truly understand. The titles below focus on children and families and the hardships and adventure that come with moving to a new country, a new culture, and a new language. But these books are not just for children born and raised here in the United States. They are also to give immigrant children a chance to see their stories in print and know that there are many other children who have experienced a similar situation.

If you are looking for great children's literature on immigration, consider the following titles. 
The following are affiliate links.

by Duncan Tonatiuh

by René Colato Laínez

by Amada Irma Pérez

by Jorge Argueta

by Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta

by Mariana Llanos

by Jorge Argueta

by Guadalupe García McCall

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

TpT April Sale & New Products


TpT is having another sale!  

If there's anything on your wish list that you've been holding off on getting, now's the time to do it! It starts today and runs through tomorrow.

And just in case you haven't seen them, I have a lot of new products that have been uploaded recently. I'm listing them below in order of age range for you to look over. 

Happy shopping!

Paleta Board Game (PreK - 1st)

A simple board game that teaches number recognition (1 - 5) and basic counting.

Popsicle/Paleta Activity Sheets (PreK - Kindergarten)

Perfect for summer! This activity pack will keep your little one learning those important skills needed for school success. Click the link to see a list.

Bilingual Number Puzzle Cards (PreK - 1st)

Boost number recognition and counting skills with these three sets of puzzle cards to teach your children numbers 1 - 20 by ones and 20 to 100 by tens in two languages!

Mars Word Search (3rd - 6th)

Is your child following the Mars' rover news? Introduce your young students to vocabulary associated with the Red Planet using this easy word search.

Celebrate Spain with this one-page history on the Spanish dish, paella! 

Introduce your students to the former U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera with this one-page reading passage that comes with a reading comprehension quiz. Perfect for National Poetry Month!

The Real History of Cinco de Mayo BOOM CARDS (4th - 8th)

If you're using digital Boom Cards in your classroom, check out my latest set for teaching students the true history of Cinco de Mayo. No chips and salsa here!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Giveaway: Homeschool Spanish Program


As we move into April, most homeschoolers start looking ahead to the next school year and thinking about the curricula that they'll need.

We have you in mind here at MommyMaestra and today we have a fabulous opportunity for those of you who are on the look out for a Spanish program. 

Our wonderful sponsor, Spanish for You! has generously offered the following:

Spanish for You! Homeschool Curriculum Package that lasts the school year! 

This package comes complete with everything you need to teach your children Spanish easily and effectively. Some features you'll enjoy:

  • Use with multiple ages together grades 3 and up, but younger children can join in!
  • Fun lessons with simple activities and games that children enjoy.
  • Go at your own pace and do what fits your schedule!
  • Your children will develop skills to understand, speak, read, and write in complete sentences.
  • Participate with your kids or let them work on their own.
  • Materials are reusable.
  • No Spanish experience needed by you or your children.
This is not an online curriculum. This program is perfect for families who are tired of looking at a screen and/or love physical books and printables that they can hold in their hands and work out.

Each homeschool package includes: 
  • one student book,
  • daily lesson guide (PDF), 
  • worksheets (PDF), 
  • audio (MP3), 
  • bonus audio (MP3),  
  • flashcard/activity pictures (PDF), 
  • answer keys, 
  • and access to their Curriculum Users page filled with free extras.​

How to enter

To enter to win, follow these 3 fast and easy steps:

  1. Visit the Spanish for You! website's homeschool page
  2. Remember one feature about the program that sounds interesting to you
  3. Email them here: and tell them the feature that interests you.
Don't worry. You won't get any spam email. the owner (Debbie!) will reply to your email personally and let you know that you've been entered.

This giveaway will run through Monday, April 19th! That gives you two weeks to check out their website and enter.

The winner will be able to choose which homeschool package they would like. 

Oh my gosh, y'all, this is such a great giveaway! If you've been following MommyMaestra for any time at all, you'll know that Spanish for You! has excellent materials. You can find examples of their program and free downloads here.

Go and enter today!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Media Literacy for Kids

The Juice - media literacy for kids

The following post is in collaboration with The Juice Learning Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

One thing the last four years have taught me is that as my kids get older, they need to be well informed about the world, as well as the events and people who are shaping our country. I feel an urgent need to make sure that they are able to distinguish between fact and fiction on the internet. And that they especially value the facts as they make decisions for themselves and their families. 

My oldest is a junior and my second is a freshman, so the pressure is on to get this done. That's why I've been actively searching for courses and tools to help.

So learning about The Juice Learning Company has been absolutely wonderful. If you've never heard of it, read on!

Quick Overview

ProgramThe Juice Learning Company
Religious Perspective: Secular
Format: (Self-Paced) online website
Price: $6.99/mo or $50.99/yr (homeschool version)

Teaching Current Events

Many high schools (and even middle schools) are beginning to assign current events reviews or projects. My oldest does it pretty regularly at her private high school. This is the first year I'm going to be implementing the same with my middle kid who is a homeschooled freshman. Why? Because it really helps my kids understand the important impact that people and events have on their lives and those of other people.

The Juice - dashboard

A Media Literacy Tool

The Juice is like a subscription-based news service... but more! Every week day (M-F), your child will receive an email telling them that their Juice for the day is ready. It is available in four different reading levels for students in 5th through 12th grade.

Their homepage has four different areas for them to click on. The first is the NEWS section with articles that are carefully curated by journalists and educators. These articles present JUST THE FACTS - no editorializing/commenting. Each one is approximately 200 words total. 

One of The Juice's biggest claims is that they are not biased one way or the other. Students are only presented with the facts and then are encouraged to dig deeper and develop their critical thinking skills.

The Juice - Digging deeper.

The second section is labeled EXPLORE. This area lets students dive more deeply into any given topic via short informational posts or videos. Today as I write this, for example, some of the topics available to be read are: 
  • The Suez Canal
  • The Filibuster
  • Iceland's Volcanoes
  • Women and Sports 
  • DC Statehood
When you click on one of the topics, a small pop-up window appears with more (scrollable) information for your student to explore.

I also like that each article has a read-aloud option for differentiated learning. This is also especially helpful for students with learning differences or who learn best while listening and reading.

The area on videos is hip and fun and perfect for young students. In fact, I sort of think they are created by high school or college students - but I don't know that. It just sounds and feels like a younger vibe presenting the information. And I think that makes it more engaging for my 9th grader. 

The third section is for QUIZ RESULTS. Every single story has interactive quizzing to measure reading comprehension. As a parent/educator, I can follow my kid's progress in my own dashboard which shows me his results and average score.

The final section is reserved for ANNOUNCEMENTS. Teachers who subscribe have the option to post announcements to their class. (This option is not available for homeschoolers.)

One more thing that I think is important is that educators and parents also have access to The Juice Blog where they post about important topics related to media literacy. These posts are super helpful and some contain tips for discussing issues with your kids. Take a look at their blog.

Option for homeschoolers

The Juice is available to homeschoolers in four different reading levels and each child can receive a different level. This edition of The Juice comes with five child accounts and is priced affordably for families.

Things that I like

I love that I don't have to worry about what my kid may be reading or anything that may distract him from the topic at hand. 

I also like that every day, The Juice includes at least one inspirational story about a remarkable person who is beating the odds or doing something incredible to leave the world a better place. 

Also, from my parent portal, I can see all of the same content that he does PLUS I can see:
  • if he opened his email, 
  • completed a quiz (and the score), 
  • and if he watched a video or read the Extra Juice. 
It also gives me a cumulative grade average at the top in case I'm counting this as a separate class or want to incorporate the grades into his class grade or GPA. This final tool right here is gold for those of us homeschooling high schoolers and makes it easier for us to calculate their grades.

The Juice - Student overview

Sign up with a discount!

If this sounds like the type of tool you've been looking for and want to incorporate in your middle schooler or high schooler's curriculum, subscribe today

As a MommyMaestra reader, you can save 25% off the subscription price using my special discount code: JuiceMYMA.

Or if you prefer to try it out first, you can do so for a week at no charge. Click the link above for the free trial. 

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