Friday, July 23, 2021

5 Things We Love About CTC Math

CTCMath: Self-Paced Online Math

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with CTCMath and MommyMaestra. All opinions are my own.

Advanced math is not my strong suit. And teaching high school math can leave both me and my kid frustrated. We've tried a variety of math curricula over the years. We're both really, really happy with this one for high school math. I wish I had used CTCMath for Algebra I, which was really hard for my son. But I'm delighted that we have it now for the next few years!

PSST! Don't miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post!

Quick Overview

Program: CTCMath
Class: Homeschool Family membership
Religious Perspective: Secular
Format: Recorded
Grades: K - 12th
Price: There are different membership levels ranging from $29.97/month up to $297/year*
*BUT pricing is half price for homeschoolers! Just use any of the links in this post, to get 50% off!

Self-Paced Geometry

Over and over, I have shared self-paced programs here on MommyMaestra. That's because as a homeschooler, we have really fluid schedules. While some classes have a regular schedule, most subjects are tackled at different times of the day. PLUS, it's important to me that my kid actually learns the content. So if he finishes in 15 minutes or an hour and a half, I don't care as long as he understands the work and it's a bonus if he's mastered it by the time he's done. Some things come quite easily, while others take a little more concentration and study. 

Which leads me to the other part of a self-paced class: the ability to go back as often as necessary to listen to/read the lesson. I love recorded classes. Because it's easy to simply rewind and listen again if my kid didn't understand it the first time. Or because my 3yo came screaming into the room at a critical moment of explanation. The rewind option is a blessing and recorded classes like these don't have a teacher that gets frustrated at having to repeat everything they just said.

CTCMath: Self-Paced Geometry

The Brevity of the Lessons

Each lesson is short. It focuses on one concept for my kid to learn. He loves that it doesn't take ages to complete one lesson and that makes the self-paced aspect SO much more attractive. He's motivated to complete more than one lesson, unlike his experience with other math programs, where he tried to do as little as possible. 

And when you are able to get through several lessons in a day, you feel much more accomplished. "Wow! I did so much today! I feel great about that."

Easy to Understand

This! This is probably the one thing that makes this entire program work for us. Mr. Murray, whose voice is the one we hear explaining each lesson, teaches each concept in simple, direct, easy-to-understand language. His explanations don't require an explanation. 

I think that the best way is to just show you. Take a look at this sample lesson from Geometry. (But note that if you are looking for math for a different grade, there are sample lessons for each grade on CTCMath's YouTube channel - no discount with this link.)

The Accent!

Y'all, this is just a fun thing, but it absolutely makes the list because it makes the whole experience more enjoyable for my son. He has been intrigued with accents for years, probably because his Grandpa was born in England and raised in Australia. And many of his favorite characters in his favorite shows - Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Doctor Who - are British or Australian.

Anyway, Pat Murray who is the teacher behind CTCMath and who narrates each lesson, is a native Australian living in Sydney with his family. In fact, CTCMath originally started in Australia and has now branched out around the world. We use the United States version of their math program. 

All this to say that Murray's accent has really changed things up for my son who is much more alert and responsive to this slight change in what he hears on a daily basis.


Yes! Self-grading is awesome. 

First, let me explain how the lessons work. 

Students login and go to their dashboard. From there, they select the class and the section that they're working on. It's easy to see where they left off.

They click on the next lesson. Then they begin by watching the video lesson. Next, they click on the tab to answer the self-grading questions. 

Students also have the option of printing worksheets with additional questions/equations to solve, but they must grade their work themselves (or have a parent do so) using the answer keys that are included, and then they can enter their grade manually.

One really cool thing about the dashboard is that kids can actually rate their understanding of a lesson/concept by highlighting stars next to the lesson title. So if they feel like they've mastered it - five stars! If they feel fairly confident in their understanding, maybe just four stars. 

There's a lot of emphasis on independent work in this course. Kids complete the work on their own and giving them the option to self-grade really encourages them to take on their role and responsibility in their own education. I love this about the program.

The Giveaway

One winner will get a 12-month family membership! 

CTCMath Free Trial

If you are already convinced this is the program you need for your family, head over and check out CTCMath today. Don't forget that you can sign up for a FREE TRIAL!

If you're ready to buy, be sure to use this link to access the homeschool pricing with 50% off!

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CTCMath: Online Math for K - 12

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Whistlefritz's Spanish Lessons!

Have you seen? One of MommyMaestra's fantastic sponsors, Whistlefritz, has just released their FREE Spanish Home Educator's Guide!

If you have Whistlefritz's Spanish program or are planning to use it this coming school year, then you NEED this guide! It's designed to help homeschooling parents maximize their use of Whistlefritz's Educator's Collection. 

Everything you ever wanted to know about how to implement Whistlefritz's Spanish lessons in your daily routine is here. It provides a daily open-and-go schedule that includes not only the Spanish lesson plans in their curriculum, but also related music, videos, and activities. I just had a look and there are 46 (FORTY-SIX!!) weeks' worth of planning and scheduling inside this book. There's even a checklist at the end that you can print and hang.

Take a look at this example from week 21:  

Isn't this easy? The Home Educator's Guide helps homeschooling families weave Spanish consistently into their daily lives while also having fun and encouraging a lifelong pursuit of language learning.

I like that the weekly schedule it not complicated or overwhelming. It's doable.

Most homeschool Spanish programs would charge for a guide like this. But Whistlefritz is offering it for free. What a gift!

If you're ready to download your copy, just head over to Whistlefritz's homeschool page and sign up to have it sent to your email. 

Happy learning!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

15 Homemade Paletas to Try this Summer

It's the middle of summer and I don't know what it is like where you live, but here, the projected temperatures for the coming week are 99º every day! So I'm stocking up on fruit for a paleta fest to keep my family cool. 

Does your family do DIY paletas (popsicles)? Summer fruit popsicles make the perfect sweet treat for a warm weather day! They’re hydrating, refreshing, and it’s so fun to try new flavor combinations that you can’t find in stores!

Homemade fruit pops are often more flavorful than store-bought, and taste so much better fresh from the freezer! Plus, with simple ingredients, you can feel good about giving these to your family!

These 15 summer fruit popsicles are all made with summer fruits. From classic flavors like orange and raspberry, to more fun and unique flavors like watermelon boba and blueberry basil, you’ll definitely find a flavor here you can’t wait to try!

You can create your own paletas with simple materials such as popsicle sticks and paper cups, but I've added one of my favorite popsicle molds.

This post contains affiliate links.

Paleta (Popsicle) Recipes

1.   Strawberry Vanilla Paletas: Fresh strawberries, vanilla, and vanilla yogurt make for one unique and summery popsicle from my friend Vianney at!

2. Mango Pineapple Popsicles: A tropical flavored popsicle with a spicy chili salt twist...

3. Champurrado Paletas: Oh. My. Gosh! Ericka of Nibbles and Feasts might be the queen of paletas. I'm linking to her paleta and aguas frescas book below! Go order ASAP!

4. Paletas de Jamaica y Canela + Paletas de Melón: Hibiscus and cinnamon, or cantaloupe? Yes, por favor! I'll take both with these easy recipes from Yvette over at

5. Lemonade Popsicles: This popsicle is perfect when you can’t decide between lemonade or a frozen treat!

6. 3 Easy Mexican Paleta Recipes for Kids: My friend, Frances, shares these three easy recipes for Mexican paletas over on

7. Creamy Blackberry Popsicle Recipe: My friend, Christa, of modifies Costa Rica's paleta recipe "to create an authentic Costa Rican paleta in the United States."

8. Toasted Coconut Lime Popsicles: A simple, 4-ingredient popsicle made with toasted coconut and lime juice! (Shown in image.)

9. Pineapple-Ginger Popsicles: Ginger, honey, and pineapple blended together for a paleta to enjoy all summer long from Silvia at MamaLatinaTips.

10. Orange Lemon Lime Popsicles: A super citrusy and hydrating popsicle made with 5 simple ingredients!

11. Passionfruit Yogurt Pops: A fun and exotic fruit pop made with rice cereal that makes the perfect summertime dessert or even snack! (Shown in image.)

12. Raspberry Popsicles: A 3-ingredient popsicle made with frozen raspberries, so you can make this one all year-round! (Shown in image.)

13. Coconut Water Pineapple Popsicles: Whole raspberries and chunks of pineapple can be seen right through the coconut water in this summery and hydrating popsicle!

14. Strawberry Chia Seed Popsicles: Add a few healthy chia seeds to your summer popsicle and the kids will be none-the-wiser!

15. Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles: These yogurt-based popsicles are creamy and sweet, and make a great popsicle to have on hand all summer long! (Shown in image.)

THE Paleta Book

This is the only recipe book for paletas you'll ever need. Go. Buy. It! Ericka's recipes are the best. (You're welcome!)

Paleta Molds

If you're like me, you may have a ton of paleta molds in your pantry. Here is one of my favorites and one I want to try...

ZOKU - This is my go-to when we want paletas and we want them NOW! Seriously, you can have a popsicle in 7 minutes with this thing. It's unbelievable! Actually, I have the double one, but I don't think they make it anymore. Now they just have the single and it's hard to catch in stock, but maybe you'll get lucky!

And these I want to try!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Free Coloring Page for World Chimpanzee Day

Not so long ago, I was a great ape keeper. Okay, maybe it's been 20 years and that is long ago, depending on how you look at it. But the point is that I was once a zookeeper who cared for gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and chimpanzees. That was one of the most memorable times of my life, and completely changed how I viewed animals. 

World Chimpanzee Day

So in honor of World Chimpanzee Day (today! July 14th), I'm happy to share the news of the newest title in the Bears for Cares book series and campaign founded by Kay and her sister Jazmin. They launched the campaign on Endangered Species Day as a project of Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots youth service program. It aims to educate children about the state of wildlife and our earth, and what they can do to make a difference and create a more compassionate world.

Jenny the Chimpanzee” is told in rhyme and encourages young readers to learn about the history and origins of human evolution told by a chimpanzee named Jenny.  And they will be reminded of how interconnected humans are with all other wildlife on this planet. As Lotus writes: “So let’s make sure that we care for each other’s safety. No matter who you are.  Whoever you may be. Whether you are a human or a chimpanzee.”

An added bonus to “Jenny the Chimpanzee” are inspirational quotes from world-renowned ethologist and environmentalist, Dr. Jane Goodall, who is the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Goodall when I was working with great apes. Here's a pic! (I'm in the middle wearing a white shirt and standing behind Dr. Goodall.)


A Free Coloring Page

Bears for Cares has kindly offered a free coloring page from their book, Jenny the Chimpanzee. I'm happy to share it with you! Just right click on the picture below and save it to your device, then print! 

And if you'd like to purchase your copy of this lovely book, click here.

Friday, July 9, 2021

5 Things We Love About Virtual Biology Lab

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with College Prep Science and MommyMaestra. All opinions are my own.

One of the biggest challenges to homeschoolers can be providing science labs for their kids. From the expense of buying materials, to safety equipment and space, science labs can be difficult for homeschoolers to complete outside of a co-op or museum course.

This is why I love College Prep Science's VIRTUAL Biology Lab class! Read on to learn our five reasons for loving this program.

Before going further, I want to note here that MommyMaestra shares homeschool resources for families of all faiths. This particular program has a Christian perspective.

Quick Overview

Program: College Prep Science
ClassInteractive Virtual Science Lab   
Religious Perspective: Christian
Format: Live & Recorded
Grades: 7th - 12th
Price: Tuition is $280 for recorded and $390 for live, 2-week intensive

Why do a science lab?

Some homeschoolers may be tempted to just ignore the labs, but the reality is that labs are an integral part of science. They teach some of the very basic skills and one of the tenets of science: The Scientific Method. Kids NEED to learn the process of following a step-by-step procedure and then recording it from start to finish in a lab report.

I can't express how important this whole experience is for high schoolers. And if you are dithering about virtual labs, read on to learn the five things we love most about the Virtual Biology Lab from College Prep Science!

This Virtual Biology Lab counts as a supplement to any biology class and it has 11 lab experiments, including cell mitosis, blood type, and FROG DISSECTION! 

1) It's saves money

Flasks. Petri dishes. Microscopes. Slides. Droppers. Pipets. Test tubes. Bunsen burner. Safety goggles. Forceps...

I think you get the idea. Once you start adding up all the materials needed, it gets a little crazy. And very expensive! I'm pretty sure I spent close to $300 or more for materials when I was teaching General Science to 7th and 8th grade at our local co-op a few years ago.

This virtual lab saves us money. 

2) It saves space

You don't have to find MORE storage space for all of the science gear - OR for the experiments themselves, which are then sometimes forgotten only to be discovered in horror when you mistakenly stumble upon petri dishes that have been sitting for a few days or weeks in a cupboard. 

3) It's safe!

I don't have to worry about my kid blowing stuff up. Or slicing himself with a scalpel. Or my 3yo wandering up and sticking his fingers in acid. Or having to set up an eye wash station (just in case). Why? BECAUSE IT'S ALL ONLINE!!

My boy can still wear eye goggles if he wants to, but at least it's not because he HAS to. 

4) It's easy to navigate

For a kid who is a Minecraft fanatic, navigating any online portal is under scrutiny. But this one is very easy and intuitive. My 15 yo had no problems finding and manipulating the items in the online lab. But just to be on the safe side, the teacher, Greg Landry, does an introductory video explaining how to navigate the lab.

We chose to do the self-paced, recorded lab. Professor Landry also offers a 2-week intensive live program in the summer (it starts THIS MONDAY, July 12th!!). But with sporadic summer schedules, the self-paced program works better for us. You can still be assured that if you or your child have ANY questions during the recorded lessons, it's not a problem because you can just use your College Prep Science portal to send Professor Landry an email.

5) There's NO MESS

Okay. This one is my favorite. I don't have to set up or clean up. There are no stains on my ceiling or floor or dining room table (not from science experiments anyway). I like that I don't have to put down a drop cloth across my furniture or mop every time a lab is done. 

Maybe this doesn't teach my male teen not to make a mess or to clean up after himself, but he has plenty of other opportunities to practice that!

If you're convinced or just want to learn more about the Virtual Labs (Biology/Anatomy& Physiology, Chemistry, & Physics), visit the College Prep Science website.

All of this again on video...

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Spanish for You! Summer Roundup

 Spanish for You! Summer Round-Up

Over the years, MommyMaestra sponsor Spanish for You! has shared a LOT of great downloads, including mini-lessons, games, and audio files. All of them for FREE!

Today, we're sharing a round-up of the summer-themed activities that you can find here on MommyMaestra. Check them out and then go order your homeschool curriculum sets for the coming school year!

Summer-themed Spanish Activities

Affordable Spanish Learning Program

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!

Monday, July 5, 2021

High School Writing Video Course

WriteShop I  - writing course for teens

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with WriteShop. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

As a parent of a teen with dysgraphia, I can tell you that we have tried A LOT of different resources and curricula to teach writing. It has been my greatest source of stress as a homeschool parent, which is ironic because I just love writing. That's why I am so excited about this course from the WriteShop! Read on to see if it is a good fit for you.

Quick Overview

ProgramWriteShop I
Subject(s): writing 
Religious Perspective: Faith-neutral
Format: Books and online video course
Grades: 6th - 10th
Language: English
: $94.50 - $139.95

WriteShop I writing curriculum

Homeschool Writing Curriculum

The WriteShop is an incremental writing program for students. This means that it teaches writing techniques in manageable portions without overwhelming kids. This step-by-step approach helps kids develop sound writing skills. 

They have a lot of products on their website for teaching writing to students in K - 12th. But I elected to use WriteShop I for my 15yo who is going into 10th grade and, as I mentioned, struggles with dysgraphia.

WriteShop I has a total of 16 lessons. Each one takes 1 or 2 weeks - YOU choose how fast you want to go. 

Your child will complete a written assignment for each lesson and learn a specific skill set each time. On their website, you can also find a complete description, product details, reviews, and even the scope & sequence of each product they offer. 

I really like that this writing program is geared toward older children (tweens and teens) so that they don't feel like the lesson are babyish even if they are learning basic writing skills. Even the writing prompts are more age-appropriate.

WriteShop I

Online Video Course

You do have the option to just buy the teacher's guide and student workbook. If you're comfortable teaching your child writing, this is a great way to go.

BUT if you are looking to (mostly) outsource the teaching for this subject, then the video course is excellent. They go over each lesson, focusing on the main activities and skill builders. Parents will still have to review/edit the writing assignments, but the actual skill teaching will be done through their online portal which has the recorded videos. 

The nice thing is that if you aren't worried about schedules, your child can just complete this at their own pace. It's your choice.

The video lessons don't waste time. They get to the heart of the lesson and don't drag it out. This is FANTASTIC. It stops my kid from being bored and complaining. The student portal is easy to navigate, very intuitive, and not cluttered up. 

And it even has self-editing tips to help your student. (<-- BIG PLUS!!)

WriteShop I Video Course

I always advise readers and other homeschoolers to download samples of a curriculum or watch videos that the company shares about their products before purchasing. So here is a preview of the video course for you to watch:

Placement Quiz

If you aren't sure which product to purchase for your child, you can have them take the placement quiz! This is a free tool on their website to help you decide at what level your child is in terms of writing.

What I love best

My 15yo HATES writing. He has dysgraphia and we have just really struggled to find the right curriculum to help him. We've used a lot of great programs, but the hardest part for me has been teaching writing to this kid. It is stressful for both of us. 

And I've been especially concerned about this since he has started high school. Prepping for essay writing has had me full of anxiety. But this course is helping me relax and feel more confident in him.

I love that WriteShop offers this video course that does the teaching for me. All I have to do is review his work once he's completed the assignment.

I also like that there is a lot of humor mixed into this course. My middle kid is the one with the best sense of humor in our family. He's always telling jokes and appreciates a good one. So this added aspect, really helps him to relax and be more receptive to a WRITING program.

***It's important to note that you can do the Video Course without books OR you can choose to do the Video Course with the books.

If this sounds like the writing course that you've been looking for, then go and check out the WriteShop! You can find WriteShop I here and all of their other products for younger grades here.

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WriteShop I: Writing Course for Teens

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Homeschool Montessori Preschool Program

Sonlight Preschool Program: Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Fun

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

July is quickly approaching and that means parents across the country are going to get serious about prepping for the new school year. Tons of parents homeschooled their preschoolers last year, and judging by the number of parents of toddlers joining our Hispanic and Bilingual Homeschoolers group, I'm guessing a large number will be homeschooling their preschoolers again this year. So today's review of Sonlight's new Montessori-based PreK program is for them!


Quick Overview

Program: Sonlight's Preschool Pack: Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Fun
Subject(s): literacy, 
Religious Perspective: Christian
Format: Books and manipulatives/Montessori approach
Grades: Preschool
Language: English
Price: $350.00

Literature-based Montessori Approach

Sonlight's new PreK program is a feast for book-loving families. With a strong focus on literature and the Montessori method, Sonlight has improved upon their previous preschool curriculum by adding on titles and activities that develop pre-reading, pre-writing, and pre-math skills, as well as those that explore science, foreign language (Spanish), and music. The focus is on nurturing mastery of self-directed activities, which is keeping in line with the Montessori approach.

Sonlight Preschool Books

Preschool at Home

I have often talked about the importance of preschool, whether it be at home or in a school setting. Research shows that children who attend a good preschool and have involved parents are more likely to have better self-esteem, higher IQs, and fewer behavioral problems. They have higher literacy rates, test scores, and graduation rates. They are also less likely to repeat a grade level, smoke, drop out, or experience teen pregnancy.

And preschooling at home can be just as effective, if not more so, provided that parents are actively involved with teaching the essential skills and habits that preschoolers need to learn to prepare for kindergarten and beyond.

This curriculum is easy to implement; it only takes 30 minutes a day, three times a week. It comes with a fabulous teacher's guide to help you get started and stay on track. 

And what an abundance of literature! So many excellent books to read to your child. They make up the heart of this program. From Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day? to Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales and Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics, there are so many great titles that your child will be exposed to thousands of words to boost their vocabulary.

But it also comes with a small box full of manipulatives or tools, which my 3-year-old absolutely loves. The program focuses on sensory items to stimulate your child's learning. Shape stencils/puzzles, sandpaper letters, round number counters, are all fantastic for capturing a preschooler's interest. 

Sonlight Preschool Program manipulatives

The teacher's guide comes printed out with holes on the side for placing in a binder, which I did. Each lesson starts with a simple chart overview for the week, then is followed by a few pages with more detailed instructions. The lessons are broken down into five "subjects" overall:

  1. Bible
  2. Letters, Shapes & Numbers
  3. Read-Alouds
  4. Arts & Crafts
  5. Music/Spanish
The detailed instructions give a better explanation for procedures to the parent. They also list optional activities, which I really appreciated. 

**This program is only available in English, however, it does include the DK book, My First Spanish Word Board Book for those families who are just beginning their journey into raising bilingual children. If you are an English-speaking-only parent, Sonlight does have a page on their website where you can listen to the Spanish pronunciations to the words in the book (not a native Spanish speaker, but still accurate).

Here's a quick overview of everything included in the package that you'll receive:

What I love

I love that this program is so FLEXIBLE. I can use the guide as strictly or as loosely as I'd like. And I am. I often stray, adding in activities or resources that we have at home that I feel complement my 3yo's learning or simply grabbing one of the books to read before they're introduced in the lessons (we can always read them again!).

For example, I purchased this fantastic easel with a dry-erase board on one side and felt board on the other. It was a perfect substitution for pencil and paper while using the shape stencils, which we did, too, as the guide suggested. But letting him also do this on the dry-erase board brought a little freshness to the activity.

Sonlight Preschool Program shape stencils

I also absolutely love the amount of books included as well as the titles that were selected. Fortunately, we didn't have duplicates already in our home library. So most of these stories were new to my youngest, though a few had been checked out before at our local library. 

And I really liked the relaxed schedule. Preschool isn't about memorizing the months of the year or adding double digit numbers. I love that my kid can just be a kid, learning at an easy pace in a fun way. All the pressure that goes with academics can come later if it must. Right now it's just time to enjoy learning about the world and diving deeper into those things that fascinate him.

The Giveaway!

THREE winners will be selected to receive the new Sonlight Preschool curriculum. I would love for one or more of you to win! To enter, use the form below...

A Complete Package

If you've been looking for a complete preschool program that is centered around children's literature, this may the one for you! Visit their website to read more about this great program for preschool.

Monday, June 28, 2021

25 Crafts & Activities for the 4th of July

The 4th of July will be here before we know it!

Celebrate summer’s favorite holiday with some red, white, and blue crafts and activities. The kids are going to love these ideas!

Fun crafts and activities are the perfect way to fill the time while kids are waiting for fireworks to start. Of course, these patriotic kids activities are great for Labor Day, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, or just about any other day of the year. Red, white, and blue is always a good idea!

On this list, you’ll find everything from coloring pages and a slime recipe to tie-dye shirts and handprint crafts. There is something on this list for kids of all ages. I promise you’re going to want to work your way through these patriotic activities all summer long. 

Crafts & Activities for the 4th of July


  1. 4th of July Piñata Balloons :: The Gunny Sack

  2. Uncle Sam Pringles Can :: Anti-June Cleaver

  3. Patriotic Kids Blower :: Natural Beach Living

  4. Easy DIY 4th of July Planter :: Thrifty Jinxy

  5. Uncle Sam 4th of July Craft :: Big Family Blessings

  6. Paper Lantern Kids Craft 4th of July Style :: The Crafting Chicks

  7. Patriotic Party Slime :: The Farm Girl Gabs

  8. DIY Confetti Poppers for 4th of July :: Happiness is Homemade


  1. Tissue Paper Flag Suncatcher :: The Simple Parent

  2. Paper Plate Flag :: Crafts on Sea

  3. Handprint American Flag :: The Soccer Mom Blog

  4. Edible Flag and Craft :: The Educators’ Spin on It


  1. DIY Fourth of July Pinwheels :: ModernMami

  2. 4th Of July Patriotic Stars Thumbprint Craft :: A Dab of Glue will Do

  3. Popsicle Stick Star Streamers :: Happiness is Homemade

  4. Yarn-Wrapped Stars :: Fantastic Fun and Learning


  1. DIY Sparkler Tee for the 4th of July :: Mom Endeavors

  2. 4th of July Craft Bracelet for Kids :: Fantastic Fun and Learning

  3. Firework Headbands :: CraftBits

  4. The Original Bomb Pop® Tie-Dye Shirts :: The Shirley Journey

  5. Easy 4th of July T-Shirt Wreath :: The Soccer Mom Blog


  1. Free 4th Of July Coloring Pages :: Easy Peasy and Fun

  2. 4th of July Bingo Scavenger Hunt :: Big Family Blessings

  3. Fun and Free Printable 4th of July I Spy Game :: Two Kids and a Coupon

  4. 4th Of July Vocabulary Activities :: ABCs of Literacy

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Homeschool Online Spanish for Teens

Vista Academy online Spanish course

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with Vista Academy. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

As the new school year approaches, lots of homeschooling parents are beginning to plan their children's course schedule. One of the curricula that receives a lot of attention from MommyMaestra readers is Spanish language. We've had a chance to take a peek at Vista Academy’s inaugural fall 2021 Spanish courses for homeschooling students.

Quick Overview

Program: Vista Academy Spanish courses
Subject(s): Spanish
Religious Perspective: Secular
Format: Online course
Grades: 7th - 12th
Language: Spanish
Price: $700 - $950 for an entire school year (See the different tracks described below.)

From the Owners of Santillana

If you follow MommyMaestra, then you already know about the many benefits of bilingualism. From advanced problem-solving skills to ability to better empathy and even the delayed onset of dementia in later years are just a few of the advantages of bilingualism. But most of you are already striving to raise bilingual children.

A few months ago, a post in my Hispanic & Bilingual Homeschoolers group caught my eye. The poster shared that Vista Higher Learning Pre-K-12 is planning to launch their Spanish Academy for homeschoolers this coming fall. This raised a lot of interest because, as some of you may know, Vista used to be Santillana (or maybe they bought it, I'm not sure) which is absolutely beloved and sought after in the Spanish-speaking homeschool communities for their excellent resources in Spanish.

So when I had the opportunity to take a look, I did! Here's what I found.

Vista Academy Spanish Online Course

Online Spanish Course

Vista Academy (VA) has actually been around a while, but now it is being made available to the homeschool community. 

According to the site, "VA is a cutting-edge, virtual world language school that provides an innovative learning environment with native speaker oversight and instruction." 

VHL Central is the platform utilized for VA’s curriculum. And it was created specifically for online language learning. It's currently used by almost 2 million students around the world. In addition, over 6,000 educational institutions currently rely on VHL’s technology to deliver their fully online and/or hybrid courses.

There are two learning tracks: ¡Olé! and ¡Bravo! Both are designed to build your child's speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Here's the difference between the two:

Vista Academy: Spanish course for teens

When you sign up, you choose a teacher and a program. We signed up for the Senderos 1 course. I asked my 15yo (9th grader, 10th grader in the fall) to do the program. He's my reluctant Spanish child. Refuses to speak it and has been the hardest to teach Spanish. So I consider him a beginner, unlike my oldest, who is pretty good. 

When you sign up, you go to your dashboard. It looks like this:

Vista Academy: Spanish course for teens

From here, he can see his assignment and the due date. To begin, he simply clicks on Lección 1: Contextos and then begins completing the individual lessons...

Vista Academy: Spanish course for teens

These involve a variety of activities to learn the vocabulary and dialogue for the topic. In this instance, it is introductions and the words used then you meet someone for the first time, or if you are meeting up with friends. 

The activities are a blend of watching videos, listening to dialogue, matching, listen and repeat, and multiple choice. 

***This is pretty much an immersion class.*** 

At first, my son was like, "I don't know what any of this means!" But then he found that for the beginning vocabulary activities, there was a button below each picture that showed the English translation of what he was hearing and seeing. This is not an option for every lesson, but just for the beginning ones. And from our dashboard, we were able print a list of all the vocabulary (Spanish & English) for this first lesson. 

That, however, was the only offline resource he had and/or used. The portal also offers all of the vocabulary on flashcards that your child can go through whenever it's convenient for them. 

Everything is built into the online program. And if you have a question about anything, you can click on the link in the bottom left hand corner of your screen so you can message your teacher. 

Oh, and yes, a native speaker teacher teaches each course. 

I believe there are live classes associated with this course, also, but we haven't had one of them yet. I'll try to update this post after that begins. 

NOTE: Your child will need a computer, access to the internet, and a microphone for this course.

Vista Academy online Spanish class

What I Like

I really love that this course is designed for beginner students who are ages 12 to 18. Too often we are told the lie that only young children can learn a second language. I know that's not true as I have many friends from other countries who learned English in their teens and they speak it very well. I, myself, learned French in high school and while I'm not fluent by any means because I simply haven't had the opportunity to use it, I was amazed to discover how much of it I remembered while traveling through Belgium four years ago and was able to order meals for myself and my family.

The point being, that it's never too late to learn. But it may just take a little more effort. Learning language comes pretty easily to young children, but young adults and even old ladies like me can learn another language. We see this every day in high school and college kids learning to code, which is a language unto itself!

I also like that everything is in one place and that my 15yo can maneuver it on his own without me having to teach it or juggle a curriculum. I've made it a requirement for him to take 3 years of foreign language in high school, so this is a great option for us. 

The sticker price is a bit of a shock, however. Most homeschoolers are on a pretty strict budget and spend $250 - $300 AT MOST on a single subject. But I'm  hopeful that the company will adjust their pricing once they have a little more experience in the homeschool market. 

A Discount for You!

Use the discount code SPANISH20 to get a 20% discount coupon which can be applied towards registration. Expires Nov. 30, 2021.

If you're looking to introduce your middle schooler or high schooler to Spanish and are looking for a no-fuss online course, visit their site today to learn more.

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Vista Academy

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Updated Heritage Journal Series

My Heritage Journal series is getting a facelift and the first new cover is out. I absolutely love it and have to give a huge shout out to artist, Rosa Lopez, for her amazing talent and for helping my series finally be perfect!

The first new cover is for My Mexican Heritage Journal. The series was created for children ages 8 to 14 and provides them with a way to record their family's story and heritage.

It's a great project for kids to work on over the summer or as an elective during the school year. And the stories, interviews, recipes, and memories written inside will make it a family heirloom that your child will treasure always.

If you want to read and see more about the inside of these books, visit my original post

The next cover will be My Puerto Rican Heritage Journal. I can't wait for its reveal!

You can purchase your copy of this new journal here:

Monday, June 21, 2021

CM Simple Spanish

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with CM Simple Spanish. All thoughts and opinions are mine. 

Spanish, Charlotte Mason Style

Have you heard about CM Simple Spanish? This is a new Spanish learning program mainly for PreK and elementary-aged children, but I believe they plan to keep growing and developing their materials for older children. 

Simple Spanish follows the Charlotte Mason method of teaching new languages. You can find a detailed explanation on their site here. Their goal is to help parents gently weave in Spanish to daily situations so that our children learn Spanish simply and naturally.

AND the materials are set up that an entire family can learn Spanish together, so parents who do not speak Spanish can still teach their children. Read on as I explain how.

Early Years Units

I've had an opportunity to review two of their products: Unit 1 and Unit 2 of Early Years. I don't think you could make teaching Spanish any easier. The 5-page download includes a page with the lyrics to a song, a page with lesson plans, and printable flashcards.

There are five simple lessons that teach children Spanish by centering the learning around a song. The first time around, children learn a sentence that also teaches a color, item, and basic sentence structure. The five lessons are repeated the next week teaching new vocabulary. And then repeated a final time. By the end of three weeks, your child will have learned:

  • 3 colors 
  • 3 items
  • 3 sentences 
  • 1 song

The cool thing is that you can learn the song by simply using your phone to scan a QR code (there are a lot of free QR reader apps!) and it takes you to a YouTube video. 

And I love that I learned of a new Spanish musician - Ana Calabrese - and her album, Short, Fun Spanish Beats.

These lesson are super budget friendly; Unit 1 is only $2 and Unit 2 is $3.50. Really, you can't go wrong here. 

If this sounds like something you'd like to try out this summer with your little ones, visit CM Simple Spanish!


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