Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Curiosikid: Science Experiments for Kids...in Spanish

A special gracias goes to one of our readers, Tricia, who shared this fantastic web site with us. I was really excited to explore it... and it did not disappoint! Exactly the kind of thing I'm sure many of you can use with your children this summer and throughout the school year.

Curiosikid is a Spanish-only site based out of Venezuela. Created by el Museo de los Niños de Caracas, it features 400 interactive science experiments for kids.

The site focuses on eight major categories, each of which is subdivided into four themes with around 50 experiments. The neatest thing is that most of the experiments can be done in the kitchen of your house using household items. The eight catagories are:

• Discovering Water

• The Invisible

• Living a Thousand Ways

• The Secrets of Air

• Planet Earth

• Extreme Worlds

• Machines for World Exploration

• The Infinitely Small

The goal of Curiosikid is to help children “learn by playing”. It describes itself as a tool to help children discover the worlds of science and technology, and to encourage them to use their free time in a constructive manner. Overall, this site has been well thought out and is great fun for kids.

Con mucho cariño…

A New Article and a Giveaway

For those of you interested, I have published an article over at Modern Familia on Using Multicultural Children’s Literature to Supplement Your Child’s Education. I'll be following it up in the next few weeks with a list of multicultural children's books that I recommend for bilingual families. If you haven't already checked out Modern Familia, it is a site created by mi amiga, Angélica Pérez-Litwin, who is a clinical psychologist. The blog is a wealth of information for multicultural families, to help them be their best.

Also, our sister site, The Latin Baby Book Club, is currently giving away a signed copy of Monica Brown's Pelé King of Soccer. If you'd like to see the trailer that Monica has made for it, or learn more about the giveaway, click here

All of the homeschooling methods place a heavy emphasis on reading books that bring history to life and make it easy for the child to relate to and understand. Biographies are especially valuable in this regard. For those of you following the Charlotte Mason method, this book would be considered a "Living Book".

Teacher Resource for Bilingual Reading and Writing

For those of you preparing to teach your child how to read, ideally it should be in the child’s native/dominant language. Listening to other Latina moms who are homeschooling, they say that teaching their children to read in Spanish first was easier anyway, because there are less rules/exceptions to remember. And once you have successfully taught a child to read in one language, teaching him or her to read in the second is much easier.

I have slowly been discovering more and more programs and resources out there for teaching your child to read in Spanish (and English). And I'm excited about sharing them all with you! Here's the first. Enjoy!

This post contains affiliate links.

Teaching Reading and Writing in Spanish and English

This second edition of the Freemans' classic text updates their ideas and strategies in response to new research and changing contexts for teaching reading and writing in both English and Spanish.

Between the growing number of Spanish-speaking students in dual language and bilingual classrooms and the increasing focus on accountability, teachers need a resource that gives them research-based instructional advice for helping all students meet standards while giving nonnative speakers access to the same high-quality education as their English-speaking peers. They must have the most effective methods for teaching reading and writing to students in two languages, and Teaching Reading and Writing in Spanish and English in Bilingual and Dual Language Classrooms provides what teachers need.

The new edition includes:

• a description of two approaches to teaching reading currently used in bilingual and dual language classes as well as the theory and research that supports each

• classroom scenarios illustrating these approaches and how they connect to state standards

• extended scenarios of effective teaching organized around themes in bilingual and dual language settings

• bibliographies of literature and content books in Spanish and English that support theme-based instruction

• an historical overview of reading instruction in Spanish and English with an analysis and evaluation of each method

• an explanation of two views of teaching writing, including how each view looks in bilingual and dual language classes as well as the theory and research that supports each approach

• a description of writing development in Spanish and English with student examples from each stage and level

• writing instructional strategies that match students' developmental levels.

With updated references and new ways for educators to connect sound instruction to state standards, the Freemans provide teachers and administrators with the theory, research, and practical information they need to meet new challenges and help every student reach high levels of reading and writing proficiency.

Con mucho cariño…

Monday, June 28, 2010

What is Bilingual Homeschooling?

© Can Stock Photo / Esermulis

More and more parents are turning to homeschooling as a way to nurture their child’s bilingualism and biliteracy. Why? Two reasons are at the top. First, because it is a way for them to pass on their family’s heritage and culture and instill pride in their children. And second, most parents also recognize that bilingualism is an important skill that creates many opportunities, both professionally and personally, throughout one’s life. But many families do not have dual language or immersion schools in their area, or the applicants are chosen through a lottery system.

Most bilingual families who decide to homeschool don’t have much guidance and must blindly figure out their way through the process. Lack of resources and support has made things difficult in the past, but things are changing dramatically these days as more and more products and services are hitting the market to support bilingual learners thanks to the growing number of dual language schools across the country. Sites such as TeachersPayTeachers.com are invaluable for the quick and easy, print-and-go materials that bilingual ed teachers use in their own classrooms. Amazon is also a good resource for education materials published in Spanish-speaking countries, though finding them takes a bit more dedication and careful use of keywords for searching. And Facebook groups can provide tips, expert advice, and resources for homeschoolers to use in their bilingual journey.

For parents wanting to provide a bilingual homeschool education for their children, it’s really important to understand what bilingual homeschooling is exactly. Technically, bilingual homeschoolers devote equal time and energy to studying in two languages. Emphasis is placed on fluency in both languages. The definition seems simple enough, yet I receive a steady stream of messages from parents who want to homeschool their children bilingually, but they aren’t really sure how to start or where to find materials. Even before finding the right materials, they should understand the definition of bilingual homeschooling and consider which approach they want to implement.

Below are some of the ways in which bilingual homeschoolers are teaching their children:

Complete Immersion (Spanish)

Complete Immersion families teach their children all subjects in the minority language (i.e., Spanish) only and rely on their child’s interaction with relatives, friends and other influences to teach them the majority language (English). Unfortunately, this is a very difficult situation to be in, because most homeschool families must meet State laws which require yearly testing…in English. In order for children to achieve academic success later on and qualify for college admission, they must be able to effectively communicate and learn in English, which may or may not be advanced depending on how much they actually learn from others. This approach also becomes more difficult as the child enters higher grades where very limited teaching resources are available. Very few families (if any) successfully homeschool K-12 in Spanish only.

Partial Immersion

The ideal method. Becoming more popular, this approach teaches a combination of subjects in both English and Spanish. Generally, the minority language (in this case, Spanish) is nurtured and developed in the early grades with introduction to English by 2nd grade (or vice versa). This approach is still difficult due to lack of Spanish-language resources for bilingual homeschoolers.

Language Learning

Probably the most common type of bilingual homeschooling, Language Learners are English-dominant and learn a second language (Spanish) generally at an early age for greatest success. The second language learning begins in Kindergarten or 1st grade and continues to be developed throughout the entire learning process.

Bicultural Learning

Different from bilingual learning, but takes a multicultural approach by emphasizing learning about foreign cultures and traditions for a more global learning experience. Homeschoolers may begin learning a foreign language (Spanish) in later years.

So in a perfect world, bilingual homeschoolers would fall under the Partial Immersion category, but the reality is that most land somewhere between Partial Immersion and Language Learning. Wherever your homeschooling journey takes you, the key is to remember that the intentions of your heart and the efforts you put into raising a bilingual child are what define you.

Further Reading….

• Bilingual Education in the Classroom :: Education Corner

The Reinvention of Bilingual Education in America's Schools :: Slate

• 6 Potential Brain Benefits Of Bilingual Education :: NPR.org

Bilingual Education - Need for Bilingual Education, Benefits of Bilingualism and Theoretical Foundations of Bilingual Education :: State University

• 5 Amazing Benefits of a Bilingual Education :: Bilingual Kidspot

Con mucho cariño…

Did you enjoy this article? Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? Let me help! My book - The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling - covers everything you see here and more. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Learning Series: Pen Pals

Dear ‘Buelita

Another way to sneak in some writing and reading practice is to set up some sort of letter exchange between your child and a relative or amigo. Maybe this would be a great time to strengthen the bond between your niños and their abuelos? Here’s what we have set up in our house this summer…

Once a week or so, mi mamá sends a little letter to my oldest child. On one side, she writes a brief message in English and on the other side she writes the Spanish version. She also includes a one dollar bill that my daughter gets to keep if she reads the card. I’m not personally big on the money, and if you aren’t either, try having ‘Buelita make up some “coupons”. So for example, if your niño reads the whole card, he gets to save the coupon for the next time that ‘Buelita comes to visit. Possible coupons could be “good for one free hug and snuggle” or “good for one bedtime story” or “good for one batch of ‘Buelita’s famous pastelitos”. You get the idea.

And if you’d like to take it one step further, have your child make and decorate a special little box for holding her coupon treasures until the next time they are able to redeem them.

Now, after my daughter receives her carta, she is required to respond so that she can practice writing and spelling. However, I wasn’t too happy with the regular paper we were using. So I got on the computer and created some fun stationery that includes the handwriting guide lines. I have included two links in my sidebar if your child is around the same age and you would like to download a few copies. Or just take a look at them and create your own.

At any rate, we sit down together and she practices what she’d like to say on some scrap paper. I give her a hand with the spelling and/or I write the words out for her in the proper letter format so that she has some copywork. She then transfers it over to her personal stationery.

This is helping her to learn the proper way to begin a letter and to recognize certain site words.

One last thing, she is encouraged to include a little paper gift for her ‘Buelita. This can be some sort of artwork (bookmarks, drawings, etc.) or a coupon of her own.

I love this summer project the most because it not only helps my daughter with her literacy skills, but it also helps to maintain the special connection that she has with her grandmother. I know they will both treasure these sweet and loving messages that they have exchanged for a long time.

On a final note, I’d like to add just one more thing: In this high-tech world where social media and electronic mail is flourishing, the simple and personal act of handwriting a letter is being lost. When was the last time that you sent or received a letter from a friend or relative? Can you remember? If so, do you remember how you felt? I’m betting it was probably excitement, anticipation, or happiness – or a combination of all three.

Let us foster small, loving actions such as these in our children, so that they take the time to consider others in their daily lives. We are not just raising children, but we are growing the people with whom we will hopefully be spending our entire lives.

Con mucho cariño…

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Learning Series: Sports

This is the perfect time of year for outside sports. Soccer (Fútbol!), swimming, baseball, softball, tennis, field hockey, track, you name it. Let the World Cup fever sweep you and your kids into action!

Physical exercise is key to a healthy body. It works the circulatory system, muscles and improves hand-to-eye coordination. It also plays a major role in regulating blood sugar and stabilizing emotional mood swings.

And as Latinos, it is terribly important for us to get our niños active. None of this sitting on la sofá business. ¡Ándale, Mi'jo, pa'fuera!

So how does this relate to summer learning? Keeping track of scores, time, etc. is a great way to practice numbers, addition, subtraction, telling time, patterns and more.

But the best part is that the physical activity provides an outlet for excess energía and helps young minds to calmly focus on other types of learning. Kids can sit still long enough to read a book if they have already spent the morning working their body.

I really like swimming because I can see that it gives my kids a total body workout and leaves them exhausted but happy. We may need an extra nap in the afternoon, but the calming effect it has is worth more than a thousand words.

Check out your local YMCA for youth programs, or seriously consider private lessons if you don’t have one nearby.

Want to add some cultura? Thrill your child by signing her up for folklorico dance lessons at your local culture center. Dancing is a fun and less competetive sport that gets your feet moving and your heart pumping.

Con mucho cariño…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Learning Series: Field Trips

If far off travel costs a little more dinero than you have this summer, try field trips to local attractions instead. Many museums, zoos, and other “edu”tainment facilities are offering summer discounts or summer classes. This is a great time to sign little María up to learn about the life cycle of butterflies at your local zoo, or maybe Juan José is obsessed with dinosaurs and would enjoy learning about fossils at your local natural history museum. Do some digging and find out what’s available in your barrio.

Maybe some of these opportunities are located near you?

The Children’s Heritage Center in Oklahoma City offers a wide range of bilingual classes (and not just in Spanish!) including a wonderful selection of art and culture classes. Especially check out their Art Smart! class. The next session starts in July. (I’m so jealous! Wish I lived in OK City!!!)

Now through December 31, with each full-paid, SeaWorld Orlando, San Diego or San Antonio single-day, adult admission purchased online, any child age 12 and under gets a $5.00 admission (a savings of $65-$75!!), all of which goes to fund non-profit organizations that are working right now on wildlife conservation projects. Families can even choose which wildlife conservation effort receives their donation. Check out SeaWorldCares.com for more information. (Okay, there's not much cultural learning here, but this is a GREAT deal that offers some fantastic science education.)

The Smithsonian Latino Center promotes the inclusion of Latino contributions in Smithsonian programs, exhibitions, collections and public outreach. They have some fabulous exhibits dedicated to Latino achievements in US history. For more information, visit their website.

Miami Children’s Museum allows you to explore fourteen exciting galleries full of interactive and bilingual exhibits for the whole family to play, learn, imagine, create! Their fun, hands-on exhibits promote positive child development and social interaction, while meeting school learning objectives and encouraging creativity and self-expression.

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has a special exhibit currently on display. Mexico: Festival of Toys is an interactive exhibition of hand-made toys for both celebration and play. More than 600 toys revealing the spirit of play and the beauty and craftsmanship behind an ancient and universal tradition of folk art in toy making will be on view in the Museum’s Innovation Gallery through Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010. The exhibit is created by the Papalote Museo del Niño in Mexico and showcases toys dating from the 1920s to the present day.

Con mucho cariño…

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Learning Series: Taking it Afuera

This is the perfect time to take advantage of the beautiful weather outside. Many of you may be planning a trip to la playa, or maybe some camping in the montañas. With a little preparation on your part, you may be able to come up with some fun activities to turn your trip into a learning experience. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

If you’re headed to the beach

• Take along a pad and some watercolors so that your child can paint coastal landscapes or shells and other natural artifacts that they collect on the trip.

• Take turns writing rhyming words in the sand. Or practice writing and solving math equations. 

• Bring along some of your summer reading and work on literacy skills while you are lying on the beach.

• Check out this Take-Along Guide to help your kids learn more about their discoveries.

• Help younger children learn their numbers and colors with a good game of Uno® or Crazy Eights every night after dinner.

• Use collected shells to practice sequencing, pattern recognition and even categorization/sorting. Have your child create a bar graph based on her findings.

 • If your child has a camera, assign him or her the job of official trip reporter. Have them create a journal that includes pictures and make sure they label or describe each event/item/person. This helps them practice their writing and reading. For a different version, give them some newsprint and have them create their own “newspaper” using the traditional layout.

If you’re headed camping

There are so many science-based activities you can do on a camping trip! All you have to do is provide some tools and then let your children’s imagination run wild.

• Campers can practice some scientific discovery by taking along an explorer kit that includes some (or all) of the following: a net, magnifying glass, flashlight/headlamp, bug spray, journal, pencil/pen, tweezers, and ruler.

• Other important equipment: mud boots, binoculars, bug spray, and containers. Don’t forget a nature guide to help you identify your discoveries!

• Have your kids keep a running list of all the animals they observe. Set aside one page in your nature journal for each species and be sure to include scientific names, habitat description, time of day, etc.

• Take some water samples and analyze them with a water test kit or take the samples back home with you for a later project. Be sure to observe the lake/stream/river that they come from. What is its color? Does is smell? Are there any fish in it? Bugs? Plants? Do you see any birds or other wildlife drinking/bathing/nesting nearby?

• Try to identify some of the flora in the area, too. Collect different leaves, or photograph trees & bushes (be sure to include their bark), then figure out what type they are when you get back to camp using one of your handy-dandy field guides.

• Keep an eye out for animal tracks and create a plaster-of-paris mold for each set you find.

• Challenge your children to find things that are naturally found in sets of 2, 4, 6, etc.

• Practice stargazing. Encourage your children to locate as many constellations and/or stars and planets that they can correctly identify. Prepare ahead of time by learning a few new ones using a constellation guide.

• Have your kids create a “newsletter” of their camping adventure and mail it (or email it) to family and friends. Don’t forget to include pictures with the articles!

For more ideas on how to keep your kids learning while on vacation, check out the following books: (Unfortunately, I couldn't find any in Spanish.) 

Seashells, Crabs & Sea Stars (Take-Along Guides) by Christiane Kunp Tibbitts  
Splashing by the Shore: Beach Activities for Kids (Acitvities for Kids) by Lisa Mullarkey and Debra Dixon

Nature Guide to the Carolina Coast: Common Birds, Crabs, Shells, Fish, and Other Entities of the Coastal Environment by Peter Meyer 
(I imagine this field guide would be appicable to most beaches)

Sleeping in a Sack: Camping Activities for Kids by Linda White and Fran Lee

Kids Camp!: Activities for the Backyard or Wilderness (A Kid's Guide series) by Laurie Carlson and Judith Dammel  

Trekking on a Trail (Activities for Kids) by Linda White and Fran Lee

•  Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids' Guide by Lynn Brunelle

Con cariño....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Learning Series: Reading

Homeschooling familias look forward to summer just as much as their institutional school counterparts. Mamis and Papis are ready for a reprieve from teaching, y los niños are full of restless energy... and anxious for some serious playtime!

But many wonder if taking a two- or even three-month break is really wise. Studies show that students often forget or have trouble with key concepts and skills when they return to school in the fall after a few months of nothing but summer play with little to no learning.

¿Qué pienses tu?

I think that summer is a really important time to relax and recharge. Families should take the opportunity to spend time doing fun stuff together like family vacations. This strengthens our relationships by promoting understanding, camaraderie, trust and support. But a little summer learning doesn’t hurt...and it doesn’t have to be a chore, either. It’s all a matter of perspective. Remember that there are a number of fun and easy ways to sneak in some learning and review time. This is the first post in my Summer Learning Series, so keep up with me and, por favor, share your tips and thoughts, too!


Studies show that reading just four books during the summer is crucial to maintaining – and even improving – literacy skills.

Consider participating in one of the many summer reading programs taking place around the country.

• The Half-Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program: Between now and July 31st, children 14 and under can earn a $3 gift card to HPB for each week that they spend reading at least 15 minutes a day. You can download their record log in English or Spanish here.

• Take the Scholastic Summer Challenge: This summer-long global literacy campaign is designed to motivate all children to read more. If you visit their website, you can find age-appropriate book lists, curriculum ideas and book talks, expert literacy advice, summer kits and free downloadables, special offers, and resources for Spanish-language speakers.

The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Club: Kids read any 8 books and track them in their Passport to Summer Reading (available in English and Spanish). Once they turn in their Passport to their local B & N, they can choose a free book from a list. Students and parents can also download free activities and teaching tips in the B & N exclusive activity kits.

The Borders ’10 Summer Reading Double-Dog Dare: Kids 12 and under read 10 books over the summer and list them on the Double-Dog Dare form. They then take the completed form by August 26th, to any Borders, Borders Express, or Waldenbooks and chose one free book (from a pre-selected list).

If your niños aren't old enough to read yet, many of these programs allow parents to spend the time reading to their kids.

For ideas on which titles to delve into this summer, check out the Latin Baby Book Club’s 2010 Summer Reading List for recommended bilingual and/or bicultural children’s literature. You can also take a look at the LBBC’s blog to read their weekly book reviews.

Con cariño...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mommy Maestra Specials: Biblioteca de los experimentos

In a nearby town there is the most wonderful little store with an amazing collection of books at good prices. I have spent quite a bit of time and money there buying books for school. Occasionally, I stumble upon a really good deal or fantastic title. And this is one of them.

Biblioteca de los experimentos is an exceptional textbook filled with fun scientific information and activities. I’m not sure how something of this quality ended up in my little store, but I was quick to grab every last one so that I could share them with you.

The book is actually a compilation of four different books. Each section covers a different concept and includes a hands-on activity that reinforces the subject matter. Students are encouraged to make observations and to create their own hypotheses. At the beginning of each section there is a table of contents, a brief introduction, and a list of materials needed for the activities. There is also an index at the end of each section for quick reference.

The first book is on maps and cartography (mapas y cartografía). Children learn how to read a map and are introduced to related concepts such as scale, symbols, elevation, angle measurement, and latitude and longtitude.

Section two covers weather and climate (tiempo y clima). Students learn about the types of weather, seasons, the power of the sun, air pressure, changes in weather and meteorology/predicting the weather. This section has some of the best activities in my opinion.

Section three discusses rivers and oceans (ríos y océanos). It covers key concepts such as the water cycle, contamination, and glacier movement, as well as more detailed information about rivers (their origin, winding rivers, how they affect the land, etc.) and oceans (currents, waves, coast formation, filtration, etc.)

And finally, section four focuses on mountains and volcanoes (montañas y volcanes). Kids may like this section best for the fun activities (who doesn’t like making a volcano?). But fun activities aside, kids will learn about the layers of the earth’s crust, plate tectonics, earthquakes, mountain formation, erosion, fossils, igneous rocks, hot springs, etc.

This book is written completely in Spanish and I have not seen an English version. But bilingual families can easily translate the lessons. This textbook is definitely geared for older children (ages 7 and up).

This book seems to be extremely hard to find in this country. I don't know how my bookstore was able to get these, but there is only one on Amazon and it is crazy expensive. I haven't found any other stores on-line that carry it. If you’d like to purchase a copy, I have a few available on a first-come, first-served basis. Just visit the Mommy Maestra Specials page.

Con cariño…

Friday, June 11, 2010


Today the World Cup games begin. This is an awesome learning opportunity para nuestros niños. There are so many activities for so many grade levels. Kids can learn about something as simple as colors, numbers, and animals to more complex subjects such as geography, politics and cultures.

Check out Multilingual Living's article, Bilingual Homeschooling: World Cup Language Learning, which has some fabulous ideas for lessons using the FIFA website and others.

If you'd like to check out all the mascots from previous years, check out LAS MASCOTAS DE MUNDIALES ANTERIORES.

Just for fun, visit MeEncanta.com where you can upload a picture of yourself then choose your favorite team and see their country's flag reflected off your face!

There are lots (and I mean LOTS) of pages and games on soccer over at YoDibujo.com. Check out this link in particular.

Maybe you'd like to set up your own Mini Word Cup? Gather together all your niños, sobrinos, primos etc. and have a little match of your own! For some simple facts on soccer, click here.

And here's a crazy one: have your students find out why baboons are a 2010 Soccer World Cup problem with this lesson for elementary grade children (there is a link to a lesson plan for older kids).

Con mucho cariño…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bilingual Workshops for Young Thespians

photo from EPTC's 2006 production of Pedro the Angel of Olvera Street

Over at the LBBC, we have often commented on how one of the most important things for children to see is a positive reflection of themselves in books, movies, and other media. Thankfully, more and more publishers are printing books that portray the Latino experience. Now if we could just get more screenwriters to do the same (poquito a poquito). Fortunately, we are seeing more activity in the way of educational children's programming in Spanish, thanks to companies like V-me (more about that later). 

So I was happy to see other venues delving into bilcultural and bilingual programming. For those of you in the Visalia, California area, here is a unique opportunity for your children. This summer the Enchanted Playhouse Theatre Company is offering a bilingual workshop for bilingual students ages 7 and older. The class will run August 2nd through the 18th. The class is tentatively scheduled from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Workshop fees are $125, and each class runs for two weeks. Each class closes with an evening performance by the students for family and friends.

Other summer workshops will run in June and July. Visit their web site for more details.

Con mucho cariño…

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Sales: the Mailbox and Dover Books

There are at least two big liquidation sales going on right now by two big companies in the education field. 

If any of you are fans of the Mailbox or Dover Book Publications. Head over and check out their warehouse sales. Both companies produce excellent products for teachers, some of them in Spanish. But even those that are in English, like the coloring books at Dover, or the craft books at the Mailbox, may be easily incorporated into a Spanish curriculum. 

Con mucho cariño…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bilingual Spelling Bee?

I was recently surprised to read this article about a bilingual spelling bee that has taken place for the last 15 years in Houston, Texas. Apparently, more than 100,000 students from all over Texas and Mexico compete at the school and regional levels for a chance to become one of the 30 finalists. The third- through sixth-graders are competing for a $2,000 prize and the title.

Isn’t this such a neat program? The contestants have to correctly spell first the Spanish word, then its English translation. This year’s winning word was “traumatologo” and “traumatologist.”

But sabes qué the funniest part of this is? The kid who won, 10-year-old Jacob Roffwarg, isn’t even a native Spanish speaker. Neither one of his parents speak a lick of Spanish. But Jacob learned the language in the last five years in his school's immersion program. (He’s a fifth-grader at Houston ISD's Mark Twain Elementary.) In fact, for the past three years, none of the winners have been of Latino heritage.

Now THAT is inspirational. And gives me tremendous hope for my own children, whose Spanish is poor. This helps to dispel much of my fear that I have waited too late to really teach them.

Last Friday, the Scripps National Spelling Bee took place in Washington, D.C. The winner was Indian-American, Anamika Veeramani. (Congratulations, Anamika!) But as I was looking through the list of children that made it to this year’s Speller Roster, I was excited to see several Latino children listed including, Mark Brioso de los Santos from Texas, Juan Miguel Jandusay Malana from California, Fernanda Arnay from Florida (pero originally from Chile!), and Julianna M. Canabal-Rodríguez from Puerto Rico – just to name a few. Un aplauso, por favor, for these and all the amazing kids who competed!

That said, I immediately went on-line looking for resources on how to prepare your child at home for a spelling bee. It is disappointing that I could find none in Spanish, but there were several in English, which I am listing here, in case any of you are intersted.

• The Scripps National Spelling Bee official web site.

• Thinkmap’s The Visual Thesaurus® - seems to be a comprehensive site for serious spelling bee contestants.

• You might also check out this article for an easy approach to spelling bee training

• For those of you with younger children, here are some great ideas to teach elementary spelling word lists. I think several of the activities here could be easily applied to Spanish language learning/spelling.

And if you’d like to see more pictures from the Maseca Bilingual Spelling Bee, check out Julio Cortez’s Gallery here.

Con mucho cariño…

Thursday, June 3, 2010

2010 Latino Book Award Winners

A few weeks ago on May 25th, the Latino Book Awards were announced during Book Expo America in New York. Check out the following award winners for Spanish and bilingual titles.

Best Educational Children’s Book - Spanish

First Place: Cambio Climático: Los Gases de Efecto Invernadero by Daniel R. Faust - Rosen Publishing

Second Place: Andy Warhol by Patricia Geis - Combel Editorial

Honorable Mention: Mitología Mesoamericana: Quetzalcóatl by Tom Danish - Rosen Publishing

Best Educational Children’s Book - Bilingual

First Place: Chiles by  Inés Vaughn by Rosen Publishing

Second Place: Fun With ABC's - Loteria Style by Luciano Martinez - Lectura Books

Honorable Mention: Chocolate by Inés Vaughn - Rosen Publishing

Honorable Mention: Corn/Maiz by Inés Vaughn - Rosen Publishing

Best Children’s Picture Book – English

First Place: What Can You Do With A Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla - Trycycle Press

Second Place: Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand - Marshall Cavendish

Honorable Mention: Lom and the Gnatters by Kurusa - Groundwood Books

Best Children’s Picture Book – Spanish

First Place: ¡Al Galope! by Rufus Butler Seder - Workman Publishing

Second Place: Cocinando cuentos de hadas: Alicia en el pais de las delicias by Maria Villegas & Jennie Kent - Villegas Editores S.A.

Second Place: Cocinando cuentos de hadas: Hansel y Gretel y la casita endulzado by Maria Villegas & Jennie Kent - Villegas Editores S.A.

Honorable Mention: Cocinando cuentos de hadas: Caperucita roja y el lobo glotón by Maria Villegas & Jennie Kent - Villegas Editores S.A.

Best Children’s Picture Book – Bilingual

First Place: My Papa Diego and Me/Mi papa Diego y yo by Guadalupe Rivera Marin - Children's Book Press

Second Place: I Know the River Loves Me/Yo se que el rio me ama by Maya Christina Gonzalez - Children's Book Press

Honorable Mention: Rene Has Two Last Names/René tiene dos apellidos by René Colato Laiñez - Arte Público Press

Honorable Mention: What Can You Do With A Paleta?/¿Que puedes hacer con una paleta? by Carmen Tafolla - Trycycle Press

Best Young Adult Fiction – English

First Place: Clara…Reencuentro con la vida by Gabriela Garcia-Williams – Self Published

Second Place: Who's Buried in the Garden by Ray Villareal - Arte Público Press

Honorable Mention: Mr. Clean’s Familia by David Bueno-Hill - Urbano Books

Best Young Adult Fiction – Spanish or Bilingual

First Place: La Canción de Shao Li by Marisol Ortiz de Zárate - Bambú

Second Place: Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos - Editorial Everest

Honorable Mention: The Case of the Pen Gone Missing/El caso de la pluma perdida by René Saldaña, Jr. - Arte Público Press

Best Young Adult Nonfiction - English

First Place: Memories of My Colombia by Valentina Arango - Ediciones El Pozo

Best Young Adult Nonfiction - Spanish or Bilingual

First Place: Yes, You Can Too! The Life of Barack Obama/¡Tú También Puedes! La Vida de Barack Obama by Raquel Benatar - Laredo Publishing

Second Place: Alegria by Kilina Vela - Trafford

Honorable Mention: Penny, Caída Del Cielo by Jennifer L. Holm - Bambú

Best Young Adult Sports/Recreation – Spanish or Bilingual

First Place: Cuahutemoc Blanco by José María Obregón - Rosen Publishing – Triple Crown Award Winner

Second Place: Amor a la Colombiana by Benjamin Villegas - Villegas Editores S.A.

Honorable Mention: Colorombia Animal  by Camilo Villegas - Villegas Editores S.A.


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