Tuesday, May 31, 2011

M is for Masterpiece: An Art Alphabet {GIVEAWAY}

For Day 3 of our anniversary bash, I am excited to give away a copy of M is for Masterpiece: An Art Alphabet by David Domeniconi.

Quite honestly, I am delighted by this entire series of alphabet books published by Sleeping Bear Press. But M is for Masterpiece is one of my favorites because of the subject matter. This beautiful book is dedicated completely to art. From "C is for Color" to "P is for Picasso," each page includes amazing artwork, a short poetic description, and a more detailed account that includes historical facts, biographical data, or information on how the subject is related to (or used in) art.

Parents looking for something to keep their kids busy this summer will find this book to be helpful. It would serve well as a spine for studying art or art history. (I think it would also be perfect for homeschoolers studying art during the school year.) You can take it slow by focusing on one letter every few days and then using them as a springboard, exploring the subject more in-depth online or at your local library. Lots of art activities can be incorporated to allow your child to study each letter subject in a more hands-on manner.

In fact, Sleeping Bear Press also offers an excellent Teacher's Guide for this book, which allows the student to discover and explore - among other things -the different forms of art. This guide is really helpful to parents/teachers.

And I like how the book encourages children to think globally because of the diversity of artists that are mentioned within the pages: Rembrant, the Yoruba, Frida Kahlo, Monet, and the Navajo are just a few of those featured. I think it is important for our children to see different parts of the world as they are reflected/painted by the artists. And it is also good to see how so many different styles can all be beautiful.

One lucky reader will win a copy of this excellent book.

To enter, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Sunday, June5th. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment!

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1.) Blog about this giveaway and include the link to your post,

2.) Tweet the following: Give your child the gift of Art this summer! http://bit.ly/k3bseJ #giveaway

3.) Follow me on Facebook,

4.) Fill out the MommyMaestra survey.

Don't forget to let me know by posting a separate comment for each entry!

¡Buena suerte!

Comments are now closed.

Lighthouses of North America {GIVEAWAY}

This is Day 2 of our anniversary bash! And this might be one of my favorite giveaways yet. I love books that are a complete package of information and activities. They can substitute for a great unit study. And this book is a homeschooler's dream!

Many of you spend a portion of your summer vacation at the beach. Maybe you live near one, or maybe you just like to travel to one during these hot, sunny months. Or maybe you live too far away from the beach, but you like to recreate the scene in your backyard with a pail and shovel and some decorative shells. Regardless of whether or not you plan on vacationing this summer at la playa, Lighthouses of North America! Exploring Their History, Lore & Science is the perfect resource for studying something fun and unusual.

Inside the pages of this book your children will study geography, literature, history and science. They can explore how sound and light travel with simple experiments, find the center of gravity, compare sand and soil, observe lighthouse color patters and flashing light codes, write a captain's log entry, and SO MUCH MORE! You will read stories of heroism, legends and lore, and even poetry from famous poets like Longfellow to aspiring young 14 year olds.

I am fascinated by this book and eager to use it this summer as a fun activity that gives us a break from school work while still allowing my kids to learn. You could supplement the book if you wanted to, but you don't really even have to because it is ALL RIGHT THERE between the covers. There are a lot of beautiful new and old photographs in the book, but the illustrations are also appealing to adults and children.

One lucky reader will win a copy of this awesome book.

To enter, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Sunday, June5th. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment!

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1.) Blog about this giveaway and include the link to your post,

2.) Tweet the following: Enter to win a summer treat for your children ages 7 - 14 http://bit.ly/iz9jl6 #giveaway

3.) Follow me on Facebook,

4.) Fill out the MommyMaestra survey.

Don't forget to let me know by posting a separate comment for each entry!

¡Buena suerte!

Comments are now closed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mommy Maestra Celebrates Its First Anniversary {GIVEAWAY}

Two years ago, I became a homeschooling parent. For reasons I have already mentioned, this was our best choice at the time. (And it still is.) When I first began, I knew that I had three main goals: To give my daughter the best education I could, to help her complete development (academic, social, and emotional), and to somehow pass on my love for nuestra cultura.

When I began homeschooling, I began looking for resources for Latino parents who are educating their kids at home. I couldn't find many. While there were a few blogs here and there written by Latina moms who were homeschooling, they were mostly about their family's daily routine. I love these blogs. But I want(ed) more.

So I began looking for sites in general that promoted parental involvement in Latino education. Again, I hit a blank wall. I desperately wanted to find some sort of support system, a community, of other Latinas who were in my position. I wanted to find ideas for developing our cultural identity in the classroom. But it wasn't there.

I found a lot of English-only homeschooling blogs that have been super. But rarely do they post about raising bilingual/bicultural children.

So finally, at the urging of mis amigas, I decided that someone had to share all the resources that I was digging up. And I knew there had to be other moms like me out there, feeling the exact same way.

And so last year, on June 1st, I started Mommy Maestra.

Estoy emocionada escribiendo este artículo. Because what a ride it has been! It has been such a pleasure to discover all of you dear readers. And what a surprise it was to discover that while some of you are homeschooling mamis, so many of you are parents with children in a traditional school setting who want to be more involved and help support your child's education. In addition, there are a large number of bilingual ed teachers following, too. I am thrilled.

I have learned so much and found so many resources. Some of them I can use, and some I can't, but I try to pass them all on to you so that each one of you will maybe find something useful to enrich your student's/child's education.

So this week I'm celebrating. And as a giant GRACIAS to all of you, I have a week of educational giveaways planned. I hope that I have a little something that will appeal to everyone.


The first giveaway is a totally awesome collection of multilingual preschool learning programs. Created by Brighter Child, each set features Caillou and comes with a color workbook and a CD-ROM. The three sets are: Colors & Shapes, Alphabet, and Counting. The best part? They are multilingual! The workbooks are written in English and French, and the exercises on the CD-ROM can be played in English, French, or Spanish. They also include the voices of some of the Caillou characters.

We are loyal PBS fans in this casa. And when my children were younger, they loved Caillou. (Actually, the youngest one still does.) So this is a popular item in my house. Even though my son has learned these subjects in preschool, I will use these workbooks as a review before we begin Kindergarten.

One lucky reader will win all three sets.

To enter, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Sunday, June5th. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment!

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1.) Blog about this giveaway and include the link to your post,

2.) Tweet the following: Enter to win 3 Caillou preschool learning sets http://bit.ly/kpMAPQ #giveaway

3.) Follow us on Facebook,

4.) Fill out the MommyMaestra survey.

Don't forget to let me know by posting a separate comment for each entry!

¡Buena suerte!

Comments are now closed.

Friday, May 27, 2011

US Navy Names Ship After Hispanic Veteran and Activist, Cesar Chavez

There are so many Latinos - immigrants and non-immigrants - who have served our country faithfully and lovingly since the very beginning when our country was established. It is wonderful to see their memory being honored by the US Navy.

From the US Navy website:

Last week, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the selection of the USNS Cesar Chavez as the 14th Lewis and Clark class of dry cargo/ammunition ships. 

Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy's newest underway replenishment ship honors the memory of Mexican-American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. 

Chavez served in the Navy from 1944-1946 after which he became a leader in the American Labor Movement and a civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers.

"Cesar Chavez inspired young Americans to do what is right and what is necessary to protect our freedoms and our country," said Mabus. "The Cesar Chavez will sail hundreds of thousands of miles and will bring support and assistance to thousands upon thousands of people. His example will live on in this great ship."

Designated T-AKE 14, Cesar Chavez is being built by General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. Eleven of the T-AKEs are slated to serve as combat logistics force (CLF) ships, and three are slated to be part of the maritime prepositioning force (MPF). Cesar Chavez will serve the CLF missions, helping the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea.

"This proud ship will honor one American. But the story of my father's family is a lot like the story of so many other immigrants, especially Latinos," said Paul F. Chavez, son of the ship's namesake and president of Cesar Chavez Foundation. "They came to America seeking a better life. In so doing, they brought to their new land a fervent patriotism that has been demonstrated over and over again throughout the storied history of our nation. My dad was like many Latinos and African Americans from his generation who returned home in the years following World War II determined to see that the country for which they sacrificed lived up to its promise as a beacon to the nations of equality and freedom."

Cesar Chavez will be designated as a United States Naval Ship (USNS), and operated by the Navy's Military Sealift Command with a crew of civil service mariners (129 in CLF mode, 75 in MPF mode). For CLF missions, the T-AKEs' crews include a small detachment of sailors.

The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry two helicopters and their crews. The ship is 689 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 105 feet, displaces approximately 41,000 tons, and is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Celebrating Memorial Day with Your Children

photo by pocketwiley
This coming weekend, we will all be celebrating Memorial Day. We are always on the hunt for unique ways to celebrate holidays around here. This week, I'll be sharing some lesson plans, articles, and books to enjoy with your children. But here are a few of the ideas that we are considering putting together for our Memorial Day celebration (the recipes are bien deliciosos!):

Easy Decorations for Your Kids to Make

Patriotic Papel Picado - A few weeks ago, Sra. López shared on FB this awesome tutorial for a DIY papel picado garland. Why not buy the doilies in patriotic colors and have your kids make a red, blue, and white garland?

• Patriotic Piñata - I can't decide if it is actually unpatriotic to smash away at an American flag piñata, or not! I think we may make one in a different shape, using patriotic colors instead - like this one. We'll be working on this project this week, so I'll post our final product when it is finished! 

Yummy Recipes to Make with Your Kids

Buffalo Pinwheels - These are super easy! I'm looking forward to trying these, because if they are as good as they look, they just might become a new addition to our regular lunch menu! (Kroger has a bilingual website, Moments of May, which has a great list of other delicious recipes, coupons, and activities for children. Go and take a look!)

Fabulous Three-Berry Tart/Fabulosa Tarta de Tres Moras - My mouth began instantly salivating the moment we saw this recipe on the Que Rica Vida website. It is at the top of our list. Don't worry, the recipe is available in both Spanish and English!

Stars and Stripes Forever Dessert Recipe - Oy! This dessert is running a close second. Maybe we can make two? I think the kids would have fun punching out the stars using a cookie cutter. Taste of Home has several other patriotic recipes for you to choose from, too.

Spanish Pork Burgers - Wow! These look super fantastic!! And after looking at the ingredients, I know this is not like any burger I ever had in Spain before. But the flavors look promising - not to mention the picture!

Mango, Jicama, and Cucumber Salad - The ladies at Muy Bueno Cookbook have done it again! What a sweet side dish! Talk about a burst of flavor in your mouth. It's like having a party on your tongue! I know my kids will love mixing the ingredients together...and maybe sneaking a few bites while doing so.

Mango, Watermelon and Coconut-Pineapple Paletas - From my favorite food blog, A Little Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate. Clementina never fails to deliver mouth-watering recipes that are authentic, but are perfect for celebrating almost any occasion. And the stories that accompany her recipes never fail to entertain and bring back old memories of my own childhood.

Then wash it all down with...

Agua Fresca: Agua de Piña - Agua frescas come in a variety of flavors. This is not an easy phrase to translate; literally it means "fresh water" but I prefer to translate it as "refreshing waters." They are tasty, light, and easily quench your thirst. They are one of my favorite things about summer...and one of my kids' favorites, too! And this recipe from The Other Side of the Tortilla is unbeatable! Try them yourself, and you will be forever hooked!

What is your menu for this weekend?

Con mucho cariño...

Disclosure:  I am participating in a blogging program from Moments of May Team and Latina Bloggers Connect, and this post makes me eligible to win a compensation.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Free DIY Handwriting Worksheets

Last year, I mentioned a site for helping your child learn to write. That has been a great resource for me, but my only issue with it is that the cursive option isn't that great because the letters are not joined together.

This post contains affiliate links.

How to Create Your Own Handwriting Worksheets

Enter the
Amazing - Incredible Handwriting Worksheet Maker! This program allows you to design your own handwriting worksheets and their cursive option connects the letters perfectly. And it also uses the same cursive style that I used growing up, which I prefer to teach my kids.

And the best part? This one recognizes foreign letters, accents, and punctuation marks! Woot!

Test it out yourself and see what you think...

Tips for Teaching Your Child Handwriting

If you are just beginning to teach handwriting, I recommend the following:

  • Make it fun, not serious. Let your child experiment and make mistakes. Don't look for perfection to begin with because you want them to enjoy the process and get comfortable holding a pencil.

  • Start with simple exercises. Give your child a blank paper and a pencil or crayon. Have them fill the paper by drawing swirls and loops, or lines, or circles. Think about the strokes used in forming letters. Just let them experiment and explore and figure out how to make them.

  • Do it together. Sit with your child with your own paper and model what you want them to do. They can draw on their own paper and then both of you hold up your finished product when you're both done.

  • Stay away from technology... as much as is possible. Using paper and pencil is critical for brain development, including the areas of impulse control. Images and activities on screens happen way too fast and lead to impatience and a desire for instant gratification. Give your child the gift of living in the moment. And enjoying it.

  • Be happy. There's no wrong way to learn. Make the experience enjoyable or they'll hate the process.

Videos for Teaching Handwriting to Children

There are also many videos online that share tips or techniques for handwriting. Below are two that I have found to be the most helpful. 

The first is from FirstCry Parenting and has 10 concrete tips that all parents should consider.

The second video is from Handwriting Heroes. The best advice they give (in my opinion) is to start with lowercase letters, grouped by common strokes. 

Additional Tools for Teaching Handwriting

Pencil grips

If your child struggles with the proper way to hold a pencil, these pencil grips are an easy and gentle way to train fingers for the correct position. The best part is that they can be used on both right and left hands.

Channie’s Quick & Neat Alphabet Writing Pad

Channie’s Quick & Neat Alphabet Writing Pad gives children visual blocks to help guide them as they learn to write.

Gamenote Double Sided Magnetic Letter Board is a fabulous interactive way to teach children the correct steps in letter formation. Click the link and watch the video to see it in action.

These wooden boards are a simple, natural way to teach letter writing. The Double-Sided Alphabet Tracing Tool is a favorite among Montessori educators.

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dosel en Las Nubes Now Available

Last January, I shared with you a new website for those of you who might be studying rain forests. At the time, they were still working on a Spanish version of the site.

I'm pleased to say that Dosel en las nubes is now active. Though they are still working on translating some of the lesson plans, most of the other sections of the site are now available in Spanish.

This really is such a fabulous resource for families! The amount of information is incredible. They cover everything from the ecology of the rain forest to the many animals that call it home - like the Resplendent Quetzal shown here. You and your children can spend hours looking through this site, watching the short, informative videos, or reading about the native wildlife.

Con mucho cariño...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MinorMonitor: Protecting Our Children Online

As a homeschool parent, I am lucky in some ways. For instance, I have complete control of the amount of time my children spend online - and what they are looking at. But I know it is only a matter of time before they enter the technological age and are web "savvy."

Enter a friend of mine, who made a remark on Facebook the other day about how she had sat in on a safe cyber life talk for teens... and how badly it scared her. She also commented to her friends with children that she was often able to see pictures of their teens'/tweens' accounts. A major no-no.

And even though Facebook rules say that no one under the age of 13 is allowed on FB, a Consumer Reports study revealed that approximately 7.5 MILLION users are underaged. They are signing up using fake birthdates to get an account. And most don't have a clue about privacy settings, so that very personal information is out there for the whole world to see.

Another friend of mine who is the editor of a teen newspaper. She has also been carefully monitoring this situation and shared with us a new program that officially launched this week.

Minor Monitor is a free web-based tool that allows parents to monitor their children's online activity on Facebook. This user-friendly program gives parents an opportunity to watch for suspicious behavior or profane words, alerts, photos and messages, as well as suspicious friends.

Minor Monitor was developed by Infoglide, a 15+ year technology company that developed deep security and fraud analytics that monitor and manage online reputations, and screen and detect  suspicious activities, behaviors for government (such as the Department of Homeland Security TSA screening program), law enforcement, banking, and other big business customers.

So if you have a child who is 13 or older, head on over to Minor Monitor's website and take a look. Don't take chances. Protect your children on Facebook.

My children are far too young to be on Facebook. But if any of you do have older children, and you decide to try this tool, please share with us what you think of it.

Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Don't Be a Slave To Your Curriculum

The last two school years have taught me valuable lessons as a homeschooling parent. Last year, I learned the right pace to set for my daughter. I discovered how she learns best and became more comfortable and confident as her teacher. I also found a rhythm that worked best for us as a family.

This year, as my confidence increased, I felt better about branching off and exploring topics other than the ones in my curriculum.

But as the school year draws to a close, I see that I am still a slave to my curriculum. I have read before that a good teacher uses the curriculum as a tool to facilitate learning. But this is something with which I struggle. Looking back over this year, I can see how I have stressed about completing each lesson in our curriculum.

The great part about following a curriculum, is that if you have never before taught a child, it helps you to learn how to manage your time and schedule your classtime. I strongly encourage families to begin homeschooling with a good curriculum, such as Calvert's.

But the problem with a curriculum is that more than likely, your child is going to advance in different subjects at a different pace. For example, my daughter is an incredible reader. Her literacy skills are much further along than any other subject. So it is really hard to follow a curriculum, when one subject is too easy, another is difficult, and another is just right.

I really can't stand the fact that I have felt the obsessive need to complete each portion of the lessons. I guess out of fear that I might forget to teach her something that is essential. Something that every other kid her age has learned. And it aggravates me that I have made teaching so difficult for myself, as I make lists on what to cover in each classtime, flipping back and forth through pages, trying to keep track of where she is and what "tests" she should be completing. It has become a nightmare.

And to make matters more challenging, my son 'graduated' from preschool today and is now officially a homeschooler. I am already sweating just thinking about teaching two different kids, two different curricula.

The problem, I know, is that I am such a stickler for protocol. I want to follow the directions! Too indoctrinated by all my years of traditional schooling? Maybe.

So my vow for the coming year is to let go. While I have already received the a 2nd grade curriculum from a friend and have saved my Kindergarten one from last year, I'm seriously thinking about locking up the lesson manuals. And instead, I have decided to use what I had intended to use this year (before another friend offered me her 1st Grade curriculum for free!):

The Core Knowledge Series of books will be my guide for this next year. In it are all the basics that my children should know by the end of the year. I want to use this as my spine, while using separate programs/lessons for teaching each subject. I got each of my books for free through PaperbackSwap.com (I LOVE this site!!!) 

I'm working hard now to finish up the curriculum we have. So that I can begin organizing for next year, and so that we can start on more fun learning projects for the summer.

Moral of the story: Don't be a slave to your curriculum!

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. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The World Science Festival Is Coming to New York

The 4th Annual World Science Festival will take place in New York City June 1-5, 2011. The world’s leading scientific minds will be joined by renowned artists and influential thinkers for a celebration of science through discourse and debate, dance and theater, film, music and the visual arts.

There are so many fabulous and intriguing sessions! 50 events will take place during the five-day festival, including several youth and family events.  I would love to go to the Women in Science - especially to hear Jean Berko Gleason speak. She is one of the world's leading experts on children's language. And I'd also love to attend one of the BIORHYTHM: Music and the Body events.

If you live in the area and can only attend one event, then I would suggest taking your children to the 2011 Youth & Family Street Fair on Sunday, June 5th, from 10 am - 6 pm, in Washington Square Park.

If any of you go, I hope you will share your thoughts with us!

Con mucho cariño...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean Activity Pack (And Other Pirate Activities)

By the end of the week I'm hoping to be celebrating my anniversary by sitting in a theater watching the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, swooning over you-know-who (see picture), and cheering that they have finally pulled in a Latina to act opposite him. Based on the previous Pirates movies, I know we won't be taking the kids with us - they're a little too young for this still.

But my kids are locos about pirates. And so if you have young children who are also pirate crazy (or older ones that you are taking to see the movie), I am happy to give you this special activity pack that Disney created and is allowing me to share with you. It includes door hangers, a maze, coloring page, pirate skull mask, and more. 

And because I am in a swash-buckling kind of mood, take a look at these other (non-Disney!) pirate-themed activities:

Funschool.com / Pirates! - Fun games, word plays, and crafts.

Awesome Pirate Games for Kids - It really is an awesome list!

National Geographic Kids/Pirates - Pirate mania! (It's cute.)

Pirate Unit Links - Posted by the Pasadena ISD, this page has a lot of really great links for studying pirates.


Pirate Ship Craft - This is super cute and easy to do.

The Great Pirate Activity Book by Deri Robbins

1001 Pirate Things to Spot (1001 Things to Spot) by Rob Lloyd Jones, Teri Gower and Michelle Lawrence

The Best Book of Pirates by Barnaby Harward

En español:

Actividades para una fiesta de piratas - Includes a really cool downloadable map.

Cuentos para dormir - Dos audiocuentos sobre piratas.


Mi Pequena Larousse Enciclopedia Los Piratas (Mi Pequena Enciclopedia) (Spanish Edition) by Françoise de Guibert

Manual de piratas by Monica Carretero

El pirata, Lucía y el dragón (Spanish Edition) by Luis Ramón Letosa Rodríguez  
Con mucho cariño...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

USPS Community Connections Offers Free Lesson Plans

If you haven't discovered it yet, the US Postal Service has a great website, Community Connections, dedicated to educators. The site offers lesson plans, education kits, a teacher's guide, and information on the School Days & American Ways curriculum-connected calendar, which guides teachers in the best way to teach with stamps. All of the information is free, except for the School Days calendar kit.

I was really excited to learn about this resource, as my daughter has been asking me about starting a stamp collection. But I was disappointed that there were no lesson plans for Hispanic Heritage, especially given some of the awesome stamps that are available that reflect our culture and its diversity.

Still, I thought that some of their biodiversity lesson plans look interesting!

Con mucho cariño...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Free Beetle Busters Kit from the US Dept of Agriculture

For a limited time, you can order free "Beetle Buster Kits" from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, to help educate children about the Asian Long-horned Beetle. The program is designed to empower students to save their local trees from this invasive species.

The program is also made to teach either during the traditional school year, or during after-school/summer programs.

Students will learn how to find and identify these beetles, as well as what to do if they find one. The site also includes downloadable education components, ID cards, Scouting and 4-H related badges/activities, and more.

Get your niños excited about wildlife and nurture their curiosity!

Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Summer Break Reading Programs

I've been investigating summer reading programs to help my daughter maintain and even develop her literacy skills during the next few months. I've already mentioned the Scholastic Summer Challenge, which is my favorite. But here are several more for you to choose from (or why don't you do them all?)

Summer Break with BOOK IT! - Yesterday, I shared with you information on the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! reading program that runs during the school year. But they also have a great summer reading program and an excellent website with lots of printables (I've already downloaded most of them!) for teachers and parents. They've even got recipes to go with book suggestions! And the best part? Kids in K - 6th who read 5 books or more this summer can enter to win fabulous prizes. They even have an entry form in Spanish!

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program - Kids earn a free book when they read any eight (8) books and record them in a reading journal downloadable at the Barnes & Noble website. Children must choose their free book from a selection of approved titles, but some are available in Spanish. I was especially delighted to see that their reading journal (which you can download from their website) is also available in Spanish. They also offer a free Parent Activity Kit and and Educator Kit. In addition, parents' can enter to win a Nook Color for their family with the submission of one completed journal!

Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program (from Half Price Books) - Kids 14 and under keep track of their time spent reading this summer, and those who read 600 minutes or more will receive a $5 Back-to-School Bucks summer reading reward! Readers are divided into age groups and the top reader from each group will receive a $20 HPB Gift Card. English only registration form (Boo!). At least you can spend your gift card on some bilingual books if they have any in stock!

Borders' Double-Dog Dare - Children 12 and under who read 10 books this summer, get one book free from Borders. Children must print off and fill out the official form from the Borders' website, and then submit the completed form to any of their stores (Borders, Borders Express, Waldenbooks). Again, your child has to choose their free book from a selection of 10 titles - none of which are bilingual or bicultural in nature. And they do not offer the official form in Spanish. Come on, Borders! This is the 21st Century!

Con mucho cariño...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pizza Hut's BOOK IT! Reading Program

Attention all homeschoolers: Registration for the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! reading program is officially OPEN for the 2011-2012 school year!

How many of you participated in the BOOK IT! program this past school year? We did, and my kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

This reading incentive program works like this:

• Teachers/homeschoolers with students in K - 6th, register their class/family (for free!) through the BOOK IT! website. Next September, Pizza Hut will ship the materials to each family.

• The teacher sits down and sets goals for each student in the class. The program kit includes a tracking chart and other printables to make the process easier. For example, I started off requiring that my daughter read 12 books the first month. She accomplished this easily, so for the next month, I bumped it up to 20 books. This next year, we might set a goal for reading 20 minutes a day.

• Once your child meets his or her monthly reading goal, the teacher gives them their Reading Award Certificate, which entitles them to one free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.

I really appreciate the fact that teachers/parents are in complete control of this and can assign a child to read X number of books, pages, or minutes per day/week/month. You can also choose what your child reads, so if you are raising a bilingual child, you can have them read books in Spanish/French/etc.

And the BOOK IT! website is very supportive, offering teachers and parents lots of tips and tools to help their children read.

Individual families CANNOT register their children unless they are homeschooling. If you are not homeschooling, you can check with your child's school to see if they are participating in the program, or look it up here.

My daughter was the only one old enough to participate in this program, but my son will finally be able to take a part in it this coming year, too. But even so, they both enjoyed the trips to Pizza Hut to redeem my daughter's Award Certificates. She was so proud to be able to hand that award to our waiter herself!!!

As far as reading incentive programs go, I have to say that this one has been excellent motivation for my familia.

Bien hecho, Pizza Hut!

If you are a homeschooler or teacher and would like to register your student(s), head over and sign up now.

Con mucho cariño...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Bilingual School Library Contest From Spanglish Baby

Attention all public school teachers and parents with children attending a public school! Does your school have a dual language, bilingual (those with ELL programs), or Spanish language program? If so, then you are potentially eligible to win a set of bilingual and Spanish-language books worth $500!

Mis amigas, Ana and Roxana, from Spanglish Baby have been working tirelessly for a year to put together this fabulous contest. If you are a public school teacher that meets the criteria above, and you teach 2nd and/or 3rd grade, you could win this incredible prize for your school library.

All you have to do is send in a picture of a Día de los niños, Día de los libros poster that your classroom has created together. Each entry must also include a short paragraph explaining why their school should win this contest and what it would mean to them.

You must hurry! The deadline for this contest is exactly one week from today, next Sunday, May 15th. Only one entry per school will be accepted.

For more information, please go take a look at the contest rules.

Buena suerte! (And feel free to tell them you heard it here on Mommy Maestra!)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Mother's Day Gift from the Tiki Tiki

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. And it is a day in which I remember all of the mothers in my family that I have known, from myself all the way to my great-grandmother, my 'Buelita, who loved me with the depths of her being.

And if you are spending the day remembering your mamas and abuelitas and bisabuelitas, be sure to check out this lovely Mother's Day gift to you from my friends at the Tiki Tiki who have created an ebook dedicated to "Celebrating Abuela." It is beautiful, moving, and uplifting.

And my 'Buelita's picture is on the front! She's the happy one sitting with her dogs, Palomo and la Chacha. Her name was Casimira Luna Valdez. And she was beautiful.

Go download your free ebook now, and treat yourself to a good read. Be sure to leave them a note saying I sent you!

Feliz Día de las Madres to all of you.

Un abrazo fuerte....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why the United States Should Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Judging by some of the comments I have seen being left on a FB page about who does/does not celebrate Cince de Mayo and why, I realized that many don't truly understand the significance of this day.

So for those of you who don't really know what all the hoopla is about, here is a brief history on Cinco de Mayo and why I, for one, celebrate this holiday.

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is NOT the Mexican Independence Day. Instead, this holiday commemorates the victory of a small Mexican army (estimated to be around 2,000 soldiers) over the French forces, which were considered to be the best army in the world at the time. This is known as the Battle of Puebla, and it occurred on May 5th, 1862.

Let me give you a little bit of background information:

In 1861, Mexico's treasury (and government) was in shambles after years of wars: the Mexican-American War in 1846-48; the Mexican Civil War in 1858; and the 1860 Reform Wars.

General Zaragoza
So in an attempt to begin rebuilding the country, Presidente Benito Juárez issued a two-year moratorium on all foreign debts (he planned to resume payments to the foreign lenders in 1863). But naturally France, Britain, and Spain, did not look too kindly on this and they each sent troops over to Veracruz to demand their money. Juárez negotiated with Britain and Spain, but the French forces forced Juárez and the government to flee. They then began their march towards Mexico City, but encountered a small army in Puebla under the direction of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

At this time, Napoleon III (not Napoleon Bonaparte!) was the emperor of France and he saw this as an opportunity to establish a French empire in the Americas.

The U.S. Civil War Connection

It is incredibly important that people understand that the U. S. Civil War was happening at the exact same time. Napoleon's plan was to spend a few months invading and conquering Mexico, and then use the country as a base for supplying the Confederate rebels with supplies and weapons to help them win the war. 

Had the brave men and women of Puebla not decided to take a stand against such overwhelming odds - and won! - the outcome of the U. S. Civil War could have been drastically different. And it is for this reason alone, that I personally think that Cinco de Mayo should be celebrated in the United States.

Should it be celebrated in Mexico? Not really. Although this victory was a much needed morale booster for the people and government, Napoleon returned the following year with an army of 30,000 and captured Mexico City, establishing Emperor Maximiliano I as ruler. (You might remember him or his wife, Carlotta, to whom we owe a word of thanks for giving "birth," so to speak, to the tradition of cascarones!)

But his reign was short-lived as, incidentally, after the U.S. Civil War was over, the U.S. provided support to Mexico to expel the French. They were not stupid and had feared France's support of the Confederacy during the war. Afterwards, they were quick to help Mexico give them the boot!

I think that President Lincoln would have wholeheartedly celebrated Cinco de Mayo, don't you?

Printable Cinco de Mayo Resources for Kids

If you'd like to teach this to your students or children, be sure to check out my printable resources on TpT!


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