Friday, June 24, 2011

Presentations and Vacations...

You haven't heard too much from me this week because all of our energy was focused on preparing for my daughter's 4-H presentation today. To be quite honest, we dragged our feet on this one. Once summer hit and we officially finished school, we've been enjoying the break. Which means that we procrastinated.

I almost decided to just pull her out of this year's event, but I'm so glad we didn't. This week involved a lot of work, made even more difficult by the arrival of 'Buelita (who is a wanted and much-loved distraction), as well as a summer camp here in town which my children attended each morning. Throw in our local library's official summer reading kick-off, and - well, you get the picture.

But I was proud, proud, proud this morning when she stood before the judges and gave a fantastic presentation, complete with 4 posters/boards on the topic: The Lives of Hummingbirds.

She spent hours the last couple of weeks typing up her notes, taking and printing pictures, coloring in range maps and flowers and hummingbirds, cutting out pictures and framing them, labeling her work and then gluing it all down. Finally, last night we had her practice her presentation in front of a bunch of my husband's co-workers (all of whom are bird people), and she passed the "test" with flying colors.

But the main reason I am so glad we did push forward and get it done in time, was the look on my daughter's face this afternoon when she received her ribbon from the District. Priceless.

My daughter is still in the "Cloverbud" class, whose members participate in a non-competetive version of the presentations (older kids compete for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd). So after their presentations, all the children receive a ribbon in recognition of her hard work. Bravo, m'ija!!

And although I know that many of you are waiting for me to discuss curricula, and share resources to maybe help you prepare for this next coming school year, my family and I are going to take some time off to celebrate. And so next week, MommyMaestra will be "Off on Vacation." I can't wait to tell you all about it.

I hope you all take the time to relax and enjoy each other this summer. Even small breaks are valuable moments of time in which we all can bond with our familias and re-energize before another school year.

What is your familia doing this summer just for fun?

Hasta pronto!



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The New LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer

Is your familia using technology for educational purposes? Do you love gadgets, computers, iPhones, iPads, etc? Then maybe this will excite you...

The new LeapPad Explorer from LeapFrog is the first learning tablet for kids (ages 4 - 9) and comes with a built-in camera. It also has a library of 100+ educational games, ebooks, creativity tools, and apps. Digital reading and personal creativity all in one place. PLUS, it works with Leapster Explorer games!!! 

It will be available for pre-order on June 29th.

Yo quiero uno.

How about you?

Disclosure: LeapFrog did not contact or compensate me for sharing this information (but I wish they would) with all of you. My salivating thoughts are strictly my own.

Chapter Books in Spanish

Yesterday, Carla, a reader, asked on the MommyMaestra Facebook page:

"Do you have any suggestions for good beginner chapter books in Spanish? Not sure if my oldest is ready for them yet but would like to introduce them. Gracias!"

A couple of you gave some great suggestions:

And I have a few more, too:

The Castillo de la Lectura series - Written by native Spanish speakers, this series is available in color-coded levels according to your child's reading level. It is really well done! We have a whole bunch listed in La Librería. Browse through them.

The Torre de Papel series - Another great collection, again, written by Spanish-speaking authors and also available according to reading level.

Other Posts You May Find Helpful...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cars 2 Giveaway

Three days and counting...until the premiere of CARS 2! My little boy can't hardly see straight he's so excited. And in honor of the occasion, I am excited to offer one of you a CARS 2 giveaway!

One lucky reader will win a youth size t-shirt, set of 3 Bumper Stickers, 2 temporary tattoo sheets and a puzzle! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Friday, June 24th. The winner will be chosen using and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a way for me to contact you in your comment! Open to U. S. and Canada residents only - sorry! (Their rules this time.)

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: CARS 2 giveaway on #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!

Disclosure: Disney offered me the opportunity to host this giveaway. I have not received compensation (or even any of the items to be given away either!) for hosting. All CARS mania is strictly mine and mi familia's...

This giveaway is now closed. Felicidades to reader/commenter #1, Norma!

Father's Day Celebration

I hope that everyone enjoyed the weekend. We celebrated Father's Day with handmade presents from the kids and a handmade meal from me. The kids spent the day watching movies with their dad, and then "helped" him tinker on the tractor he is rebuilding.

In the afternoon, my daughter came in joyously celebrating our first bell pepper from the garden (aren't they supposed to be bigger than this?) and then found another, which she left on the plant. Our little jardín is a true labor of love - the key word here being "labor." We have a tendency to forget to water on a regular basis and sometimes the weeds battle for victory. But despite our neglect, our little garden struggles along and faithfully produces a little of this and a little more of that each year. We are about to be up to our eyeballs in tomates y papas. And so, we celebrate.

How about you? Are you planting a garden this year?

Wishing you all a bountiful summer.

Con mucho cariño...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bilingual Books to Celebrate Abuelo This Father's Day


by Jerry Tello

by Nigel Gray

El Abuelo (Hablemos) (Spanish Edition)
by Debbie Bailey

By Benjamin Alire Sáenz

by Amy Costales and Esperanza Gama

by Sharon Solomon, Pamela Barcita and de la Eida Vega

El abuelo ya no duerme en el armario (A La Orilla Del Viento) (Spanish Edition)
by Molina Silvia

by Equipo Editorial

Francisco Villanueva

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bilingual Books That Celebrate Dad

Lots of books for you the rest of this week. Today, I am sharing a list of great bilingual books that celebrate Papá. Check your local library or bookshop for copies!

Papi’s Gift by by Karen Stanton and Rene King Moreno

Papá and Me by Arthur Dorros and Rudy Gutierrez

Waiting for Papá / Esperando a Papá by René Colato Laínez and Anthony Accardo

Papa's Pastries by Charles Toscano and Sonja Lamut

Monday, June 13, 2011

Free Download: Cars 2 Activity Pack

Cars 2 movie

One of my son's most anticipated summer events is just a little less than two weeks away. On Friday, June 24th, Lightning McQueen heads overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix, while Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage! To celebrate, Disney has released a Cars 2 Activity Pack for families to download.

Free Printable Cars 2 Activity Pack

I'm excited about their international theme. My daughter is excited at the thought of spies and adventure. My son is positively loco about the whole thing and is counting down the days. To help curb his impatience just a little, we will be working on some Cars-related activities tomorrow.

Cars 2 Activity Pack for Kids

Disney has ingeniously put together a Family Activity Pack that is filled with crafts, mazes, a Radiator Springs playset, and so much more. ¿Y sabes qué? They are gracious enough to let me share it with all of you!

Cars 2 Worksheets & Crafts

This activity pack comes with THIRTY-SEVEN (37!!) pages of printable projects. These include three worksheets:
  • dot-to-dot, 
  • maze, and 
  • matching worksheets.  
And there are crafts galore!

  • Rocker Switch Race Car
  • Soap Box Dragsters
  • Tube Racers
  • Cozy Cone Motel
  • Guido Bookend
  • Lightning Bolt Keychain
  • Lightning McQueen Air Freshener
  • Oil Can Holders
  • Radiator Spring Playset
  • Tippy Cardboard Tractor
  • Tire Track Tees
  • Toy Gas Pump
  • Tow Mater Cookie Treats (recipe!), and
  • Whitewall Tire Cookies

TIP: The Fast Way to Cut Out Connected Game Pieces

One of the things I dread as a mom is having to cut out what seems like a million game pieces. BUT I have also discovered the fastest way to deal with them and want to share these tips with you below. 

First, separate all the (game) pieces that you have to cut out. I had my 4-year-old practice his cutting skills for this part.

Second, cut a straight line across the bottom of both sides.

Third, cut the OUTER edges of the bottom flaps.

Then, fold the entire piece in half, lining up the bottom and outer flap edges. Those two outer tab corners should meet.

Flatten the two sections along the crease. Pinch the two pieces together and then start cutting out around the shape. Don't worry about the bottom side. Just follow the guideline along one side cutting both layers at the same time. They are mirror images, so they should be identical when you finish.

You're done! Easy, peasy.

Cars 2 Craft Materials

Here are some of the basic materials that you'll probably need to complete many of the crafts in this packet. But each project has its own materials list that you should look over first.

Cars Activities for Father's Day

IF your husband or dad is a boy at heart who loves cars and the movie, then these activities may be a fun way to spend Father's Day this Sunday. What better way to have some quality time with Dad than by spending the afternoon making Soap Box Dragsters, Lightning Bolt Keychains, or Tire Track Tees? And I'm sure Dad will be happy to help you gobble down some Whitewall Tire Cookies! (But I bet his favorite will be making the Tippy Cardboard Tractors.) These are just a few of the great activities you'll find inside.

And if you just can't get enough, Surviving a Teacher's Salary also has some FREE Cars 2 Coloring Sheets and Activity Pages.

Enjoy...and Happy Father's Day!!



Other Posts You May Enjoy

Disclosure: Disney contacted me and offered me this Activity Pack to share with my readers. I have not been compensated in any way. All thoughts about the movie and the Activity Pack are completely my own!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The LBBC's 2011 Summer Reading List is Now Available

Do you follow my other site, the Latin Baby Book Club? Each year, we publish a summer reading list. And the 2011 edition is now live! This is a great resource for bilingual families who are helping their kids maintain their reading skills during the summer by participating in a library or online summer reading program.

These summer reading lists are super because they don't offer an overwhelming number of titles, but they do list a variety of books for newborns to young adults.

I already mentioned some great online programs, so I won't do that again. But don't forget that the LBBC and MommyMaestra also have some free printable reading logs in English and Spanish to help you and your kids keep track of their reading progress. (You can find them in my sidebar under "Free Downloads.")

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Photography Tips, Lessons, and Activities for Children

Since I mentioned including your children in the yearbook process by having them take photos on their own, and also because I think summertime is as good a time as any to get them excited about taking pictures, I wanted to share with you a few resources in English and Spanish on photography for children

This post contains affiliate links.

Photography Articles with Tips & Activities in English

Video Lessons on Photography

Downloadable Photography Lessons from TpT

Online Photography Class

Photography Books for Kids

The Kids' Guide to Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Save, Play with & Print Your Digital Photos

Photography for Kids!: A Fun Guide to Digital Photography

4-H Guide to Digital Photography by Daniel Johnson

Photography Resources in Spanish

• XatakaFoto has a couple of good articles in Spanish: Fotografía para niños - Parte 1 and Fotografía para niños - Parte 2.

• I think this article is the same one published on Click It Up a Notch, but in Spanish? 

• Another excellent article: 
Actividades de fotografia para niños

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Six Tips for Creating Your Own Yearbooks

So just in case some of you are interested in creating your own yearbooks after reading my post yesterday, I thought I would share some helpful tips that I learned while working on my daughter's. I hope these will make the process easier for you than it was for me - mostly due to my lack of organization!

1. Don't forget your camera.

So often I get caught up in the experience, that I completely forget to take a picture. While I do not believe in missing out on the fun because it is more important to capture the moment on film, I do think I need to try and remember to take just one or two pictures to serve as a reminder. Keep the camera in your purse, or by the door, to help you remember to document field trips and celebrations.

Photo by Muha...

2. Involve your kids.

My goal for the coming months is to have my kids take some photos on their own for their yearbooks next year. I think it will be great to examine the differences in each other's photos: perspective, subject matter, and layout. It will also be neat to see how their style changes as they grow. And I think that this will give their yearbooks added meaning, because they will have contributed to it in yet another way.

This will also a great opportunity to teach my children photography, and explore this medium as part of our art studies.

3. Plan ahead.

It can really help if you make a list ahead of time, of all the things you might like to include in a yearbook. Here are just a few ideas:

• Field trips
• Birthdays
• Experiments/Projects
• Music recitals
• Art work
• Favorite books
• Science Fair displays
• Sports/Games
• Extracurricular classes
• Clubs
• Classmates/Other homeschoolers
• Awards & Certificates
• An official school picture (to give out to family and friends)

4. Fancy doesn't mean better.

Sometimes it is better to just buy a small, simple, and inexpensive camera that can be whipped out at a moment's notice to capture the unexpected. For my birthday, my family bought me a new Nikon. I love it. But it is big and bulky. And it is not something I really want my kids using.

This past spring, we bought a "school camera" that my kids can use to take photos for reports, presentations, science fair projects, etc. It will be perfect for learning about photography.

5. Keep your pictures in one place.

This might be the single most important tip I can give you. Organization is everything, and it will save you hours of work.

Both of my children have their own file on my computer. (This is for me only. They have their own school computer, which is set up for their use.) I have now carefully created a sub-file inside each of theirs that is labeled "School Photos." And inside that file, I have created additional sub-files for each grade. So now, as I take pictures, I can save my favorites immediately inside a single file so that they can be easily located next year. Does this sound neurotic? Maybe. But it will save you so much time and grief when you go to put them all together that you will not regret it!!

6. Backup your files

Never place all your eggs in una canasta. Make sure you back-up your photo files (and all the others on your computer, too!) at least once a month or more. So if disaster strikes, you will not lose all of your treasured pictures. I purchased an external drive for $99 last year. It has been a life-saver. Just remember to keep it disconnected from your computer when not in use. If you happen to get a virus, you don't want it infecting all your backed-up files, too!

Buena suerte!

Other Posts You May Enjoy


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, June 7, 2011

Homeschool Yearbooks

WEPA!! We have officially finished the school year! Adiós, first grade. See you in a couple of years. Hola, second grade! We're looking forward to you...after summer is over.

I have been thinking for a while now, about how we are going to celebrate this moment. I want to create a special way to recognize all the hard work that my daughter (and soon, my son) has put into this past year. I want to acknowledge her efforts and give her something back - and something to look forward to at the end of each school year.

This year, we are getting together with other homeschoolers in our area for an end-of-the-year bowling party. Yay! Fun, fun.

But I also want something that will last. Something she can look back on years from now and see not only how hard she worked, but also see how important her education is to us. So a while back, I came across a little article about homeschool yearbooks (Remember? I shared it on my Facebook page.), and I decided this would be perfect. I tried investigating on my own where I could have one published. I wasn't thrilled, really, with anything I found. So I finally contacted my friend, Marta, whom I secretly call the "Homeschooling Genius."

She quickly steered me in the direction of Shutterfly.

The end result is incredible! (I told you she was a genius.) And after slaving away every night for a week, I finally have my final draft ready to publish. My "slaving" was mostly a result of my own lack of organization. I had photos saved all over the place: in multiple files on my computer and on an assortment of SD cards.

The actual process of creating the album online is super easy. Shutterfly has a built-in program that allows you to upload your photos in a snap. The program offers two versions:

The Simple Path: Instantly makes your album for you. It arranges the pictures for you and then you can easily rearrange them and add captions.

Their NEW Custom Path: Allows you to move, add, and resize pictures and text anywhere. It includes a variety of backgrounds, layouts and embellishments for you to choose from. You can even take your own photo and make it a background for one (or all!) of your pages. And you can do it all with a simple click-and-drag method.

Your book may contain up to 1000 pictures, and up to 25 per page. The albums are available in a variety of sizes and pages, so you can find one to fit your budget. And their prices are VERY reasonable. I'm buying an 8" x 11" padded photo cover with 22 pages for $36.19. (I actually added a few extra pages to my album, so it would have been cheaper.)

But let me tell you, after putting this whole album together, I had the opportunity to purchase a $58 album from another company. This company actually has "professionals" who put your album together for you. But after looking at their samples, I realized that I liked the one I created better! So I decided to just stick with Shutterfly.

And the best part? They are having a Father's Day Sale right now. All albums are 30% off and you can get free shipping. It ends Thursday, though. So you'll have to act fast!

And lastly, I want to let you all know that I have not been contacted and/or compensated by Shutterfly for writing this article. (But they can if they want to!) I found them on my own, through my friend Marta, and I am now in love. So you know that everything here is the real deal.

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. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Winners Announced!


Congratulations to all the winners from last week's giveaways! I really appreciated all the well wishes and I enjoyed learning more about all of you. The winners have been contacted, and here they are (according to

Caillou multilingual learning set - #5, Elyse

Lighthouses of North America - #4, Robin

M is for Masterpiece - #3, Marta

Set of Spanish Picture Books and Early Readers - #9, Lupita

I have extended the deadline for Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People because it would have only been up 2 days. So you still have a chance to win it!

And because it was so popular, I am going to purchase several more sets of the Caillou learning programs. If you are interested, please contact me for pricing/more information.

Once again, gracias for your support of Mommy Maestra. I am thrilled with our growing community of parents and teachers, and I welcome your input, stories, and more. If you would like to share your story with everyone, please drop me a line and let me know!

Un abrazote a todas!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People {GIVEAWAY}

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is being able to supplement our studies with whatever I feel is important. And for me, that includes cultural history (is that a real word combo, or did I just make it up?). At any rate, teaching my kids about their heritage is super important to me. So is raising them to be responsible members of our global world.

So as I mentioned before, we have been working on unit studies to explore culture. Part of each unit is to discover and discuss notable figures (scientists, artists, musicians, authors, etc.). And one of my favorite children's books authors, Monica Brown, helps me to do this on my children's level. I love books that help children to understand - and relate to - important people in history.

Monica has already published many books that introduce children to Latinos who have had a significant impact on others:  Gabriela Mistral, Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, Pelé, Gabriel García Márquez, Celia Cruz, and others.

One of her most recent books is Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People, which brings to life the prolific Chilean author. This book had me from the very beginning when Monica writes: "Once there was a little boy named Neftalí who loved wild things wildly and quiet things quietly."

It is beautifully illustrated, and perfectly introduces children to the concept of words as art. Monica's storytelling is at its best. And I think this may, in fact, be one of her best books. She captures Neruda's love of nature, words, people, and life. And as a teacher, I really appreciate the historical facts that she skillfully weaves into the story.

One lucky winner will receive a copy of this book.

To enter, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Sunday, June5th Thursday, June 9th. The winner will be chosen using 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: Pablo Neruda children's book giveaway on #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!

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the Medina family!

Disclosure: Henry Holt & Company provided me with a copy of this book after I contacted them and requested one. All thoughts are my own.


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