Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dia de los Muertos Printables

How cute are these Día de los Muertos treat boxes from Don't Eat the Paste? You can print up the color-it-in version, or one that is already vibrantly decorated.

My daughter and I enjoyed coloring ours in, but my son preferred a blank face all together so that he could decorate it his own way (hence the cowboy hat). All you have to do is print them up on cardstock, color them in (optional), cut them out, and glue them together.

I think these are perfect for holding candy, crayons, or other small treats.

I was also tickled to find that HP has free Day of the Dead printables available on their Creative Studio site. The Day of the Dead Party Kit includes invitations, decorative cards, fiesta facts, glass charms, decorations, and wall hangings.

Sadly, HP has removed this Party Kit. What a shame!

Happy weekend a todos!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Social Responsibility Begins With Us

As a parent, I feel that the best way to teach my children about social responsibility is to demonstrate it myself. That means through actions and words. So we talk about issues like helping others who are less fortunate, learn about things we don't understand, and do our small part to make our home, town, country, and world a better place.

I think that as a blogger, I am doubly obligated to focus on social good. I have a platform that is perfect for teaching and helping others. In my experience, the written word can so often prove to be a powerful motivator. And I think all bloggers should use their sites to "pay it forward," so to speak. If we have the ears (eyes) of others, we should use the opportunity to help make our own little niche a better place and a source of inspiration.

Obviously I am passionate about education, and from time to time, I want to write and share articles that promote social responsibility and The Golden Rule. Laurita's article yesterday, was just one example of how I want to be able to share knowledge and express support. I hope that you took a moment to learn about spina bifida so that the next time you meet someone who is affected by this condition, you can interact with them in a knowledgeable and compassionate manner.

I believe that social media and mobile technology are powerful tools for spreading awareness and doing good. Over the next few months, I'm looking forward to sharing more articles on MommyMaestra on other organizations and programs that focus on health and education. And if you follow my Facebook page, you've already seen me sharing articles and resources on these subjects and others.

What do you think? Should bloggers and other social media professionals use their platforms in a socially responsible way? 

Con mucho cariño...

Disclaimer: I was compensated for writing this article, which was written in conjunction with the LATISM Social Good Goes Mobile Blog Tour.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Knowledge Conquers Fear: October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month

Dear readers, the following article was written by my friendLaurita Tellado, the founder of Because I wish to use MommyMaestra as a tool to support others in need and promote good will among our families, I have chosen to share her story and endorse her as she fights for and supports families with spina bifida. If you do not know about this condition, please take a moment to read her heartfelt article...

October is an eerie month, filled with monsters, mummies, and the macabre. But while the occasional witch or skeleton might freak you out, one must concede that there are indeed more frightening things– like finding out your child will be born with spina bifida.

And yet, each day in the U.S., an average of eight families welcome a child with spina bifida into the world. Annually, an estimated 1,500 infants are born with spina bifida each year in the U.S.

I was born with spina bifida nearly two and a half decades ago. The diagnosis came as a total shock to my family, along with an entire set of secondary complications. I was also born with hydrocephalus, or “water on the brain.” During the first ten years of my life, it seemed I was in the hospital every other week with a bladder infection or shunt malfunction. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t really scary at times.

But then, at age ten, I discovered a fantastic way to defeat my worst fears– knowledge. I vowed I would educate myself and read up on the condition that, up until that point, seemed to be taking over my life. Much like a child who imagines a ghost is in his closet, grabs a flashlight and realizes it’s only an old coat, I had come to the realization that, when you take the time to learn about something, no matter how terrifying it may seem at first, everything is less scary in the light of knowledge.

According to the Spina Bifida Association of America, “spina bifida remains the most commonly occurring birth defect in this country.” Just how common is it overall? PubMed Health, the Web site of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, reported in March of this year: “Myelomeningocele [the most severe form of spina bifida] may affect as many as 1 out of every 800 infants.”

As a 21-year member of the Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida, I’m doing my part to shed light on this condition by raising money for the Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida. When my parents and I moved from Puerto Rico to Orlando, Florida in search of better educational and healthcare opportunities for me in 1990, we found a support system away from our family and homeland in joining the SBACFL. My personal search for a public spokesperson for the spina bifida cause, as well as my work as a current member of the SBACFL board of directors, have helped me find my true purpose– galvanizing as many people as possible to support the spina bifida community.

So, in the spirit of shedding light on a little-known condition, and in honor of October, which is Spina Bifida Awareness Month, here are some statistics about spina bifida that might spook you a bit:

● Spina bifida is more common than muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis combined.

● Latinos have the highest incidence of spina bifida out of all the ethnic groups.

● Ireland is the country with the highest incidence of spina bifida in the world.

● About 50 percent of babies with spina bifida areselectively aborted after being diagnosed with spina bifida.

● Doctors recommend that every woman of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida up to 70 percent of the time. In spite of this, there are currently an estimated 166,000people in the U.S. living with spina bifida– up from just 76,000 just last year.

● About 90 percent of people with spina bifida are also born with hydrocephalus. Many need a shunt inserted near the brain to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid– and many requiremultiple shunt replacements during their lives.

● Other very common secondary conditions include bladder and bowel incontinence, as well as frequent urinary tract infections.

● After the onset of puberty, young people with spina bifida are more prone to clinical depression than most people. Researchers think this may be due in part to social isolation.

Being able to share this information with all of you today is without a doubt the most empowering and inspiring aspect of my life. I’d love nothing more than to give you that very sense of empowerment. Please publish this post on your own Web site(s), and feel free to add your own personal intro that will make it relevant to your blog followers. As many people as I’ve managed to rally in support of this cause, you have an advantage that I don’t–your audience. So, please share this information with everyone you come into contact with.

Below is a video that explains just why the Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida means so much to me, and why I’m participating in the Walk-N-Roll.

I will be raising money online for Team Holdin’ Out for a Hero until October 29th, when we have our Walk-N-Roll event. Donations can be as small as $5 or as large as $50,000. (Yes, I do like the $50,000 better!) Every cent counts! Every cent of every dollar will go towards supporting families affected by spina bifida in 22 counties in and around the Central Florida region and supporting educational and awareness efforts.

Yes, to the new parent, or even to the already-grown individual, spina bifida can seem like a scary thing to deal with. But there’s a power in numbers and a strength in awareness– a strength that gives us the courage to open the closet, shine the light in the ghost’s face, and reduce it to nothing but an old coat.

Thank you for helping me conquer my biggest fear– ignorance of spina bifida.

~ Laurita Tellado,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Día de los Muertos Paper Dolls

Check out this discovery I made on Amazon. How clever is this bilingual Day of the Dead Paper Dolls book? If your nenes are like mine, they will love the dolls and all the costumes and accessories that accompany them. This book includes 2 paper dolls, 15 ornate costumes, a variety of altar offerings, and a bonus sticker poster.

This post contains affiliate links.

Take a look at some of the pages inside...

I have not purchased this book, but I'm intrigued by the creativity and the beautiful pictures within. If you own this book, let me know what you think of it.

Have fun!

Con mucho cariño...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dia de los Muertos History, Lessons, Crafts and More

Not too long ago, I asked on the MommyMaestra FB page if your family celebrated Halloween or Día de los muertos. The most popular answer was "Both!" This answer makes me smile as it shows how Latinos in the U.S. are embracing their bicultural heritage.

The articles I wrote last year continue to be the most popular ones on this site, so for those of you who have recently started reading MommyMaestra, you might find these especially helpful...

For a brief history tailored for younger kids, take a look at:

For a comprehensive list of lesson plans, crafts, books, videos, and more, visit: (This post is constantly being updated, so if you've read it before, you might want to take a look at the new items that have been included.)

Read up on one of the artists most closely associated with this holiday at:

If you are looking for inspiration, check out the MommyMaestra Pinterest board dedicated to Día de los Muertos (for children).

And don't forget to download our free activity/coloring sheet!
Around the web:

Presley's Pantry has a beautiful article that includes a recipe for pan de muerto.
Latino Foodie has a nice little article that includes recipes, too.

Con mucho cariño...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thank You To My Sponsors

This weekend, I am attending the 2011 Blogalicious Conference in Washington D.C. This conference celebrates diversity in social media and was created for multicultural bloggers like myself.

I am so grateful to my sponsor Mamiverse, as well as Latina Mom Bloggers, and Bren Herrera for making this trip possible.

I'm looking forward to learning how to make this blog even better, and to connect with other organizations and bloggers who are dedicated to improving the education of our country's children. And I hope to be able to discover additional resources to share with you. You can follow my tweets from the conference if you follow me @LatinMami.

If you are attending the conference, or if you live in the area, I would love to meet with you. Stop by and say hi!

Un abrazo...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fabulous Resources for College-Bound Latino Families

College is a long way off for my kids, who have just entered kindergarten and 2nd grade. But I have been thinking about it even before they were born. I am determined that they both attend college so that they can pursue the careers of their choice.

Already I feel the stress of the financial burden that comes with putting two kids through college. I worry that my husband and I won't have enough saved for both of them.

But I have hope.

I am fortunate to have friends with older children who are going through the process of applying to various universities, and who are navigating the financial aspect associated with this tremendous endeavor. And lucky for me - and others! - they are sharing their experiences online.

But I also have hope because it seems as though almost every week, I am running across great opportunities for Latino students. The number of scholarships is rising across the country.

Here then, are some of my favorite resources for Latino families with college bound children:

College Bound Latinos™ E-Mentoring Group

Created by, this group is for parents and students interested in academic success and preparing for college applications. It is composed of individuals who are ready and willing to answer any questions regarding academic success in middle school and high school, as well as information on college applications, financial aid, and college admissions standardized tests. Take the time to scroll through the posts. You'll find some good information.

Mariela Dabbah

Mariela Dabbah is a valuable resource. She is the author of numerous books on education, including Latinos in College: Your Guide to Success. Dabbah is also an education and career coach, as well as an education columnist. One of her websites, Latinos in College, is a goldmine for students and parents, and I would encourage you to follow its Facebook page. She is a smart lady, as you can see from this Mamiverse interview.

Vida y Familia

Univision's Spanish-language, digital magazine is dedicated to education and covers everything related to it: from preschool to college, to science, language and more, you'll find some excellent articles to help guide you through your child's education process. I think my favorite is the "Inspírate" section which shares inspiring stories to help keep parents and students motivated. It also has a huge section on scholarships.

A week ago, I was invited to attend a blogger breakfast with McDonald's. I knew that they were active in the community, but I had no idea the amount of focus they place on education and in helping community educational efforts. Most notable, perhaps, is their RMHC/HACER scholarship, which is one of the largest college scholarship programs for Hispanic students. It has awarded more than $20 million in scholarship funds to nearly 14,000 Hispanic students! (Guau!)

Their bilingual website is wonderful and you can find lots of information about the scholarship, as well as an education guide, videos, and a school planner. McDonald's also works with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) to offer free, bilingual college workshops to Hispanic families across the country.

Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How To Be an Involved Parent

By now, we’ve all heard it: Children with involved parents are more likely to succeed academically. Parental involvement is purported to affect a whole range of areas including behavior problems, math and science achievement, school preparedness, graduation, and more.

But here’s what it all boils down to: If you are an involved parent, your children (and their teachers!) quickly learn that your family values education. Before you know it, your kids will have the same outlook and will view their education as a way to pursue and achieve their dreams.

No child wants to be a failure. But they quickly learn to live up – or down! – to the expectations of those around them. So it is our job as parents, to have high expectations, and then to help our children meet them.

But how do we do that exactly?

Here are some ideas for getting involved in your child’s education.

Ask Questions

Find out what your child is learning in school. Don’t wait for the parent-teacher conferences. Ask your child every day what he learned. Or ask his teacher. You have to be proactive and find out for yourself. When your daughter sits down to work on her homework, ask if she needs help. If she says “no,” then let her know that you’re available if she needs you.

But what if you don’t know the answer? Admit it up front. Then figure it out together. There is no better way to understand a subject than if you have to teach it to someone else.

Listen Carefully

Sometimes your child just needs a sympathetic ear. There’s so much going on in school, they are bound to have moments when they are frustrated, sad, or angry about a teacher, subject, or even their classmates. But listen carefully. Sometimes you’ll discover that it is more what your child hasn’t said that tells the story.

And once you've listened, find a way to support their emotional needs. Simply being there as an understanding and non-judgmental listener helps to solidify the bond you have with your child and leads to a better relationship.

Investigate Opportunities

If you discover your daughter is studying Ancient Egypt, call up your local museums and find out if they have any exhibits on the subject. Or hop on over to your local library/bookshop and load up on books exploring pyramids, mummies, and King Tut. You can also go online (look at PBS, NOVA, and other educational sites) to find videos on whatever your child is studying.

Invest in Books

Are you a bibliophile, like me, who cannot walk past a bookstore without going in and buying something? Guess what? You now have an excuse to give your spouse! Last year, the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility published the results of a study which showed that the number of books in the house directly correlates to the number of years of schooling that a child will complete.

And the more books in your home, the greater your child’s chances are of graduating not just from high school, but college, as well! In fact, children with as few as 25 books in their homes, completed on average two more years of schooling than those children without books.

But the incredible thing is that households with 500 books (or more!) were “as great an advantage as having university-educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father.”

So it’s true: The more books in your home, the greater the chances of your child’s academic achievement. You can read more about this fascinating study - and others - in this article by Laura Miller.

Teach Time Management
Let's face it: your son/daughter is a child. They aren't born knowing how to manage their time. But you can help guide them so that they can learn how to manage it effectively so that they can successfully accomplish their goals. Help them set realistic time frames for finishing homework, attending extra-curricular events, and time to just play and relax. Remember to use TV time wisely and don't let your kids be vegetables!
Take the time to get to know your child's teachers and friends. And there's no better way, than by volunteering in their classroom. This is easier to do with younger children (just imagine your teenager's angst when you show up for their science lab!) and their teachers who are often looking for an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands in the class. 
Con mucho cariño...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top Five Reasons Why Latino Children Need to Go to College

My seven-year-old daughter takes it for granted that she will go to college. In fact, the other day we were driving through the university campus where my stepfather works and both of my kids became totally fascinated when they learned that’s where I went to college.
What is that building there?
How about that one?
What did you learn in that big one over there?
I smiled as I drove and tried to answer their questions as best I could… and make it as exciting as possible. I want my kids to look forward to their time at college. And I don’t ever want there to be any question as to whether or not they will go to one.

Almost 30% of Latinos live in poverty. That translates into about 13.2 MILLION people. And out of that, more than 6 million are Latino children. The New York Times recently reported that Hispanics have been hit the hardest by the recent recession, which comes as no surprise, really, since we know that some of the biggest casualties of our country’s economic hardship are the construction, hospitality, and restaurant industries – for which Latinos form the backbone.
As a result of their financial instability, many Latino students and their families don't see college as a viable option. Although college enrollment is up among Latinos, we still have a long way to go. The financial aspect of putting a child through college is a big concern for parents. I know I wonder if I’ll be able to afford to send my children to a good university. But it seems like every week I have been learning about more and more scholarships and financial aid opportunities for Latino families. I’ll be sharing some of my favorites on Thursday. 

The top five reasons why Hispanic children should go to college

In my opinion, here are the top five reasons why I think every Latino child in America should go to college:

To break the cycle of poverty

Persistent poverty has been linked to chronic illness and low cognitive skills. And if your parents live in poverty, or you are born into it, chances are greater that you, too, will live in poverty. But receiving a college education increases the chance that you will get a good paying job after you graduate. As I mentioned
yesterday, most STEM graduates could potentially earn a six-figure salary upon graduation. 

To enter fields where Latinos are not represented

The number of Latinos in the innovation fields is paltry. This is SO surprising because Latinos are some of the most ingenious, creative, and innovative people on the planet. Just imagine what our people could accomplish if they had the knowledge gained from a college education! Let’s inspire and encourage our children to enter these STEM fields and make a difference. Not only does it benefit our children, but it also benefits society as a whole to have the ideas and skills of Latinos contributing to these fields.

To find their voice

College is a time to explore the things you like and dislike. You can take a class on watercolors or 18th century literature or biochemistry and discover your passion in life. You have time to read everything Cervantes ever wrote, or experiment with different art styles and media. This is really the moment where personal beliefs and interests are discovered, explored, and solidified. Look at Occupy Wall Street! This movement was created largely by college students and graduates who have come together to voice their opinions and make a change. 

To realize their dreams

This is America, where supposedly ANYONE can make their dreams come true with a little determination and a lot of hard work. But the reality today is that many of the poor work hard for their money and never seem to be able to get ahead. Perhaps we need to modify the concept and instead think of America as the place where you can go to find the tools to help you make your dreams a reality. And going to college is one of the MAJOR tools that Americans have at their disposal. Going to college allows students to explore career fields that they might otherwise never even know about. They can also develop specialized skills and network with others of like mind, which may in turn open doors that lead to a successful career. It is where our children find a career that they love, rather than a job that they hate. 

To create change

Latino children need more role models to help inspire and encourage them to try their best in school. They need to see their own faces reflected in our success stories so that they can understand that they are precious and valuable and worthy members of our society. They should learn that they can make a difference. Latino college graduates can fill this role.
Most of all, in these difficult times, Latinos need leaders who love nuestra gente and are willing to fight for change. We need people who have the knowledge and expertise to help our communities. Think about just some of these issues facing Latinos today:
Eighty percent of Latinos live in areas that failed to meet one U.S. EPA air quality standard. As a result, 60% of Latino children are more likely to suffer from asthma, and Latinos are three times as likely to die of asthma.  
• Latinos have the highest high school dropout rate. They may quit school to go to work and help support their families, or simply because they don’t see college as a viable option. Students also quit when they are failing because they do not understand the subject, and no one is willing to help them.
• The current immigration debate is the biggest issue facing Latinos today. It doesn’t just affect one person, but families and communities and even the whole country can suffer from poor handling of this issue.
We need leaders who have a vested interest in our people, and who will create and enact laws that help ALL the citizens in the United States – including Latinos.

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Monday, October 17, 2011

Raising Science and Math Lovers

This article is written in collaboration with the “¡Edúcate, es el momento!” campaign as part of their seven-day event promoting higher education for Latino students across the United States.

Last April, I dedicated a week to Latino students who are interested in pursuing careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) fields.

It troubles me that Latinos only account for 5.8% of the engineering workforce, and young Latinas are virtually nonexistent. Most Latino college students aren't pursuing a degree in any of the STEM fields. But with the U.S. Hispanic poverty rate hovering around 26%, a career in one of these fields has the ability to lift families out of poverty, since STEM graduates could potentially earn a six-figure salary upon graduation.

So why aren't our children excelling in the subjects of math and science? No doubt, it is for many reasons. Our public school system in general, seems to be struggling to produce the next generation of scientists and mathematicians. And low-income schools, which support high concentrations of Latino students, seem to be suffering the most when it comes to providing the resources needed for STEM education. Add to that these reasons why Latino parents oftentimes don't encourage their children to pursue STEM field careers, and we can see why our kids are invisible in this area.

So how can we as parents help our kids to get excited about science and math? Here are five great ways to inspire and support your children in these subjects:


Find out what your child is learning in school. Are they studying animal classification? Fractions? The water cycle? Ask your child, or their teacher, what topics they are currently covering in class. Being informed is key and will help you to know what to do next... 


If your child tells you they're studying patterns in math and you immediately grimace, how do you think your kid is going to feel? So what if you think patterns are boring? Be prepared for your child's answer, control your facial features, and respond with delight. (But don't be overly enthusiastic. Your child is an expert lie detector.)


Once you know your daughter is studying the secret lives of fungi, get to work looking for ways to help her explore the subject. If your son needs help with his algebra homework, check out the Kahn academy to help him understand and to practice.


Somehow you've got to figure out a way to make the subject come alive for your child. Try to find ways to relate the issue to their own life. You can also...
  • Go to your local library and find books on the topic.
  • Explore the web for online games and interactive websites that help to reinforce concepts.
  • Buy your own science kits (who doesn't love experimenting?) and make every Friday night a Discovery Night.
  • Find local and national contests that encourage your child to problem solve and promote creative thinking.
  • Field Trip! Find out what exhibits your local museums/nature centers/zoos are hosting and see if they relate to anything your child is learning about.


Develop your child's curiosity and critical thinking skills as early as you can. Asking simple questions, such as, "What do you think will happen if I let go of this ball?" or "How many cars do you see on our street?" can help your child learn to wonder about their world and also predict outcomes to specific actions. Supply your child with lots of puzzles and books that center around nature and the environment. And every family should own a set of building blocks so kids can connect with their inner engineer.


Who says learning is just for kids? Be a role model for your child and show them that learning is a lifelong process that can bring joy and gratification. Better yet, ask your child to explain it to you. Nothing helps you learn better than knowing you have to teach it to someone else!

My favorite STEM education resources for kids:

  • Khan Academy Free, online, world-class education on every subject.

  • TED Inspirational online videos.

Math -

Science -

Engineering -

  • Design Squad Nation A reality show on PBS where kids ages 6 – 19 design ingenious machines in the hopes of winning college scholarships.

  • Fat Brain Toys They carry an incredible set of engineering toys.

Technology -

  • free educational kids computer games and activities for elementary students to learn on the web.

  • NASA: The Space Place - Also available in Spanish.

  • Technology for Kids A  cool range of experiments, free games, science fair projects, fun quizzes, interesting facts, amazing videos and more!

Con mucho cariño...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Monte Carlo {GIVEAWAY}

This Tuesday, October 18th, the family comedy Monte Carlo arrives on Blu-ray and DVD. A while back I asked if you guys would be interested in movie giveaways, and you replied with a solid YES! So I'm happy to announce that three readers will receive this fun movie featuring actress and pop star, Selena Gomez.

Monte Carlo is about Grace (Gomez), a high-spirited high school graduate looking forward to a vacation in Paris with her best friend Emma (Katie Cassidy, “Melrose Place”), and stepsister Meg (Leighton Meester, “Gossip Girl”). Just as the girls think their trip is ruined when their hyperactive tour guide leaves them behind, Grace is mistaken for a wealthy socialite and the trio is whisked away to Monte Carlo for a thrilling week of glitz, glam, and unforgettable fun. 

Take a look at this clip:


Three lucky readers will receive a DVD copy of Monte Carlo.

To enter, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Saturday, October 22nd. The winner will be chosen using and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! Open to United States residents only. No purchase required.

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1.) Blog about this giveaway and include the link to your post in the comments below.

2.) Tweet the following: Win a copy of Monte Carlo from @LatinMami #giveaway

3.) Follow MommyMaestra on Facebook.

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

¡Buena suerte!

Disclosure: This is not a paid post. I received a copy of Monte Carlo to facilitate this giveaway.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thank You for the Nomination

Queridos Amigos,

I just wanted to say thank you.

It came as a complete surprise this week to find out that some (many?) of you had nominated me for the Best Latin@ Education Blogger in the Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) Awards. I am extremely flattered to be simply considered in the same category as Miguel Corona and Amor Montes de Oca, both of whom have incredibly informative blogs. If you are the voting type, I would love your support. You may vote here.

Writing MommyMaestra motivates me and inspires me with my own children's education. I have learned so much from you, dear readers, and from the online education community. I cannot tell you how joyful I am each time I receive a message from a mother or teacher in the community saying how much they get out of MommyMaestra.

Our goal as parents is to raise healthy and happy children. It is also our responsibility to try our best to equip them with the tools they need to succeed in life. And one of the best tools we can give them is a good education.  We have to be cheerleaders, teachers, listeners, mentors, and fighters. Because if we do not fight for our children, then who will?

I have watched MommyMaestra grow into something bigger than I imagined. We have become a group of Latina moms and teachers who know how to work together, help one another, and share our resources so that all may benefit from our own individual experiences.

MommyMaestra would not be what it is today without its readers. You are a wonderful group. I'm happy to have communicated with many of you and look forward to talking - and maybe even meeting! - many more of you in the future.

Un abrazote,


Will All the Teachers Please Raise Their Hands?

I believe that every single one of you reading this post is a teacher. Doesn't matter if you are certified and have been to college to get your teaching degree. I have always felt that parents - especially mothers - are a child's first teacher. I think you will all agree with me.

But I have received a lot of emails lately from teachers in public or private schools. This got me to wondering just how many of you are out there reading MommyMaestra? I would love to hear from you. So if you would be so kind, would you please consider leaving a comment either here on this post, or on this thread on the MommyMaestra FB page sharing what grade you teach/what subject/and where in the country? You may post anonymously!

So for example, if I were a public/private school teacher, I'd write:

Ms. Olivera, K-2nd, NC


K-2nd, NC

Un abrazo!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

MommyMaestra is Now On Pinterest

It's true. I have finally caved and joined Pinterest. I just felt like there were so many ideas that I was losing because I didn't have a way to keep track of them.

Now I'm obsessed. I knew I would be, which is why I tried to stay away. But I have been finding other people's board SO helpful!

So even though I am new and have just started, if you'd like to take a look, you can find me easily...

If you are on Pinterest, please share your handle in a comment below so that I can follow you!

Con mucho cariño...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rosita y Conchita Book

It's here! I'm so excited to tell you that MommyMaestra now has Rosita y Conchita books for sale.

If you are looking for a great picture book related to Day of the Dead, this is it. You can read the review I did of this book last year here.

To purchase your copy, please click here to order today:

Rosita y Conchita book

Update: I'm pleased to now offer Eric's newest book, Paquito y Abuelito, another story celebrating Day of the Dead created for boys.

Paquito y Abuelito book

Monday, October 10, 2011

Should We Celebrate Columbus Day?

Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo.
There are no known authentic portraits of Columbus.
This weekend, I started out writing an article on lesson plans, activities, and books for celebrating Columbus Day. But in the course of my research of all the different resources available for teachers and students, I began to have second thoughts. Before I knew it, I was learning things about Columbus that really upset me and made me pause and rethink the plans I had for teaching my children about this controversial man.

I have grown up thinking of Columbus the way I - and every student in America -have been taught: Columbus was an intrepid explorer whose arrival in the "New" World eventually led to the colonization of the continent by the Europeans.

The question is: Do we want to teach historical accuracy?

The reality is that Columbus was an atrocious human being. His crimes were well known and documented at the time (yes, there is proof!), and he was even arrested and sent back to Spain for his unforgivable treatment of the indigenous peoples he eventually annihilated. Much of what I learned turned my stomach, and I cannot bring myself to share it here...and I certainly would not teach it to my young children.

So what do we do? Is there a way to teach the real story without making a hero out of Columbus? Yes, I think so. But if you're not sure what to think of all this, take a moment to listen to Celeste Headlee's (The Takeaway) discussion with Bob Peterson, a 5th grade teacher and co-author of Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, and Scott Richard Lyons, director of Native American Studies at Syracuse University.

While I don't totally agree with everything said in the discussion above, they do make a lot of great points and share some valuable information. I have ordered Peterson's book, and will let you know what I think of it when it arrives and I have a chance to go through it. 

For now, I think that this is how I will present the subject of Christopher Columbus to my own children:

Columbus is an extremely important person in world history. He played a major role in the colonization of the Americas, but it came at a terrible price. Columbus sought to create a new and faster trade route to Asia for Europe, but instead he landed in the Carribean, on an island he called San Salvador in the Bahamas. He was a very cruel and greedy person who had asked King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to pay for his trip and to give him the right govern any new lands, as well as 10% of the profits from his journey. When he could not find any gold to take back to Spain, he instead chose to force the indigenous peoples into slavery and shipped them back to Europe.

I plan to ask them how Columbus could have acted differently upon his arrival and what other things he might have substituted for gold (aside from slaves, I mean).

That said, I do think that the following resources are helpful, depending on how they are used to teach the story:

  • Teaching Resources Classroom Jr. has lots of great coloring pages. I especially like the individual pictures of the Niña, Pinta, and the Santa María.

  • Super Coloring also has some good coloring sheets. I like the pages that incorporate a text box so that the kids can add descriptions or stories of their own.

  • Teacher's Clubhouse offers inexpensive activity sheets for students. If you go to this page and scroll down until you get to the "Explorers" category, you'll find lots of ideas like a minibook, trading cards, journals, and more. I think I would use these to have the children show how Columbus should have acted upon landing in the Americas, by pretending to be him and write their journey down in their own "explorer" journals.

  • I'll be sure to share my thoughts on the book, Rethinking Columbus, when it arrives.

    I'd love to know how you teach your own children about Christopher Columbus, too.

    Un abrazo...

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Meet Me at the Fair...

    It's that time of year again! Starting Friday, I'll be spending time at the State Fair of Texas in the Women's Museum, where my boutique, Latin Baby™, has a booth. This year the museum is hosting the Mundo Latino exhibit, which is celebrating its 15th year at the fair. Each year Mundo Latino features an exhibit highlighting the rich Latino culture. The theme changes from year to year, but it usually includes dance, music, food and educational programs from artists and groups representing the Latin world including Mexico, Spain, Central & South America, and the United States.

    This year's theme is Chiles! chiles! chiles! and features features authentic, traditional Latin foods created with the savory ingredients of chiles, spices and products grown in Latin countries. They have cooking demonstrations, too. I can't wait to sample all the delicious dishes they are preparing!

    If you are in the Dallas area and plan on going to the Fair, stop by my booth  and say "hola!" I'd love to talk with you! And all MommyMaestra or Latin Baby Book Club readers will get an extra 10% off if you mention that you read this here! We have some wonderful products for sale, including some that were created specifically for the fair. So stop by and see us!

    Con mucho cariño...

    MommyMaestra Challenge: Read for the Record

    Tomorrow, on October 6th, people all around the world will read the same book, Llama Llama Red Pajama, as part of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record.

    I have taken the pledge and will be part of the record-breaking reading event, whose purpose is to help set the stage for millions of children to achieve success in school – and in life.

    Jumpstart's goal? 2.1 million readers - a new world record. But wait! What's that you say? You don't have the book? No problema. I don't either. BUT, the neat part is that it is being offered to read FREE online in Spanish and English at

    You know what is even more exciting than setting a world record? The fact that Jumpstart has created a Spanish version of their website to reach out to Spanish-speaking families across the United States...and the world. You can even find their pledge page in Spanish.

    Why is this such a big deal? How does reading one little book really make a difference? The fact is that children need to be equipped with fundamental literacy skills, and taking the time to read with your kids is an easy way to ensure they’re prepared. Reading one book on Thursday may lead to reading another book on Friday...or Saturday. And next thing you know, you are creating a learning environment in your home while doing an enjoyable activity that strengthens your bond with your child.

    EVERY child deserves the chance to succeed. Doesn't matter what language they speak, where their parents came from, where they live, or how their name is pronounced. And as parents, we already know that our kids deserve the opportunity to learn, explore, and achieve their dreams.
    So take the pledge and spread the word!
    I hope you will join my family tomorrow as we Read for the Record.
    Un abrazo fuerte,

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Recessitate Your Classroom

    A few weeks ago, I received a sample of Recessitate, a tool for classrooms. It is a collection of 24 color-coded activity cards in three categories: Calm Down, Gear Up, and Wake Up. The goal of the cards is to help students focus on their work, or to give them a mental break from intense schoolwork.

    I wondered how well this product would work for homeschoolers so I decided to try it out on my own kids. All you have to do is pick a card (any card!), then read it and lead your children in the activity. For our first card, I chose this one from the calm down section:

    The instructions on the back of the card are:

    • Sit down comfortably
    • Remember to breathe slowly in and out
    • Close your eyes
    • Imagine a leaf
    • Imagine the twig that holds the leaf
    • Imagine the branch that holds the twig
    • Imagine the trunk that holds the branch
    • Imagine the trunk firmly planted in the ground
    • Imagine looking up the trunk to the top of the tree
    • Imagine the tree full of branches and full of twigs and full of leaves
    • Pause and take a quiet moment to imagine the leaves, twigs, branches and trunk of this beautiful tree
    • Open your eyes when ready

    I was immediately struck by the idea that basically this was a guided meditation for children. How awesome is that? My kids totally loved the whole experience. (Wow. We get to just sit and imagine?!?) The whole activity lasted just about five minutes, maybe a little less.

    And afterwards, they were happy listeners, engaged in our lesson plan.

    I don't usually have to 'wake up' or 'gear up' my kids, but I tried the other cards after we've had a particularly difficult math or reading lesson, and they certainly appreciated the break and the opportunity to move. I think it helped to relax and refresh their minds and get them back back into the swing of things. (In fact, I enjoyed it so much, too, that I thought about recording the directions on each card to play back to myself!)

    Their website says that Recessitate aims to "engage diverse learners, increase student focus, build rapport, reduce stress, foster self-awareness, and create positive climates for learning." I think this product can do exactly that. I think traditional classrooms especially, could benefit from this tool, as well as homeschooling families.

    I've mentioned before that healthy living - including a healthy diet and exercise plan - is essential to successful learning. I appreciate how this product allows children to be aware of their bodies and encourages movement.

    If you're interested in learning more about Recessitate, please visit their site.

    Con mucho cariño...

    Disclosure: I received Recessitate as a review sample. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.


    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...