Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Aventura en la selva tropical

Whenever I travel, one of the first places I like to hit up are the bookstores. You NEVER know what treasures you'll find. Today was a jackpot day.

Waiting for me on the shelf was a small pile of Aventura en la selva tropical, an educational activity book completely in Spanish. Young readers pretend to join an international team of scientists to explore and protect our planet's tropical forests. Along the way they face many challenges and mysteries, which they must solve in order to decifer the secret code to open the box. Inside they will find a game board, playing chips, 4 tropical animal miniature figures, 24 animal stickers and a travel journal filled with field notes.

I cannot find it available online anywhere here in the States, but you can look at this site for more pictures and additional information.

If you’d like to purchase this activity book, it is available for $20.00 (includes shipping) on a first-come, first-served basis. I only have a few of them. Contact me here.  SOLD OUT!

Engineering Summer Day Camp for Girls in 6th & 7th Grades

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at The University of Texas at Austin is now accepting applications for its summer program for middle school girls: Careers in Engineering for Women (CEW). This non-residential day program is designed to introduce students to engineering. The long-term goal of CEW is to increase the representation of women in the field of engineering. During this
unique, interactive, and fun week long experience, CEW participants will put their math and science skills to practical use.

CEW is a non-residential summer day camp for girls currently in 6th or 7th grade. Although housing will not be provided, but there are many hotels around the campus. This weeklong session will be held June 11-15, 2012. Forty exceptional middle school students will be accepted to attend.

During CEW, participants will explore different aspects of engineering through hands-on activities and challenges. The girls will work in teams to design, construct, and implement solutions to exciting engineering problems. Students will also interact with industry personnel, Cockrell School of Engineering faculty, and energetic UT Austin engineering students.

The CEW application along with a brochure is available online at:


Applications must be postmarked by February 15, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Quinoa Cookies {RECIPE}

Today's post is written by our 12-year-old homeschooled contributor, Angelica.

Cookies are a great way to introduce your kids to Quinoa (keen-wa). This is how my mom first served up this little grain, smart.  With a tall glass of cold milk, my sister and I quickly gobbled them up! As we enjoyed our cookies my mom began to share the history of quinoa and its healthy benefits.   

Quinoa contains more high quality protein than any other grain. It is called a complete protein which means it provides your body with all nine essential amino acids.
Helps to increase tissue growth and repair. A great source of magnesium and iron.
Quinoa is gluten free.

The Incas considered Quinoa a sacred food.  A staple in their diets, these warriors turned to quinoa to fuel their bodies for war, hunting season, and when the tribe relocated their families. Known as the “mother seed” quinoa had been cultivated in the Andean mountains for 5,000 years.  In an effort to control the Incas, the Spanish Conquerors destroyed every field where quinoa was grown. The Conquerors ended the cultivation of quinoa by sentencing death to anyone who tried to grow quinoa. 

Quinoa was not grown until the 1980’s in Colorado. In the hopes of giving back a bit of the Inca history, two Americans began to cultivate quinoa.  These Americans realized that quinoa grew well in drought.  Soon quinoa would be considered a super crop, helping the United Nations feed the hungry. It was also served by NASA on long flights in space.    

New Moon Quinoa Coconut Cookies
January 9, 2009
1/2 c natural peanut butter
1/3 c raw agave nectar
2 T freshly ground flax seeds
2 c cooked quinoa, completely cooled (Make sure this is not too wet or the cookies won’t hold together. It should be on the dry side and fluffy. If yours is pretty saucy, make sure to cook it a bit longer to evaporate the excess water.)
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c dried, shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 c raw cacao nibs (Optional) I did not use them
Preheat the oven on its lowest setting. Mine was 170 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. The parchment paper is non-negotiable. (FYI, you could easily pull this off in a dehydrator or solar oven, if you have either.)
In a bowl, mix together the peanut butter, agave, and ground flax seeds. Mix in the quinoa, oats, and coconut. Fold in the cacao nibs if you’re using them. Your mixture should be pretty clumpy, as shown below. If your quinoa was a bit on the wet side when you started, it may not want to hold together at this point. If that’s the case, toss in a bit more flax and peanut butter and see if that helps.
Next, scoop tablespoons of delicious quinoa goop onto the parchment paper and flatten them with your fingers. Lick your fingers off. Continue the process until you’ve used up or surreptitiously managed to eat the entire batch. Make sure the cookies have decent structural integrity, as they’ll dehydrate slightly in the oven and small weak spots will become bigger. In other words, make sure they’re pretty tightly formed.
Put them in the oven and let them set up for about an hour. (my cookies took 1 ½ )
Make sure to store leftover cookies in the fridge and consume them within a week.

Angelica is a 12-year-old homeschooler with dreams of becoming a pastry chef.
Addicted to comics, food network, and carnival rides, Angelica loves taking over her mom's kitchen. She is currently working on perfecting her pie crust while her family reaps the benefits. You can find her sharing her baking skills over at Sweet Life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Opinion of the Arizona Book Ban

The recent book ban in Arizona has left a bad taste in my mouth.

The people implementing the ban claim that they aren't actually banning books, but rather banning the ethnic studies programs. (How is that supposed to make it any better?) However, they did decide to box up and cart away all the students' books to a "district storage facility." The Tucson School Board was basically told that if they did not abolish the ethnic studies Mexican American Studies programs, then they would lose more than 14 MILLION DOLLARS in state funding.

As a Latina mom who is extremely concerned about the education of not only my children, but ALL children in this country, and especially those who come from Latino families, it infuriates me that such outrageous blackmail is possible.

For years, now, I have publicly voiced my opinion to encourage publishing houses to print more books by Latino authors FOR Latino children. I have said time and again how important it is for our children to see their own faces reflected in literature... in a positive manner. Studies have shown that "Latino adolescents in the U.S. who maintain ties to their culture of origin are more likely to develop healthy behaviors than their peers who do not. Latino adolescents with strong awareness of their family’s culture reported higher self esteem, fewer social problems and less
hopelessness, aggression, and substance abuse." This is the exact opposite of what the ethnic studies are accused of doing.

The Arizona school superintendent, John Huppenthal, instead claims that the Mexican American Studies ethnic studies programs “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people” and “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

Mr. Huppenthal, I don't think you need to worry about the ethnic studies programs doing this. You seem to be doing a great job of it all by yourself. 

Mamiverse has a great commentary on the subject written by Beatriz Terrazas. So does Multicultural Familia. Both object to the banning of books.

In my opinion, the ones who suffer the most from these horrible actions are our children. Instead of growing up in a world filled with possibility, they are being treated with no respect and are being told their history is not worthy of studying.

We must fight for our children. Because if we don't, who will?

So I want to challenge those of you who oppose this atrocious act of censorship and repression to sign the petition created by Norma Gonzalez to the Tucson Unified School Board asking them to return the books to the students. Norma is a teacher in the TUSD, whose culture class has been terminated. Take a moment to read her words about the petition, as well as the petition itself. I have hope in our society. Today, I have watched the number of signatures skyrocket. As I write this, already nearly 10,000 people have signed this petition.

We, Latinos, are a strong and resilient people. And we have determination in our blood. César Chávez and Dolores Huerta are prime examples of the things we can accomplish when we set our minds to it. There's not much you can throw at us that our ancestors haven't already experienced and survived. Don't believe me? Read the REAL history books. I am proud of my heritage and the blessings that God has given us.

It is time for us to put a stop to this nonsense. It is time to say, "Enough." 

We will be educated. And we will be heard.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Swag Bucks: An Easy Way to Earn Books for School

Search & Win

I have an intimate love of Amazon.com. I find so many resources there for homeschooling my kids, that whenever I have the opportunity to get a gift card, I take it. And one of my favorite ways to get a gift card is by simply using Swag Bucks.

Swag Bucks is an online search engine, similar to Google. I earn points or "Swag Bucks" just by using it to look up information online. Once I've accrued a large number of swag bucks, I can turn around and redeem them in the Swag Store and get any number of prizes. I, of course, prefer to save up and redeem my bucks for a gift certificate to Amazon, but there are many other stores including Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro, Old Navy, STARBUCKS, JCPenny...the list goes on and on.

So what are you waiting for? Get over there and sign up! (And while you're at it, tell them I sent you so I can get some extra swag bucks!)

Con mucho cariño...

Inspiring Latina Series: Samantha Garvey

Have you heard of Samantha Garvey? The New York teen recently made the headlines because she is receiving a $50,000 scholarship from AT&T to the college of her choice. And JCPenny gave her a $5,000 gift card. Oh, and Whole Foods gave her a $1,000 gift card, too.

She's also one of the semifinalists for the Intel Science Talent Search, a prestigious competition whose grand prize winner will receive a $100,000 4-year scholarship. And she's been invited to  attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address next Tuesday.

Did I mention that she's homeless?

Or, actually, she was - until her story was picked up by the media and the county found her family a rent-subsidized home in which to live.

Samantha's mother is from El Salvador and her father is from North Carolina. She wants to be a marine biologist and is a bright student, maintaining a 3.9 gpa in the hopes that her education will bring about a better life for both her family and herself.

You have to read her fascinating story. This article is good, too.

Better yet: Watch her incredible story on Newsday...

Now say, "YES!" to education.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lorito Books {Giveaway}

Not long after my kids received their copy of The Polar Express with its read-along CD, I discovered Lorito Books. At the time, it was a new company that had just launched its collection of audiobooks. I'm happy to say that they have done well despite the sluggish economy, and have, in fact, really grown over the past year.

The company's president, Pam Fochtman, saw a need in the community for these materials. The company is committed to developing second language literacy and promoting the beauty of Latino culture. And they believe that audiobooks are a valuable tool to accomplish these goals.

Their high quality, word-for-word audiobook read-alongs for young readers and second language learners are carefully chosen for their culturally relevant content and values. Their products include Growing Up With Tamales/Los tamales de Ana, The Desert is my Mother/El desierto es mi madre, Icy Watermelon/ Sandía fría and other popular titles in Latino children’s literature.

I've had the pleasure of reviewing several of their books with CDs through the Latin Baby Book Club, and I especially appreciate how Pam has chosen native speakers - who just happen to be outstanding storytellers - to record the books. You can learn more about the narrators on the Lorito Books website.

Pam has generously offered two of her new releases as giveaways for MommyMaestra.

The sun shines through the windows of Martha’s Panadería onto the shelves of freshly baked treats. The bakery holds tray after tray of hot Mexican sweet bread—conchas, orejas, cuernitos, empanadas, and cochinitos—all ready for hungry customers...

The Runaway Piggy/El cochinito fugitivo is a bilingual takeoff on the gingerbread man story. It's full of the sounds and people that make up a traditional Latino neighborhood. There is a cochinito cookie recipe included in the back of the book and even comes with piggy cookie cutters! You can listen to some audio samples here, or learn more about the story here.

Older readers will enjoy The Case of the Pen Gone Missing/El caso de la pluma perdida. The character is a Latino "Encyclopedia Brown" who gets tongue-tied when the most popular girl in school asks him to solve a mystery.  It's very sweet. You can read a review of this book on the Latin Baby Book Club. Brian Amador of Sol y Canto is the narrator. This book is available as either a stand alone audiobook or a book + CD set. You can hear an audio sample here.


Two MommyMaestra readers will receive a copy of one of the books with CD.
To enter to win, simply leave a comment below letting me know which book you'd like to win.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, January 23rd. The winners 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) Visit Lorito Books' website, then come back and leave a comment telling me which audiobook you'd like to hear most.

2) Follow MommyMaestra on Facebook

3) Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win bilingual audiobooks from Lorito Books and @LatinMami http://bit.ly/xRqrmL #bilingual #audiobooks #giveaway

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

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Juanita the Spanish Lobster from Maestro Classics {GIVEAWAY}

I'm so excited this week, because I will be running THREE giveaways! I've already shared one with you, and today's is another treat.

I am always looking for ways to introduce my kids to classical music. I have a nice collection of CDs that I play on a regular basis with classical pieces from Mozart, Grieg, and many others. A week or two ago, I clicked on a link that had caught my eye, and it led me to the most wonderful website: Maestro Classics.com.

You cannot even begin to imagine my delight to discover a company that produces educational materials centered around classical music - for young children! They offer a series of classical CDs, each one dedicated to a particular orchestral story. Inside each CD set you will find a short story (length varies depending on the particular story), a section about the story, another section about the music, and one or two bonus soundtracks. It also comes with an activity booklet.

You can also sign up for their Kids Club and receive monthly puzzles, games, and other activities in your email. January's email was focused on Swan Lake, and came with a video, music excerpt, link to their curriculum guide, and a coloring page. Yes, I said curriculum guide. Their awesome site also includes a section with education materials perfect for homeschoolers, teachers, and parents. Yay!

Intrigued, I purchased their album, Juanita the Spanish Lobster, and downloaded the MP3 version because, a) I prefer to be able to download it on my children's school computer, and b) I was too impatient to wait for the actual CD. The best description of this story is found on their website: 

"Juanita is an imposing Spanish lady lobster. Not content to knit seaweed with the other lobsters in the grotto, Juanita prefers to dance a fierce flamenco and sing about her troubles. She loathes her boring underwater life and longs for more excitement. Thinking she can find more fun on the land, she leaps into a fisherman’s lobster trap one day. Her admirer, a lovesick little lobster named Caradoc (as in the Arthurian knight) saves her from certain doom. In the end, a newly contented Juanita learns to love the grotto, and she sings about her marvelous life with all of the other sea creatures."

Not only did I love it, but more importantly, my kids loved it! They have been listening to it over and over. We sat and listened to the story, then learned about who created it and how, then listened to it again, then learned about the different music styles used in the story. It was just fantastic. The MP3 download came with a pdf version of the activity booklet, which was perfect because with two children, I was able to print up the same pages so that they could each have a copy to work on. It is filled not just with activities, but also with a History of Flamenco and Amazing Facts About Lobsters.

Now for the best part: They offer a Spanish version of this particular CD! Juanita la langosta española has been completely translated into Spanish by the very talented, Yanitzia Canetti, whose translations of children's literature I have admired for its smooth sophistication and the way in which it captures the essence of the story. 

The music on the Maestro Classics CDs are performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Simon. The narrator of Juanita the Spanish Lobster is Dr. Konrad Czynski (a.k.a. Yadu), professor of Humanities at Minnesota State University-Moorhead. (He has, in fact narrated several of the other CDs including Peter & the Wolf, Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice.)

But the narrator of Juanita la langosta española is Rosi Amador, lead singer of Sol y Canto. Rosi has narrated a number of childrens books, including recent releases by Barefoot Books (which I mentioned yesterday).

Below is a short video of Maestro Classics' co-creator, Bonnie Ward Simon, talking about Juanita la langosta española:


Maestro Classics is kindly offering a copy of their Juanita la langosta española CD to one MommyMaestra reader.

To enter to win, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, January 23rd. The winners 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) Visit Maestro Classics' website, then come back and leave a comment telling me which CD you'd like to hear most.

2) Follow Maestro Classics on Facebook

3) Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win a a copy of Maestro Classics' Juanita la langosta española from @LatinMami http://bit.ly/xtAwyq #Spanish #classicalmusic #giveaway

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

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!

The Value of Audiobooks

© Helder Almeida - Fotolia.com
 Since I have dedicated this week to audio books, I want to take a moment to explain why and to sing their praises. Growing up, the only experience I had with them was a small set of cassettes that someone gave me when I was about three or four years old. It was a set of two or three cassettes and the accompanying children's books, the only one of which I can remember was Sinbad ("Don't worry about me men, I'll be all right!"). So I never REALLY enjoyed the beauty of listening to a book on tape. Back then, it was sort of frowned upon. Like you were cheating; too lazy to read the book, so you decide to listen to it instead.

So I never really thought much about them. But a little over a year ago, my mother sent my kids a copy of The Polar Express...and it came with a CD. One evening, too tired to read to my kids, I popped the CD in and laid down on the bed with my kids. Moments later the sound of Liam Neeson's voice swept me and my children away and off to the North Pole. That was their favorite book for weeks. Maybe even months.

The thought that maybe I was missing the boat and depriving my kids slowly crept into my brain and began to take hold. I began to notice little snippets of conversations by other homeschoolers and articles would catch my eye. And then, through my work with the Latin Baby Book Club, I was contacted by a publisher who was selling bilingual books with an accompanying CD (more about them later). I received samples and listened to the tapes.

And I was SOLD.

This past Christmas, I purchased several books from Barefoot Books during their Winter Sale. Both of them came with a CD. My children LOVED them. And I learned a valuable lesson: Audio books are a valuable tool to increase literacy in children. In fact, I would go so far as to say that ALL children should have access to audio books.

The act of listening to a story has such powerful impact on a child's literacy skills. I could see in my own children how it refines their listening skills and helps to build reading comprehension. If you have a child who is struggling to understand what he is reading, using audio books in conjunction with their reading practice could actually improve their ability to remember what the story is about, and help them internalize the meaning.

My husband asked me, "How do you know he's not just memorizing it?" I don't. Yes, he might be. And that's okay, because when I go back and ask him to read it again, pointing to the words as he reads, he remembers the story, which in turn helps him to remember word sounds and decode what is written on the page. His eyes are seeing the word, and his brain is remember the sounds and the meaning. Next time he runs across that word, it will be easier to read. Makes sense, no?

I think audio books also help children learn the rhythm of a well-written story. By listening, they learn about inflection and intonation. It trains their ear, so that they will begin to look ahead as they read so that they can read aloud in a similar manner.

They are also a wonderful way to introduce young children to literature that is too difficult for them to read, for example, the Classics. I think if we wait until children are old enough to read some of the classics, then our kids will be bored. They have to learn to appreciate well-written literature while they are young, before their minds get used to the easy "candy" on the bookshelf. The garbage that doesn't really inspire the imagination, or incite thoughtful consideration, but rather just evokes a good laugh and is written purely for entertainment's sake. I'm not saying there's not a time and a place for a mindless story, but I think we ought to train our children's minds to savor the challenge and sophistication of well-written literature from the start. And a well-told audio book of good children's literature can capture and entertain a child's mind as easily as the next book.

If you'd like to read more about the benefits of using audiobooks with children, take a look at the following articles:

Benefits of Audiobooks for All Readers on Reading Rockets

The Literacy Benefits of Listening: Use audio books to bring life and depth to your child’s reading experience on Scholastic

8 Teaching Benefits of Audio Books on Ezine @rticles  (A great article!)

Con mucho cariño...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bilingual Books on Tape {GIVEAWAY}

This week is dedicated to audio books and the valuable place they have in our children's education. I mentioned last week that I'm committed to incorporating more audio books in our studies, and I'll be sharing resources for them over the next few days.

But I want to kick off this week with a giveaway. I have two sets of four CDs featuring the stories of author Alma Flor Ada. This set includes four books in Spanish, and one in both English and Spanish.

The first CD is collection of 29 songs for each letter in the alphabet and one original alphabet song. All of them are in Spanish and are from the book, Abecedario de los animales, written by Alma Flor Ada and Suni Paz.

The second CD is a series of stories read by the authors, F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada. It is their own versions of the 12 traditional tales that they wrote for their book, Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas. Some of the stories included are Blancaflor, Juan Bobo, Martina Martínez y el Ratoncito Pérez, El caballito de siete colores, and many others.

The third CD is actually in both English and Spanish. Once again read by the author. The Gold Coin or La moneda de oro is a beautiful book about generosity and transformation. You can read the moving and inspirational story behind this tale on Del Sol Books' website.

And our last CD is actually another collection of 27 songs based on the book, Gathering the Sun: An ABc in Spanish and English, written by Ada and Paz. These songs originate from simple poems written about the lives of Latin Americans; one for each letter of the Spanish alphabet. You can read a review here on the Latin Baby Book Club site.

I am so happy to be able to giveaway one of these CD sets to two readers. And I am especially grateful to Alma Flor Ada, for generously offering these as giveaways.


I have two sets of each CD to giveaway and will choose two winners.

To enter to win, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Sunday, January 22nd. The winners 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.) Leave a comment telling me which CD you are looking forward to the most!

2.) Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win a set of bilingual audio books for children from @LatinMami http://bit.ly/AeG1er #Spanish #reading #giveaway

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

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

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!


Dear Mommy Maestra readers:

I'm delighted to know that you will be able to share with your children some of the CDs that Isabel Campoy, Suni Paz and myself have created with great love. It would be nice to hear their reaction to the stories and songs. You can contact us at: http://www.almaflorada.com/, http://www.isabelcampoy.com/, http://www.sunipaz.com/. Do not miss visiting Isabel's new website! And let us know if you want a free subscription to the monthly enewsletter Smiles and Butterflies, with ideas on sharing books with children. All best wishes. ~Alma Flor Ada

Disclosure: This giveaway is offered in collaboration with the authors. I have not been compensated in any way for offering this giveaway, and it results from my contacting them and asking for a contribution to our Music in Education series.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interactives from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Maybe by now you are figuring out that I love museum websites...especially those that offer quality educational content. So naturally, I was really excited when I found that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a section on their site exclusively for interactives. And not just one or two, but eighteen! From Knights in Central Park to Cézanne's Astonishing Apples to How Van Gogh Made His Mark, you'll find some informative and interactive programs that allow you and your students to learn online - and have fun doing so.

Their site also offers videos, podcasts and a Kid Zone where children can print up their own map and guides of the museum. There is also an educator's section with lesson plans and other publications.


Children's Literacy Lab: In English...y español

The Children's Literacy Lab is a website created by the GSR Foundation (Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez), a private and independent non-profit institution focused on the promotion of reading. The GSR Foundation was established by the Spanish publisher, Germán Sánchez Ruipérez, who wanted to focus on the reader instead of the books. The foundation is dedicated to first readers, and has implemented innovative community programs through libraries.

Based out of Spain, this fabulous site is published in English and Spanish. It shares the latest news related to literacy, how-to tips for parents and educators, as well as how technology is influencing today's readers. The site also provides online training in Spanish on subjects like how to enhance your teaching with online educational resources.

My favorite part is the free digital school library in Spanish, and I know many of you will enjoy this, too. If you are a bilingual-ed teacher, this site is a fabulous resource. Parents, you will enjoy reading the articles and tips.

Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Reyes Banner

Busy, busy this week! So today, just a quick shot from class time last week....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 Homeschool Goals

So FINALLY I have had time to sit and reflect on the past year. It was a big year for me school-wise, since I went from homeschooling one child to teaching two. I've thought about what has worked out...and what has not. I went back and took a look at last year's resolutions goals.

(I don't really like that word, resolution. The first word that comes to my mind after hearing it is broken. Too many negative associations with this word, even though I love the word resolve. So I have resolved not to use the word resolution any more. Instead I prefer to say goal.)

Anyway, I was happy that with the exception of a few, I pretty much accomplished what I wanted to do. That said, you will find one or two of the same goals on this year's list. So here's what I have worked out in my own head.

At the top of this list is my decision to post the following list somewhere visible. Some place where I will see it on a daily basis. Otherwise, out of sight, out of mind.

For my daughter who is beginning the second half of her 2nd grade year, I want to:

Find or put together a really good spelling curriculum. Yes, yes, I know that I had this on last year's list. But I just wasn't happy with the curricula that I tried. So I'll continue to search, though I've found one or two that look promising.

Find a good reading list that is appropriate for her reading level. I've actually already started researching this and received some great suggestions on The Homeschool Mom's FB page.

Decide on a better grammar curriculum. The one we have now is a little too dry - for both of us! I'm thinking about using one from Critical Thinking Company.

• Continue with her happiness training. My daughter is so much better than she was last year. But she is still emotional and moody. And her attitude towards school is sometimes pretty sour, which is strange because she enjoys it when she is actually learning. It's just hard getting her to the table. She still resists math, even though she likes the new curriculum and is doing really well with it. But in my opinion, she's got to learn to be still and do the work when she has to. I don't ask it of her for very long, but I do think this is an important part of self-discipline.

For my son who is beginning the second half of his Kindergarten year, I want to:

Find a good writing curriculum. This boy loves to read and write...but his handwriting isn't so great. I need something fun that he will enjoy doing. I'm investigating this program and this one.

Sign him up for classes at the museum. My daughter has had so many class opportunities through the museum, 4-H, and other venues. I want him to have a chance to enjoy something similar.

And for myself:

Find balance. Since I moved away from a structured curriculum this year, I'm definitely less of a slave to it...but I'm also more disorganized. :( Which is especially sad because getting organized was one of my goals for last year, but I seem to have gone in the opposite direction!

Use more software. I'd like to find more interactive software for my kids. I especially like School Zone's programs, and so do my kids. That said, I do believe in careful monitoring of their time spent on the computer: each one gets no more than 45 minutes on the computer each day... it's really more like 30 minutes.

Make a decision about using the Internet. I found some great interactives online this year and I'd like to be able to use more of them on the kid's computer. However, their computer is not hooked up to the Internet, which is really important to me. At the same time, I don't want them on mine! What's a mami to do?

Use more audio books. I am really happy with some of the audio books we used last year. And after reading about this in The Well-Trained Mind, I want to continue to pursue this practice. I really like the books with CD's I purchased from Barefoot Books, and have found other resources for audio books that I want to explore.

• And lastly, I want to continue exploring Spanish curricula. I like the one we are using now and so do the kids, but I need a more structured curriculum. So it's back to the drawing board...again.

¿Y tu? Have you created new goals to go with the new year?

Con mucho cariño...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bilingual Winter Number Cards {PRINTABLE}

For you. The first gift of the year from MommyMaestra. I hope you enjoy these bilingual number cards and posters. I've mentioned before that we are using a lot more manipulatives in our lessons. I designed and cut out these cards then laminated them. I'm using them with my Kindergartner during his math lessons, but my 2nd grader is benefiting from them, too, in her spelling lessons. You can punch holes in the top corners of each card and place them on a ring (as I have), or run some ribbon through them to create a banner. I have the number poster displayed in a frame, but it could also be easily laminated and placed on a wall, etc.

If you are teaching your children Spanish, you could also use these cards to teach them the numbers from 1 to 10.

To download this set, just click on the picture above.

I hope 2012 is starting off on a good note for all of you!

Con mucho cariño...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Inspiring Latinos: Javier Fernandez-Han

Forbes has released its list of the most influential and inspirational people in the country under 30. On it is 17-year-old, Javier Fernandez-Han, a homeschooler from the Woodlands, TX. Do you want to be inspired? Watch this video...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Los Reyes Magos: A Mini-Concert

I'm going to end this week's posts a day early with these beautiful videos. It took me a while to find them. Don't forget that new links and resources for activities, crafts, and more for Día de los Reyes Magos have been added to the main MommyMaestra Reyes resource page.

Wishing you a joyful weekend! I hope you enjoy this mini-concert from your own computer...

Music for Celebrating Día de los Reyes Magos

This post uses affiliate links. 

You can find a whole list of MP3s available on Amazon about Los Reyes Magos. They are all inexpensive, but naturally, there were just a few in particular that I enjoyed. Below you will find three very different versions/styles of music dedicated Los Reyes. If you follow the link to their Amazon page, you can listen to a sample of each one. 

Ya vienen los Reyes (aff link) by Rayito is a beautiful version, that is easy to sing along with... though I think mamis will like this version better than los niños. It is available on the album, Queridos Reyes Magos (aff)($6.99), or as a single MP3 (aff) for $.89. It is also available in a CD format ($25.00 and up).

Los Tres Reyes Magos (aff) by José-Luis Orozco. Of course, you can't go wrong with Orozco's clear, strong voice and musical arrangements. I very much like listening to just the sound of him singing and playing his guitar - it doesn't distract me from the music itself. It is available on his album, Fiestas - Vol 6. (aff) for $9.49, or as a single MP3 (aff) for $.99. It is also available in a CD format ($15.98).

Los Reyes Magos (aff) by Aquabella. I love the harmony in this version! I can't hardly keep up with what they're saying, but it sounds beautiful. It is available on the album, Jaros Whisper (aff) for $8.99, or as a single MP3 (aff) for $.99.

Con mucho cariño...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Los Reyes on the Internet

Here are just a few of the new resources I have discovered on Los Reyes Magos. For a complete list, be sure to check out the main resource page for Día de los Reyes.

Pasitos de Colores has an adorable short story about Los Reyes. Just click on the picture and it will take you to their site. Once you are there, you can scroll down and click on the first picture. This will pull up a slide show to make reading the book easier for you and your children.

ParaBebes has the cutest site where kids can choose their favorite Magi and then send him an email with their wishlist. (I asked for a new car. Ahem.) And he immediately responds with a short video! All in Spanish. Love it.

Mi Sala Amarilla has a great collection of printable letters to los Reyes (it's also where I found the link to ParaBebes). You can download and print your favorite design!

Dibujos.org has this adorable banderita you can print and have your students color/decorate. Then just string them together and you've got your own Día de los Reyes banner!

Con mucho cariño...

Monday, January 2, 2012

5 Spanish-Language Books on Los Reyes Magos

Last year I put together a post with resources for el Día de los Reyes Magos. That page continues to be updated as I find new products, activities, and lessons on the subject. I've recently erased the events that were listed at the bottom, and have added new crafts, activities, etc. More will be added over the next few days, too, so be sure to check it frequently.

I also discovered several new Spanish-language books that I'm happy to share with you here. Some of them are hard to find, or are available in limited quantities, so if you're interested in any of them, don't wait! You can find all of them on Amazon.com or in the Latin Baby Book Club's online bookshop.


This post contains affiliate links. See my sidebar for an explanation.

Los Reyes Magos llegan de noche... by Manuel Fernandez Juncos and Braulio Dueno Colon, illustrated by Marjorie Ann Velez. (Shown above.) Good for elementary students, this set includes a CD with musical accompaniment.

Los reyes magos de Oriente by Lluis Farre adapted by Carmen Gil and illustrated by Merce Canals. With rhyming text and lively illustrations, this pop-up book presents the voyage of the three kings to Bethlehem to worship baby Jesus.

Queridos Reyes Magos, Gracias by Ana Maria Jimenez Donaire. Created by educators to teach children values.

Olivia y la carta a los reyes magos by Elvira Lindo and illustrated by Emilio Urberuaga.

Las aventuras y desventuras de los reyes magos by Guillermo Canovas.


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