Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hagamos Caminos Review

Spanish reading curriculum

The following is a product review by homeschooling mami, Carla Molina, for our "In Your Words" Literacy Series as we celebrate Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros this month on MommyMaestra.

The only fear I have about homeschooling my daughters is that I won't be able to teach them to read in Spanish. I was never taught to read in Spanish. Actually, I wasn't taught any school subjects in Spanish, but the concepts of math and geography and science and all the other subjects translate easily when you're doing hands-on learning. Reading, however, leaves me completely dumbfounded. I searched far and wide for a curriculum to get my girls (and me) off on the right foot. It was a relief to discover Alma Flor Ada's Hagamos Caminos, a creative reading literacy program.

When it comes to reading, I want my daughter to learn to read independently but also, if not more importantly, love to read. Hagamos Caminos is a literature based program which focuses on nurturing a true affection for reading. The books contain a variety of genres including legends, oral folklore, poetry, riddles and rhymes, even plays from all over the Hispanic world. There are stories based on reality, which my daughter easily identifies with, and tales based on fantasy which engage her imagination. Everyone in our house has fallen in love with the literature in this series. We not only work on the educational exercises, but you'll often find one of the books next to our bed for a quick story before getting tucked in for the night.

Curriculum_for_reading_in_SpanishI adore the illustrations. They are fun and whimsical and really make the content pop. When we go through the texts just looking at the pictures, deducing what we think is taking place, I appreciate how someone thought to make it beautiful. The same way I love to hold a gorgeous book in my hands, so do my daughters. If my daughter doesn't like the artwork, then a book has a slim chance of making it past page one. So, five points on a five-point scale for visual appeal!

The program comes with eight books, four of which are reading texts and four accompanying workbooks. There are 4 stages to the series: Partimos (pre-K - 1st), Andamos (K - 2nd), Corremos (1st - 3rd) and Volamos (2nd - 5th). Despite the wide span of grade level content, we were able to work with each of the books. We started with Partimos and I was surprised, having had zero experience with a formal reading program, how engaged and excited my daughter was. She enjoyed the variety of activities and I appreciated how much was covered. Not only did she make connections to the stories but she also got to practice math concepts, fine motor skills, pattern identification, and early writing skills. 
Spanish_literacy_workbooksAll of the books are equally rich in educational content covering a range of skills. We're almost done with Partimos and are making our way through Andamos. With these two books, my daughter has felt easily empowered to work independently and ask for assistance when needed, which is sparingly. It was beautiful to watch her feel so proud of herself as she went through the exercises. The last two books of the series are geared towards older children (1st - 5th grade) so we work on them together. I've thought about putting these away for later but she loves them so much I can't really get them away from her.

The only negative I found with the program is the included DVD. It's a bit dated and not the very best quality. You do, however, get a clear sense of Ada's passion for educating children and her enthusiasm for the program. She shares the principles behind the program which gave me a better perspective on her approach. There are also a few songs which my daughter enjoyed. The video is helpful in getting background on the program but, honestly, I would have felt fine just diving right into the materials.

If you can't tell, I'm really impressed with this program. My daughter is confidently putting the pieces together to learn to read and is genuinely excited for "school" time as we've come to call it. She even applies the methodology for analyzing and thinking about a story to books we read for fun. Hagamos Caminos has made me feel confident in teaching my children to read.

My family has long been a fan of Alma Flor Ada's work and this just solidifies a place in our hearts for her. She is really committed to educating children with respect and love. I highly recommend the Hagamos Caminos program. This set is available for purchase through Del Sol Books. I've already got other books from Del Sol Books, the publishers of Hagamos Caminos, on my daughter's wish list!


Carla Molina is a weaver of words and creative collaborator. A Jersey girl at heart with lots of love for Boston, she spends most of her time raising two bilingual little ladies and brainstorming more ways to write her heart out. She blogs about being a woman and a creative creature at All of Me Now. And plays cheerleader to the local businesses serving families in her current home state at Petit Rhody.


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