Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Exploring Ancient Greece Through Crafts & Activities

We've had the best time learning about Ancient Greece in the weeks leading up to the Olympics. Over the past month or so I started stocking up on books and other supplies to make our learning comprehensive, but fun.

This post contains affiliate links.

We started off re-reading the Magic Tree House book #16 Hour of the Olympics, and followed it up with the MTH Research Guide: Ancient Greece and the Olympics. Both books were the perfect introduction to Ancient Greece. Of course, we enjoyed the way Mary Pope Osborne tells a good story filled with educational information to make learning fun. Definitely two must-reads.

But for my kids, there's nothing like hands-on activities and we found gold in Linda Honan's book, Spend the Day in Ancient Greece: Projects and Activities that Bring the Past to Life. The story is about a day in the life of an Athenian family some 2,000 years ago. My kids loved learning about 12-year-old Alexander and his 10-year-old sister, Helen. There are 11 chapters in the book and each one features two or three short stories accompanied by a craft. From chitons to chariots, hydrias to water clocks, this book does a superb job of immersing your child in the lifestyle of Ancient Greece. But I think their favorite craft was making this clay owl, the bird most closely associated with Athena. I love their individuality!
Stay tuned! We have more Olympic goodness coming up this week!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bilingual Olympic-Themed Cards {Printables}

Woop! This week on MommyMaestra we are celebrating Las Olimpiadas! We have a lot of fun stuff lined up for you and are starting off with two sets of printables.

First off, since today is a Math Monday Marathon, I have a set of FREE Bilingual, Olympic-Themed Number Cards for you to print, cut, and laminate. They focus on the numbers 0 - 10 for kids in Pre-K through Kindergarten, or for beginning Spanish learners. Here's a sample picture:

I have also put together a set of Bilingual Olympic Trading Cards that features 10 Olympic sports (see top picture). Each card includes both the English and Spanish vocabulary. The sports are: archery, hockey, kayaking, boxing, cycling, fencing, equestrian, swimming, taekwondo, and gymnastics.
Feel free to share, but please credit MommyMaestra.

You can find these and other printables in my online shop, and keep an eye on it because I have more Olympic-themed printables coming soon!

Con mucho cariño... 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Neutrogena's Wave for Change Campaign Benefits Low-Income Students

Woops. So my 8-year-old daughter (the Film Director of the above video) accidentally turned off the camera, but I was pretty much done anyway.

Thanks so very much to all of you who participated in last night's #WaveforChange Twitter party. If you were following me on @LatinMami, I had some technical difficulties and had to switch to my new @MommyMaestra account. I tried to do both, but Twitter goes so quick. Fortunately, the party was a resounding success with 12.5 million impressions!! It also generated around 60 views for the video during the 90 minutes of the party.

At any rate, I wanted to explain why I chose to participate in this particular campaign. This year, Neutrogena will donate a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $250,000 to GlobalGiving between 7/1/2012 and 8/31/2012. Video views will account for up to $130,000 in donations. (So click on that link and watch the video! How easy is that?) And any Neutrogena® Acne, Facial Cleansing or Cosmetics products registered on Neutrogena.com or Facebook.com/Neutrogena will account for up to $20,000 in donations.

Aside from the fact that I use a Neutrogena product or two (yes, I really do!), GlobalGiving has selected three AWESOME charities to support with the funding.

Para los Niños is a non-profit that works to create academic success by supporting families in at-risk neighborhoods in Southern California. They offer high-quality education integrated with family supports, mental health services, and community engagement opportunities through their early education centers, charter schools, and wellness centers.

I was sold on this entire campaign the moment that I watched Para los Niños' video on the Wave for Change site. It is so moving! And it makes me so happy and thankful that there are people and organizations like these out there working hard to improve the lives of our children. I hope you take a moment to watch.

KIPP is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. They believe in hiring exceptional teachers who are passionate about their work and go above and beyond for their students. Their goal is 100% college enrollment. So far they are at about 85%, which is pretty impressive given the location of their schools.

Education Through Music serves over 4,500 under-served students in Los Angeles with weekly, yearlong music classes at no cost. They provide music teachers, instruments, and guidance for schools to sustain the program. I know that music can have a profound affect on a child's performance in other subjects, which makes me laud the efforts of this program.

So if you use Neutrogena products, or even if you don't (I highly recommend their SkinClearing oil-free makeup), take a moment to support these very worthy programs and all the good things they are doing for children's education across our country.

Un abrazo...

Disclosure: This is a sponsored campaign on behalf of Nutrogena and Latina Blogger Connect. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mamas Make the Difference: An Interview with Ondina López

Lately, I've been thinking about moms. It seems like over the last year or more, I keep learning about all these really interesting and successful people who say they owe it all to their mami. And I know that without my own mother - always supportive, always proud - there's just so much I wouldn't have done and accomplished during my life.

My parents divorced when I was just two years old, so my mom had the difficult job of providing for me on her own. But she had my grandmother and my great grandmother there to help her. They would care for me while she was working full-time so that she could afford to send me to good schools and give me opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise. And she always made it clear that my education was one of the most important things in my life. There was never any question about me going to college. It was a given.

And now that I have children, I totally get it. I understand the desperate desire a mother has for her children to grow up to be healthy, whole, and happy. And to want to help them succeed as best I can. But sometimes I wonder if I know what I'm doing, or if I'm doing the right thing.

So when I had the opportunity to participate in an interview with Ondina López, the mother of not one, but two 2012 Olympic Games hopefuls - Steven and Diana López - I jumped! In fact, ALL of her children, Steven, Jean, Mark, and Diana, are at the world-elite level in Taekwondo. Steven, Mark, and Diana made history when they each won gold at the 2005 World Taekwondo Championships, becoming the first three siblings in any sport to claim World Championship titles at the same event.

That's pretty impressive, no?

And it makes me wonder, what does it take to raise Olympians?

Steven is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and bronze medalist. He will be competing in the 80kg division at this year’s Games. Crest & Oral-B Complete have also partnered with Steven’s mother, Ondina López, to highlight the importance mom’s support can play in an athlete’s success.

Below are some of Ondina's tips for raising successful children.

What was your morning routine like when your kids were growing up and were in school at the same time they were training in Taekwondo?

Well, every morning I'd get up really early to organize the house, fix breakfast and lunches, then I'd get myself and the kids ready so I could take them to practice or events. I always made their lunches for them to take to their events because it made things easier for them. And I am happy to say that they never ate out. They always had homemade meals with fresh vegetables and fruit, that I prepared for them.

How would you maintain organization in your household with four kids and a set schedule?

La familia has to be united and everyone works together. It's all about maintaining a balance.

How did you maintain your Latin culture at home?

They always knew that I only allow Spanish to be spoken at home. And we read lots of books and ate Latin meals, things like that.

What was the general perception of education like in your home?

My kids always knew that school was important. Homework had to be done. They knew that during the week it was "work" time and that weekends were their free time. We were lucky because our school was very supportive and was great about letting the kids do their homework on the road when they had a competition. And fortunately, Taekwondo really taught them self-discipline, to be responsible.

And today, my kids talk to a lot of school children and encourage them to do a good job and keep them motivated.

What advice do you have for other families with children who are Olympic hopefuls?

The biggest advice I have is to have patience, lots of patience. And love. Affection and support is most important. I was always there to hug and love them whenever they didn't do as well as they liked.

And to tell your kids that there are no limits to what they want to accomplish. Only the sky is the limit!

You will love this short video of Ondina and Steven and see how much she loves them.

I'm really thankful to Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) whose partnership with Steven López on the importance of how a healthy oral care routine is an important part of his winning moments led to this interview opportunity. (And as a mother with two kids who spend a LOT of time at the dentist, I am a devoted oral health care supporter!!)

To learn more about P&G Oral Care Olympic Games partnership, please "Like" Crest on Facebook.

This is part of a sponsored campaign with Crest and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5 Spanish Apps for Kids

I've had some requests come in about Spanish or bilingual apps for students. It's pretty disappointing how few quality apps are out there with real Spanish content. Most are focus on the basics, which is okay, but where are the Spanish reading, verb conjugation, grammar, etc? But there are some good ones out there and here are 5 Spanish apps that MommyMaestra likes and recommends...

1. NoyoSpanish $7.99- This is an incredible app for Spanish learners, as well as for Spanish-dominant children. It features over 200 scenes, with over 1800 vocabulary words in 8 targeted units. The illustrations are fantastic and engaging. Visit their website for more information.

2. Kandoobi Animales $2.99- A full-immersion Spanish app that features over 100 domestic and wild animals. There are four components to it: Letras, A colorear, Raya y rellena, and Igual a la silueta. We loved this app. Click on the link to read my full review.

3. Ana Lomba's Spanish for Kids apps FREE- Lomba's fun and interactive apps focus on storytelling to teach language. Her immersion classic storybooks are available for iPad. The first app, The Little Red Hen/La gallina roja, is FREE, so try it out. The link will take you to a more thorough review from Fun Educational Apps.

4. Little Pim $2.99- This app teaches basic vocabulary about eating and drinking, playing and sharing, sleeping and waking. It includes three interactive games and each game includes three levels of play, covering basic nouns (level one), verbs (level two), and short phrases (level three).

5. eBooks for iPad by Maroe Susti $.99 to $1.99- These are beautifully illustrated and written books with full text in both English and Spanish. You can read a review and interview with the author/illustrator on the LBBC.

Monday, July 23, 2012

ChildUp Early Learning Game Cards {Math Monday Marathon}

"Home is the new first grade."

Since we have been talking about the importance of early education, today's math product is for children ages 1 to 5. These game cards are based on the ChildUp Early Learning Method, which emphasizes parental involvement and learning pre-math skills.

Each set of cards contains 16 parent cards and 48 child cards. The parent cards describe the early learning method and provides parents with solid information about their child's development stages. They also explain why the critical period for learning the basis for math and logic is between ages one and five.

The child cards are divided up into four different themed learning groups. For example, in the couting to 10 cards there are farm animals, ocean animals, African animals, and birds. Parents ask their children counting questions, such as "How many mammals can you count on this card?" or "Which animal is the biggest?" or "Which animals can fly/run/swim/etc." So the cards combine math concepts with science ones.

The counting cards feature pictures of various animals on the front, and the pictures with the Arabic numerals on the back...

The beautifully illustrated cards are designed by Argentine artist, Marcela Ribero. They are so adorable and engaging that your child is sure to love looking at each one.

The ChildUp website is full of information about their early learning method. You can find articles, online parenting classes and much, much more. They also offer two FREE learning apps: The EarlyMath app to help kids learn digits and teach early counting, and the EarlyZoo app to teach preschoolers the basics of zoology and biology (80 different animals in 8 different categories). I LOVE both of these.

I think they would do well to create their card games with parent cards in Spanish, too, so that Spanish-dominant families can also work with their children at home to prepare them for Kindergarten and future academic success. However, bilingual parents can easily read the cards and translate the questions for their children.

The cards also inspired my own child to do this!

So if you have a toddler, take advantage of this stage to begin teaching them early math skills!

Con mucho cariño...

Disclosure: ChildUp sent me two packs of counting cards to review. All opinions expressed above are strictly my own.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Abróchate a la Vida

When I was a little girl, I don't even know if car seats were around. Maybe they were, but I certainly don't remember using one. In fact, I have two distinct memories. First, I can remember playing around in the back of our car while my mom was driving in the front. We used to have this game where she would ask, "Quién es la más bonita?" and I would sing back, "Yo!" Followed by "Quién es la más guapa?" ...and so on. But at the very end, she would ask, "Quién es la más fea?" I would scream "Baby King Kong!" and fling myself into the opposite corner, sometimes getting up by the rear windshield to escape my mother's tickling fingers.

The second memory I have is of my 'Buelita, who used to drive a little Gremlin (do you remember those cars??). She could barely see over the steering wheel and had to drive sitting forward to reach the pedals. And in the back, I would sit - unbuckled - pretending to drive using the back of the seat in front of me as a steering wheel.

Now, as a mother of two, I look back on those days with a good bit of horror. I'm so grateful that we were never involved in a wreck, because who knows if I'd be sitting here today writing about the importance of buckling up our kids.

And since those long ago days, I can remember hearing or reading about Latino children involved in accidents, who have died because they weren't wearing a seat belt.

In fact, did you know that:

• Car crashes are the number one killer of children in the US? And every year, more than 160,000 children are injured in car crashes.

• Latino children are less likely to be buckled up than non-Latino children across ALL age groups?

• AND that Latino children are more likely to die in a car crash?

All of this is why I am supporting the wonderful program, Buckle Up for Life, or Abróchate a la Vidaa national, community-based injury prevention initiative supporting the African American and Hispanic communities. They work with local hospitals and churches, to addresses the economic, cultural and, where appropriate, language barriers to motor vehicle safety.

The program was created via a partnership between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Toyota, and is the only program of its kind. During a six week program in a pilot city, they saw dramatic results; the program nearly tripled the number of children properly buckled up among the families who participated.

Gloria del Castillo is the program's National Coordinator. She says they saw the need to address the cultural issue, the financial issue, and the educational issue through the program. In addition to safety classes, participating families also receive a free car seat or booster seat, and are taught by certified child passenger safety techinicians on how to properly install them.

Programs are launching across the country and are available in Cincinnati, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Antonio, and are soon expanding to Houston, Las Vegas, Orange County, and Philadelphia.

To learn more about Buckle Up for Life, I encourage you to click here. Nothing is more precious than your child's life. And it doesn't take much to keep them safe in a vehicle.

Un abrazo...


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Using Story Boards to Boost Reading Comprehension

One of my favorite tools for developing my kids' reading comprehension is the story board. I have loved it ever since I read about it in a popular homeschooling magazine. Story boards are simple visual templates that they can fill in using their own imagination and their understanding of the book or subject in question.

To use a story board, I have my kids sit down and read a book (or I read one to them). Afterwards, I choose one of the story board templates that I created and I have my kids fill in the sections. I try to vary it, so sometimes I have them pick several passages from the story and draw them in the spaces provided. The center/main shape is reserved for the "cover" or the title of the book/story board. Other times I ask them to draw different characters in the story, or different settings. You can also have them pick a particular theme, and have them draw the main elements associated with it.

The story board shown above is based off of George Ancona's ¡Olé! flamenco. Each section is filled with the elements found within the book that are associated with the beautiful Spanish dance.

Sometimes I let my daughter pick which template she wants to use. But I try to use the simpler ones (with fewer sections) for my younger son who has a shorter attention span.

The great thing about story boards is that they can be used for ANY language (obviously), and they can also be used across subjects. For example, you can use them in science (i.e., to list different types of habitats, etc.), history (drawing different presidents, etc.), geography (to show different types of landforms, etc.),  and much, much, more.

Story boards are easy to create on your own. But if you prefer to use mine, I have a set of 14 different story boards available in my teacher shop. You can find them in my TpT store or in my online MommyMaestra shop.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Love Avocados Thanks to My 'Buelita

When it comes to our niños, nutrition and education go hand-in-hand. Without proper nutrition, our kids are more likely to struggle academically. Our bodies need the right balance of protein, vitamins, and minerals to perform important functions like the ability to focus, make connections, comprehension, and much, much more.

When I think about nutrition, I typically think of my 'Buelita, who was the best cook that I've ever known. She learned to cook by watching the viejitas cooking in the plazas in Mexico. And when she came to the U.S., she found success by opening her own restaurant in Dallas, Texas.

El Original was one of the city's favorites, and it served traditional Mexican and TexMex dishes. People from all over town came to eat my 'Buelita's exceptional meals, which she prepared with love and happiness. All of her dishes were made from scratch - no canned enchilada sauce ever entered her kitchen. Everyday she scoured the markets for fresh produce, including fresh avocados.

It would not surprise me to learn that my first introduction to aguacates was made by my 'Buelita. I remember that when I was a child, 'Buelita would fill warm corn tortillas with a few slices of aguacates and a pinch of salt. That was my FAVORITE afterschool snack. (And it still is!) That's when my love affair with avocados began.

According to Avocados from Mexico's website, "the world's first avocado was grown and cultivated in Mexico countless generations ago. Thanks to the region's fertile volcanic soil, ideal climate, and centuries of expert cultivation, Mexico remains the source of the world's finest avocados. Today, Mexico is the only place in the world where avocado trees naturally bloom four times a year. Producing a year-round bounty of irresistibly rich and creamy avocados." (Hmmm...I think I need to put together a unit study on avodados, don't you?)

But what makes aguacates a winner in my mother/teacher mind is the fact that they have more than 25 essential nutrients that our bodies need, including folic acid, Vitamin E, Potassium, B vitamins and fiber, and protein not normally found in fruit. AND they have both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and (again) potassium which help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

So knowing this and because I have loved this food for so long, I am always trying to find ways to prepare it for my own kids. The Avocados from Mexico site has lots of super delicious recipes in English and Spanish that the public has shared.

But I wanted to share with you one of the lunches that I frequently prepare for my own kids. The chicken and avocados provide an extra boost of protein to keep their energy up throughout the long afternoons. I hope you enjoy!

Chicken Avocado Pasta

2 cups pasta (shells)
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (or butter)
1/2 tomato, diced
1/4 bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped 
1 avocado, diced
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
salad dressing (optional)

1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain. 
2. Add EVOO (or butter) and stir well.
3. Spoon into bowls and add chicken, fruits, and vegetables.
4. Top with your favorite salad dressing and stir.

Serves 4.

Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with Avocados from Mexico and Latina Bloggers Connect. However, all opinions expressed - and the recipe! - are my own.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Little Spanishers Writing Activity

There is a new bilingual learning blog on the web. Little Spanishers was created by Silvina, a Latina mom who is also a writer and teacher. Most recently she has started the clever challenge of children stories without an ending. If you visit her site, you'll find a story that your child can read in English or Spanish (or you can read to him/her). But it is up to your child to finish the story in whichever language they prefer.

Four (4) weeks after each story is published, Silvina selects the most original ending. The winner will receive a book either in Spanish or in a bilingual format.

The stories are so cute! So you shouldn't have any trouble engaging your child. And I love that they have to come up with an ending because it challenges them to think carefully about the story and they must use their imaginations to complete it. It's also a great way to provide writing practice during the summer!

Silvina already has three stories up. SO head on over there and take a look!

Con mucho cariño...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fun with Roman Numerals {Math Monday Marathon}

We're continuing our summer of math fun with the entertaining (yet educational!) book, Fun with Roman Numerals by David Adler. Learning about Roman numerals can be a little confusing for some kids. Not only do they have to learn different symbols for numbers, they also have to learn that the order in which they are arranged is important.

If your child is learning about Roman numerals, don't panic! Adler does a great job of presenting them to kids in an engaging manner. My kids enjoyed learning about all the different ways in which Roman numerals are used today (in clocks, book chapters, and even the Super Bowl, for example) and they especially loved Miller's illustrations, which do a great job of reinforcing the text.


After reading the book, my kids wanted to try their hand at writing out Roman numerals. So we came up with several activities to help them practice.

• The kids took turns writing their ages and then their birthdates on some thin cardboard pieces using a black marker.

• I also gave them some play-dough and a list of numbers and had them sculpt them out.

• Perhaps the best project was creating their own clock face. The kids took a bowl and traced around it on a piece of construction paper, then carefully labeled the hours.

• We also happen to have an old clock with one Roman numeral that was drawn incorrectly. I challenged my daughter to find the mistake, which she really enjoyed. Here's a picture in case you'd like to challenge your own child to find the mistake.

Happy learning!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why I Love Summer Camps

My kids enjoyed a two-day summer camp this week on biotechnology. They came home chatting about DNA and biofuels. And today they brought home these beautiful creations...

1. Origami DNA
3. Glow-in-the-dark jello (Is this safe to eat?!?)
4. A candle
5. Edible DNA
6. A chimpanzee's DNA pattern

Is that awesome, or what?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Conversation with Michelle Obama

Yesterday in Miami, I had the incredible opportunity to talk with the First Lady. The event is still somewhat of a surreal experience in my mind; a blur of Secret Service agents in pink ties and over in the blink of an eye. But I will forever remember the moment when she walked into the room and how she immediately walked over to all of us where we were sitting on the couches. We all jumped up, of course, and she took a moment to greet each one of us with a warm hug and welcoming words, thanking each of us for taking the time to talk with her. She was warm and friendly, trying to put all of us at ease as she talked about her morning and her daughters.

As a Latina mom, I was struck by two things. First, this was, I believe, the first time anyone in the White House had reached out to Latina moms to talk about the issues and worries that so many of us deal with in our day-to-day lives. And second, Mrs. Obama was the perfect person for us to talk to because she is also a mother who obviously puts her kids first. And she seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say.

To our delight, we were also joined by Katherine Archuleta, Obama's National Political Director. She was also warm and gracious, and shared with us the story of her daughter, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 19 years old. And I think Ms. Archuleta really helped us to relax with the knowledge that we would be talking with another Latina mom who has the same fears and hopes as we do.

The picture above is a screenshot of the livestreamed conversation. You can watch the whole video here. We were repeatedly told that Mrs. Obama wanted a conversation, not a question and answer session. She wanted to know what our biggest concerns were. We were not coached, though we moms did meet for breakfast earlier that morning to get to know one another and talk about the issues we were going to address.

I have to say I loved talking with Melanie, Yvette, Shirley, and Maria. They are hard-working mothers who love their children madly and care about our country. It just so happened that all of us have young children more or less within the same age range. And more importantly, we all felt a tremendous amount of responsibility to bring up issues that other moms like us across the country were worried about.

I really feel like we just skimmed the surface, barely touching on some of the biggest concerns we have for our future and our children's future. But I'm so grateful to be one of the people who were invited to START the conversation. Thirty minutes is nowhere close to enough time to share the concerns, struggles, and issues that we as a community are thinking about.

Issues like how we need to recruit more bilingual teachers and counselors to help our kids succeed. And how we need to see more dual-language programs available across the country. How all parents should have the right to choose where their kid is going to go to school and how all schools should be graduating 100% of their students. And how better systems need to be in place to help us detect actual learning disabilities in our children.

Issues like how there needs to be more resources for Latino families with aging parents. Our culture is not one to just stick our aged in a nursing home, but rather we take on the responsibility of caring for our padres and abuelitos even if it means bringing them into our own homes, juggling this additional work-load with our own job/careers, child-rearing, and marriages.

And we also must talk about how we need to support our DREAMers, who through no fault of their own, lack a simple paper granting them the official title of "CITIZEN" of this wonderful country that they love and to which they are already loyal.

I am forever grateful to Mamiverse for inviting me to participate in this historic event. As a result I am moved and motivated to keep fighting for my own children and their future. To remember that one person's actions can affect many. It's up to us as individuals as to whether we do good or otherwise.

I don't think it is right for me to tell anyone who they should vote for. But I want to encourage each and every one of you to use your voice. It is our right and our responsibility as citizens of the United States of America to vote for the people that we think should be running our country.

And it is our responsibility to think about what issues are most important to us and to know the candidates and where they stand on those issues. We have to weed through the lies and think about who really is thinking about what is best for each of us. We cannot decide NOT to vote and then turn around and complain about who is in power and what they're doing or not doing.

Educate yourself. Know the issues. Then raise your voice and make it count.

Un abrazo...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Latina Moms Talk with First Lady

I am beyond pleased to announce that tomorrow, Tuesday, July 10th, I will be one of six Latina moms given the opportunity to talk to First Lady, Michelle Obama, one-on-one about the issues that matter to us the most. I'm so grateful to Mamiverse for inviting me to participate in this historic event (Has there ever been a First Lady who has talked to Latina moms like this? I don't think so!)

But the best part is that you, dear Latina mamis, can participate as well. The 30-minute discussion will be livestreamed on Mamiverse.com. You can sign up on their home page to watch AND to submit your own questions. They'll be selecting some to answer during the taping, so be sure to include your name.

My focus will - naturally! - be on education. But the other moms will be discussing additional issues that are important to all of us.

So I hope you will join me tomorrow (Tuesday!) afternoon at 12:45 pm EST. I would love to hear from you all!!

Un abrazo fuerte,


Simple Adding Fun with Dominoes {Math Monday Marathon}

Since we missed posting about math last Monday in lieu of the ICE AGE giveaway, I'm doubling up today with an activity that can be modified for younger or older children.

My son wanted me to share this activity that he invented on his own. It's called "Step Up." An easy activity that sneaks in adding practice, Step Up is multi-lingual and can be played in ANY language! My son will be starting 1st grade this fall, so this activity is best suited for kids ages 5 and up.

Step One: Shuffle your dominoes.

Step Two: Select five or six dominoes and then stack them like stairs...

Step Three: Take the top domino, flip it over and add the two numbers...


My 8 year old wanted in on the action, too. But she needed something a little more challenging, so she selected two dominoes and added the two digit numbers together. And after a while, she switched and subtracted them instead, putting the larger number on top.

You could also use this game for multiplication/division practice for kids in 3rd grade and higher.

And of course, all this led to more fun...

Remember that math can be fun and doesn't have to be all about tedious worksheets! My kids respond much better to math when we use manipulatives or games to teach. So try out this little activity with your child this summer.

Happy learning!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Your Child's Education: Whose Responsibility Is It?

Let me ask you a question: If your child is doing poorly in school, whose fault is it? The school's? Your child's? Yours?

Perhaps a better question would be: Who is responsible for your child's education?

I for one know that I didn't have two kids just so I could send them off to school to sink or swim and wash my hands of their education. In our family, my kids know that education is extremely important. And they know that my husband and I will do whatever we have to do (within our power) to give them a great one.

The fact that we homeschool is a result of circumstance. I live in a failed school district and we chose not to send our kids to schools that are barely passing their students. Yes, we do have a private school nearby, but sending them to it would have required my going back to work and at the time, I still had a little boy who was not old enough to go, too. I was not willing to leave him with strangers. So we decided to give homeschooling a try.

We are lucky because even though we are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, we're able to make it on my husband's salary. Yes, this means we don't get to enjoy a lot of the "extras" that other families do. I don't own a smart phone and we don't have cable/satellite/dish or whatever. My kids are not wearing the latest fashions or playing with $300 toys. But what they do have will last a lot longer.

And even if my kids were in a traditional school setting, I know that their academic success would ultimately depend on me and how involved I am in their education. Studies have shown that parental involvement is one of the keys to academic success. And over the last few years, I have learned about numerous families who have proven this to be true.

Luis Duran, Mariela Dabbah, Luis Duran Sr., and Maria Duran.
Take, for example, the Duran family. A little over a week ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Luis and his parents at the Latino Rumbo al College webinar in Orlando. Originally from El Salvador, Maria and Luis Sr. fled the country in 1989 during its civil war. They received political asylum here in the United States, and settled in Arizona where they own a small recycling business. Both of their children, Luis and Jennifer, were born here.

The Durans have been richly rewarded for their involvement in their children's education. Even though they speak very little English, both of their kids received complete scholarships to cover the cost of their college educations.

Luis was the recipient of the $100,000 RMHC/HACER Scholarship in 2009, which is covering his college tuition and helping him earn his degree in housing and community development. Jennifer attended college as a Gates Millenium Scholar and doubled majored in Supply Chain Management and Global Health. She just recently finished her International Business Certificate while studying abroad in Italy for a semester. Her scholarship covered her college expenses, and paid for half of her Masters' tuition. Luis credits his parents for his academic success and claims their involvement and expectations made the difference. His mother always made time to get involved at her kids’ school. She talked regularly with their teachers, sometimes using Luis as an interpreter when the teacher didn’t speak Spanish. She also volunteered for class field trips and other functions so that she could build a relationship with the school staff and stay aware of what was happening in the classroom.

Mrs. Duran says that children have to be programmed. And since they were very young, she always referred to her children as "little lawyers" or "future doctors" to help them see the possibilities in the future and internalize the importance of their education.

So next time you are talking with your children about school and education, be mindful of your words...then do what you can to help them succeed.

Con mucho cariño...

Friday, July 6, 2012

For the Love of Wimbledon: Science Xplained

I grew up watching Wimbledon on TV. In fact, my mami is the sport's #1 fan and will sing Federer's praises all day long while boo-hissing Nadal. (What's up with that?!?)

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I received an email from MommyMaestra's favorite Science Evangelist, Ainissa Ramirez (remember her story?), sharing her latest Science Xplained video on How Physics Serves Tennis. I love it.

So if your familia will be watching the finals this weekend, share this clip with your kids so they can surprise everyone with their expert knowledge of top spins and cow guts!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Importance of Preschool

The time of year has come when I start receiving emails from parents who have children that are the right age to be starting preschool this coming fall. Some wonder what the fuss is about and don't think their children need to be enrolled. Others are thinking about teaching their kids at home and are a little stressed out about how to start and what to teach.

So I wanted to cover this subject again for all of you who are new to MommyMaestra, and as a refresher for those who have some idea about the importance of preschool but haven't needed those resources until now.

Why preschool matters

First of all, I want to stress the importance of preschool. Research shows that children who attend a good preschool and have involved parents are more likely to have better self-esteem, higher IQs, and fewer behavioral problems. They have higher literacy rates, test scores, and graduation rates. They are also less likely to repeat a grade level, smoke, drop out, or experience teen pregnancy.

And remember that the goal of preschool is to prepare your child for kindergarten. Latinos especially need to pay close attention to this as many of our children are starting school already behind, and must struggle to catch up. Sadly, some never do.


Homeschool Preschool

Children who are kept home until kindergarten (or who homeschool), can begin their academic life just as prepared as their preschooled counterparts...PROVIDED that their parents (this means YOU!) work with them at home.

Okay. So let's say that you are that parent. You are committed to your child's education 100% and you've decided for whatever reason that you want to work with your preschooler at home instead of sending them to a preschool program. Now what do you do?

FIRST, felicidades! This is such an exciting time for you and your child. They are a beautiful vase waiting to be filled with the flowers of knowledge. This is your chance to set the foundation and make learning a lifelong addiction for your child.

SECOND, RELAX. This is so easy - and fun - for you and your child. I have a lot of resources on this blog. All you have to do is type in "preschool" in my search bar, or click on the preschool tag at the end of this post. Lots of great products out there that I continue to discover. But I'm going to go ahead and list some of them here. I am including Spanish/bilingual resources for those of you who want to teach your child in Spanish.

If you have ANY questions, por favor, don't hesitate to ask in a comment here on this post, or by contacting me directly.

Helpful Preschool Resources

Should You Purchase a Preschool Curriculum?

Q & A: Should I Homeschool My Preschooler In Spanish, English, or Both?

Everyday Activities That Teach Your Preschooler

More on Homeschooling Your Preschooler

Bilingual Preschool Planner {Free Download}

Happy teaching!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July from MommyMaestra

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bilingual Children's Books for the Fourth of July

Tomorrow families all over nuestro país will be celebrating the 4th of July. If you are looking for a few fun activities or good reads, below is a list of some of my favorites in English and Spanish.

There's not too much out there for bilingual families. Hmmm...maybe a good idea for some publishers out there, no?

But here's to a happy Independence Day to all of you!

This post contains affiliate links.


Check out my post on 25 Crafts & Activities for the 4th of July - so many creative ideas here!! And you probably have most, if not all, the materials at home.

My Pinterest boards on Fourth of July Kid CraftsPresidents' Day, and America the Beautiful also have a lot of colorful and easy ideas for crafts to keep your kids busy today and tomorrow.


Bilingual Books and Books in Spanish:

Con mucho cariño...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...