Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Boo Bags! Combining Two Traditions

Last year, after answering the doorbell to a "ghost," we were pleasantly surprised to find a Halloween goody bag on our front steps with the following message attached:

 Soon Halloween will come to all. 
Ghosts and goblins, spooks galore... 
Tricky witches at your door. 
 The Spooks are after things to do, 
 In fact a spook brought this "Boo" to you! 
The excitement comes when friends like you, 
Copy this note and make it two. 
 We'll all have smiles upon our faces, 
No one will know who "Boo"ed your places! 
Just two short days to work your spell, 
 Keep it secret, hide it well. 
Please join the fun, the season is here. 
 Just spread these "Boo's" and Halloween cheer.

Of course, we joined the fun! This year, along with tasty treats, Halloween stickers and glow-in-the-dark fangs, we also included a Day of the Dead Activity Book I purchased through Oriental Trading. I really wanted my boys to have this book, but I realized that they came in a pack of 12. Having already bought the goody bags to fill, I thought it was a fantastic deal given the the books are full of educational information and loads of fun! So we put them in there! My six year-old, Diego, thought they would be a great hint to his neighborhood friends that the Boo Bags were from him!

My two older boys were involved in filling the bags, although Diego was the only one running in the night, ringing the doorbell and running for his life! You can't get caught while out ghosting your friends! I have to admit that parents have a great time waiting in the getaway car for their little ghosts!

This mama approves of the Day of the Dead Activity Book

Boo Bags ready! Leave it to this teacher-mom to find a way to combine a tradition that is new to us and to incorporate one that has existed in our Mexican culture for so long. Have a safe and happy Halloween! 


Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog,

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day of the Dead Bilingual Activity Pack for Preschoolers

It is time for another MommyMaestra printable! My latest Día de los Muertos download was designed to keep los nenes busy this weekend while teaching them basic counting, graphing skills, cutting practice, and so much more.

In fact, this Day of the Dead Activity Pack for preschoolers and kindergartners includes:

  • Number recognition (1-10) 
  • Finish the pattern
  • Find the difference
  • Size sequencing
  • Montessori nomenclature cards (English & Spanish)
  • Book List of Day of the Dead Picture Books (Bilingual)
  • Maze
  • Graphing
  • Printable, full-color Día de los Muertos banner
  • Bingo cards
So head on over and get yours. It will be free through this Sunday. 

And please, if you download this printable from my TpT store, please leave some feedback. 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ofrendas: Celebrating Day of the Dead eBook

Last week, some amazing blogger friends of mine released this incredibly beautiful eBook for Day of the Dead. Ofrendas: Celebrating Day of the Dead includes recipes and crafts to make in honor of the holiday, all of them family friendly (with a few extra recipes for parents). The entire book is bilingual with full text in both English and Spanish. I hope you enjoy it and share with your amigos! Click on the image below to read it for free!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest!

Courtesy of CG ® & © 2013 Universal Studios and/or HMH. All Rights Reserved.

Oh, come on. Who hasn't thought of the Man in the Yellow Hat as just a giant platano (banana) anyway?

This coming Monday, the first-ever Curious George Halloween special, CURIOUS GEORGE: A Halloween Boo Fest!, premieres on PBS KIDS. The one-hour special features three original songs, including “It’s Halloween Today,” sung by Pat Monahan, the lead singer of Train.

Here's a short description of this new episode:

It’s George’s first Halloween in the country, and Bill tells him and Allie about the “Legend of No Noggin” – a spooky tale about a hat-kicking scarecrow who haunts the countryside on Halloween. But is the legend real? George and Allie are determined to find out by taking a picture of No Noggin in hat-kicking action. But first, George needs to figure out what he’s going to be for Halloween so he can win the costume contest at the town Boo Festival and give the prize to the Man with the Yellow Hat. Will George be able to put together the perfect costume and find out the truth about No Noggin? Only the curious will find out!

But you can really just watch this teaser with your kids...

In fact, this episode kicks off a whole week of Halloween-themed programming on PBS KIDS. You'll just have to watch and be surprised about all the holiday goodness!

And of course, in true PBS KIDS fashion, because they believe in the power of transmedia storytelling, PBS KIDS has launched a new Curious George online game to accompany the show. In it, your child will use problem-solving and logical thinking skills as he or she explores a pumpkin patch with George, encountering playful spooky surprises along the way. It's cute. My son, who loves all things George even though he is 7, loved it. The site even features games and free printables in both English and Spanish (another reason I love PBS KIDS).

So don't forget to watch this Monday! And have a happy Halloween week...

Disclosure: I'm a PBS KIDS Ambassador. I was not, however, compensated for this post, but received information about the new episode. All thoughts and opinions expressed above are completely my own!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Young People's Ofrenda Project

Do you know about the Young People's Ofrenda project in Minneapolis?

I cannot remember if I shared this video last year and if I did, I couldn't find it while I was digging around through my archives. But I really love it and the project behind it. The Young People's Ofrenda project is an award-winning collaborative project between El-Colegio Charter school and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that engages students to participate in the holiday by celebrating their ancestors that have passed on.

Young People's Ofrendas:
Expressions of Life and Remembrance

This year's exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts opened on Tuesday and runs through November 24th in Gallery 110. And admission is free! I so wish I could take my kids to see it. If you live in the area and go to visit, please snap some pics and tell us what you and your kids think of it!

If you are interested in the project and doing a similar one at home or at your school, MIA does offer downloadable Teacher's Guides in both English and Spanish. The project has five phases. Students must:
  • Honor their ancestors
  • Turn their ideas into images
  • Create a personal ofrenda
  • Write an artist's statement
  • Exhibit the ofrendas
As part of the project, these particular students had to video log their projects.

But you can learn so much more by visiting their website, as well as by watching this short video produced a couple of years ago...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Zaner-Bloser Spanish Cursive Handwriting Prize Package {GIVEAWAY}

To accompany today's post on English and Spanish Cursive Writing Materials, I'm happy to host this giveaway from Zaner-Bloser. According to their website, the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting program "provides developmentally appropriate practice activities to promote automaticity [so that] students become more fluent at manuscript and cursive handwriting."

I have not personally used the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting program, so this is not a review. They offered the set you see above to be given to one MommyMaestra reader through a giveaway on my site. If you enter and win this giveaway, I'd love to know your thoughts about the materials.

The set above includes one Grade 2C Student Edition, one Grade 2C Teacher Guide, and a one-year license for ZB FontsOnline Plus. I think that the access to the FontsOnline Plus which allows you to create, save, and edit worksheets (or other documents) using their manuscript and cursive alphabets, is especially intriguing and one I'd love to have for use with my kids.

To enter this giveaway, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cursive Learning Resources in English and Spanish

Spanish cursive curriculum

Last March, a reader asked me on Facebook if I would share some cursive writing resources in Spanish. Specifically, she was looking for a workbook that had complete sentences in Spanish. A little research yielded quite a few resources, and that has remained on my schedule for months. So enough is enough already, and I thought I'd go ahead and share sites and books in both English and Spanish for those of you whose children are learning to write in cursive.

This post contains affiliate links.

I was fascinated to read about why handwriting is so important for children and how it directly affects impulse control. After reading the article, I thought that adding handwriting lessons would also be an important part of a social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum, which is important in both home and school classrooms.

This article on Psychology Today about Why Cursive Handwriting Is Good for Your Brain is also a great read and why I think it is so important for children. Too many schools are dropping it from their curriculum.

And now the resources. These are just a few of the resources I've found. There are MANY others. If you have some you'd like me to add, just let me know in the comments.

English Cursive Writing Resources

Spanish Cursive Writing Resources

Bilingual Tools:

Other Posts You May Enjoy

last updated: 5/12/2022

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

DIY Decorative Calaca for Día de los Muertos {Tutorial}

Time for another easy tutorial. We were inspired when we found this little calaca at our local Michaels store. (Yes, them again! They would get me and my wallet in a lot of trouble except that most of the things we find are so inexpensive. Phew!) This skeleton was the perfect size for us, but really, any wooden one would do.

First my kids picked out a 12 x 12 sheet of scrapbooking paper that they thought would look best on their calaca.

Then, my daughter turned over the paper to its blank side and began tracing all the different sections of the skeleton. Be sure to turn the skeleton over so that the front side is laying on the paper.

She started off keeping all the pieces tied together, but it would have been better to go ahead and disassemble the skeleton and arrange all the pieces on the back of the page until they fit just right. We wound up having to do some erasing and re-positioning doing it the way we did.

Once it was all traced and labeled (don't forget to label!!), she carefully cut out all the pieces (she thought the mouth was too scary, so she just didn't cut that part out. It looks better like this anyway) while my son glued the pieces to the wood. We just used tacky glue. Then he put them aside to dry for a few.

Finally, we re-tied the pieces back together using the same wire it came with.

NOTE: It helps if you pre-punch the holes first with a pin or something small and sharp. And be sure to poke from the front side to the back side, otherwise your paper will stick up funny around the hole. You want a smooth edge.

Then it was time to hang him up! And since then, he's been moved around the house quite a bit.

Then I found this project on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago. I really like her colors and how she framed it between glass. But her project is probably best suited for older kids (and adults) and more for display. If you have younger ones like I do, gluing the paper directly to the wooden pieces will give you a sturdier piece, especially if your kids like to play with it like mine do!

Happy crafting!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Easy Día de los Muertos Treat Bags {Tutorial}

Day of the Dead treat bag

This is a tutorial for creating easy Day of the Dead treat bags. In fact, it is so easy, you may not even need this tutorial; you can just look at the picture above and make your own!

This post contains affiliate links. 

During one of our bi-weekly shopping trips to Michaels (our local craft store), I stumbled upon these super cute little bags. I love them. I love their colors and their size. I went ahead and picked up these two colors because they are some of my favorites and I thought my kids would like them.

The paper bags are tiny and measure about 2.5 inches by 4 inches. They're great for a single treat like one piece of candy, an eraser, stickers, tattoos, and so on. With Día de los Muertos quickly approaching, I thought they would look great with a single calavera on the front! But of course, you could use another image if you wanted.

However, I thought this was a simple, fun project for my kids and maybe yours (heck, I enjoyed it myself!), so here are the easy directions for making your own.


First, cut out the calavera of your choice. My Calavera Decorating Sheet has four full-color designs, but it also has four black-and-white designs in case your child (or you!) would prefer to color them in herself.

Then attach the 3D glue dots to the back of the calavera. You could simply use a glue stick, too, but we liked ours better with the 3D effect. Using three dots - two at the bottom and one at the top - seemed to work best for us. You could use four with two at the top, but one worked well, so we decided to save our extras.

Center on the bag and boom! You're done.

Other Day of the Dead Craft Tutorials

Friday, October 18, 2013

Free Spanish Halloween Story Cards & Letter Match {Printables}

Halloween is less than two weeks away, so this month's free printables from Monarca Language are all about día de las brujas. Don't forget that Monarca Language is a subscription-based site with lesson plans, printables, activities, and more for Spanish-speaking and Spanish-learning 3 and 4 year olds. Parents, if you are homeschooling your preschooler, then this is a complete curriculum online to help you prepare them for kindergarten, helping you to teach your child all the basic pre-literacy and early math skills they need to flourish when they start school.

Today's printables are so cute! I know that your child will love them. Print the story/vocabulary cards on cardstock and then have your child color them in and cut them out. Then he can use them to make up his own stories. Storytelling is a great way for your child to learn intuitively about sequence, plot, characters and more. Be sure to help your child learn these concepts by asking him questions to make him think about the story.

The accompanying letter match page helps your child to develop her letter recognition skills and helps her recognize beginning sounds.

If you have signed up for Monarca Language's newsletter, you can use these printables with their special Halloween bundle that includes a domino game, crafts, poem with coloring activity, and coloring pages.

To go with these printables, here are some fun books and a hilarious video I found on YouTube. Parents, please preview the video to make sure that it is appropriate for your child.

Books in Spanish:

Spanish video:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ask en español & Alternatives

Spanish language magazine

A few years ago, Cricket magazine launched a line of Spanish-language magazines for kids. They. Were. Awesome. They even bought Iguana, a fabulous magazine put together by the remarkable Christianne Meneses Jacobs. 

But unfortunately, with a change of ownership, I believe, Cricket decided to discontinue all the Spanish-language magazines. Including, Ask en español, which is reviewed below. :( 

You can still read the review and lament the loss of such a great resource for bilingual children and their families. But all is not lost! Scholastic Magazines offer similar lines of Spanish kids' magazines to which you may still subscribe. 

This post contains affiliate links.

Ask Magazine in Spanish

Spanish magazine for kids

Ask en español is lots of fun and SUPER educational. (That's my favorite combo, you know!)

I've written before about Cricket's new line of Spanish language magazines for kids, and I know you all loved discovering them because there really aren't any other magazines like these for kids. They are high-quality mags that are worth every penny of their subscription.

This month's issue of Ask en español is especially great because the whole issue is pretty much dedicated to bones. (Ask is Cricket's magazine for kids ages 6 - 9. It focuses on STEAM - SCIENCE, technology, engineering, ARTS, and math - stories.) Your kid will learn all about the bones in her body, what happens when you break a bone and how it heals, the different types of skeletons found in nature, and even learn about Día de los Muertos and its view of death and skeletons (i.e., not scary, just a natural part of life). There's also a section on archaeology and what archaeologists learn from bones. Honestly? There's actually a lot more than just this, but you'll have to wait to learn about it until you get your own copy! And can you believe that it is all in Spanish? They are really targeting bilingual families, and I think that's cool.

Alternative to Ask in español

It's a terrible shame that Cricket discontinued this line of magazines when there's such a huge need. Over and over again, I have parents asking me about Spanish-language magazines for their kids. But as I mentioned above, there is an alternative available for bilingual families. Check out Scholastic's Spanish Classroom Magazines!

Other Science Materials in Spanish

If you are open to other science resources, then you might consider some of these:

National Geographic Kids has science readers of different levels available in Spanish. has been growing their Spanish-language resources. They have some really excellent books out such as the Bilingual One-Minute Science Mysteries! (shown above), Las mujeres en la ciencia, El sol, and many others. Check out the Spanish section of the Science Naturally website.

Teacher Created Materials also has a lot of their Spanish version packs available on Amazon. And they are typically sorted by grade level. 

Other Posts that May Interest You. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Create Your Own Signature Calacas

We love the Halloween and Día de los Muertos season! When I saw Mommy Maestra's Design Your Own Calavera Activity Sheet, I knew we could combine the very famous Signature Skeleton project with a colorful skull. My boys loved it! Keep reading for my tutorial on how to create a signature calaca. And for more Day of the Dead goodness, be sure to check out MommyMaestra's Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead Lesson Plans and Activities.

This post contains affiliate links.

Signature Calaca Tutorial


What you need


In your best cursive, write your child's name on the white construction paper. Please make sure the folded crease is at the bottom of his or her name to help make the cutting easier.

The child should cut all around his signature... 

...and he will end up with two sides for the skeleton!

Paste the signatures side by side on the black construction paper.

My boys wanted to decorate their calaveras their own way but still used the printable directions for ideas.

Cut around again...

...and paste to the top of the skeleton's body!

I was sure the boys would want the body of the skeleton to stay white, but perhaps because of all the reading we have been doing on the Day of the Dead, they were inspired to keep their signature skeletons nice and bright! 

This project was easy enough (but fun!) for Diego who is six and challenging for Santi who is almost three. Diego helped Santi cut his skeleton's body but the pasting and coloring made him very happy to work independently. Combining projects from two cultures was a great idea to continue to teach them about both their favorite American customs and their Mexican heritage! Enjoy! 

Other Day of the Dead Craft Tutorials


Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog,

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Free Día de los Muertos Spanish Vocabulary Cards

I'm happy to share with you MommyMaestra's newest sponsor, Spanish for You, a complete curriculum for teaching kids in 3rd through 8th grade Spanish. I've shared a lot of Spanish learning curricula for Pre-K and early elementary, but this particular one is for slightly older children, so I hope that you'll look into it if you have an older child that is in the process of learning Spanish.

Today, Spanish for You has put together a set of Día de los Muertos-themed Spanish vocabulary cards and an audio file of all the words - just for MommyMaestra readers! This is a great resource for Spanish learners, as well as young Spanish-fluent children who are ready for vocabulary development.

You can download the printable cards here and the accompanying audio file here. This would be a great learning opportunity to supplement any of the books or activities I'm showcasing on MommyMaestra this month. Be sure to print the cards on cardstock and maybe even laminate them for extra durability.

Enjoy these exclusive materials, y gracias, Spanish for You!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day of the Dead Activity Book

One of my favorite parts of Día de los Muertos is how I discover new, amazing resources every year to share with my children. I've shared all of those discoveries here with you, and you can find them on my page listing Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead Lesson Plans and Activities. Anyway, this year is no exception. I am just so ecstatic to find this wonderful Day of the Dead Activity Book that is just perfect for my children.

This post contains affiliate links.

Day of the Dead Activity Book

by Karl Jones
illustrated by Steve Simpson

One of the newest titles released this year for Day of the Dead is this fun activity book published by Penguin Group. The illustrations are fantastic and make the 16-page book seem longer than it is. However, it is the press-out ofrenda, paper dolls, and stickers that truly make this book worth purchasing. The first 16 pages include your typical Día de los Muertos information and activities like what the holiday is about, how to make paper marigolds, and a couple of recipes. 

This post contains affiliate links.

Day of the Dead Activity Book

But the most exciting part is the 3D ofrenda you can punch out and assemble...

Day of the Dead Activity Book

Day of the Dead Activity Book

The instructions weren't super clear for us, until after I went back to the first page of the book and looked at the finished ofrenda image shown. Then I was able to make better sense of the instructions and show my kids how to assemble it. We liked the finished project...

Day of the Dead Activity Book

And then my daughter had a lot of fun punching out and putting together the paper dolls to surround the ofrenda. 

My son loved the stickers, and I supposed they could be used to decorate the sides of the ofrenda, but we preferred to use them for another project (more about that later!). Still here's a peek at them. Aren't they super cute?

Day of the Dead Activity Book

The art work in this book is just excellent and very child friendly. My two kids were enthralled with it (and so was I). I love the originality and the color combinations. The final ofrenda project was vibrant and beautiful; we were happy to display it in our home.

How to Use This Book

I think this would be a great gift to give your children in the month leading up to Día de los Muertos. Not only is it a great way to introduce the tradition, but if your family doesn't build an ofrenda each year, this is such a fun and simple way to learn about the process and build a miniature version of your own.

You can follow this up with any of the activities from my Día de los Muertos Activity Calendar.

Get Your Copy!

If you're already sold on the idea of this beautiful book, you can find it on Amazon...

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