Monday, March 31, 2014

Little Passports Celebrates 5 Years

**The links in this post are affiliate links. Any purchases made using these links contribute to the running of MommyMaestra.

I love birthdays. Especially when I see that they mark the success of clever entrepreneurs who are dedicated to educational products like
 Little Passports which is now 5 years old and growing fast.

We've been getting Little Passports for a year now in the mail and my son is thrilled with every packet that comes our way every month. 
(Which is the first cool part of the process for your little ones...what kid doesn't love getting mail!?) We're currently getting the World Edition and it is such a great way for exploring countries and cultures around the globe. Each month, Sam and Sofia - the Little Passports guides, take your child on a journey to a different country around the world and teaches them about the culture, geography and history of each location. Each packet typically includes some sort of craft, artifact, and stickers for your child's Little Passport. There are even online activities for your child to explore further. The exercises are fun and colorful, keeping your kids engaged while learning! 

They also have a USA Edition that explores the United States and is a great way to learn more about our country. Each month your child gets a packet for two states in the mail. The books are really well done with lots of detail and fun experiments. You'll find activities that cover math, history, science and more.

To celebrate their birthday, Little Passports is offering you 15% off a subscription. Click on the link or banner below to sign up for your subscription today and get 15% off by using the code: HAPPY5 from today through Tuesday, April 8th.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cesar Chavez Lesson Plans, Activities, Coloring Sheets and More

With the new Cesar Chavez movie premiering this weekend, I thought now was a great time to share lesson plans, activities, crafts, books, and more for learning about this legendary activist.

Lesson Plans


Coloring Pages

Surprisingly, there's not too many coloring pages of Cesar Chavez available. Here's a couple that I found:


Here are a few videos that are great for classroom or independent study. As always, parents and educators should screen the videos prior to showing them and check for appropriateness.

For a Spanish video biography, I absolutely love this one for little children from CBeebies Español:

Books (the following are affiliate links)

You May Also Like Learning About...

Monday, March 24, 2014

The 2014 FamilyFun Travel Awards

I love researching family vacation spots because for us vacations are new learning opportunities. My husband and I used to travel all the time before we had kids. Now, with a smaller budget, we have to be more thoughtful about our travel plans. This year, we've got Yellowstone on our list of places to visit.

I like it even better when someone else does the research for me and shares a list of fun family-friendly vacation spots.  So I'm bookmarking this infographic from FamilyFun because you never know when we might have the opportunity to visit the Strong Museum in New York or the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Click here to cast your vote for your own neck of the woods to take home the title of “Most Fun Region!”

Friday, March 21, 2014

Teacher Highlight: Mr & Mrs Brightside

Today, I wanted to feature this great couple that is creating really fun, educational materials for students in Spanish and English. I stumbled upon them one night while researching on Pinterest, an immediately fell in love with their printables. They are vibrant, cheerful, and full of good information.

Linda and Eric Lopez are two Texas teachers, a husband and wife, who had a hard time finding resources to use in the bilingual classroom. Linda says that they began creating Spanish resources that could help them not only teach but also help their students learn. They strive to make their resources visually appealing yet purposeful. 

I very much appreciate knowing that they personally use all of their resources in their classroom and make them part of their teaching. Linda says that their students are their critics and dictate whether they need changes and/or adjustments. Their goal is to help their students be bilingual and successful. 

Linda says, "We understand that finding good bilingual resources can hard to come by. We want to share our products with teachers and parents alike who understand the importance of being bilingual. Anyone who has worked with bilingual students will tell you it’s twice the work and twice as hard. Don’t lose hope and always look on the Brightside!"

Their store is filled with lots of educational goodies on a variety of topics, but most importantly science and literacy! I don't typically see a lot of science printables in Spanish for kids.

Click here to explore their TeachersPayTeachers store, Mr and Mrs Brightside.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5 Ways to Boost your Child's Spanish Outside the Home

Last month, I wrote the 10 things that I do to help my children's Spanish vocabulary at home. As I am currently traveling with my sons and husband, lucky for us, when we visit family in Chicago, the boys' Spanish flourishes. Everyone in our family speaks fluently and it is the chosen language in all the grandparents' homes.

I understand that this scenario is not the same for many families. On the contrary, some parents do a fantastic job at speaking only Spanish at home and when they step out, the challenge of speaking Spanish while traveling near or far, can become an issue. Here are five things you can do to help boost your child's Spanish outside your home.

1) Spanish books: Wherever you go, there is no doubt that you may need to take out a book during down time. If your goal is to have everyone read 20 minutes a day, you will often find that waiting for a table at your favorite restaurant or a while visiting the doctor's office, a Spanish book in your bag will help pass the time and help your child's Spanish vocabulary immensely.

2) Load your phone with Spanish apps:  My boys are always trying to see when they can sneak some time on my smart phone. I make sure to keep it full of educational and bilingual apps to help when I'm out shopping or waiting to start my carpool duty.

3) Visit places with bilingual voices:  It's really important for bilingual kids to hear other children who speak two or more languages. Play dates, visits to the old neighborhood and a trip to abuelita's house where Spanish is the main language spoken, gives your little ones a huge advantage at listening and practicing their Spanish outside your own home.

4) Explain things in Spanish:  A trip to the museum or even a grocery store is a great time to explain and teach things to your child in Spanish. On a daily basis, you may find yourself using the same vocabulary in your conversations. New situations and teachable moments give you and your child an opportunity to use different words. I often find myself Googling a word's Spanish translation. My boys see that I might not know every word in Spanish, but I sure can find it.

5) Continue to speak to your child in Spanish: My tio Ulises just gave me the best advice: Never compromise your beliefs for the sake of making others feel comfortable. In this day in age, no matter where you live, it is acceptable to speak the language you choose to speak in public--especially if you are simply trying to enforce something as important as a second language. My children are not embarrassed when I speak Spanish to them in public because it has become so natural for us. Who knows? Maybe someone listening to you will inspire them to keep fighting the good fight.

What are some things you do to make sure your child continues to speak Spanish outside of your home?

Betty Galvan, is writing "for smart and stylish moms" over
at My Friend Betty Says... 
She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: Caminar

This post uses affiliate links.
by Skila Brown

I absolutely love a book with a powerful story line and/or provides numerous learning opportunities. And the debut novel by Skila Brown is exactly that.

When I finally picked up the copy of Caminar that Candlewick Press sent me to review, I thought I would just read the first page or two to get a feel for the story and then read the rest over the weekend. But instead, I was immediately engrossed and stayed rooted on my couch for the next hour or two until I finished the whole book. This young adult novel is actually a quick read, but really it should be savored.

Caminar is the story of a boy named Carlos living in a small village in the mountains during the Guatemalan civil war. A quiet boy on the verge of manhood, Carlos doesn't understand what the word Communist means when the soldiers show up in their town looking for rebels. But harsh reality and the loss of innocence quickly follow when he survives the massacre of his village a few days later.

Written in verse, this book amazes me with the intense imagery and the amount of information that it relays in very few words. Though the book is written for children ages 10 and older, you should read it first. My 10 year old is just a little too young still for this book, but I'll save it for her and share it with her once she is just a little bit older. She could easily read it now, but I'm not ready for her to be exposed to some of the subjects and imagery. War is a hard subject, I think, best introduced to children when they are mature enough to understand that it's never okay to force another person to do something they don't want to do. That people are people on both sides of war; but that it inevitably affects everyone - even those not fighting. And that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But don't worry, the book doesn't dwell on the deaths of the villagers (or describe them in detail), but instead focuses on Carlos' escape into the jungle and his reunion with the guerillas who visited his village a day or two before. I should point out that this is not a true story, though it is inspired by the events that transpired in Guatemala over a 40-year period.

Though it is written in English, Spanish words are embedded throughout the book, so Caminar comes with a glossary in the back, as well as a Q& A with the author. I really love, though, that this book has an educator's guide (click on the link toward the bottom of this page) with some great discussion questions and extention activities.

Caminar is written by Skila Brown (she's not Latina), who has traveled to Guatemala many times, including during the writing of this book, and does an excellent job with the cultural details and feel of the story. It will be released next week on March 25. You can preorder yourown copy here using my affiliate link.

The Giveaway

OR you can enter this giveaway! Candlewick is offering a copy of Caminar to FIVE (5!) MommyMaestra readers. 

To enter to win a copy of your family (or classroom, or library), just use the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fun with Cognates: A Free Mini-Spanish Lesson

Spanish-English cognates worksheets

This post includes affiliate links.

This month's free printable from our sponsor, Spanish for You, is all about having fun with cognates and words that are close to being cognates. If you aren't familiar with the term, cognates are words in different languages that are similar in spelling or sound, such as chocolate or flamingo/flamenco. 

This mini lesson comes with vocabulary word cards, picture cards, a vocabulary worksheet, a board game, and an audio file. What a really fun set of printables! And if you have been following along the last few months and have enjoyed all the Spanish freebies from Spanish for You, you should consider trying their curriculum. It's affordable and easy to do!

Children's Book Featuring Spanish-English Cognates

And if you'd like to supplement this lesson, your kids will love the book, ¡Marimba! Animales from A to Z (affiliate link) by Pat Mora. It is such a fun read and introduces 26 cognates. The story is about how once a year, a little monkey sings the zookeepers to sleep then proceeds to wake up all the animals in the zoo with his little marimba for an energetic fiesta. Before you know it, the iguanas are doing the cha-cha and the manatíes are dancing the mambo while quetzales sell lemonade and ocelotes make piñatas!

Affordable Spanish Learning Program

Remember! Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Thursday, March 13, 2014

3 Fun Snacks for Spring

We've got the Spring Itch over here, which means we are SO over winter! To brighten up our days when the cold weather hits (again!), we like to find activities that remind us of the warmer weather and happy holidays coming up soon (we hope!). I really love these little recipes from Family Fun magazine. They're so creative and easy to make! 

Do you get creative with your children's food?

Little Lambwich


  • Sliced cheese
  • Mini bagels
  • Mustard
  • Ham slice
  • Black olives
  • Shredded cheese


Two types of cheese give this savory, open-faced sandwich its sweet-as-can-be look. 

  1. Trim a piece of sliced cheese to fit atop one half of a mini bagel. 
  2. Cut a round muzzle and a pair of half-circle ears from more sliced cheese, then attach them with mustard or mayonnaise. 
  3. Add a nose cut from a ham slice, plus a mouth and a pair of eyes trimmed from black olives. 
  4. Finish with a sprinkle of shredded cheese between the ears.

Leprechaun Hats


  • English cucumber
  • Sliced cheese
  • Hummus


Celebrate Saint Pat’s with a crunchy cucumber treat. 
  1. Cut 1-inch sections of an English cucumber. 
  2. Halve them lengthwise and lay the pieces flat on a plate, as shown. 
  3. Trim a cucumber brim for each hat and set it in place. 
  4. Finish with a sliced cheese band and buckle, attached with dots of hummus or dip.

Leprechaun Doughnuts


Chocolate sprinkle:
  • O-shaped cereal
  • Dark or white chocolate
  • Colored sprinkles

Cinnamon sugar:
  • O-shaped cereal
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon sugar


Lure wee visitors this Saint Patrick’s Day with O-shaped cereal disguised as tiny doughnuts. Prepare each variety following the steps at right and let dry on waxed paper. Add to the fun by placing them in a miniature box.

Chocolate sprinkle:
  1. Dip the tops of O-shaped cereal into melted dark or white chocolate (the tines of a fork work well for this) and cover with sprinkles.

Cinnamon sugar:
  1. Over medium-high heat, dissolve ½ cup sugar in ½ cup water. 
  2. Let it cool. 
  3. Dip the O’s, a few at a time, in the syrup, then toss them in a small bowl of cinnamon sugar.

Other Recipe Posts You May Enjoy

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Free Spanish eBook from Bebe Lanugo

Our good friends over at Bebe Lanugo have just launched a new free eBook in Spanish for bilingual families! 

Volando con Quique is an adorable story about Quique (a resplendent quetzal and one of the Lanugo cast of characters) as he follows his papá, Don Juan, and learns all about the different types of Latin music. From merengue to mambo, your child will enjoy this lively story and the vibrant illustrations. 

This is a great little eBook for parents to read to young children, but also great for Spanish-language readers.

And you know what the best part is? It's FREE!

So head on over there and download your copy today!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

JBL Flip Portable Stereo Speaker Review

March Audio Fest at Best Buy

This post is of my Homeschool Tech series. Updated 12/13/2022

This post contains affiliate links.

Are you looking for the right tools to boost your lessons? Is it time to upgrade your tech devices so that your student can benefit the most from audio-based courses and projects? Then consider this great deal on audio equipment for your homeschool, like the JBL Flip 6 Portable Stereo Speaker.

JBL Flip 6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The JBL can be used with most Bluetooth-enabled devices, as well as home computer systems. It streams music wirelessly from your smartphone, tablet or laptop and makes listening to eBooks, music, educational videos, and online courses crystal clear. Or you can purchase an auxiliary cord and connect it to your desktop computer. When I first hooked up the JBL up to our school computer so the kids could listen to Juanita the Spanish Lobster, I was so impressed by the sound quality! We've always loved our classical music downloads from Maestro Classics, but listening to them with such a high-quality speaker takes the whole experience to a new level for my kids. It's like you can hear each note from each instrument and the sound just wraps around you.

There are two ways to use the speaker: resting flat or standing vertically on it's side. The buttons are on one end, so you can easily access them whichever way you choose to set up your speaker. I like that the buttons "click" when pressed so that my children know if they've turned on the speaker.

A Portable and Waterproof Speaker

I love that it is portable, too, because with warmer weather on the way, we sometimes like to take our lessons outside or to the park. A change of setting can really amplify a lesson, and make learning much more fun. You don't have to worry too much, either, about it getting beat up or wet as it is designed to be waterproof!

The best part, in my opinion, is the 12 hours of playtime.

The JBL also has a speaker-phone, built-in microphone, and call-answer button that lets you easily take phone calls. So if your kids value their time on the phone with abuelita and abuelito, but maybe you aren't so keen on them holding a cell phone next to their heads, then this is a great solution.

You should hurry into the store to test and try it out yourself, as well as other great audio products – from home theater solutions (documentaries anyone?), to car audio (homeschooling on the road?), portable speakers (examples above), and headphones (homeschooling more than one child; brain-building music to help your child focus). 

If you're ready to purchase a JBL speaker for yourself or loved one, then take advantage of your Amazon Prime membership and get this great deal.

What's your favorite homeschool tech device?

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Monday, March 10, 2014

Free Spanish Picture Cards and a Giveaway

This month's freebie from our sponsor Lectura para niños is a great resource for children learning to read in Spanish and their teachers!

Leah says...

These are Aa picture cards to use with the letter of the week.

I used to use the picture cards that came with my curriculum, but there were always pictures that my curriculum did not have. So I finally decided to create my own, which helped all of the students build vocabulary and beginning sounds. After the students have come up with their own list of pictures, I introduce the remaining to increase vocabulary development. I also allow the students to use these cards to sort pictures by the beginning sounds that the curriculum is studying.

I store these cards on rings according to the letter of the week we are working on.

There are 9 pages and 34 flash cards for the letter of the week.

To get all of the picture cards (181 pages, 684 picture cards), click here. I have them on sale for $10 for a limited time.

The Giveaway

Lectura para niños has graciously offered to giveaway one of her great Spanish phonics centers, Spanish: Centro foneticos 001: Initial Sound Picture Sort A-Z DIGITAL to a MommyMaestra reader! Just click on the link to read more about it.

To enter the giveaway, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Improve Your Community with State Farm Neighborhood Assist®

Kids Helping Kids - Florida.  Image courtesy of State Farm.
This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Latina Mom Bloggers and State Farm. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Last week, I shared with you una gran oportunidad to help you improve your community by entering your idea or favorite cause to win a grant of $25,000 from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program. 

Last Monday, the submission process went live and parents or kids like you can now submit your idea using their free State Farm Neighborhood Assist Facebook app. No se olvide that even though the deadline is March 23rd, the submission period closes once they've reached 4,000 submissions. This typically happens early on, so don't wait! Submit your great idea/cause today!

The app and submission process is super fast and easy, too. All you have to do is answer a few questions and enter your information.

Across the country, Latinos often live in poor areas with limited resources. Access to books, clean playgrounds, and preventive medical programs may be difficult or not available at all. I firmly believe that it is up to us to make our comunidad a better place. Everyone can have a positive impact with a great idea to help improve the lives of themselves, their families, and even their neighborhoods. We just need to put those ideas into action and move forward. But I think that too often lack of funding and support discourages us. That's why I'm supporting the State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program and encouraging you all to participate.

I turn down - or ignore - a lot of pitches and campaigns that are just fluff or don't really help us (your family included) to improve our children's education. I want to be sure that I share resources and opportunities that benefit us all, so I hope you'll take a moment to think about this program and feel empowered to make a change in your own community.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th!

Did you know that International Women's Day is today? There are so many fun ways to teach your kids about some of the most famous women in history, and I have a perfect option for you today, with this wonderful free worksheet to challenge your young learner. The best part about this worksheet is the secret message that is revealed when they get their answers right!

At the moment, this file is only available in English. I hope to release the Spanish version soon. 

This post uses affiliate links.

Don't forget you can also explore the lives of famous Latinas like Frida Kahlo, Gabriela Mistral, and Celia Cruz, Pura Belpre, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sonia Sotomayor, and many others!

You may also be interested in another freebie of mine: Women's History Month Writing Pages. Have your kids crack open their books or research online some of the amazing women who have often been overlooked or whose contributions have been downplayed.

The pages are available in English and Spanish. You choose which language best suits your needs.

And finally, here's a really fun resource - my Women in History Fandex features 18 historical figures. Directions for fandex assembly and use, plus two activities, as well as individual worksheets, cut-outs and answer keys are included.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Free Spanish St. Patrick's Day Printables

Free Spanish St. Patrick's Day Printables

Is your preschooler excited about celebrating St. Patrick's Day? If so, this month's freebie from our sponsor, Monarca Language, is perfect for you!

The Spanish vocabulary coloring page introduces your preschooler to the St. Patrick's Day tradition, and the second page stregthens your child's pattern recognition skills as they find the difference.

Don't forget that you can find a great list of bilingual activities for St. Patrick's Day here on my blog. You can also look through my Pinterest board for some fun crafts and printables!


Subscribe to my newsletter for free downloads!

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

8 Math Apps for Elementary-Aged Kids

Monica and I have had math on our minds lately. If you saw yesterday's post, Mommy Maestra will be reviewing a new online math program for all of us soon. In the meantime, my 7 year-old's teacher knows that it doesn't hurt to always practice math at home. One of her suggestions was that I research math apps for Diego so he can continue to think quick and, of course, to have fun on the iPhone or iPad! 

I did my research and narrowed it down to these new favorites (one was very familiar). They are all recommended for the ages of 4-9. That's a huge math gap! Remember that every child is different and many of these apps work at different "levels" so try it out with your child first. Diego and I both tested these 8 and we agreed to keep these specific ones in our gadgets!

Math Blaster : Hyper Blast Free  Of all the apps listed below, I guarantee that even the lite version will be a favorite. Just like a video game, Math Blaster is action packed but stops to quiz your child's math skills in order to move to the next level.

Math Workout Free The concept of math workout is simply that--to keep your child's mind working. They insist you work your brain out once a day! There are six different levels to choose from and great for adults, as well. Kids have fun and are motivated when they see the adults working out too!

Math Fact Master $0.99 Loved by parents and teachers, this app allows kids to work on a certain numbers sets and operations just like flashcards do. The "challenge" mode is really a test and what makes this app worth the fee. Users have to type in the answer; it is graded and progress is tracked! 

Freefall Money $1.99 This award winning app is fresh, modern and fun while kids practice their  money counting skills. The sound effects are awesome! We also loved how we could drag coins around to count them as we would on a counter top! Very realistic.

Digitz $0.99 This app reminded me of Tetris. Numbers in blocks drop down and the player has to tap on tiles to create number combinations that add up to the target number. There are different tiers and game levels which means an older child can play too. See who can get the highest score!

AB Math Free I love this app because it simply times your child's math skills. Kids should always practice to add, subtract, multiply and divide in their heads quickly, but who wants to always do it on paper? Diego approves too! 

Sums Stacker $1.99 From the makers of Math Doodles, Sums Stacker is just as popular. Basic adding and subtracting is the target, but this puzzle allows players to use 25 different representations of numbers (Spanish is one of them!) while creating strategies and problem solving. Everyone who uses Sums Stacker loves it!

Bedtime Math Free We have been using Bedtime Math for over a year. A huge believer of reading math and problem solving, Bedtime Math is perfect for little growing brains. There is a daily math problem and three questions representing three levels. Your kids will love to include this app in their nighttime routine. 



Betty Galvan, is writing "for smart and stylish moms" over
at My Friend Betty Says... She is a teacher and mother to three fun little boys.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Online Math Program Review Coming Soon

I have one child that is good at math, but doesn't like it because the various curricula we've used are tedious. Worksheets just don't work for her. She does best with hands-on activities. My other child doesn't seem to mind the worksheets or the activities, but he does get bored easily. Are your kids the same way? 

I occasionally receive requests from readers about online math resources for kids. Parents who aren't so comfortable teaching math are looking for a solution. So because of all this, I'm signing up to review a new (to me) online math program. K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I've been given a 6-week free trial to test and write a review of their program. (If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.)

If I like the program, I'll be sharing what I've learned in a few weeks and hope this will help you, possibly for summer time learning or to prepare for school next fall.

If you've already used this program, please leave a comment below letting us know what you think of it.


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