Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Celebrate Día de los Niños with Free eBooks and Live Author Readings!

L4LL's 2014 Dia eBook

Happy Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros! Are you celebrating today?? We are! First off, don't forget to head over to to download your free eBook! If you didn't have a chance to follow along the Día Blog Hop featuring 24 Latino authors and illustrators (such as Amy Costales who I was so honored to host here on MommyMaestra), you can still go back and read all of the fabulous essays. You'll find the schedule here.

THEN, after you do that, don't forget to head over to Qlovi to listen to some of your favorite Latino authors and illustrators reading aloud one or two of their own books LIVE online. Best part? It's FREE! Just register and then follow along. You can even submit questions during the livestreams.

And finally? Grab your chil and a book and READ! Grab two books! THREE! Take turns reading aloud to each other.

And enjoy your day.

¡A leer!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Celebrate Día with ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés!

Time for another music review! If you follow me on Facebook, you might remember me posting an adorable music video featuring bilingual music for kids by Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés. (I've posted it below in case you missed it.)

Well, just in time for Día de los Niños, musician Andrés Salguero has released his debut album and it is such a delight for Latino families! ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés! is a bilingual feast of Latin rhythms and introduces us to salsa, bolero, mariachi, and so many more! Andrés' bilingual songs are fun for children and parents alike, covering topics like colors, friendship, and parents. You and your child will be jumping and counting to ¡Salta, Salta!, then dancing to the bachata rhythm in Los Colores. I really love the variety of music styles that Andrés presents in this album. It celebrates the diversity of the Latin culture, and the unifying - rather than separating - force of bilingualism.

Parents will love this album for their early elementary children, as well as for their Spanish/English learners. It is a great way to develop vocabulary and basic concepts. But really, the songs are just plain fun for kids of any age.

The CD comes with an illustrated booklet with the lyrics to each song making it a great tool for bilingual children learning to read. The super cute illustrations were created by award-winning Colombian artist Carlos Diaz Consuegra.

But you don't have to take my word for it. Listen to Los Colores yourself and enjoy the music video. It will steal your heart!

If you'd like to get your own copy of ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés!, just visit their fantastic site. You can even listen to a sample of each song - after which you won't be able to help but buy the album!

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this album for review. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Latino Authors Read Aloud for Día de los Niños

Opportunity alert! As a co-founder of Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL), I'm super proud to share with you this great opportunity for families and educators. Over at L4LL, we've partnered with Qlovi to bring you live readings by Latino authors during an all-day virtual event. 

Next Wednesday on Día de los Niños, from 9 am to 5 pm ET, eight magnificent Latino authors will go online to read aloud one or two of their own titles. And YOU can sign up to watch for FREE! In addition, you'll have the opportunity to submit questions during the event.

Go here to see the schedule and sign up for one, two, or ALL EIGHT read alouds. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Little Passports 12 Month Subscription Giveaway + Melissa and Doug Toys

This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made with these links help with the running of this site.

One of the monthly subscriptions that we rely heavily on as a homeschooling family is our subscription to Little Passports. Once a month, we receive a package in the mail for the World Edition kit. Included in each package is a letter from our LP hosts, Sam and Sofia, a country sticker for placing on our LP suitcase (you get it when you first subscribe), a country "stamp" (sticker) for your LP passport, a pushpin map marker (a sticker that you can place on the world map you also receive at the beginning), a double-sided activity page, a photograph from the country, a boarding pass with a code that you can enter on the Little Passports website for additional interactive activities, and finally, some sort of craft of souvenir from the country.

As you can see above, this month we received a packet from Argentina! I love that the activity pages cover other subjects like math and science, but keep the theme of the month. For example, this month's activity page included a passage about how Argentina is known for its delicious steak. Sam and Sofia go out to dinner with their Argentine friends, Lucia and Gaston. My son had to figure out how many steaks they ate between the four of them and then add up their tab including the cost of their drinks. Math and geography! What could be better?? (And a practical application, too, I have to say as this is something my kids would actually use someday when they go out to dinner.)

Anyway, to celebrate their 5th birthday, Little Passports has an incredible giveaway in the works!

You can win a 12-month subscription to one of the best learning tools for your children, Little Passports. Enter now and you could have your own subscription by the end of the month, as well as some of the hottest toys on the market from Melissa and Doug! This prize is valued at $250, but let's be cannot put a price on your child learning fun facts about the world we live in! Little Passports allows your child to develop knowledge on all kinds of different historical figures, eras, locations and traditions, turning them into a true citizen of the world. And is super fun!

The deadline to sign up to win this prize is TOMORROW, April 25th. If you miss out on this weeks opportunity, don't fret...There is one more week of giveaways to enter. Just use the link below:

¡Buena suerte!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Risas y Sonrisas Homeschool Spanish Program

It has been a while since I've had the opportunity to review a Spanish learning curriculum, so today I'm happy to share with you Risas y Sonrisas and their Homeschool Spanish Program.

Name of program: Risas y Sonrisas Homeschool Spanish Program
Target age: Kindergarten through 5th grade
Amount of materials: Comprehensive
Price: $175
MommyMaestra Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


Perfect for homeschoolers or parents looking to supplement their child's Spanish lessons through home-based instruction this program comes with a comprehensive assortment of materials including:
  • A Student Book with Interactive CD + Skits DVD
  • 4 Activity Workbooks
  • 1 Music CD with Song Lyric Booklet
  • 1 Sign & Sing DVD with Song Lyric Booklet
  • 1 Flashcard/Domino Set
  • 1 Cognate Picture Card Set with Folder and Audio CD
  • 1 Homeschool Instructor Manual
I have to start off by saying that it is obvious that a LOT of thought and hard work has gone into crafting this program. Leticia Smith has been teaching Spanish to K-5 students for the last 14 years and has developed and tested all of the materials with her classes.

Although there are a lot of materials included in this program, they are not overwhelming. There is a strong emphasis on engaging students in a variety of ways - with auditory, visual and kinesthetic lessons - and each lesson includes a variety of materials and activities to teach Spanish vocabulary and concepts. I love that the lesson manual is organized to tell me the objective of the lesson of the day, then is broken up into four "sections" that tell me what materials I need for that lesson.

For example, take a look at lesson 19...

As a teacher, I know exactly what I need to teach this lesson and can gather my supplies ahead of time. Don't speak Spanish yourself? No problem. The interactive CD found on the inside of the textbook includes a pronunciation guide to help you or your student. The Sing & Learn Spanish DVD also teaches vocabulary and pronunciation with a video clip of a teacher who sings, signs (American Sign Language), and uses pictures to develop vocabulary. The DVD includes 30 signing and singing songs in Spanish.

You can also adjust the lessons based on the age of your child. Older children can use the workbooks, while younger children who cannot read and write yet may prefer to focus on activities and manipulatives like the dominoes, flash cards, etc. All the students (no matter what their age) will benefit from the DVD.

You can see a free sample of the interactive media here, and can access this via a subscription to their site. But these resources are also included on the CDs or DVDs included with the Homeschool Spanish Program.

The program has a total of 80 lessons, which is enough to cover a whole school year, if you study Spanish 3 times a week. Of course, you could cover the lessons over a shorter period of time (or longer) depending on your schedule.

The program covers:
  • Cognates
  • Vowels
  • Numbers (1-10, 11-100, 100 - 1000)
  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Spanish Alphabet
  • Greetings & Name Addresses
  • Emotions
  • The Body
  • Concept of masculine/feminine
  • Directions
  • Family
  • Opposites
  • Adjectives
  • Wild Animals
  • School
  • Conversational phrases
  • Cultural points (De Colores, Chichen-Itza/Mexico, 
  • Days of the Week
  • Vacaciones
  • Months & Seasons
  • Verbs (present, past, and future tense)
  • Personal Pronouns
  • Food 
  • Silverware
  • Time
  • House
  • Restaurant
  • Places
  • Occupations
  • Clothes
  • Farm Animals
  • and more...

Overall, I really love this program. As a homeschooling mom, this program is easy to teach and keeps my kids engaged. We haven't finished it yet, but I intend to continue using it with both my children.

Disclosure: I received the Homeschool Spanish Program from Risas y Sonrisas for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mami Time Saver: The New Bissell Steam Mop at Best Buy

This is a sponsored post.

This is part of my Mami Time Savers series.

Time is precious. At least for me it is. I juggle homeschool, raising kids, supporting my husband, launching a business, blogging, freelance writing and so much more. I will be the first to admit that cleaning house is not a priority and I'm always in a rush when I do it.

So I treasure anything that saves me time when I have to race throughout this house cleaning because someone has tracked mud (or something else) all over the kitchen/bathroom/whatever and we have company coming for dinner (at least once a week) in 2 hours and I haven't even started cooking.

Enter the Bissell Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop.

I got one last month from Best Buy and I kid you not, I LOVE this thing. I don't have to sweep the floor first. I don't have to fill a mop bucket and rinse the mop. I don't have to buy disposable mop pads. I don't have to use chemical cleaners. I don't have to empty dirty mop water or guiltily throw dirty mop pads into the trash.

All I have to do is just plug it in and push two buttons. One of them starts the vacuum. The other starts the steam.

The vacuum sucks up dirt and other stuff, while the steam cleans (Grease? Sticky goo? No problem!) and sanitizes up to 99.9% of germs and bacteria. Remember: NO harsh chemicals! Which means we can walk around barefoot without worrying about what our feet are absorbing and I don't have to worry about what I'm breathing in when I'm mopping. (This really is my favorite part!) It works on sealed hard flooring such as ceramic tile, vinyl, laminate, marble, stone, and hardwood floors.

I can even satisfy my inner sense of social responsibility by not throwing away the mop pads to pile up in landfills. The Symphony comes with 4 Microfiber mop pads (2 soft, 2 scrubby). They're easy to remove and toss into the washing machine.

The debris tank is easy to pull out and empty into your trash can. I don't know how, but it stays dry so the dirt and grime I vacuum up aren't soggy from the steam action of the mop. This makes dumping and cleaning easy!

It's also small and lightweight. The handle collapses down into the machine and I can store it in my pantry without it taking up a lot of room.

So moms, if you are looking for a super time saver when it comes to cleaning the house, this is my #1 recommendation!

Disclosure: I'm a Best Buy ambassador and received this product for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions, though, are strictly my own. If I don't like a product, I simply refuse to write about it and won't think twice about returning it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mommy Maestra Spring Giveaway!

Spring is officially here (although, it is still very cold in some areas)! Everyone is feeling the end of the school year approach rather quickly and we thought it was a nice time to show some appreciation to Mommy Maestra's readers. We are giving away three of our favorite books for you to add to your classroom or home library. My boys love these authors and these specific titles are their favorites. One lucky reader will get to enjoy them as the year comes to an end, but it will be a great way to start talking about a summer reading program. Reading is important all year long and everyone can use new books to start getting motivated!

I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada is a perfect book to help kids understand that different cultures and traditions can exist in one family. We have used this book to help my oldest son undertand that some families can even have more than one religion. A great book to help get important conversations started!

Diego Rivera:  His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh introduces the famous painter, Diego Rivera, to young readers. The beautiful illustrations help children also understand what inspired Rivera to paint and it encourages kids to think about what Rivera would paint if he were alive today.

Gracias-Thanks by Pat Mora is written in English and Spanish. A reflection that is fantastic if done more than a couple of times a year, teaching children to be appreciative all the time is a great message to send. This book captures the beauty and graciousness in small ways, but the idea behind it is grand.

Thank you so much for following Mommy Maestra! We hope our lucky winner enjoys these books! Please enter the Rafflecopter below. We will announce the winner in one week on this same post. Good luck!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mami Time Saver: A Simple Plan

This is part of my Mami Time Savers series.

Homeschooling takes a lot of preparation and organization. Keeping my kids' lesson plans organized is crucial not only for me to keep track of what they've learned and what they need help with, but also with tracking the number of days they've been in school and what topics we have coming up.

A Simple Plan Homeschool Planner

For years, I used a blank teacher's journal that I bought at the dollar store. But last year, I won A Simple Plan homeschool planner from Mardel and Social Savvy Mom. And now I don't think I can homeschool without it! (Okay, I probably could, but why would I want to?)

So much thought has been put into designing this planner, it is obvious that the author is a homeschool mom herself. And in addition to the practical planning pages, it is just beautifully designed to delight the user.

A Homeschool Teacher Time Saver

This is really the ultimate time saver for me as a homeschooler. The planner comes with everything I need in one place:
  • Sample pages
  • Weekly schedule forms for each student
  • Curriculum and semester goal pages
  • Yearly overview pages
  • To-do lists
  • Special activities section
  • Reading lists
  • Attendance keeper
  • Space for notes, prayer requests, and supply lists
  • Heavy-duty interior pockets on both the front and back covers
  • Curriculum tracker
  • Grading chart
  • Extracurricular activities tracker
  • Encouraging Scriptures at the beginning of each new month

I don't use everything in the planner you see listed above, but it is nice to know that I have the option of the various elements if I decide to use them. 

I only work in pencil allowing for unexpected changes in our schedule or carrying over specific lessons to the next day. It's also very easy to change direction and add in new materials. When we're ready to start school in the mornings, all the lessons for that day are right in front of me so I don't have to go searching through books and wasting precious learning time. The only thing I don't like is that the assignment sheets you see in the picture above are only for Monday through Friday. We typically do school every day except Wednesdays and Sundays, so I have to adapt for that change.

The calendar is already divided up into six different subjects, but you can fill these in depending on what you're studying. And each subject has space for six lesson plans which means you can write in the assignments for six different kids, or if you are like me and cover a lot of ground each day, then you can assign each child a different shade and fill in their assignments as needed.

Having an attendance log attached to the same lesson planner is also a blessing because I can easily switch back and forth to determine how far along we are and how far we have left to go.

So if you are already thinking about next year and how to organize and streamline your lessons, perhaps A Simple Plan is the right planner for you!

UPDATE: The 2022/2023 planners are now available! There is one teacher planner and two student planners. Check them out:

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mami Time Saver: MOMables

As a homeschooling, work-from-home mami the number one thing I don't have a lot of is time. In fact, I frequently go to bed thinking about all the stuff I didn't get done that day. (A really bad habit, I know, but reality none the less.) Anyway, this got me to thinking about how there are no doubt a ton of moms out there who feel the same way, so this week I'm focusing on Mami Time Savers, a series of posts that help (homeschooling) moms like myself save time (and money!) so they can focus more on their children and their education.

Today's feature mami time saver is MOMables. It is the first meal-planning service for healthy and fresh school lunches. Created by Latina mom, Laura Fuentes, MOMables helps parents every day make lunches their kids will actually eat. Born in Spain and raised with tapas, Laura loves all things lunch! She lives in what she calls southern suburbia and has three kids.

Last year, I received a free 3-month trial so I could understand how the program works. And we love the QUICK and healthy recipes. (By the way, YOU can enjoy a free trial, too!)

It is like a virtual kitchen assistant! Once you subscribe, you just login to the website and you'll be taken to the Subscribers' Weekly Menu Page where you can find your current menu plan, as well as the one for the previous week. You'll also find links to specific recipes to try for breakfast or dinner, and downloads of helpful guides. The Homemade Resource Guide helps you get away from boxed/processed foods at the store with these homemade recipes. You'll be able to make your own whole wheat pancakes, tortillas, croissants, and even oreos! 

To view your current menu plan, just click on the link to download it to your computer. You can see a sample menu here. Each week's menu comes in a downloadable pdf format that includes:
  • Kitchen Notes with time saving tips and schedule of recipes
  • 5 individual recipe plans with picture
  • 1 page with complete recipes for all 5 lunches
  • And a shopping list with all the ingredients you'll need for the week (BIG TIME SAVER!!)
And if your child suffers from gluten allergies, there's even a Gluten Free Resource Guide.

TIP: You can save even more time by printing up the recipe cards and having your child make their lunch for that day. They can practice their reading skills, following directions, and get the satisfaction of learning how to make their own meal!

Now there is even more to be excited about because Laura has just written, The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet: Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More Than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal Ideas, which you can pre-order using my affiliate link above. It will be available on July 1st, 2014 - just in time for school to start this fall! So you can kick off the school year totally organized and saving time each morning!

It doesn't matter if you homeschool your kids or send them off to school each morning, this is a super Mami Time Saver that helps you feed your kids healthy lunches without wasting time trying to plan out meals and then going back to the grocery store over and over for supplies.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

MK Blogging Carnival: Celebrating Day of the Child with Children's Lit from Around the World

I am so excited to be hosting this month's Blog Carnival for the awesome bloggers at Multicultural Kid Blogs group. Each month, a different multicultural blogger shares posts that the group has written on a specific topic.

With Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros, or Children's Day/Book Day, approaching on the 30th, this month's topic is on Celebrating Day of the Child with Children's Lit from Around the World. Día is not just about Latino children's literature. It's about celebrating children, books, and cultures. There are so many fantastic books out there about different cultures, I want to share some of them with you today. Since the bloggers can be found across the globe, this is a great opportunity to find books you might not otherwise have heard about.

You can find out more about these fabulous bloggers by visiting our Facebook page, subscribing to our Facebook feed, following us on Twitter(#multiculturalkids), or following our group Pinterest board.

I hope you enjoy this journey around the world through children's literature as much as I did! I've tried to group the following posts by regions or continents with more specific countries in the descriptions.



Middle East


North & Central America


  • Discovering the World Through my Son's Eyes reviews Caribbean Dreams by Rachel Isadora.
  • Crafty Moms Share has a lovely review of the book Justice pon di Road by Aliona Gibson. The book features Jamaican culture.


Around the World!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Free Spanish Place Value Math Pack from Lectura para niños

Free Spanish Place Value Math Pack

April's freebie from our sponsor, Lectura para niños is a math packet in Spanish! 

Leah says:

This is a packet practicing Place Value in Kindergarten all relating to the Common Core.  In kindergarten, students have to recognize how many tens and ones are in the “teen numbers.” This packet will reinforce their understanding of “Decenas y unidades.” There are many different pages in this packet to help master this skill.

The full packet is on my TPT site.

Math Homework book in SPANISH & ENGLISH!
Preparing students for the Common Core!

142 pages, 71 pages in Spanish, 141 pages in English!

Students practice writing to a specific number.
Students practice writing equations using 10's and 1's: i.e.,
14= 10+4, 14= 4+10, 4+10=14, 10+4=14

Hands on arts integration: Gluing beans to Popsicle sticks to represent 10's and 1's. Creating a design using a "certain amount" of geometric shapes. Students have to decide which shape to take off or add in order to make their picture perfect and meet the rubric of ONLY ___ geometric shapes!

Students read 3 different representations of 10's and 1's to decide which is the correct answer.

Students create equations using 10's and 1's.

Students decipher which is the correct equation for the number listed.

Using Pictures of 10's and ones, students decide which is the correct answer.

Students decide which is the correct representation of 10's and 1's for the number listed.

Students read the equation: 1 ten and 8 ones to decide which picture represents the answer.

Free Spanish Place Value Math Pack

Free Spanish Place Value Math Pack

Free Spanish Place Value Math Pack

Free Spanish Place Value Math Pack

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

App Review: Wild Kratts Creature Power World Adventure

A new Wild Kratts app? Enough said. As soon as my young Kratt fans heard there was a new Wild Kratts app, there was no going back. In fact, I was able to use it as a great incentive for zipping through our school work last week! The kids were having one of those drag-the-subject-out-as-long-as-possible days until I happened to mention that PBS KIDS had a new app from their beloved animal rescue heroes. And that's all it took. An hour later, every last piece of school work was done! Here's what we thought of the app...

Name: Wild Kratts Creature Power World Adventure
Subject(s): science
Brief Description: Kids explore habitats around the world by donning their virtual creature power suit and imitating animal behaviors.
Price: $2.99
Language: English
Ages: 4 - 8
Device:  iOS 6.0+, iPad 2+, iPhone 4+ and iPod 4+
What my kids like:
The mere fact that this is a Wild Kratts app is enough to keep my kids enthralled, but my son loves that the game is so interactive requiring him to tilt the iPad mulitple ways to make their character move. Three animals are featured: orangutans, dolphins, and woodpeckers. So my kids get to explore three different habitats and learn about animal behaviors. But perhaps my son's absolute favorite part of the app is how it allows him to take a picture of himself and embed it into a template of a creature power suit. Now he is the character, not just his heroes, Chris and Martin. Then he can take that image of himself and stamp it onto a "sticker sheet" and save the image so he can add more to it later.

What I like:
Once again, I like that this is an educational app that actually teaches my kids science concepts in a fun way, and not just some mindless game to keep my kids from being bored. I also love that it uses characters my kids know and love, making the experience more exciting. It wasn't long before my son was telling me about Pilleated Woodpeckers and what they looked like! Each animal has 10 different levels to complete and along the way my kids earn points and treats like the "selfie" photo, as well as learn fun facts about the animals. It is the perfect app for my budding scientists!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Amy Costales for the L4LL Día Blog Hop

Yesterday, Día founder Pat Mora kicked off the Día Blog Hop with a post on As a co-founder of Latinas for Latino Lit, the blog hop is one of the events that makes me proud to be Latina and a champion of literacy for our children. Back for the second year in a row, the blog hop features a different Latino author or illustrator on a different blog every day this month starting on the 6th. You can find the full schedule here.

All of the guest writers were asked to write on the topic "Reflection." Today on MommyMaestra, author Amy Costales reflects on her reason for picking up a pen to write for Latino children. I hope that you are as moved by her article as I am.

© il-fede -

The issue of reflection, or rather the lack of it, for my daughter, her friends, her cousins and my students is what lead me to write. I knew a group of children who were caramel-skinned, spoke Spanish and shared housing with extended family members. I watched them use the word American to mean white, draw themselves blond, hesitate to enter parks where everyone else was white and looked at us weird when we spoke Spanish. It was the 90's and Proposition 187 had just passed in California. There was an animosity in the part of Orange County where we lived that you could see, feel and hear in the schools, in the store, if you went to the wrong beach. I started writing.

I wanted to portray the Mexican immigrant community that most the children I knew, including my daughter, were growing up in. I wrote about shared housing, a relative coming from Mexico, families working together, a loved used car, uncles who live in the garage to keep their rent cheap, undocumented immigration, children who sleep on pulled out mattresses in the living room, fathers who work two jobs, single mothers and, most importantly, love. Children coming from those backgrounds deserve to have their lives portrayed as normal. I wanted to write those books for those kids.

The daughter that once inspired me to write is older than I was when I first grabbed a pencil and a notebook and started my first attempt at picture books. Her cousins and friends that also inspired me grew up and went to college in places like Cal State Fullerton, Brown, UC Santa Barbara and (due to deportation) Tamaulipas, México. I got busy with an M.A. program and then with the efforts to start a Spanish for Heritage Speakers program at the University of Oregon where I work. Twenty years have slipped by. And yet the lack of reflection has not been resolved. This trimester I asked 60 young Latino college students if they learned about the Bracero Program in their K-12 education. Only two said yes. Half of these kids were participating in a UO high school equivalency program for students whose families did agricultural work. Of the other half, most of their families had done agricultural work. More importantly, when I asked them to look into their families pasts, most of them had Bracero grandparents and sometimes also great-grandparents. Their family stories included two, three or four generations of crossing the U.S. border to work in los files (the fields), mostly starting with the Bracero Program. When we studied the program and listened to the family stories, one young woman said, "Me siento robada de mi historia." She should feel robbed of her history , or her story, because in Spanish they are beautifully the same word. The Bracero Program brought 4.5 million people across the border and created transnational Mexican communities. It is a vital piece of history in understanding immigration and the growing Latino population today. How is it possible that year after year most of my students say they have never heard of it? I am using the Bracero Program as an example of a greater problem, which is a lack of representation of Latinos in history and literature in our K-12 programs.

And yet it is not just Latino students who are robbed of this history. It is a nation. It is not just Latino students who are robbed of their reflection in literature. It is a nation. 25% school-age children in the U.S. are Latino. By 2050, that number is predicted to be closer to 50%. To ignore Latino history and literature is to ignore la historia of a very significant segment of our population. It is equivalent to a nation not seeing its true self. As we go through this significant demographic shift being brought on by an aging white population and a young Latino population, an accurate reflection of nation would facilitate the change. I am no longer just concerned about how Latino children see themselves. I am concerned about how a nation sees itself. Latinos are part of the "we" that make this nation, as are all ethnic groups.

Personally, I am feeling the need to pick up my pencil again. I feel sad that I still have Latino students who use the word "American" to mean white. And if my daughter has grown, I now have a bilingual son who deserves a book about his life with his part Latina mother and his Mexican stepfather, as well as his Italian-American stepmother, and his Scandinavian-American father. He is as complex as this nation. This time I am going to think about the complexity of the Latino population itself, for as we write (or read) about Latino children, there is a diversity in regards to family, ethnicity, generations in the U.S., region, language, and social class that needs to be portrayed. It is a mosaic.

Amy Costales is an award-winning bilingual children's author. Her picture books include Hello Night~Hola noche, Abuelita Full of Life~Abuelita llena de vida, Lupe Vargas and Her Super Best Friend ~Lupe Vargas y su super mejor amiga, Sundays on Fourth Street ~Los domingos en la calle Cuatro and Grandpa Used to Live Alone~Abuelo vivía solo. She teaches Spanish for Heritage Speakers at the University of Oregon. Learn more about Amy and her books on her website,

Friday, April 4, 2014

Explore the Outdoors with PBS KIDS

April is my favorite month of the year. Good things always happen this month including my son's birthday, Earth Day on the 22nd, and SPRING!! We have been cooped up in our house for so long and like many of you, we welcome the warmer days and the burst of color they bring with them. With two children who love the outdoors, spring provides so many opportunities to escape the house and explore the world outside our door.

As such, I was excited to learn that PBS KIDS and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) have joined forces to launch the annual Explore the Outdoors campaign, which encourages families to celebrate nature and the outdoors this spring.

Starting this Monday, April 7, PBS KIDS kicks off Earth Month with themed, on-air programming and online and mobile content. NRPA members across the country and local PBS member stations are hosting events throughout the month with PBS KIDS Explore the Outdoors activities and materials. 

My son is most excited that PBS KIDS Explore the Outdoors will include eco-themed programming weeks from Wild Kratts (PSST! We downloaded their new app today!) and Arthur, as well as the premiere of “The Cyberchase Movie” and the launch of the new web-original PLUM LANDING.

We started off the month by celebrating nature and the outdoors with a garden activity from the 2014 PBS Kids Explore the Outdoors Toolkit. It has us itching to start planting new seedlings in our garden and flowers in our flower beds.

You can see the materials above with the exception of some potting soil, which I forgot to add. "Arthur's Green Thumb" is just one of the fun activities for which you can print directions. Your kids can also create their own weather station, leaf/bark rubbing, nature journals, collages and more.

We're now anxiously awaiting Monday's new Wild Kratts episode (because you know we're total WK groupies in this house).

So grab a book and your kids and head outside this month! Soak in a little sunshine and vitamin D while you take your class out in the fresh air! Play some games, climb a tree, or just sit and enjoy the buzzing of the bees and the birds in the trees. 

How is your family celebrating spring and the outdoors?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Free Spring Word Search in Spanish with Audio

Wow! Yesterday around here it was almost HOT. What a joy after such a long, long winter! We are so ready for spring and it makes me happy to see the trees budding and the daffodils blooming all around our property.

Therefore, this month's freebie from our sponsor, Spanish for You!, is very much appreciated. It is a spring word search and sentence builder. Expand your child's Spanish vocabulary with this activity, and if you are worried about pronunciation - don't! Debbie has included an audio file with all of the vocabulary words.

An Affordable Spanish Curriculum for Home or Classroom

If you are looking for a curriculum to help your child learn Spanish, you should definitely look take a look at Spanish for You!'s website. Created by a teacher, the program is designed for elementary and middle-school students. It only takes 15 - 30 minutes a day, and they use a lot of fun, interactive games that help your child remember new vocabulary. They even have free mini-lessons and worksheets for you to try out.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some great downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy.

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

7 Books to Help Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! Poets, teachers, libraries and booksellers are ready to encourage poetry to the young and old. Throughout the country, poetry will take center stage in order to bring more attention to this literary art. Here at Mommy Maestra, we are ready to acknowledge the importance of poetry in our American culture. We celebrate authors and poets of all backgrounds and have compiled a list of suggested books to help you teach poetry in your classroom and at home.

Here are 7 books to help you celebrate National Poetry Month. Enjoy!

Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou, Introduction by Dr. Edwin Graves Wilson
The first living poet to be included in this series, Maya Angelou showcases 25 poems to potential readers as young as eight years old. Every child should know poetry from this award-winning author, playwright, poet and legend.

Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka
One of our favorite books, Guyku is as fun as it sounds. An introductory book to Haiku, the Japanese poetry form, is also a favorite of reluctant boys who believe poetry is for girls. This book begs to differ!

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown
A children's book about one of the best poets of the 20th century, this biography of Pablo Neruda is perfect for children of all ages. Both Pablo Neruda and Monica Brown are a pride of Latino literature and this is a must for every child's bookshelf.

Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry by Jane Yolen
A fantastic collection of over 60 poems for the youngest of readers. Jane Yolen has compiled works from the greatest poets of all time. Margaret Wise Brown and Langston Hughes are a couple of our favorites and we are thrilled they are included in this great anthology.

An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero by Magdalena Zenaida
Based on the Cuban author, poet, teacher and revolutionary, this story of Jose Marti, describes how one's personal views on life, no matter the issue, can be described with such beautiful words.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
A classic! Where the Sidewalk Ends is timeless, the poems are hilarious and the illustrations are captivating. Not only is Shel Silverstein one of America's most beloved poets, his books are considered the best in children's literature.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat by Nikki Giovanni
An anthology that includes lines and rhymes from famous hip hop and rap artists like Kanye West to historical heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. Children will be able to listen (CD included!) and learn that poetry is literally everywhere.

Other Posts on Poetry You May Enjoy:


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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

L4LL Announces 2nd Annual Día Blog Hop

I have been very slow to post on MommyMaestra lately. And here is just one of the reasons: Today, Latinas for Latino Lit (of which I am a co-founder with my partner Viviana Hurtado) is announcing our 2nd annual Día Blog Hop!

Two dozen (24!!!) Latino authors and/or illustrators have been paired with 24 Latina bloggers, and all of them have enthusiastically agreed once again to support Latino children's literacy. Each day, beginning April 6th, a different blog will host a different author/illustrator on their site. The article they've submitted are moving and passionate, sharing with all of us a glimpse into their lives and what motivates them to write for children.

You can find the complete schedule here on the L4LL website. I hope you'll follow along. Here on MommyMaestra, I'll be hosting author Amy Costales next Monday, April 7th.

The Día Blog Hop will end on April 30th (Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros) with a special announcement.

Gracias to all the authors, illustrators, and bloggers for supporting Latino children's literacy!