Friday, October 31, 2014

Day of the Dead Candy Graphing Charts {PRINTABLE}

Dia de los Muertos Candy Graphing Charts

Happy Halloween! For those of you who celebrate both holidays, here are some bilingual, printable Candy Graphing Charts with a Día de los Muertos theme. A few years ago, I wrote about 5 educational things you can do with (Halloween) candy, so be sure to check that post out more ideas.

Have fun tonight, be safe, and use that candy to expand their minds (not just their energy)!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2015 Sugar Skull Calendar by Thaneeya McArdle

This post contains affiliate links.

I'm loving the creativity I see when it comes to decorating sugar skulls. Some of the calaveras are just so beautiful! I can see where some might enjoy a full year of them. So I wanted to share this 2015 calendar I found on Amazon. 

Colorful, fun, and full of psychedelic details, the Sugar Skulls 2015 Wall Calendar (aff link) features 13 of Thaneeya McArdle's intricately drawn and beautifully colored pieces of skull art inspired by Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Thaneeya McArdle is an internationally collected artist who works in a variety of styles, ranging from photorealism to abstraction, to a whimsical combination of the two. 

This calendar would be an awesome addition to any kitchen or home office or even school room, no?

Monday, October 27, 2014

DIY Catrina Activity for Kids

I spent a while researching online for ways for kids to create their own Catrinas. I finally gave up and we winged it. Fortunately, we're delighted with the results! This whole project was relatively simple with lots of little steps, but it is a great way to let your creativity bloom.



  • skeleton figure
  • white spray paint
  • soy paints
  • paintbrushes
  • glue
  • tissue paper (assorted colors) 
  • scissors
  • decorative scissors (optional)
  • decorative accents like miniature fabric flowers, jeweled stickers (optional)


We found this skeleton garland in the Halloween section of our local Michael's craft store. They were the perfect size, so we just removed them from the garland. But they were a bit too dark and scary looking for us, so we spray painted them white with fast-drying paint.

Next, my kids hand painted the skull. I like the soy color palette best, plus the soy paints seem to last a little longer. 

While your paint dries, decide on a color scheme for your Catrina's outfit. We went with lime and lavender for one and gold and pale blue for another. 
  • For the hat, fold the tissue paper so that you have two layers and cut a rectangular piece that is wide enough to stick off the sides of the skull a good ways in all directions. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be exactly perfect. Having too much is better than having too little, because you'll be trimming it down with scissors anyway.
  • For the shawl, cut another two-layer strip that is long and skinny. It needs to be long enough to wrap around the shoulders and overlap in the front of the Catrina.
  • For the skirt, cut a (two-layer) wedge strip. The top should be wide enough so that it can encircle the waist easily. I recommend the fold be at the top to help hold the two pieces together. The bottom should be much wider for a full skirt, or about the same as the top for a pencil skirt. It should be longer than your Catrina's legs so that you can trim in back once it is attached at the waist.

Now you're ready to attach the hat. First, smear some glue all over the top of the skull and down the sides/back just a bit.

Then attach the tissue hat pieces. Place the skull right in the middle and mold the tissue paper around the skull. You'll probably have to hold the tissue in place for just a few minutes while the glue dries. 

When it is secure, use scissors to round the edges to create your circular brim.

Now we can attach the shawl. Wrap your long skinny piece of tissue paper around the shoulders of your Catrina and bring the ends down toward her waist. Pinch one strip together at the waist and twist. Do the same with the other side and crisscross the two at the twist adding a drop of glue to hold them in place. Let the glue dry.

Trim the ends to the desired length. (You can use decorative scissors to add a nice design to each one.)

Next, you'll want to add your skirt. Wrap the top layer around your Catrina's waist, then overlap and glue the top edges. Our Catrina had a slit in her skirt and we liked the way it looked. So we just trimmed the bottom edges with our decorative scissors. You can use regular scissors, or simply tear the edges for a more frayed look, too. 

Finally, once the glue on all your tissue paper clothing has dried and you're satisfied with how it looks, you can glue some decorative accents. We used small fabric flowers (found in the sewing section of your local craft store) to decorate the hat and the shawl. Let the glue dry.

And you're done! Your Catrina is now ready to be added to your ofrenda. How pretty is she?

Friday, October 24, 2014

MommyMaestra's Ofrenda Photo Contest

Time for some fun!

This year, so many of us are setting up ofrendas to remember our loved ones who have passed away. Betty and I thought it would be a great year to host a little photo contest on our MommyMaestra Facebook page.

If your class, school, library, or group is setting up an ofrenda, we'd love for you to share a photograph of it to inspire other educators.

If your family is putting together an ofrenda at home, send us a picture! Maybe it will motivate another family to remember their own loved ones with this memorial tribute.

We can't wait to see all the beautiful pictures! Your photo can be of the entire ofrenda, or a small part of it, but only one ofrenda picture per person may be submitted between now and November 3rd.

A winner will be chosen at random to receive a copy of one of our favorite Dia de los Muertos books by author-illustrating duo Eric Gonzalez & Erich Haeger. Rosita y Conchita is our hands-down favorite story, but they've also come out with a new title: Paquito y Abuelito. The winner will be notified by tagging him/her in the contest thread on Facebook.

While both Betty and I may post images, we (obviously) are not eligible to win.

This contest is not in any way endorsed by Facebook.

See our Terms and Conditions here. Void where prohibited

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Miniature Pan de Muerto Recipe

I searched and searched for a recipe to make miniature pan de muerto - also known as bread of the dead - loaves for our class. Since I couldn't find one, I just had to make my own. (This is one of the awesome resources you'll find in my online Day of the Dead class that you can take at your own pace.)

Looking for a fun evening or weekend activity? Grab a trusty assistant or two and try your hands at making our delicious miniature pan de muerto! The recipe below makes 12 miniature loaves. It's perfect for a small class or party.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packets of active yeast
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of orange zest
  • 5 1/2 cups of flour (divided)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 4 eggs


1. Combine the first 5 dry ingredients plus 1 1/2 cups of flour in a large bowl.

2. In a small sauce pan, stir the milk, water, and butter over medium heat until all the butter is melted. Pour the mixture into your dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon (or use a mixer).

3. Add the four eggs and mix well.

4. Then slowly add the remaining 4 cups of flour, constantly stirring to combine the ingredients.

5. Once the dough is only slightly sticky, place it on a floured surface and knead until smooth.

6. Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and set aside in a warm place for approximately an hour and a half to allow the dough to rise.

7. Prepare two cookie sheets by covering them with aluminum foil.

8. Once the dough has doubled in size, place it on a floured surface and punch it back down. Then spread the dough and divide it into four or five equal portions.

9. Take one portion and divide it again into four equal parts and begin shaping each one into a round loaf.

10. Repeat until you have 12 small loaves, placing six on each cookie sheet.

11. Divide the remaining dough into 12 equal parts and begin creating the top design. Use each part to roll out the bone-shaped pieces and lay across the top of the loaf, criss-crossing them. Top each loaf with a smaller round piece of dough.

12. Set the loaves aside for another hour to rise again. I just placed them on top of the stove while the oven was heating up. Be sure to cover them with cling wrap or a hand towel.

13. Place both cookie sheets in a 350 degree oven for 15 - 18 minutes.

While the loaves are baking, you can prepare your simple, sweet glaze.

Glaze Ingredients:

1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of orange juice


  1. Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan and boil for approximately 2 minutes, stirring constantly. 
  2. Remove and set aside.
  3. When the loaves have finished baking, brush the glaze over them while they are still warm.

And you're done! Be sure to give your sweet assistants a little taste to reward them for all their help!

Click on the image below to print the recipe!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day of the Dead Triptychs Giveaway!

Do you know about my Day of the Dead - Día de los Muertos - Triptychs? These are such a cute way to teach your students about the holiday!

I'm always looking for different activities that I can print and give my kids to work on to learn about the holiday. So I designed these triptychs with my own children in mind.

The informational triptychs (above left) is a set of three with different reading passages about the tradition and some of the elements associated with it. Just print, color, cut them out, and fold along the dotted lines. If you print them on cardstock, they'll easily stand to make an attractive display. Or you can make them sturdier by gluing them to light cardboard.

For younger children, take a look at my triptych coloring sheets. These also work great as templates for

Both come with three different designs.

Find them in my TpT store:

The Giveaway

I'm giving away 5 copies of my new Triptychs to 5 MommyMaestra readers. The winners pick which one they'd like. 

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Book of Life Movie, Minigames, Books, and More...

This post uses affiliate links.

This weekend, I took my kids to see The Book of Life.


The first movie we've ever seen centered around Día de los Muertes (Day of the Dead), it did not disappoint us. Although last month, we found this...

...we have not had time to read it yet. So the storyline and characters were a complete surprise to us.


The Book of Life is the story of Manolo Sanchez (Diego Luna), a young man who must learn to follow his heart even if it means going against the expectations of his family and community. Manolo comes from a long line of bullfighters; his father was one, his grandfather was get the idea. And when he is just a boy, his father realizes that Manolo has a gift and could be the most talented bullfighter the family has ever seen. But Manolo is a musician at heart who loves to play his guitar and sing, despite the pressure he is under from his father to be the best bullfighter.

Manolo is best friends with Joaquín (Channing Tatum), a celebrated war hero whose own father died bravely in battle. But the problem is that both of them are in love with the same woman, María (Zoë Saldaña). To win her love, Manolo must travel across three fantastical worlds - the Land of the Living, the Land of the Remembered, and the Land of the Forgotten. And along the way he learns to be true to himself.

Now add into the mix La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and King Xibalba (Ron Perlman), rulers of the Land of the Remembered and Land of the Forgotten respectively. Xibalba wants to rule the Land of the Remembered, so he makes a little bet with La Muerte. You can probably guess who wins...or can you?

What I like:

The movie itself is a VISUAL FEAST. Do you think the characters look different from any other animated video you've ever seen? That's because they are. So is the setting. The imagery is heavily influenced by Mexican folk art, as well as Mayan, Aztec, and Olmec art, and Spanish architecture.

This movie is produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Jorge Gutierrez. We, of course, love all the Latino actors who are the voices behind the characters!

What I don't like:

María's impossible body figure. I hate how we make girls think that the most beautiful girl is the one with a teensy waist and giant boobs. She would have been just as beautiful with a more realistic waistline.

I'm also disappointed that the movie doesn't have more books (written by Latinos) for children. Here's a wonderful opportunity to explore culture and the holiday, but I could only find 3 books (listed below), and one of these is really more for adults than kids.

Get the soundtrack...

The soundtrack is fantastic, though! It includes songs by opera tenor Pácido Domingo, The Santa Cecilia, and Gustavo Santaolalla among others. You can find it here (affiliate link) on Amazon.

Online minigames, activity sheets, crafts...

Visit The Book of Life's official website to play four minigames and "win" medals.

I also Googled Book of Life activity sheets and found these from the movie website, although I couldn't find them when I went directly to the site.

The Crafty Chica also has an adorable craft for making your own Baby Chuy!

Continue the learning...

...with these books and toys available on Amazon.
(This section uses affiliate links)

  1. A Hero's Life by Daphne Pendergrass
  2. A Tale of Two Friends by Ellie O'Ryan
  3. The Art of the Book of Life by Jorge Gutierrez 

And I absolutely love these toys:
(This section uses affiliate links)

  1. action figure of Manolo
  2. action figure of María
  3. action figure of La Muerte 
  4. action figure of Xibalba
  5. action figure of Manolo Remembered
  6. Manolo action figure
  7. María action figure
  8. Xibalba action figure

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Make a Commitment to Safe Driving with Celebrate My Drive®

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

Over the past several months, I've told you about Celebrate My Drive®, a community program that promotes safe driving habits among students. Learning to drive is a critical time for developing those safe practices among teens, which is why it is important for students to commit to safe driving practices, such as 2N2®: 2 eyes on the road and 2 hands on the wheel. And communities can support teen drivers by making an online commitment to safe driving.

You might remember that high schools that sign up for the program are eligible to win grant money for school programs and a private concert by a GRAMMY® Award nominee band! LOTS of high schools benefit from participating. They can win 1 of 90 (ninety!) $25,000, or 1 of 10 $100,000 grants - that's a lot of money!

Did you know that you can help your high school win one of these prizes? Parents and community members like you can make an online commitment, too. The first 100 schools to generate the most safe-driving commitments between October 15th and October 24th will win! Just visit the Celebrate My Drive® website and see if your local high school is registered. You can make a difference every day and help your school win fantastic grants or even a private concert by a GRAMMY® Award nominee band!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day of the Dead Unit by Kid World Citizen - Review & GIVEAWAY

Do you know my friend Becky over at Kid World Citizen? She has the most wonderful blog full of information for parents raising global citizens. And in addition to her quality blog content, she also creates materials for download that she shares in her TpT shop.

This year, she's come out with a Day of the Dead Unit that is full of great information and activities. The 60-page unit includes:
  • Guided Class Discussions
  • Book Suggestions
  • Crafts
  • Power Point
  • A Story
  • And so much more!
The unit starts out with a description of the holiday and the various elements associated with it. She's included a lot of hands-on activities such as a painted paper skull and Day of the Dead Printmaking Project (super fun!), but perhaps my favorite is the Skeleton Dress-Up Activity! It makes me think of the book Calavera Abecedario by Jeanette Winter.

You'll also find a printable Day of the Dead banner you can cut out and string together to make your room more festive. 

Becky has included lots of coloring pages, too, and a bilingual minibook with reading comprehension questions for older kids and handwriting pages for younger children..

If you're a teacher, you may be interested to know that the unit is Common Core aligned, so if you are required to teach to CCSS but want to think outside the box a little, this is a great resource.

The Giveaway

Becky has graciously offered a copy of this Day of the Dead Unit to one MommyMaestra reader.

To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Día de los Muertos: Throughout the Years

Many of you might have noticed that Día de los Muertos has reached Latinos and non-Latinos in America with a bang this year. Some will say that thanks to a new animated film, people are finally recognizing this huge Mexican custom, tradition, and event for the first time. However anyone wants to think about the current phenomenon, we cannot say that this a bad thing. Anytime our children can learn more about their culture, or another, we should embrace it.

While I have always taught and talked to my boys about Día de los Muertos, this is the first year I am preparing for our own ofrenda on a home altar. My parents bought me a Catrina this year, who will definitely take center stage, and have sent me colorful candles especially for our altar. I even received a call from an aunt in Mexico tonight to let me know she is shipping pan de muerto with other necessities and that I should keep an eye out for that box! I have been buying everything I see that is for Day of the Dead, as well.

For us, this year, Día de los Muertos will be a little bigger than other years for so many reasons. My boys are getting older and one will understand a lot more than his brothers. He can't wait to see The Book of Life this weekend and mainly because of Mommy Maestra! Throughout the years, thanks to Monica, the founder of this amazing site, my boys have been learning about this beautiful tradition for a while now! Thank you for helping parents and teachers educate our children in this way and SO many other ways. We are truly grateful for all your hard work.

For the past four years, Monica has created printables, developed lesson plans, and gathered great Día de los Muertos ideas for kids of all ages. I hope you find all the resources that you need in the links below. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

DIY Calavera Pumpkin

If you follow MommyMaestra on Facebook, you may recall me squealing with glee last week when we found all sorts of fun calavera crafts at my local Target. Here's our favorite one: the DIY Calavera Pumpkin Kit. It's easy enough for young fingers to manipulate, but creative enough for adults to love!

What you'll need:
  • 1 (Calavera) Pumpkin Decorating Kit from Target, $3
  • 1 Pumpkin (real or fake - it doesn't matter)


First, open up your decorating kit and make sure you have everything.

We decided to use a ghost pumpkin that we bought at our annual homeschool field trip to one of our local pumpkin farms. We chose it specifically for this because it is white. (Seriously! That is its natural color!)

But if your pumpkin is the traditional orange color, then you'll need to spread out some newspapers. The kit comes with white paint and a sponge brush, so have at it! Paint that pumpkin white. Balancing it on a can of soup (or beans, or whatever!) makes it easier to paint the bottom without it sticking to the newspaper. But paint it carefully so you don't knock it off. You may have to steady it with one hand while you paint with the other.

Once it is dry, it's time to decorate! The peel and stick graphics make this fun and easy. You can copy the image that comes with the directions, or just use your imagination.

Voila! You're done! Is it not pure awesomeness?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Día de los Muertos Labels for Ofrendas {Printable}

Are you setting up an ofrenda in your home or classroom? These labels help to explain to visitors the various elements in the display. They may be used as framed posters, pinned to a display board, or free-standing signs.

In this packet, you’ll also find a set of small free-standing labels for each student to fill one out and place it next to the framed photograph(s) of their deceased loved one(s). These labels have a space for the student to write the name, relationship, and likes/hobbies of the person being remembered.

You can find these in my TpT shop.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Document Your Homeschool Adventures with GoPro

I think I've mentioned before how much I want a GoPro camera. It's been on my wish list for over a year now. I haven't found any other action cameras that meet all the requirements I have in my head. 

The reason I want one is because we like to travel. From local homeschool field trips to family adventures across the country, there are so many memories I wish I could capture with an action camera instead of just my (still awesome) digital.

For example, last month we visited the Sonoran Desert Museum, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. It was the trip of a lifetime, and while I took a lot of amazing photographs, can you just imagine how amazing the following moments would have been on video? 

I don't know if it is just me, but every homeschooling family that I know spends a lot of time documenting their adventures. So if you are a homeschooling mom like me, or even a mom with children in a traditional school setting, and you are looking to upgrade your current video camera - why not give a real action camera a try?

I'm SO geeked that the full line of new GoPro cameras, plus a broad assortment of accessories, are available at Best Buy. They even have three new cameras that are now out: 

GoPro HERO4 Black: The most advanced GoPro ever, featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates1, HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.

GoPro HERO4 Silver: The first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. Controlling the camera, playing back footage, and adjusting settings is ultra-convenient—just view, tap, and swipe the screen. With 1080p60 and 720p120 video, and 12MP photos at a staggering 30 frames per second, HERO4 Silver combines powerful, pro-quality capture with the convenience of a touch display.

GoPro HERO: Featuring high‐quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, and 5MP photos up to 5 fps, HERO captures the same immersive footage that’s made GoPro one of the best-selling cameras in the world.

If you are a parent like me, this would be a great holiday gift for yourself...or your spouse... or even your teen!

Learn more at or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person.

Disclosure: I'm a Best Buy Brand Ambassador which allows me to share news about upcoming events with you! I was compensated for this post, however, all thoughts and opinions shared above are strictly my own. 


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