Unusual apps that engage my kids are always a plus in my book. But this latest app from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is just so creative and unlike any other I've seen. Three-time Caldecott Medal winner, David Wiesner transports us to five fantastical worlds in Spot.
Name:David Wiesner's Spot Subject(s): science, art Brief Description: An interactive, wordless book app. Price: $3.99 Language: Ages: 0 - 12 years Device: iOS What my kids like: My son loves the imagination behind this app. Who ever thought that the dust bunnies under the chair could lead to a newspaper article where the ink pixels are actually millions of ladybugs holding umbrellas? To use the app, he has to select an object then pinch and zoom to magnify it. Only the thing is that as the magnification increases, the image turns into a whole new world full of fantastical beings.
What I like: I love the interface of illustration, imagination, and technology. I feel like it takes storytelling to a completely different level. This app nurtures my children's sense of curiosity. It is also nice that parents and educators can download guides to help expand the child's learning experience. Really, Spot is hard to explain and simply must be experienced. So here's a quick look at the app and what your child will experience...
Resource alert! Are you homeschooling in Spanish or bilingually? Do you have children learning basic math? If so, you should check out Los Matecitos! The interactive website is designed for kids in 1st through 3rd grades. When they open the site, they can choose their grade level and then begin completing fun games to learn:
greater than/less than
units of measurement
days of the week
The Spanish site is fun for kids and helps them learn basic math concepts through videos and interactive games.
My kids are too old for this site. But if YOU'VE used Matecitos before, let us know what you think! Would you recommend it to other families?
This year, March 25th marks National Manatee Appreciation Day. Like with so many endangered animals, a special day is dedicated to raising awareness for the gentle manatees. The large, slow-moving animals are vulnerable to quick hunters who seek their meat and hide. Manatees are also often injured or killed by large boats which have dramatically increased in numbers, size and speed. Sadly, the Manatee population is decreasing.
Manatee Appreciation Day is widely celebrated in areas with large manatee populations such as Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean. The main objective of the day of awareness is to continue to educate people all over the world of the harm the three manatee species face and what everyone can do to keep these cute and lovable "sea cows" safe.
If you would like to learn more, Mommy Maestra has gathered resources with neat Manatee facts, great books and printables. Enjoy!
Last month, I had so much fun creating a reading comprehension unit on Afro-Latinos that I decided that I had to do it again. So I'm pleased to share that in honor of Women's History Month, I've created a new reading packet featuring 10 Latinas in history.
Reading Comprehension Passages: 10 Latinas in History (volume 2!) is now available and it features 10 amazing women who have had an impact on world history. I had SO much fun reading about these incredible Latinas. Their stories are motivational and this packet, while a wonderful resource for all children, is especially empowering for young girls.
It is designed for advanced readers in 3rd through 6th grades and includes one-page reading passages about the following women:
Sor Juana de la Cruz
I've also included reading comprehension worksheets that focus on facts and vocabulary from the passages, a matching activity, dictionary reference, and complete the sentence. Answer key included.
And yes, it is available in English AND Spanish!
Download it here on my site or head on over to my TpT store and get your copy today!
Don't forget to leave some feedback so I know what you think.
Are you one of those parents who plans out their children's summer activities months in advance? Or are you like me who waits until May then looks around to see what affordable programs will be available and that still have empty spaces for kids?
But here's the thing: my kids are unstoppable explorers. They can't resist a good mystery or challenge. They love Indiana Jones and Minecraft and How to Train Your Dragon. They are ALWAYS ready to solve a new mystery. So I try to look for programs and camps that appeal to their sense of hands-on adventure.
That's why I'm very excited to have my kids participate in Brain Chase, a 5-week online summer learning challenge for kids (early readers up to 16 years old). There are no boring worksheets! Instead, it is FULL of adventure learning. The kids go on a massive global treasure hunt and they have to use their reading, writing, and math skills to solve this real-life challenge with a REAL TREASURE at the end. You'll like this part, too. The first family to solve the mystery get's to travel to the site to claim their golden treasure and the $10,000 scholarship money!
No joke. Take a look at last year's winner whose family got to travel to Spain to find the Globe of Magellan. (I would totally love for someone to pay for my family to go to SPAIN! My kids have watched this twice and are so pumped!)
This year, kids are searching to find the Sunstone of Cortés! (Hmmm, I wonder where in the world this adventure will take the winners? I've got a good idea...wink, wink.)
With this awesome program, kids spend 1 hour each day working online (5 days a week). They'll log into their dashboard and watch an animated video like the one below to meet the team of explorers. Then they work on their learning challenges. They'll have four tasks:
read for 15 minutes a day
write one journal entry
earn 10,000 points on Khan Academy
do one bonus challenge
The work is customized to each student, so if you are like me and register two kids in different grades, their individual work will be tailored to their skill level. (So if your child is at a 9th-grade reading level, but a 7th-grade math level, it's no problem.) Or you can simply register one child and have both kids work together. When they are done, they will unlock the next webisode, which contains hidden pictures, numbers, and riddles to help them determine the treasure's location.
If your kid misses a day (or even a week!) that's okay. They can go back the next day and catch up. They just cannot work ahead. New challenges are posted every day at 9 am ET. Since the work is tailored to each child the program is great for children with learning disabilities, too.
The weekly writing exercises are reviewed by credentialed teachers who provide feedback, and weekly progress reports are emailed to parents.
In addition, 3 adventure tools will be mailed to your home to help you solve the special bonus challenges. We received a packet the other day and my kids were SO psyched to get: a wax-sealed letter with a secret code, a decoder ring (I always wanted one of these), a beautiful compass, and magic beans (my son is planting them today). And if you are traveling this summer, no problem! You can tell them your travel plans so that the packages can be mailed wherever you are.
I love that the program can be used together with any other summer camps your child might be involved in, such as sports, art, nature, etc.
Here's the introductory video:
By the summer, my kids aren't the only ones ready for a break from our homeschooling routine. But that doesn't mean I want their learning to stop. The reality is that during the summer, kids forget a lot of the material they learned in the spring. So when school starts up again, teachers are forced to spend weeks trying to review the same material so they can progress on to new concepts and skills. And that's where Brain Chase helps out.
First, you have to register. I'll be honest and let you know that Brain Chase can be kind of pricey. But it is no more expensive than a week-long summer camp. If you wait to register until after April 15th, most people will have to pay the full price of $199. But if you register early, the price is $149. BUT WAIT!! Mis amigos over at Brain Chase have generously offered MommyMaestra readers an additional 15% off discount!Just use the code MOMMYMAESTRA15when you register.
THERE IS A LIMIT to the number of children who can participate because they have to order the hands-on materials in advance. So sign up early.
Then, at 9 am on Monday, June 22nd, 2015, the adventure begins!
The program works on PC browsers and iPads. It is not available, yet, for mobile phones (maybe next year?) but I don't think it would be easy to write on a mobile phone anyway.
Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with the Motherhood and Brain Chase. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
Tomorrow is Saint Patrick's Day. And that got me to thinking this weekend about the influence that the Irish have had on Latin America's history. So I decided to put together this fast one-page reading passage about one group in particular: Los San Patricios.
Do you know their story? If not, you should run over to my TpT shop and download your copy! It will be free today and tomorrow only. The file includes a one-page history of the Batallón de San Patricio, and then an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key. It is best used with strong readers in 4th through 6th grade.
This is a good introduction to the topic and does not go into great depth - perfect for a short history lesson!
If you download it, please leave some feedback. If I get enough responses, I'll consider making more of these free for a short time to MM readers.
Dear Readers, Two years ago, I did a survey to learn more about Hispanics and their perception of homeschooling. There continues to be very little information available on Hispanic families and homeschooling. But I know that things have changed dramatically since the day I started this website five years ago. So once again, I am collecting information on the perspective of Hispanics in regards to homeschooling. If you are a Hispanic parent, are married to a Hispanic, or have children who are Hispanic, please take just a couple of minutes to complete this short 9-question survey. Most of the questions are multiple choice, so it is pretty quick and easy. Basically, I want to know what you think about homeschooling and if you have ever considered it for your child. You do not have to homeschool to take the survey, but if you know someone who does homeschool, please share the survey with them as we want their voices to be included.
As added incentive for taking the survey, I will select one of the respondents using Random.org to receive a $50 Amazon gift card. The winner will be announced on April 2nd, 2015.
ALL OF YOUR RESPONSES WILL BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. Only the data will be analyzed and shared. Thanks for participating! Un abrazo, ~Monica
Dear friends, this month I'm so proud to celebrate Women's History Month by participating in the Multicultural Kid Blogs' Women’s History Series. Be sure to visit our main page to see all of the posts and link up your own!
There are so many wonderful Hispanic women who have made an impact on our world's history. Today, I've chosen three who I feel have had the greatest influence. All three are simply fascinating, and while I've limited the information here, I would encourage you to delve into each one and study them yourselves.
I would love to know who you would include in this list! Which Hispanic women do you think have had the most impact on our world history?
This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting MommyMaestra!
Luis de Madrazo [Public domain]
Isabella I of Castile
Arguably one of the most powerful women in history, Queen Isabella played a vital role in both Europe and the New World. She is best known for her role in opening access to the New World through her support of Christopher Columbus' voyage, but she also saved Spain from financial ruin and completed the Reconquista. After assuming the throne, she reorganized the Spanish government, reduced the country's crime rate, and reversed Spain's enormous debt. Not only was she the first woman to be featured on a US stamp, but she was also the first woman to appear on a US coin.
A portrait of Juana during her youth in 1666, which states she was 15 at the time
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Sor Juana was a 17th-century nun who lived in "New Spain," or in Mexico when it was a Spanish territory. She was a self-taught scholar and poet who contributed to the Spanish Golden Age. A precocious child, she learned to read and write Latin when she was only 3 years old. By 5 years old, she had mastered math and began writing poetry when she was only 8. Sor Juana became one of the first women to publicly champion a woman's right to an education. Her knowledge and intelligence earned her a degree of fame throughout New Spain. Though she received several marriage proposals and was admired in court, Juana chose, instead, to become a Hieronymite nun so that she could continue her studies without restrictions.
Tlaxcala city. Palacio de Gobierno: Murals - Discussions between the Taxcaltecans and Hernán Cortés.
The indigenous beauty, la Malinche, was a Nahua woman and one of 20 female slaves given to the Spaniards by the natives of Tabasco upon their defeat by the Spanish conquerors. She became the interpreter, advisor, lover, and intermediary for the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and played a vital role in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. He is reputed to have said that after God, Marina was the main reason for his success. (Marina is the Christian name that she took when she was baptized.) She was, in fact, so valuable to Cortés, that most Aztec codices show her drawn standing with the Spaniard explorer. Today, she is viewed with mixed emotions; some consider her a traitor to the indigenous people, while others consider her the mother of the Mexican nation.
Be sure to visit MKB to read more amazing articles about Women in History!
You May Also Like Learning About...
Here are some of my other posts and reading passages that you may enjoy for Women's History Month.
YouTube Kids launched a kid-friendly version of itself a few weeks ago and it has made a lot of parents very happy. Although, we should never expect that content created for children online will always be perfect, YouTube Kids did offer a sense of relief as a better alternative to the kid-loving YouTube that has always existed. Here at Mommy Maestra, we recommend that parents always monitor screen time, apps, and computer games by checking it all out before the kids do. And as it happens to me, we do completely understand that fully reviewing something isn't always possible. Although, after personally playing with YouTube Kids, I did ask myself, "Why wasn't this done sooner?"
Name: YouTube Kids Subject(s): All Brief Description: Age-appropriate channels, videos and playlists - YouTube version for kids! It is clear, easy to use, and a worry-free app for parents. Price: Free Language: English with multi-language content Ages: 2 and up Device:iOS, Android
What I Like: I like that the app is geared for kids of all ages. My little guy who is two can navigate through preschool videos on his own and my 8 year old can find smart, educational content for himself. I keep thinking, this is an all-in-one app! I also like that YouTube has a remarkable reputation and fantastic forward thinking. If problems arise, I trust that they will be proactive. I searched "Taylor Swift" and only found sweet videos of other kids playing her music on the piano, Ellen DeGeneres interviews, and Taylor Swift commercials. And I can also notify YouTube directly from the app to report any questionable content.
I absolutely loved that I could find Spanish videos for my boys. Lots of Spanish videos for us to explore!
And if I want to control the amount of time my child spends on the app, I can use the built-in timer.
What My Boys Like: My boys understand that this is still YouTube. They love that they can easily find their favorite videos. They have also discovered new learning tools and that is a plus for me, too. They also appreciate that YouTube Kids has kept it "real." The haul videos, for example, are the current rage on YouTube and the family-friendly versions are still obtainable on YouTube Kids. This is a cool factor for older kids while still satisfying parents and their safety concerns.
My boys also loved the automatic full screen (no more flipping of the phone!), the big buttons to click, and the easy to navigate menus. There are only five menu options: Recommended, Shows, Music, Learning, and Explore. They were very satisfied with those!
Betty Galvan, is writing "for smart and stylish moms" over
You may remember that last year I was a brand ambassador for Best Buy. It was a great experience and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity. Last week I was honored to speak on a panel for Best Buy's LatIN Employee Business Network. The program is one of the company's groups that promote diversity and inclusion. LatIN has recently fired up to become a resource for Best Buy Latino employees that helps them with their personal and professional development.
I had the chance to have lunch with two of LatIN's committee chairs. I found them to be full of youthful energy and enthusiasm for their EBN and eager to develop programs that give back to the Latino community. One of them - Brittani Uribe- actually works with Geek Squad Academy, which brings summer camps to at-risk children ages 9 to 18 in over 70 cities across the nationFOR FREE. The two-day camp curriculum covers a wide variety of subjects, including PC repair, robotics, digital literacy, online safety, digital video editing, and even basic programming.
In fact, they are currently accepting applications for their 2015 summer programming. If you are interested in hosting a camp in your community, you can apply here. There must be a minimum of 100 students (maximum 200) who will participate in the two-day camp. Brittani was actually one of the first Academy students served in Houston back when the program officially launched.
But the LatIN EBN is also making a difference in the lives of students in their local communities outside of official programs like Geek Squad Academy. In fact, Brittani and Andrew told me about how they recently helped to help convert 700 iPads from English to Spanish at a Spanish immersion K-5 school in Minnesota. The iPads are assigned to each student but remain on school grounds to be used during class time.
And children aren't the only ones benefitting from LatIN's community outreach. They also have an after-hours program for Latino health that provides classes for recent immigrants to help make the transition easier for them.
The panel that I participated in was designed to encourage and inspire both Latino and non-Latino employees and management. The other panelists consisted of Best Buy employees; all of them Latino, but with diverse backgrounds such as Peru and Mexico. The moderator asked about the benefits and challenges of being bicultural and bilingual, and how we bring our whole selves to work each day. I wonder how many Latinos in this country understand their value? Do we realize how important our bicultural experiences are to our success?
With Latinos over-indexing in technology and social media, it came as no surprise to learn that some of Best Buy's most successful stores are actually found in Latino communities in Florida and California. So I'm hopeful that the company realizes that NOW is the time to recruit Latino youth who are already tech savvy and can successfully communicate with and educate our community. I hope they continue to support their Latino employees, which are an invaluable asset, and that they also invest in our communities because by doing so, they benefit not just Best Buy, but our nation as a whole.
The Millenial generation is set to advance. Studies show that Latinos are more likely to start a business than the general market, and they are more likely to successfully grow a business. In today's world, that isn't possible without the use of technology and our youth only need a little more education and guidance in this area to blossom.
I am hopeful that companies like Best Buy will see the opportunities we provide and help us succeed so that our entire nation might benefit.
Disclosure: I was compensated for speaking on the LatIN panel. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.
Congratulations to the young winners of the Voto Latino Innovator's Challenge! Did you know about this contest? Latino youth ages 18 - 34 were challenged to think of a way in which technology could be used to make life better for Latinos.
There were seven winners this year and all but one of them focused on the development of apps to help our community. From using tech to help improve the health of migrant workers to helping young Latinas suffering emotional difficulties to helping DREAMERS find scholarships, I love how the ideas presented solutions to real-world problems. The seven winning teams will split $500,000 in grants.
The judging team included high profile Latino activists Rosario Dawson and Wilmer Valderrama.
If you'd like to learn more about the winners and their amazing ideas, click here.
Have you ever asked your child to identify problems in the world? Do you challenge your children to think outside the box and find solutions to these problems? I'm putting it on our school schedule. I want my kids to regularly think about how they can contribute to our society and help others be seeing their needs and finding creative solutions.
Learning to read is the most fun whenever the materials are colorful and engaging and the activities are clever and effective. That is why I love this month's free download from our sponsor Lectura para niños! The download is a set of engaging worksheets to accompany McGraw-Hill's Lectura Maravillas reading program that Leah uses with her students.
(PSST! Parents, you can find more affordable Maravillas textbooks here on Amazon [aff link].)
This week focuses on the letter G and new sight words: quién and al. It also reviews all previous words taught from the other little reader books.
Each week these books get progressively harder while adding a new letter/syllable of the week as well as 2 new sight words.
The 1st and 2nd pages introduce picture vocabulary that begin with the sound /g/. The 2nd page also provides a game board to use as you wish. In my class I teach them how to play so when I send this home for homework, they can play with their family to make reading a little bit more fun. In class, we mainly just read around the board. This helps the child focus on the word. I like the colors with this game because children with visual focusing disorders have a hard time tracking. The colors help with this.
On the 3rd page there is fluency practice to review a) lowercase letters taught to date, b) uppercase letters taught to date, c) sight words taught to date, d) syllables of the week
With my INTENSIVE students, I make sure if there is an error made, we go back two letters and keep reviewing until we have the letter correct.
With my at level and above level students, we read this page for speed and automaticity.
On the 4th page the students have to
a) Listen to the teacher say 2 words that begin with the /g/ sound and find a picture that begins with this sound.
b) Listen to the teacher say 2 words with the /g/ sound in the middle of the word, then find a picture that has the /g/ sound in the middle of the word.
On the 5th page, the students have to
a) Look at the picture at the beginning of the column, then circle the WORD that has the same BEGINNING sound.
b) Look at the picture at the beginning of the column, then circle the WORD that has the same MIDDLE sound.
On the 6th page, the students have to read words and draw a line to the corresponding pictures.
On the 7th page, the students have to practice segmenting words while looking at the sounds as well as with their eyes closed!
On the 8th page, the students have to read the sentence and draw a line to the picture that corresponds with the sentence.
This link will take you to all of the little reader books that I have created to go along with Maravillas reading series. You do not need this series in order to use these books. These books all reinforce phonemic awareness and phonics in the Spanish homeschool and or classroom.
I've written before on the topic of healthy breakfasts to help children focus in school. Without a great breakfast, students lack the energy they need to focus in school and to learn complex concepts.
I'm always looking for breakfast ideas because I know that my kids need protein to solve tricky math problems, learn grammar, and read effectively. On days that we have plenty of time to prepare breakfast, we often make egg burritos, french toast, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, and other dishes.
But the reality is that sometimes families oversleep or lose track of time, and are on the run to get kids to school or class. Even though we homeschool, we certainly experience these mornings, too, because we participate in morning programs and we also have a set schedule. So during those busy moments, I look for easy - and FAST - ways to nourish my kids. Here are some of our quick breakfasts:
yogurt and (whole wheat) toast with a glass of orange juice
frozen (whole wheat) waffles with yogurt and milk
fruit salads with yogurt and milk
And now we've discovered another grab-and-go breakfast! I'll be the first to say that I'm VERY suspect of traditional breakfast bars. I don't like all the chemicals and high fructose corn syrup that seems to be in each of them. That's why I was really happy to discover that Honey Bunches of Oats has come out with healthy breakfast biscuits with whole grain. Pair them with a serving of yogurt and a glass of milk for additional protein and they are a perfect quick meal to help with sustained energy throughout the morning.
They come in three flavors: Honey Roasted, Strawberry, and Chocolate Chip. All of them come with 28 - 30 grams of whole grain, providing more than 55% of your day's whole grain recommendation. The best way I can describe them is that they are like cereal in cookie form.
I bet you can guess my son's favorite one...chocolate chip, of course. He likes to dunk them in a glass of milk. And I love it too because even though they taste like chocolate chip cookies, they are actually good for you!
And they aren't just for kids, either. My daughter prefers the Honey Roasted and I like the Strawberry. Really, all of them are good. There are 4 biscuits in each package.
So if you are like me and are looking for new products for quick breakfasts that you won't feel guilty about feeding your kids, then check you might try these!!
Are you teaching your child how to speak Spanish? Or are you an educator looking for ways to supplement your curriculum? Maybe you're thinking about learning Spanish together as a family and are looking for a great curriculum. Either way, you should check out all the wonderful printables available here on MommyMaestra!
One of the biggest parts of learning a new language is expanding your vocabulary. That's why I love this month's Spanish-learning freebie from our sponsor Spanish for You!
The Describing with Adjectives Mini-Lesson comes with three fun activities to help your child learn describing words, as well as which words have endings that change (or don't) depending on the nouns they are describing. I also love that you can even use some of these printables with additional games/activities that you can find online. And don't worry if you aren't a fluent Spanish speaker. As with all of Spanish for You!'s excellent materials, this one comes with an audio download to help you with pronunciation.
Every year on Dr. Seuss' birthday, the NEA (National Education Association) celebrates with their Read Across America project. Anyone and everyone can participate. All you have to do is pick up a book and read to your child, student, niece, nephew, cousin, grandchild... or even volunteer to read aloud at your local bookstore or library.
Today, we celebrate diverse books. But in the past, we have associated all the wonderful books that Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated with this day. Did you know that many of them are available in Spanish, too?
If you are like me, you may be highly particular, though, about translations. Too often literal translations leave a sour taste in my mouth. A truly good translation, however, is one that captures the spirit of the story and brings it to life in another language. It's hard to find good translations, I think. But one of the best translators in my opinion is Yanitzia Canetti.
And lucky for us, she has translated quite a few of Dr. Seuss' wonderful tales for children including: (affiliate links below)
So if you find yourself looking for Dr. Seuss books in Spanish to share with your children, visit Amazon.com and enter Yanitzia's name in the search bar to find her translations of these awesome books.
And while you're at it, be sure to check out the other books she written and/or translated!
If you'd like to find more resources to celebrate diverse books and Read Across America Day, check out these posts on MommyMaestra: