Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PBS KIDS Celebrates Día de los Niños with New Spanish-Learning Games, Videos {FREE PRINTABLE}

I am so thrilled to announce that PBS KIDS is celebrating Día de los niños, Día de los libros this year! How wonderful is it to have the holiday recognized on national television? Bilingual families and those with young Spanish learners will find this of special interest.

Starting tomorrow, in honor of the holiday, the PBS KIDS series OH NOAH! is launching new animated videos and games that introduce kids to Spanish in a fun way. (Have you been to their website yet? I so LOVE the horse in the cowboys & librarians video!!!)

The program is aimed at children ages 4-7 and features the funny misadventures of Noah, a little boy not unlike my own, who stays with his grandmother in a community where almost everyone speaks only Spanish. As he learns the language, Noah frequently gets into a predicament but always manages to find his way out and learns with a smile. Here's a teaser:

The show's bilingual education consultant, Mariana Swick, provides guidance on vocabulary and phrases appropriate to teach the show's target audience. She reviews script drafts, animation rough cuts, iterations of games, and drafts of offline activities to ensure that the use of Spanish is correct.

According to Swick, the inspiration behind the show stems from the changing demographics in the US. In response, the NY public television station WNET wanted to add a series to the PBS lineup that introduced Spanish to English-dominant children, including Latino children whose parents are interested in preserving their heritage language.

Swick says that they use a “360-degree” approach to developing Oh Noah! materials. "Stories and interactive games for children," she says, "are connected to bilingual family activities, plans for parents, resources for teachers, and community event kits for out-of-school partners like libraries."

I'm delighted to be able share with all of you MommyMaestra readers one of those materials: the OH NOAH! Family Activity Guide

Happy Día de los niños, Día de los libros!

Disclosure: I'm a PBS KIDS VIP which allows me to find out first about news and resources that are of special interest to my readers. I was not compensated for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Margarita Engle for the 2015 L4LL Dia Blog Hop

It is my greatest pleasure, once again, to be one of the hosts of the L4LL Día Blog Hop! As a co-founder of Latinas for Latino Lit, supporting Latino children's literacy remains one of my biggest passions. I especially love it when I can feature one of the Latino authors or illustrators who create the magical books that reflect the Latino experience for our children. 

This year's Día Blog Hop runs today through Thursday, April 30th. Each day three different authors or illustrators are featured on three different Latina blogs. I hope you'll follow along! You can find the complete schedule here

So without further ado, I'm pleased to introduce poet Margarita Engle writing on this year's theme of "immersion" on behalf of Latino children's literacy.

photo courtesy of Amish Karanjit


Immigrants and refugees are often subject to a unique state of mind called añoranza. It is a form of tristealegría, the sad-happy nostalgia of feeling wrapped in music, feasting, and joy, while mourning the distance that separates loved ones. The children of immigrants may inherit only a slim corner of that world of memory, a corner passed on through stories. Without inherited memories, we don’t know who we are, or where our ancestors originated. By the time añoranza reaches my U.S.-born generation, it bursts with curiosity and wishes.

Writing my childhood memoir required total immersion in a devastating past. Enchanted Air (Atheneum, August, 2015) is the true story of my travels back and forth to Cuba during the revolution and Cold War. Remembering was a privilege, but it was also excruciatingly painful. I cried while writing, and I will cry while reading out loud at conferences. Somehow, at the same time, it is a truly hopeful book. The subtitle Two Cultures, Two Wings was born from the magic of travel. Family visits allowed me to know and love my abuelita, bisabuela, tíos, and primos. Travel gave me the gift of connection and the treasure of compassion. Travel immersed me in tropical nature, Cuban culture, Spanish poetry, and the grief of an enormous before and after that chopped my family in half. The Missile Crisis. Severed diplomatic relations. Loss. More than half a century of hostility between my two countries of origin. During my teen years, it was easier for an American citizen to walk on the moon than to visit relatives in Cuba.

Amazingly, exactly one week before I received advanced review copies of Enchanted Air, President Obama announced the first glimmer of hope for renewed diplomatic relations with Cuba. Irrationally, I felt like my immersion in memories had served as a silent prayer, even though the little book of poems was not yet published, and could never reach the ears of anyone influential enough to determine foreign policy. More realistically, I will acknowledge that writing Enchanted Air has served as a bridge between my childhood and adulthood. With enthusiasm for all bridges between cultures, I dedicated it to the estimated ten million people who are currently stateless as the result of conflicts all over the world. I hope that young readers will read my memories as a plea for peace.


Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many young adult verse novels about the island, including THE SURRENDER TREE, which received the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino, and THE LIGHTNING DREAMER, recipient of the 2014 PEN USA Award. Other honors include multiple Pura Belpré and Américas Awards, as well as Jane Addams, International Reading Association, Claudia Lewis, International Latino, and MANA Las Primeras Awards. Books for younger children include MOUNTAIN DOG, SUMMER BIRDS, ORANGUTANKA, DRUM DREAM GIRL, and THE SKY PAINTER.

Margarita grew up in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during summers with her extended family in Cuba. ENCHANTED AIR, Two Cultures, Two Wings (Atheneum, August, 2015) is a verse memoir about those childhood visits.

Margarita was trained as a botanist and agronomist before becoming a full-time poet and novelist. She lives in central California, where she enjoys hiding in the wilderness to help train her husband’s search and rescue dogs.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dover Masterworks: Color Your Own Spanish Masters Paintings

This post uses affiliate links.

So I was doing research online the other night and look at what I found! Dover Masterworks: Color Your Own Spanish Masters Paintings (aff link) is a collection of line drawings that reproduce some of the paintings of Spain's most famous artists: de Goya, Dalí, Velázquez, Borrassa, Miró, Gris, and others.

Wouldn't this be a great resource for artist studies? The full-color originals are displayed on the inside covers so your child can reference them. Then he or she can color in the black-and-white illustrations on his/her own. Each one is printed on only one side of perforated paper so you can tear the completed page out and frame or otherwise display it!

I think this would be an awesome way to supplement a unit study on: Art, Spanish painters, art history, Spain, and more. You can even use it with several students and have an art show afterward to discuss the various artists.

It is best suited for children in 3rd grade and higher, or 8 years old and older.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

5 Latino Children's Books to Celebrate Earth Day

Latino authors and illustrators have created beautiful children's books about our connection to nature. Here's a list of some of the best Latino children's books to celebrate Earth Day.

Many Latinos enjoy a strong connection to nature. My own love of the outdoors, animals, and gardening comes from my Abuelita in whose garden I spent countless hours playing as a little girl. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that many Latino authors and illustrators have penned books that revolve around nature and the Earth.

While there are many books about our connection to nature, here is a sampling of the Latino children's books that make wonderful reads for Earth Day. 

The following links are affiliate links.

5 Latino Children's Books to Celebrate Earth Day

written and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez

I love this super sweet book for small children! It's gentle message of growth and being unique is relayed by inviting the child reader to imagine how they are like a tree growing strong and free. The illustrations are vibrant and actively engage little minds.

by Pat Mora, illustrations by Meilo So

Truly a remarkable book, it is a "poetic celebration of the movement, moods, and majesty of water on Earth." Not only do the words capture the essence of water, but the illustrations are also a visual masterpiece, each one having been inspired by a specific place on Earth.

by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Lucia Angela Perez

Through poems in both English and Spanish, Argueta teaches the strong connection between humans and nature in this tale about Tetl's, a young boy who feels different and outcast from the other children. But Tetl's grandmother helps him discover his Nahuatl heritage by teaching him the ways of their ancestors and helping him learn to listen to the wind, mountains, corn, and more.

by Francisco X. Alarcon, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez

In this magical journey through one of the wonders of the natural world, renowned poet Francisco X. Alarcón follows the Amerindian oral tradition, allowing the animals to speak for themselves in their own roaring, soaring, fluttering voices. Maya Christina Gonzalez’s glorious mixed media illustrations bring the vibrant colors and textures of the rainforest to life.

by Anna Witte, sung by Brian Amador

The best thing about this book is the sing-along CD that features songs by musician and voice actor, Brian Amador. My kids absolutely loved listening to this book when they were little. The story revolves around a greedy parrot in the jungle who goes around stealing all the fruit...until he learns an important lesson.

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Free Download: Bilingual Earth Day Puzzle Cards

Time for another free download! With Earth Day taking place tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to create these bilingual puzzle cards with ways to celebrate Día de la Tierra. The 12 cards feature different ways to be kind to the English and Spanish.

Just print, cut, shuffle, and have your nenes piece them back together. This activity it good for language learners and preschoolers.

Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

Do you have America's Top Young Scientist living in your house? I do. I have two of them. There's always an ingenious invention in progress or some sort of experiment in the making. And this year, my eldest child is finally old enough to enter the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. It's open to kids in 5th through 8th grade - a CRITICAL time in which many children (especially girls!) abandon their interest in science.

We're pretty excited because the Queen of Invention is always excited to share her ideas with anyone who will listen. :) Right now, she's having to sort through her ideas and do research to pick just one. Fortunately, the challenge website has a page with tips to help her narrow down her idea. I've printed the Project Template which takes my daughter through the Scientific Method step by step. She feels like a professional scientist going through the paper.

(The Young Scientists Challenge website even has lesson plans and special videos to help you bring your science studies to life.)

Anyway, in the next few days we'll be working on her video submission. To enter the contest, kids have to submit a 1- to 2-minute video that:
  • explains the problem and how it impacts the entrant, their family, their community or the global population;
  • describes a new innovation or solution that could solve or impact the problem;
  • explains the science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics behind their innovation; and
  • illustrates how their innovation could both address the everyday problem they’ve identified and have a broader impact locally or globally.
If your child is eager to enter, definitely check out these Entry Video Tips so that their video rocks! Check out some of last year's finalists and winner...

And guess what? You can even enter in Spanish!

But you'll have to hurry because the deadline to enter is next Tuesday, April 21st!! So hurry and print your Project Template, give it to your kids and have them prepare to tape their video this weekend!

In June/July, 10 finalists will be announced and have an exclusive opportunity to work directly with a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship program, during which they will be challenged to create an innovation which solves a problem in society. State Merit Winners are also announced at this time. 

And then in October, finalists will demonstrate their scientific innovation and creativity in a series of challenges at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, MN.

The most exciting part for my daughter is that the ten challenge finalists will each be paired with a 3M scientist mentor. The mentors will help guide finalists to create an innovation that will be presented to a panel of judges at the final competition at the 3M Innovation Center in October.

And here's the best news: The winner will receive $25,000 and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.”

I would just really love to see a Latino student win this year's challenge! To learn more, go and visit their website! And follow the Young Scientist Challenge on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with HunterPr and Discovery Education. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Women in History: He Chose Frida!

Like a lot of children his age, my eight year old doesn't pick up his towel after his shower, he forgets where he left his library books, and begs for extra video game time. When it comes to school work, Spanish, music and sports...he's quite good at all he does. We are really proud of him. And like all moms, despite my son's forgetfulness and silliness, I think my kid is quite remarkable! But just recently, I have to admit, I had one of my proudest mami moments of all time.

About a month ago, I picked Diego up late from school and his 2nd grade teacher just happened to walk out with him. She had a huge smile on her face and yelled from a distance, "Diego picked Frida Kahlo!" I threw my hands in the air and created a little fist pump action because I knew exactly what she was talking about. As he climbed into the car he said to me, "It's true! My doll project will be on Frida!" You would have thought he said he just received a full scholarship to attend a prestigious university for the summer! The news to me was that exciting! That fantastic! He wasn't assigned Frida Kahlo, he chose Friday Kahlo and I was bursting with pride.

Every academic year, Diego's school has the 2nd grade class focus on a major Women in History research and art project. For about a month, the students are asked to research, read and write about a famous woman who has contributed to society in a very meaningful way. Queens, First Ladies, athletes and scientists are all represented. The second grade parents and the Kindergarten through 5th grade classes are invited for a special assembly to listen to a one minute speech given by each 2nd grader on their special woman. It's a pretty big deal! They also have to create a doll in school by using a full bottle of hand dishwashing liquid as the base and making her appear as closely as the woman would appear in life. Reading, writing, creative work, music, and public speaking are all tied in to this unit wonderfully.

I was so proud that Diego was so confident in front of everyone at the assembly and spoke clearly of the artist, Frida Kahlo. The doll was just as stylish as Frida was in real life! I was also proud because for years I have been sharing my passion for Mexican culture to my boys in any way that I can. They have been listening to me talk in Spanish, I have been sharing books with them in Spanish, they have learned about Mexican costumbres...and I was starting to wonder if it really works. Are we too removed? Do they even care? Does it all even matter? Being away from family has made me work even harder to teach them about all things Mexico because I believe it's important they know their grandparent's stories. But do they really get it?

Diego is the only Latino in the 2nd grade and Frida was the only Mexican represented in the group of influential Women in History. Last week, I finally understood that it's all really working.

We need our kids to continue to see the contributions Latinos have made in history and it has to start at home. Because Diego decided to share all he learned about Frida Kahlo, others now know a little more about her too. Because Diego decided to learn all about Frida and put her in a group of very accomplished and successful women, he now understands even more just how amazing she was. Frida Kahlo is an influential Woman in History.

That night after the presentation, I thought it was remarkable when Diego mentioned to me that Frida was never represented in past Women in History assemblies at his school. I didn't make a big deal about her being Mexican, about him being Latino, about any responsibilities he must take on, or anything like that. We just talked about what an awesome woman she was and how much she contributed despite her disease and her accident. We talked about her intriguing paintings and how all the picture books depict her in gorgeous colors. We just talked.

It's working. My boys might not listen when I ask for them to please pick up their towels...but when we speak at home about our passions and our culture...they are listening.

Betty Galvan, is writing "for smart and stylish moms" over

Monday, April 13, 2015

Help Your Kids Explore the Outdoors!

This past week, Spring made an appearance here where we live. The temperatures have soared upward, the birds have started nesting, and my garden is budding everywhere I look. That means that it is time for my kids to spend more time outdoors. My badly neglected yards are in desperate need of attention, so we don't need an excuse to head outside, but I do like to find nature-loving activities anyway.

This post uses affiliate links.

If you feel the same and are looking for activities to encourage your little kids to spend more time outside, PBS KIDS has you covered! You may have noticed that some of their shows such as Wild Kratts, Curious George, and Dinosaur Train have been featuring new nature-themed episodes.

They've also created a page on their site with resources, activities, and tips for exploring the outdoors. Your kids can learn how to grow their own beans, go on a nature treasure hunt, put together their Wild Kratts wildlife journal, or even print up a sign for their own Nature Tracker's Club. I especially love the printable matching game from Wild Kratts where your child has to match the animal with the correct habitat. 

You'll find these and many other activities on the PBS Parents site.

If your child loves Caillou, you might be happy to learn about Caillou's Ecology Club Series (aff) of books. From composting to saving water, it explores current environmental issues and empowers children to think about the environment and the impact they have upon it. And the best part is that the whole series of books is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with soy ink! They also have a wonderful DVD called "Caillou's Garden Adventures." (aff)

Disclosure: I'm a PBS KIDS ambassador which allows me to share news and information with my readers. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Free Spanish Game to Build Letter Naming Fluency

This post contains affiliate links.

April's freebie from our sponsor, Lectura para niños is "Fluidez de letras," a simple game to strengthen your child's letter naming fluency in Spanish.

Leah says that in kindergarten, there is a fluency benchmark that the students must meet for the IDEL - Dibels assessment. To help her students develop this skill, Lectura para niños has created an easy game for kids.

Letter recognition is a critical pre-literacy skill that all children need in order to begin reading. Unfortunately, many Latino children begin kindergaren without this skill, causing them to fall behind their peers. Learning to recognize letters is a skill that should begin (and mastered) in preschool. If your child is not enrolled in a preschool program, that's okay, so long as you are actively working with them at home. Resources like this game from Lectura para niños are invaluable tools for professional educators and parents.

There is a wonderful little series of abecedarios, or alphabet books in Spanish (aff link) by Lectorum that I recently discovered. I think it would be a great little supplement for this activity. The ones shown above are just an example of some of the titles included in the series.

But you can also check out Mi abecedario by Maria Parrish, and ¡Marimba! Animales from A to Z by Pat Mora.

For more awesome Spanish materials, especially those that teach children to read in Spanish, check out Lectura para niños on Facebook, Teachers Pay Teachers, Blog, and Pinterest.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Free Spanish Mini-Lesson: What Do You Like?

Conversational Spanish involves sharing your likes and dislikes. So this month's Spanish-learning freebie from our sponsor Spanish for You! is a must-have for all Spanish-learning families. 

The What Do You Like? Mini-Lesson teaches key vocabulary and helps Spanish learners understand how to use the phrases "me gusta" and "no me gusta" in a conversation. It includes key vocabulary of popular items that may be used with these phrases, such as "helados," "verduras," and more. The lesson comes with vocabulary cards and a key, a survey sheet so that you can find out what your friends/family like or dislike, as well as the audio to help you with the pronunciation of each word.

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

Thursday, April 2, 2015

How to Make Confetti Eggs (Cascarones) Videos

A few years ago, I wrote a post sharing a brief history of cascarones - how they originated in China and were introduced to Mexico by Empress Carlota. 

This year, I stumbled upon several awesome video tutorials for making cascarones. Different families make them different ways, and I love seeing the variety. So I thought that I would share some of my favorite videos with you. I know many of you are doing this at home with your children or in your classrooms with your students!

If this is your first time making cascarones, these three videos are great tutorials. 

Video Tutorials for Making Cascarones

My friend, Yvette from Muy Bueno Cookbook, made this awesome video last year about making cascarones with her kids. You can visit her website to print out the directions. 

If you'd like to see more videos from Muy Bueno Cookbook, you can subscribe to her YouTube channel.

Now this video from Tiny Teachers has absolutely stolen my heart! These sweet girls have got it down pat! Teresa and Liana have some other great videos online, too, so check them out. :)

From these two girls we go now to Abuela's Kitchen! She shows us the way she grew up making cascarones (and she's pretty funny, too). This video is mostly in Spanish, but I think that's not a problem for most of you. If I remember correctly, it has subtitles in English.

You may already know her from her YouTube channel that has 238 thousand subscribers!! It's full of videos of her sharing traditional Mexican recipes. (UPDATE: Sadly, I believe that she passed away on Christmas Day in 2021.)

Articles & Blogs Featuring Cascarones

If you are looking for additional decorating ideas, here are a few places that I like to pull up so I can be amazed and inspired by other people's creativity:

Cascarones Printables for Kids

Here's one last resource for those of you searching for printable activities to share with your kids. My TpT shop has several cascarones-themed activity packs for a variety of ages, including the ones shown below:

Other posts you may enjoy...

Enjoy, my friends!

App Review: WordWorld Tales

Do your kids love the PBS KIDS TV show, WordWorld? Did you know that PBS KIDS' first “appisodes” app called WordWorld Tales is now available? It's based on their hit Emmy Award-winning program for preschoolers!

Subject(s): language arts
Brief Description: An interactive story tales app that focuses on early literacy.
Price: FREE
Language: English
Ages: 2 - 5 years
Device: iOS

WordWorld Tales includes a library of exclusive, touchable story tales that focus on early literacy skills. As children explore, discover, collect and create different parts of each appisode, they create their own learning adventures. The app is geared to develop vocabulary and helps children build words. Preschoolers can even sing along to some of their favorite WordWorld songs. 

This app comes with two free appisodes:

Happy Birthday, Dog!: It’s Dog’s birthday and all his friends in WordWorld are planning a surprise party. Help the WordFriends collect all the supplies for Dog’s party while focusing on print awareness, letter recognition and word building.

A Christmas Present for Dog: Something is wrong with Dog’s present from Santa! Discover the giving spirit and help save Dog’s Christmas while focusing on writing letters, letter recognition, and word building.

NOTE: Additional appisodes are available for in-app purchase. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bilingual Easter Activities and Resources

Are you ready for Easter? There are so many things to do before Sunday! The whole week leading to Easter is one of my favorite times of the year. My boys and I do a lot of art, a few crafts, and plenty of reading about this special holiday. It goes without saying that we dip hard boiled eggs into bright dye until our fingers accidentally stain as well!

There are so many Easter activities and resources around the web and by now you might have noticed that I love sharing my favorite finds. Mommy Maestra has created and contributed fantastic Easter bilingual activities throughout the years. I wanted to take a look at all of those resources again and did a little extra research for other ideas to do in Spanish, English or both with my three boys. We hope you find this collection helpful!


We love this Spanish book!

Super cute bilingual coloring sheet (I printed it again!)

Easter coloring book in Spanish

Bilingual Easter Vocabulary Pages

Bilingual Plural Words Worksheet

I combine a couple of these worksheets and make a new bilingual Easter activity!

DIY Cascarón Activity

DIY Window clings

Easter Egg Name Puzzles

Love this! Teaching Emotions to Kids (you can do in English or Spanish)

Betty Galvan, is writing "for smart and stylish moms" over


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