Monday, October 31, 2016

Fun Stuff: Bilingual Halloween Printables

Happy Halloween, Amigos!

We will be crazy busy today, but I wanted to remind you about a few things.

First, Parents! If your kids go trick or treating, PLEASE don't forget to check your child's candy before they eat it. Throw it out any unwrapped pieces, or those whose wrappers appear to have been tampered with (no holes, slits, wet stains, or other tiny tears)

Next, make sure you snap some super shots of your costumed nenes!

And lastly, don't forget to download my Halloween printables:

Download a free sample here.

I hope you all have a super safe Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Making Gift Giving Meaningful

Can you believe that November 1st is only a few days away? And you know what that means, right? The holiday shopping season is about to hit us in the face. Just today, I opened an email from a major electronics store and it was talking all about Black Friday deals. Ugh. To be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with buying gifts. It's the pressure to get good deals that leaves a sour taste in my mouth because it takes the focus away from the very act of gift giving. The commercialism surrounding the holidays now almost ruins what true gift giving is all about.  

I said almost. Because there is something really special about getting together with familia y amigos and giving those loved ones gifts that have meaning. I hate the idea of just going down a list of people and getting them whatever gifts just so I can check them off. Where's the sincerity in that? So before you get anything to just check someone off your to-do list, I want to encourage you to take a moment to model thoughtful giving for your children, family, and community. Give them a gift that will last. One that shows that you thought carefully about them.

Last month, I took my children to Spain to meet my family. It was the first time my son had traveled outside of this country. More importantly, it was the first time that he had a chance to meet my dad, his abuelo. That trip is one that both of my children will carry with them for the rest of their lives. That time spent with family was extra special and a gift they will have forever in their hearts and memories.

The point is that experiences create the memories that bond us. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars taking your family on a far away trip. You can make magic happen close to home by taking loved ones on a local adventure, a music show, committing to an exercise routine together, or honing cooking skills together. Or even just setting up time for a special day with just the two of you. This can be inexpensive for your pocketbook and rich in meaning.

Of course, if you follow MommyMaestra, then you know that education is also a gift that lasts a lifetime. For the nenes in your life, ditch the electronics and meaningless toys. How about a set of blocks that get their creative juices flowing, science experiments they can do with friends, or Peter and the Wolf, the Nutcracker, and other classical pieces you loved as a child?

Handmade gifts are another way to express love and infuse them with meaning. Poems, artwork, crochet/knit, even baked goods are wonderful ways to show the recipient how much you care about them because all of them require TIME. You are investing in that relationship because it is important to you. So if your child has a special talent, now actually would be a good time to think about gift giving if said gift was handmade, required some time to make, and was from the heart.

Whatever their passion as a young learner, stoke those coals. Your gift to them will not only last a lifetime, but help them become thoughtful, considerate adults who positively influence their community!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

MommyMaestra's 2016 Ofrenda Photo Contest

Last year, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the wonderful ofrendas that MommyMaestra readers in classrooms, libraries, and homes all over the country created in honor of Día de los Muertos. You shared your precious photos on MommyMaestra's Facebook page and inspired other families and classrooms to do the same.

We want to do it again!

Share your pictures with us between today, October 27th, and 11:59 pm ET November 3rd. 

A winner will be chosen at random to receive a copy of one of our favorite Día de los Muertos books: "Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras" (aff) by Duncan Tonatiuh.

This year, we're expanding just a bit and are allowing entries on Instagram, too. Just upload a picture of your ofrenda and use the hashtag #MMOfrenda.

This contest is not sponsored. It's just a fun opportunity for families and classes to share their hard work and creativity dedicated to family and friends who have passed away. What a beautiful tradition we have available to us all!

See our Terms and Conditions here. Void where prohibited.
Congratulations to you all on a job well done and best of luck!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Chapter Books with Latina Protagonists

When I was a kid there weren't ANY chapter books featuring Latino characters, much less any centered around a LatinA. That's why young Latinas today are so lucky to have not just one, but a whole slew of titles from which to choose.

If you're looking for titles that reflect a young Latina's exprience that your child or students can relate to, check out these series and stand-alone stories.

This post may include affiliate links.

This new series by author Monica Brown celebrates Lola's multicultural background. The books are funny, energetic, and cleverly written. Young readers will relate to Lola's adventures and love her spunky way of dealing with them. And the illustrations by Angela Dominguez are a great addition to the story. I love that you can find lesson plans to accompany the books on Brown's website.

She's fun. She's quirky! And she always has a bright idea. This series debuted last year and already has more than half a dozen books in print. And young Latinas will love every single one. 

This is such a cute story! Written and illustrated by Rhode Montijo, this book tells the story of Gabby Gomez who loves gum SO much that one day...she turns into it! She keeps her new elastic powers a secret, but uses them to help save the day. And now, Gum Girl is an official series with the second book coming out next June.

Other excellent titles that are not part of a series include...

Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada and Garbiel M. Zubizarreta. A beautiful story about family, friendship, and the classic immigrant experience, this book chronicles Margie and Lupe's new friendship. 

My Name is María Isabel by Alma Flor Ada. For María Isabel Salazar López, the hardest thing about being the new girl in school is that the teacher doesn't call her by her real name. "We already have two Marías in this class," says her teacher. "Why don't we call you Mary instead?" 
But María Isabel has been named for her Papá's mother and for Chabela, her beloved Puerto Rican grandmother. Can she find a way to make her teacher see that if she loses her name, she's lost the most important part of herself?

Salsa Stories by Lulu Delacre. I love this book that celebrates the diversity of Latino culture. When Carmen Teresa receives a notebook as a holiday gift, the guests suggest she write down their own childhood stories, which they tell. But Carmen Teresa, who loves to cook, collects their family recipes instead! 

Starr and the High Seas Wedding Drama by Lynelle Woolley. A book in the Flower Girl World series, this one features Starr and her Abuela, who is getting remarried. The latter is taking the family on a Mexican cruise to meet her fiancé Walter and his family. But Starr isn't so sure that the two are a good match and decides to do something about it. There is a very light sprinkling of Spanish words in the book. This is a cute story that is part of a multicultural series. 

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Día de los Muertos Car Decals {GIVEAWAY}

Last year, I was in my favorite book store in Texas when I stumbled upon this set of Día de los Muertos-themed car stickers. I squealed and grabbed one as fast as I could because I knew immediately that I was going to offer it as a giveaway for my awesome readers.

I knew you guys would love it. Because even if you don't want to use them on your car, you can use these in other places such as laptop decoration, home decor, window clings, and more.

It comes with nine options, including family pets! Isn't the gatito crazy cute?!?

The Giveaway

I know this isn't exactly an educational giveaway, but sometimes we just have to have fun. And MommyMaestra readers are the best. So I'm giving away a set of these car stickers to one MommyMaestra reader. To enter, just use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 24, 2016

Day of the Dead Ten Frames

Do you work with elementary students? If so you surely know about ten frames. I was inspired last week to put together a new set of Dia de los Muertos theme. They are so useful for teaching your young students to count from 1 to 10 and higher, as well as simple addition.

The ten frames I created come with two designs. The first can be used to have children match the number with the correct frame. Students simply count the number of images and select the correct number.

The second displays the number and kids just fill in the correct number of images the frames.

I've also included a few blank templates so that you can create the activity that best suits your needs. If you need ideas for other ways to use ten frames, check out this excellent resource.

These would be great as a Math Center activity. They are also perfect for homeschoolers.

You can find this set in my TpT store.

Stay tuned for a fun giveaway tomorrow!!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Laurie Berkner's Superhero Album for Preschoolers

When my kids were little, we'd often go over to my mom's house to visit. 'Buelita would sweep them up caring for them like a mother hen. I would sleep or slip out for a few moments to myself, only to come back and find them all sitting on the couch watching and singing to Laurie Berkner on TV.

We eventually bought Berkner's album at Target so that we could rock out whenever we wanted. While that seems like only yesterday, the reality is that it was at least eight or nine years ago. And it is almost impossible to think about those days without thinking about the music my children sang and danced to almost daily.

I think the children's network that used to air Berkner's music videos has long since changed, but luckily the artist is still going strong. Last month, The Laurie Berkner Band released a new album - Superhero. And today's toddlers (and their mommies) will be just as enchanted with her music as mine were almost 10 years ago.

From reggae to Latin to '60's pop, Superhero takes your child on a musical ride. They'll hear songs that make them jump up and move their bodies, as well as ballads to help calm them down...and each one has something important to teach your young preschooler.

Berkner says that the goal of this album is self-empowerment. It's about "being ourselves and discovering the superhero in all of us."

My favorite song is My My Marisol, which is just fun and full of imagery. Actually, all of the songs on this album are about subjects to which preschoolers can relate: being the center of attention, bath times, bed times, magical fireworks, body parts, and more. There's even a fun song - Pool Safely - all about being safe in and around water.

She also has joined forces with a number of guests to create these songs. Musical talents such as Ziggy Marley, Kira Willey, and bandmates Brady Rymer, Susie Lampert, and Bobby Golden all combine their talents to bring you this collection of 21 songs, plus two bonus tracks!

To hear samples of the songs on Superhero, see the lyrics, or to purchase/download your copy, visit this page on

And don't forget that many of her songs have music videos that you can find on YouTube, like this one...

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Nurture Your Little Scientist with the Magic School Bus Science Club!

This post may contain affiliate links. 

One of my kids' favorite book series has been The Magic School Bus. They used to pour through the books, reading about everything from the bottom of the ocean to dinosaurs. Sometimes I would read them aloud and sometimes they'd read to themselves. We'd imagine ourselves shrinking, shrinking, shrinking down in size until we were small enough to drive around the inside of our own bodies with Ms. Frizzle and our fictional classmates. 

I'll forever have the memory of sitting on the couch with my kids reading the books. And I'll remember that moment when I check the mailbox and let out a little squeal because our Magic Tree House Kit of the Amazing Human Body has arrived and I can't wait to use it in our homeschool lessons.  

So I have to tell you about this opportunity from Educents to give your kids an AMAZING , HANDS-ON, YEAR-LONG SCIENCE JOURNEY!

For All the Kids Who Love to Ask “Why?"


The Magic School Bus Science Club is a 12-month science kit subscription based on the award-winning series, The Magic School Bus. If you haven't heard about the series before, each of the stories center on the antics of a frizzy-red haired fictional elementary school teacher, Ms. Frizzle, and her class, who board a “magic school bus” to take them on field trips to impossible locations, like the solar system, clouds, the past, and inside the human body. This story-based learning took the science scene by storm in the 90's.

But it's the 2000s!!

The kit subscription takes it to the next level with HANDS-ON learning that all ties into the stories! It's also HALF OFF FOR 10 MORE DAYS! This is a great choice for families with multiple children, kinesthetic, and visual learners - and just a fun, educational activity for a rainy day! The kits include experiments related to Volcanoes, Weather, Water, Fossils, Bacteria and Fungi, Star and Planets, and the weather. One experiment your kids will be really excited to try is the Volcano Kit! The kit comes with a small volcanic rock, a pumice stone, sheets of paper, black paint, paint brush, a magnifying glass all to build a volcano. Check out the video below to see the fun experiment and explosive result (this one is from Educents)...
And there are so many more experiments! Think of a sibling science club coming to life in your home - or friends bonding over making volcanoes explode, and learning all about how the human body works! Getting kids excited about STEM learning is exciting stuff. And it's especially exciting because it's HALF OFF FOR 10 MORE DAYS. 

Here's the run down:


The 12 Magic School Bus themed science experiments sent to your doorstep, monthly include:
  • Detailed, extensive 12-page colorful manual that is full of experiments and topic information
  • Each manual was based on the award-winning Magic School Bus Book (and TV) series
  • A handy dandy cheat sheet for adults, so you can lead the way with no background in science (shhh.. I always preferred reading...)
  • Tools and instructions for a at least 7 interactive experiments per month
  • Online Clubhouse for further exploration on each package topic (take advantage of this!!)
  • Certificate of Completion - a great way to reinforce learning and accomplishments
The Price: Package is for $119.00 currently (50% off deal for only ten days). You do have to pay it at once, but it comes out to $10/month over the course of the year. For me, that's a solid investment!


Monday, October 17, 2016

4 Ways to Hook Reluctant Readers

The following is a guest post by Latina author, Mariana Llanos. 

The day my second son came home from school and slammed his backpack on the floor, grunting, “I hate reading! It’s so boring!” my jaw dropped to the floor and my heart felt like it had been ripped in two.

I’m a writer: I breathe books! How could he possibly not like to read?!? My oldest son was a natural reader and a book lover. Actually, our main problem was getting him to put away his book so he could go to sleep!

But his little brother felt quite different about books. He learned to read by himself at 4 ½. He read way above his grade level… but still, reading didn’t come naturally to him, despite it being in his blood.

After I recovered my composure, I tried to convince my son that maybe he was just reading the wrong books, and he needed to find something else. His response? “Nope. I’m never reading again.”

So I did what I always do when there’s a crisis at home - I hit the library and the Internet. I read several articles about reading and different reading patterns. With all the knowledge I gained, I put an “emergency reading plan” into action.  And now, in case you’re going through the same thing with your child, I’m ready to share what I learned with you:

What is your child REALLY saying? 

Reading has a strong connection with our emotions. Is your child having difficulty reading? Can there be an underlying vision problem? Dyslexia? Any other problems that might be making reading an unpleasant experience?

After a long conversation with my son, I discovered that he disliked his advanced reading class because the teacher was strict. I know she meant well, but my son was stressed during class just trying not to get into trouble for talking. He was over-thinking all the comprehension questions that would come after reading. He wasn’t enjoying the books he read at school because he was too worried about having to answer questions and write papers about the book. I talked to the teacher and told her exactly what the problem was with my son. She was extremely understanding and opened her classroom to change. Taking the stress off my son’s shoulder was the first step to mending his relationship with books.

What does your child like to read? 

Not everyone likes the same kind of books. Some kids might enjoy reading non-fiction, and others might enjoy fantasy or sci-fi. Some people enjoy reading long books (you can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand and waving it madly), while others are overwhelmed at the thought of reading that many pages! Lately, everyone seems to be talking about what your child should be reading at a certain grade, but the truth is, reading is such a personal experience, that the reading level should only be used as a reference, not as a determining factor of what books your kids are allowed to take home.

In our house, we read plenty of picture books and picture storybooks (slightly longer books with colorful illustrations). These short stories still carry a lot of content and on occasion, touch complex subject matter (think of Show Way or The Smoky Night), opening doors for a meaningful conversation. My own books, Tristan Wolf and A Planet for Tristan Wolf, are geared toward reluctant readers: short stories, with poignant themes, but still with plenty of illustrations to aid wandering minds. I discovered my son, who in third grade was at a fifth-grade reading level, still enjoyed reading stories with vibrant images. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

Technology is on your side. 

It's funny but people are so different when it comes to reading habits. I can't stand reading long texts on my Kindle reader, but some people do. I noticed my son was more receptive to reading when it was on a tablet. So, why not? We’ve downloaded some picture books and chapter books on our tablet, but we also read in print. Some kids just enjoy the variation of format. They can highlight text, bookmark pages, and even look up words. Use this to your favor! You can download my chapter book The Staircase on Pine Street by clicking here.

Be an enthusiast for books. 

Now, it’s your turn to be honest: are you modeling reading? Children pick up all our habits, and reading is no exception. It’s a great idea to carve out a time where you get to enjoy your favorite book or magazine, while your children practice their own independent reading. But it’s also important to have some kind of family reading time. After I discovered my son wasn’t enjoying books, I began reading aloud again. He likes that a lot! Currently, we are almost finished with ‘Bud Not Buddy’, and our next book will be ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’. He just turned ten, but no, he’s not too old to enjoy some time reading with mom.

Also, I like to take him on special dates. It’s our little secret: during the school year, I pick a day where I’ll go and check him out from school to take him with me to my favorite indie bookstore. I do this one child at a time, so it’s our ‘special time’. At the bookstore’s café, we eat a treat, and then we pick a couple of books. We enjoy a little time together until it’s time to pick up his brother and sister from school. What’s my goal with this? To help my children have fond memories of reading, to find pleasure and warmth in it. Other ideas to be an enthusiast for books are:

  • Attend book signings and book fairs
  • Support local authors by purchasing their books
  • Write a letter to your favorite writers
  • Follow your favorite writers on social media and show your   kids the content these authors share
  • Give books as presents
  • Visit the library at least once a week and participate in their reading events
  • Begin a book club with your children and their friends
  • Make your library accessible to all members of your household
  • Use simple goal charts and rewards. Your reward or treat doesn’t have to be anything material. Actually, kids enjoy rewards that are fun and original: maybe a picnic at the zoo, or a roller-skating date! (Our current chart goal is three chapter books and a tennis match as a reward)

It’s been almost two years since I changed my approach to reading with my son. Has he changed his opinion about books? Yes and No. YES, because now he’s more willing to read, especially when he sets goals (“I’m reading two picture books today, or three chapters of this book”), and NO, because he still wishes he could play Minecraft all day long.

In the end, we have to accept that everyone is different. Some people just love reading naturally, while others need to put a little more effort into it. Just like some people would rather do math, while I would prefer running with the bulls in Pamplona. We have to respect everyone’s differences, even within our own family. But by all means, keep on feeding your child’s curiosity through the wondrous world of books. Don’t dismay. Be consistent. Your child will be grateful one day.

You May Also Like These Posts Related to Reluctant Readers:

Photo credit: WavebreakMediaMicro


Mariana Llanos is an award-winning children’s books writer. She was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and currently lives in Oklahoma with her family. Mariana’s books are available in English and in Spanish on and on her website

Friday, October 14, 2016

Rosita y Conchita Books Now Available

My only shipment of the year of Rosita y Conchita books has arrived! Order by Oct 19th to get yours before Day of the Dead. I've already had a lot of requests for this book, and have sold quite a few since I posted about it last night on Facebook. I sell out of them every year.

If you've been waiting to order your copy, you can do so now on my Special Finds page:

Unfortunately, Eric says they didn't publish any of the Paquito y Abuelo books this year. Since I'm not sure if they'll change their minds or if they'll print more next year, I'll leave it listed on my Special Finds page. If you have a gently used copy you'd be willing to part with, please let me know as I'd like to buy it from you.

Hosting a Sugar Skull Decorating Party

Good morning, Familia! I have so much to share with you, my head is spinning. So today, be on the lookout for two posts.

I want to start off with this amazingly beautiful video by my friend, Yvette, from Muy Bueno Cookbook. If you are considering starting a family tradition of hosting your own calaverita decorating party, watch this for some excellent ideas. It's so beautiful, you'll want to race right out and start planning your own party for your family and friends.

Yvette's videos are ALWAYS high-quality, so after you watch this one, be sure to check out her other excellent videos on her Muy Bueno Cookbook YouTube channel. She has several on the topic of Day of the Dead.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Exploring Spain with My Children

This post is part of Multicultural Kid Blogs' Hispanic Heritage Month series. 

You may have noticed that I had a lot of guest posts here on MommyMaestra over the last few weeks. That's because, for the first time in 11 years, my husband and I took our kids to Europe. He had a conference in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium that he had to attend, and I JUMPED at the opportunity to go a week early so that we could visit my family in Spain. 

Do you have family that lives far away? The visit to Spain was probably the most important thing to me this entire year. It's been 11 years since I last visited. My daughter was only a year and a half and I was pregnant with my son. Before last month, my father had never met my son, his only grandson. My daughter had been too little the last time we were there to remember anything about it. So they only "knew" their abuelo from a few photos and Facebook messages. 

So we saved and planned then saved some more to make the trip a reality. And although we will be paying off this trip for a little while, this one week of time spent with my family is one my children will never forget. They had the opportunity to experience the beauty of Spain - it's culture, food, architecture, landscape, and language. 

My father was eager to share the beauty of his country with his grandchildren. Together we walked the cobblestone streets of his town, peering into shops and admiring the beautiful details that families add to the front of their homes. My son was over the moon to discover the candy/ice cream shop on the plaza that opens each afternoon when school lets out. Both kids were less than thrilled with their tostada Catalán for breakfast...they preferred the CHURROS!!  And both my kids marveled at the number of beds and bedrooms in my Tías house, which used to be my grandparents' home where I spent time in the summer as a child. "You could sleep 30 people in this house!" my daughter exclaimed. And we often did when I was little. 

A s luck would have it, one of my cousins was getting married. I was delighted when I heard about it because I knew that meant that I'd be able to see most of my extended family and introduce them to my children. However, the wedding took place in Zaragoza, which is quite a ways from my dad's home in southern Spain. So in the space of a week, we rode on board the bullet train three times to my son's extreme delight.

Zaragoza itself is a beautiful city. My cousin got married in the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar, a truly remarkable cathedral, whose beauty I cannot possibly do justice in this post. It is reported to be the first church in history dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Inside, gold glitters everywhere. Your footsteps echo on the marble floors, and my children stared at the murals on the vaulted ceilings. Nine chapels line the walls, each a miniature testimony to the wealth of the Catholic church at that time. But my favorite piece is the single, stained-glass window...

And the outside is just as breathtaking as the inside with its multiple cupolas and towers.

The wedding itself was a very formal affair and my kids giggled at the elaborate hats worn by the women who attended. At one point during the reception, my daughter said, "I feel like I'm on Downton Abbey." (My cousins were highly amused - who knew they were Downton Abbey fans in Spain, too?) Shortly thereafter, my kids were whisked away to the children's table, where they were watched over by a nanny, who kept the kids busy playing all sorts of games while the adults went inside to eat. I'm pretty sure my kids had a good time because, by the end, my son looked like this...

The trip is one my children will always remember and it came with valuable life lessons. They discovered that when it comes to family, time and distance mean absolutely nothing. They were showered in hugs and kisses from people they didn't know. When someone loves you so much, so sincerely, it's hard not to love them back. And the joy my family showed upon our arrival made a huge impression on my kids. 

The experience has cemented the bond between my children and their Spanish heritage. What's more, it has provided the motivation my kids need to continue learning Spanish. 

Hispanic Heritage Month Series 2016 | Multicultural Kid Blogs
We are so excited for our FIFTH annual Hispanic Heritage Month series and giveaway! Through the month (September 15 - October 15), you'll find great resources to share Hispanic Heritage with kids.

October 12 MommyMaestra
Don't miss all of the great posts from previous years as well: 2012, 2014, 2015

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

(Audio)Book Review: Juana & Lucas (GIVEAWAY)

Hispanic Heritage Month is drawing to a close, but learning about Hispanic cultures continues year round in our household. And one of the ways we do that is with books.

Candlewick has a recently added a new Latina author-illustrator to their roster. Juana Medina was raised high up in the Andes Mountains by her mother, aunt, and abuelos. Today, she teaches at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Her new book, Juana and Lucas (aff) is partially based on her own childhood and her love for Bogotá, Colombia. 

If your kids love Anna Hibiscus or Judy Moody, they will love this new bilingual series about Juana and her dog, Lucas. This first book introduces us to Juana - where she lives, who her friends are, what she likes and doesn't like, and especially about her best amigo, Lucas. But the real focus of this book is about Juana learning to be bilingual. At first she absolutely hates learning English and fights it all she can. But then something happens to change her mind...

This book is so much fun to read. Not only is it cleverly written, but it is obvious that an aritst wrote it because the formatting is so unusual. In a style reminiscent of Geronimo Stilton, the text expands and shrinks, curls and streaks across the pages. It is visually stimulating for young readers. In addition, Medina's ink and watercolor illustrations are engaging, often hilarious, and complement the text providing additional information.

I love not only the topic of this book - bilingualism - but also the fact that the book itself is bilingual with Spanish words sprinkled in. 

I also had a chance to listen to the audiobook and it was fantastic. Narrated by Almarie Guerra, it is obvious she is perfectly fluent in both languages as her pronunciation is flawless. I've written before about the important role that audiobooks play in a child's education. But unfortunately, there are not very many sources for children's bilingual audiobooks. So I really hope this one takes off for Candlewick. 

This book would be an excellent read-aloud for the bilingual classroom.

The Giveaway

Candlewick Press is generously giving 5 MommyMaestra readers a chance to win a MP3 or Audio CD (winner's choice!) and copy of Juana & Lucas.

To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter below.

Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Free Download: Numbers 1 - 20 Mini Lesson in Spanish

This month's freebie from our sponsor, Spanish for You! is a fun way to help your young Spanish learners say their numbers from one to 20.

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

Today's download is a 4-page activity to help your child/student learn Spanish numbers. They'll learn not only how to pronounce letters in Spanish, but how to spell Spanish words! It includes a vocabulary page, numbers activity, and two audio files.

Bilingual Books About Numbers!

You may also enjoy these bilingual books for children.  (affiliate links)


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

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

Monday, October 10, 2016

7 Dia de los Muertos Activities for Kids

This month, I'm participating in another blog hop hosted by Multicultural Kid Blogs and the theme is Day of the Dead! It's one of my favorite holidays because it reminds me to take the time to remember the family and friends I've known in my life who have now passed away. Because the reality is that as a mother, wife, and entrepreneur, my days are mostly filled with the here and now, the immediate needs of my family and work. So I welcome the chance to stop and think about passed loved ones and their influence in my life.

It's also an opportunity for me to help my children learn about the grieving process and how we can move beyond it to that bittersweet place of remembering people we've lost without sadness. This is a crucial developmental skill that children must learn and unfortunately, here in the United States, it is not one that is taught.

All this is why Día de los Muertos remains such an important holiday. If you are not familiar with it, then let me explain that this is a holiday set aside for remembering family and friends who have died. It is not morbid as many people assume, but rather it is a celebration of the lives that were lived and the love that was shared.

If you're a parent or teacher looking for activities that help you introduce or celebrate the holiday with your little ones, then check out these ideas:

A Bilingual Minibook on Día de los Muertos

First, if your students are learning about Day of the Dead for the first time, I strongly recommend this bilingual minibook. Available in English, Spanish, or bilingual format, this activity includes coloring pages of the items most closely associated with the holiday, as well as brief descriptions that are easy for young children to understand.

(For older children, check out this one-page reading passage.)

DIY Catrinas

La Catrina is the figure most closely associated with this holiday. The character was created by the famous Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada as way to make fun of the upper class at the time. Making a catrina doesn't have to be complicated, and is a perfect activity for tweens.

Make Signature Calacas

This is such a fun, personalized activity for little hands!! Check out the easy tutorial for creating signature skeletons based on your child's name.

Calaca Family

Making your own calaca family is so much fun! You can base it on your own family, making it as large or as small as you want. You can even include your family dog! All you need are some pipe cleaners, clay, paper, and pens.

Make Calavera Crayons

This activity requires parental supervision, but it is fairly simple to do and the results are bright, cheerful, and fun to use. You'll find the tutorial over on

Día de los Muertos Easy Treat Bags

Once you have your little crayons made, you'll need a little treat bag to stick them in for gift giving, right? These adorable bags are quick to make. You can adapt it for larger bags, and stuff almost any kind of treat inside.

Calavera Poetry

This final activity is geared for older children. Calaveras are short, clever poems that are written around the time of Dia de los Muertos. Usually they rhyme, are funny, and poke fun at the living. This activity includes a brief history of calavera poetry and provides examples and writing pages for your student.

Day of the Dead series | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to be hosting another blog hop on Day of the Dead! (Don't miss our series from last year!) Be sure to visit all the posts below for great ideas on sharing Day of the Dead with kids:

Mommy Maestra: 7 Día de los Muertos Activities for Kids


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Friday, October 7, 2016

Jaime Escalante: a Synonym for Hard Work and Determination

Image source: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquisition made possible through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center; ©1992 George Rodríguez

The following is a guest post by Boliviana Cecilia Fencer of Spanglish-house. It's part of MommyMaestra's series on Hispanic Heritage. To see my growing list of remarkable Latinos, check out Latinos in History Your Children Should Know. This post does contain affiliate links.

I still remember the time I watched the movie “Con Ganas de Triunfar” on the TV for the first time. “Stand and Deliver” has been, perhaps, one of the most watched movies in Bolivia. Not only for the successful story it tells, but also because the movie was based on the life of the Bolivian-born teacher Jaime Escalante. This amazing man left Bolivia, at the age of 33, looking for better opportunities in the United States. Education was his call. Hard work was his language. Determination was his message.

Who was Jaime Escalate?

Escalante came to the United States with very little English knowledge. Besides his family, he also brought with him his mathematical knowledge and his best attitude. And he brought ganas with him. I believe that ganas was one of his favorite words. To him, ganas meant “the desire to learn. The ability to sacrifice to improve. The wish to get ahead. Ganas also means hard work.”

Con ganas de triunfar. Quickly, he learned that his Bolivian Certification as a teacher was not valid in the States. He had to start from scratch. Escalante worked different odd jobs to support his family while he attended college to follow his calling. He taught himself English and eventually earned a college degree so he could be accredited as a teacher. In 1974, he started working at Garfield High School in Los Angeles. He taught Algebra first and later Calculus.

The school was not one of the most renowned schools in the area. It was located in a rundown neighborhood of Los Angeles, where violence and drugs were common. However, he did not bend to the circumstances, instead he transformed. He incorporated ganas in the classes he taught. And he showed his students how to think mathematically, as well as to dream greater dreams for their future and to work hard to achieve those dreams. In 1978, he started to teach Calculus because he wanted to raise the bar for his students, give them a bigger challenge, and let them realize that they also were college material.

His first group had five students. Only two of them passed the AP (Advanced Placement) Calculus test. The next year, seven out of nine students passed the test. In 1981, 14 out of 15 students passed the test. He taught his students the discipline of hard work. But his success did not come overnight. It took many hours a day of math, weekends, and summer vacations. He showed all those students how to discover their real potential. To find success not just in the test, but in every assignment they had.

In 1982, 18 of his students took the Advanced Placement Calculus test and all of them passed. However, 14 of them were accused of cheating by the test maker because they all made the same mistake on one of the questions. Escalante believed it had to do with racism. He readily agreed to let the students retake this AP college level exam. Twelve retook it and once again, all of them passed.

His life and legacy are truly an inspiration for many Latinos. His success did not come from his nationality. It came from the character that was instilled in him as a child. The discipline he learned and passed along to his students. As parents and maestros, our future generations need more of his attitude. Learn to stand and deliver. To put ganas to whatever we dream to conquer. In his own words, “To not count how many times you are on the ground -- count how many times you get up.”

Awards & Achievements

Here's a list of some of the honors he received:

1988 – Presidential Medal for Excellence in Education, awarded by President Ronald Reagan
1988 – Hispanic Heritage Awards Honoree
1989 – Honorary Doctor of Science – University of Massachusetts Boston
1990 – Honorary Doctor of Humanities – California State University, Los Angeles
1990 – Honorary Doctor of Education – Concordia University, Montreal
1990 – Honorary Doctor of Laws – University of Northern Colorado
1990 – Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.
1999 – Inductee National Teachers Hall of Fame.
2002 – Member, President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.
2005 – The Highest Office Award – Center for Youth Citizenship
2005 – Best teacher in North America – Freedom Forum
(List Source: Wikipedia)

Jaime Escalate on U.S. Stamp

In July of 2016, the United States Postal Service issued a First Class Forever "Jaime Escalante" stamp to honor "the East Los Angeles teacher whose inspirational methods led supposedly 'unteachable' high school students to master calculus."

Read More about Jaime Escalate

Jaime Escalante: Inspirational Math Teacher

Videos About Jaime Escalante

Here are some fabulous video tributes and interviews with Jaime Escalante:

From The Futures Channel

Making a Difference: Jaime Escalante on NBC/21stCenturyTeaching:

And THIS is an awesome video from TheFASEStore :: Jaime Tribute Video

Other Posts You May Enjoy


Cecilia Fencer, is a Latino Wife, mommy and maestra.  She's also a homeschooler, interpreter and writer, and spends her life raising her family and helping the Latino community of Rockbridge County, Virginia. She blogs at Spanglish-house.


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