Friday, September 30, 2016

My Top 8 Family Travel Essentials

The following is a guest post by the lovely Annabelle Humanes of the piri-piri lexicon.

Just like Monica and her family, we love travelling. We love discovering new places. And we love taking our children everywhere we possibly can (like The Louvre a few weeks ago).

Wherever we go, however we travel, there are few things we always take with us. We travel light. We are not ones for packing toilet paper on a trans-Atlantic flight or children's favourite toys (beyond the one item).

A few weeks ago, I shared a few of the things we have never taken away with us and got quite a few passionate pleas for those items on social media. I wanted to share, here, some of my favourite family travel essentials. From medicine to car seats, here are the eight things we take, without fail, on our travels with our two young children.

Travel guide 

I love planning my trips with Pinterest and online travel blogs. I also find using a good old paper travel guide very rewarding. I love reading about the history of the places before or sometimes after our visits. And when wifi is a miss, they come in very handy.

Sat nav (GPS) app 

Whether it is a few kilometres away or hundreds of miles away, we love Waze. It works well in most countries we have visited so far. It is free. It is community-based so information about traffic jams and roadwords tends to be very accurate. You can set your destination when leaving your accommodation (using wifi) and you are good to go for the day. The only downside is that it tends to use a lot of your battery life. Don't forget the car charger.


A good old map 

Even though, we use electronic devices to navigate, sometimes a good old detailed map of the area you are staying in can give you ideas for exploring and discovering new things. I love spotting a town with a funny name or a road highlighted in green (natural beauty) and just heading in that direction on a whim.

Bubble Bum booster seat 

Our favourite booster seat ever. It is inflatable, light, folds flat and is approved by the EU safety standards and many other safety agencies around the world. It is suitable from age 4 and avoids having to lug around a huge booster seat. We have been using it for a while now and never had a problem with it.

Trail Wallet 

To keep track of expenses on longer trips, I always use Trail Wallet. Again, it is free and you can enter your total budget, daily budget and any currency you are using. Call me organised if you like but I don't like to come home to a big surprise in my bank account.


In my first aid kit, amongst a bunch of other remedies, there is always a tube of Arnica creme and small pills. Suitable for all kinds of grazes, bruises, it is the perfect go to remedy for children falls, bumps and other minor accidents. I even carry some in my handbag: because toddler!

 A camera 

Of course, I take way too many photos of my family and our travels and not enough photos of me. I bet I am not alone. I am hoping to have solved this partly by getting our eldest her own little camera. She absolutely love it and it is fun seeing our travels through her eyes.

Baby carrier 

Our youngest is still only two years old. We use a baby carrier for him still. It is lightweight, foldable, great for airports and children can be carried on your back for a long time. I would not have been able to fly from Europe to the US alone with two kids without it. I left the stroller at home. Too cumbersome.

What about you? What would you not leave home without? 


Former linguist. Maman to two little world citizens. Currently living in Germany (via the U.K., France, and Portugal). Annabelle blogs about life as a displaced multilingual mum at the piri-piri lexicon. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Día de los Muertos Activity Calendar

Day of the Dead Activity Calendar for Kids

I can't believe a year has gone by already, but Day of the Dead - or Día de los Muertos is a little over one month away! So you know what that means, don't you? Lots of goodies coming up on MommyMaestra!

There are so many activities here on my site for kids to make, read, watch and more. But it can be tricky to find all of them, so I've created this Day of the Dead living activity calendar to help you! It includes links not just to resources on MommyMaestra, but also to other sites who are insanely clever.

What is the Day of the Dead Activity Calendar?

My Day of the Dead Activity Calendar is full of 32 resources for celebrating the holiday with your children. Many of the activities and printables are available in English and Spanish.

Please note that a couple of the book links are affiliate links to my Amazon store. And you know what happens when you buy one them? Amazon puts a small percentage on a gift card for me to buy more books for my kids and to share reviews with you (at no extra cost to you). 

How to Use the Día de los Muertos Activity Calendar?

While the calendar is laid out with 32 days worth of activities, many of them are easily done in a few minutes. So you can do one a day in the days leading up to the holiday. OR you can choose several from the list to do in a single day or week. 

Recommended Day of the Dead Books

Here's a quick list of the titles that I recommend on the calendar in case you'd like to request them from your local library or purchase them ahead of time. And be sure to check out my complete list of favorite books for Dia de los Muertos!

Download the Day of the Dead Activity Calendar for Kids

Day of the Dead Activity Calendar for Kids

I hope you all enjoy my activity calendar! Here's a link that will take you to it. You can then either save a copy to your Google Drive, or just save the link and open it whenever you'd like access. 

Other Posts About Day of the Dead

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Using Film To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

The following is a guest post by Christa Jiménez of Pura Vida Moms.

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, which is a phenomenal celebration of all things Spanish - culture, food, history, music, and dance. It’s so important to introduce beginning Spanish students to culture as much as it is to the mechanics of language. In my experience, reluctant language learners will often fall in love with an aspect of Hispanic culture and become more motivated to learn to speak Spanish. That’s why I love that Hispanic Heritage Month falls at the beginning of the school year in the United States; it’s a great time to introduce a favorite cultural aspect and renew excitement in language learning.

Find more resources for celebrating on my post: Lesson Plans and Activities for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Celebrating Language With Film

Film can be a great way to engage older students in culture; the characters are relatable, there are many visual cues, and it’s easy to put subtitles on the movie so that kids can read along with what they are seeing and hearing. It’s also super easy to put the video on pause and engage in academic discussions or writing prompts regarding many aspects of the film. Movies are also accessible at a variety of levels, and therefore easy to differentiate for mixed-level groups. 


One of my all-time favorite films (in any language!) is "Sugar." It's about a young baseball player from the Dominican Republic who is drafted to the minor leagues in the United States, and has to learn to navigate a new culture, language, and way of life. The portrayal of acculturation and migration is poignant, heartbreaking, funny, and ultimately thought provoking. (Note: This film is rated R because there are two sexual scenes that are not pertinent to the main storyline, and easy to skip over.)

Using "Sugar" the Movie With Beginning Spanish Students

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I use "Sugar" with beginning language students as a way to make connections between their native language of English, and their new language, Spanish. The use of "Sugar" in the classroom is preceded by two important lessons: one on cognates and their function within language learning, and the second on context clues.

Once these two pieces of understanding are in place, it is so fun to watch "Sugar" with Spanish language learners! A few strategies that make watching the movie fun for everyone:

  1. Use subtitles. If I am watching with kids who are at a beginning level of Spanish, I put the subtitles on in English. For advanced students or native speakers, I use Spanish subtitles (I live in Denver where there are few Dominicans. Many of my native-speaking students take some time to adjust to the Dominican accent of the characters.)
  2. Get familiar with baseball. The baseball terminology can be a bit technical for kids who aren’t familiar with the game, so it’s great to either preview baseball rules with the kids, or pause periodically and ask for questions.
  3. Preview the film first and choose sections that are the most indelible for you. Discuss those scenes with your students, either as a partner or class discussion. For example, there is an important scene in the movie when Miguel orders breakfast (I don’t want to give it away, so I’ll write about it in general terms!)- it’s a really funny section of the movie, and kids always laugh. However, the scene also underscores the sacrifices that immigrants make in order to achieve the American Dream. It’s a powerful scene for discussion in the movie. Don’t ignore those teachable moments! 

Free Movie Worksheet Download

Since MommyMaestra was so generous in allowing me to post this activity on her site, I’m including a free downloadable printable of my worksheet for beginning Spanish language learners for the movie "Sugar!"

Note: This post contains affiliate links that help to support Pura Vida Moms.


Christa Jiménez left the Spanish classroom after 15 years and is now the founder of Pura Vida Moms - a website dedicated to bilingual parenting, family travel, recipes, and bicultural and expat living. She's married to a Costa Rican, and together they have two young bilingual daughters. When she's not blogging, traveling, parenting, or reading she co-hosts the BilingualWe weekly vlog, applying the latest bilingual education research to the best practices for everyday bilingual parenting. You can find her at or join the BilingualWe Facebook Group to connect with other bilingual parents. Christa believes it's important to make bilingualism at home a priority- no matter what that looks like in your house! Facebook Twitter YouTube

Monday, September 26, 2016

4 Picture Books to Teach Hispanic Heritage to Your School-Age Children

The following is a guest post by my new friend Linda Lopez-Stone of

Like many Latina mothers in the United States, I also want my children to learn about the richness of their Hispanic heritage. Not only for bilingual language development but to reinforce that important element that is part of who they are. In fact, studies have shown that children with a strong awareness of their own cultural identity revealed higher self-esteem and fewer social and mental problems.

When I was expecting my first child, a friend asked me how I was going to teach my child about her heritage. The question overwhelmed me because I didn’t know the answer. At that time, my family lived in an area where we didn’t have access to multicultural experiences. This challenge inspired me to be creative and plan effective ways to introduce culture to my little one. For many years, we did it by cooking ethnic meals, dancing to traditional music, and reading some fabulous children’s books.

It has been a rewarding experience to see my now eight-year-old embrace her Hispanic heritage. Throughout the years, she has had several opportunities to travel to Ecuador and the travel has provided an easy connection with the traditions. Unfortunately, traveling is not always suitable for my family, so books are usually my next favorite resource. Below, find four favorite picture books that I enjoy reading to my children and spark great conversations between us.

A Bailar!/ Let's Dance! by Judith Ortiz Cofer

A Bailar!/ Let's Dance! by Judith Ortiz Cofer

The warm story about Marita and her mother captures well the importance of dance in the Hispanic culture and how it can strengthen communities. When dancing with my children, I often enjoy repeating Marita’s mom counsel: "Listen to the claves, the bongos, and the cowbells. Listen to the maracas, the timbales, and the güiro, they will tell you how to move your shoulders, your hips, your feet."

Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin

Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin

This book is a great resource to explain how soccer is a strong cultural component for most of the people in Latin America. The story touches many social problems that Latino countries have to deal with, such as poverty, gender equality, and child labor.

My Very Own Room/Mi Propio Cuartito by Amada Irma Perez

My children were captivated by the colorful illustrations of this bilingual book. The engaging story helped me to explain my children the importance of extended families in our culture and how poverty and immigration impact us all.

Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America by Lulu Delacre

I absolutely love this book! It has helped me to teach my children some traditional nursery rhymes that I had forgotten. The catchy songs take me back to my own childhood and initiate conversations of heritage and traditions.

There are more great children books to help you teach heritage to your children. You can find more suggestions on my Pinterest Board.


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Linda Lopez-Stone is a Latina mom of three, a bilingual writer and a Latino advocate. Her site,, serves as a platform for Latina moms (and Latinas de corazón) raising bilingual and multicultural children while trying to preserve their heritage. You can connect with Linda on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Friday, September 23, 2016

What is Worldschooling?


The following is a guest post by the wonderful worldschooler, Wendy Awai-Dakroub from Pint Size Gourmets

We get a lot of questions from family, friends, and even strangers when they hear that we worldschool our children. Taking your kids out of school, traveling around the world with them, and educating them along the way seems like a daunting task, but if we can do it, so can you!


Everyone seems to have their own definition for worldschooling - it really is what you want to make of it for you and your family. For our two kids, Lou Lou and Jaf, it means they travel the world with us and learn about the world and its cultures and traditions through food.

They have a curriculum they follow on their iPads (we call it iPad schooling) that ensures they’re on the same level as kids their age who are in a traditional school. In addition, I’ve developed a culinary worldschooling curriculum for them to follow.



Back in 2014, my husband and I decided to leave the rat race, rent our home, take our two young children out of private school, and travel Europe in an RV so we could spend quality time together. A week into our trip we were all settled into our comfortable RV in Amsterdam and I decided to let the culinary worldschooling begin!

But with no books or workbooks and me having absolutely NO experience in teaching, this was going to be quite a challenge.

However, what we did have were iPad mini’s that we bought for the kids to keep them busy if and when needed (long train rides, airplanes, etc.). So, I decided to spend a day looking for and researching the best “apps” on iTunes that would help me create a personalized iPad curriculum for my children (see what they are here). For the first two weeks, it was tough getting them to focus on any studying, period. But after the kids got used to the routine, they just started iPad schooling themselves after breakfast.

I would check online reports on how they were progressing (available on certain apps) which gave me a sense of relief. Some days, homework was done in a park, or in a cafe, in the lobby of a hotel, or in the RV, so just knowing we only had to carry a journal, book, and iPad was easier. The kids really enjoy doing their lessons on the iPad and would do it on their own with little or no help from me, their teacher. They learned how important the iPad was to them, and funny enough you will not see them playing games or anything else on it in the evenings since they now associate their iPad with school.

Six months into our iPad schooling, we decided to visit a Sylvan Learning Center in Dubai, UAE to do an assessment test to see if my children were keeping up with the rest of the US public school testing scores. At the time, Lou Lou had started the 1st Grade and was apparently reading at a beginning 2nd-grade level. She was also at the beginning level math for 2nd Grade (a whole year ahead!). Jaf was still in Pre-K, but we tested him to see if he was anywhere near the beginning stages of math and reading. He also was progressing at a mid-Kindergarten level, in both subjects!

Because we lived in an RV part-time, we had to shop for groceries almost every other day. We’d make a meal plan for the week and “try” to stick to it. The kids, at first, would help with the shopping and cooking because they had to. Over time, as they got more involved in the shopping process, they eventually wanted to know more about cooking. That’s when I realized that by teaching my kids to cook, I could leverage their eagerness to learn and turn it into something wonderful and educational!

So, in addition to our personalized iPad curriculum, we take it a bit further by cooking foods from around the world. Culinary Worldschooling has now become the basis for everything we do when it comes to teaching our children. Culinary literally means “cooking” or “to cook,” and worldschooling can be defined as schooling through world-travel.  Here’s a video the kids did recently to explain what Culinary Worldschooling means.

Though our way of teaching is different from most, we know that both children are learning important life skills - ones they need to learn to survive in the world.


If you’re thinking about worldschooling your kids, or are interested in learning more about finding what worldschooling method works for your family, here is a list of resources we highly recommend:

- Multicultural Kid Blogs: Resources for Raising Global Citizens
- World Travel Family
- Raising Miro


Wendy Awai-Dakroub is a Hawaii-based writer, photographer, traveler, and mom to kid-foodies LouLou and Jaf. The Dakroub family culinary worldschooling adventures are chronicled at, a kid-friendly food and travel blog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Introducing Tomás Rivera to High School Students

The following is a guest post by the talented Kali Lin of For the Love of Spanish.

This year, I am entering my first year of homeschooling with my oldest child. I’m also entering my last year of teaching Spanish to my youngest brother—a homeschool senior.

When it comes to working with high-school students, I know I have a lot to learn. My experience with the high-school age is limited to the few small classes of homeschool students I have taught Spanish to over the last five years or so. I have enjoyed those classes a lot. But when it came to getting students excited about Spanish or Spanish-speaking cultures it sometimes felt a bit like pulling teeth.

Sure. They would do their homework and get good grades. They would turn in assignments and read the assigned passages in The House on Mango Street. I can deal with students begrudgingly doing grammar exercises because they have to. But when it comes to sharing the culture of the language—I want something different this year.

The Case for Culture

Learning about culture should make the classroom come alive. Culture is where the love for the language is born. Some teachers consider culture to be the “Fifth Skill” of the foreign language classroom, and it could probably be argued that it is the most important skill.

Usually, in my classes, we learn about Spain and Mexican-American cultures the most. Spain because the language originated there, and Mexican-American culture because it’s closest to home and can be found all around us. Each year, I pick a literary text that introduces the culture we’re learning about.

This year that text is …y no se lo tragó la tierra/…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him by Tomás Rivera. I’ve never taught this text so I’m pretty excited! Usually, we read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (which I love). What’s different about …y no se lo tragó la tierra/…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, is that it was originally written in Spanish. The beautiful English translation accompanies it in the back of the book. Both books are coming-of-age novels that shed an effective light on a distinct place in history and culture.

Charlotte Mason says of biographies, “Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.” (Home Education, Vol. 1 Part XVIII.–History, p.280)

The Chicano Experience

Although …y no se lo tragó la tierra/…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him is not a biography of a historical character, the fictional biography that Rivera tells serves just as well to document the lives of Mexican-American migrant workers of the 1940s and 1950s—an important part of the Mexican-American experience that should be told and should be known.

Now that I’ve made the case for teaching culture in the high school Spanish classroom, and teaching it from a literary text rather than a textbook, we can talk about how to make it happen.

1. Read Shorter Passages

Normally I would assign students large passages of reading to do on their own at home, have them fill in pages with discussion questions, and then we would come back together as a class and discuss. We might dedicate one or two classes to discussing the book — because time spent on the book felt like time away from the grammar that they had to learn by the end of the year. Discussions always felt forced and stale, and now I’m beginning to wonder if it was because we had read through too fast, not lingered enough with each chapter, not allowed ourselves time to think and get a feel for what the text was trying to say.

The book has 27 chapters; few enough to read one per week and get through it. Doesn’t it sound like a neat opportunity to spend an entire year getting to know the author’s voice, letting each scene and passage soak in from week to week?

2. Read Aloud

Over the summer I read a few articles and listened to a few podcasts about the power of reading aloud. I think by the time students are in high school we expect them to do most of their work independently, but I thought it would be better to let this culture piece be a shared experience. The joy of reading will be the focus. Students won’t feel like the reading is work. They may simply listen and enjoy the story.

3. Narrate Each Passage After Each Reading

I’ve been immersing myself in Charlotte Mason’s writings and methods this summer (in preparation for our own homeschool this year). Narration is a device she suggests to help students become active listeners with what they read and to become self-teachers. Reading shorter passages will lend itself well to narration.

4. Read & Narrate in Both Languages

Because the text has both languages together in one book, and we are reading one chapter at a time, I will be able to read in both languages. Not only will we get to hear the beautiful stories in the language they were written, we will get a chance to learn Spanish while we’re at it and practice narrating in the target language.

5. Understand the Text Historically

Getting to know the time in which the story was written and the time in which the story is placed makes reading the story a richer experience. We will watch videos like this one from Annenberg Learner to understand the migrant struggle and learn about eco-literature; we will use this interview with Arturo Madrid to get another Mexican-American perspective; we will research the Chicano experience; we will read stories from Latino in America by Soledad O’Brien to see how things have changed (or not) for Mexican-Americans. I’m really excited for the year, and if you’re looking for a great piece of American Literature to add to your high schooler’s syllabus this year, I highly recommend …y no se lo tragó la tierra/…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him. If you do read it, I’d love for you to connect with me and share your thoughts about it! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

What literature do you use in your classroom to introduce culture?


Born and raised in Kansas City, Kali took Spanish in college and fell in love with it -- especially after spending time studying in Costa Rica & Spain and volunteering in Peru.  Once graduated, she began sharing her love of Spanish through her blog, For the Love of Spanish, and by teaching Spanish to local homeschool students. This year, she embarks on her first year of homeschooling her own children with the goal of raising them and educating them bilingually.

Monday, September 19, 2016

How to Host a Children's Hispanic Heritage Month Party

The following is a guest post by the remarkable Frances Evans from Discovering the World Through My Son's Eyes.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Hispanic Heritage Month is by far our favorite month of the year. It always runs from September 15 through October 15. 

Although it initially started as a Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1968, it wasn't until 1988 that President Ronald Reagan extended it to a month-long celebration. 


Across the nation you'll find many events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. During these 30 days we recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans and celebrate our heritage and culture.

Nevertheless, there are many areas and schools that don't celebrate this month. I live in small, Southern town and guess what? No one knows about HHM! I've taken it upon myself to educate others, especially young minds.  Educating children and adults alike, helps break barriers and exposes them to a culture unbeknownst to them.

Whether you live in an area where celebrating this month is huge, or you live in a small community that doesn't; you can always plan to host your very own Children's Hispanic Heritage Month Party!

This is my second year partnering up with our local library! 

How to Prepare for your Children's Hispanic Heritage Month Party

First, you have some decisions to make. Do you want to: 
  1. host a party in your child's classroom
  2. simply invite your child's friends over to your house, or 
  3. do you want to go above and beyond and host a party for your community

I've actually done all three! For the first one, you'd need to coordinate with your child's teacher. To throw a party in our community, I presented my idea to the director of our local library, and this is my second year hosting!

The ideas below can be adjusted to fit your needs.  This is simply an outline of ideas and suggestions:  
  • Where and who is the party for? School, home, or community? 
  • Decide on a date and time between September 15 and October 15.
  • Make a list of the food you want to serve. Simple Hispanic finger foods are best. Possible dishes include:   

    • Fresh fruit sprinkled with Tajín. 
    • Spread refried beans and crumble queso fresco over a tostada (corn tortilla). 
    • Empanadas (you can buy these at a Hispanic bodega). 
    • Guacamole and salsa with chips (these are a hit!) 
    • Churros (you can buy these at a taquería). 
    • Taco bar with all the fixings. 
    • Variety of Mexican breads such as conchas, cocoles, novias, or puerquitos (you can buy these at a Mexican panadería "bakery store"). 
    • Beverages you can purchase: some Goya brand juice such as mango, maracuya (parcha/passion fruit) and many other flavors. 

  • Games 
    • Guess the name of a Hispanic country's flag. This is fun because there are some flags that look alike! 
    • Lotería is a traditional game! Much better than your regular bingo cards. 
    • Role-play with the Hispanics in History Character Crowns or have a parade! 
If you need more Hispanic Heritage Month resources, you can find them right here on MommyMaestra. I hope you have fun planning and hosting your Children's Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.  

Let's get this party started! ¡A celebrar el Mes de la Herencia Hispana! 

Other Posts You May Enjoy


Frances is a part-time blogger, mommy and wife of a beautiful multicultural familia. Shortly before her child turned 4 years old, she started blogging about discovering the world through her son's eyes, hence the name of her blog. She loves doing things with him, and became passionate about teaching him to be bilingual and to identify with his multicultural identity. She writes about heritage, bilingualism, multicultural children's book, and global culture education with lots of hands-on activities and language learning ideas for kids. 
She can be found musing at her blog Discovering the World Through My Son's Eyes or on Instagram, her new fave social media platform. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Free Download: Alphabet Hangman in Spanish

As promised, I'm delighted to share a second freebie this month from our sponsor, Spanish for You!  We are so grateful to them for the excellent downloads that they offer MommyMaestra readers every month. I really hope that if you have a middle schooler who is learning Spanish, that you consider purchasing some of their excellent materials, most of which are available for immediate download from their website.

Today's download is a 3-page activity to help your child/student learn the Spanish alphabet. Help them learn not only how to pronounce letters in Spanish, but how to spell Spanish words! It includes a pronunciation guide of the alphabet, directions for playing Hangman in Spanish, and an audio file. I love that you can use this game over and over as your child's vocabulary grows.

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!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Exploring Spain: A Printable Coloring Page for Hispanic Heritage Month

Today, Hispanic Heritage Month officially starts. Personally, I feel like every month is Hispanic Heritage Month - in my house anyway. None the less, there's no other time of the year when I can find quite as much amazing content centered around inspiring Hispanics and the Hispanic culture. And it's my opportunity to share as well. The topic for today's post is "Exploring Spain" and you can scroll down for a printable coloring page.

I absolutely love reading about the courageous, ingenious, persevering men and women who weren't afraid to follow their dreams (or maybe they were, but did it anyway) and left their mark on history with their creativity and ideas.

This post contains affiliate links.

Over the next few weeks, I have a series of guest posts by some amazing bloggers who were willing to share their experiences and knowledge. You'll learn how to host your own Hispanic Heritage Month party for kids and how to introduce Tomás Rivera to high schoolers. You'll also hear about one non-Latino family's successful experience with their children's Spanish-immersion education. So I hope you'll follow along!

To start things off, I'm happy to be participating a blog hop celebrating Hispanic Heritage. Yesterday, my friend Silvia at Mama Latina Tips celebrated Mexico by sharing a delicious recipe for tacos al pastor. I can't wait to try and make it on my own.

I've often talked about my Mexican heritage, but I realized that I don't often talk about my Spanish heritage. For those of you who don't know, my dad and his side of the family live in Spain. It is a precious part of me that I treasure always. As a child, I spent many summers there with my father. And I desperately want my children to have the experience in their childhood of being surrounding by their Spanish roots. I want them to have the opportunity to wake up to the smell of fresh churros for breakfast made by the abuelas in the plaza. I want them to hear the beautiful songs of the canaries that everyone hangs outside their doors, lining the streets with their heartfelt canto. I want them to run around the streets with the other children and feel the smooth cobblestones beneath their feet. I want them to hear my family speaking in their rapid, Castilian Spanish, and experience being kissed on both cheeks every time they meet someone. Mostly I want them to spend time with my dad, who has a great sense of humor and is eager to share his life with my kids.

I haven't been able to visit them for the last 11 years and I miss them so much. Even though we keep in touch on a regular basis through Facebook, my dad has never met my son. This year, my cousin is getting married and my husband has a conference in Europe, so we're going to be taking advantage of the opportunity to take our kids to meet my family in Spain. I can hardly wait. I know they are going to have an incredible experience. My kids have been working hard on their Spanish in preparation.

Here are some of the other resources we've been using to learn about Spain: 

  • Don Quixote retold by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Riddell. We've been reading this aloud during our school lessons and it is absolutely hilarious. I love Riddell's illustrations and this easy-to-read version for kids. 
  • ¡Olé¡ Flamenco by George Ancona
  • Getting to Know Spain and Spanish by Janet de Saules

Books about Spain

  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson
  • Spain For Kids: People, Places and Cultures by Baby Professor
  • Mission Barcelona: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure by Catherine Aragon
  • Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez and Julie Paschkis
  • Let's Cook Spanish, A Family Cookbook: Vamos a Cocinar Espanol, Recetas Para Toda la Familia by Gabriela Llamas
  • Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter and Kevin Hawkes
  • Dover Masterworks: Color Your Own Spanish Masters Paintings by Marty Noble (shown above)

  • Websites for kids about Spain

    Videos about Spain

    A few fun videos that your students/children may enjoy watching.

    Spain Song | Learn Facts About Spain the Musical Way:

    Free download: Spain Coloring Activity  

    To celebrate, I want to share this printable coloring activity with you. Available in English or Spanish, it's simple and fun. Just have your kids read about a person, place, or thing related to Spain, then have them find it on the map and color it in!

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016

    Weird but True! Live Facebook Event to Celebrate New TV Series

    When my son turned 8 years old, someone gave him a boxed set of Weird But True! books from National Geographic Kids. For weeks after that, he would come up to us and say things like, "Did you know a piece of cake more than 4,000 years old was found in a tomb in Egypt?" or "Did you know that newborn babies are color-blind?" The books started out in the car and he would pull them out as soon as we climbed in to go somewhere and start reading. But they eventually made their way to his bedroom where they became part of his bedtime reading routine. Even after he had finished reading them, he'd start over with the first book because the facts inside were so crazy that he was just fascinated. That was two years ago, but he still pulls those books out and reads through them from time to time.

    Is your child intrigued by crazy trivia? Do weird facts amuse them? Well, mark your calendars because tomorrow, September 14th at 11:30 a.m. ET, National Geographic Kids is hosting a Facebook Live! event to celebrate the launching of their new TV series based on their bestselling book series, Weird But True! It officially premieres this week on TV (check your FOX network).

    Both my kids and I will be watching the FB Live event because (as I mentioned) they are voraciously addicted to weird trivia. They love to tell their friends and family (really, anyone who'll listen) about things that will blow their mind away.

    Hosted by a brother and sister team, Charlie and Kirby Engelman, the TV series will investigate the fun, strange and surprising ways our world works. From exploring shipwrecks to discovering caves to hunting meteorites, your kids will love the adventures that Charlie and Kirby take you on. Each episode includes a craft and an interview with an expert. Charlie says that meeting these experts and seeing how passionate they are about the subjects they study and their dedication has made him appreciate the uniqueness of people.

    Charlie says that his favorite wild but true facts are the ones about everyday things that you never knew, such as how peanuts aren't really nuts. The biggest takeaway he wants for his young audience is for them to be curious about the world and to not be afraid to go out and find the answers to the questions they have about our world and how it works.

    On tomorrow's Fb Live event, Charlie will attempt to demonstrate roughly 25 of our wackiest, most visually impressive Weird But True! facts. You can watch and ask questions. 

    Get your kids and watch a trailer for the new series here on the WBT! website.

    Weird But True! has been around for a long time. NGK staff has been building their database of weird facts for the last 12 years! Here are just a few of the facts your kids will discover if they read the books, download the app, watch the show, or listen to the new radio program:

    Disclaimer: I'm a National Geographic Kids Insider which allows me early access to information to share with my readers. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

    Monday, September 12, 2016

    40 Ways to Create a Multicultural Homeschool

    My dear friend Leanna, founder of Multicultural Kid Blogs, is celebrating her 40th birthday this month. And to celebrate, many of us are sharing special posts dedicated to the topic of "40 Favorite Things." I decided to highlight 40 ways to create a multicultural homeschool.

    "How is this different from any other homeschool?" you might ask. Well, I'm a parent who is trying very hard to raise global citizens who understand our interconnectedness with others and are able to communicate with anyone. To do so, I go to great lengths to ensure that our homeschool lessons are preparing my kids through exposure to multicultural resources.

    The most important thing I do is make "World Cultures" an actual subject that we study weekly, sometimes daily, in our homeschool lessons. It goes hand in hand with our geography studies. By making it an actual subject, I'm reminded to actively search out resources to help my children travel the world from our home classroom.

    Below are my favorite tools, materials, and other resources for creating our own multicultural classroom at home.

    Study World Cultures

    First and foremost, in order to understand other cultures, it's important to study them. It appalls me that traditional schools across the country are banning heritage study courses because doing so causes three things to happen:

    • It perpetuates stereotypes rather than destroying them. This leads to ignorance, fear, and racism.
    • It surpresses minority students from different backgrounds, denying them the opportunity to learn about their own heritage and the important contributions that their culture has had on U.S. history.
    • It leads to ethnocentrism, or the belief that one's own culture is superior to others; and along the same lines, that other cultures are inferior or less than our own.
    • It dooms us to repeat the mistakes of the past.

    Luckily, it is easy to explore culture as part of your homeschool/afterschool curriculum. I wrote a post a few years ago with the steps you should take to do so. Here are some of the online resources I highly recommend you use. (You can also download my printable for free from Multicultural Kid Blogs, which has all the resources listed and hyperlinked.)

    2. National Geographic Kids: Explore the World!
    3. Time for Kids: Around the World
    4. Kid World Citizen


    Reading aloud diverse books is one of the top ways to explore world cultures. I'm talking authentic literature written by multicultural authors, NOT books written about other cultures (sorry!!). It's just that one simply cannot replace authentic experiences or replicate another person's perspective with complete accuracy. If I want to learn about Peru, then who better to explain the country than a native author or one of Peruvian descent? Here are some examples of remarkable books for exploring world cultures.

    5. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (China)
    6. Under the Royal Palms by Alma Flor Ada (Cuba)
    7. My Place by Nadia Wheatley, Donna Rawlins (Australia)
    8. El Zipitio by Jorge Argueta (El Salvador)


    Sometimes we take a couch vacation and travel the world virtually through excellent programming. I love documentaries that are well done, introducing viewers to some of the most remarkable sites, people, and traditions. These are some of our favorite resources:

    9.   Nature
    10. Kidflix Global
    11. Families of the World
    12. David Yetman
    13. Globe Trekker 


    Of course, nothing beats traveling the world. We love to study maps, and geography is an important part of our lesson plans. And maps are even more fun when studied while we are actually en route to our destination!

    And don't forget to collect souvenirs on your trip to bring back and decorate your home/classroom. Those mementos help to bring back great memories and make excellent conversation starters or writing prompts.

    14. The Lonely Planet Kids Travel Book: Mind-Blowing Stuff on Every Country in the World
    15. Catherine Aragon's Scavenger Hunt Adventures
    16. FlyingKids' Travel Guides
    17. Barefoot Books World Atlas


    It's almost impossible to become truly fluent in another language without learning about the culture it comes from. Learning a foreign language leads to many opportunities that most monolingual families can't begin to imagine.

    18. Rosetta Stone
    19. PetraLingua
    20. Duolingo
    21. Cooking with Languages


    Children seem to retain information best when they are actively learning and creating. I love tying in crafts to help my kids study new cultures and to reinforce ideas/concepts we learn in class.

    22. Multicultural Kid Blogs has the most diverse and best quality collection of tutorials for creating arts and crafts from around the world.


    Get those kids moving! There are SO many wonderful albums on world music available it would be impossible for me to list them all here, but here are a few favorites:

    24. Daria World Music for Children: website
    25. Daria World Music for Children: app
    27. Music on Kid World Citizen

    Myths & Legends

    One excellent way to explore a culture is to read about its myths and folklore; they help us to understand the perspective of the people who create them.


    Yum! I can't think of a better way to explore a culture than with my stomach! Actually, this is a really fun, hands-on activity for students. It not only explores a culture, but it reinforces skills in math and science, too.

    37. MKB's cooking section
    38. Kids Around the World Cook!: The Best Foods and Recipes from Many Lands


    Of course, there are also some excellent apps to help your child explore the world. Here are a few exceptional ones:

    39. Whole Wide World by Fingerprint

    40. Kids World Cultures by Planet Factory Interactive

    Bloggers share their lists of 40 favorite things 

     To celebrate her 40th birthday, Leanna from All Done Monkey has organized a virtual party, where each blogger shares her list of 40 favorite things! (Thanks to the Piri-Piri Lexicon for designing this beautiful series button!)

    Discovering the World Through My Son's Eyes: 40 Things to Do with Kids in Puerto Rico
    Play Dough & Popsicles: 40 Paper Plate Crafts for Kids
    Pura Vida Moms: 40 Best Cupcake Recipes
    Pack-n-Go Girls: 40 Fabulous Travel Tips


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