Friday, April 28, 2017

Cinco de Mayo Printables

It's hard to believe that Cinco de Mayo is next week! My printables have been selling like crazy, I think it's because they all focus on the REAL history behind the holiday and not just the stereotypical sombrero, piñata, margarita that most people associate with it.

So if you are looking for some fun printables to help your children or students learn about the impact this holiday had on U.S. history, (did you know that the outcome of the U.S. Civil War could have been very different if it weren't for the brave men and women of Puebla?) check out one of my products. They are available for a variety of ages!

Cinco de Mayo Bilingual Coloring Pages - TpT | My Shop

K - 2nd grade

Formerly known as a Bilingual Minibook on Cinco de Mayo, the full-page layout lent itself more towards coloring pages than a minibook, so I changed the name. :)  This packet includes three sets of 8 coloring pages; one in English, one in Spanish, and the other bilingual. Each page is accompanied by text telling the story of the Battle of Puebla and its historical impact.

Cinco de Mayo Interactive Notebook or Lapbook - TpT | My Shop

4th - 6th grade

If you've never used an interactive notebook or lapbook, check it out! They are so much fun because they allow your student to read, write, color, cut, and paste to make the learning experience more engaging so that they'll remember better.

You can see examples of how the notebook goes together here.

The REAL History of Cinco de Mayo 1-Page Reading Passage - TpT | My Shop

4th - 8th grade

Only have time for a quick activity? This is a NO PREP one-page history on the Battle of Puebla and Cinco de Mayo. From Benito Juarez's decision to stop paying foreign debts for two years to the impact of the battle on U.S. history, this informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. Includes an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Search for STEMnauts Contest

STEMnauts Contest

Calling all middle school and high school students!

If you are obsessed with space or enjoy coding, this is a great opportunity for you! NASA has partnered with Texas Instruments to create and host this super fun contest that features the skills astronauts use in space. And they are searching for young STEMnauts to complete their challenges.

To win great prizes, you and your team of up to 5 fellow students must decipher puzzles and brainteasers using the coding and STEM* problem-solving strategies NASA uses to make human life in space possible. You'll have to have an adult sponsor, but they canNOT help you with the challenges. ;)

Teams must be middle or high school students. Homeschoolers are eligible.

The team with the most points will win:

  • A new Galaxy Gray TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator for each team member
  • A $500 Amazon gift card for your team
  • Passes to choice of NASA visitor center
  • An assortment of fun STEM and space-related objects, including:
    - ISS Drawstring Backpack
    - Squishy Astronaut
    - NASA Pins/Decals
    - Foam RocketsS
  • A video chat with a NASA subject matter expert

In addition, each of the members of five teams chosen at random will win a Galaxy Gray TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculators.

I think there are only around 150 teams at the moment, so your chances are good! Get in there and start deciphering codes and riddles.

You can enter the contest any time before it ends on May 31st.

My daughter is totally geeked about participating and is lining up a teammate. :)

Good luck!!!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Teaching Children with Learning Differences to Read with Reading Horizons

The following is a product review by homeschooling mom and MommyMaestra reader, Mireya Marroquin Dunn.

As a follower and reader of the Mommymaestra's blog and Facebook page, I'm always so impressed at how much research and resources are shared to us readers. I'm always looking forward to seeing what is new. A while ago, there was a post on the reading program ”Hooked on Phonics." MommyMaestra recommended this program to teach young children how to read.  She partially attributed her children's reading success (they currently read way above their reading grade level) to the program. I also invested in buying a "Hooked on Phonics" kit back in 2003, when my oldest child was starting kindergarten. And it did work well for her. It is really a great program, but what happens when it doesn't work well for every child?

This is what happened with my second child. I was excited about using HOP with him before he started kindergarten, but it just didn't seem that the letters and sounds were sticking in his memory. He was attending a public school, and as time went on, I was naive and started to think that he would just learn it. Many of his teachers informed me that he had a learning delay and that he would catch up eventually. He continued to struggle even though he did have an Individual Education Plan (IEP), and despite the accommodations that were made even though we followed recommendations.

A Reading Program for Kids with Learning Differences

Then, in fourth grade, he was diagnosed with Dyslexia. He continued to make very little progress. I finally decided to pull him out of the public school system and homeschool myself, but still worried about how I was going to teach him how to read. I began to do a lot of research and found the blog of a woman who has eight children, seven of whom have learning differences. She recommended a reading program called Reading Horizons (an explicit, systematic, multi-sensory reading instruction made simple). Her older children learned to read using the online interactive software, called Reading Horizons Elevate.

The program begins with the basic 26 letters of the alphabet, then continues to focus on:
  • 42 sounds
  • 5 phonetic skills
  • 2 decoding skills
In addition, it teaches and reinforces with a variety of practice methods the most common words, sight words, & some grammar lessons. There are six chapters with 68 lessons in all. It comes with assessments after each chapter and three library assessments to measure reading levels.

It also teaches a unique marking system which explains when and why vowels are short and long. As you progress through the online system, you learn to break apart longer words into smaller pieces by making the appropriate markings. This is to understand the proper pronunciation in multisyllabic words. It also gives spelling tips.

The program reinforces the skills learned by decoding vocabulary words (over 1,000 words) after the lesson has been introduced. Each vocabulary word is presented with an auditory definition and context sentences. They also offer a library section with a wide variety of timed reading passages. This measures fluency. And comprehension questions follow each reading passage.

Progress Tracker

One of the great things about this program is that it keeps track of your child's reading progress. If your child doesn't master a particular skill, they have the opportunity to redo it before moving on to the next skill. Once my son began to use this reading program, I saw my son's confidence improving and he was not struggling so much with reading sentence by sentence. When my son began the program, he was reading about 5 years below his reading level. Within nine months, he completed the reading program. He was re-assessed and had made an amazing four-year reading improvement. This was so remarkable!

Here's an explanation of the Reading Horizons Elevate Methodology:

I believe so strongly in this reading program that I wanted to help other children who were struggling with reading. So I offered to tutor kids in my neighborhood at my next door neighbor's afterschool homework tutoring center. Since I began tutoring them back in September 2016, they have seen significant gains, too. A few of them even made honor roll this past third quarter grading period! The effects were double because by helping them improve their reading, their grades also improved in other subjects. You can check it out yourself and read what other parents/teachers/tutors are saying about Reading Horizons.

But Reading Horizons is NOT just catered for struggling readers; it is also used to teach children in kindergarten through 3rd grade how to read. This program is called Reading Horizons Discovery.  AND it is even available for English learners to learn the fundamentals of reading. It also has an extra feature with the option to have the lessons translated into several different languages in text instruction. You can also get a pronunciation tab added in order to practice pronouncing the English words with your headset/microphone.

Reading Horizon Program Options

The At-Home Reading Horizons programs (Discovery & Elevate) are offered with two options:
  • direct instructions (book materials with a teacher manual) 
  • or the online interactive software, which has the same material covered as in the text books.  
Read more information on the At-Home Reading Horizons version.

For the online interactive software, Reading Horizons offers a $10 (30-day trial) and if you like it and see progress, you can upgrade after your trial period for $189 for an entire year. This is valid for two students, but you can add three more additional students for $25 each. I honestly believe it's been the best investment I have made for my Dyslexic son. He can finally read!

A very happy & inspired mama,

Mireya Marroquin Dunn

Friday, April 21, 2017

Poesía Alada: poesía y arte para volar

Poesía Alada: poesía y arte para volar
Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? When my kids were little, poetry was a regular part of our reading routine. I still love incorporating poetry into my children's homeschool lessons from time to time. It has so many benefits!

For younger children, poetry helps boost their vocabulary and develops their sense of rhythm and language skills. Rhymes and rhyming improve reading, writing, and spelling.

For older children, poems help with memorization and teach children to look for deeper meanings within a text. They also learn patterns of speech and how words can be used in multiple combinations to create new meanings.

Poetry has ANY language.

So today, I'm excited to share with you a new poetry title from author Mariana Llanos. And this one is completely in Spanish!

Poesía Alada: poesia y arte para volar (aff link) is a beautifully written and illustrated collection of Spanish poetry for children. Mariana has written many wonderful children's books, some of which I've reviewed here on MommyMaestra. But this is her first book of poetry. It is also the first book she's written originally in Spanish.

And I love them all. Because for some reason, they seem to transport me back to my own childhood, which was full of Spanish dichos, poesía, and rimas tradicionales. So, naturally, I feel this should be a must-have for bilingual family home libraries!

Here's a sample. This is the poem for which the book is named...

Poesía Alada

Poesía es cuento
y canción con alas.
Poesía es locura
que brota del alma.
Poesía es música
que ilumina al alba.
Poesía son letras 
que forman baladas.
Poesía es el trinar
de aves en la mañana.
Poesía es el rayo 
tierno del sol.
Poesía surge
revuelve y embala.
Poesía descansa
aprieta y arranca.
Poesía vive y respira,
despojada de toda razón.
Poesía se acurruca
en un rinconcito del corazón.

Beautiful, no?

The poems are about topics to which children can relate - the seasons, the ocean, ice cream cones, reading, animals, clouds, and many others.

Poesía Alada: estaciones

Another unique feature of this book is the black-and-white illustrations. Seven artists (including the author) have created drawings to accompany each of the 27 poems. The whimsical images enrich the poems for young minds. Personally, I plan to use this like a workbook and let my children color in the images.

Poesía Alada: Chaclacayo

Mariana has also included a note at the end of the book describing her lifelong love of poetry; how it started and its impact on her life.

This book is a new release, just published this month. I highly recommend it to read to both younger and older children alike.

Poesía Alada: poesia y arte para volar can be ordered on Amazon.

And remember, Mariana is an enthusiastic educator and writer. She visits schools around the world through virtual technology to encourage children to read and write. She offers many free author-Skype opportunities for teachers . The Skype visits are designed around four different lesson plans that last about 45 minutes. Wouldn't that be a fun class to do at the end of the year with your students?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lion’s Story: To Homeschool a Special Needs Child

As we continue to support Autism Awareness Month, I'm happy to publish this exceptional article by Suzanne Mahoney, a Spanish-American mother of two in a multilingual household. She's homeschooling her special needs child and shares helpful advice and resources for parents who are considering homeschooling as an option for their own family.

Lion’s Story: To Homeschool a Special Needs Child

Homeschooling a special needs child can be challenging, but it is rewarding not only for your child’s accomplishments but your own. In Lion’s case, we have seen both sides of the education fence; public school and now for the last year, homeschool. Lion, now 15 years old, has a variety of obstacles to overcome. Some of his diagnoses include cerebral palsy and autism. He is also non-verbal and (until a couple of months ago) a non-walker. Homeschooling challenges can be especially complicated when there are multiple spoken languages in the home. Since birth, Lion had been immersed in a household where three or four languages were being spoken continually. He grew up understanding three of them well. More recently, he has mainly been in a bilingual environment (English-Spanish) and because he was attending public school, his education was solely in English. Now that we are homeschooling, Spanish has been incorporated as part of his communications program.

When the homeschooling of a special needs child, in any language(s), is being considered, you must ask yourself, “Why do I want to do it?” It will be a lot of work, the time commitment may be huge, and not all expenses that you think are necessary will have external funding. But...

Homeschooling empowers both the child and the parent so that what you thought would be an impossible task, is made possible with patience, insistence, and persistence. The attained goals become your reward and your family’s quality of life also improves.

Choices and Sources
Once you have your “why” then what are your choices and sources? Visiting your state’s Department of Education website will be the place to start. It not only outlines the steps to take, but it should also have a wealth of supportive educational materials to guide and assist you. Most importantly, it should contain the legalese and statutes pertaining to Special Education and the available homeschooling programs within your state. This will better prepare you for knowing the what, when, where, why, and how of the homeschooling mission. I cannot stress how important it is to know your legal rights when it comes to children with disabilities, so though it is often time consuming to sit down: just do it. Understand it. It helps to invite a friend over for coffee to assist you in comprehending the lingo involved. Ask a community outreach program or find a local homeschool support group for feedback and ideas. The better informed you are, the better planning, services, and funding you will be able to obtain for your child. Yes! You can homeschool your child and get a few “perks.” It is a matter of knowing what is available in your area and what your child really needs. Check out this page on HSLDA for information about Special Education Provisions in the 50 States and Territories.

To our surprise, our state offers flexibility in providing “perks” that I had not anticipated. For example, you can homeschool and still have the district provide speech, occupational, physical and behavior modification therapies. You can also have your child participate in the school’s extracurricular activities (such as sports, theater, band, etc.) and have transportation provided. The caveat? An IEP (Individualized Education Program) and associated goals would then be required to be written by the IEP team.

Virtual School enrollment may be another alternative worth considering depending upon what your State offers. Florida does require that homeschooling be logged, documented, and be available for review upon request.

For now, we wanted as much detachment and freedom as possible from school districts to allow Lion to catch-up in as many of his academics and life skills as possible. Well, we are proceeding with our own carefully crafted goals and we are experiencing fabulous results!

Considerations and Goals:
Each child is unique. His interaction with others is unique. His current school environment is also unique. So, you must create your goals and be realistic in doing so.

Years ago, I remember setting a goal for my child to learn to use his “AAC communications device (his voice)” to say “hello” independently. This seemed to be a logical, realistic, and very valuable skill; a first step towards communicating with us. This basic goal is successfully taught to special needs children similar to Lion.

At that time, he was attending public school. The frustration that we had was in working with the school to design appropriate goals that would benefit Lion. Unfortunately, the school told us that they knew our child better than we did and that we must follow their lead. They stated that they were the educators and we were not. We were overruled many times in the IEP meetings and elsewhere. It turned out that the school’s main driving force was not in benefiting Lion but in limiting the amount of time that they were willing to spend on him. They even stated that the time dedicated to his individualized academics was “15 to 20 minutes a day.” We were informed that there were “other students in the classroom to take care of.” Nor could we get a dedicated aide assigned to him within the IEP. Their methods were not well thought out, were not stressed at school, and were ineffective. For us to do something else at home was too confusing to Lion. We helped as we could but knew that the situation was not what it should be. As a result, Lion lost years. Such is life. But it was very frustrating!

At the same time, while attending school, Lion attained a simpler goal. He learned to feed himself. All I heard from school was that he either needed yet another adaptive spoon or that he had refused to feed himself and thus needed to be fed by someone at school. My solution? I took it upon myself to ignore the school’s methodology and applied my own methods during dinner time. My goal was to accomplish his training in six months. To my surprise, with hand-over-hand methods and a bit of insistence, in less than a month he was eating with minimal assistance. A month after that, he was independently feeding himself. He would still come home from school with the same notes of nonattainment and insist on being spoon fed by me because he had been spoon fed at school. He really had them fooled and they did not take the time needed to listen to me, so they could understand, insist, and change Lion’s behavior. It took us an hour to dine then. But today, he can eat as quickly or as slowly as need be. He has mastered the fork, too! I thought I would never see the day when I would finally sit and enjoy eating without having to feed him.

Be as Creative as You Want
Homeschooling for Lion is not the traditional paper, pencil, and book program. Just as technology has enabled “normal” homeschoolers to explore a vast wealth of global encyclopedic information, so has technology blessed our “special needs” children with the ability to access programs and communication platforms. This is especially evident for those children for whom talking and/or writing was not possible in the past due to physical or mental impediments. Now, many of these challenges have been alleviated by technical solutions that, while not perfect, are certainly helpful.

Lion’s first two years of homeschooling include three global goals:

1) Lion will communicate with minimal assistance using an AAC communication device (we use ProLoquo2go software) with family and friends,

2) Lion will walk independently (using a walker) on both even and some uneven surfaces (trails, the playground, etc.),

3) Lion will learn a variety of self-living skills; undressing and dressing with minimal assistance, toileting skills, transitioning in/out of a chair and the car from his walker or wheelchair, etc.

Just like any human being has good and bad days, so do our kids. The exception is that our children’s behavior tends to be more pronounced than children who don’t have special needs. When Lion wakes up with a cute half sneer in his mouth and the attitude of, “Oh, I’m broken and I can’t get up…” that’s when I know I need to forget what I had planned for that day and revisit what actually is possible to accomplish together. Math? Well, in our house, bread needs to be made. So, counting while measuring ingredients and integrating this activity into the use of his communication device may be the only types of things that can be accomplished… that day.

When his attitude is good, he does much more and it thrills me that he enjoys most of it. Quite a change from his public school days.

We have found that teaching methodologies and best practices may be obtained and learned from surmountable sources of data. Usually, they are available at our fingertips via the internet or a visit/phone call and thus our only limitation is the time it takes to find, question, read, understand, and then apply them. But not everything works for your child.

Homeschool Accomplishments
Remember Lions’ three global goals that I mentioned? It is almost time to write new goals - over a year early! Half a year into his schooling, Lion has almost completed goals #2 and #3 and has made great progress with goal #1. It is amazing to see Lion spontaneously communicate with us and voice new words in new ways. Lion is beginning to break the “autistic ice!” Sometimes he is so happy with his new skills that he breaks down in a fit of giggles!

Additional Resources
I've also found very useful resources available on the following websites:

Looking Forward
There’s a lifetime for learning. Don’t rush. Do it right. The old adage that you must sometimes slow down to speed up is, oh, so true!


Suzanne Mahoney is a homeschooling a Spanish-American mother of two. She's also a Board Member of Family Network on Disabilities (FND), Board Member of the Family Network for Special Needs Fund Trust (FNSNTA) and past Board Member of the Florida Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers (FICCIT)

Did you enjoy this article? Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? Let me help! My book - The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling - covers everything you see here and more. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#TeachersAppreciateTeachers Classroom Makeover Contest

It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and you know how much I appreciate all the hard work that homeschool and public/private school teachers do for their students. So when I saw that Carson-Dellosa Publishing is hosting a contest in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I wanted to share because the grand prize winner and their nominator will receive a classroom makeover from Carson-Dellosa! 

Carson-Dellosa Publishing wants to hear about the exceptional educators who are making a difference in the lives of children—while also supporting their colleagues! Now through April 23 (that's this SUNDAY!), teachers can nominate a fellow teacher who has helped them get to where they are today. 

To nominate them, visit Carson-Dellosa's Facebook or Instagram pages and tag them in the comments, add the #TeachersAppreciateTeachers hashtag, and explain why they should be appreciated.

I looked through the contest rules, and nothing says that homeschool teachers aren't eligible. So I'll be putting in for it, too.

One grand prize winner and their nominator will each receive a $400 Carson-Dellosa gift certificate for a classroom makeover.

Three runner-ups and their nominators will each receive a $50 Carson-Dellosa gift certificate.

I'm sure you're familiar with them, but Carson-Dellosa Publishing is a fantastic educational product company. On their site, you'll find everything from classroom organization to learning centers to guided reading. They have products for homeschoolers and special needs. I really enjoy looking through their products.

Winners will be revealed during #TeacherAppreciationWeek. The grand prize winner and their nominator will receive a classroom makeover from Carson-Dellosa!

There are not a lot of nominations as far as I can see, so your chances are good. I'd love to see some Hispanic, homeschool, or bilingual ed teachers win!

Good luck!!

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post. This is just me sharing info I saw on my FB feed and an opportunity for my educator followers! xo

Monday, April 17, 2017

Homeschooling in the United States

Homeschooling has been around for centuries, not just in this nation, but around the world. Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Sandra Day O’Connor, Alexander Graham Bell, Beatrix Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louis Armstrong, Sor Juana de la Cruz...all benefited from a home education.

Homeschooling is considered the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 2 million homeschool students in the U.S... and that number only increases each year.

Although homeschool has been traditionally associated with conservative Christians, the reality is that today, homeschoolers are very diverse and they encompass every walk of life: rich, poor, liberal, conservative, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, religious, non-religious...homeschooling is for everyone. (Notably, it is quickly growing in popularity among minorities.)

Families decide to homeschool their children for a wide variety of reasons. Some are disappointed in their local school options, while others homeschool for religious reasons. Some families travel a lot, and others simply want to nurture family relationships. Parents may decide to homeschool for their child’s safety (bullying issues), or they may have a child with health problems or physical/learning disabilities and can’t get the resources and support they need from their school district. Many child athletes are homeschooled to make more time for their rigorous training schedules. And some parents may choose to homeschool in order to nurture and strengthen their child’s bilingualism. The reasons vary from family to family.

Homeschooling is parent-led. This does not necessarily mean that the parent teaches the child everything (although they might). The beauty of homeschooling is its flexibility. Kids might learn their core subjects from their parent(s) or take classes on specific subjects online or at a local education center. Their entire curriculum may be online and parents don’t teach at all. Or maybe they are part of a homeschool group that meets once a week where the students learn all the subjects in a group setting, then spend the rest of the week at home doing assignments and memorization work.

You DON'T have to spend a fortune to effectively educate your children! On average, families spend about $600 a year per homeschool child. Curricula vary in price. A good, accredited curriculum can cost upwards of $1000 a year, but many families buy the same curriculum gently used on eBay for half or less. In addition, there are many inexpensive or free lesson plans and materials available on the internet and in local libraries.

Remarkably, homeschool students on average score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. Their performance is not impacted by their parent’s level of education or income. They tend to be more mature, more disciplined, and more confident than their public school counterparts. In fact, as a result of their overall academic and social performance homeschoolers are being actively recruited by colleges (see section 8).

Homeschooling can begin at any grade level. While many homeschoolers are educated at home throughout their grade school and high school years (K - 12), there is a large number of children who are only homeschooled for a fraction of this time.

Homeschooling is allowed in all 50 states.
Each state has different laws about homeschooling; a few are more restrictive, but others have very little regulation.

Overall, the popularity of homeschooling has waxed and waned in U.S. history, but currently, it is on the rise and provides an opportunity for parents to oversee their children’s education and help nurture their unique talents.

Did you enjoy this article? Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? Let me help! My book - The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling - covers everything you see here and more. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Homeschooling Multiple Children

Tiany homeschooling her children 

The following is a guest post by Tiany Lindemann Davis, a Salvadoran-Nicaraguan-American homeschooling mother of four.

As the homeschooling mom of four boys ages 10, 12, 14, and 16, the most common question I am asked when I tell people that I homeschool is "How do you manage to teach so many grade levels?"

For many homeschool families, this is the most difficult part of home education.

Teaching multiple children together

If you are struggling to teach multiple grade levels, you are not alone. Homeschooling families vary in size and usually have children in multiple grade levels, sometimes ranging from infant to high school. Trying to keep up with teaching multiple children can be daunting, to say the least.

If you can relate, don't lose heart — you can peacefully and successfully teach multiple grade levels.

There are many different approaches one can take to homeschooling multiple grade levels. Here are just a few strategies you might try to implement in your homeschool.

Schedule a block of time with each child

While you work with one child the others can do independent work, one child can read aloud to siblings or older siblings can buddy up and spend that block of time working with younger siblings.

Combine subjects

Science, social studies, history, art, literature, and geography can easily be combined and taught to multi-aged groups. You can read aloud as a family using textbooks or living books and give the older children age-related supplemental activities, worksheets or independent reading on the subject. My Father's World curriculum offers a multi-age family learning cycle.

Unit studies

Unit studies work well with all ages and allow you to teach children the same subject tailored by grade level. While younger children might tell a story through art or play-dough, older children might write a report or take part in a more advance science experiment. You can take some time to create your own unit study or purchase ready-made unit studies by subject.

Try online classes

Older children can easily work independently through computer-based or online learning with curricula such as Switched On Schoolhouse, Time 4 Learning, A+ Interactive Math, IXL and Teaching Textbooks. There is also the option of video learning through a virtual school such as Abeka.

Set up a Workbox System

The Workbox System is a system created by Sue Patrick that can be customized to your family's individual needs. Children are assigned a drawer or set of drawers, cubes or folders for their subjects and daily assignments. I use one drawer for books and one drawer for the day's workbook assignments for each child, and each day the boys go to their drawer to get their assignments and books and start their lessons for the day. Sue Patrick's goal in creating the Workbox System was to reduce organizational time and increase the child's self-control, independence, and learning. This is the perfect solution for large homeschool families.

Use daily life experiences as teaching opportunities

The greatest lessons are those that build and strengthen relationships within the family, and these lessons will be found in everyday life experiences. Cook a meal together for math, building a new fence with dad, or grow a garden as a family.

There will still be days when homeschooling multiple grade levels and personalities feel overwhelming and chaotic but with a bit of planning, a working system in place and much determination you can homeschool multiple children and still keep your sanity.

Did you enjoy this article? Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? Let me help! My book - The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling - covers everything you see here and more. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Little Passports Science Expeditions & a Sale!

A few months ago, I signed up for the new Little Passports Science Expeditions. It's a monthly subscription that brings various science projects to your doorstep for your kids to explore. We've had subscriptions to their World Edition and USA Edition in the past and my kids loved them. Now that they are older, we decided to try out Science Expeditions.

Our first packet arrived last month and we were NOT disappointed! The first kit was all about forensic science and one of the activities was to isolate the DNA from a strawberry. 

This post contains affiliate links.

Here's what this kit included:
  • An introductory 16-page comic book with glossary and bonus activities
  • An activity direction guide
  • A lab notebook for recording your observations
  • A fingerprint analysis card
  • An achievement badge for forensic science
  • All the equipment needed to conduct the experiment, except for the strawberry and a few household items;
  • Access to bonus online videos and science content

My son started off reading the comic book to learn the various terminology associated with the

Then he prepared his notebook and started setting up for his experiment.

If you're wondering how difficult the experiments are, here's a video for the DNA activity:

Science Expeditions: Berry DNA Video

As you can see, the activities are just challenging enough to keep your kids' attention without frustrating them. :) They are LOADS of fun and lots of learning taking place!

Super fun, right? This next month, my little scientists will be learning about vision and optics. They’ll build a camera obscura, a thaumatrope, and a spinning top with an optical illusion. We're excited for the kit to arrive!!

FYI - the time to sign up is NOW because Little Passports is celebrating its eighth birthday with a super sale (aff link)! But you'll have to hurry because the sale ends THIS Friday!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bilingual Easter Book of Colors

Bilingual Easter Book of Colors

Five years ago, I created an Easter-themed book of colors in Spanish. It was past time to get an updated look! So I'm happy to share that for this year, this printable booklet has been updated to include three books:
  • one bilingual version with text in both English and Spanish
  • one Spanish version for Spanish learners
  • one English version for ESL learners

The text, font, and design were tweaked too, to make the booklet more visually engaging for young students, who read the text and color in the pages to agree with the words. 

It is so adorable that it may be my favorite printable for little hands. :)

You can find the new, updated version available here in my shop, or in my TpT store

Friday, April 7, 2017

Educational Easter-Themed Toys from HearthSong

Easter is on its way. And rather than just give kids candy, I love it when I see my friends posting baskets full of educational toys that help nurture happy, imaginative children.

Do you do Easter? If so, do you create an Easter basket full of goodies? Maybe you need some ideas. Below are some lovely Easter-themed toys I found over at HearthSong. (But really, they can be enjoyed year round!)

This post includes affiliate links.

Plush Bunny Portable Play Set (Ages 3 and up)

These adorable plush bunnies will hip, hip, hop all the way home to their soft carrot cottage. Plush Bunny Portable Play Set is large enough (19"L) to hold its two sweet and soft bunny residents comfortably, and can easily be carried along to a friend's house for imaginative play. The bright orange carrot cottage features two windows for bunnies to peek out from, a swinging door that sticks shut, adorable embroidered flowers, and a soft green carrot top. Two 5¼"L sweet bunnies are ready to hop into whatever adventure awaits.

ChalkScapes Mandalas Sidewalk Stencils Chalk Art Kit - Butterfly (Ages 5 and up)

Invite outdoor, creative fun for young artists with Chalkscapes® Mandalas Sidewalk Stencils Chalk Art Kit! This award-winning set of two easy-to-use, artistically adaptable stencils and cosmically colored chalks allows creative kids to turn sidewalks and driveways into colorful art exhibits (bonus—use indoors on our Roll-Up Chalk Mat, 732991, sold separately). Trace the stencil as a unit, mark it into mix-and-match quadrants, or use the fun motifs separately—the options are limitless.

Set includes 24 stick chalks in assorted bright colors, six jumbo chalks, two chalk holders and a set of two 22½" diam. mandala stencils (with butterfly and flower designs, or stars and geometric designs—you choose). Cleans easily with water—just hose off!

Fun for one or for many kids. A great way to engage kids in imaginative and creative play for play dates or parties, and also makes a great addition to a homeschool group or classroom. Create drawings that represent an entire garden or bouquets of single flowers, or a galaxy of stars!

EggMazing Dino Egg Decorator Kit (Ages 3 and up)

Easily adapted for making cascarones!!

Combining a love for dinosaurs and crafts, the EggMazing Dino Egg Decorator Kit offers a new spin on Easter-egg decorating! This dino-themed egg lathe holds a "cracked" dinosaur egg (two included), and kids hold one of eight food-safe markers against the egg as it spins. Once you start decorating your egg, the cracks are "eggsposed!" Inside the egg, you'll find a mystery dinosaur and SLIME (who doesn't love a little slime with their Easter egg?) The included dinosaur has interchangeable head and limbs, so order multiple sets for more creative fun.

Can also be used with hard-boiled or plastic eggs. Four AA batteries required, not included.
  • Egg-decorating kit for kids who love dinosaurs!
  • Includes egg lathe, two "cracked" dinosaur eggs, and eight food-safe markers
  • Each egg includes a mystery dinosaur (with interchangeable heads and limbs) and slime—order multiple sets for more creative fun!
  • Egg-spose cracks as you decorate the eggs
  • Battery-operated egg lathe requires four AA batteries, not included
  • Can also be used with hard-boiled or plastic eggs

Bunny Nesting Set (Ages 3 and up)

This engaging wooden nesting toy makes a great gift for kids who want to join their families in celebrating the spring seasons and the holidays that come with them. Meticulously detailed on both front and back with original designs, the set of three bunnies un-nests to reveal a tiny painted egg at its core. This sensory set helps kids improve motor skills and practice counting. Its small size (largest bunny is 5½"H) makes this a perfectly portable toy for long car rides.

Like a classic Russian nesting doll set, this pastel-themed wooden set also makes a beautiful addition to any room when not in play. Makes a great Easter basket stuffer or birthday gift.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

PBS KIDS Celebrates Autism Awareness Month

Sesame Street's New Autistic Character Julia

As you may know, April is Autism Awareness Month and in an effort to promote awareness, acceptance, and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder, PBS KIDS will be airing special shows featuring autistic characters throughout the month. PBS also has great online resources for parents and teachers to learn more. Here are some of the resources you'll find:


Arthur Autism Episode


PBS KIDS airs episodes featuring characters with Autism during National Autism Awareness Month. Includes a premiere episode of SESAME STREET featuring a new muppet character, Julia, who has autism.

  • 4/10       Sesame Street “Meet Julia” **NEW**
  • 4/10       Dinosaur Train “Junior Conductors Academy”
  • 4/10       Arthur “When Carl Met George/D.W. Swims with the Fishes”
  • 4/11       Arthur “Pets and Pests/Go Fly a Kite”
  • 4/12       Arthur “Carl's Concerto/Too Much of a Good Thing”
  • 4/13       Arthur “He Said, He Said/Bunny Trouble”

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spanish for You! Special Discount for MommyMaestra Readers

Thanks so much to MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, for the following special offer for MM readers.

Get a set of 5 learning songs FREE!

If you’ve been looking for a fun and easy-to-use Spanish homeschool curriculum for your kids grades 3-8, Spanish for You! has a great offer for you!

With the purchase of any Mi vida (My Life) themed, year-long homeschool package ($39.95), you get the 5 Mi vida supplemental songs FREE! ($8.99 value)
There are 5 units in the Mi vida package with one song for each unit. The unit songs are: My House, My Room, My Family and Friends, My Activities, and My Classes.

The songs provide an effective and FUN way for students to practice or review each unit's material. They are provided in MP3 format with lyrics in PDF format so your kids can sing along! 

Some great things to know about our curriculum:
• You can use one package ($39.95) with several children at the same time. For example, if you have children in 4th, 6th, and 8th grade, you can use one grades 5-6 pkg. with them all!
• Interactive games and activities are woven into the daily lessons so they can all practice together in fun ways. 
• All materials are reusable! 
• 30-Day Money Back Guarantee 

Come learn more about the Mi vida homeschool package and hear song samples here

If you would like to read some homeschool reviews on the curriculum, take a look here.

To get your FREE songs, use the discount code: mommymaestrafreesongs 

Offer valid through April 2017. Be sure to add the songs to your cart! A big GRACIAS to Mommy Maestra for so generously connecting Spanish for You! to her homeschool readers!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A List of ESL Resources

I'm happy to be kicking off April by participating in a language resources collaboration with Bilingual Kidspot. Since I often get questions from parents speaking Spanish to their children who ask about when and how to introduce English to their kids, I'm covering ESL resources today.

There are certainly hundreds of resources available. From online games and apps to books and videos, I've done my best to share a list below of some of the best I've found. If you have a particular resource that you have found to be really helpful with your ESL students, please share!

This post may use affiliate links.

Language Apps & Online Programs


International Children's Digital LIbrary

Online Bookstores

Learn English Kids

ESL Websites

Recommended Books on ESL Teaching/Methodology

Recommended Workbooks & Reference Guides

Additional Resources & Helpful Articles

If you'd like to discover resources to 15 other languages (including Spanish), be sure to check out Bilingual Kidspot's Language Resources for Kids from Around the World!


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