Friday, January 25, 2019

BBC News Features Castanet Maker

BBC News does such great segments highlighting people and their trades. This episode is dedicated to Juan Vela, one of the last of the castanet makers. Castanets, as your kids or students may not know, are used in flamenco dancing. Made of small concave pieces of wood, ivory, or plastic, they are joined in pairs by a cord and clicked together by the fingers to accompany the flamenco dancers.

You may enjoy pairing this with my free download, Explore Spain: A Country Coloring Activity.

I really loved watching this! And I think most of you will, too.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Teaching Children about International Holocaust Remembrance Day with Woo! Jr.

Did you know that January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day? What a difficult subject to teach children. But it is an important one. First, so that we can teach history accurately. And second, so that we can foster kindness and compassion in our children.

Are you wondering how to teach your kids or students about the Holocaust? If so, stop over at Woo! Jr. to see the article I wrote for them. You'll learn just what the Holocaust was and why we need to teach it to our kids. There are some lovely activities and excellent printables that you can download, too. Be sure to take a look around while you are there because Woo! Jr. has tons of excellent teaching resources on everything under the sun!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Hispanic American Literature

I've been sharing one-semester resources to supplement or break up your homeschool year. I've already mentioned how we're using Civil Rights: Then & Now, as well as Philosophy for Kids this spring semester.

Here's another one I'm looking forward to using in the fall with my 8th grader, but it would be an excellent resource for high school, too.

Hispanic American Literature is another excellent find that I stumbled upon one year in my local used book store. It was published nearly 20 years ago but is still a great addition to any bilingual or multicultural homeschool or classroom.

The book is a collection of nonfiction, features, short stories, poems, folktales, and drama. The list of contributors is noteworthy; there are works from writers such as Rudolfo Anaya, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Gary Soto, Margarita Engle, José Martí, Julia Alvarez, Octavio Paz, and many others. Most of them are reprinted from larger works.

This book is divided up into five themes: Identity/La Identidad, Earth/La Tierra, Expression/La Expresión, Defiance/El Desafío, and Memory/La Memoria. While the text is mostly in English, there are Spanish words mixed in throughout the book in anticipation of a bilingual reader.

Each piece no matter how long or short is preceded by a "Before You Read" section with information about the author and additional background information about the text. And each work is followed by a section with comprehension questions and suggested activities to extend the learning. This is really a fantastic resource for teachers. Take a look at these sample pages:

My son won't know all the Spanish words, so I'll be there to help him. But some are easily figured out by those who don't speak Spanish simply by the context.

I was able to find three additional copies of this book. If you are interested, they are available on a first-come, first served basis in my online shop.

Con cariño!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Bilingual Martin Luther King Jr. Resources

Over the years, I've created a few different printables to help teach my kids about Martin Luther King, Jr. And since MLK Day is coming up on Monday, January 21st, I wanted to be sure to share them with you in case you are looking for fast, easy printables to share with your kids.

For little ones, here's a fun activity. All you need is crayons or markers! I would first read one of the many wonderful MLK books available. Here's a list of my five favorites that I shared on

In this writing triptych, kids can read a little bit about Martin Luther King, Jr. and read some quotes from his famous speech. They can color it, and draw or paste a picture of themselves on one of the folds of the triptych. Then they can think about the quotes and write a few words (short paragraph) sharing their own hopes for this country.

This simple activity allows students to write their own ending to Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech. They simply color in the base sheet and write in their ending, before coloring in and attaching a flap-style poster to the top. Available in English or Spanish.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with this easy, no-prep, printable poster and glossary! Available in full color or black-and-white, you can decorate your classroom or have your students color in the poster and read the glossary which features words related to Dr. King. 

Love them all? Then SAVE when you purchase the BUNDLE!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2018 Doodle for Google National Winner

This morning, I opened a new tab on my computer to look something up and saw the newest Google. It immediately caught my eye because of the subject matter: Dinosaurs. My 12-year-old is still fascinated by them. And the other thing that piqued my curiosity was the drawing style. It appeared to be drawn by a child.

I also noted that it was a video doodle. Thinking I would show my son, I clicked on it to see what would happen and was delighted to watch the interactive unfold before me. I thought, hey, I need to share this with MommyMaestra readers to inspire them!

THEN I noticed that this was the 2018 Doodle for Google National Winner, so I went to see who it was. And you can't imagine my joy to discover it was 2nd grader Sarah Gomez-Lane! I love it when I see Hispanic kids excelling!

According to the Google page dedicated to the doodle:
"For the first time in Doodle for Google’s 10-year history, Sarah got to collaborate with the Doodle team to transform her artwork into an animated, interactive experience. She also received $30,000 toward a college scholarship, and her elementary school in Falls Church, VA will receive $50,000 to spend on technology to help students like Sarah continue to pursue what inspires them."

How great for her and her school!

Watch the short video sharing Sarah's story here:

If your child has been inspired to enter, the 2019 Doodle for Google is live! Click here to learn what the theme is and find out how to enter.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Philosophy for Kids

Philosophy for Kids
Last year at my local homeschool convention, I was looking through the expo hall trying to find any gems I didn't already know about. There were plenty. And this book - Philosophy for Kids - was one of them!

This article contains affiliate links.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm sharing fantastic resources for homeschoolers who are looking to add something different to their lessons. Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions that Help You Wonder...About Everything! (aff link) by David A. White, Ph.D. is just that.

Why philosophy? Aren't my kids too young for that? Well, one study showed that kids who study philosophy have higher scores on tests of verbal and computational intelligence than those who do not. More than 3,100 children in 48 primary schools who took philosophy classes were shown to have improved their math and reading skills by about two months of additional progress.

There is, in fact, a whole website dedicated to teaching children philosophy. On it, you'll find booklists and many other resources to help you teach your kids at home or in school.

But I personally, love the book I found at the convention. We've been using Philosphy for Kids since August slowly covering one chapter each week. At this pace, we are able to use this book throughout one school year, but if you sped things up and did two or more a week, you could certainly get through it in one semester.

I love this book because it challenges children to think philosophically (duh!) and introduces them to great philosophers in history, such as Plato, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Hobbes, Simone de Beauvoir, Parmenides, and many others.

The 40 questions are arranged into four categories: Values, Knowledge, Reality, and Critical Thinking. Your child will be asked things like:

  • Are you a fair and just person? 
  • Can you lie to yourself?
  • Can you doubt that you exist?
  • Do you perceive things as they are or only as they seem to be?
  • Can you think about nothing at all? (My favorite!)
There are discussions and follow up questions, as well as a section at the end of each chapter titled, "For Further Thought."

Philosophy for Kids

Philosophy for Kids

The great thing is that my son can go through this book on his own, or we can go through it together. the back of the book contains teaching tips for every single question. And there's also a glossary of philosophical terms. 

The book was written by a university professor of philosophy (at DePaul University) who has been teaching to kids for 10+ years. So all the material is very well presented. 

This resource is best suited for children ages 10 and older, or grades 4th - 12th. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Civil Rights Then and Now

Now that the frenzied holidays are over, we're looking forward to getting back into the rhythm of school. We are adding a few new resources this "semester" and I thought I would share them, as well as a few others with you...just in case you are looking for new materials to incorporate into your homeschool lessons, too.

This post contains affiliate links.

My favorite addition to our homeschool lessons this month is the new Woo! Jr. book, Civil Rights Then and Now: A Timeline of the Fight for Equality in America (aff link) by Kristina Brooke Daniele.

The book is divided into two parts. Part One: Civil Rights Then gives a brief overview of the American civil rights movement dating back to 1776 when our nation was established. It talks about:

  • important abolitionists and activists, 
  • the South after the Civil War, 
  • the Civil Rights Era Movement and leaders, and
  • landmark cases and amendments.
All of the information is written in short sections and perfect for middle schoolers. There's no extra fluff, which my 7th grader appreciates. He wants to know what and who and why and that's it. 

At the end, there is a section with questions to check reading comprehension. 

Part Two: Civil Rights Now covers the movement in modern times and what has happened since the 1950s and 60s. It discusses violence against black Americans and highlights modern era movements and leaders. Landmark cases and amendments are featured again. 

In the back of the book is a comprehensive reading list and references for further research. There's also a glossary of terms to help students better understand the vocabulary used in the book.

All of the information is presented in a concise format with careful attention to the timeline so that the student can understand the progression, as well as the contributing factors to the civil rights movement.

While the book does talk about civil rights as a whole, it touches only briefly on illegal immigration reform, Islamophobia, and Occupy Wall Street protests, etc. The main focus of this book is on racism, discrimination, and prejudice - specifically their effect on African Americans. The Black Lives Matter movement is clearly explained and events leading to its formation are provided. There are sensitive and graphic events included - such as the murder of Philando Castille and the Massacre at Emmanuel African American Methodist Episcopal Church - but they are presented in a factual and appropriate fashion without gory details. As always, though, parents and teachers should review material before presenting to their children/students.

Overall, this book is an excellent resource for parents wishing to explore the current climate of racism and discrimination that exists in the U.S., as well as its history. The comprehension questions not only explore the child's understanding of what he or she has read, but encourage critical thinking and problem-solving. 

The book can easily be covered in one semester and is best suited for kids in 5th through 8th grades.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Free Printable Bilingual 2019 Resolution Worksheet for Kids


That's the word that I'm embracing for 2019. The last two years have been so stressed and hectic and, yes, chaotic for me. But I have hope that this year will be different. We are finally moved into our new home and I am striving to create a routine that works for all of us. 

My oldest elected to go to a private high school. It was a rough start, but I think she has settled in. She loves her classes, anyway, and I think her teachers love her, too. I've continued to homeschool my oldest boy, and this month, we'll be starting classes with our first homeschool co-op. We're excited about the once a week classes. And, of course, my youngest is still too little for formal school, but we focus on a lot of reading, educational toys, and just building our close relationship through not really one-sided conversations. 

This year, I've simply tweaked the colors of my bilingual resolution chart. Because really, the layout is just right. I've been making them every year for the last five years and we've been diligently filling them out each year. I've loved adding them to each child's homeschool binder for the year, simply to give them a reference if they later want to look back.

The chart includes several sections to help you guide your children as they think about all the challenges and blessings of the last year and focus on how they'd like this next one to be different. I think the chart helps empower kids by helping them think about their own control over their education and life choices. And last year, I added a new section in which kids can write down their own word to concentrate on for the year.

Even if they don't, I still think it's important for kids to set goals and try to work toward them. And this chart is simply a tool for them to use in this effort.

So if you'd like to use this printable with your own children, you can download it free below. The file contains both an English and a Spanish worksheet.

Happy New Year!


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