Thursday, February 28, 2019

WWF's Wild Classroom

We're a wildlife-loving family. My kids have grown up around wildlife and are fascinated by animals and wild places. So I was delighted when my friend told me about the new online classroom from World Wildlife Fund.

WWF's Wild Classroom is a great tool for teachers. What child doesn't enjoy learning about wildlife? And if you're going to study wild creatures, you might as well teach them the message of conservation, too.

The best part? It's free! All I had to do was register my email with them. (So, yes, I know they'll be sending me emails, but I'm cool with that if it contains more resources for me to use in my homeschool. Otherwise, I'll just unsubscribe.)

Geared for students in grades 3 - 5, the site features seven toolkits: one for each of the six different species that the organization works with, plus one extra titled "Food Waste Warrior." The six species are:

  1. tigers
  2. sea turtles
  3. polar bears
  4. dolphins
  5. elephants
  6. and monarch butterflies (I'm all over this one!)

You have the option of downloading the entire toolkit, or you can see what's inside. If you choose the latter, then you can see the individual lessons in each subject (such as science, STEM, social studies, language arts, etc.) plus classroom posters to download.

Each lesson also contains an activity for the students to complete.

The site also links to additional apps, online games, and downloads for your classroom to enjoy...

Unfortunately, even though I received a Spanish flyer about the website, I could not find an actual Spanish website anywhere. But for my readers who teach classes in English, this is a lovely discovery and a great tool for you to use with your children while teaching them the concept of conservation!


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Time for a MommyMaestra TpT Sale

Yay! Who's excited? I'm excited!

My ENTIRE TpT store is on sale today and tomorrow! Go get good stuff! Stock up... (St. Patrick's Day, Women's History Month, Easter, Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo...)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Martín y Pepe: Beginning Readers in Spanish

Ooo! Today, I have a wonderful treat for those of you who are seeking beginning readers in Spanish for your children. A few weeks ago, an author reached out to me asking me to take a look at her new series in Spanish for children. I agreed and received the most adorable books!

I'm ALWAYS being asked about early readers in Spanish and where can people find them. So this series is especially helpful. The Martín y Pepe series was created specifically for children learning to read in Spanish. These primeros lectores all center around the relationship and experiences of two characters. Martín is a sweet little duck who has just met Pepe, a caring, loveable bear.

Dana, the author, worked closely with her child's school as she created this series (two of her kids attend a Spanish immersion school). And her work reflects her careful attention to detail. The books themselves contain simple vocabulary and include high-frequency words (palabras de uso frecuente) needed for comprehension and fluency. She says she decided to write these stories after her children stopped wanting to read in Spanish after having achieved a certain level of literacy. She said that many of the early readers she was finding felt didactic and did not tell a story. So she tried to create what she and her children wanted.

The first book, Martín y Pepe (aff link), covers all vowel sounds and includes the following high-frequency words: yo, soy, un, y, este. In this storyline, the two characters meet each other for the first time and become friends.

The second book, ¡A Mí Me Gustan Los Tacos!, focuses on the “m” sound, repeats the phrase “a mí me gusta,” and includes the high-frequency words: yo, un, y, que, gusta. This might be my favorite of the three simply because Pepe is telling Martín about all the foods he loves to eat and ends with his favorite: TACOS (which may or may not also happen to be my favorite)! I think children will love this book, too, and you can use it as an introduction to getting your kids to talk (in Spanish) about all the foods they love, too.

The third book, ¡Felíz Cumpleaños Martín!, focuses on the “g” sound, repeats the phrase “yo tengo” and includes the high frequency words (palabras de uso frecuente): yo, la, una, es, y, que, por, gusta, para, tengo, también, nuevo, pero. In this sweet story, Pepe is celebrating Martín's birthday.

And the illustrations. Oh, the illustrations! They are so adorable. Rosa C. Lopez, the illustrator, put together a time-lapse video of how she created one of the illustrations in the book. It's really pretty fascinating. I'm impressed by such talent and how technology allows artists to make their work look exactly the way they want it to look. Watch the video below...

I love Martín's sweet little face and Pepe's happy smile! I just think your little ones will, too. I cannot wait for my youngest child to be old enough to use these books! And if they sound like a good fit for your little ones, you can find them below on Amazon...

Follow this series on Facebook!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Rick Steves Classroom Europe

Homeschoolers! Do you know about Rick Steves' website for educators? I am so grateful MommyMaestra reader, Mireya, for sharing this with me!

Such a wonderful teaching tool, Rick Steves Classroom Europe is a compilation of short video clips from his popular travel show. He says in a message on his site that he has selected the most teachable moments from his 120 episodes of Rick Steves Europe. And he says the short video clips cover everything, such as:

  • You’ll take a tour of the ancient Roman Forum; 
  • learn why people in Barcelona speak Catalan; 
  • ponder why pilgrims trek 30 days across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela; 
  • see how and why Switzerland designed its major bridges and tunnels so they could be destroyed at the push of a button; 
  • and visit a vibrant market in the south of France.
The video clips are totally searchable by keyword and you can filter your search by city, country, historical era, and theme. **And you'll also love the fact that you can filter out any video clips with mature content.

Another awesome feature is that you can create your own temporary playlist and look through other public playlists that have been created and shared. Or, if you sign up for a free account, then you can create multiple playlists and save them for future use and share them with your students or publish them publicly to share with others. I made a temporary playlist on beautiful buildings and places in Spain. 

Really, this is a fabulous tool to use in your classroom or lessons. There's tons of information contained in each segment with great visuals, too. It's like visiting Europe from your classroom with your own tour guide!

Are you interested? Then click here to visit Rick Steves Classroom Europe.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Powerful You - ¡Tú El Poderoso!

Over the last year or so, I've been watching with a mixture of awe, surprise, and immense respect as young people - especially teenagers - across the country have discovered their voices and started to use them on a national stage. They are realizing that they have power in numbers and that their thoughts and opinions matter. They are becoming activists and changemakers demanding social reform.

I'm amazed because I think most children and young adults have trouble finding their own voice. The tween and teen years are such difficult ones, especially for young girls who really struggle with self-confidence and doubt. My own daughter entered high school this year. I watched her go from a self-confident, outspoken person to one who filled with self-doubt and a wavering self-image. It was a shock for me as a parent, who wanted to nurture her independent and self-assured personality.

That's why when I was asked to share the book, The Powerful You/¡Tú El Poderoso! (aff link), I immediately said, "Send me the book so that I can take a look." And I'm so glad I did.

I can't tell you how reading this book for the first time affected me. It truly does say exactly what I want all of my children to know. It is beautiful and empowering and expresses what I think most parents want to teach their children, even if they don't realize it consciously.

This book is plain and straightforward. It took me just a few minutes to read but affected me profoundly. The pages contain simple, yet powerful messages, such as:

  • I can give you life, but I can't live it for you.
  • I can teach you the difference between good and bad, but I can't make the decision for you.
  • I can teach you about charity, but I can't make you be generous.
  • I can give you liberty, but I can't help you to protect it.
You can't help but put down this book with a totally new perspective. It is loving and inspirational all at once teaching the reader that parents can provide us with all the tools they possess to help us through life, but ultimately, our life's path is determined by our own choices and whether or not we are wise enough to learn and use the tools our parents give us.

Communication between parents and teens is frequently difficult and (in some cases) very limited. Sometimes the relationship has become too strained. And some parents cannot put into words what they wish to convey to their children. This book is a wonderful tool to facilitate these conversations. I think it would be a beautiful birthday book for every teen or tween.

I love it so much, I've decided to buy two more copies so that each of my children can have their own copy when they are old enough to receive the important message of empowerment and taking responsibility for your own actions. 

And the added bonus that just puts this book over the top is that it is completely bilingual with full text in both English AND Spanish! 

I wish I could put a copy of this book in the hands of children everywhere. I wish it were required reading in school.  

The book was written and illustrated by a father-son team. I was reading about them and it made me even more determined to share this with MommyMaestra readers.

The author, Patrick Atkinson, is also a human rights activist. According to his website, he began his career by working with "war zone reconciliation and post-war reconstruction in several nations in Central America during the 1980s." Shortly thereafter, he dedicated himself to working on human trafficking issues in Southeast Asia, and then came back to Central America to establish several charities, including: 
  • the ‘Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons’(ITEMP), one of the United States’ first contemporary anti-human trafficking groups.
  • and The GOD’S CHILD Project, which is a nonpolitical international humanitarian organization that develops and administers health, education, family foster care, community development, and human rights protection systems in the world’s poorest nations. 

He has been knighted by the Spanish Legion(!) and has received numerous international awards in recognition of his dedication to human rights. And he's even the subject of the book: The Dream Maker by Monica Hannan. You can read more about his incredible life here.

Patrick's son, Ernesto "Neto" Atkinson, is the illustrator of this book. The illustrations are beautiful and complement the message very well. I was pleased to also see a bit of Hispanic culture reflected in at least one of the illustrations when I recognized a resplendent quetzal (found in Guatemala and several other Central American countries) flying across a page. Neto has a Masters in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He's been described as an "artist who truly sees art as an active agent of change." I can see that he has learned the essential lessons his father describes in this book and has applied them to his own life to make a difference in the lives of others.

If you would like to purchase this book for your young adult, you can find it below on Amazon:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Susan B. Anthony Glossary for Families

How familiar are you with Susan B. Anthony? I ask because tomorrow is her birthday. She is one of the best-known suffragist leaders, who worked tirelessly her whole life to make it possible for women to vote.

I just wrote an article for Woo! Jr. about Susan B. Anthony's life. She was really remarkable. So in honor of her birthday, I have a gift for all of you. Today and tomorrow only, you can download this new glossary I created with words related to her.

Inside you'll find:

  • full-color (and black-and-white copies) of a word poster, 
  • glossary pages with 14 vocabulary words, such as suffrage, abolitionist, Amendment, activist, and more (also in full-color for bulletin boards, or black-and-white for coloring),
  • two worksheets that children can use to write down the definitions after studying the glossary pages,
  • and the answer key.

Click here to download this file 
(Free 2 days only)

To learn more about her life, watch this video:

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Bilingual Valentine's Day Activity Pack for PreK & Kindergarten

Here comes Valentine's. Here comes Valentine's - yay! I just cannot resist all the love. And I suddenly realized that I hadn't made a PreK activity pack for this holiday! I think I have one for all of the other major holidays, so you know I had to put this together.

If you're looking for quick, no-prep, print-and-go worksheets in English AND/OR Spanish for your little ones, take a look at these! Inside this packet, you'll find 15 pages total with activities that focus on the following concepts and skills:

  • counting
  • spot the difference
  • puzzles
  • vocabulary
  • math
  • sequencing
  • tracing
  • maze
  • featured letter
  • beginning letter sounds
  • writing papers

You can find it in my TpT store, and I'll be uploading it to my online shop soon.

And don't forget that last year, I created this SUPER CUTE Valentine's Day Storybook, titled "My Favorite Valentine's Day Gifts." Just print, cut, layer, and staple in the middle.

Boost your child's vocabulary and reading skills with this Valentine's Day storybook. This story lists things that children often enjoy on this holiday, so the student will enjoy coloring while learning the words for "balloons/globos," "candy/dulces," "hugs/abrazos" and more.

NOTE! This file contains THREE books:
• a bilingual book (English & Spanish)
• an English only (for ELL)
• a Spanish only (for Spanish learners)

You can also find it in my TpT store.

Both will be available in the MommyMaestra online shop this evening.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Big Fat Notebooks Series for Middle Schoolers

Last year, I reviewed a product for a marketplace that has since closed. So I wanted to share my thoughts about these books with you here because this set of books has become an invaluable tool for us in our homeschool. In fact, I would say that they are a must-have for ANY middle schooler's home reference library. It's not just for homeschoolers. All kids (and their parents, too!) will love this series which helps describe the most important concepts in all subjects in a clear and concise manner.

This post contains affiliate links.

The Big Fat Notebooks series is set of five books covering all the major subjects in middle school in easy-to-understand detail. They are your middle schooler’s new BFF! The best thing about this series is that it is very reader-friendly and presents the information in an engaging manner with lots of visuals to help your student understand and retain the concepts. Children in traditional schools can use the series to help them complete homework, while homeschoolers can use the books as a curriculum spine, or the base curriculum for your entire school year.

The Basics

The set is made up of five books in all. They are color-coded for easy recollection and cover the following subjects:
  • English
  • Science
  • Math
  • American History
  • World History

The books were created by the same people behind the popular series, Brain Quest. We’ve used their workbooks regularly in our homeschool as a supplement to our lesson or for days when we just need a change from our main curriculum. But the Brain Quest series only goes through 6th grade.

Enter the new "COMPLETE Middle School Study Guides.” They are very different from the workbook sets. There is a greater emphasis on layout and the use of colors. We love how these books break up concepts into short manageable sections that focus on the key concept being taught. The front of the book states that these are “notes borrowed from the SMARTEST KID in class” and the information is definitely arranged in the form of a notebook, with highlights in different colors representing different things (i.e., yellow highlights = important vocabulary, green highlights = definitions, and blue writing = important people, places, dates, and terms). The illustrations are more like doodles that help the note taker to visualize big ideas.

Each chapter ends with a list of questions that helps the student test their knowledge. (It’s almost like a quiz, but the students simply have to turn the page to check their answers.)

The only thing that would make this series better is if they had included an index at the back for easy reference. For instance, my daughter was trying to look up subordinating conjunctions, but they weren’t listed in the Table of Contents because they were included in the chapter with phrases and clauses. So it took a little while to find them.

English Language Arts 

This book covers five areas:
  1. Grammar
  2. Language
  3. Reading Fiction
  4. Reading Nonfiction
  5. Writing

From intensive pronouns and figurative language to setting and tone to plagiarism and citation, your child will learn about these concepts in easy-to-understand language with simple examples. There are definitions, diagrams, doodles, and even mnemonic devices to help your student remember important information.


My daughter often forgets what the difference is between finding the greatest common factor and the least common multiple. Sometimes she needs help remembering how to find the percentage. This book is a fabulous reference and a must-have when doing school work. It covers six areas:

  1. The Number System
  2. Ratios, Proportions, and Percents
  3. Expressions and Equations
  4. Geometry
  5. Statistics and Probability
  6. The Coordinate Plane and Functions

This book is really a goldmine not just for students, but for the parents to whom they turn asking for help! Can’t remember how to convert measurements or calculate simple interest? No problem! You can just look it up in this handy notebook!


This book is my favorite of the set! It covers so much information and I’ve enjoyed just starting at the beginning and taking each section one by one with my kids. Sure they can use it to supplement their science curriculum, but this book is also fun to use as a science spine. Take it one section at a time and then supplement it with activities, books, and experiments!

It covers ELEVEN areas:
  1. Scientific Investigation
  2. Matter, Chemical Reactions, and Solutions
  3. Motion, Forces, and Work
  4. Energy
  5. Outer Space: The Universe and the Solar System
  6. The Earth, Weather, Atmosphere, and Climate
  7. Life: Classification and Cells
  8. Plants and Animals
  9. The Human Body and Body Systems
  10. History of Life: Heredity, Evolution, and Fossils
  11. Ecology: Habitats, Interdependence, and Resources

The doodles are simple but very entertaining, and the explanations are clear and concise. If you could only get one book of the whole series, this would be it!

American History

I think this book is great for explaining the more difficult events in American history, such as the cause behind World War I. I love how superfluous details are left out and the main points are the focus of these books because it really helps to clarify those murky moments in U.S. history.

This book covers ten areas:
  1. Prehistory – Early 1600s
  2. Colonial America, 1607-1780s
  3. American Revolutions and the Early Republic, 1776-1791
  4. American Expansion, 1801-1861
  5. Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850s-1870s
  6. Reshaping the Nation, 1850-1917
  7. World Wars and Modern America, 1900s-1930s
  8. World War II, 1930s-1945
  9. Post-World War II Era, 1945-1980
  10. American History and Current-ish Events

From the Louisiana Purchase to Burr vs. Hamilton to D-Day, this book is a super helpful guide for students studying American history.

World History

And finally, we have world history. From Medieval Japan to the Olympic Games, this book covers tons of information in bite-sized snippets that focus on the key points.

This book covers nine areas:
  1. The First Humans: Prehistory-3500 BC
  2. First Civilizations: 3500 – 300 AD
  3. The Middle Ages: 400 – 1500
  4. Renaissance and Reformation: 1350-1650
  5. The Age of Exploration: 1400- 1800
  6. Revolution and Enlightenment: 1500 – 1865
  7. The Era of Imperialism: 1800-1914
  8. World Conflicts in the Early Twentieth Century: 1914-1945
  9. Post-World War II: The World from 1945 to Today

Overall, I love how these books strengthen a student’s skills for using a reference source. It also empowers them to find the answers they are looking for rather than asking an adult or looking it up on the internet. Actually, it is better! Have you ever looked up the reason for World War I on the internet? Or how to find the least common multiple of two numbers? We like the descriptions in these books best.

For homeschoolers, this isn’t a stand-alone curriculum. It must be supplemented with textbooks or living books and online tools, if you choose to use it as a curriculum spine.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Famous Afro-Latinos Reading Passages

Great news! So many of you have been asking me over the years for a Spanish version of my popular Reading Comprehension Passages: Famous Afro-Latinos. You'll be delighted to know that I have FINALLY gotten it done.

In addition, I've added a page of reading comprehension questions for each reading passage. If you purchased the English packet before today, you can simply redownload the file from your TpT account.

To be clear, this file is now available in three formats to best suit your needs: English, Spanish, and a COMBO pack with both. Click on the links below to download them from TpT.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Free Download: Spanish Valentine Vowels Game

This last week has been super busy as I've been working on a major project that I cannot wait to share with you. But in the meantime, I wanted to be sure to kick of February the right way with a free Spanish download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!

They are just so fantastic, and their latest printable helps your young Spanish learner learn his or her Valentine's Day vocabulary. This holiday game focuses on the vowels and the sounds they make. Isn't Spanish so much easier than English? You know those vowels are the embodiment of consistency; they make the same sound no matter where in the word they appear. Yay!

Today's two-page download includes an audio file to help your young student learn the proper pronunciation. So don't sweat it if you don't speak Spanish yourself and your kid comes to you for help. Just click on the audio file!

Bilingual & Spanish Books About Love!

(The following links are affiliate links.)

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

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


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