Monday, April 29, 2019

5 Redacted Poetry Resources

With redactions in the spotlight, I thought it would be fun to share (in honor of National Poetry Month) the following Blackout Poetry resources.

This is a fabulously fun way to explore and create poetry! Have you ever tried it? 

This post contains affiliate links.

What is Blackout Poetry?

Blackout Poetry is when you take a previously written work and you change it through redaction or art to highlight specific words or phrases to create your own poem.

The previously written work forms the foundation of this type of poetry. We strongly recommend old books that are falling apart and ready to be recycled. But you can also use newspapers, magazines, catalogs, instruction manuals, pamphlets - really ANYTHING that has text.

There are many creative ways to make this type of poem. One way is by simply taking any written material and you choose words to create your own poems....then you mark out the rest! 

Videos on Blackout Poetry

Or, if you are an artist and poet (like Picasso!), then you can create more colorful, fluid versions. Check out this video:

Here are a few other videos you may like:

Articles & Lesson Plans

TeachKidsArt has a wonderful article with examples of artistic blackout poetry, too. 

And if you are looking specifically for a lesson plan, Just Add Students has this fabulous one.


Below are a couple of book suggestions for Blackout Poetry. I tried to choose books that use classic works or political texts so we don't have to worry about inappropriate content for kids. However, I have not read all of these, so as with all book or website recommendations, always check it out before your kids/students do!

Redaction at its best. 😂

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Poets Around the World

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? What a perfect opportunity to re-introduce your children to the beautiful world of poetry! I say re-introduce because they probably first learned about poetry as babies when you read them nursery rhymes or sang them lullabies. But somewhere along the way, poems may have gotten lost in your child's reading repertoire.

And to help your child explore this often neglected genre, Multicultural Kid Blogs has created this wonderful activity pack on Poets Around the World!  This unique packet of reading passages features 18 poets from around the globe. They are all famous in their country or region, and most of them are recognized around the world for their poems that reflect their culture or that highlight the shared human experience.

I think MommyMaestra readers will especially love the five Hispanic poets that are featured. They are:

  • Julia de Burgos,
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,
  • Federico García Lorca,
  • José Martí,
  • and Gabriela Mistral.

Best suited for kids ages 8 and up, your children or students can travel the world through time and history learning about remarkable people. Some lived a long time ago, and some are living today.

The English-only packet has a one-page reading passage for each poet that describes their life, followed by a set of comprehension questions. In addition, we have included comprehension worksheets that boost vocabulary, writing, and critical thinking skills. An introduction to different types of poetry and poetry activities, as well as a recommended reading list for further research, finish up this packet.

The best part is that this is a no-prep, print-and-go download that you can immediately access after purchasing.

I am so happy to have contributed to this incredible unit, along with The Piri-Piri Lexicon and Kid World Citizen

You can find this remarkable packet on the MKB website or in their TpT store.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Día de los Niños Activity Packet

April 30th is Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros. If you are looking for a few fun activities or materials to use in your classroom, check out my new Día de los Niños Activity Pack!

Día de los Niños Printable Activity Sheets

Inside this download, you'll find eight reading resources to celebrate Día with your students, including:

  • A poster to hang in your classroom describing what Día is all about,

  • Día bookmarks for your kids to color, cut, paste, and laminate (optional),

  • What book am I? headbands (or Who am I? for alternate play featuring a character in a book you've read over the year),

  • Spine List activity - just a fun way to record the titles of books,

  • Book Bucks! in increments of $1, $5, or $10 for you to distribute as you see fit,

  • Roll-a-Story game and game sheet (super fun!),

  • a Book Report worksheet,

  • and a fill-in-the-blank activity in which your students talk about what makes them unique
And as always, they are available in English and Spanish - you choose which language works best for you!

You might also be interested in my Día reading passport! Actually, you can use this reading passport any time of the year and pair it with a reading challenge

And along the lines of literacy, be sure to follow MommyMaestra closely next month as I focus on helping you to prepare for summer reading. I have tons of book recommendations coming, as well as other resources and opportunities. 😉

Other Posts About Día You May Enjoy:

Happy reading!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Cascarones Activity for Earth Day

© Can Stock Photo - glenkar

Did you have any cascarones left over from your Easter weekend? Probably not, but just in case, I thought I would share this one activity that is perfect for celebrating Earth Day.

(If you're wondering what cascarones are, check out this post that talks about the history of this creative tradition.)

Either way, growing seedlings inside eggshells is a practical and organic way to garden and welcome spring. It's also fun! I have attached a video below from Miracle Grow (no paid promotion - I just looked up videos and liked this one best!) that gives the simple directions for growing seeds (herbs, perennials, annuals, shrubs, trees, vines - you name it!) in an eggshell.

Our chickens lay a lot of eggs and we grow a LOT of seeds. So this is a perfect activity for our family.

Don't waste your money on expensive trays. Just use what you probably have available in your kitchen - eggs and egg trays.

How to make eco-friendly planters from eggshells

The directions are simple:
  1. Save your eggshells from your normal meal schedule, being careful to crack the eggs on one end (the big end!) so that most of the egg remains intact. 
  2. Wash the eggshell thoroughly. 
  3. Use a pin, thumbtack, or small nail to poke a few drainage holes in the opposite end.
  4. Fill your eggshell 3/4ths of the way full with potting soil.
  5. Drop your seeds inside the egg. (You can do just one seed, but I think two(2) seeds is best so that you have a backup if one doesn't sprout!)
  6. Cover lightly with more potting soil being careful to leave a lip of eggshell around the top so that the soil/seed don't wash away when you water it.
  7. Place your egg tray full of planted eggs in a sunny windowsill where it will be warm and get plenty of light. 
  8. Water every few days depending on how quickly the soil dries out. Those seeds love the moisture, but not a soggy environment!
Once your seeds sprout and are a good two or three inches with at least two leaves, you can transfer your seedlings to a bigger pot. Be sure to gently crack the eggshell apart so that the roots can grow and spread in the new soil and not become root bound in the eggshell.

The great thing, too, is that eggshells can benefit the new plant. They provide calcium carbonate, which the seedling uses to build healthy, strong cell walls.

Other Earth Day Activities

You may also enjoy these other Earth Day activities and printables.

Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Guatemalan Alfombras During Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Today, I'm delighted to share this post written by Shannon Alvarez, who is living in Guatemala with her family and agreed to write up what she observed about Guatemalan alfombras during Semana Santa. Thank you, Shannon!

Hola A Todos!

Our family has now been living in Guatemala for the past eight months! We live about 15 minutes outside the city of Antigua. What a beautiful country Guatemala is!

After many years of watching from afar, we were finally able to be here during the Easter/Holy Week season. Every weekend in Antigua, there are processions and alfombras (carpets) made during the month preceding Easter.

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Here's a link to the churches and convents of Antigua, Guatemala.

And here's a link to see the live route and more information.

There are local families, art schools, and other organizations who create their alfombras in Antigua.  The tourist season is very high and the traffic is crazy! We were happy to stay home and watch the local procession from our rooftop. Many of the little towns have set days when their church does the processions through their town.

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

The alfombras cover the streets - a beautiful display of art! The alfombras are all unique and designed by the families displaying them. There is no set area assigned, but many people make theirs outside their house.  Some are made of grass, flowers, vegetables, and/or fruit. Some are made of sawdust (serrín). The serrín is bought in its natural color and then each family dyes it to the colors they want for their design. Many use natural methods for dyeing, using fruits, herbs, etc.

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Stencils are made for the designs you want to create with your sawdust.  Depending on the complexity of the design made, some families begin their alfombras around 3 to 4 am. The procession in our area began at 10am outside the Catholic Church, where there gathered a large group of the town who attend that church. There are two platforms/floats in this particular church’s procession.

Each year, the decorations and forms change. Urban areas may have more extravagant decorations, while the smaller towns tend to be more simple. The larger floats may be so large they require over 100 people to carry them. The ones in our town require around 60 people to carry them, with people taking turns as they pass through the streets. Men carried the float with Jesus and the cross, while the women carried a float with the Virgin Mary. The men wear purple and white gowns to symbolize the royalty and purity of Jesus.

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

The procession begins at the church when the people carry the floats through the main streets of the town, and hours later, return back to the church,  The people walk surrounding the floats, singing, praying, some carrying incense. There are musicians who follow behind as well. Everyone walks over the alfombras!

Once the procession has passed by, the alfombras are swept up and thrown away. It was very sad to see all that hard work gone within such a short amount of time. The procession returned to the church around 3:00 and by 3:30, there was little sign of the alfombras on any of the streets! A fleeting work of art!

Guatemalan Alfombras during Semana Santa

I learned other interesting bits of information from talking with a local friend. Cascarones are made here, but only used on the Tuesday of Carnival. During this time of year, families will eat a cabbage salad called curtido, which is made purple from the ingredients in it. This is also the only time of year when people will eat empanadas. They can be found other times of the year, but the majority of people will only eat them during the Semana Santa season.

This is a very special time for families here as they spend time together and reflect on their faith and lives going forward in the year. We are so blessed to be able to witness the beauty of the culture around us!

If you'd like to see video of the procession, check out the one Shannon took. The video is rough between :10 and 1:15 (probably due to internet connection during upload), but the video portions before and after that are clear.

Make Your Own Alfombra

Are your kids inspired to make their own alfombra? Start small! And here are a few items you might need:

Other posts you may enjoy...

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Free Kindle Books from Amazon

Did you know that Amazon is celebrating World Book Day by giving away free books on Kindle?

As summer (and thus summer reading!) approaches, parents, please remember to model good reading habits for your children. If you're looking for some good reads... read on! And maybe if you have a teen who is looking ahead to summer reading, you'll be interested in this collection of nine FREE titles from authors around the world that are featured on Amazon.

The countries represented include:

  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • Argentina
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Israel
  • Sweden
Click here to visit the site and read more about each book. (aff) But you'll have to hurry to access these free titles because the offer is only good for a week.

Or to explore more books that feature other countries, check out Amazon Crossing, whose mission is to connect readers across cultures with books from around the world.

As a parent raising global citizens, I love, love, love it! And I want to read some of these myself!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

MommyMaestra Newsletter

Are you subscribed to the MommyMaestra newsletter? Because if not, you're missing out on free downloads! As a way of saying thank you to my followers, I occasionally create fun printables that are available for free only through my bi-monthly newsletter.

My latest issue, which goes out Wednesday morning, shares a set of bilingual Easter-themed writing papers for free. Just decide on a topic to give your kids or students, print, and go!

You'll also find out about new and updated products, as well as sales, coupons and timely resources. I know how hard it is to stay on top of my online reading, so the newsletter is a way for you to catch up on anything you don't want to miss!

As always, I promise not to sell or share your personal information with ANYONE.

You can sign up here.

Happy Easter!

National Geographic's Climate Hub

With Earth Day coming up on Monday, now's a great time to explore different resources available for discussing climate change and the importance of taking care of our planet.

I really love this slide show from National Geographic's Climate Hub. It does a great job of focusing on just the facts and presents them in a simple, clear format. The slides have a few graphics to help visual learners, as well as clean charts to help the reader understand the numbers being presented.

And it isn't all doom and gloom. It does end with a positive message on how we can make a difference.

Overall, I think this slide show is a perfect jumping off point for students in 5th grade and up (as well as adults!). The facts are presented and the kids can continue researching on their own.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Earth Month on PBS KIDS Starts TODAY

PBS KIDS has a whole new set of episodes that celebrate Earth Month that will begin airing TODAY!

Any Wild Kratts lovers out there in MommyMaestra readerville? I have two here at my house. So they've been ticking down the days ever since they heard that WILD KRATTS, NATURE CAT, and READY JET GO! will all be airing new episodes this week.

And, of course, we are especially excited that Wild Kratts will be featuring flamingos in their episode today. In fact, they filmed part of this episode at the bird park where my husband worked before we moved back to Texas. So cool!

It's also exciting that there will be the first-ever crossover episode of NATURE CAT that includes a guest appearance from Chris and Martin Kratt of WILD KRATTS.

The awesome thing about these episodes is that they inspire kids to go outside, explore, and have their own nature adventures.

So don't miss out! If you have little ones who are PBS fans, be sure to watch your favorite shows all this week!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Free Download: Bilingual Easter Counting Mats

I was unpacking a box the other day and found a collection of miniature Easter-themed decorations that my kids used one year when they decorated a shoebox float. So I started thinking about how I could use them next year with my toddler (who is just a little bit too young to play with them this year), and - Bing! - I came up with several ideas.

This one was too good not to share.

So I sat down at my computer and pulled up my Easter-themed clipart and quickly put together these counting mats for children learning to count from one to five. So much fun, they can easily be used with ANY small objects...decorations, buttons, beans, etc. **IMPORTANT! Be careful with little objects that can be choking hazards if your child is prone to putting things in his or her mouth. Use only with supervision!

I think that I will probably laminate mine next year so that I can use them as an activity to keep my child busy while I am cooking dinner or doing school with my older son.

But if you didn't want to do that, then they would be more versatile because you could also use Easter-themed stickers or just let your child draw shapes, eggs, or whatever they want!

I hope you enjoy this free set of counting mats to use with your own toddlers or preschoolers!

And don't forget that I have several other popular downloads related to Easter, such as this one for preschoolers...

These fun activities for K-2nd:

This set of coloring pages on the history of cascarones for elementary school students (most popular!):

And this one-page reading passage for older students:

ALL of them may be found here in my TpT store.


Monday, April 8, 2019

Free Download: Spanish Verbs Easter Egg Activity

Easter is just a few weeks away, my friends! So today's Spanish download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You! comes at just the right time. If you are looking for an Easter-themed activity to incorporate into your Spanish lessons, this may be just the one you need!

The Spanish Verbs Easter Egg Activity is designed to help students practice verb conjugations. 

The four-page download includes one page of directions and three different charts for subject/verb stems and endings. There's no audio file with this particular activity because there's really no need for one.

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!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The 2019 3M Young Scientist Challenge

The 2019 3M Young Scientist Challenge

The 2019 3M Young Scientist Challenge is now accepting entries!

Created for students in Grades 5 – 8, this challenge is designed to help nurture and reward a child's interest in STEM during the time when most young students begin to lose interest.

To enter, students should review the six entry topics presented at the Website, then identify a solution to an everyday problem that aligns with one of the six entry topics and that directly impacts them, their families, their communities, and/or the global population.

For example, the 2017 winner, Gitanjali Rao, created a sensor-based device to detect lead in water faster than other current techniques. (Think Flint, Michigan water crisis!)

Then your child must create a video based on his/her own original idea that addresses the challenge outlined in the contest entry information. The contents of the video are up to your child, but it may contain your child's likeness, image, voice or other identifiable features.

Students are competing for a Grand Prize of $25,000 plus a 3M mentorship.

But you must hurry because the Challenge closes on May 7th.

For information on the other prizes to be awarded and the complete details of the Contest, please see the Official Rules and entry form for the Contest or visit


Friday, April 5, 2019

The Empowered Community College Student

For several years now, I've been hearing experts recommend that to make college affordable for everyone, the most sensible choice is for high school grads to concentrate on a local community college to knock out their basic requirements before transferring to a 4-year university to pursue their degrees. Doing so, they say, saves you tons of money. 

But what do you do when you complete your first two years and are ready to transfer? What happens if you find out that you didn't take the right courses? How do you ask for letters of recommendation?

Enter the Community College Lady.

Before you even enroll in community college, check out this new eBook to help you navigate your way through the system. Inside you'll find information on how to:
  • Create a transfer plan by choosing the right classes that count for transfer.
  • Revise personal statements and essays.
  • Take advantage of dramatic changes to statewide placement test policy standards to enroll directly into transfer-level classes, which are not guaranteed.
  • Time management to stay on the transfer plan.
  • On-and-off campus resources for success.
  • Much more!
So if you know a college-bound high schooler, share this book with them and their family. It might save them time, money, and even hardship.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Taíno Exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian

Photo by Mark Raymond Harrington, 1919. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. (N01404)

If you are in the New York area - or plan to be sometime before October - be sure to check out this temporary exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian. Taíno: Native Identity and Heritage in the Caribbean presents a more complete history of the Taíno people by looking at their culture and movements after the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

The exhibit is a collaboration between the NMAI and the Smithsonian Latino Center. Over the past thirty years, a diverse Taíno movement has taken form. This movement challenges the prevalent belief that Native peoples became extinct shortly after European colonization in the Greater Antilles. It is spurring a regeneration of Indigenous identity within the racially mixed and culturally blended societies of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, as well as other areas of the Caribbean.

The picture above is of the Barrientos family. The family was formed by a Spanish ex-soldier and an Indigenous woman from Baracoa, Cuba, more than 400 years after Spanish colonization.

I have a lot of MM readers who identify or are familiar with the Taíno people. Here's a wonderful way to introduce and explore the people and their culture with your children and students.

The exhibit runs through October 1st, 2019.


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