Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween from MommyMaestra.

Wishing you all a super-safe Halloween!

I've been missing this week because...Life! But I didn't want to miss the holiday on here.

Remember to check your kids' candy before they eat it. Here are some good tips from the Channel Islands police on how to check your child's candy.

And here's a little treat from me to all of you!



For more fun freebies like this one, sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Monday, October 28, 2019

PBS Celebrates Día de los Muertos

One of the things I love best about PBS is how hard it works to be inclusive and to reflect the experiences of their viewers. From Sesame Street to Molly of Denali, I feel like the shows on PBS KIDS introduce children to a diverse world and also help empower children from a variety of backgrounds. And the same is true for their programming for adults.

Did you know that PBS has quite a few resources for Día de los Muertos? Sometimes it's hard to get things exactly right, but most of the time, the introduction (to children) is pretty accurate. I've chosen my favorite episode, craft, and lessons that introduce Day of the Dead to families.

First, for the children...

Let's Go Luna! episode dedicated to the Day of the Dead


One of my son's favorite new PBS KIDS shows, Let's Go Luna!, has an episode dedicated to the Day of the Dead! Click here to watch it online - just skip to the second half of the show (12:00) to watch it.

Day of the Dead Candle Magnets on PBS Parents

PBS Parents

PBS's website for parents also has this super fun tutorial for creating Day of the Dead Candle Magnets. They are just the cutest and pretty easy for older children to make on their own!

Día de los Muertos: Tradition and Translation | Craft in America

PBS Learning Media

There are a few different lessons on here, but these two are my favorites. The first is a comprehensive unit with multiple videos. The second is a nice introduction to the holiday from a personal point of view.
Artbound: Día de los Muertos episode


And finally, for teens and adults, there is a wonderful documentary available for streaming on Artbound has this Día de los Muertos episode that features an "altarista" from L.A., and also talks about the history of Day of the Dead in this country.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

New Movie: Día de Muertos

Stop the press! Did you know that Mexico is coming out with a new animated video called Día de Muertos?!? (And if you did, why didn't you tell me?!)

I just saw this official trailer from Videocine. It looks incredible! I can't wait! Do you think they'll release it in the U.S.? I have no idea, but I hope so.

Here's the summary from imdb:
In the Mexican town of Santa Clara, lives Salma, a 16 year-old orphan who never got to meet her biological parents. The only story she's been told her whole life is that they abandoned her. Salma has spent most of her life dedicated to searching out clues for her parents' identity and their whereabouts with little to no luck, until she discovers a special book that is filled with stories of Santa Clara and the history of their people. With this new special book, Salma sets off onto an adventure with her two brave and heart-warming foster brothers, Jorge and Pedro, to find the missing links to her family's heritage in hopes to finally get to meet her long lost parents.

Watch and see if you're as excited as I am about this. Sorry to my non-Spanish readers. It's only available in Spanish as far as I can tell...

(Lots of exclamation points in this post, I know. Sorry about that, but I'm just so psyched about it and can't wait to see it for myself!)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Story Time from Space

I can't think of anything much more exciting for a young child who is crazy about reading, space, and astronauts than to be read to by an astronaut who is in space!

Did you know that's a thing? Because I didn't. So I'm pretty excited about the new website, Story Time from Space, from the Global Space Education Foundation. They send STEM-related children's books (most of them about space) to the International Space Station (ISS), where astronauts film themselves reading the books. Those videos are then edited and uploaded to the Story Time from Space website for everyone to enjoy! So far, I've counted 20 books that have been read aloud and uploaded.

The astronauts on the ISS are also conducting experiments that reflect or reinforce the concepts in these books. You can find some of the ones that they've already completed under the Science Time Videos tab in the menu bar.

The Global Space Education Foundation is also working on curricula and activity guides to complement these books. The first one - Newton's Law of Motion - is available for sale on the website.

They've even posted their first video in Spanish with astonaut Joseph Acaba (the first Puerto Rican astronaut!) reading Max viaja a Marte from the Japanese laboratory in the International Space Station.

Another Hispanic reading in space is Serena Maria Auñón-Chancellor (a Cuban-American astronaut) reading Luciana, Braving the Deep. What I enjoyed most about this particular video was how she paused here and there to give commentary about something in the story and how it relates to the work that the astronauts do on the space station.

If you want to learn more, follow Story Time from Space on Facebook. I just did!

I mean, really, how is this not the most fantastic thing? It's perfect for families, educators, or both (homeschoolers).

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Book Review: Paquito y Abuelito

Paquito y Abuelito
It occurred to me that I have never done an actual review of the book, Paquito y Abuelito. Everyone knows its sister title, Rosita y Conchita, but few actually know what this other story by Eric Gonzalez is about.

So let me tell you why I love this book just as much as their first Day of the Dead story.

Día de los Muertos has arrived, but for Paquito, it's just another day. He prefers to spend his time playing video games and is bored by most everything else. Then his Grandmother, his Abuelita, walks in with a box full of stuff and asks him to set up the altar in honor of his late Abuelito (Grandfather) for that evening's festivities. Paquito is apathetic, but agrees.

He goes back to his video games when all of a sudden Abuelito appears and takes Paquito on a journey that shares his adventurous life with his grandson. And he uses NICHOS to do so.

The book Rosita y Conchita taught us all about the significance of the altar and the ofrendas. Now, Gonzalez introduces readers to another Day of the Dead tradition: nichos.

I love the creativity and humor in this story and I think you will, too. The illustrations are (again) bold and vibrant and full of action. It's impossible for kids to read this book and not get engaged in both the storyline and the visual story. Take a look at some of the inside pages...

I also love that the main characters are male, for those of you whose children may have thought Rosita y Conchita too girly. This book is really the perfect complement to the other and a must-have for any home or school library.

The best thing about these books is how the author has included full text in both English AND Spanish.

And just as they added a section in the back of the first book with a sugar skull recipe and directions on how to draw Rosita, the Muertoons characters are back at the end of this story with directions for making your own nicho (so funny!).

Want to get one for your family or someone you know? You can buy your copy from my online shop. But for guaranteed delivery by Nov 1st, please order by Wednesday, October 23rd.


Teaching Cumulative Tales

illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

Do you teach your students/children about cumulative tales? Cumulative tales are stories that build on a pattern. There is a strong, central theme, and a LOT of repetition. It begins with one image, item, character, or event, and then adds another. Each time another element is added, the previous elements are repeated. This repetition makes cumulative stories a great tool for speech therapy, language learning, and building literacy fluency.

Perhaps the most famous example would be The House that Jack Built. The illustration above was published in 1877 by Randolph Caldecott. But the tale itself is much older than that. It was passed on by word of mouth for years (possibly even a century or more!) before it was first published in 1755. Dare I say that the structure and story is as popular today as it was then? I don't know, but I can state in all honesty that this was one of the stories I was told as a child, and one that I've read to my own children.

Another recognizable example would be the children's rhyme and nonsense song, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. This one, though, was written a looooong time later - the 1940s, actually. But it is still beloved by children and families today for its sheer absurdity.

Cumulative tales may or may not rhyme. Some involve tongue twisters. They are frequently humorous. Oftentimes, the story has a surprise ending. Or it may start with a problem which each repetition attempts to solve. Most of the time, the new story elements are kept relatively short and simple. The tales involve strong imagery, so the focus tends to be on nouns and adjectives. But always, they repeat the part of the story already told.

I was thinking about this the other day and wondering how I could teach this to my children. So, I created a Halloween-themed printable that would do just that.

My Halloween Storybook & Cumulative Tale Lesson gives younger children a printable storybook that they can color in. It is the story of a little witch's house. Short and sweet, it focuses on relationships while utilizing mainly nouns and adjectives.

THEN, the file includes an introduction to cumulative tales and provides graphic organizers that guide your children/students through the process of creating their own.

And, yes, it is available in English and Spanish. Though I should note that the Spanish translation is not a direct one (that would sound weird), but keeps true to the essence of the story.

Click on the link above to visit my TpT store to purchase your downloadable copy.

And if you are looking for more cumulative tales to share with your children, here are a few suggestions that you can find on Amazon (affiliate links)...



Monday, October 21, 2019

PBS Shows on DVD: The Berenstain Bears & Dinosaur Train

As the busy holiday season approaches, parents look for ways to give their kids some downtime at home but still keep them learning or busy. If this sounds like you, then maybe you'll love learning that last month, PBS KIDS released new DVDs of their popular shows The Berenstain Bears and Dinosaur Train.

DVDs are a great alternative to just putting on the TV and letting your kids watch for hours. You can control not only the content, but the amount of time spent watching AND you can do it commercial free. :)

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS: Tree House Tales, Volume 1 has 26 stories from this beloved bear family. I love this show because of the important values it teaches, such as kindness, consideration, respecting others, and more. I don't worry about what my child is learning when he watches it. And did you know that you can find lesson plans and activities for the Berenstain Bears on PBS?

DINOSAUR TRAIN: Dinosaurs Big and Small was also released on DVD. It contains 10 episodes focused on - Yep! - shapes and sizes. Lots of great math concepts taught in these episodes: comparing, shapes, counting, and more. And like the other one, you can find great lesson plans for Dinosaur Train online. Check out PBS Learning Media.

Oh, and you can also stream some of the episodes from these DVDs on the PBS KIDS Prime Video Channel!

But if you are traveling and looking for something to keep the kids occupied on a long trip, both DVDs are inexpensive and can be found on Amazon:

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Skeletitos: Make Every Moment Count

If you haven't heard, the lovely people over at Canticos have launched a new line of products. Skeletitos is a new set of stories with a Day of the Dead theme.

The first book was published this month. Skeletitos: Make Every Moment Count is a fun little board book that has a unique presentation.

First, at the beginning, you can find a link to the Skeletitos website that offers free downloadable activities (coloring pages and cut-out masks) to accompany the book. You also find out that there is a Skeletitos app available on the App Store and Google Play. This will allow your kids to sing along as you/they read the book.

There's also a page dedicated to space where your child can draw their own face in the picture frame. Will they choose a calavera face? I recommend that you take the time to read the book together first to inspire their imagination before pointing out this page to them.

Then the actual story begins. Susie Jaramillo (the author and illustrator) already has a way of presenting board books in an unusual way. Her Canticos line contains accordion-fold board books that can be read one way in English and the other way in Spanish.

Susie continues that interactive board book approach by having the inner pages fold out. And the first official page of the story folds out into a manipulable clock, which you can then leave open as you read the book. It is so much fun!! AND educational! On each page, the clock strikes a different hour and the skeletitos do something different. Your children can change the hands on the clock to match each hour and thereby learn to count and/or how to tell time as they read this book. 😍

Check out this video from their YouTube channel:

I believe they have seven books in this series planned and the next one debuts next year and features the adventures of Skeletina.

Anyway, it is because of the unusual but engaging presentation of this book and its fantastic educational component that I have added this to my list of favorite books for Day of the Dead.

It is available at Target and Amazon:

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Paquito y Abuelito Books Now Available

My only shipment of the year of Paquito y Abuelito books has arrived! Order by Oct 23rd get yours before Day of the Dead. Don't wait, though, because I sell out of them every year.

If you've been waiting to order your copy, you can do so now in my online shop:

Unfortunately, Eric says they didn't publish any of the Rosita y Conchita books this year.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Free Download: Day of the Dead Writing Pages

It's time for MKB's Day of the Dead Series! This year, I'm sharing this free download of Day of the Dead writing pages. I hope you'll download them and share them with your children and/or students. Scroll down to see how to add to their writing experience!

This post contains affiliate links.

The Multicultural Kid Blogs' Day of the Dead Series

I can't express how much I love being a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs community. In my own struggle to raise world citizens, they have taught me so tremendously much about what it means to be a global citizen. From recipes to holiday descriptions to art, music, and so much more, they've truly helped me to better understand other countries and cultures and, most importantly, people. And I so enjoy all the resources that they offer their readers, especially those downloads and crafts designed for families and children.

So, of course, it is no surprise that every year they recognize the Día de los Muertos holiday. The last few years, I wasn't able to participate as I struggled to care for my mom and have a baby. (One was hard enough, but juggling both duties at the same time took most of my attention.) But I definitely followed along. And I'm happy to join this year.

Free Day of the Dead Writing Pages

My contribution is a free download. These Day of the Dead Writing Pages come in several designs and formats for beginning and advanced writers. AND they are available in both English and Spanish.

How to Use these Writing Pages

You can, of course, just give your kids the writing pages and allow them to write whatever they want. But if your students need some guidance or topics to get them started, here are a few ideas for using the writing pages. You could have your student(s):

  • write their own Calavera poems
  • write a report on the holiday
  • write about what Día de los Muertos means to them
  • write about how their family celebrates the holiday
  • write about who they are remembering this year in their Day of the Dead celebration
  • write about the elements that are included on the ofrenda

The Free Download

I hope you enjoy using them in your classrooms or at home.

Additional Ways to Make Writing Fun

If you'd like some more ideas for making this writing activity extra fun, consider giving your children the following as a gift or packet to celebrate the holiday.

Sugar Skull Smens - Scented Pens

Sugar Skull Ballpoint Pens

Sugar Skull Pencil Case

Sugar skulls elephant organizer

Other Posts from the MKB Series

Day of the Dead series | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to be hosting another blog hop for Day of the Dead! (Don't miss our series from last year, 2017, 2016, and 2015!) Be sure to visit all the posts below for great ideas on sharing Day of the Dead with kids:

Other Posts About Day of the Dead

Friday, October 11, 2019

Eunice and Kate

As I read the news and interact with people these days, I'm struck by the growing lack of respect for people who are different or who have different interests. I don't know how we got to this point, but I know that we need more resources that teach children the important values of respect, appreciation, tolerance, and kindness.

Both parents and educators need materials and activities that nurture our children's ability to communicate, debate (without anger), and to accept that it's okay for others to believe differently than we do.

Normally, I don't promote books that haven't been published yet. But I was very delighted when I found out my friend, Mariana Llanos, is publishing a new book on this very topic. So I'm more than happy to share it with you!

Here is the description of the book:
Eunice and Kate are best friends, but can their friendship weather a storm? The girls live with their moms next door to each other in the heart of the city and have a lot in common— even though they have different dreams for the future: Kate wants to be an astronaut and Eunice wants to be a ballet dancer. But when they draw portraits of each other in art class, things get mixed up. Eunice draws Kate as a ballet dancer and Kate draws Eunice as an astronaut, and they both get more than a little annoyed. Can their friendship survive? With a little help from their moms, the girls come to learn the value of respecting each other’s different dreams. Eunice and Kate is a heartfelt new book by Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Elena Napoli, about how honoring our differences can strengthen our bonds. 

It will be available Feb 11, 2020.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

MommyMaestra's Favorite Dia de los Muertos Books for Children

MommyMaestra's Favorite Dia de los Muertos Books for Children

I frequently get asked what my favorite books are for various holidays or subjects. So many message that come in start off with "What books would you recommend for...?" I'm usually pretty good about sharing them here on MommyMaestra. So I was surprised when I realized I didn't have a list of my favorite children's books for Día de los Muertos!

There are MANY wonderful titles out centered around this holiday. But these are my favorites.

If you are one of those who recently messaged me, I hope you enjoy this list...

This post contains affiliate links.

The Best Children's Books about Day of the Dead

Rosita y Conchita by Eric Gonzalez

Always at the top of my list is Rosita y Conchita by Eric Gonzalez. This is probably the most accurate and attractive book available for children AND IT IS BILINGUAL with full text in both English and Spanish. Here is my full review.

Everyone loves it and I sell out of it every year. You can click here to see if I have any avilable. (Unfortunately, this year - 2019 - they are completely sold out and I was not able to order any. BUT I did get some of their other title...)

Paquito y Abuelito by Eric Gonzalez

It is closely followed by Paquito y Abuelito, which is a similar story that features a young boy who learns about Día de los Muertos from his deceased grandfather. Abuelito reveals how adventurous his life on Earth had been by showing Paquito the "nichos" that his wife has made in his memory. It's a wonderful story. Read my full review here.

You can purchase your copy here in my online shop!

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras

Duncan Tonatiuh's Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras is next on my list. It is a wonderful look at the man behind the La Catrina and other calaveras. Here's my full review with shots of the inside pages.

Día de los Muertos by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Día de los Muertos (aff link) by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by Carles Ballesteros is also in my top five. It is a visual delight and follows the story of a family preparing for Day of the Dead. You can see my complete review and peek at some of the pictures, if you click here.

Skeletitos: Make Every Moment Count by Susie Jaramillo

One of my new favorites for this year is Skeletitos: Make Every Moment Count by Susie Jaramillo (of Canticos!). A review of this book will be up next week but for now, let me just tell you that this little board book is educational and packed full of surprises. Read my full review here.

Day of the Dead Activity Book

Day of the Dead Activity Book is just the funnest thing for older kids! It includes an actual punch-out ofrenda for kids to assemble. You can see what it looks like and read my review here.

Day of the Dead Preschool Activity Book by Monica Olivera

And, of course, for little kids, Day of the Dead Preschool Activity Book is a fun way to pass on cultura while your little ones are learning. I'm not biased, of course, since I just published it this year. But you can read about it here

PSST! The second edition is coming soon!

Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book by Jeanette Winter

Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book by Jeanette Winter is a fantastic little book based on the true story of a Mexican family of artistas. I love this book! I've had a copy since my older kids were little bitty. I'll share a review next week.

Other Posts About Day of the Dead:

TpT ClassFund

I know there are a lot of educators following MommyMaestra who use TeachersPayTeachers. So I want to be sure you know about a new tool they have to help you raise funds for those TpT resources that you have stashed in your wish list.

(Hey, I totally get it. I have a confession. I just checked and I currently have 330 items in my wish list! ¡Qué locura!)

Anyway, did you know that TpT has rolled out a new feature called TpT ClassFund? It allows you to create a TpT ClassFund page and your community can help you get the resources your students need. There no fundraising minimum. AND you can use the funds right away. Yay!

You just fill in the fields and then share it with your friends and colleagues, students' parents, PTO, neighbors, local business owners... WHOEVER you want! Share it on your social media, in an email, in a newsletter, post it on your blog or your school's website... you see where this is going.

The best part is that it is FREE!

Seriously, I know that school budgets are tight. So this is really a blessing for educators.

Ready to get started? Click here.

Enjoy and good luck!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Day of the Dead Preschool Activity Book

I'm super happy to share that I have a new book out that celebrates the upcoming Día de los Muertos holiday and introduces it to children.

Day of the Dead Preschool Activity Book is now available on Amazon. This 40-page activity book is filled with fun, colorful activities to keep your preschooler learning while having fun.

It includes a short description of the holiday at the beginning of the book and then launches into activities that help your children develop their literacy and counting skills. Coloring pages give them an opportunity to strengthen their fine-motor skills, and puzzles and mazes give them an opportunity to work on hand-to-eye coordination. Your kids will identify the beginning sounds of specific words and can also practice writing.

The activities are diverse to engage children at different skill levels. Beginning preschoolers may prefer simpler activities, and older children will enjoy more complex ones.

This book is currently available in English only. If there's enough interest, I'll consider publishing a Spanish version. Just let me know if that's what you prefer.

You can order your copy here:

And if you would like these activities in a download that is English or Spanish, and in black-and-white, click here.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Printable Lessons and Activities to Celebrate Day of the Dead

My Day of the Dead printables actually sell all year long (crazy, right?). But this is the time of year when they explode with sales.  So I've compiled them in one comprehensive post for your reference. If you're looking for ways to teach about the holiday, I hope you find something below that fits your needs!

New Product

This year's newest printable is this Day of the Dead Bilingual Coloring Book. Available in English, Spanish, or a bilingual version, this little coloring book also includes space at the bottom of each picture to write the word(s).

For Little Learners

I have also really expanded my PreK Activity Pack. It's gone from 19 pages to 61!! If you have a little one learning in English OR Spanish, this print-and-go set is great for teaching a lot of those important skills they need before they start kindergarten.

For a fun way to teach simply math, check out my Dia de los Muertos Ten Frames! This set comes with Day of the Dead images, such as pan de muerto, papel picado, cempasuchitl, and more. Includes blank frames for additional ten frame activities.

Always popular, this simple dice activity keeps kids busy for a few minutes and also works as a sub activity. Let your kids decorate their own calavera with this roll-the-dice activity.

One of my more popular printables, this set of coloring pages describes the elements of the holiday and can be stacked and stapled to create a Day of the Dead minibook


Are you setting up an ofrenda at your school or library? Help educate visitors with my set of Ofrenda Labels that describe each element in detail.

For educators in a school setting who are looking for activities to teach students about this holiday, this set of Día de los Muertos booklets teaches the basics in three different formats. Just choose the one that best suits your needs!

For younger students, these triptych coloring pages can be used as stand-alone triptychs or as templates for aluminum crafts. This kit comes with three printable triptych designs.

This set of bilingual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)-themed puzzle cards is a simple way to introduce new vocabulary.

For Older Students

For older children, my Calavera Poetry lesson is really fun. Your kids will learn the history behind the calavera poems then try their hand at writing their own using the graphic organizer. Colorful writing pages are included for their final draft to hang on the wall and display.

Perhaps my most popular printable for this holiday is my One-Page Reading Passage with Quiz. It's perfect for older kids and teaches the history of the holiday with detailed descriptions of the items most closely associated with it. 


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