Friday, November 29, 2019

Stocking Stuffers for Kids

I cooked. I feasted. And I was overwhelmed with gratitude. How thankful I am for my dear family, friends... and my work here on MommyMaestra. I so enjoy watching my kids learn, learning myself, and sharing what we've learned with you.

Now, I turn my focus toward finding gifts of value for my children and yours. Gifts that our children will learn from. Gifts that they'll enjoy for more than 5 minutes. Gifts that have a lasting impact by developing a skill or nurturing their curiosity and creativity.

Today, I'm highlighting stocking stuffers. Here are some of the ones I've found that I love. You can find them and see my complete list by visiting my Amazon Idea Lists. For this list, click on "Stocking Stuffers."

This post contains affiliate links.

At the top of my list is a Dora and the Lost City of Gold DVD. I can't help it. My kids loved it and so did I. I'm not putting an age range on this one. You know your kids best and whether or not they'll love it. You've probably already seen it! And it is a great family movie. 

For young dinosaur lovers, I have two little products that I love. First is this stocking-sized dino dig.  It's a quick activity that yields a tiny treasure they'll delight in. I'm going to say this will work best for kids 6 to 10 because there are little bitty parts (choking hazard for little kids!). 

The second is this dinosaur skull comb and brush set! Okay, this is just super cute. And it is a good choice for younger children (still not for kids under 3!). And it helps encourage good hygiene habits and taking care of their appearance. :) 

Are you raising a reader? Check out this Digital Bookmark and Reading Timer that helps them track their progress! I wish someone had gotten me this when I was a kid. (Okay, I'm sure they didn't exist back then.) Yay for technology! Ages 5 and up.

Or maybe you have a young scientist. It doesn't matter, really. Who wouldn't love a Pocket Volcano? Hello? Ages 5 and up!

I actually heard about this book - A Velocity of Being - on NPR and listened to an excerpt of the passage that Shonda Rhimes contributed. It was amazing. I want to read this book for myself! But I'm getting it for my 15-year-old. 

It includes letters from Jane Goodall, Neil Gaiman, Jerome Bruner, Shonda Rhimes, Ursula K. Le Guin, Yo-Yo Ma, Judy Blume, Lena Dunham, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Jacqueline Woodson, as well as a ninety-eight-year-old Holocaust survivor, a pioneering oceanographer, and Italy's first woman in space. And all of the proceeds from this book go to the New York Public Library systems. Here's a description of the book:
In these pages, some of today's most wonderful culture-makers―writers, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and philosophers―reflect on the joys of reading, how books broaden and deepen human experience, and the ways in which the written word has formed their own character.

For little explorers, the new series from Encantos is a must! Tiny Travelers has just launched and their first two books are about Mexico (shown) and China. Here's a description:
Tiny Travelers is inspired by a world of cultures. The Tiny Travelers “Treasure Quest” Series takes its readers on a fun-filled journey to discover what makes each country special. Each illustrated spread invites children to discover hidden "treasures" - icons, animals, statues, instruments and more - that make up the rich cultural heritage of each country.
In Tiny Travelers Mexico Treasure Quest, readers journey from the mariachi-filled plazas, to the Pyramids of Teotihuacan. From the Lucha Libre ring, to the flower filled boats of Xochimilco, tiny travelers will enjoy getting closer to Mexican culture making magical discoveries along the way.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Bilingual Thanksgiving Printables

Are you looking for some no-prep, print-and-go activities to keep your kids busy while you cook/clean/decorate/entertain guests/whatever this Thanksgiving? Check out my downloadable files!

Teach important concepts for preschool and kindergarten with this 15-page, Thanksgiving-themed activity pack!

Learn about acrostic poems with these Thanksgiving-themed acrostic poem writing pages! Includes directions and examples in both English and Spanish, as well as 5 different acrostic pages with prompts of varying length and difficulty. There's also a blank page to allow children to use their own focus word.

Boost your child's vocabulary and reading skills with this Thanksgiving storybook. This story lists things for which children often give thanks on this holiday, so the student will enjoy coloring while learning the words for "friends/amigos," "family/familia," "grandma/abuelita," and more. Just choose the book that best suits your needs...

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

Boost your child's reading and writing skills with this minibook of Thanksgiving words. The pages show items typically associated with Thanksgiving, so the student will enjoy coloring while learning the words for "corn/maíz," "turkey/pavo," "harvest/cosecha" and more.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Free Download: Thanksgiving Family Recipe Cards

Does your family have special dishes (aside from the traditional turkey and stuffing, I mean) that you make to celebrate Thanksgiving? Do you incorporate your family's heritage and culture in those dishes? For example, do you add a special twist such as jalapeños or chipotle to your sweet potatoes? Those are precious traditions that are unique to your family.

Photo by Jeanine Thurston

Over the years, I've posted about super delicious dishes that my Latina friends prepare at Thanksgiving as a way to honor their heritage. Here are some of them:
Don't they all sound wonderful? The camotes al chipotle is my favorite and I try to make it a few times during the fall.

While you are planning your menu for Thanksgiving, why not take the opportunity to turn this time into a teachable moment and spend some quality time with your kids? I've created these free Thanksgiving recipe cards (available in English and Spanish) so your child can write down your family's favorite recipes for the holiday. It would make a wonderful family heirloom or even a lovely gift to share with family.

Thank you for being a part of the MommyMaestra family. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


Monday, November 18, 2019

Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Education Website

Do you have a young conservationist in your home? Or a bird lover? Or are you trying to incorporate more lessons in your classroom that talk about nature, conservation, and citizen science projects?

Then Cornell Lab of Ornithology's education website needs to be on your go-to list.

It is one of the best avian education sites for students. I've been using their citizen science projects for years with my kids. And I recently started following their Facebook page.  

Sot let me tell you about the resources they offer.

Bird Academy

Bird Academy is the section of their site that offers online, interactive learning courses, videos, and games. Registration is free, but not all the courses are. 

I haven't actually used this section, so all of this information is based on what I read on the website. But it looks like there's a nice selection of online courses, including:
  • eBird Essentials (FREE)
  • Understanding Bird Behavior
  • Feeder Birds: Identification and Behavior (of the birds that come to your backyard bird feeder)
  • How to Identify Bird Songs
  • Nature Journaling and Field Sketching
  • and more...
You can complete these courses at your own pace. I think that most of them come with recorded lectures and learning games. 

These are awesome! This section has 175 videos about birds that are found around the world. It's easy to filter them by one or more of the 12 topics listed in the sidebar. These topics include migration, anatomy, habitat, behavior, etc. They are fascinating looks into the lives of birds with experts who explain behavior, 

Here are two examples:

I love these so much! I'm not sure that I would call all of them games, though. Some are just really interactive powerpoints and videos. Most are geared for kids 13 and older, but there are some for younger children. They teach kids about bird anatomy, songs, behavior, and more. My favorite is All About Feathers and the section on Meet a Feather Scientist. FASCINATING!!

This section is the jackpot for educators! And for those of you wondering, yes, they have an area just for Spanish-speakers.

It's also divided up into different areas:


Here is where you'll find everything from free curricula to all-inclusive kits for K - 12 students. They've made it easier for you to find what you need by dividing the grades up into the following:
  • K - 2
  • 3 - 5
  • 6 - 8
  • 9 - 12


This part of the site is just for teachers. Here's where you'll find free webinars, online courses, educator retreats, credit options and where you can find trainers in your area.

My son a few years ago participating in Project FeederWatch, a citizen science project.


This area is full of stories about citizen science, habitat improvements, bird investigations, and more. You'll discover what incredible educators like you are doing around the world. You can even share your own story.

BirdSleuth Investigator

The latest issue of the student magazine, BirdSleuth Investigator, is available as a free download! I just downloaded it myself and it is such a great resource for kids. Written and illustrated by kids around the country, this magazine shares their research projects that are the result of their burning curiosity. You can also find out how your students can get their work published in next year's issue.

The digital version is free, although you can purchase a hard copy in the store.


Of course, sometimes as educators, we need materials that we can hold in our hands to reference or use to teach. You can find supplemental materials like these in their online shop.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Free Download: Thanksgiving Fun Spanish Freebie

Thanksgiving might just be my favorite holiday! Do you love it, too? If so, this month's free download is for you! MommyMaestra sponsor Spanish for You! has created a special Spanish Thanksgiving fun freebie to develop those vocabulary words associated with the holiday.

Celebrate el día de acción de gracias with this five-page download that includes an instruction sheet, three sheets of picture cards for playing the game "matamoscas" (don't know this game? Don't worry! There's a link to directions on how to play!), and a vocabulary worksheet.

And if you are looking for Thanksgiving-themed children's books in Spanish to practice reading and using your new vocabulary, check these titles out on Amazon:

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!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Learning Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

I have been on the hunt for some serious learning toys for my two-year-old. I don't want to buy him mindless toys that just blink and make noise and, in the end, really have no redeeming value. You know what I mean?

So I've been searching for toys that teach important concepts that he'll love and play with for more than 20 seconds.

I've found some great ones and have listed them here in a growing list of fabulous toys for kids 2 - 4 years old. Just click on the tab that says Learning Toys for Toddlers & Preschoolers.

I want to know, what are YOUR favorite finds for this age group? I want to know! If it is something you love, tell me why so that I can consider getting it for my kid and to share with other MommyMaestras!

Here are some of my top choices from the list...

Mini Motor Math Activity Set 
Includes Counting, Pattern, Addition and Subtraction Activities
Ages 3+

For a long time, I've had my eye on something similar but it used owls. Then I read the reviews and realized the set doesn't come with enough owls! So then I discovered this set and I think it solves the issue. It's great for counting, color recognition, and pattern recognition, to name a few. 
Plus, my boy will love it.

Alphabet Acorns Activity Set
78 Pieces, Visual & Tactile Learning Toy
Ages 3+

I just bought this set for my little guy. Each acorn has a surprise hidden inside that begins with the letter on the acorn. What a great way to help teach the alphabet!

Veggie Farm Sorting Set
Pretend Play Food, 46 Pieces
Ages 3+

This is another awesome activity for busy little fingers. Kids can learn colors, numbers, and foods with this little set. I love that it utilizes the entire box, including the lid!

Like these ideas? Check out my list! It has lots of other great choices.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Smokey Bear LIVE: An Interactive Webcast

The fires in California have been in the news a lot these days and weigh heavily on my mind. There's also a good learning opportunity here for kids, so I wanted to make sure you know about a FREE, live, interactive webcast about Smokey Bear that is happening TODAY, Thursday.

It will be a live, interactive, question and answer program with fire prevention experts from Lincoln National Forest near Capitan, New Mexico.

The program will be webcast from the Lincoln National Forest near Capitan, New Mexico where Smokey Bear was found and became the living symbol of the advertising campaign to prevent wildfires. This is the 75th birthday of Smokey’s wildfire prevention campaign.


Multiple viewing options are available and participating is easy.
Chose the best way to watch and participate:

9 - 9:50 a.m. Alaska Time
10 - 10:50 a.m. Pacific Time
11 - 11:50 a.m. Mountain Time
12 - 12:50 p.m. Central Time
1 - 1:50 p.m. Eastern Time

Will begin 10 minutes before the program.


  • On a form on the website
  • To
  • Or post them on Facebook

You can also meet experts from the USDA Forest Service who will be answering your questions:

Monday, November 4, 2019

Printable Fall Bucket List

Fall is officially here. For some of you, it's been here for a while already. Don't forget about this printable Fall Bucket List that I created many years ago. It's still one of my faves for celebrating autumn.


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