Friday, December 20, 2019

Update on the Migrant Children's Book Drive

Dear Friends,

I want to close out the year here on MommyMaestra with a sincere thank you and update regarding the Migrant Children's Book Drive. Back in June, I was feeling helpless and angry about the situation along our border. Thinking about the children made me ill - and it still does. Then, I saw one piece of good news on TV. After watching the segment about how Save the Children was helping the lovely people of Deming, New Mexico, to run a humanitarian shelter to help the people (many of the families, and over half of them children) who were being released from the detention centers.

I asked Save the Children if they needed Spanish-language books for the children, and when they said yes, I decided to host a book drive to get as many books as possible. I reached out to all of you here on MommyMaestra and on social media. I wrote emails to authors and publishers. And the books just started coming and coming and coming.

The notes that many of you included were so heartfelt and moving. It was very emotional. And I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and willingness to join me in trying to do something nice for these families. To lighten their young spirits, if only for a short while... but maybe longer.

The books were used inside the Child-Friendly Spaces and Mother/Baby Areas that Save the Children managed inside the shelters in Deming and Las Cruces, NM. But in addition, we sent more books so that the children passing through could take one with them on their journeys.

And then I learned about the wonderful work that REFORMA's Children in Crisis Task Force was doing along the border here in Texas and also in California. So any books that came in that were not approved by Save the Children, were shipped to them, too.

In all, we have sent around 3,000 children's books - mostly Spanish, but some in English and some bilingual - to these two programs. We've stopped collecting books, mainly because fewer families are coming across (due to changes in Mexico's handling of the situation) and fewer are being released. (Please note that there are children who have been separated from their families who are still being imprisoned in the horrid camps.)

But I wanted to share one last thing with you. I received this email a couple of days ago from Carolyn Miles, the Chief Executive Officer at Save the Children. This is really meant for all of you in the MommyMaestra community who gave so generously to the book drive.

You have made a difference. 

And I want you to know that as the year closes, and carry that feeling with you into the next decade.

Muchisimas gracias! You are all wonderful human beings.

Click on the image of the letter below to make it bigger so you can read it easily.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Make & Play Nativity

I love collecting nacimientos (nativities). I have quite a few in my collection. So when I saw this, I was excited because it is a great way for me to pass on my love of them to my kids.

Make & Play Nativity (aff link) by Joey Chou is an interactive book with press-out pieces that assemble to make 20 figures for a 3D nativity. They are pretty simple - most only have three pieces to put together (the manger is the only one with more and it comes with directions for putting together the five sections). And they press out very easily without ripping. So this book is perfect for little hands.

I sat down with my 2-year-old and helped him assemble these pieces.

And the book also comes with additional activities. There is, of course, the nativity story, to read with your child after you have assembled your pieces and set them up. Then you can sing one of four carols - the lyrics are included.

Older children can go on to do one (or all!) of the crafts listed in the book, such as making a Christmas star or advent calendar.

And I was delighted to discover that all the pieces fit back inside the book, so when the season is over, I can put them back in and save it for next year! With a little care, this book should last for several years.

Overall, this little board book is just a gem for children. It is probably best suited for kids 3 to 7 years old, though you can enjoy it with your 2-year-old, as I did, and some older kids might enjoy the activities, too.

You still have time to get this book before Christmas if you use Amazon's Prime 2-day shipping.

Monday, December 16, 2019

8 Picture Books for Jolabokaflod That Feature Latinos

For the rest of this week, I'll be focusing on books to give on Christmas Eve. The last few years, our family has adopted the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve. It's called Jolabokaflod ("Yule Book Flood"). Friends and family give books as gifts. As a result of this tradition, Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world.

Jolabokaflod started during World War II when so many items were being rationed. But in Iceland, paper was not restricted and so book giving was easier. As a result, Icelanders gave books to be opened on Christmas Eve. The tradition was so popular, it has continued to grow and is now spreading to other countries.

There are SO MANY wonderful books to gift your children, so I want to dedicate this week to sharing titles that are just fabulous in case you are looking for ideas. But seriously, just go to the bookstore and look around. It's hard not to find lots of titles your kids will love.

Since we have eight days until Christmas Eve, I'm starting with a list of eight picture books by or about Latinos that are perfect for Jolabokaflod. You can find many of them in your local bookstore, or you can order them from Amazon and get them in 1 or 2 days with Prime.

¡A leer!

This post contains affiliate links.

by Elizabeth Rusch
illustrated by Teresa Martinez

Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet is the biography of Dr. Mario José Molina, the researcher who discovered the horrifying effects of CFCs on our planet's protective ozone layer.

It is an inspiring book because not only does it talk about his discovery and successful activism, but it also shares how Dr. Molina has hope about our current climate issues because he's already lived through the first environmental crisis and seen how universal action can happen and make solutions work.

by Margarita Engle

Dancing Hands is the story of Teresa Carreño, the prodigy pianist from Venezuela who began playing the piano as a little girl and composing her own music by the time she was 6. Not only did she play for President Lincoln as noted in this lovely story, but apparently for the famous composers Rossini and Liszt, too!

¡Solo pregunta! (Spanish edition)
written by Sonia Sotomayor
illustrated by Rafael López

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges--and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we're not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.

by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by Rafael López

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

We all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

Be Bold! Be Brave! 11 Latinas who made U.S. History
Sé Audaz! Sé Valiente! (Bilingual book)
by Naibe Reynoso
illustrated by Jone Leal

A bilingual book that highlights 11 Latinas who excelled in various fields including medicine, science, sports, art and politics. By presenting the true biographical stories of these outstanding Latinas in rhyming verses, young readers will easily follow their journey to success.

Under the Mambo Moon
by Julia Durango
illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck

On summer nights Marisol helps out in Papi's music store. As customers come and go, they share memories of the Latin music and dance of their various homelands, expressed in a dazzling array of poetry. The diversity of Latin American music is brought to life in poems that swivel, sway, and sizzle with the rhythms of merengue, vallenatos, salsa, and samba.

All Equal: A Ballad of Lemon Grove / Todos Iguales:Un Corrido De Lemon Grove
written and illustrated by Christy Hale

In the summer of 1930, the Lemon Grove School Board decided to segregate the Mexican American students. The board claimed the children had a "language handicap" and needed to be "Americanized." When the Mexican families learned of this plan, they refused to let their children enter the new, inferior school that had been erected. They formed a neighborhood committee and sought legal help. Roberto, a bright boy who spoke English well, became the plaintiff in a suit filed by the Mexican families. On March 12, 1931, the case of Roberto Álvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District was decided. The judge ruled in favor of the children's right to equal education, ordering that Roberto and all the other Mexican American students be immediately reinstated in the Lemon Grove School.

This nonfiction bilingual picture book, written in both English and Spanish, tells the empowering story of The Lemon Grove Incident--a major victory in the battle against school segregation, and a testament to the tenacity of an immigrant community and its fight for equal rights.

Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War
written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953)—or Luz—believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Downloads for Celebrating Las Posadas

Las Posadas printables are a great way to teach your children or students about this 9-day celebration. Are you looking for easy activities that you can just download and print for your students or little ones? Keep scrolling to see the selection I have for children in Kindergarten through 8th grade. And if you'd like additional educational ideas, check out my post Las Posadas Lesson Plans, Crafts, Activities, and Music.

Printable Downloads for Las Posadas

New this year is my Las Posadas BUNDLE (shown above), which gives you ALL the elementary grade products for a discount!

Read about the rest of my Posada printables below.

This is my most popular product. It includes THREE printable booklets full of coloring pages of items most closely associated with Las Posadas. The three booklets are:

• a bilingual book (English & Spanish)
• an English only (for ESL)
• a Spanish only (for Spanish learners)

This is actually my favorite activity of all! A full-color, printable calendar celebrating Las Posadas. This calendar follows the nine-day celebration that begins on the 16th of December and ends on Christmas Eve.

Parents and children can print out the calendar and the images that accompany it. Each image includes a bilingual description (English & Spanish) that explains its role in the posada. Children cut out the images and paste them onto the calendar once a day during Las Posadas.

This file contains two printable book of words closely associated with the tradition. One book is in English and the other is in Spanish. The emphasis is on writing practice for students in Pre-K through 2nd grade.

Introduce your students to Las Posadas vocabulary with this fun little coloring book. Features those items most closely associated with the celebration including the peregrinos, the sheet music, luminarias, and various foods typically served at las posadas.

Help the peregrinos arrive at the posada! Players first color in the game board, then cut out the game cards, or make their own. Using a die or the spinner (included) players make their way across the board using beans or buttons to move across the game path. The first one to reach the house wins!

For older children, there's no better way to teach your students about Las Posadas, than to let them experience one for themselves! This DIY Posada Kit comes with everything you need to host your own posada. It includes:

• An invitation template in English
• Luminarias tutorial
• Papel picado tutorial
• Piñata ornament tutorial
• Recipe resources
• Lyrics in Spanish and English
• MP3 resources for downloading the song
• Printable templates of the candle and Mary, Joseph, the angel and donkey.

This is a one-page history on Las Posadas, a Mexican Christmas tradition. Your students will learn about this holiday tradition. This informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. Includes an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key. Includes both the English and Spanish versions for your convenience.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Free Download: Christmas "What do You Like?" Survey

Wow! We are down to the last month of the year. I want to take a moment to thank MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, for being such a strong supporter of not just this site, but also this community of bilingual families, bilingual homeschoolers, and bilingual educators. Their freebies are awesome, but their program is even better and definitely one of the best available for older children.

This month's freebie is centered around Christmas vocabulary. The two-page file contains key vocabulary related to the holiday. Your young Spanish learners can practice with the survey sheet and the audio file.

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!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Playing Lotería: And Interview with Author René Colato Laínez

Yesterday, I shared a post about Google's Doodle celebrating the popular game from Latin America: LOTERÍA! Today, I'm sharing an interview with author René Colato Laínez that was originally published 11 years ago(!) on the Latin Baby Book Club by Aurora Anaya-Cerda founder of La Casa Azul Bookstore.

La bandera! El sol! La chalupa! La sirena!.. LOTERIA!!!

Loteria is one of my favorite childhood games. It brings back so many memories of Mexico…everyone sitting around the front porch, children laughing, everyone using frijoles or bottle caps to cover their cards. I remember being in awe of one of mi tias, who would play 4 cards at a time! Loteria is a fun game for the entire family, and if you have a ‘caller’ who says dichos…it’s 10 times more fun!

This month I bring you an interview with Rene Colato Lainez and his book is Playing Loteria / El Juego de la Loteria.
In this charming story, a little boy visits his grandmother in Mexico, and with the help of la loteria, learns a new language and how special the bond between a boy and his grandmother can be. Together they discover a world of language and come to realize that loved ones truly do have special ways of understanding each other. Accompanied by vibrant illustrations, this story also offers a Spanish lesson. The rules of the game are included so you can play and learn at home, too.

1. What was the inspiration behind "Playing Loteria/ El Juego de la Loteria"?
Part for the inspiration was my love for the Lotería. I grew up in El Salvador saying the phrases: “El arbol”, “El gallo”, “El corazón.” The Lotería was the most popular spot at the fairs and festivals. Every time, we went to la feria, I had my favorite places to visit: the circus, the rides, and of course the lotería stand.
The other part for the inspiration was the students at the school where I work. Most of them come from Latino families but they have trouble speaking Spanish. I wanted to write a story where these students can discover that it is possible to speak two languages and that we need to be proud of our culture.

2. Each family has their own version of how to play Loteria, how/when did your family play the game?
At home, we played the traditional way. We had to cover all the pictures in order to win and yell “Lotería”. My older brother was always, the caller. He was very funny and said a lot of dichos and play of words every time he called the cards. All the family kids and neighbors sat in a circle on the patio and began to play. We played on weekends and after school.

3. Tell us about your experience at "La Voz Estudiantil"I always received very positive feedback from my teachers, every time I wrote a poem or short story. I enjoyed reading the Spanish paper at school “La Voz Estudiantil” and I actually envisioned myself writing on the paper. After writing a poem in my Spanish class, I was invited to join “La Voz Estudiantil.” It was a wonderful experience, I remembered the time when I wrote a long story. The editor said that it was too long but that we could publish it in chapters. After the first chapter, I had many students asking me “What will happen next, please tell us.” They could not wait for the next issue.

4. How can parents encourage their children to celebrate and embrace their Latino roots?The Latino culture is rich in language, dances, and games. Parents can embrace their Latino roots to their children by dancing and singing songs (I love Cri Crí’s songs), playing clap hand games, saying dichos and refranes, telling family and folktale stories, playing traditional games like la lotería, and by reading Bilingual, Spanish and English books that celebrate the wonderful of the Latino culture and language.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Google Celebrates Lotería

Did you see today's Google Doodle? They're celebrating the popular game from Latin America, Lotería!

If you click on the Doodle, you'll have the chance to play Lotería yourself! The interactive game allows you to play with another person who may be with you, or with someone online (you don't know who!). Don't know how to play? No problem. They give you directions at the very beginning.

When I went ahead and clicked on the link to learn more about the story behind the Lotería Doodle, I found this lovely page full of information not only about the game itself, but also about the guest artists behind it: Mexico-based Chabaski, Mexico-born Cecilia, Hermosillo-born Luis Pinto, Los Angeles-based Loris Lora, and Mexico City-based Vals. Click the link above to learn more about them, read a Q & A, and see some photos of their artwork in progress. It also includes this video:

Lotería isn't just played in Mexico. Several countries in Latin America play the game. In fact, one of my favorite books, Playing Lotería/El juego de la lotería (aff link), is written by René Colato Laínez, who once said in an interview, "Part for the inspiration [behind the story] was my love for the Lotería. I grew up in El Salvador saying the phrases: “El arbol”, “El gallo”, “El corazón.” The Lotería was the most popular spot at the fairs and festivals. Every time, we went to la feria, I had my favorite places to visit: the circus, the rides, and of course the lotería stand."

(Check back tomorrow to read the complete interview!)

So you see, the game is beloved throughout much of Latin America.

And did you know, that I have two versions of Lotería that you can instantly download, print, and play?

My Alphabet Lotería is a fun way to reinforce ABC's. Many of the words/images are Spanish/English cognates (i.e., jalapeño, empanada, piñata), while others merely start with the same letter (i.e., avocado/aguacate, night/noche, sun/sol). It comes with:
  • A brief history of Lotería
  • Ways to play
  • Ways to win
  • 12 tablas (game boards) - 6 in English, and 6 in Spanish

And my second game - Lotería de Muertos - is the same but with a Día de los Muertos theme. :)

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Venezuelan Christmas Spotlight: Hallacas

(Source: Wikimedia) Hallacas con pan de jamon, Venezuelan food
Recently, I was researching for my new country coloring activity focused on Venezuela and I stumbled upon some great videos dedicated to making hallacas. (I'll tell you right now, I love watching cooking shows. So you know what's coming, right?)

Now, I've never had an hallaca, but after reading about them and watching a ton of videos online, I really, really want to try one.

(Source: Wikimedia) Hallaca ingredients :: Tomas Rojas 

Very similar to tamales, hallacas are a cornmeal dish with a filling of chicken, beef, or pork. Typically, they include other ingredients such as raisins, capers, and olives. Unlike the tamal, which is wrapped in a corn husk, hallacas are wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled. This dish is traditionally served around Christmas and New Year.

(Source: Wikimedia) Hallaca after steaming :: Jaimeluisgg

One of the comments I heard most while watching videos is how moist and flavorful they are. And as you can see from the picture above, they certainly look deliciously moist.

But the best thing I found online was the following videos. Watch them with your children  - maybe you might just want to try your hand at making some with your kids this holiday season!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

High Five Bilingüe Magazine Cyber Sale

Opportunity Alert! 

I was looking for a magazine for my 2yo for the coming year. Right now is when all their subscriptions are on sale. So I went to check out the Highlights website and...

For those of you looking for bilingual (Spanish) magazines for your kids to gift for the coming year, check out Highlights' High Five Bilingüe Magazine for kids ages 2 - 6. It's on sale this week for 50% off the cover. Don't miss it!

Find it here on Highlights' website and check out all their other products on sale for the holidays.

You can also order it from Amazon (aff link), and it comes with an automatic renewal.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

“Get Out the Mad” Cookies Recipe from PBS KIDS

Hey! It's National Cookie Day! 

What a great day. I celebrated early by making chocolate chip cookies last night. Ha!

But let's talk about turning this day into a teachable moment. PBS KIDS has put together a recipe for making "Get Out the Mad" Cookies. Inspired by DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD, making these cookies helps encourage social-emotional skill development. Baking these cookies with children not only hones math skills, but also encourages conversations around an array of emotions, which helps social-emotional skill development. In order to make the most out of the educational baking activity, start by asking your child what some common feelings are and when last time they remember feeling happy, sad, mad, etc. was. Then, explain that there are things they can do when they’re angry besides shouting or hitting, like pound on clay or dough. Research shows that kids learn the most when the adults in their lives talk to them about what they’re watching and how they’re feeling.

So here are the directions for making some awesome cookies with your little ones!

“Get Out the Mad” Cookies:

  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Bowl
  • Cookie sheet

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Ask your child to help measure out the ingredients. This is a great opportunity to talk about reading numbers and following directions carefully. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

  1. Give your child a manageable chunk of dough. It’s okay for your child to mash it, knead it, and pound it. The longer and harder your child mixes the dough, the better the cookies taste!

  1. When the mixing is done, show your child how to roll the dough into balls about the size of ping-pong balls, and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

  1. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Final TpT Sale of the Season!

Yikes! I forgot to tell you about this one! Don't forget that the final TpT sale of the year is happening. Today is the last day to take advantage of the discount on my ENTIRE store!

Search your wish list for those favorite holiday items. Here are just some of the items you might have been waiting to come around:

NEW this year! I've finally bundled my elementary files for Las Posadas. My five most popular activities for this tradition are available now. Reading passages for older children also available.

This printable booklet of popular villancicos is easy to print and go.

Here's a fun booklet of aguinaldo lyrics

My Parranda Reading Passage sheds light on this Puerto Rican tradition.

Introduce your students to el Día de los Reyes with this printable minibook! One-page reading passage for older children also available.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections

Throughout my life, I've known quite a few collectors. My 'Buelita had a lovely collection of figurines she kept on a special bookshelf. Our neighbor collected stamps. And once, I visited the home of a woman who apparently collected everything. (Seriously, each room was dedicated to a specific collection - dolls, antique kitchen gadgets, figurines, thimbles, etc.)

My own children have had their share of collections. When they were younger, they were fascinated by objects that they found in nature - abandoned birds' nests, empty cicada shells, unusual stones or wood fragments, driftwood, feathers, seashells, and more. Even though most of the items have been discarded, there are still a few of those most precious finds that sit on their bookshelves today. The photo at the top of this page is from one of our beach trips six years ago. My girl collected all of the items, with the mermaid's purses being her most valued discovery.

When I was a little girl, I started a rock collection. I was too little to know what I was doing, of course, but my mother used to tell the story of how I made a little box and placed a bunch of rocks in it and labeled each one. I was smart enough to give them scientific-sounding names as she thought I had actually looked them up. She was so proud of me. Sadly, I didn't continue the practice of labeling rocks as I grew older, but I did continue the habit of collecting stones and gems (rose quartz, geodes, etc.) that I found to be unusual or beautiful.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago while searching for gifts for my General Science class that I teach at our local homeschool co-op. Michaels had a box for rock collectors with separated compartments and I thought about how rock collecting must still be a thing for kids or the store wouldn't bother selling those display boxes.

So I looked up information on kid collectors. According to an article from the Child Development Institute, "Hobbies teach children to set and achieve goals, solve problems and make decisions. They can also set the course for what your child becomes later in life as they often turn into lifelong interests or careers."|

Psychology Today has a good article, too, describing how collecting things exercises a child's imaginative and cognitive skills. The authors remind us that children have been collecting items in their immediate environment for hundreds (may I say thousands?) of years. It's a way of making sense of our world and develops our sense of order and understanding.

In the Psychology Today article, the authors talk about how schools used to encourage kids to collect things as a hobby. Show and tell was often the time for sharing your prized collection of baseball cards, china dolls, comic books, or patches. And they lament the fact that the hobby of collecting is no longer given any attention in schools.

Maybe children don't collect things the way they used to? I find that hard to believe. Either way, I encourage you to nurture your children's passions and urge them to start a collection. It leads to research, organization, identification, creativity, presentation, and so much more.

The types of collections are really quite endless. Buttons, books, erasers, stickers, pins, marbles, toys, shells, rocks, Star Wars, LEGO, Harry Potter, Doctor Who... a child can collect anything.

Which leads me to today's book feature.

Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections is a new children's picture book by Michelle Schaub. It's the story of a student who has been given a school assignment to bring to class something that they collect. And one student doesn't have a collection, so she goes around and asks friends and family about their collections.

I love the concept of the book. And it is a well-written collection of poems. Every time you turn the page a new collection is featured. And the author tells you about all of the collections in poetry form.

I also enjoy the fact that the illustrations are by Carmen Saldaña, an artist who lives in northern Spain!

Here's a peek:

This might make a good gift for Christmas Eve - if you celebrate Jolabokaflod (Christmas Book Flood!) and gift a book to your loved ones.

You can find this book on Amazon.


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