Friday, May 29, 2020

How I Talk to My Teen about What is Happening in our Country

Last night, around midnight, I found my eldest teen sitting on the back steps of our house crying. When I opened the door and asked what was happening, she said, "I hate this country." She bawled in my arms and showed me all the outraged social media posts she had seen about what was happening and the innocent lives that were being tortured or lost. She was overwhelmed by the horror.

At first, I hugged her and told her, "It's okay." I was on automatic pilot trying to soothe her. She immediately said, "No! It's NOT okay!" And she was right.

I can't tell you how hard I prayed to have the right words for her.

So I told her, "You're right. It's not okay. And I'm really glad that you can see that."

We went on to talk about how our country was terribly broken right now. That it has been for a long time but that things have gotten worse in recent years. And people are angry and tired of being ignored.

People should be outraged. They should be livid that there is so much injustice, racism, and just plain evil in this world... and especially outraged that it is still happening in our country.

We talked about how looting is wrong, but their protests, anger, and emotions were totally justified.

We talked about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We talked about school shootings. We talked about children being separated from their parents and kept in cages or deported back to countries where they have no parents or families.

I talked about how all of this racism and hate wasn't new, but that it is now becoming visible to everyone and cannot be ignored.

I told her how proud I was of her for being upset and angry and just knowing how wrong it is to treat people so horribly. We talked about how God is not a respecter of persons and that we are ALL EQUAL in his sight. I told her how we are all the same no matter what we look like on the outside. And we are all precious and valuable.

My daughter kept whispering that it should be instinct not to kill a person. That pretty much broke my heart.

I talked about how no baby is born racist. That it is a learned characteristic. Learned from examples. And it comes from a lack of education and a lack of exposure to people of all different walks of life.

I told her that her generation actually gave me a lot of hope. Because young people today are finding their voices and they aren't afraid to use them. People like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, Greta Thunberg, Mala Yousafzai, Autumn Peltier, and so many others.

I think that just talking about it was very therapeutic for her. She calmed down and was able to control her tears. Knowing that her feelings were justified and that she wasn't alone in feeling them was really important to her. So was letting her know that I was proud of her outrage and her ability to see the absolute wrongness of the whole situation.

These difficult issues are just exacerbated by the pandemic. Which makes our journey as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a nation that much more difficult.

Don't be afraid to talk to your children. This is the perfect time to talk about the beliefs you hold to be good and true and right. Encourage your children to be brave in the face of adversity. To realize that they can be hurt for speaking the truth. But that ultimately staying true to ourselves and beliefs is worth it. And speaking up for those who are wronged, hurt, or worse is important otherwise we are guilty of the sin, too.

Silence is acceptance.

Silence is approval.

We are better than that.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Special Finds: Frijolitos Books

I was going through some boxes in my storage unit this weekend and found copies of the original Fijolitos books. I'm not really sure if this company still exists. I cannot find their books on Amazon or anywhere else online. Anyway, I thought that a MommyMaestra reader might want these little treasures, so I'm selling them as a set.

Filled with culturally relevant illustrations and themes, both books present the text in both English and Spanish. Picadillo the Armadillo/Picadillo el Armadillo is the first book in the series and follows the mischievous antics of Picadillo when he is found and taken in by an excited young girl named Lilia. He is accompanied by Albondiga, the Mariachi dog, who at first tries to keep Picadillo out of trouble, but finally winds up joining in on all the naughty fun. The ending is warm and sweet and teaches a good life lesson about not judging a book by its cover. 

But my favorite book is the second one in the series, Tuguita Tere: A Home for My Books/Un Hogar Para Mis Libros. The book centers around (surprise!) Tuguita Tere as she celebrates her 5th birthday and eagerly applies for her very own library card. Tuguita is an imaginative bibliophile, always dreaming up adventures based on the books that she reads. I really like how the book references historical figures (ie, Frida and Sor Juana Inés to name a few) – this would be a great way to introduce your children to other historical children’s books, too. The back of Tuguita’s book even includes a history of the piñata (Did you know it was originally an Italian game? I didn’t!) and a nice little section with tips about reading to your child. Both books even include lesson plans for teachers and parents in the back. 

So if you’d like to pick up your very own copy of one (or both!) of these fun books, click here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Celebrate World Bee Day!

Jon Sullivan / Public domain

Did you know that today is World Bee Day? Bees play SUCH an IMPORTANT role in our earth's ecosystem. Without bees to pollinate 75% of the world's flowering plants, entire ecosystems would would be affected or lost. The honey bee alone pollinates 35% of the world's food crops. Here in the U.S., the honey crop was worth more than $300 million just seven years ago.

But bees all around the world are in decline. We need to educate our children about bees and foster a sense of appreciation and preservation in our youth.

To celebrate World Bee Day, I've put together this packet. Bees of the World Fandex & Activity Sheets is designed to teach your children/students all about bee biology with reading passages, coloring pages, worksheets, and a printable board game. In addition, they'll learn about 9 different types of bees using the printable fandex, which also serves as a reference for the worksheets. This file is English only, but I'll work on getting a Spanish version available by June 1st.

You can find it (and a list of the bee species covered), here in my TpT shop. 

MommyMaestra subscribers! Be on the lookout for a free download in this month's newsletter. It is a sample of the big packet. I hope your kids have as much fun playing it as I did making it.

Long live the bees!


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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Earth School

Hey, friends! Have you heard about E
arth School? It's amazing and I've thoroughly enjoyed learning about it. My 14yo has just started it.  

Earth School is a 30-day (not including weekends) interactive adventure through the natural world. Hosted on the TED-Ed website, a new "quest" is posted daily (five days a week). Each quest includes a video and lesson plan. The program was launched on Earth Day (April 22nd) and it runs through World Environment Day (June 5th). It focuses on nature and our relationship with or dependency on it. 

Each week has a theme. They post on a 5-day week plan, so there are six weeks of content. The themes are: 
  • The Nature of Our Stuff
  • The Nature of Society
  • The Nature of Nature
  • The Nature of Change
  • The Nature of Individual Action
  • The Nature of Collective Action

A partnership between the UN Environment Programme and TED-Ed, Earth School is FULL of amazing videos. Here's an example from Day 1...

TED Ed is alway high-quality education programming. So I trust them when it comes to my kids. 

If you'd like to check it out with your family, visit TED Ed's Earth School site.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Las vacas no pueden saltar - Cows Can't Jump

This is a sponsored book post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It may use affiliate links.

I frequently get requests from bilingual families for book recommendations. And now that I have an almost preschooler in my house again, I'm always on the lookout for bilingual board books with full text in both English and Spanish. But they can be hard to find. So after I saw a copy of Las vacas no pueden saltar (aff link), I knew it was a good fit for MommyMaestra readers.

In fact, while I was looking at a review copy of the book, my 2-year-old walked into the room and immediately crawled onto my lap demanding that I read it to him. Which I was happy to do. When we finished, I asked him what he could and couldn't do. He said he couldn't fly, but that he could jump, jump, JUMP. (He then promptly proved it.)

Have you seen the English version, Cows Can't Jump, by Dave Reisman? Well, the bilingual version is even better because it allows bilingual families or classrooms to choose which language they want to focus on while reading. And the storyline is equally fun in both languages for little people with big imaginations. 

Reisman's book introduces children to animals and their abilities. You'll discover not only what specific animals can't do, but also what they CAN do. Check out this excerpt from the book...
"Los gorilas no pueden nadar...pero pueden columpiarse. Las jirafas no pueden columpiarse...pero pueden galopar.
Gorillas can't swim...but they can swing. Giraffes can't swing...but they can gallop." 
And so this book goes, on and on, animal after animal, teaching children all about animals and their special skills. Beautiful in its simplicity, the literacy nut in me delights in all the action verbs that children learn about as they go through the book.

For these exact reasons, this book is a treasure for language learners, also. What a great way to teach vocabulary - especially Spanish reflexive verbs!

The illustrations are engaging, too. Each page shows the subject animal doing - or not doing as the case may be - the various activities. Take a look...

What I love best about this book is how it prompted my toddler to go and find all his animal figures and start playing with them. Imaginative play is so important! And that, to me, is what makes a book a keeper.

Las vacas no pueden saltar / Cows Can't Jump is available both in paperback and board book versions.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Free Download: Spring Fun Bilingual Booklet

One of the good things to come out of self-isolating during this time has been all the attention my garden is getting! I'm thankful that the pandemic didn't hit us during the winter (I realize that we may be in for it next winter), and that we've had spring weather to let us spend time in our yard and garden.

So that's why this month's download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, is perfect.

This month's freebie is spring fun booklet. The two-page file includes an instruction page and set of questions to answer after reading the booklet. There's also an audio file to help with pronunciation.

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!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Why We Stay at Home (Free eBook)

Check out this adorable eBook that is available for FREE! Written by two medical students from Southern California, Why We Stay at Home helps explain to kids why they are staying home during the pandemic. It's short and sweet and has great illustrations. I especially love that the main characters are children of color because we just don't see enough diverse children's books, especially on this topic.

Samantha Harris is studying to be a pediatrician and Devon Scott is going into orthopedic surgery. The cool thing is that this is just their first book in a series.

Click here to download your free copy of Why We Stay at Home: Suzie Learns about Coronavirus.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Teacher Appreciation Week TpT Sale

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!

And as they do every year, TeachersPayTeachers is having a sitewide sale. NOW is the time to go through your wishlist and buy what you've been waiting for.

Everything in my store is fully discounted the maximum that they allow (20%), PLUS an extra 5% from TpT itself. Go and stock up, friends!

Here are a few suggestions...

Monday, May 4, 2020

Cinco de Mayo Printable Resources

Cinco de Mayo is almost here! Need fast, printable, no-prep materials? Check out these options:

Good for larger families with multiple children, you can let them choose the style of booklet they'd like to use: a flipbook, an accordion book, and a booklet. All three are available...
• in black-and-white for coloring in
• with descriptive text or blank to allow students to write inside,
• and in English or Spanish. 

This interactive notebook delves deep into the REAL history of the holiday and the impact it had on U.S. history. This set includes:
• Notebook cover page
• Close reading passage on the history of the Battle of Puebla
• Close reading passage highlighting the biography of General Ignacio Zaragoza
• 4 Information templates & map
• Discussion questions

These 8 coloring pages are an introduction to the REAL history of Cinco de Mayo. From General Zaragoza to Napoleon III, your students will learn about the impact the Battle of Puebla had on U.S. history through brief descriptions in English and Spanish that are easy for young children to understand.

The REAL History of Cinco de Mayo Reading Passage (4th - 8th)

A one-page history on the Battle of Puebla and Cinco de Mayo. From Benito Juarez's decision to stop paying foreign debts for 2 years to the significance of the battle on U.S. history, this informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. Includes an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.

Available in English and Spanish, this set has 9 designs in each language with writing lines for both beginning and advanced writers.

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Friday, May 1, 2020

Barnes & Noble National Children's Short Story Contest

Do you have a budding writer in your home? I would really love to see Hispanics represented among the 15 winners! It's important that our stories be included and published. But that means that we have to write them. Encourage your children to enter!

Barnes & Noble is calling on children ages 6-12 to share their original short stories for a chance to be published in a book as well as receive a signed edition book from bestselling author Gail Carson Levine.

“We believe in the power of stories to inspire and bring joy, particularly in challenging times such as the one we’re living in now,” said Jackie De Leo, Vice President and General Merchandise Manager of Bookstore at Barnes & Noble. “Our Children’s Short Story Contest was created to be a fun and motivating outlet for young writers to share their work. We can’t wait to see the submissions, and although we can’t share all of them, we’re looking forward to publishing some budding authors in a book to be showcased by Barnes & Noble.”

Parents or legal guardians can submit on Fifteen select entrants will be published in a book sold exclusively at Barnes & Noble this holiday season, with proceeds going to charity. The fifteen winners and fifteen runners-up will also get a signed book from bestselling author Gail Carson Levine, who will be writing a forward to the published book.
  • Parents or legal guardians can submit an original written or graphic short story on behalf of children ages 6 – 12 from April 27 through May 29 on
  • Entries should include the parent or legal guardian’s name, email, and address. Only the child's first name and age should be provided with your entry.
  • The work must be an original written or graphic story.
  • Suggested word count is 300 - 800 words or 4 pages of a graphic story (black & white).
  • The fifteen winners and fifteen runners-up will get a signed book from bestselling author Gail Carson Levine. Winners and runners-up will also have the chance to be featured on Barnes & Noble's social channels.


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