Saturday, October 31, 2020

Daylight Savings Activity for Children

Tonight, before we go to bed, most of us will be setting our clocks back. For some, it is a blessed extra hour of sleep...unless you have small children like me. 😭

Have you heard (or participated) in Tinkergarten's Annual Fall Lantern Walk? I just found out about this lovely tradition that is designed to help kids welcome the end of daylight saving time and shed light and positivity on an already challenged year. 

This national event is normally held in groups outdoors and led by local Leaders but will be held virtually this year, keeping families safe and allowing anyone to join from anywhere around the world! Kids are asked to create homemade “lanterns” and to make it extra special, add a positive thought or a special memory from this year. Families can sign up to receive this year’s toolkit and join in activities leading up to the event.

On their website, you can watch the how-to video so you can help your child make their own lantern using VERY simple materials.

What a lovely way to help children learn about Daylight Savings and help them adjust to the shorter days.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Día de los Muertos Workshop Series

Friends, here's a series of workshops that I absolutely do not want you to miss! 

The Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center has partnered with local museums in Fort Worth, TX, and is hosting several online Día de los Muertos Workshops. All of them will be conducted on their Facebook page via Facebook LIVE. 

NOTE: If you live in the DFW area, they will make free kits available for pickup prior to each workshop!

The first one is TOMORROW. If you have an opportunity tomorrow, Saturday, October 31st at 12 pm CT, join the virtual event that is hosted in partnership with the Amon Carter Museum, who will be showing you how to make TWO pieces of art:

  1. a José Guadalupe Posada-inspired print, and
  2. a Justin Favela-inspired piñata
The event is FREE and will be presented in both English and Spanish. Here is a list of the materials you'll need for the projects. 

Here's a peek at the instructors and the projects:

The second one is on Saturday, Nov 7th from 12pm to 1pm CT in partnership with the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. In this workshop, you'll learn all about Monarch Butterflies. They will talk about their life cycle, how to attract them to your gardens, as well as their interesting and mysterious migration. Participants will get to make a monarch glider as part of this class. Printed templets and pennies will be provided for this activity.

And the final one is on Saturday, Nov 14th from 12pm to 1pm CT. In this workshop, the Kimbell Art Museum will teach two 30-minute workshops that explore art, family ancestry, and our favorite delicious foods! They’ll begin with a storybook reading and discussion about what our names mean to us, followed by a mixed-media painting activity celebrating the story of our names!

The second session, inspired by ofrendas and family cooking, takes a closer look at tasty treats in Kimbell still life paintings with a related bookmaking activity to help you start your own collection of family recipes.

**To ensure that you don't miss any of these, click the links above to be taken to the Facebook page where you can click on "Interested" so you'll receive notification reminders.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Monarch Butterflies & Day of the Dead

A couple of weeks ago, my boys and I were walking on our property to a section that has a bunch of pine trees to collect some pine cones. When we arrived, I was delighted to see a Monarch butterfly flutter past my face. And then I saw another one. And another one. 

Pura alegría. 

Later that evening, we went walking again in the woods and they were everywhere. I realized that it was my very good fortune to be witnessing the Super Generation on their fall migration to Mexico. They arrive at their destination - the Oyamel fir forests of Michoacán, Mexico - right around the time of Día de los Muertos. And so, it is no surprise that these beautiful creatures are now closely associated with the folklore surrounding Day of the Dead. 

A Remarkable Journey

But the Monarchs that arrive in Michoacán, are not the same ones that left it the previous spring. In fact, each year, it takes four generations for the butterflies to complete their journey from Mexico to Canada and back again. This is their cycle:

  1. In March, the butterflies leave their wintering grounds in Mexico and begin laying eggs as they make their way north into the southern United States.

  2. 1st Generation: Those eggs laid in the south hatch into caterpillars who grow into butterflies to lay more eggs as they continue their journey north. 

  3. 2nd Generation: These butterflies hatch and lay eggs in the north.

  4. 3rd Generation: These also hatch and lay eggs in the north.

  5. 4th Generation: This final generation hatches in the north and begins its long single journey to their southern wintering grounds in Mexico. If they survive the winter, they will begin their journey north and lay eggs as they pass through northern Mexico and the southern United States. 

Dr. Fred Urquhart, a Canadian biologist who together with his wife, Norah, had been studying the butterfly for more than 30 years. They had identified the migration routes of the Monarch and wondered where it was that the butterflies were migrating to. They were convinced it was somewhere in Mexico.

In 1972, he hired two naturalists - Catalina Aguado (shown above) and Kenneth C. Brugger - in Mexico to look for the Monarch's winter habitat. Three years later, they discovered it. (Read the original article here.)

There are only 12 locations where the Monarchs overwinter. The oyamel fir forests are found in the volcanic mountainsides of central and southern Mexico and western Guatemala. These high-altitude cloud forests experience cold temperatures and occasional snow... which makes them surprising overwintering grounds for these delicate creatures. 

Did you know? The Spanish name oyamel comes from the Nahuatl word oyametl: oya, "to thresh"; metl, "agave"; literally "threshing agave"). 

The habitat's future remains a concern. Especially after the death of Homero Gómez González, the former logger who became an environmental activist who was very vocal against illegal logging. He managed El Rosario butterfly reserve and was a champion for the preservation of the oyamel and the Monarchs. Homero's tortured body was found floating in a well two weeks after he'd gone missing.

The Super Generation

Monarch butterflies typically live 2 to 6 weeks... except for the fourth generation which makes the long migration from Canada to Mexico in the fall and back up to the southern U.S. in the spring. It can live as long as 8 to 9 months!

How do they do that?

And they make an incredible journey of more than 3,000 miles, sometimes flying 50 miles each day. 

How do they do that?

These fragile insects rely on their environmental temperature to warm or cool their bodies. In fact, they can't even fly if their body temperature drops below 86 degrees. And yet, they migrate not to a warm climate, but to a high-elevation forest where cold temperatures are common.

Why do they do that? Why bother to migrate if they are able to survive such a winter climate?

And finally, these butterflies make the incredible journey to return to the EXACT same place that their GREAT GREAT GRANDPARENTS overwintered the year before. 

How. Do. They. Do. That?

Day of the Dead

It's certainly no wonder why the little Monarchs are so revered by the Purépecha, an indigenous group from Michoacán, who believe the butterflies are actually the souls of their dearly departed. 

This video was produced last year and has been going around social media for a few weeks now. It's absolutely beautiful, so I decided to go ahead and share it. (Nati and her Abuelita are my favorites!)

This video takes you to El Rosario and talks about the discovery of the wintering grounds. 

Learning More...

If you want to learn more about Monarch butterflies with your children, I strongly recommend you visit the site, Journey North. There's SO MUCH INFORMATION on this website! In fact, I wrote about them 10 years ago to highlight their Symbolic Migration program, which just completed its 25th anniversary this year. (I wish I'd remembered them and shared the program with you a few months ago!)

In addition, the Texas Butterfly Ranch is hosting its 5th Annual MONARCH BUTTERFLY AND POLLINATOR FESTIVAL and has online content available through the end of this month (that means SATURDAY!). But what touches my heart the most about this place is that they tag butterflies and I read this on their website:
Monarch butterflies move through Texas each fall on their way to the Mexican mountains to arrive in time for Day of the Dead. In this year of COVID-19 and a raised awareness of social injustice, we celebrate the spiritual aspect of the migration. For centuries, perhaps millennia, the return of the butterflies to Mexico each fall has been associated with the souls of lost loved ones, as they typically arrive in the Mexican mountains in time for Day of the Dead. As a gesture of hope and healing, all 600 butterflies tagged this year as part of our Festival will be done so in the names of those lost to COVID-19, social injustice and other causes.

Go check out their site and enjoy the online videos they have posted before they are removed!

Free Download

To wrap things up, here's a printable activity for your kids. Print the following on cardstock and help your child put together this Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle Flip Book!

Click here to download

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Dia de los Muertos Nichos

One of the aspects of Day of the Dead that isn't talked about much is the nicho. Many people don't even include one on their ofrendas, but it is a practice that is growing in popularity. 

What is a nicho?

Nichos are a type of handmade shadowbox. This form of folk art finds its roots in the Roman Catholic retablos, which were brought to the New World by the Spanish. Retablos were stories in a box - usually of religious scenes or patron saints. They were beautifully painted and filled with hand-crafted figures.

Joaquin Lopez: Made by Joaquin Lopez Antay. Image © UBC Museum of Anthropology
(You can read more about retablos in this guest post on how to make a Peruvian retablo by author, Mariana Llanos.)

But here in the Americas, the indigenous people took the retablos and developed them into a different artform: the nicho. 

Nichos, in general, are display boxes, too. The subject can be anything: religious in nature, a mini shrine to famous people, or (as is the case in Día de los Muertos) a tribute to a loved one who has passed away.

Originally, they were crafted into ornately decorated tin-plate frames. But today, they may be made out of any kind of materials, but they do tend to have a few things in common: they are colorful, bold, and sometimes sparkly.

For Day of the Dead, nichos usually have one of two themes:
  1. they display a traditional scene featuring calacas (skeletons) as the main figures, OR
  2. they are a display created in honor of the loved one who has died.
In the latter case, they will usually include a picture of the deceased and include elements that are closely related to that person, such as their hobbies, careers, passions, and/or talents. For example, the image below is of a nicho I made in honor of my abuelita, who loved singing, cooking, and gardening. She was also a devout Catholic. So I tried to include elements that represented all of her talents and passions.

For many, the act of creating a nicho to honor a person is a wonderful form of therapy to help them through the grieving process. Check out this excellent article from KQED: For Day of the Dead, Families Turn to Nicho Art to Ease Grief 



My favorite book for introducing children to this artform is Paquito y Abuelito. Unfortunately, it is hard to find, but there are a few available on Amazon (see aff link below) and you can read a review of it here.

Monday, October 26, 2020

New Día de los Muertos Resources

This week, my focus is completely on Day of the Dead. I'm going to start by sharing my newest printables and a digital resource available now in my TpT shop. 

Day of the Dead Reading Comprehension Boom Cards

Are you looking for digital resources to teach about Day of the Dead? Consider my Boom Cards! Also available in Spanish, these reading passages include self-grading reading comprehension questions. 

Day of the Dead Number Pages (1 - 10)

 For little ones learning their numbers from 1 to 10, check out my color-in and write number pages. 

Lotería is my favorite to teach and reinforce vocabulary. I have a whole series of Lotería printables, and this one is themed for Día de los Muertos. Includes directions for different ways to play and win, as well as 10 different game boards (5 in English and 5 in Spanish).

I have a LOT of printables themed for this holiday. Now you can purchase ALL of the printables and save big! (Boom Cards not included.)

Friday, October 23, 2020

New "Peanuts" Playlists

Did you know that "Peanuts" is 70 YEARS OLD this year?!? How crazy is that? 

October marks the 70th anniversary of Charles Schulz’ iconic “Charlie Brown” comic strip. 

Part of what makes Charlie Brown and “Peanuts” so special are the songs associated their television specials of the 1960s and '70s. Vince Guaraldi and his trio performed songs for the Peanuts TV shows which have delighted generations of people. 

And I recently discovered ANOTHER reason to love this show: José Cuauhtémoc "Bill" Meléndez.
He was a Mexican–American character animator, voice actor, film director and producer known for his cartoons, including Peanuts. AND Bill provided the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock. 💗💗

If you are a Snoopy-loving family, the way mine is, then you'll be excited to know that to celebrate the anniversary of “Peanuts,” Craft Recordings has released several collectible albums, music videos, and playlists. 

Earlier this month, a new animated video of “The Great Pumpkin Waltz” debuted on the official Vince Guaraldi YouTube channel. You might recognize the Vince Guaraldi Trio song from the party scene in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” television special. And, a new animated video for the Charlie Brown "Thanksgiving Theme" is coming next month.

Two new playlists are streaming now on your favorite music platform, accessible from these links:
Peanuts' easy listening playlist

Whether you want to be energized or just to chill out, these Charlie Brown classics by the Vince Guaraldi Trio are worth streaming and sharing. They include the "Thanksgiving Theme," "Christmas Time Is Coming," the iconic "Linus and Lucy" theme and many more that will spark happy spots in your hippocampus. ;)

Here's a sample - "Linus and Lucy" - from the YouTube playlist. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Activities for Kids Celebrating Halloween at Home

Activities for kids celebrating Halloween at home

Will your Halloween be different this year? Where I live, the local government is urging people to stay home and avoid trick-or-treating this year. If you've decided to celebrate Halloween at home this year, here is a list of activities for you to consider and most require materials you have at home or can easily find at your local dollar store or Target. 

What about the TREATS?

Instead of trick-or-treating this year, here are two alternatives:

  1. Buy bags of your favorite Halloween candy at your local grocery store ahead of time. This is a win-win because you aren't stuck with candy no one likes. :)
  2. Start a new tradition and make/bake your own Halloween treats together! Check out this list of recipes:
Ghost Toss Game from Michaels


Looking for fun games and activities to distract kids and keep them busy having fun? Check out these...


Read some books! Here are some to consider...

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Freebie: Bilingual Halloween Counting Mats

I made counting mats for my 3yo this past weekend and decided to go ahead and share them with MommyMaestra readers. 

Yesterday, I mentioned the Halloween printables (bilingual) that I have in my TpT store. If you missed that post, take a look because one of my favorites is included: the Halloween Cumulative Tale

Today's freebie is a pack of counting mats with three different designs for counting 1 - 5, and an additional two designs for counting 1 - 10. 

We used orange pompoms to counting (shown above), but you can use anything or even have your kids stamp or draw their own items on the mat. The only problem with using the pompoms is that the static electricity builds up a little and they become attracted to each other which can make it a little hard to keep them in their rows.

Halloween counting mats

We also improvised a little bit and made tiny pumpkin counters using orange beads and some pieces of brown pipe cleaner for a stem...

Halloween counting mats

My 3 yo liked them, but still seemed to prefer the softness of the pompoms. However, BOTH of them were great for developing the small motor skills, namely the pincer grasp. 

Halloween counting mats

Just a reminder and word of caution: NEVER leave your young child unattended with small objects as they can be a choking hazard! If your child tends to put things in their mouth, use larger blocks (if the space allows), minifigures, or edible treats like crackers, cheese squares, goldfish, etc. (I had originally planned to use candy corn with them, but I just could never remember to buy them at the grocery store when I was there.) 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy them! Save them for Halloween if you are assembling activities for your little to do on the holiday.

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Bilingual Halloween Printables

Halloween is fast approaching! So I'm dedicating the next two posts to this holiday. This year, Halloween is shaping up to be very different for many of us. So today I want to share a few printables that are easy to do at home. 

Of course, I have a few that are available in both English and Spanish. 

Roll-a-Jack-O'Lantern Activity

Need a simple activity to keep your little one busy, learning math, and let's them develop their creativity? Check out my Roll-a-Jack Activity. Comes with two activities: simple & challenging. Give them a black marker and print the color version of the simple Design Your Own Jack O'Lantern page. Your kids just roll the dice to see what type of face to draw on their pumpkin. Also available in black-and-white so that the kids can color their own. 
The second activity is more challenging. Your kid will need one die, a pencil (or crayons/colored pencils/markers), and drawing paper. Print the key, roll the die, and draw to match the drawing key. You can come up with a new design every time!

Halloween Costume Coloring Book

Boost your Spanish- or English-learner's vocabulary with this bilingual coloring book. The pages show children in their Halloween costumes, so the student will enjoy coloring while learning the words for "bat/murciélago," "mummy/momia," "cowboy/vaquero" and more.

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

Halloween Storybook & Cumulative Tale Lesson

This is my absolute favorite activity, but it is better suited for older children in upper elementary and middle school. This download 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. 

Learn more about teaching cumulative tales here.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Beautiful Mundo: Secular Spanish Curriculum

The following is a sponsored post with Beautiful Mundo

I cannot express how excited I am about today's post. I love being surprised by new products, especially ones that are designed specifically for homeschoolers. Beautiful Mundo is a secular Spanish-immersion curriculum. And it may be used by both bilingual parents AND monolingual (English) parents who are raising bilingual children.

Name of program: Beautiful Mundo
Target age: 0 - 8+
Amount of materials: Moderate
Price: $88

What I love the most is that it is entirely literature based. When I was looking through the booklist, I discovered that I recognized most of the titles because they are considered Latino children's lit. (Most of them are by Hispanic authors, anyway, with a few translations scattered in.) In fact, I have most of them on my bookshelves. Some of the authors I spied in the list are Alma Flor Ada, Monica Brown, José-Luis Orozco, Lulu Delacre, and many others.

The good thing about this is that I believe most of these are easily found in local libraries, so you don't have to go out and buy all the titles yourself, which would be pricey. You can actually see the booklist for yourself on their website before you purchase the curriculum, which I think it really important. Because you don't want to be disappointed later if you are planning to get most of them from your library and your library doesn't have them. In fact, if you use the Library Extension for Chrome (or Firefox or Edge), any time you look at a book on Amazon, the extension will tell you if that same title is available at your local library (it's a goldmine!).   

Let's get into the curriculum.

Beautiful Mundo is only available as a PDF download. That means that when you make your online purchase, you receive instant access to the files, which you can download to your computer and begin using right away, if you so choose. The other great part is that you can print as many copies as you need (great for families with multiple children).

It all begins with the Parent Guide. It is SO helpful by providing a full background for parents on the goal of the program, the methodology, and details on how to use the curriculum. You'll find the list of books and music that are at the heart of the curriculum, and then you'll find the actual lessons themselves.

There are two pages for each week and each one has a theme or focus. They are carefully laid out with reading, activities, and crafts to complete throughout the week on your own schedule.

I love that the curriculum is so versatile allowing parents with children of different ages the opportunity to use this program. Beautiful Mundo trusts the parents to know their children best and be able to determine when their child is ready to begin the phonics, storytelling, and copywork books. 

Beautiful Mundo

The Phonics Book
gives parents the option to choose print or cursive. This workbook has been edited by native Spanish speakers in Spain and Argentina. Included are directions and notes for parents on teaching Spanish phonics, activities, and a lot of teaching techniques. It incorporates sign language with graphics showing the proper hand positions for each letter of the alphabet. And then the workbook begins by teaching first the vowels, followed by consonants in a thoughtfully chosen order. There are two pages dedicated to each letter with opportunities to practice writing the letter, words and images that begin with the letter, and a letter recognition search. The second page has a section for writing a complete word, as well as a list of words beginning with the letter.

The Storytelling Book is a supplemental resource for older children who are able to draw and write may utilize. It is comprised of simple worksheets that provide space for your child to draw and write (recount) the story you've just read. 

The Copywork Book is another supplemental book and also available in print or cursive. It's designed for older children who are learning to write, there is only one page to print each week to accompany the reading selection. It includes one quote from each book for your child to practice writing. The very back includes Spanish to English translations for parents to reference.

The program also comes with some additional printable materials, mostly flashcards of letters, number dots, shapes, emotions, etc. The letters are available in print or cursive to suit your preference.

Now, I ALWAYS tell people to DOWNLOAD THE SAMPLE PAGES of any curriculum before they purchase it to make sure it is a good fit for their family. And this is no exception. You can find sample pages of the Parent Guide and Phonics Workbook here.

Price-wise, Beautiful Mundo isn't the cheapest, but it also isn't the most expensive curriculum. It's somewhere in the middle. The complete set costs $88, and that price does not include the books. But a lot of work has gone into it and I think parents will love the digital aspect of it that allows them instant access to the download directly after purchasing it.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received the product for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Today Only! Online Sales

 With Amazon running its Prime Day Sale yesterday and today, many other companies have jumped on the bandwagon with sales or discounts to grab our attention. Here are five different opportunities for you to take advantage of today.

Melissa & Doug sitewide sale

Melissa & Doug is having a sitewide sale with 20% off everything on their website. Just use the code: SMILE

Tynker is having a Flash Sale with 30% OFF on all new Tynker plans!

Tynker has over 600 hours of unique content for children ages 5 to 17, starting with simple block-coding and Minecraft before expanding to Python, game design and more. With Tynker's story-based platform, Nick will be having so much fun that they won't even realize they're developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and STEM skills!

Lakeshore Learning Sale

Lakeshore Learning has specific items on sale for up to 60% off! Lots of great educational items perfect for homeschooling, including Spanish/bilingual toys.

Mindware Lightning Deals

Mindware has some fantastic lightning deals available for up to 60% off. Most of these are kits to keep your creative kids busy.

Oops! Just found one more. Kids Discover is extending their Back-to-School Sale, where you can save on their Educator and Homeschool Plans. This sale will last through Oct 16th! I'm thinking about signing up. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Free Día de los Muertos Digital Classroom

In three short weeks, people all across the Americas and beyond will be celebrating Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Teachers have begun to search for resources, and families who are now homeschooling are looking for materials, too. 

So I'm delighted to share this Day of the Dead virtual classroom

You may remember me sharing a similar resource last month for Hispanic Heritage Month. This new digital site has been created by the same team of educators.

Created by a remarkable group of educators, you can find:

  • information about the culture surrounding the holiday,
  • explanations of the symbolism found in the items of the ofrenda,
  • descriptions on how the holiday is celebrated in 12 countries, 
  • tutorials for crafts, 
  • read aloud books, 
  • music online, 
  • and more.

Once again, most of the YouTube videos may be watched safely without having access to inappropriate content.  

If you're looking for free resources to celebrate Day of the Dead, this should probably be at the top of your list!

And if you are wondering...yes, you can share it with everyone.


Friday, October 9, 2020

Canticos Bilingual Preschool App

The following is a sponsored post with Canticos. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

One of the main requests I see in our Hispanic and Bilingual Homeschoolers group is for a bilingual curriculum or materials for preschool. Raising bilingual children certainly isn't anything new. But now that so many parents find themselves actively teaching their preschoolers at home, there is a huge demand for bilingual resources. 

So when Canticos reached out and asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing their bilingual preschool app, I said, "¡Sí!" (I have a 3-year-old myself, so I am happy to look for products I can use teach him Spanish.) And I'm delighted that I did.

I should strongly state here, that I don't believe in giving young children access to tablets or online games for long periods of time. In fact, this is the first app my youngest has ever played with. And I only allowed him access after I looked through the entire app myself to make sure it was a) age appropriate, b) divided up into short segments, and c) didn't contain advertising of any sort.

Canticos' Bilingual Preschool App met all of these and more. 

NameCanticos' Bilingual Preschool App
Subject(s): Preschool concepts
Brief Description: An comprehensive app for preschoolers that teaches children many of the basic skills needed for kindergarten prep.
Price: FREE 7-day trial, then $6.99/month or $57.99/year
Language: English or Spanish
Ages: 3 - 5 years
DeviceiOS, Android

Preschool Concepts

The app is a clever compilation of a lot of the videos Canticos has created over the years, plus additional activities to nurture learning and reinforce preschool concepts. It is 100% ad free (yay!). 

When you first set up the app, you are able to choose which language the app will present to your child. However, it's easy to change the language by simply clicking on the speech bubble in the upper right-hand corner.

As you can see in the picture above, there are seven different categories for your child to select:

  1. ¡A jugar!
  2. Aprende
  3. Videos
  4. Música
  5. Stickers
  6. Libros
  7. Arte

¡A jugar! has a simple counting game and an animated video with an English version of the Pollitos song. There appears to be many other games that are locked, but I'm not sure how to access them (they may be for children in the Early Reader/Reader levels). It's possible that they are forthcoming as the app continues to be developed.

Aprende has six activities that focus on teaching las vocales/the vowels, beginning sounds, emotions, simple counting, and rhythm. Burbujas is my favorite because it teaches children to associate letter sounds with specific letters and touch them as they float by. My son love Fiesta de piñata because he has to tap the piñata a certain number of times to break it open and get the candy.

The Videos section is a collection of all the Canticos videos, including Sol solecito, Sana sana, Las mañanitas, and many others.

The Música section is just a fun set of all the traditional songs with no animation, just the audio. This is an awesome part for doing sing-alongs and TPR activities with your student or child, such as dancing, fingerplays, and more.

The Stickers area has a set of four different backgrounds to which your child can drag stickers of the various Canticos characters.

Libros has 18 different stories that your child can either read on her own, or be read to using the Léeme function one of which your child chooses at the beginning of the story. If you choose the latter, then the words light up in a different color as the story is read. I love this function which is so important for children learning to read. The books aren't actually animated like a video, but in some, there is movement of characters on screen. And once the sentence or words on each page is read, your child must tap on the arrow in the bottom of the screen to go forward or backward. Some of the stories offer your child the chance to be sung to, as well.

Finally, there is the Arte section. This one is my son's favorite. It is basically a coloring activity with eight different images. You child chooses one, then selects their tool of choice: a colored pencil (they choose the color) for scribbling, a rainbow pencil which draws lines of rainbow color, a paint brush for broad strokes, and a paint can to simply tap on sections to be filled with color. 

If they make a mistake, they can either select the eraser tool to delete the part that they designate, OR they can click on the trash can in the bottom corner of the page which cleans away all color from the screen leaving behind the original image. Or, they can select the undo arrow to remove their last action, or the redo arrow to bring it back.

The final tool available is the sticker function which provides a series of stickers that your child can select to embellish their coloring page. 

Bonus Materials for Parents

Parent can certainly just hand their children the device with the app and let their kids learn organically and safely. But if you want to maximize the learning potential of this app, then subscribers may want to use the online App Parent Guide. This is a collection of printable activities to offer your child to extend the learning in conjunction with the app. I'm hopeful that as this company grows, they'll include lesson plans in this section to guide parents who may be homeschooling their preschooler.

While I don't recommend using this app as a curriculum replacement (nor do I think that's what the creators intended), I do think it is an incredibly wonderful tool for parents to use as a supplement to their preschool lessons. I can see us using it two or three times a week for 15 - 20 minutes as a reward and a learning tool to reinforce the concepts he's learning. 


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in conjunction with Canticos. They provided me access and materials to their app. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Día de los Muertos: Libro de actividades preescolares

I am so excited to share that my Day of the Dead: Preschool Activity Book now has a Spanish version! 

Thank you so much to my amiga, Dania Santana, for double-checking some of the translation. She helped get it in shape for publication. 

Last year, I published the English version and it was very popular. But I had a ton of requests for it in Spanish, so I'm happy to be able to offer it to bilingual families.

These 40-page activity books are filled with fun, colorful activities to keep your preschooler learning while having fun.

They include 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.

Purchase yours here:

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Whistlefritz: The Spanish Educator's Collection

 Whistlefritz: Spanish Educator's Collection

I'd like to welcome a new MommyMaestra sponsor! I'm sure most of you are already familiar with Whistlefritz, a language-learning program for children in preschool and early elementary. 

Last year, I reviewed their program for homeschoolers. They've actually revamped that version by adding even more fantastic materials to it. The new one is called, The Educator's Spanish Collection, and it comes with:

  • a 277-page Lesson Plan book
  • Memory Matching Cards game
  • LA GRAN COLECCIÓN, boxed set of:
    - 5 videos (DVDs or digital downloads)
    - 5 music albums (CDs or digital downloads) including their new Music CD, ¡BUENOS DÍAS!

What's really great about this program is its multimedia approach. Not only do the lessons provide hands-on learning, but the lessons include videos to enhance vocabulary learning, music to engage children in singing and dancing, and games.

Like the original, the Lesson Plan book is a scaffolding curriculum that contains 40 lessons each of which takes 30 - 40 minutes to complete. The spiral curriculum builds on previous lessons and allows children to master their Spanish by providing them with multiple opportunities to revisit previously taught concepts. 

Some of the lessons are cross-curricular, teaching not only Spanish, but also science, art, and even physical education. (Because most of the focus on preschool concepts, I think this curriculum would work well as a preschool curriculum for Spanish-speaking children.)

Each lesson contains two sections. The first has...

  • a description of each lesson
  • the goal
  • the objective
  • vocabulary
  • materials
  • estimated time to teach
  • The second section is on the activity itself and it has...
  • the focus (and review)
  • teacher input
  • guided practice
  • independent practice
  • the closure
  • and extension activities

Quite a lot of thought has gone into each lesson and I really appreciate the guided practice section because it is thorough and provides the teacher with exact text to help their students.

Although the text is written in English, Spanish text for all speaking scripts is included. But there is also a complete Spanish version available here, making this a good choice for immersion programs and/or homeschoolers.

As I ALWAYS say, download a sample of the program before you buy. And you can download sample plans and watch a video clip here.

One of the new elements of this set is their new album, ¡Buenos Días!. It is so fun and masterfully produced. It is SO RICH in cultural rhythms, including salsa, merengue, flamenco, reggae, and Andean rhythms. I love all the songs, but my absolute favorite is ¿Cómo se llama la llama? (Seriously, it's hilarious.) But the song Sonidos del Flamenco absolutely calls to the española in me. 

Really, every last song is fun and engaging. You can listen to clips of ALL the songs and purchase the CD separately here on their website.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Queen of Tejano Music: Selena

Queen of Tejano Music: Selena


In my household, Selena is having a BIG moment. During a week-long visit with their Corpus Christi cousins this summer, my older two children were introduced to Selena Quintanilla Perez and her music. After watching the movie featuring Jennifer Lopez and visiting the standard Selena sights in Corpus Christi, TX, my kids became fans. While my husband and I grew up listening to Selena y Los Dinos and still remember vividly when she was taken from this world too early by “she-who-will-not-be-named,” we never really played her music around the house for our children to hear. FACEPALM!

After realizing how utterly unacceptable our children’s lack of education regarding Tejano music’s most honored and cherished female figure, my husband and I bought the movie on iTunes and created the appropriate Spotify playlists for all our kids to enjoy. Three months later, all five of our kids can recognize a Selena song and even our 1-year-old will bop up and down to “Biddi Biddi Bom Bom.” Our older two are now enjoying other artists like Ritchie Valens because, as I told them, before Selena, there was Ritchie.

Must-have Picture Book!

Of course, I couldn’t call myself a homeschool mama without buying a book to further my children’s appreciation of Selena. While there have been a number of notable picture books featuring figures in Hispanic history, perhaps there has not been one that has brought forth such overwhelming nostalgia to me as this new release from Little Bee Books called, Queen of Tejano Music: Selena (aff). 

Written by Silivia Lopez, Queen of Tejano Music: Selena is written as a picture book biography recommended for children ages 6-9 but it is easily enjoyable for tweens and teens, as my own teen and tween can attest. There is an appropriate amount of text to engage children about Selena’s life from her birth (she was an Easter baby!) until her death. There are also fun quotes from Selena herself such as this one from her early years in the music business: “If we got five or ten dollars,” Selena said, “we could go to Whataburger!”

The book also includes a timeline of Selena’s life and a few pages in the back with important contextual information called “A Little More About…” that includes pages of information about the following: 
  • Tejanos, Hispanics or Latinos, 
  • Tejano or Tex-Mex Music, 
  • Quinceaneras, 
  • Lake Jackson, Texas, 
  • Corpus Christi, Texas, 
  • Selena Behind the Scenes, 
  • Tragedy, 
  • and Remembering Selena.
What makes this picture book a MUST-have is not just the useful information, but the absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Illustrator Paola Escobar’s work is captivating and vibrant. There are so many tiny details in each two-page spread that you could look through this book many times and still find something new to look at. And just look at the cover art! Doesn’t it just take your breath away?!? The roses, Selena’s iconic purple costume, a microphone. I’m completely obsessed.

Queen of Tejano Music: Selena

Was Selena A Homeschooler?

The technical answer to this question is no. Selena, finished her education through “long-distance classes” which is another way of saying, she went to correspondence school so that she could study while touring and not have to worry about showing up to a brick and mortar school. But the idea of Selena being a homeschooler is intriguing, isn’t it? In fact, on the timeline, provided in the back of the picture book it says, “1984. Left middle school to tour with the band, now called Selena y Los Dinos. Began homeschool classes.” Awe. The book even used “homeschool” as one word not “home school” with a space in between which people who aren’t familiar with homeschooling call it in writing. 

While Selena could not have legally called herself a homeschooler at the time (homeschooling was not officially legalized in Texas until 1994 according to the Texas Homeschool Coalition) she certainly acquired her education in a manner that was unique and family-centric. The illustration on the page which describes Selena’s education has Selena, her siblings, and her parents all working together to help Selena with her work. There are books and notebooks, a calculator and a tea cup, pencils and markers all on the table. It looks like a normal homeschool day to me, but I’m totally biased. LOL! 

It is well documented that later in her career, Selena would speak at schools across Texas about the value of education. However, I can’t help but wonder, if homeschooling had been what it is now, would the Quintanillas have been a homeschooling family? Just one of so many questions we are left with one someone is taken so unexpectedly from this world.

Queen of Tejano: Selena is only available as a hardback book and I can understand that during these times, $18.99 might be a high price for a picture book. If this is the case, ask your library to buy it! In fact, even if you do buy this book for your family, ask your library to buy it anyway. This book is a treasure and for Hispanic Heritage Month, your entire community would benefit from having a library that has wonderful picture books like this in their collection.


Stacie Servantes Farias is an Army wife and mom of 5 with a “very healthy” obsession for Snoopy, Disney movies, Audrey Hepburn, Dr. Pepper, Whataburger, books, and homeschooling. Originally from Mission, Texas, Stacie and her high-school sweetheart hubby live with their kids and dog in a different home every few years, because that is the military life. She has big plans to write a book exploring her theory that La Llorona drowned her children because they would take their socks off all over the house and then would complain that they never had clean ones! Stacie also thinks she is really funny, but she is mostly lame. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Free 30-Minute Language Learning Online Class for MommyMaestra Readers

The following is a sponsored post by Cultural Bytes

This month is our favorite month here at Cultural Bytes because it’s the month to share our heritage. Cultural Bytes is a FULL IMMERSION language program that focuses on teaching children many languages - Spanish, French, and Mandarin. 

Due to the pandemic, we changed our methods of teaching. At first, we thought it was going to be difficult since it was ALL online but luckily parents, as well as their children, have loved our classes! We have students all over the world learning with the Cultural Bytes teachers. The advantage of learning a language not only gives our students the ability to develop their critical thinking, their communication skills, and their vocabulary faster, but it also includes the most important part:  CULTURE! 

These classes focus INDIVIDUALLY on the student. What that means is that the teacher finds out what the student likes and enjoys and from there, the class is built. The only catch is that it’s fully in the language they will be learning. It is really fun! And for that reason we would like to offer a 30-minutes FREE class to all MommyMaestra readers when you fill out this form

We are so excited to hear from you! 

If you want to learn more visit

Have you had your cultural byte today? 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by Cultural Bytes. MommyMaestra only accepts sponsorships by approved education companies.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables

One request I see over and over is for bilingual audiobooks. These are especially valuable to busy families needing educational activities kids can do independently, as well as for those families in which the parents don't speak Spanish, but are raising bilingual children. 

This post contains affiliate links.

Bilingual Fairy Tales

So when Adam Beck reached out to me and asked me about sharing his book, 28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables (aff), I agreed. Adam is an author and bilingualism expert. He's written numerous books on bilingualism for parents. And this book is a tool he created to help engage children with familiar stories as they learn and practice a new language.

This is a very simple book - there are no illustrations. But the stories are short and fun retellings of familiar tales such as The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, and many more.  

It comes with full text in English and Spanish; first the English story, followed by the Spanish version. Inside the book is a link for you to type into your web browser for access to the individual audio files for each story. Just click to listen. This is perfect for monolingual parents raising bilingual kids. But it is also great as an activity to keep the kids busy while parents are working at home. Teens will also benefit from listening to the stories for the pronunciation guidance.

Beck has also included different ways in which to use the book with children of various ages, which is super helpful, not just for parents, but educators, too. 

And, of course, audiobooks as a whole are incredibly useful tools when it comes to language acquisition. Children can listen to them over and over to learn not just pronunciation, but basic grammar and word placement within a sentence. They are a great way to build up confidence in young learners.

Ready to get your copy? Buy it now!

More Spanish Fairy Tale Resources

If you'd like to supplement this book with additional fairy tale resources, take a look at these sites:

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Free Download: Fall Fun Spanish Learning Calendar

October is here and this month, we have a different type of free download for you from our awesome sponsor, Spanish for You!

This month's freebie is has three weeks' worth of themed activities to help your young Spanish learner. Just click on the links to find games and mini-lessons for learning the days of the week, numbers, colors, and more. There's even a Halloween word search to help your kids get into the holiday spirit! As always, most of the activities come with audio 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!

Friday, October 2, 2020

New Costa Rica Country Coloring Activity & Flash Sale

Country Coloring Activity: Costa Rica

I can't let Hispanic Heritage Month go by without a new Country Coloring Activity! So this year, I've added Costa Rica to the collection. 

These Country Coloring Activities are simple to use. Available in English or Spanish, just have your kids read about a person, place, or thing related to the country, then have them find it on the map and color it in.

The new issues also include an added page of additional learning resources to extend the learning with related books, online articles, and videos.

Right now, there are seven countries represented: 

  1. Spain
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Mexico
  4. Cuba
  5. Peru
  6. Venezuela
  7. Costa Rica


TODAY ONLY! I've placed all these on sale FOR ONE DOLLAR! 

That's cheaper than what you can get Bundle #1 (which only includes the first 4 countries). Bundle #2 will be out by the end of the year with a new country. :)


Thursday, October 1, 2020

New Mariachi Video from Disney Featuring Mariachi Cobre

Ever since my mom passed away a few years ago, my love of Mariachi music has grown. In fact, I have a whole post dedicated to Mariachi lesson plans, books, activities and more

So when I saw this new video Disney released in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month talking about the history of Mariachi Cobre, I wanted to share it. 

I hope you enjoy it...

If you're looking for printable resources that talk about the history of Mariachi bands and music themselves, be sure to check out this page in my shop on TpT. There you'll find:
  • Mariachi Reading Comprehension Boom Cards for Distance Learning (in English OR Spanish)
  • Mariachi Coloring Pages with short descriptions (English & Spanish)
  • Mariachi 1-Page Reading Passage with comprehension questions (English & Spanish)
Mariachi downloads for print or online learning


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