Monday, December 27, 2021

Popular New Year's Traditions from Latin America

New Year is a time to celebrate, to bid the year goodbye goodbye, and and welcome a new one with open arms. It’s a time of joy and renewal. People across the world practice different New Year’s rituals and traditions in hopes that it will come in with good luck, health, love, and fortune. 

Latin America is no exception to the rule. Latin Americans celebrate the New Year with joy, great food, and unique traditions. Some are pretty classical, while others are quite quirky. Here is a list of some of the most popular New Year’s traditions that people love to practice in Latin America to start the year right!

Popular New Year's Traditions in Latin America

Eating Twelve Grapes at the Stroke of Twelve Bells

One of the most popular ways to welcome the new year in Latin America is by eating twelve red grapes as the twelve-second countdown begins before the clock strikes midnight. Each grape represents a wish, one for every month of the year. This tradition can get pretty fun, as twelve seconds isn’t really a lot of time to stuff 12 grapes into your mouth, so rushing is essential.

This ritual was imported from Spain and is practiced by people in several Latin American countries, including Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia. 


Yep, you read that right! In some countries, people actually take a broom and sweep as the New Year begins. Some sweep the old vibes out the door in order for the new ones to come in, while others throw a few coins right outside the door and sweep them into the house at midnight to beckon fortune for the household.

© Can Stock Photo - nebari

Carrying a Suitcase Around the Block

Another fun New Year’s tradition for many Latin Americans is to throw some clothes into a suitcase and carrying it around the block. As you probably already guessed, this is done with the hope that the new year brings in a lot of traveling. It can be quite uncanny seeing people wandering around with their suitcases at midnight, but well, on December 31st, this is a pretty common sight in Latin America!

Jumping Seven Waves

In Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro and other coastal destinations, people approach the ocean waters and jump seven waves at midnight on New Year’s eve. This is done with the intention of attracting good health and fortune in the coming months. Some people also like to offer presents to the sea, including flowers and fruit as a way to give thanks for the blessings that will come.

Wearing Colored Underwear

Believe it or not, this tradition is very common in many Latin American countries! A lot of Latin Americans carefully pick their underwear’s color on New Year’s eve, having in mind what they hope to find in the coming year. 

Red undies are believed to attract love, while yellow ones bring in fortune, and white beckons peace. In Argentina specifically, pink underwear is worn to attract good things in general.

© Can Stock Photo - StudioLightAndShade

Wearing White Clothes

In countries like Argentina and Brazil, people typically dress in white clothes on New Year’s Eve. White symbolizes new beginnings, peace, and prosperity, so they pick their outfits in the hopes of filling the coming year with everything white represents.

Burning the Old Year Away

As a way to celebrate the coming of the new year, people in Ecuador have a tradition of burning the old one away. 

This is done by getting together with the closest people in your life (be it friends or family) on the evening of December 31st and then throwing a doll made of cardboard and cloth into a bonfire. The doll symbolizes the year that is ending. If the year was a bad one, it can be thrown and hit before being tossed into the fire! On the other hand, if the finishing year was good, the doll can be cuddled with joy before going into the bonfire.

I hope this list of New Year’s traditions in Latin America has shone some light on how people in this region of the world bid the year goodbye to make space for the new one! 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Book Review: Mis Cuentos Ecológicos

The following is a sponsored post with Nacho Books. All thoughts and opinions are the writer's own.

This review is one of a series of educational books in Spanish available from the new Nacho Books website. Find additional reviews in this series here

Stories about Caring for the Planet

Mis Cuentos Ecológicos is a hard-cover Spanish story book from Nacho Books that transports children to a magical world through nine short fairy tale-like stories that focus on the importance of taking care of the natural world. Each tale introduces how human actions harm nature and how personal decision making can make a difference in keeping animals and the environment clean and happy. 

Talking animals, walking trees, messages in the sky all implore humans to reverse their ways before nature is destroyed. The protagonists in each story realize the value of recycling, stopping deforestation, not using pesticides, keeping land and water clear of trash and reducing harmful pollution. 

The full-page illustrations are vibrant and full of emotion. Each page shows the contrast of emotional responses from animals and humans when the right and wrong decisions are made. 

It’s target audience is beginner and fluent Spanish speakers in K-2nd grade (5-8 years old). The stories present a clear right and wrong choice for the environment, and consequences for the wrong choices like littering, polluting, or not recycling are severe. They do not shy away from the stark reality that some human behaviors can have dire consequences. 

Animals, humans and mythical beings send clear messages about what the right choices should be and the stories always end with people realizing their errors and restoring the environment to what it was. It also presents the government and companies as being easily and quickly convinced of what needs to change and their being on board for immediate and dramatic action. 

The book presents several environmental issues as clear moral choices. Possible conversations that could develop from these stories could be about personal choices and systemic change and what role young people can play in taking care of the planet as well as who the power holders are, i.e. governments and companies. 

Click over to Nacho Books to order this and other titles to support your child’s emerging reading and listening comprehension in Spanish as well as their understanding of pressing environmental issues. 


Monika Aldarondo is a former arts educator, and current photographer and creative shape-shifter with Puerto Rican roots. She posts about her bilingual home/un-schooling journey on Instagram @librolovinmama. Her photography and creative projects can be found at

Friday, December 17, 2021

Free Vicente Fernández Reading Passage

Five days ago, the remarkable Vicente Fernández passed away. Often referred to as "Mexico's National Treasure," Chente (as he was known to many) left behind an amazing legacy of more than 80 albums and more than 300 songs. But what matters to most of his adoring fans is not the number of songs he sang, so much as their own personal memories and emotions that were tied to those songs.

Many people asked me for a printable dedicated to Fernández. I finally sat down and did a bit of research and created one for you. For those who are newsletter subscribers, keep an eye on your inbox this weekend for my latest newsletter, which includes a free download of this one-page reading passage with a brief history of the musical icon's life. 

If you aren't a newsletter subscriber, you can find the download in my TpT store here.

And if you'd like to go ahead and get your copy, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get an instant download of this printable reading passage delivered (for a limited time) right to your inbox.

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Here are some of my other posts and reading passages that you may enjoy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Las Posadas Printable Resources

Las Posadas start tomorrow! Are you looking for resources to teach your students/children about this nine-day celebration?

Las Posadas is a re-enactment of the night that Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem and asked for shelter. These evening celebrations begin each year on December 16th and end on Christmas Eve.

I have a ton of resources here on MommyMaestra for learning about Las Posadas, including crafts, videos, books, and more. Just click here or use the sidebar search box.

And if you are looking for a quick, no-prep, print-and-go activity to teach your child about this holiday celebration, then check out my Las Posadas collection! It has printables for a variety of ages and they are ALL available in both English and Spanish.

Here's a peek at what you'll find:

for preschool and elementary grades

for preschool and early elementary grades

for early elementary

for elementary

elementary grades

for 4th - 8th grade (and higher!)

For upper elementary grades

Friday, December 10, 2021

Christmas Words in Spanish - Free Daily Activities

This year is coming to an end and the holidays are upon us. I am deeply thankful to all the wonderful sponsors of MommyMaestra, but especially to Spanish for You! who provides such wonderful free downloads every month for Spanish learners. If you've been using their freebies, please consider purchasing directly from them. Any of their affordable products would make the perfect gift for young language learners!

This month's freebie is a set of daily activities for learning Christmas words. They'll help your young student learn the vocabulary associated with the holidays. This two-page download comes with a list of activities and a printable word search. You can also fine an audio file below to help with pronunciation.

Download the printable file here

Download the audio file here

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!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Juan Diego & Our Lady of Guadalupe Reading Passage


Can Stock Photo - Shakzu

December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. When I was growing up, her image was everywhere in my 'Buelita's house: on candles, jewelry, little cards that she carried in her purse, and other places. 

If you don't know the story behind the Virgin of Guadalupe, read on!

The Legend of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

Legend has it that on December 12th, 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Virgin Mary) appeared and spoke to Juan Diego, an indigenous Mexican whose birth name was Cuauhtlatoatzin. It was one of four instances in which she appeared to him.

Not much is known about Juan Diego’s early life, other than his indigenous heritage and the fact that he and his wife had no children. They both were some of the first converts to Catholicism shortly after the arrival of 12 Franciscan missionaries in Mexico in 1524.

The story goes that on December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to mass when he had a vision of the Virgin Mary. She was bathed in a heavenly light and told him to tell the bishop to build a shrine for her there on Tepeyac Hill, just outside Mexico City... and she spoke to him in his native tongue - Náhuatl - not in Spanish.

Of course, the bishop didn’t believe Juan Diego but said he would think about it. Diego saw Mary again later that day and suggested she send someone else. But at her urging, he agreed to make her request again in the morning. This time, the bishop asked for proof of the vision. Diego immediately sought out The Virgin on Tepeyac and she told him to return the following day. 

However, the next day, Diego’s uncle fell ill and he stayed home to take care of him (Diego’s wife had died two years before). But his uncle’s condition became so bad overnight that on December 12th, Diego went out in search of a priest to administer the last rites. While doing so, Mary once again appeared to him, though he avoided going up Tepeyac Hill for fear of seeing her.  She told Diego that his uncle would be fine and then directed Diego, who was wearing a heavy tilma (cloak) to stay warm, to fill it with roses and take them to the bishop as proof. Despite it being winter, he found the flowers blooming on the rocky hill and filled his tilma. But when he took them to the bishop, not only did fresh Castilian roses spill from his tilma, but a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe shone from the inside of his cloak. The bishop was convinced and immediately ordered a shrine to be built.

Juan Diego was allowed to live in a small hut near the Basilica and spent the rest of his life serving the poor and needy in Mary’s name.

To this day, the tilma hangs in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It has survived 500 years and shows no sign of cracking or fading. And careful testing has shown, “the image was made using no underdrawing, no sizing, no protective over-varnish and no brush strokes.”

The Printable Mini-Lesson

For a few years now, I've been wanting to offer a reading passage on the legend of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. I finally uploaded it to my TpT shop this morning. 

If you'd like to use this mini lesson with your own students or children, you can find it here in my TpT store. This one-page reading passage shares this legend based in Mexico. The informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade, and it includes an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.

And, as always, it is available in both English and Spanish.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Holiday Gifting: Shapes Puzzle


If you're like me, then you spend a lot of time trying to find gifts that are educational in some way, shape, or form for your kids to open during the holidays. Today's gift recommendation is for those of you with preschoolers!

This post uses affiliate links. 

Shape Puzzles

One of my favorite finds that I gave my preschooler last year is this set of LIKEE pattern blocks. When I was growing up, I was obsessed with tangrams. I loved the challenge of these puzzles. But they were definitely a little TOO challenging for my preschooler. Fortunately, I found these and they are perfect!

This set comes with 36 wooden pieces painted in bright, non-toxic colors. Overall, they are larger than most pattern blocks so that makes it easier for little hands to manipulate them. 

The set also has 60 pattern cards of easily recognizable patterns for your child to create. The items include animals, transportation, household items, and more. They range in complexity from simple (like the boat shown above) to challenging (like the excavator). One side of the card shows the completed design and the name of the object. The other side shows you the pieces needed. Your child must figure out how they fit together and if there are layers.

This game is great for developing critical thinking skills, fine motor skills, and analyzation. It also helps you teach colors, shapes, counting, and vocabulary (round, half, combine, layer, etc.)

This set is best suited for children ages 4 to 7, but my then 3-year-old was able to use them easily last year and even my teen enjoys doing them with my youngest. (Okay, in all honesty, I enjoy them, too!)

If this shape puzzle sounds like something you've been looking for, you can find it here on Amazon:

Monday, December 6, 2021

Holiday Gifting: Picture Book of World Celebrations


This is one of the books on my list to buy this year! 

Celebrations Around the World

Let's Celebrate! Special Days Around the World features 13 holidays found in different cultures. What a fabulous resource for those of us raising global citizens. 

You'll read about holidays like Kodomo no Hi (Children's Day) in Japan, Matariki in New Zealand, Diwali in India, New Yam Festival in Nigeria, and many more. It even includes Día de los Muertos! :)

The book includes a timeline so that you can see on what day of the year each holiday is celebrated. There's also a section of fun facts for each holiday that includes words in different languages as they relate to each celebration.

And the illustrations are fantastic. This is a vibrant picture book with just enough information so as not to overwhelm young readers. Instead they are left engaged and wanting to learn more.

Online Theatrical Story Time

And if you'd like to extend the learning, the Fort Worth Kimbell Art Museum is hosting a BILINGUAL theatrical story time for FREE and ONLINE, tomorrow, Tuesday, December 7th at 11 am CT. You read that right - it's in English AND SPANISH.

The name of the event is Pictures and Pages/Fotos y Libros. You can either RSVP to their FB event page or subscribe to their YouTube channel to get notified so that you don't forget.

Get It!

Be sure to visit your local library to ask for this title. 

And if you'd like to purchase this book, you can find it on Amazon or Bookshop:

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Holiday Gifting: Aula Creativa 5

Aula Creativa 5: Art Workbook in Spanish

The following is a sponsored post with Nacho Books. All thoughts and opinions are the writer's own.

This review is one of a series of educational books in Spanish available from the new Nacho Books website. Find additional reviews in this series here

Aula Creativa 5: Art Workbook in Spanish

Aula Creativa 5 “Serie Educatión Artística” by Susaeta

Aula Creativa 5 by Susaeta is part of a series of books designed to support your child’s artistic thinking and skills. This series is all in Spanish and is geared toward advanced Spanish speakers in Pre-K through upper elementary/middle school. You can find the whole series books 1-9 at Nacho Books. 

Aula Creativa 5 introduces a variety of artistic skills, including drawing, mark making, color theory, simple instrument making, origami and more. Each activity is followed by it’s theme, goals, interdisciplinary theme, and further exploration. There are also spaces for recording the students’ prior knowledge and assessment of what they’ve learned through the activity. 

Aula Creativa 5: Art Workbook in Spanish

The lessons include jumping off points for studying artists within the western canon, art movements and interdisciplinary themes through a brief paragraph and an internet link for further investigation. For example, an image that asks for elements of an ocean scene be drawn and colored in is followed by a paragraph on what role the oceans and marine life play in Earth’s ecosystem and oxygen production.  The interdisciplinary nature of this book allows for an expansive view of art and how it connects to many areas of life. 

The introduction of the pedagogical approach and book’s structure for parent teachers is thorough and speaks to why and how visual and music education are important in learning and life. This is a great starting point or supplemental book for your child’s visual arts education, and music education to a lesser degree. The structure is good for parents who would like to see how to integrate art in an interdisciplinary way. 

Aula Creativa 5: Art Workbook in Spanish

If this sounds like it would support your child’s artistic growth head over to Nacho Books for this series and others on drawing, cutting, and creative writing. 

If you're looking for more art resources, check out these on MommyMaestra:


Monika Aldarondo is a former arts educator, and current photographer and creative shape-shifter with Puerto Rican roots. She posts about her bilingual home/un-schooling journey on Instagram @librolovinmama. Her photography and creative projects can be found at


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