Thursday, June 30, 2022

15 Children's Books about the Ocean


There are so many fabulous books about the ocean now available for children. And summer is one of the best times to explore them because - hello! - trips to the beach! We used to go to the beach all the time when we lived on the East Coast. Now that we're in Texas, we miss those beach trips terribly. 

So I have been looking at ocean-themed children's books to share with my youngest. If you are looking for some, too, take a look at these!

Books about the Ocean - in English

by Anita Ganeri

by Bethanie Hestermann

by Christina Wilsdon   

by DK

Books about the Ocean - in Spanish

by DK Publishing

by Michelle Glorieux

El Mundo Marino 
(Discovery Guides "Ocean Worlds")
by Francesca Baines

by Nicola Davies

by Jess French

by Franz Anthony & María Emilia Beyer

Bilingual Books that Feature the Ocean

by Marcus Pfister

by Alan Watts 

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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Paleta-Themed Educational Resources

It's summer. It's hot. And I'm always looking for fun activities to keep my kids busy when they are staying inside out of the heat. One of my 4yo's favorite themes at this time of year is paletas. So for him, I created a few paleta-themed printables. I kept looking and discovered other ideas, too, with a popsicle theme, including toys, books, crafts, and more.

This post contains affiliate links.

Paleta (Popsicle) Printables

Here are a few paleta-themed activity sheets that you may love!

Paleta Activity Pack for PreK & Kindergarten

Perfect for summer learning, this popsicle-themed activity pack is great for little learners. And for young Spanish learners, the paleta theme is win-win!

There are 12 pages total with activities that focus on the following concepts and skills:

  • counting
  • spot the difference
  • puzzles
  • vocabulary
  • math
  • sequencing
  • tracing
  • maze
  • featured letter

All the activities are available in English and Spanish - you choose the version that works best for you.

Paleta Board Game

Paleta Board Game

A simple board game that teaches number recognition (1 - 5) and basic counting. Comes with game pieces and a spinner base, as well as a game board. Object is to get the players (game pieces) to the finish where the paletero's cart is waiting for them!

Other Paleta-themed activities

Paleta (Popsicle) Learning Toys

Recently, the popsicle/paleta theme has been popular with toy makers. Here are some that I find adorable and educational. 

Learning Resources Smart Snacks Number Pops

Ages 18months+

Build number and fine-motor skills with these irresistible ice cream pops. Pop the numbered shell over the ice cream pop with the matching number of dots. Perfect for practicing 1-to-1 correspondence with numbers 1-10. Great for color matching too. Includes 20 pieces total-10 pops and 10 matching shells.

Learning Resources Smart Snacks Alpha Pops $28

Ages 2+

Reinforce upper and lowercase letter recognition as your child matches together these frozen pops. Great for fine motor skills and imaginative play. Each pop is double sided so all letters of the alphabet are included. Pops are self-checking by color. 26 pieces.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Frozen Treats Ice Cream Play Set

Ages 3+

Chill out with this 24-piece mix-and-match set! Make wooden ice cream sandwiches, ice pops, and Italian ice cups. Self-sticking tabs hold together 3 different cookie flavors and vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream fillings. The set also includes 6 multicolored ice pops on sticks that kids can stick together and pull apart. Or, fill the lidded cups with 4 flavors of ice and serve with a classic wooden spoon! Display the array of chilled goodies in the storage tray and use the menu card to identify all the pieces and place orders. This play set is a great way for kids 3 and older to develop fine-motor, matching and sorting, and counting skills. Playing with food has never been so cool.

Paleta Books

Paletero Man
by Lucky Diaz

In this story, a young boy is melting on the hottest day of the year and goes in search of relief by looking for Paletero José and his cart of many flavors (and colors!). But once he finds el paletero, he discovers he has lost all his money along the way! What's a boy to do??

I wrote a review of Paletero Man that includes a free download of reading comprehension questions to go with the book.

What Can You Do With a Paleta? / ¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta?
by Carmen Tafolla

As she strolls through her barrio, a young girl introduces readers to the frozen, fruit-flavored treat that thrills Mexican and Mexican-American children. Create a masterpiece, make tough choices (strawberry or coconut?), or cool off on a warm summer's day--there's so much to do with a paleta.


And for mamis, I recommend Aguas Frescas & Paletas: Refreshing Mexican Drinks and Frozen Treats, Traditional and Reimagined by Ericka Sanchez.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Book Review: A Place to Belong

The following book review was done by MommyMaestra guest contributor, Stacie Farias. All thoughts and opinions are her own.

Diversity... in Homeschooling?

It has previously been the case that my family was the only BIPOC family in our local homeschool community. Having homeschooled around the country and overseas, we have experienced different levels of welcome in different communities, but we have never wavered from our decision to homeschool because of the lack of diversity.  If anything else, the lack of diversity in homeschooling has motivated me further to speak openly about our experiences as a Hispanic family with our homeschooling friends because I have often felt that we, my family as well as the other BIPOC homeschooling families of the last decade, have been laying the groundwork for what will be a beautiful and dramatic shift in the homeschool population.  Working with Mommy Maestra and helping moderate the Hispanic and Bilingual Homeschoolers FB group, has given me a front row seat to the colorful influx of new homeschoolers that started on this journey (initially due to COVID but have decided to stay) and what an incredible sight it is to behold.  

A Place to Belong

Emerging as a leading voice in the BIPOC homeschooling community is Amber O’Neal Johnston, already a blogger, Charlotte Mason devotee, and homeschooling speaker, Johnston is now a published author.  Her book, A Place To Belong: Celebrating Diversity and Kinship in the Home and Beyond, is destined to take its place in the pantheon of great homeschooling books like Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching From Rest and Julie Bogart’s The Brave Learner.  Reading this book, I cried, I laughed, I felt seen. 

A Place To Belong is a blueprint for ANY family, not just Hispanic like mine or African American like Johnston’s, who is looking to add more to their homeschooling experience in terms of diversity but also when to use the usual books in the Western canon.  Just like her blog, Heritage Mom: Homeschooling Children With Mirrors and Windows, Johnston believes that parents should build, “a library that intentionally melds beautiful literature, contemporary stories, and books as mirrors and windows so children can see themselves, value and embrace others, and become part of a story that enlarges the borders of what is worthy, significant, and possible.” 

Johnston also provides a framework for discussing difficult subjects with your family, found in books and media.  Let’s face it.  We live in times where echoes of the difficult past of our country, continent, hemisphere, is played out on the news.  How do we talk to our children about topics like chattel slavery, racism, stereotypes, violence, etc.? How do we address divisive issues found in books, media, and in real life?  How can we build community and friendships with people who are different from us? Johnston tackles this and more in A Place To Belong

Johnston is also painfully and beautifully honest about her experiences as a homeschooler and what it is like to parent her children in a world that, at times, does not recognize their dignity.  There are too many instances in the book to name but several stand out in my mind that I will never forget including the incident with the hand-dryer on page 54, the list of questions on page 74, and specifically ALL of Chapter 9 “From Tragedy To Triumph: Bringing Hard History into the Home.”  Johnston’s retelling of her family’s experiences filled me with intense sorrow, righteous anger, and above all the motivation to do better for my family and my homeschooling community. 

Simply put, this book is remarkable.  As you can tell from the well-loved cover in the picture at the top of this post, it is something I personally have been waiting to read for a long, long time.  If you cannot afford this book, because we have to squeeze every penny out of our homeschool budgets, ask your library to purchase it for you.  Suggest this book for your mother’s book club (there is a discussion guide in the back). Look for it on Overdrive, Libby, and Hoopla or recommend your library purchase it digitally.  Borrow it from a friend.  But please, read it while you are picking out what books to use next year.  Read it while you are discerning how to raise compassionate and thoughtful children. Read it while you are overwhelmed with the endless barrage of difficult headlines and offensive memes and despairing over whether everyone will just stop being so mean to each other.  I promise, you will feel renewed.

“As I raise my kids, I will infuse in them all the beauty of who they are and where they come from while ensuring that they see you and your children as friends and not foes. I’ll give them windows into other families and their ways of life alongside the mirrors reflecting our own culture to them.  I will lead them to love themselves.  And I will teach them to love you.” - Johnston

Thank you for writing this, Amber! We are so grateful!

You can purchase your copy here:

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Monday, June 13, 2022

7 Fantasy Books by Latino Authors for Tweens & Teens

There are just so many wonderful books hitting the market and I realized the other day that I haven't posted anything recently for tweens and teens. 

So if you are looking for some great reads by wonderful authors for your child to enjoy this summer, consider one - or all! - of these titles. 

Happy reading!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

by Ryan Calejo

Charlie Hernández has always been proud of his Latin American heritage. He loves the culture, the art, and especially the myths. Thanks to his abuela’s stories, Charlie possesses an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the monsters and ghouls who have spent the last five hundred years haunting the imaginations of children all across the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Central and South America. And even though his grandmother sometimes hinted that the tales might be more than mere myth, Charlie’s always been a pragmatist. Even barely out of diapers, he knew the stories were just make-believe—nothing more than intricately woven fables meant to keep little kids from misbehaving.

But when Charlie begins to experience freaky bodily manifestations—ones all too similar to those described by his grandma in his favorite legend—he is suddenly swept up in a world where the mythical beings he’s spent his entire life hearing about seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Hispanic folklore and into his life. And even stranger, they seem to know more about him than he knows about himself.

Soon, Charlie finds himself in the middle of an ancient battle between La Liga, a secret society of legendary mythological beings sworn to protect the Land of the Living, and La Mano Peluda (a.k.a. the Hairy Hand), a cabal of evil spirits determined to rule mankind. With only the help of his lifelong crush, Violet Rey, and his grandmother’s stories to guide him, Charlie must navigate a world where monsters and brujas rule and things he couldn’t possibly imagine go bump in the night. That is, if he has any hope of discovering what’s happening to him and saving his missing parents (oh, and maybe even the world).

J.C. Cervantes

Zane has always enjoyed exploring the dormant volcano near his home in New Mexico, even though hiking it is challenging. He'd much rather hang out there with his dog, Rosie, than go to middle school, where kids call him Sir Limps a Lot, McGimpster, or Uno--for his one good leg. What Zane doesn't know is that the volcano is a gateway to another world and he is at the center of a powerful prophecy.

A new girl at school, Brooks, informs him that he's destined to release an evil god from the ancient Maya relic he is imprisoned in--unless she can find and remove it first. Together they return to the volcano, where all kinds of crazy happens. Brooks turns into a hawk, a demon attacks them in a cave, and Rosie gives her all while trying to protect Zane.

When Zane decides to save his dog no matter the cost, he is thrust into an adventure full of surprising discoveries, dangerous secrets, and an all-out war between the gods, one of whom happens to be his father. To survive, Zane will have to become the Storm Runner. But how can he run when he can't even walk well without a cane?

by Karla Arenas Valenti

In the hottest hour of the hottest day of the year, a fateful wind blows into Oaxaca City. It whistles down cobbled streets and rustles the jacaranda trees before slipping into the window of an eleven-year-old girl named Clara. Unbeknownst to her, Clara has been marked for la Lotería.

Karla Arenas Valenti weaves an adventure steeped in magic and mythology—gorgeously illustrated by Dana Sanmar—exploring the notion of free will in a world where fate holds all the cards.

by Kaela Rivera

Living in the remote town of Tierra del Sol is dangerous, especially in the criatura months, when powerful spirits roam the desert and threaten humankind. But Cecelia Rios has always believed there was more to the criaturas, much to her family’s disapproval. After all, only brujas—humans who capture and control criaturas—consort with the spirits, and brujeria is a terrible crime.

When her older sister, Juana, is kidnapped by El Sombrerón, a powerful dark criatura, Cece is determined to bring Juana back. To get into Devil’s Alley, though, she’ll have to become a bruja herself—while hiding her quest from her parents, her town, and the other brujas. Thankfully, the legendary criatura Coyote has a soft spot for humans and agrees to help her on her journey.

With him at her side, Cece sets out to reunite her family—and maybe even change what it means to be a bruja along the way.

by Tehlor Mejia

Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.

Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . .

Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.

by Donna Barba Higuera

Había una vez . . .There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra's world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity's past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

by Julian Randall

Twelve-year-old Pilar Violeta “Purp” Ramirez’s world is changing, and she doesn’t care for it one bit. Her Chicago neighborhood is gentrifying and her chores have doubled since her sister, Lorena, left for college. The only constant is Abuela and Mami’s code of silence around her cousin Natasha―who vanished in the Dominican Republic fifty years ago during the Trujillo dictatorship.

When Pilar hears that Lorena’s professor studies such disappearances, she hops on the next train to dig deeper into her family's mystery. After snooping around the professor's empty office, she discovers a folder with her cousin’s name on it . . . and gets sucked into the blank page within.

She lands on Zafa, an island swarming with coconut-shaped demons, butterfly shapeshifters, and a sinister magical prison where her cousin is being held captive. Pilar will have to go toe-to-toe with the fearsome Dominican boogeyman, El Cuco, if she has any hope of freeing Natasha and getting back home.

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Thursday, June 9, 2022

Free 1-Day Homeschool Lesson

Happy summer, friends! Whether your family takes a break from school work in the summer or forges ahead and continues schooling on the days it's just too hot to do anything outside, many of you keep the Spanish learning going. Or maybe while your kids are splashing around enjoying the dog days of summer (it's headed to triple digits where I live), you are casually researching curricula to use next year. This month's freebie from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, gives you a peek at their homeschool program.

This month's freebie is a FREE 1-day homeschool lesson! This SIX-page download comes with instructions, vocabulary activity cards, a game sheet, a worksheet, and answer key. 

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!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Bilingual Book Club Packet

There's a new packet in my shop today!

Last week, I shared a post on How to Start a Book Club for 8 to 12-Year-Olds. As soon as I hit publish, I knew I needed to add another resource to make book clubbing more fun. 

Bilingual Book Club Activity Pages

So... voilá! Here's a bilingual packet of book club printables. They are designed to make running a book club easy and enjoyable for kids. 

It comes with pages for: 
  • writing down discussion questions, 
  • reviewing books, 
  • a member roster, and 
  • tickets for choosing a different meeting leader each time you get together.

Other Summer Reading Printables

You can also pair it with my bilingual reading passport, depending on the book theme or the format of your book club. It says Día de los Niños on it because that's the occasion for which I made it. But EVERY DAY is Día de los Niños, remember? And the passport itself doesn't have any specific holiday mentioned. It's pretty versatile and can be used at any time of year for any reading activity.

You might also like the free bilingual reading logs that you can download in my TpT shop. This packet contains three different designs so you can track by:
  1. # of minutes read,
  2. # of pages read,
  3. OR # of books read.
ALL of the logs are available in full color or black-and-white, and they are available in English and Spanish. You choose which one works best for your students.


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