Jan 162017
 
 January 16, 2017  bilingualism, Spanish Comments Off on 3 Must-Have Resources for Spanish-Speaking Preschoolers

Thank you to MommyMaestra for this post on 3 must-have resources for parents of Spanish-speaking preschoolers!

Many parents feel that the best time to learn multiple languages is when children are small and their brains are more efficient at processing language. And today, more and more parents are working hard to pass on their heritage language to their children. For Hispanics, that means Spanish tools and resources are in high demand, but sometimes hard to find. While children can learn languages simply through communication with family and friends, there are a few tools that parents should stock up on to help them make the learning process extra fun.

3 Must-Have Resources for Parents with Spanish-Speaking Preschoolers | Alldonemonkey.com


If you have Spanish-speaking preschoolers at home, check out these must-have resources.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

3 Must-Have Resources for Parents with Spanish-Speaking Preschoolers

Bilingual Books

Lucky for us, the number of Latino children’s literature is increasing (albeit slowly). But for preschoolers, there are quite a few exceptional titles that not only teach them basic skills such as numbers, colors, shapes, and letters, but they teach these concepts in Spanish! And don’t forget books with traditional nursery rhymes and fingerplays which were originally created to help children learn. Some of my favorites include:

Related Post: Favorite Homeschool Resources for Teaching Spanish

Bilingual Music

There are so many great musicians who have recently come out with fun and educational albums in Spanish for children. Research shows that music is a great learning tool for children because the repetitive rhythms help children remember the concepts being taught. And it is easy to see how this works when you listen to the joyful songs available for kids. Make listening to music a part of your daily routine. And some of these musicians even have fun music videos to enhance your child’s learning. From dinosaurs to opposites, your children will move and sing their little hearts out to these outstanding albums currently available for purchase online as MP3 downloads or CDs:

Related Post: 3 Easy Ways to Use Music to Teach Preschool Spanish

Spanish Apps

While I strongly advise limiting your child’s access to tech, you might as well ensure that their time spent staring at a screen be educational. There are quite a few remarkable apps that are available for both iOS, Android, and Kindle. All of them are vibrant and engaging, but I encourage parents to sit with your child the first time or two to ensure that the app is appropriate for their age. Here are my favorite apps for preschoolers:

About the Author

MonicaMonica Olivera is a homeschooling mother of two and a freelance education writer. Her site, MommyMaestra.com, helps Hispanic parents get more involved in their children’s education by providing resources, tips, and opportunities. She is also the co-founder of Latinas for Latino Lit and the content creator of the Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program, the first national, online program designed specifically for Latino families. Her education articles have appeared in numerous online sites such as NBCNews, latinamom.me, and PBSParents. To learn more, visit her About.me page.

Connect with Monica on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Dec 142016
 

If you are like me, a gift for your child is not only fun, it’s also an opportunity to teach them something. Fun toys that teach coding! Great gifts for book lovers! And so of course I have some great recommendations for you of multicultural gifts that your kids will love and that will also teach them about the world and encourage them to explore it even more. Enjoy!

Multicultural Gifts for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of many of the items below; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no cost to you.

Multicultural Gifts for Kids

Spanish Alphabet Print : Multicultural Gifts for Kids

I absolutely adore the alphabet posters from Gus on the Go! We have one in Spanish and one in French hanging in our baby’s room, and she loves pointing at all the adorable pictures! I love that she is learning the Spanish alphabet (and French!) in an organic way, with pictures that correspond to the correct Spanish letters – and it includes the “ch” and the “ll”! And did I mention how adorable the pictures are?? Also available in Hebrew, Greek, and Italian, and you don’t want to miss their fun language learning apps, like Gus on the Go: Spanish for Kids.

What young child wouldn’t want to play with this inviting Plush Basket of Babies from Creative Minds? These soft, 10″ dolls are huggable and fun multicultural gifts for all ages, from very young children in search of a snuggly toy to older kids who love pretend play.

Karen Katz’s books are real favorites around our house. Her bright, colorful illustrations always include diverse characters, and her stories are told in simple language for the very young. I love that she takes her young readers seriously and talks to them about topics like world peace, as in the beautiful Can You Say Peace?. A lovely addition to the library of any little world citizen!

Multicultural Gifts for Kids - Culture Chest

I was so excited to find out about Culture Chest, a subscription service offering multicultural picture books for children ages 3-8. Packages typically include 1-2 paperback books plus an activity. Books are selected with care for cultural relevance and accuracy. I love that the boxes follow the celebration of the heritage months. For example, for November (Native American Heritage Month), our box included two wonderful books related to Native American heritage: Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales and the lovely Navajo legend How the Stars Fell into the Sky. This service makes a great gift to help children learn about other cultures and celebrate their own heritage.

If you want a fun STEM project for your child to work on, you can’t beat the next two multicultural gifts! Japanese Paper Toys Kit: Origami Paper Toys that Walk, Jump, Spin, Tumble and Amaze! is so fun and creative and work well for a range of ages. Each paper toys kit comes with materials and instructions to make 21 different toys – that really move! The projects are easy enough to finish quickly so that kids can start playing with them!

Another great STEM activity kit is the Origami Zoo Kit, which includes the book, 40 papers, 95 stickers, and a zoo map for pretend play with your creations. It is so fun! Perfect for your animal lovers, or any child that likes crafts! I love Tuttle’s origami kits for kids, because they are so colorful and engaging for kids, and parents will love how easy the projects are to put together. The papers already have the patterns on them, plus they come with stickers to decorate once you are finished. And kids will love playing with their animals at the “zoo” afterwards. Hours of fun!

Older children will love All About Thailand: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids. It is packed with all kinds of fun learning activities about Thailand, from stories and songs to recipes and games. Kids can practice speaking a few words of Thai, learn more about elephants, or make their own shadow puppets! This is one my son really enjoys reading, and that I steal from my kids’ room to read for myself! Would also be perfect for the classroom or a home school unit.

Atlas of Animal Adventures: A collection of nature’s most unmissable events, epic migrations and extraordinary behaviours is simply gorgeous. Young children will love the detailed illustrations, while older children will pore over the detailed maps and information about animals from around the world. This is one of those books kids will keep coming back to because there is always something new to discover!

I’ve reviewed this album previously, but it is one that we pull out every holiday season, because everyone in the family loves it. Celebrate The Season: Multicultural Songs For The Holidays By Daria is a beautifully done collection of traditional holiday music from around the world that will have everyone singing along. It is a nice mix of upbeat songs and more gentle tunes, with wonderful instrumentals and Daria’s warm, resonant vocals. Not to miss! These CDs make great multicultural gifts to stick in your loved ones’ stockings!

Oct 182016
 

Bilingual Letter Craft: Q is for Que and Question | Alldonemonkey.com

We love simple learning activities, especially ones that do double duty to teach English and Spanish. This bilingual letter craft for “Q” is easy but really makes an impact – plus it’s fun!

Since we are focusing on biliteracy (that is, learning to read and write in both languages), as my preschooler is learning his letters I am making sure he has some examples of words that start with those letters in Spanish. So “C” is not just for car but also calabaza (pumpkin), and so on.

So when we came to the letter “Q,” I came up with this simple bilingual letter craft that works well in English and Spanish. The main point of the lesson is that “Q” turns you into a detective (or scientist). In English, “Q” is for Question, while in Spanish “Q” is for ¿Qué? (What?) So when you ask a question (or say “¿Qué?”) then you are a detective solving a mystery.

First we practiced asking questions and trying to answer them (try to include some silly ones!) and I also had them point to various objects around the room and ask “¿Qué es eso?” (“What is this?”) Again, be sure to encourage some silliness! (They, of course, pointed at each other or the baby: “Qué es eso??” in mock frightened voices).

After a bit of this, we did our bilingual letter craft, where the “Q” is designed to look like a magnifying glass.

Bilingual Letter Craft: Q is for ¿Qué? and Question

Materials:

Cardstock or thin cardboard

Scissors

Tape or glue

Markers (optional)

Instructions:

For each student, cut out a circle and a stick to form the letter “Q.” (You can also have the students practice their cutting skills but cutting out these shapes themselves). You can vary the size of the letters, but you want them at least as large as a magnifying glass. (We made ours quite a bit bigger).

Have the students tape or glue the stick into the correct position to make the letter “Q.” The stick should be mostly on the outside of the circle, so that it looks like a handle for the magnifying glass.

Bilingual Letter Craft: Q is for Que and Question | Alldonemonkey.com

Pretending to investigate an “injury”

Bilingual Letter Craft: Q is for Que and Question | Alldonemonkey.com

That’s it! Be sure to let them have fun being detectives and scientists with their “Q” magnifying glasses.

31 Days of ABC - October 2016 | Alldonemonkey.com

After taking a break last year due to the arrival of Baby #3, we are back with one of my favorite series, the 31 Days of ABC! You can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet.

I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their amazing ideas with us in the coming days. And this year for the first year we are also adding a giveaway, so be sure to scroll to the end and enter for a chance to win!

So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October!

Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!



31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs – October 1

All Done Monkey: Creating a Preschool Letter of the Week Curriculum

A – October 2

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Apple Scented Glitter Glue and Apple Craft

B – October 3

Witty Hoots: How to Make Fabulous Button Bookmarks

C – October 4

Preschool Powol Packets: Construction Truck Preschool Action Rhyme

D – October 5

ArtsyCraftsyMom: Printable Dinosaur Alphabet Sequencing Puzzle

E – October 6

Preschool Powol Packets: Elephant Art Project and Thailand Lesson

F – October 7

Spanglish Monkey: Spanish-English ABC Flashcards

G – October 8

Royal Baloo: Simple Ghost Painting Project

H – October 9

Peakle Pie: Hide and Seek

I – October 10

Look! We’re Learning!: Insect Activities for Kids

J – October 11

All Done Monkey: Olmec Jaguar Craft

K – October 12

Preschool Powol Packets: I Am a Kite Action Rhyme for Preschool

L – October 13

Raising a Trilingual Child: Letter Learning with a Multilingual Twist

M – October 14

Creative World of Varya

N – October 15

Peakle Pie: Narwhal Fingerprint Pictures

O – October 16

For the Love of Spanish: O es de Oso

P – October 17

Little Hiccups: P is for Places, A Travel ABC Book

Q – October 18

All Done Monkey

R – October 19

Sugar, Spice & Glitter

S – October 20

Crafty Mama in ME

T – October 21

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

U – October 22

Witty Hoots

V – October 23

Creative World of Varya

W – October 24

Creative World of Varya

X – October 25

All Done Monkey

Y – October 26

Our Daily Craft

Z – October 27

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

123’s – October 28

Hispanic Mama

Prewriting – October 29

Sugar Aunts

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

The Jenny Evolution

Alphabet Clip Cards – October 31

The Kindergarten Connection

Find more great resources in 31 Days of ABCs 2013 and 2014!

Giveaway

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win this great prize package, open internationally!

Kidloland

3 month subscription to the Kidloland app, which includes 575+ interactive nursery rhymes, songs, stories, and educational activities to help children learn ABCs, animals, fruits, vegetables, shapes and more!

Alphabet Experts Mega Bundle: 31 Days of ABC Giveaway

The Alphabet Experts Mega Bundle from Kindergarten Connections contains 500+ of alphabet printables, including tons of activities for each letter of the alphabet! ($58.50 value)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sep 272016
 
 September 27, 2016  bilingualism, Literacy, Spanish 2 Responses »

One of the most important ways we are passing on Hispanic heritage to our children is through teaching them Spanish. Helping them learn to read in Spanish (biliteracy) is a wonderful way to motivate them to continue learning the language, plus it is a great way to bond and show cariño to your kids!

Biliteracy: Why It Matters for Your Bilingual Child | Alldonemonkey.com

What is biliteracy and why does it matter for your bilingual child? If you are like me, you have had many moments of feeling frustrated and perhaps downright discouraged about your efforts to raise your children to be bilingual. It takes much more work than you realized, and you’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. But at the end of the day you are left wondering exactly how much Spanish your children have absorbed, and whether they will ever speak more than a few scattered phrases.

We started our bilingual journey with the best of intentions, and it is clear that our children understand most of what is said to them in Spanish. Yet if we wanted it to go beyond passive bilingualism (where they understand but don’t speak the language), it was clear that we needed to up our game.

And so we have been focusing on teaching our children to read in Spanish. Our family loves to sit down together over a healthy breakfast and read, so now I make sure to pick out books in Spanish! Reading together in Spanish is not only great family bonding time, it also helps children really understand the language. 

Biliteracy, or being literate in two languages, is fundamental to turning passive bilinguals into active learners. Here is why it is worth the effort:

Biliteracy: Why It Matters for Your Bilingual Child

Learning to read in another language…

…builds confidence. Sometimes bilingual children are actually more nervous to speak Spanish than a child encountering it for the first time. They know enough to know how much they don’t know! They know how the language should sound but not enough to speak it that way themselves. As one US born child once said to his Costa Rican mother, “Mom, me siento weird when I speak Spanish.” (“Mom, I feel weird when I speak Spanish.”) Gaining a new skill helps build their confidence in the language.

…slows the language down for them. Encountering the stream of spoken language can be overwhelming if you struggle to understand many of the words. When you read you can go at your own pace, even looking up words if you need to. It can also spark many “aha!” moments, especially since Spanish has so many cognates in English. These connections are often more obvious in the written language than spoken, such as “idea” which is written the same way in both languages but pronounced differently.

…actively engages the child with the language. Rather than just passively listening and then responding in English, reading forces the child to focus on the words, saying them either out loud or in their heads. This is actually a profound shift, as they are really paying attention to the language in a very new and more active way.

Biliteracy: Why It Matters for Your Bilingual Child | Alldonemonkey.com

…expands vocabulary. As great as your own vocabulary is in the language, your child will run across many new words in books. This is a real boon for non-native speakers like myself, since I tend to use one word for a concept (for example, escribir, to write), when of course there are actually several ways to say the same thing (apuntar, anotar, numerar, copiar…).

…teaches grammar. When a child sees the words on the page, it is often easier for them to understand exactly what is being spoken and how sentences are constructed in the target language.

…opens up a world of literature. Once your child really begins to find his feet with reading in the language, he will have access to a whole world of literature, including favorite books (and comics!) that you may have grown up with.

…shares heritage and culture. So much of heritage and culture is passed down in books, whether Don Quixote or Mafalda. While of course you may also end up reading translations of their favorite books from English at first, as they gain confidence and interest, you can introduce them to other books as well.

…encourages togetherness. Just as anytime when a child begins to read, it is a team effort and can lead to some really sweet bonding time as you explore together. My favorite times of day are when we read together over breakfast (or sometimes my oldest reads to his brother!).

I love how easy it is to give my kids a healthy breakfast with Cheerios! I know I’m giving them something good for them that they’ll both enjoy, plus it leaves me more time for snuggling up with them to read. Cheerios also makes a great snack to fuel homework time!

If you want more time to sit down with your kids over breakfast, visit Cereal con cariño, where you can watch fun videos, download cereal recipes you can do with your kids, and download a $1 OFF coupon for General Mills Cereal! For those in California and Texas, you can also find out about events General Mills is sponsoring in your area.

Apr 052016
 
 April 5, 2016  bilingualism, Spanish 2 Responses »

 

Mundo Lanugo: Spanish App for Kids to Learn Language and Culture | Alldonemonkey.com

Whether your children are fully bilingual or just speak un poquito español, there is a new Spanish app for kids that is a wonderful way to teach them about Hispanic culture and the Spanish language!  I highly recommend Mundo Lanugo: Juega y Aprende as a fun app to teach heritage through games that also build kindergarten readiness.

I was so excited when my friends at Mundo Lanugo asked me to review this app because it is such a great fit for our family!  I should say first of all that my oldest son tends to be allergic to anything designed to teach Spanish.  While we have discovered a number of great Spanish resources that he enjoys, for the most part if he finds out something is in Spanish he loses interest.

Not so with this new app from Mundo Lanugo!  This amazing FREE app is simply irresistible.  It has become my go-to resource if we have to wait in a doctor’s office, etc and I’m too busy with the baby to entertain my older kids – voilà!  Mundo Lanugo to the rescue!

Mundo Lanugo: Spanish App for Kids to Learn Language and Culture | Alldonemonkey.com

Even if you don’t speak Spanish but want to support what your kids are learning in school, this is a great app for your family!  The visuals are so easy to follow that kids don’t have to understand every word to play along, and as they go they will hear the language spoken in context, reinforcing their understanding and teaching new vocabulary.

But this app does not merely help with language learning.  In fact, that’s not even its main purpose!  What it does amazingly well is teach about the rich cultural heritage of Latin America through games that also promote kindergarten readiness.  So in the “kitchen” kids learn to make dishes like ceviche and arroz con leche, and dress up costumes include one for Day of the Dead!

This integration of culture into learning activities is important for all children, but especially for Latino and bicultural children like mine, to nurture a genuine pride and identification with their heritage.

Mundo Lanugo: Spanish App for Kids to Learn Language and Culture | Alldonemonkey.com

Thank you, Mundo Lanugo for getting my kids excited about Hispanic culture and language with this wonderful Spanish app for kids: Download your copy todayAvailable for Android, iPhone, and iPad.

Mar 112016
 
 March 11, 2016  bilingualism, Spanish 10 Responses »

7 Ways to Teach Your Kids Spanish Even If You Don't Speak It | Alldonemonkey.com

Have you seen all the articles on the importance of teaching your kids another language but feel frustrated because you feel you aren’t fluent enough to do this?  Maybe your child’s school doesn’t offer foreign language classes, or perhaps your child is lucky enough to be enrolled in one and you would like to know how you can support it at home.  This article is for you!  Here are 7 simple ways you can teach your kids Spanish – even if you don’t speak it!

Find even more ideas on my Spanish for Kids Pinterest board!

Please note that I am not trying to diminish the importance of qualified Spanish teachers.  Far from it.  I’m merely acknowledging the fact that not all children have access to Spanish classes, or they do but their parents aren’t sure how they can support this language learning at home.

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary copy of ¡Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish! for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

7 Ways to Teach Your Kids Spanish Even If You Don’t Speak It

1. Ask the Experts

If your child has a Spanish teacher and you’d like to support their work at home, just ask!  This may seem obvious, but often we forget to simply ask the teacher what you can do at home to reinforce what your child is learning at school.  If your child is not enrolled in a program, you can contact a local school or look online for resources.  Two of my go-to websites are Mommy Maestra and Spanish Playground, both of which include materials for a range of abilities.

Related Post: Top Homeschool Resources for Teaching Spanish

2. Read Bilingual Books

Bilingual Board Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Reading bilingual books is one of the best ways to learn Spanish along with your child!  For example, these wonderful bilingual board books teach simple vocabulary that kids and adults can easily learn. (We love Counting With / Contando Con Frida, shown above).

I adore this article on how to use bilingual books to teach “un poquito” español with books like My Way/A mi manera, even you have a very basic understanding yourself.  She has great tips on how to get the most out of this experience!

This year I've really been working on increasing my kids' exposure to Spanish and trying to connect them to the written language. One way to do this that they really enjoy is reading beautiful bilingual picture books like My Colors, My World / Mis colores, mi mundo by one of my favorite authors, Maya Christina Gonzalez. In this award winning book, a young girl shares the colors she sees in her home, from the brown of the desert sand to the orange of the marigolds. Lovely story to share anytime but especially now for Hispanic Heritage Month, which is just starting! Be sure to visit @ABoyarshinov for another great #picturebookoftheday recommendation! #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #kidbloggersofig #kidlit #hispanicheritage #hhm #mkbhhm #bilingual #bilingualbooks

A photo posted by Leanna || Parenting Blogger (@alldonemonkey) on

One interesting approach for older kids is that used in the well intentioned book ¡hola! Let’s Learn Spanish POD: Visit New Places and Make New Friends, which I was recently sent to review.  The story is mainly in English, with Spanish words gradually sprinkled in.  Through repetition and context, the reader is able to understand the meanings and begin to incorporate the vocabulary.  The book also includes fun activities to practice the new vocabulary and learn more about the culture of Mexico.

While I admire the purpose of the book and its pedagogy, I can’t fully recommend it because its main story relies on stale images of Mexico as a place of sombreros and jumping beans.   As stated in this wonderful article about moving beyond cultural stereotypes of Mexico, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with these images, just that we need to look deeper to see the richness and variety of the culture, particularly when teaching children who may not have been exposed to authentic Mexican culture before.

3. Listen to Music in Spanish

Music is such a fun way to teach your kids Spanish!  Not only do kids learn the rhythms and sounds of a language, moving to music is great for active learners like mine.  We really love ¡A Bailar! Let’s Dance! from Whistlefritz as well as Mister G, especially Los Animales, and I dare you not to sing along to the title track on Chocolalala!  (Read my full reviews here and here).  Great music and great language learning! 

Related Post: 3 Easy Ways to Use Music to Teach Preschool Spanish

4. Watch Spanish Language Videos

Another fun way to teach your kids Spanish is through watching videos together.  Whistlefritz has great DVDs like Spanish for Kids: Vamos a Jugar. We also love Little Pim: Let’s Eat – Spanish For Kids.  (Read my full review of Little Pim).  And don’t forget that these days most DVDs let you select the language track, so try setting videos to Spanish.  Watching a favorite movie can be a very snuggly way to learn together!

5. Create a Support Network

Keep yourself motivated by creating a support network of other families who are teaching their kids Spanish.  These could be other parents from your child’s class or those you meet through a moms’ group or hanging out at the library!  You could also look for local homeschooling groups or search online to see if there is an existing group.  If not, your local library may be able to host a get together of interested parents.

Related Post: Starting a Multicultural Moms Group

6. Find an Immersion Program

Many areas offer immersion programs during the summer, which can be an invaluable way to really teach your kids Spanish by surrounding them with native speakers and other Spanish students.  I have not tried Concordia Language Villages, but it is a well known program of immersion camps.  (They offer them for adults, too!)  You may even be able to find a local program such as the one described by this mother.

7. Travel!

I can’t emphasize enough how much travel motivates children (and parents) to learn another language by making it more fun and relevant.  It also creates very positive associations for them that will keep them interested in learning, plus it helps them place the language within a larger cultural context that will make language learning more meaningful.

Above all, know that what you are doing matters!  Every bit of exposure to another language is helpful.  Even if you aren’t fluent yourself, you are still giving your child a tremendous advantage in their own language learning plus you are showing them how much you value learning another language by making an effort alongside them.  Keep it up, and share your tips in the comments!

For even more ideas, check out this great article on learning Spanish with your kids!

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