Sep 072015

Latino Bedtime Stories |

In anticipation of Hispanic Heritage Month, here are some favorite Latino bedtime stories!  Some are in Spanish, others are bilingual, others are mostly in English with Spanish phrases sprinkled in; some emphasize cultural themes or traditions.

What they have in common is passing on heritage – whether through language or culture – through the snuggly intimacy of bedtime stories.  Enjoy!

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of books from Bab’l Books 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.

Latino Bedtime Stories

Kitchen Dance is a new favorite of mine!  Two children are tucked into their beds when they hear strange noises coming from the kitchen.  They sneak our of bed and find … their parents, dancing as they put away the dishes!  Their father croons a Spanish song into a wooden spoon as he spins their mother around the kitchen.  Soon the children are discovered and included in the kitchen dance before being gently returned to bed.  This sweet story about a family’s love is a wonderful way to send your children off to dreamland.

George was the shortest giraffe in his herd. He dreams of being so tall that he could eat the moon. But when one night his dream comes true, he gets a big surprise! The Giraffe That Ate the Moon (La Jirafa Que Se Comió la Luna) is an adorable bilingual story about learning to be happy as you are and discovering what is really important.  It and the other bilingual books from Bab’l Books were created through a unique translation process: crowd sourcing!  Read more about it in this interview on Trilingual Mama and enter below for a chance to win this book and Don’t Wake the Baby! (No Despiertes a la Bebé!)

A truly beautiful book is Nochecita from the wonderful Yuyi Morales (also available in English as Little Night).  Nochecita is a story all parents and children can relate to, of a child playing hide and seek instead of coming when her mothers calls her.  But this is no ordinary child, it is Night itself, thus the delightful twist at the end as we discover that Nochecita is not getting ready for bed – as most children do when it grows dark – but going out to play in the night sky with her ball, the moon.  Children will enjoy the playful antics of Nochecita and Mother Sky’s loving responses, as well as seeing if they can guess where Nochecita is hiding this time.  The enchanting, magical illustrations complement the story beautifully, as Nochecita’s bath is made of stars, her dress of clouds, and her hair pinned up with the sparkling trio of Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter.

I got turned onto Texas author Pat Mora thanks to my friend Becky at Kid World Citizen, and I’m so glad!  While Mora has written many wonderful books, Little Monkey and I are currently loving her My Family/Mi Familia series, which follow the adventures and daily rhythms of one bilingual family.  In Sweet Dreams/Dulces Sueños, Grandma comes to tuck the children into bed, telling them about all the animals that are also lying down to sleep. A wonderfully gentle way to coax your little ones to sleep as well.

Can’t sleep? Why not count sheep – in English and Spanish? Counting Ovejas is a really cute story about a boy who does just that, though the sheep don’t do exactly as they are told! This bilingual book is a fun way to teach numbers and colors in Spanish.

Take a fantastical journey through a dream world as the night spins tales to a child at bedtime. The imagination has no limits as the child travels from one magical scene to another before finally drifting off to sleep. Cuento de Noche (Spanish Edition) is a beautiful bedtime book from Spanish author Roberto Aliaga that highlights the wonder of the imagination.

A long-time favorite in our house is Arrorró, mi niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games.  Described as a “Latina Mother Goose,” this is amazing collection of the best known lullabies and gentle games for young children in Spanish.  If, like me, you did not grow up with them, you will appreciate the wonderful English translations and clear instructions, in addition to the piano music at the back for learning the melodies!

In a similar vein, ¡Pío Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes is an incredible collection of traditional Spanish nursery rhymes, including favorites like De colores and Los elefantes.  It is a comprehensive set of almost any traditional rhyme from Latin America, all wonderful to share with your kids at bedtime!

This post has been shared at the wonderful Kid Lit Blog Hop.

Bilingual Books Giveaway!

Enter below for a chance to win a pair of bilingual books from Bab’l Books!  You could win The Giraffe that Ate the Moon (La Jirafa Que Se Comió la Luna) or Don’t Wake the Baby! (No Despiertes a la Bebé!)These wonderful Spanish/English children’s books are ideal for children ages 2-6.  Giveaway goes through September 15, 2015. US, UK, and Europe shipping only.

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Aug 252015

Three Easy Ways to Use Music to Teach Preschool Spanish |

Now that Little Monkey is approaching three years old, I’m incorporating more preschool activities into our homeschool.  One method that never gets old (and that my five year old loves as well) is music.  My boys both love to dance and sing, and music is playing constantly at our house and in the car.  Kids seem to be naturally attracted to music, and it is a great way to make any lesson fun.

Below are some easy ways to incorporate music as you teach Spanish, whether you are doing this in a classroom, a homeschool, or just informally. (Read more of my favorite resources for teaching Spanish).

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of CD’s of Mister G for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

3 Easy Ways to Use Music to Teach Preschool Spanish

Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of this post, going through September 1!

To my mind there are three levels of engagement you can employ when using musical activities to teach Spanish: passive, partially engaged, and fully engaged.  Which level you use depends on the child’s level of Spanish and interest, your own level of Spanish, your goals in teaching, and the goal of the particular activity.  My kids and I have high levels of Spanish, but I don’t always opt for “fully engaged” activities since I have to be careful about their level of interest (one reason I love using music, since they are always interested in that!)  I find that a mix of activities works really well for us, to keep things fun but also keep them learning.  Experiment and find the mix that works best for you!

1. Passive Learning

This could also be termed “sneaky learning,” but I’ll try to sound professional by calling it “passive learning.” 😉 For kids with little to no knowledge of Spanish, this is a great method to use to start out.  Basically it involves exposing the kids to the sounds and rhythms of the language by playing music in the background, either during free play time or a dance or other exercise activity.  You aren’t calling attention to the lyrics themselves, just familiarizing them with the sounds.  If you are teaching Spanish at home, I’ve found that it’s great to play Spanish or bilingual songs in the car.

My kids, for example, love listening to the music of Mister G.  The topics are really fun (what kid wouldn’t love a song about chocolate, or an entire album about animals?), plus the music itself – which features Grammy award winning musicians – is wonderful.  In addition, the albums are bilingual, meaning that kids without much knowledge of Spanish to start won’t feel lost.

For kids with more knowledge of Spanish, passive learning is still a great way to increase their exposure to the vocabulary and structure of the language.  It can also be a great tool to get them to think more in Spanish by increasing the amount they hear.  This is very important in our situation.  Since Spanish is our minority language, I’m always looking for ways to balance out how much English the kids are exposed to throughout the day.

2. Partially Engaged Learning

Once you’re ready to begin teaching basic vocabulary, you can do activities involving partially engaged learning.  This is where you start to pick out one or two key words or phrases from a song and base a game or activity around them.  So, for example, you could teach them the word rana and have them hopping around like frogs to Mister G’s La rana, or teach them jirafa and send them on a giraffe hunt to the tune of Una jirafa en mi casa.  The song Siete elefantes is great for learning to count in Spanish!

These activities are great for kids without much background in Spanish because they are engaging without being overwhelming.  It’s a fun way to learn basic vocabulary and get some exercise!  This type of learning is also great for boys like mine, who have always been exposed to Spanish but whose understanding is mostly passive (meaning they understand very well but prefer to speak in English).  I’ve noticed that my older son especially is very hesitant to speak in Spanish because he is unsure of himself.  Really taking the time to reinforce the basics can build confidence and cover any gaps they may have in their understanding.

3. Fully Engaged Learning

For kids with greater understanding of the language, you can go for fully engaged learning.  This would involve building on an activity like the ones mentioned above with extension activities.  You can ask them questions in Spanish about the song, or teach them the lyrics, or do activities afterwards based on the full lyrics.  (In Spanish: Can you imagine having a giraffe in your house?  What would you do if you found one?  Let’s draw a picture of a giraffe in your bedroom!)  You could also have them engage with the full lyrics while the song is playing, by imitating the actions described, or having them jump up or twirl around when they hear particular words.  For kids with greater understanding of Spanish, this can be a fun way of getting them to pay closer attention to the lyrics and process what is actually happening in the song.

Something rather unique that I love about Mister G’s albums is that the songs are interspersed with short spoken conversations between Mister G and his friends.  Especially if you are a non-native speaker or – even if you aren’t – if you don’t have many Spanish speakers in your area, this is a wonderful way to increase the kids’ exposure to the flow of conversations in Spanish.  Great for vocabulary and grammar!

Enter to Win a Copy of Los Animales from Mister G!

Los Animales - Mister G

I am so excited to announce that I am giving away a copy of Los Animales from Mister G to TWO lucky US readers!  Enter below for your chance to win!

Mister G is a Latin Grammy nominee and Parents Choice Gold Award winner.  His albums have been selected by People magazine, Parents magazine, The Washington Post and as top albums for children.  His new release, Los Animales, is a collection of original bilingual songs for children inspired by his love of animals.  It features Grammy award winning musicians who together with the “kid-friendly, bilingual rock star” Mister G have created a fusion of salsa, jazz, bolero, Tejano, folk and rock music that kids and adults will love!  Listen to the music here and find out more about Mister G on his website.

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Aug 192015
 August 19, 2015  bilingualism 4 Responses »

Raising Multilingual Kids: Can a Non-Native Speaker Raise Bilingual Children? |

When it comes to raising bilingual children, many non-native speakers (such as myself!) are plagued with doubts.  How well can we really teach our children a second language?

In the beginning, my husband and I used the One Parent One Language method.  In other words, he – as a native Spanish speaker – would speak to our son only in Spanish, and I – as a native English speaker – would speak to our son only in English (read more about language learning methods).

But eventually found that this method was not very successful for our family.  As a result, when our second child was born, we switched tactics and I began speaking more Spanish at home, especially to the little one.  And while this heavier concentration on our minority language is more successful, it does raise the question of how helpful it is to have a non-native speaker teaching the kids a second language.

So based on my experiences – and my observations of other families – do I think a non-native speaker can raise bilingual children?  Go to the video below to find out!

Can a Non-Native Speaker Raise Bilingual Children?

Question from Kid World Citizen

This post is part of this year’s Vlogging Telephone from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Here’s how it works: think of it like a big chain, where one blogger asks a question, to be answered by the next blogger, who asks another question to be answered by the next blogger, and so on!  All of the questions are related to a topic, which this year is Raising Multilingual Kids.  (If you missed it, be sure to check out last year’s Vlogging Telephone on Travel with Kids!)

The question I’m answering above is from Kid World Citizen.  To follow the chain, visit the piri-piri lexicon to find out how she responds to my question: “What do you do when you meet resistance from your child to learning/speaking another language?”


Jul 222015

Top Homeschool Resources for Teaching Spanish |

Bilingualism has always been important to us: one or the both of us has been speaking Spanish to the boys since they were born.  But Monkey in particular has been resistant to speaking Spanish himself, often identifying as an English speaker “who speaks a little Spanish.”  Though we have come up with creative ways to make language learning fun for him, this year I decided to take a bit of a different approach.

As I was creating our homeschool curriculum for the fall, I decided to include Spanish as a subject.  Up til now we have done our Spanish learning through conversation, media, and immersion trips, but we’ve been more casual than didactic.  Monkey responds well to classroom instruction – especially when they include games and activities – so I thought this could be fun for him, and so far it has been!  And after all, we teach English as a subject even though we speak it everyday, so why not give the same attention to his second language?

Here are some great resources we have been using.  What are your favorite resources to teach Spanish?

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of Sofía en una Aventura por la Selva for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Top Homeschool Resources for Teaching Spanish

Circle Time

Something that is working really well for us right now is incorporating Spanish into our circle time.  I had a hard time finding a display I could use, but I am quite happy with the Spanish calendar set that I found, which lets us talk about the days of the week, months of the year, holidays, seasons, and the weather in a very interactive way that both boys enjoy.


Finding quality children’s in Spanish can be a challenge, though thankfully much less so than in the past.  Here are some of our favorites, plus don’t miss my tips for finding books in Spanish for your kids:

Sofia en una Aventura por la Selvaence (Spanish Edition) is a great book to use in homeschooling because – as with all the books from Kids Yoga Stories – it encourages very active learning.  Kids will really engage with the story and the language as they do the yoga poses throughout the book.  What better way to learn the words for snake and jaguar then by acting like snakes and jaguars?  Beginning learners can focus on these basic words, while more advanced students can discuss the story.  Kids, most of whom are natural environmentalists, will also really respond to the book’s theme of conservation.  It also includes a Parent-Teacher guide!

ArteKids: Bilingual Books about Art for Kids |

I love integrating subjects, so I was thrilled to come across ArteKids bilingual art books, which are a wonderful way to introduce basic vocabulary to beginning learners through art!  They are perfect for younger children who are just learning shapes and colors, but they work for older students, since each book contains more detailed information (in English) at the back of the book on the featured works of art, which include ancient and modern art from Latin America.  For more, you can read my full review of ArteKids books.


Music and videos can be a terrific way to encourage language learning, especially for reluctant learners.  I keep several Spanish language music CDs in the car, which we listen to frequently.

One of these is from Whistlefritz.  My kids really love the music, which is fun and upbeat.  Homeschoolers will also love the full Spanish for Kids collection, which is a tremendous resource for parents and teachers.  For more information, you can read my full review of Whistlefritz.

Another CD in constant rotation in our car is Spanish Songs for Kids (Bienvenidos) from Rockalingua.  Little Monkey especially requests this CD almost every time I strap him into his car seat.  The rock’ n ‘roll songs are really fun, and the lyrics are all based around themes, such as the days of the week or travel – yet somehow it manages not to feel educational (though of course you as the parent/teacher know that it is!)

Educational videos are also a great way to reinforce Spanish for kids.  I really recommend Little Pim DVDs for young children.  The segments are fairly short and teach related groups of words (such as food vocabulary in Little Pim: Let’s Eat), with a review at the end of each segment.  Little Pim is one of the most well-known language programs for kids, and with good reason.  For more, you can read my full review, included in this article on bilingual parenting.


As a blogger myself, I’m very oriented towards blogs as a resource, plus as a member of Multicultural Kid Blogs, I’m lucky enough to know a number of amazing bloggers who focus on teaching languages to children.  They have such creative ideas!

Spanish PlaygroundOne of my absolute favorites is Spanish Playground.  It is very focused on learning through play and has materials and resources that can be adapted to all different situations and levels of Spanish.  I can also attest personally to how thoughtful she is in everything she presents to her readers.  You can trust that anything on her site is absolute top quality!  You’ll find lots of language activities and printables, as well as product reviews.  For example, I love this post on Spanish at the beach, which shows that you can incorporate language learning in all you do!

Mommy MaestraAnother of my favorite resources is Mommy Maestra.  As a homeschooler herself, she has a real understanding for what materials will be useful to other homeschoolers.  She has a lot of great activities and freebies on her blog, but her TpT store is also amazing. And don’t miss her an amazing list of Spanish curricula!



Mundo de PepitaAnother great resource with high quality materials is Mundo de Pepita.  The printables are wonderful, plus you can also find fun crafts and activities, in addition to tips for classroom learning.

I also adore For the Love of Spanish, which has a wonderful series focused on Learning Spanish Through Play.  Her activities are all well-suited to active learners and are easy to put together, so you can take learning wherever you go.

Discovering The World Through My Son's Eyes Another personal favorite is Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, by an incredibly creative mom determined to pass on her culture and language to her son.  You can find a range of cultural activities on her site, including ones specifically focused on teaching Spanish.

Learning in Two Languages is a fantastic blog from a teacher in a dual language classroom.  You’ll find all kinds of teaching tips, plus great materials you can use with your kids.


For even more resources, be sure to check out these Pinterest boards:

Teaching Spanish on Pinterest

Multilingual and Multicultural Printables on Pinterest

Dec 052014
 December 5, 2014  bilingualism, Kid Fun, music 11 Responses »

Spanish Learning Songs for Kids: Whistlefritz CD Review |

I received a complimentary copy of ¡Sabor! for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Raising our children to be bilingual is important to us, and we are always looking for fun ways to encourage language learning.   So I was thrilled to receive a copy of the ¡Sabor! – a CD of Spanish learning songs from Whistlefritz – to review.

Music is such a wonderful way to learn language, as it makes it easy for children to absorb the rhythms and sounds of a language.  Plus it keeps learning fun, particularly important when teaching a a child who may not want to learn a language just because his parents think it’s a great idea!  In our experience lessons are learned best through play, especially with languages, since Monkey is often resistant to speaking Spanish.  But he loves music and so doesn’t mind what language it is in, as long as it is fun!

And this music definitely is fun — The themes are ones that speak to children: “Juguetes, jugetes, Yo quiero jugar. (Toys, toys, I want to play.)”  And what child wouldn’t agree that “no hay fiesta sin pastel (it’s not a party without cake)”?

The album features Spanish versions of a few classics that your children will already know – like “En el rancho de MacDonald” – but also new favorites.  My kids love “Caminemos en el Bosque/Let’s Walk Through the Woods” – which features a wolf howl!

Spanish Learning Songs for Kids: Whistlefritz CD Review |

The music itself is also the type that you can’t listen to sitting still. The songs are also lively and upbeat, and the lyrics are interactive, encouraging the listener to make animal noises, shout out a response, or sing along.

Singer-songwriter Jorge Anaya takes the listener on a journey through a fusion of different world music styles, such as cumbia, salsa, calypso, and merengue.  So not only is your child having fun, he is also absorbing some of the musical culture of Latin America along with the language.

Spanish Learning Songs for Kids: Whistlefritz CD Review |

As a non-native speaker, I really appreciate that the CD includes a booklet with the full lyrics, in English and Spanish.  But this feature had an added bonus that I hadn’t anticipated!  My reluctant Spanish speaker is also an emergent reader.  He loves to read anything he can get his hands on, and thanks to ¡Sabor! he now spends our car trips reading the album lyrics in Spanish!  Sometimes he reads it like a book (even when the music is off), and other times he reads it along with the music, exclaiming as he recognizes the words being sung.

Spanish Learning Songs for Kids: Whistlefritz CD Review |

I highly recommend this album, whether your children have already been exposed to Spanish or are just getting started.  It is a fun way to encourage Spanish learning even for the most reluctant speakers!  To see for yourself, you can listen to clips of the songs.  For more on this award-winning line of language learning materials (not just Spanish but French, too!), be sure to visit their website.  You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Jun 302014

The Language Story of the Creative Mom: Bilingual Kids Rock Podcast interview

I am so pleased today to share the interview I did recently with Olena of Bilingual Kids Rock.  She has an amazing podcast series, interviewing parents from around the world who are raising their kids to be bilingual.  In our interview we talk about religion, choosing which language learning system to use, learning Spanish while residing in Bolivia, switching languages when speaking to adults and a whole lot more.  Listen to the interview on Bilingual Kids Rock – we’d love to hear what you think!

The Language Story of the Creative Mom: Bilingual Kids Rock Podcast Interview

Apr 022014

Lessons Learned from Language Learning - Spanish Playground on

Today’s post comes to us from a very dear friend, Jennifer Brunk.  Jennifer writes about language learning and resources for teaching children Spanish on Spanish Playground.

What do children learn as they acquire a second language? Vocabulary, grammar, culture, history, geography… All of these, no doubt, but there are other lessons that come with learning language, too.

I believe that learning a second language shapes children and their view of the world. These benefits may be harder to define than higher test scores or job opportunities, but they are just as important and lasting.

As children acquire more than one language, they learn:

The point of language is to understand and be understood. To be successful, children must learn to listen and be respectful of others.

Languages, cultures and interactions are complex. Children understand that their perception is not the only one possible, because it is interpreted and expressed slightly differently in each language. As they learn two languages, children see that there is a lot they don’t see. They learn to be open to exploring a situation, rather than making assumptions.

Variation is a given. Native speakers of the same language say things differently. Living this reality in more than one language helps children internalize that different is not a question of right and wrong.

Content is more important than form or presentation. Children learning two languages learn to listen for ideas. They focus on the message rather than being distracted by accent or appearance.

Language is powerful and it is a privilege to speak more than one. They can understand that they have a responsibility to use their skills to help others. They learn to appreciate the power of words and to use them carefully.

The globe is theirs to wander and absorb. They learn that each language brings new territory to explore and that when they can’t travel, language will transport them through stories, movies, and music.

Learning never ends. They are aware of what they know in one language and not the other and understand that they will keep learning their entire life.

Photo Credit: David Light Orchard via Compfight cc

Spanish Playground

Jennifer raised her three children speaking English and Spanish, and she has been teaching Spanish to other young world citizens for over twenty years. On her blog Spanish Playground, she shares resources for parents and teachers of Spanish language learners.

Feb 192014

Book Review: My Way - A mi manera - Lynn ReiserToday I am so happy to be posting for my good friend at Toddling in the Fast Lane.  I am so impressed by all the bilingual learning activities she does with her daughter, so I am happy to share about a bilingual book we discovered lately.

Read all about it over at Kristen’s fabulous blog:

A Mi Manera: Book Review

And be sure to also visit my collaborative Pinterest board on Bilingualism!

Dec 102013

How I Motivate My Resistant Preschooler to Speak a Second Language - Alldonemonkey on What to Expect

I have written at length about our efforts to raise our son to be bilingual and the lessons we have learned along the way.  Now that Monkey is almost four, we have come up with some new strategies to deal with the common problem of resistance to learning a second language.

I am so pleased to be able to share these ideas on the wonderful website related to the best-selling parenting series, What to Expect!   You can read the full article on the What to Expect website:

How I Motivate My Resistant Preschooler to Speak a Second Language

You can find even more ideas on my Bilingualism Pinterest board.

 Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

Oct 062013

E es de Elefante: Simple Bilingual Counting Game - Alldonemonkey.comI am so excited today to be sharing a simple bilingual counting game on Spanish Playground, the website of a good friend and fellow Board member of Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Spanish Playground is an incredible resource for anyone interested in teaching kids Spanish.  It has songs, games, activities, and even (my favorite) easy Spanish jokes for kids!

Today I am over on Spanish Playground sharing a simple game we used in our preschool co-op to teach the letter “E,” based on a popular song in Spanish.  The post will be linked up as part of the 31 Days of ABCs series, today hosted by Diapers-n-Heels.

See you over there!

Spanish Songs for Kids: E es de Elefante


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