Raising bilingual kids is a lot of work, but it can also be fun! These easy activities can be done with a range of ages and are a fun way to practice Spanish. Best of all, most require little to no prep time, so they are perfect for busy families.
Practice Spanish with These Easy Activities: Bilingual Kids
Disclosure: This post was created in collaboration with Spanish Safari. We received complimentary access to this app for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Try these easy activities to practice Spanish!
1. Take a Picture Walk
Choose a book with a lot of colorful and realistic illustrations. Look at the pictures and talk to your child about what you see in the images in Spanish. It’s a great way to introduce new vocabulary.
2. Choose An Outfit Together!
Help your child pick out an outfit for the day (or you can work ahead and pick out tomorrow’s outfit!) Use Spanish to give your child instructions and also to describe all the choices your child makes for clothing.
3. Cook Together
Cooking is such a sweet activity to do together, and a great way to practice Spanish! It’s also a wonderful way to celebrate your heritage or learn about other cultures, like with this Cuban Mango Milkshake.
4. Play I Spy
Known as “veo veo” in Spanish, I Spy is a classic game that’s easy to play no matter what your language level.
5. Jump Around
I have one child who simply can’t sit still. So any chance I get to introduce active games like the one below, I take it! Movement can also help “activate” the vocabulary in the child’s brain. Just take two or three related words in Spanish and shout them out randomly for the kids to act them out! The faster you go, the harder it gets! You can also take a look at this jumping game we did with chalk.
8. Have Fun with Clay Most children love to finger paint. It’s just so much fun! But, clean up can be a hassle. Instead of supper messy paint, tear up small pieces of colorful modeling clay and spread the clay around cardboard pieces to create wonderful works of art. Talk in Spanish about the process, the colors, shapes and what they are making. You can also check out this vocabulary-building activity we did with play dough.
9. Animal Antics Make a list in Spanish of different animals. Choose an animal and you and your child can move and make sounds like the animals. Be sure to label all of the actions you take in Spanish.
10. Create a Group Story
Sit in a circle and start a story in Spanish. After you start, go around the circle, asking each person involved to add to the story.
11. Draw a Picture
Another fun way to practice Spanish is by drawing a picture! I often describe a scene to my children using our new vocabulary and ask them to draw a picture. You can make it as simple or complicated as appropriate for your child.
12. Play Online
My kids love using the Spanish Safari app, designed for kids ages 3-9. Kids are swept away to an immersive world with adorable animals characters, including monkeys who serve as guides. I love that the app is narrative-based, so language learning happens in a very natural, intuitive way. Lessons are designed to engage those that already know some Spanish as well as those that are just getting started.
You can download it for free to try it out, though I really recommend the full version, which gives you access to large number of lessons and mini games. I also love that with the full version I can set up separate profiles for my kids, so they can have age appropriate materials.
Summer is the perfect time to reignite your child’s love of reading! If you are hoping to boost your child’s second language or just starting to expose them to one, you won’t want to miss these fun bilingual books for kids! Some are fully bilingual, with the complete text in both languages, while others are primarily in English with Spanish mixed in throughout.
Fun Bilingual Books for Kids to Learn Spanish
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below 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.
Enjoy these fun bilingual books for kids, including picture books and early readers.
Nothing says summer like paletas (popsicles). Paletero Man is a tribute to these cool summer treats as well as to the generosity of the Paletero Man that sells them. This new picture book is filled the vibrant colors and flavors of paletas, including so many that we love (cherry, melon, and strawberry!) and some I didn’t know (corn??) We already love the music of Lucky Diaz, who has won multiple Latin Grammys and has been nominated for an Emmy six times. (See my review of his band’s last album, Buenos Diaz, and watch for their next one, Crayon Kids, releasing soon!) The book is also a love letter to the diverse neighborhoods of Los Angeles, where Spanish words and phrases are sprinkled into conversations, just as they are throughout this book. Highly recommended.
Another beloved Spanish-language musician branching out into children’s books is 123 Andrés, the Latin Grammy-winning duo responsible for wonderful albums like Canta Las Letras (read my review). We were already big fans, so I was excited to see this new venture. Ten Little Birds / Diez Pajaritos is a board book based on a popular counting song from 123 Andrés. (We got to see them perform it live a few years ago!) This adorable book, told in both Spanish and English, helps children practice their numbers in Spanish, as they see birds fly away and then return to a city rooftop. Watch the music video, too!
Happiness Street – Calle Felicidad is a lovely picture book that celebrates summer and family. In it, a child looks back on her summer at grandmother’s house by the beach. That magical place truly is “happiness street,” as the children have named it. The paintings of the book are gorgeous. The bilingual version is a great opportunity to practice colors in Spanish! The story concludes when Mother comes to take the children back home, and they experience the bittersweet emotions that come with the end of vacation, though it is tempered by the promise of next summer on Happiness Street. A lovely way to celebrate the transition from vacation.
Meet the great luchador El Toro and his friends! This early reader series, including Training Day and Tag Team, is a fun way to get kids reading, all the while exposing them to Spanish. The graphic novel format makes it appealing even to reluctant readers. The mix of Spanish and English is great even for those with no Spanish knowledge. The book is primarily in English, with a heavy dose of added Spanish (though all these phrases are also given in English). I love that these books are a celebration of Mexican-American culture and particularly wrestler (luchador) culture. And of course, parents will love the themes of teamwork and working hard to achieve your goals. The illustrations are wonderful, with so many fun details to explore, including lots of captions in English and Spanish.
This new series is a spin-off series of the picture book ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat by Raúl the Third, for which Raúl was awarded the Pura Belpré Youth Illustrator Award.
Un Cubano in New York is a fully bilingual book (text in both English and Spanish) about a boy caught between two worlds, feeling like he doesn’t quite fit into either. His Spanish isn’t good enough for his Cuban relatives, and even though he is “white passing,” he is self-conscious about being different from his American peers. It is organized by sections, such as food and language, with the author’s reflections on his childhood. A wonderful book to understand what it is like to grow up as a child of immigrants.
Un Cubano in New York is a part of a collection of similar works (the fifty/fifty collection), including Un hȃfu à Paris, a French-Japanese book about a child of mixed heritage living in Paris. It also includes Little Yabani in Beirut, a memoir from a Lebanese-Japanese author. They give wonderful insight into growing up with mixed cultural heritage.
Trying to raise a child who is a world citizen? Want to expose your child to different cultures but can’t afford to travel? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Read on for ideas of how to explore the world with your child in 6 easy steps – without ever leaving home!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the items below for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Explore the World with Your Child in 6 Easy Steps
1. Play Games
An incredibly fun way to explore the world with your child is through games! Children learn through play, so next time you’re looking for a fun activity, remember that it can be an easy way to learn about other cultures!
That’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but what if you don’t know any games from another country? Then you definitely don’t want to miss Global Kids: 50+ Games, Crafts, Recipes & More from Around the World! This is global learning made easy and super fun! This carefully researched resource comes in the form of a pack of large cards, each with an activity from a different part of the globe, or that emphasizes a particular aspect of global learning, like map reading. There are five categories: create, play, eat, celebrate, and help out. (I love the inclusion of helping others!) For example, you might learn to make a shekere (a musical instrument from Nigeria), play luta de galo (a form of tag from Brazil), make a Vietnamese fruit smoothie, grow bean sprouts to celebrate Nowruz (Persian new year), or go plogging (a Swedish activity that combines jogging and picking up litter).
The Global Kids activity pack is so easy for busy parents and teachers to use. The activities involve little to no prep, and most can be done with materials you already have in your home or classroom. Just pick a card and you will be off exploring!
2. Read Books
We all know how effective books can be in helping kids to learn about the world. And here is another stunning addition for your home library or classroom! Precious Planet: A User’s Manual for Curious Earthlings from gestalten envisions the planet as a house, where all of the elements and rooms are interconnected. First, we look back at the construction site (the planet’s creation), before moving on to the house’s foundation (the center of the earth, tectonic plates, etc.) and the different rooms (continents). Finally, we turn our gaze to our neighborhood, including possible vacation homes.
I love the book’s setup! It is such a great way of getting kids to think of the Earth in a new way, especially in terms of how closely connected we all are. For example, the Bathroom pages discuss the effect of dirty bathwater (trash in the oceans) and how the jacuzzi works (the ocean currents). The overall message of this innovative book is how all systems of our earthly home work together and our critical role as its caretakers.
3. Enjoy Food
Food is one of my favorite ways to explore the world with my kids! We love trying new recipes together, like Saudi Arabian Magic Cake or Costa Rican empanadas. Cooking together is wonderful hands on learning (science, math, language…), plus it’s easy to tie in other aspects of culture, such as celebrations.
A Taste of the World: What People Eat and How They Celebrate Around the Globe does just this, by looking at cuisine around the world, and how it relates to more than 20 different global festivities. Organized by continent, A Taste of the World, also from gestalten, looks at general aspects of global cuisine – such as spices – as well as the foods of specific countries. For each highlighted country, we explore some typical dishes and flavors as well as a local celebration, such as Three Kings’ Day in Spain, the Almond Blossom Festival in Morocco, and Thanksgiving in the US.
I love the diversity of the countries and festivals covered in the book. Many are ones you will have heard of, such as Diwali, while others, such as Jamaica’s Independence Day and Nigeria’s Fish and Cultural Festival, will likely be new to most readers.
As mentioned right at the start of the book, food brings people together because it’s all about sharing. So be sure to share this book with your little world citizen!
4. Learn a Language
Whether you speak another language or just want to learn a few phrases, exposing a child to another language not only has well documented benefits for their brain, it can also introduce them to new ways of seeing the world. And it makes a wonderful ice breaker if they meet someone from another country! Nothing makes a person feel welcome like having someone make the effort to speak to them in their own language.
As a non-native speaker, I often worry about my accent when teaching my kids Spanish. I love the new Little Polyglot Animals/Animales book from Linguacious, because it utilizes QR codes and a specially designed app to let kids hear vocabulary spoken by native speakers! (Read my review of their innovative flashcards). Each page features a large photo of an animal, along with codes that kids can scan to hear how to say the name of the animal in both English and Spanish.
It’s so easy, my four year old daughter can do it herself! And my older kids love it too, since they are drawn to anything involving technology. It is a simple yet incredibly effective way to teach children Spanish vocabulary!
Everyone loves a good party! The most popular event in our World Explorers Club is our annual Around the World Holiday Party. Learning about another culture’s celebrations can be a fun way to learn about their values and beliefs. And celebrations easily incorporate games, activities, food, music, dress-up, stories, and more!
For example, I love the gorgeous new book Korean Celebrations: Festivals, Holidays and Traditions from Tuttle Publishing. It covers all the major holidays and festivals of Korea, such as Seollal and Chuseok, as well as special events like bithdays and weddings. Kids not only learn the significance of the celebrations, there are tons of hands-on activities, too! They can make origami carnations as a gift for Parent’s Day in May, or cook Half-Moon Rice Cake for Chuseok. Kids will also be delighted to learn about local festivals like the Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach!
There are many other fun bits of information highlighted in the book, such as the national anthem, a look at the Korean flag, and how to write in Korean. I love the whimsical watercolor illustrations that bring the celebrations to life for young readers.
6. Try Unit Studies
One way to explore the world with your child that I’ve found to be particularly effective is making use of unit studies. Focus on one country or region at a time – maybe somewhere you’ve traveled, or someplace you’ve read about in a book. You can easily pull in all of the aspects discussed above, that is, games, books, food, language, and celebrations, creating a well-rounded experience your child is sure to remember.
Let’s Go to Italy! from gestalten is the perfect book to use for a study of Italy. It covers many aspects of this rich culture, including the language, food, history, and famous landmarks. Kids will love learning that the term nutella was coined by an Italian chef or reading about how gelato was developed! They will also discover the gondolas of Venice and the love story of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, as well as learn the many different types of pasta. They will study the work of Galileo and DaVinci, and learn why a violinist in 2007 was so distraught after breaking his Stradivarius violin. This jam packed book is rounded out by a dictionary, glossary of terms, and kid-friendly recipes.
My one quibble is that I would have liked to have seen more overarching organization to the book, rather than so many small chapters. Nevertheless, it is a glorious book to get lost in, with so many fun facts about one of the world’s most fascinating countries!
On this blog we talk a lot about activities to teach Spanish or resources for raising bilingual kids, but for many parents, a foreign language is not a high priority to add to their child’s already long list of activities. Many wonder, why should my child learn another language when they have so much on their plate as it is?
I recently had the pleasure to interview an amazing musician and advocate for teaching Spanish, the wonderful Super Stolie. Below she talks about her own journey to learn Spanish, and why she feels it is so important to expose children to other languages and cultures.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Why My Child Learn Another Language?
Interview with Super Stolie
Super Stolie (that is, Rebecca Stoelinga) has been performing for children for over a decade. While she has incorporated Spanish into her music previously (see my review of her album Family in Harmony), her latest album Hola Ola is her first fully bilingual collection. Her music is fun and super catchy, and, on a personal level, I have to say how encouraging it is that Super Stolie is not a native speaker, yet she still has achieved a high level of fluency in Spanish!
But given that she is not a native speaker of Spanish, why is it (and the culture) so important to her, and why does she feel so strongly that children should learn another language? Read my interview below to find out!
1. Tell us more about your love for Spanish and Latin culture! How did it begin, and why does it continue to be important to you today?
When I was in junior high, we were allowed to pick between Spanish or French as a foreign language to learn. Even at 12 I was aware of the influence of the Spanish language and culture, so the decision was clear! I think being able to communicate in another language is like having a super power— I actually have lots of memories of when my language skills saved the day! Since I’ve been making connections through music for so many years, combining that now with my second language seems like a job for Super Stolie!
2. Why do you think it’s important for children to learn another language?
I think it’s important for children to be globally educated, and knowing another language connects us with more people in the world, opening doors to new opportunities in travel, career and friendship. Plus, exposing yourself to a new language can help increase comprehension and speaking abilities overall by literally developing your tongue!
3. What can parents do to encourage their children to learn another language? (Or to learn one themselves??)
The first part of the journey is to increase awareness and exposure to another language, and preferably in a daily practice. This can be with books from the library, watching programs in the second language, using apps or flashcards, calling a relative or family friend who can pepper the language into a conversation. But my favorite — listening to music! One of my early practices was singing along to songs I loved (usually with lyrics printed in front of me) because it really helps with language fluidity.
4. What is the story behind your latest single, “Fuerte sin parar”?
In 2012 I released an album called Press Play! with a song called “Top of Our Lungs” about singing and back-seat leg dancing in the car. “Fuerte sin parar” is a pop remix of that song, with an additional Spanish translation of the original lyrics weaved throughout the song. The new version is totally different, very poppy! I used the Spanish lyrics for the chorus and reworked the original English chorus to a rap in the bridge of the song.
5. What message do you hope your young listeners take away from your music?
There are plenty of materials already out there for language learning. As I’ve been shifting into making bilingual music for kids, I’ve discovered that my expertise as a songwriter, and now a bilingual speaker, is to offer music — for entertainment — for those children who are being raised bilingually or who already are. Why should your favorite music be in just one language, if you can speak or understand two? I hope listeners who share a passion for multilingualism continue to support a world where language crossover is another way we can unite as a whole!
July 25, 2019SpanishComments Off on Outdoor Spanish Learning Activity with Chalk
If you’re like me, you are trying to get your kids outdoors as much as possible! I’ve got a few little tricks, like eating breakfast in the backyard (which always morphs into playtime as well) and taking school time outside. We’ve got a great picnic table we can use for crafts and written work, but I also try to take advantage of being outdoors by including more active learning. Here is one super easy outdoor Spanish learning activity that helps with gross motor skills as well as language learning. Big bonus: my kids didn’t want to stop playing!
Good news for busy parents and teachers: no prep involved, and all you need is a sidewalk or patio, and chalk!
Here’s what to do:
Draw a house with chalk. Make it as detailed or simple as you want, to match the level of the children’s vocabulary.
Call out a part of the house, and the children must jump there as quickly as possible.
Repeat for as long as they want to play!
You can play this on two levels:
Adentro/afuera. At the simplest level, you call out either adentro or afuera, and they must jump either inside or outside of the chalk drawing. That’s actually where this whole idea came from, when I noticed my children were getting these two words confused.
Las partes de la casa. For a more complicated game, call out a different part of the house each time, and the children must jump there as quickly as they can. For example, our house had a door, windows, roof, and chimney. We later added to the outside of the house, with a patio, tree, and clouds in the sky.
If your children enjoy this game as much as mine did, you can try different variations, like numbers, colors, and so on.
October 8, 2018activities, SpanishComments Off on Easy Spanish Activity with Play Dough
As a busy homeschooling mom of three, I love it when I can find easy, no-prep activities that still really pack in a lot of learning. Bonus if it works for all three kids, despite the range of ages! That’s why I love this easy Spanish activity with play dough. It uses just one material (play dough), which you likely have on hand, and a little imagination! It’s easy to adapt for different levels of language ability and tons of fun for everyone.
Easy Spanish Activity with Play Dough
Getting set up for this easy Spanish activity couldn’t be simpler – just pull out your container of play dough and get ready for some fun!
Just ask your child (in Spanish) to use the play dough to make the object you tell them. In other words, you might ask them to make un gato (a cat) or una casa (a house).
You could also give them less exact prompts, like to make un animal que vive en el bosque (an animal that lives in the forest) or tu comida favorita (your favorite food).
Giving a kiss to her pato (duck)
For older students, you can flip the script and have them build an object of their choosing and tell you in Spanish what it is!
More advanced students could come up with a story related to their creation and perhaps even act it out.
Una casa (a house)
What other variations could you add to this easy Spanish activity?
Are you homeschooling Spanish for multiple children? It can be a real challenge to meet the needs of all of your children at their different stages of learning.
Visit us on Spanish Playground today to find out what works for us! I’m sharing tips for how you can balance group activities with individual attention and an immersive environment so you can meet the needs of all your children and their learning needs:
Encourage your young world changers with these incredible books that inspire kids to be leaders! From picture books to chapter books, these works showcase people overcoming obstacles to follow their dreams as well as real life heroes who made a difference in the world. What inspires you?
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below 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.
Books that Inspire Kids to Be Leaders
Mayanito’s New Friends/ Los Nuevos Amigos De Mayanito is a beautiful allegory of a young prince who befriends children from distant lands and journeys far from his rainforest home to visit them. The animals of the jungle help him on his quest, until he is reunited with his friends and even brings them back to the his village to celebrate their global friendship. Prince Mayanito declares all the children of the hemisphere as his tribe and from his home at the equator can listen to music coming from his world map. A lovely story from the late poet and playwright Tato Laviera, with gorgeous illustrations of Mayanito’s lush rainforest home. I love stories like this that celebrate what unites us despite our differences and that recognize that children don’t have to wait to to grow up to become leaders.
One of the most famous Latin American leaders was José Martí, the Cuban poet who traveled the world to advocate for the oppressed and to speak out for Cuba’s independence from Spain. This wonderful picture book tells of the inspiration behind his convictions as well as the sacrifices he made for them, living in exile from his beloved island for so many years and later dying in battle in the war for its independence. I love that Martí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad uses Martí’s own verses to tell his story, inspiring another generation with the legendary words of this great freedom fighter. Includes historical notes at the end for even more information about this incredible figure.
Remember the Ladies (Ellis the Elephant) celebrates the often overlooked contributions of America’s first ladies, such as Abigail Fillmore, who helped build the collection of the national library, and Edith Wilson, who helped fulfill her husband’s duties when he became ill. These women are remarkable leaders in their own right, including one of my personal heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt. Written by a diplomat, this book keeps a steady hand even when discussing more recent first ladies, celebrating achievements from women from both sides of the political aisle. Featuring the adorable character Ellis the Elephant, it also includes more detailed biographies of all the featured women at the end of the book.
For most kids, reading about the history of the US Senate would seem incredibly dry, but the story of Dennis Chávez is completely the opposite. Dennis Chávez: The First Hispanic US Senator/ El Primer Senador Hispano De Los Estados Unidos is a beautifully done biography for older kids of the first US-born Hispanic Senator, one of the most remarkable leaders you’ve never heard of. Indeed, as I was reading, I found myself asking over and over, Why is this the first time I am reading about him? Born in rural New Mexico before it was even a state, Dionisio Chávez grew up speaking only Spanish, tending sheep, and living in a house with dirt floors and no indoor plumbing. But he was bright and motivated, and quickly learned English and excelled at his studies. Then in 7th grade, he had to drop out of school to work and was never able to complete high school or college.
Yet he went on to graduate from Georgetown Law School and serve as a US Senator for 27 years. Inspired by his own first hand experiences of injustice, he fought tirelessly for minorities and workers, even standing up to McCarthy at a time when speaking out against him was virtually unthinkable. Throughout it all he maintained his optimism and commitment to faith and family.
This gem is written by the Senator’s own granddaughter and puts Chávez’s accomplishments squarely within the context of history. She also brings out the warmth of his personality and sincerity of his convictions. A book that will inspire any child to stand up for what they believe in, no matter how great the obstacles.
Do you ever wish you could teach bullies a lesson? The Shameless Shenanigans of Mister Malo/ Las Terribles Travesuras De Mister Malo is a wonderful bilingual chapter book about a boy who does just that, on a regular basis. Through his secret persona Mister Malo, Lance takes assignments from other fourth graders – with payment in fruit snacks – to take care of kids who are making their lives miserable. But when his payback to one playground bully backfires, Mister Malo is forced to look deeper to try and discover why bullies act like they do. Lance also faces a bully of his own and must learn to stand up for himself, without the comforting mask of Mister Malo.
This book not only teaches important lessons, it’s incredibly funny as well – but parents should be warned that there is plenty of bathroom humor, though of course young readers will love this! Let’s just say that the climax of the book is when Lance and his buddies create a school project all about why people fart! This, um, unique project is not just for laughs – it actually resolves a bully problem for a young girl who has been teased mercilessly for tooting on the playground.
Really fun bilingual chapter book for young readers about how to deal with bullies in unconventional ways.
Among the great inspirational figures of the twentieth century is the groundbreaking Jackie Robinson. The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend is written by none other than Jackie Robinson’s daughter! An accomplished author, Ms. Robinson tells the charming tale of a young white boy and his incredible friendship with the legendary baseball player during the beginning of his career in the major leagues. It was common at that time for Dodgers players and their families to rent rooms in Brooklyn neighborhoods during the season, so when 8 year old Steve finds out his hero is moving to his street, he feels like he’s just won the lottery!
But Jackie Robinson teaches Steve about more than just baseball. He shows Steve how to deal with bullies and inspires him to do well in school and follow his dreams. Even more than that, during a time of deep racial and religious divides, this African American legend showed a young Jewish boy how to reach across lines and build bridges instead. The Robinson and Satlow families remain close to this day, and their story gives a wonderful glimpse of the remarkable man behind the myth.
Baseball is also center stage in Out of Left Field, a wonderful new chapter book about a girl determined to bring the real history of baseball to light. The year is 1957, and Katy Gordon loves nothing more than standing on the mound and throwing one of her famous pitches, shocking the boys who never expect a girl to be able to play ball like she can. But when she is barred from Little League because baseball has supposedly always been a man’s sport, she turns her frustration into a zeal for digging up the forgotten history of women in baseball in order to prove them wrong.
Young readers will easily relate to Katy, an ordinary girl driven to do extraordinary things because of a passion for justice and her beloved baseball. They will also enjoy getting to know her unconventional family – the professor mom who encourages Katy in her quest, and her sisters, an engineer and an artist, who inspire Katy to follow her passion. I love that throughout Katy’s mom takes her seriously, offering support and advice without condescending or doing the work for her. And being from California, of course I enjoyed the detailed portrait of life in San Francisco during the era of Sputnik and the Little Rock Nine.
While the story is fictional, many of the women showcased in the story – such as Maud Nelson, Jackie Mitchell, and Toni Stone – are not. Generations before Mo’ne Davis pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series, girls and women fought simply to have a place on the field. This book brings well deserved attention to their struggle and their incredible talent.
The weather is finally warming up in our neck of the woods, so we celebrated by concocting some fruity, chocolate-y pops! Inspired by a traditional Puerto Rican treat, these tropical chocolate mango popsicles are full of fruity goodness – mango, banana, and coconut – plus a touch of decadence from the chocolate. What better way to celebrate the fact that summer is just around the corner? Plus, you don’t want to miss our giveaway of a wonderful new children’s activity coloring book all about Puerto Rico!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment 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 cost to you.
Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles
Summer is coming, which makes us all think about tropical beaches and relaxing by the waves. To bring a little taste of the tropics to our home in Northern California, we decided to make these scrumptious tropical chocolate mango popsicles. I was inspired by Puerto Rican limber, a frozen treat similar to popsicles and often made with fresh fruits and juices. You can do all kinds of combinations, but we were especially interested in mango – which was great because I had a huge bag of frozen mango in the freezer! Of course, if you have fresh, by all means use that, but it is often hard for us to find really good mangoes in our area, plus with kids, it’s so much easier to use frozen since it’s already peeled and chopped for you.
If you want an authentic mango limber, then I highly recommend trying this recipe from Modern Mami, or you can browse this great collection of healthy limber recipes! I wanted to do something a little different, so we added a little twist to our recipe by adding shredded coconut and banana, as well as chocolate. Cocoa powder alone is quite bitter, so I actually used hot chocolate mix (!) but if you don’t have this, just use cocoa powder and sugar to taste.
Ingredients (makes 6+ popsicles)
4 cups of mango (frozen or fresh)
honey to taste
3 cups water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup hot chocolate mix (or combination of cocoa powder and sugar)
Combine all ingredients in blender. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
I am endlessly impressed by the author’s talent as an illustrator but also the depth of her knowledge about the subject. Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto – Cuaderno de Ejercicios: Puerto Rico, The Island of Enchantment – Workbook is incredibly comprehensive, covering topics as varied as history, geography, government, religion, sports, food, and the arts. It contains nearly 200 workbook pages (plus answer keys) appropriate for elementary school and even older (though younger kids will definitely enjoy the coloring part of it!) There is so much to explore here, no matter what your child’s interests, so it is sure to be a hit!
The book is completely bilingual, so whether your kids read/write fluently in Spanish, just un poquito, or not at all, this is the perfect book to expose them to Spanish and the rich culture and history of the Island of Enchantment.
Even better, all of the profits from the first year of its publication go to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. This book is a true labor of love, dedicated to the author’s homeland during its time of need. It is a great way to support Puerto Rico and teach kids about this beautiful island that they have surely been hearing about on the news.
And now you can win your own copy! Simply comment on this post, letting us know which topic about Puerto Rico you think your child would be most interested in! Geography, history, the arts, sports, or … ? Let us know!
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Are you teaching your child to speak Spanish? Here are some ideas on how to help him with his pronunciation in Spanish and some general thoughts about when and how to do so. Share your own tips in the comments, and don’t miss an exclusive discount code for a fun new product to help with Spanish language learning!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary set of flashcards from Linguacious 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.
Pronunciation in Spanish: Tips for Helping Your Child
One challenge of teaching your child to speak Spanish is helping her to pronounce the words correctly. Especially if you start when your child is older, but even if you start when they are young but they are immersed in an English-speaking culture, pronunciation in Spanish will inevitably present some difficulties. Yet there are some simple ways you can help!
But first, some general cautions:
Multilingual Parenting has an excellent article on whether to correct your bilingual child’s language. As a parent and educator, our relationship with our child is much different than that of a teacher and student in a traditional classroom. She cautions strongly against constantly correcting your child, instead focusing on encouraging them when they use language correctly. As she often reiterates on her blog, as a parent you also must focus on your relationship with your child as well as the child’s long-term enthusiasm for learning the language.
So be careful about when and whether to correct your child’s pronunciation in Spanish. As a general rule, the more self-conscious they feel when they speak, the less enjoyable it will be for them and the less they will want to continue.
If you are a homeschooler, you may be at a slight advantage because your child is used to seeing you as a teacher who will be providing instruction in Spanish as in other subjects such as math and history. As a result, when you are in “class mode,” they may be more open to having direct help with pronunciation.
And now, for some fun ideas to help with your child’s pronunciation in Spanish – sometimes without them even realizing it!
Rhymes are a great way to help with a child’s pronunciation in Spanish, as they must attend to the sounds of the words and listen carefully for similar sounds. Here are some printable rhyming words, including links to traditional rhymes in Spanish.
Using music to teach Spanish works on so many levels – it’s fun, it teaches culture, and – it’s great for pronunciation! Music often contains repetition of important words and phrases, and children often “get” pronunciation better when it is set to music. Again, it is a way of encouraging them to really listen to the sounds in words. Spanish Playground also has some wonderful hand-clapping games that work to teach pronunciation in a similar way. You can also find cute musical videos to help teach pronunciation.
3. Focus on Syllables
Spanish letters have much more uniform sounds than in English, which can be really helpful when teaching pronunciation in Spanish! When children really understand how Spanish syllables are pronounced, it makes it easy for them to confront long and more complex vocabulary later on. So try breaking the language down into syllables and help teach pronunciation using tools like this printable syllable wheel. Clapping activities can help them learn where to put the correct stress.
4. Mouth Exercises
Did you know that you can actually do simple mouth exercises with your child to help them with their pronunciation? Here is an article by a speech language pathologist on mouth exercises that help with clear speech. It includes a special note on the Italian “r,” which is similar to the Spanish “r.”
5. About those “R’s”
If there is any aspect of pronunciation in Spanish that gives a child trouble, it is sure to be that rolled “r”! (The flipped “r” is a bit tricky as well but easier to teach and correct). Here is a collection of ideas from parents and educators on how to help kids to roll their “r’s” – although the main message is to not worry about it too much, as even native speakers have trouble with this when they’re young!
6. Exposure to Native Speakers
For me, one of the most important things you can do to help your child with his pronunciation in Spanish is to expose him as much as possible to the speech of native speakers. The more he hears the language, the more his ear will become accustomed to it and the more natural the correct pronunciation will sound to him. And while it may take him a while to be able to replicate the sounds himself, this is a small challenge compared to those children who simply don’t know how words should be pronounced or who cannot remember because of lack of exposure.
If you are not a native speaker yourself or even if you don’t speak Spanish, there are still many ways you can make sure your child is exposed to the speech of native speakers. And even if you are a native speaker, it can be very helpful for your child to listen to other native speakers as well, so they can hear other accents and listen to vocabulary and speech patterns you perhaps don’t use as much.
Obviously, if you have friends or relatives who are native speakers, take advantage of this wonderful opportunity for interaction. If you don’t have access to native speakers your child can meet face to face, you can still listen to Spanish language radio, Spanish music, and Spanish language media.
And I’m also excited to introduce you to a brand-new way to reinforce correct pronunciation in Spanish: through these wonderful new flash cards from Linguacious!
You may think, what do flash cards have to do with pronunciation?
These well-made flash cards (available in dozens of other languages as well) were developed by PhD linguists and tested by real families. There are many different games you can play with them, so it is a fun way to learn and practice vocabulary in the target language. The photos are clear and colorful and help kids learn practical vocabulary.
But what my kids really love is that you can scan a QR code on each card and hear the pronunciation! This is wonderful for tech-loving kids, but also for parents who aren’t native speakers themselves. You know your child is being exposed to the correct pronunciation in Spanish by a native speaker!
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