Dec 202016
 December 20, 2016  bilingualism, Book Reviews, Geography Comments Off on Travel Books for Kids: Top Cities

I love books that beckon children to travel and to imagine themselves as the heroes in great adventures. The travel books for kids highlighted below do this by focusing on particular cities – Kyoto, Paris, Mumbai, and London – and introducing young readers to the sights and culture of these noteworthy locales.

Travel Books for Kids: Top Cities

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.

Travel Books for Kids

Learn about Kyoto along with a young girl traveling there with her grandfather in Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto. This is a really lovely book. The illustrations are wonderful, and I love that through the story we learn language and culture as Megumi and her grandfather count the things they will see in Kyoto: 10 bonsai trees, 9 orange koi, and so on. Japanese words are sprinkled in throughout the story, with footnotes giving the meaning and pronunciation. At the end there are also fun facts, a map, and Japanese numbers 1-10. But beyond this, what really makes the book come to life is the close relationship between Megumi and her grandfather. The affection between them lends a warmth to this story and will attract young readers even as they learn more about this beautiful city.

Related Post: Global Adventure Books for Kids

Take your kids on a gentle adventure through Paris with Beep Beep In Paris. Beep Beep is an adorable little red car who has adventures throughout Paris with his friend Chocolat the Cat (who has a habit of disappearing to eat desserts!) Poor Beep Beep does have some minor mishaps, but he is always helped by Chocolat, who helps Beep Beep feel at home in this new city. I have read this book many times with my preschooler, who loves the curious little car and his feline friend. (I actually won this book a few years ago from a friend’s blog: read her review of the book!) This sweet bilingual French and English book is a great way to practice vocabulary and take a virtual tour of the major landmarks of the city of lights. Read it with a cup of hot chocolat!

I was excited that our friends that wrote a wonderful Diwali book are now back with a new Maya and Neel adventure! Let’s Visit Mumbai! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 2) is a fun, beautifully done story about two siblings from the US who are exploring Mumbai with their pet squirrel Chintu. Kids aren’t the only ones who will learn from this book – I never knew that Mumbai was originally a group of 7 islands! And did you know that Bollywood comes from Mumbai? There is even an “info zoom” spread about Bollywood as well as another on the famous dabbawallas who deliver food throughout Mumbai. The graphics are so colorful and engaging, and the story packs in a lot of information in a natural way. And I love that just as in Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! there is a visual recap of the adventure at the end of the story. My only complaint about this (and the other books on this list) is that they don’t come with samples of the mouthwatering foods they feature!

Travel Books for Kids: Click the Book - London

If you are looking for innovative travel books for kids and/or want one that is customizable in two languages, you need to check out Click! London. This fun-filled adventure is not only a fast-paced story for children about London, it is also fully bilingual, in the languages of your choice! (Right now Spanish, English, and Italian are available, with more to come). Come along as two children take a wild, somewhat surreal ride through the sights of London!

Oct 182016

Bilingual Letter Craft: Q is for Que and Question |

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


Cardstock or thin cardboard


Tape or glue

Markers (optional)


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 |

Pretending to investigate an “injury”

Bilingual Letter Craft: Q is for Que and Question |

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 |

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!


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


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 |

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 |

…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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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!

Jan 222016
 January 22, 2016  bilingualism, Book Reviews 8 Responses »

Bilingual Board Books |

Do you live in a bilingual household or simply want to teach your kids a little Spanish?  Bilingual board books are a wonderful way to introduce your children to Spanish at an early age, and the text is simple enough for kids (and adults!) that have only a rudimentary understanding of the language.

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of Lil’ Libros books; however, all opinions are my own.

It doesn’t matter what age your children are, they will be instantly drawn to Lil’ Libros board books.  The artwork is incredibly engaging: colorful and eye-catching without being too “busy.”

Bilingual Board Books |

Lil’ Libros produces beautiful “first concept” books: in other words, books that teach about basic ideas like numbers, colors, body parts, etc.  As your child is mastering these early concepts, why not teach them in Spanish as well?  You don’t need to be a fluent speaker to teach your children at this level.  You are introducing simple vocabulary with self-explanatory illustrations, so you can learn right along with your child!

And if you are bilingual yourself, you will appreciate how high-quality these books are, and the fact that they teach culture right alongside the language.  Thankfully these days it is getting easier to find Spanish children’s books here in the US; however, the vast majority of these are translations from English.  So even as you worry about how good the translation is going to be, you know that the book will likely teach your child nothing about Hispanic culture.

Bilingual Board Books |

Lil’ Libros solves this dilemma by brilliantly making use of prominent aspects of Hispanic culture in their books.  For example, children learn about body parts through pictures of Mexico’s famous lucha libre wrestlers (brilliant!) and learn their numbers with representations of artist Frida Kahlo.

I highly recommend Lil’ Libros books to anyone wanting to teach their little ones Hispanic culture and beginning Spanish vocabulary.

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Are you worried about the lack of diversity in children’s literature?  So were Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press.  That’s why they created Multicultural Children’s Book Day, a unique event whose mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

Young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld

Platinum: Wisdom Tales Press * StoryQuest Books * Lil Libros

Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk * Candlewick Press * Bharat Babies

Silver: Lee and Low Books * Chronicle Books * Capstone Young Readers T

Tuttle Publishing, NY Media Works, LLC/KidLit TV

Bronze: Pomelo Books * Author Jacqueline Woodson * Papa Lemon Books * Goosebottom Books * Author

Gleeson Rebello * ShoutMouse Press * Author Mahvash Shahegh * China * Live Oak Media

Multicultural Children’s Book Day CoHosts

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts (including yours truly!):

All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Educators’ Spin on It, Growing Book by Book, Imagination Soup, I’m Not the Nanny, InCultureParent, Kid World Citizen, Mama Smiles, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Spanish Playground

I’ll be reviewing another set of books in the next few days, plus come back on January 26 to see all of the reviews from the Multicultural Children’s Book Day reviewers!

Nov 092015
 November 9, 2015  bilingualism, Education, education3 Comments Off on Learning All About Ants in Spanish

Learning All About Ants in Spanish |

Teach kids all about ants in Spanish with these wonderful activities from my blogging buddy and fellow Multicultural Kid Blogs Board member Jennifer of Spanish Playground!

Doing activities related to a theme is fun way for children to learn Spanish. They learn new words and hear them used naturally as they sing, do crafts and listen to stories. Below you’ll find a set of activities for a theme I call All About Ants. Try them with kids, and soon all of you will be talking and singing about hormigas.

Learning All About Ants in Spanish

  • Choose words you want to focus on as you do the activities. For beginners, start with just a few words. You can add more when those are familiar. You can also download a printable All About Ants vocabulary list.
  • Incorporate basic concepts like numbers and colors. It’s fun to count ants in Spanish!
  • Short activities are usually better. Adapt the All About Ants activities to help kids understand and keep their interest.
  • Spread the activities over several days, and come back to All About Ants at a later date. This will help kids remember what they learned.

Talking about photos helps kids learn new words. Point to these pictures of ants as you describe them. You can find more fabulous photos online because lots of people love ants!

Two ants

ants with flower

ant hills

I tell parents that music is language glue. It sticks language into kids’ heads.

Las Hormigas by Jorge Lan is perfect for this All About Ants theme. You can hear a clip of the song on iTunes. We learn the song and then play follow-the-leader as we march and sing:

Vamos marchando las hormigas.

Vamos marchando sin parar.

Vamos buscando comida y esta al hormiguero nos la vamos a llevar.

Printable Activities
Using pictures cards and playing games helps children learn new words. These printable activities fit the All About Ants theme and are focused enough for beginning Spanish learners. Try the size sort, the pattern activities and roll-an-ant game in this packet: Free Printable Ant Activitites by A Teaching Mommy

Size sort. I add ant hills to this activity. We cut 3 ant hills out of construction paper – small, medium and large. We sort the hormigas pequeñas, medianas y grandes into the different ant hills. This gives kids practice using size words and the word hormiguero.

Pattern activities. Kids practice colors in Spanish as they copy the patterns. We also count the ants.

Roll-an-ant. Kids can learn the parts of the ant with this game. You can also use it with beginners to practice numbers.

This cute animated video has basic ant information and repeats key vocabulary. Beginners can tap the table each time they hear the word hormiga. They will be tapping a lot! Watching this video, kids will learn all about ants and learn Spanish too.

Start at 0:33 to skip the theme song. You may want to watch just part of the video with beginners.

Crafts are excellent language activities. Choose one that lets you repeat the words your child is learning.
Doing this simple craft from Muck Monsters you will use the words hormiguero and hormiga. (Of course, you won’t write A is for ant on the picture.)

There are lots of crafts for making ants online. These egg carton ants are Pink Stripey Socks. You can talk about the parts of an ant as you make them.

You can also talk about ants as you color. Coloring.WS from DLTK has ant coloring pages.

Kids can help make an ant snack. You can make traditional ants on a log, or search ant snacks on Pinterest. You will be amazed at the possibilities!

Picture books about ants will have more language than young Spanish learners can understand. With my students, I read the wonderful book Arriba, Abajo instead. The illustrations have plenty of ants. You can find them, count them and talk about them.

You may also want to tell a simple version of the fable of The Ant and the Grasshopper. In Spanish, the story is called La cigarra y la hormiga. You can tell the story in your own words pointing to illustrations to help kids understand.

Try sentences like these for beginners:
Hace sol. Es verano.
La hormiga trabaja mucho. Lleva comida al hormiguero.
La cigarra no trabaja. La cigarra juega. No le gusta jugar. etc.

There are 5 basic drawings for the story in this printable version of La cigarra y la hormiga on Web del Maestro. Click on the link DESCARGA AQUÍ Cuentos infantiles. La cigarra y la hormiga.

You can also act out the story with stick puppets, or with ants you made as a craft.

By the time you have done a few of these activities, there is a good chance you will ready to talk about a new topic! Choose a theme your kids will like and look for songs, activities, and crafts to do in Spanish.

All About Ants Photo credits:
CC Image by Katja Schulz
CC Image by M M
CC Image by Emma Wallace

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.

Sep 182015
 September 18, 2015  bilingualism, Education, Halloween 2 Responses »

Spanish Halloween Activities |

I am always on the lookout for fun activities I can do with my kids to learn Spanish, and what is more fun this time of year than Halloween?  Here are some of my favorite Spanish Halloween activities to help you and your kids have some learning fun getting ready for el día de las brujas!

Note: Most of the activities and printables included below are free.  Those few that are paid are very inexpensive and well worth it!


Halloween Story Cards and Letter Match Printables – Mommy Maestra: These super cute printables are a fun way to practice letters and encourage storytelling with your preschooler!  Also includes a video and list of Spanish Halloween books.

Spanish Halloween Printable Picture Cards – Spanish Playground: Here are printable vocabulary cards in Spanish, plus a matching game.  I love all of the extension activity ideas!

Spanish Halloween Memory Game: Have students that resist learning vocab words?  Try this fun pumpkin memory game to teach Halloween vocabulary!

Spanish Halloween Vocabulary Activities – Spanish Playground: Collection of fun Halloween activities you can adapt to practice Spanish.  Includes a comprehensive list of Spanish vocabulary related to Halloween.

Spanish Dual Language Kindergarten Halloween Pack: I put this 26 page mini pack in the “vocabulary” section, but it has lots of math activities as well.  Chock full of learning activities for kindergarten, with no English on the student pages!

Spanish Halloween Read and Draw Printable – Spanish Playground: Practice seasonal vocabulary with this read and draw activity!  Great for practicing reading and listening skills.

Spanish Halloween Jokes – Spanish Playground:  My son loves telling jokes, so I cannot wait to try these Halloween jokes with him!  This is a really fun way to practice vocabulary!

Halloween Printable Spanish Minibook – Mundo de Pepita: Follow along as Pepita and her friends dress up and get ready for Halloween!


C is for Calabaza – For the Love of Spanish: I adore this calabaza (pumpkin) craft!  Don’t miss the song and activity at the end to practice counting, vocabulary, and feelings in Spanish.


Pumpkin Life Cycle Mini-Book in Spanish – Kid World Citizen: Get into Halloween science by making a pumpkin life cycle mini-book!  Wonderful way to teach fall related vocabulary and practice reading in Spanish.


5 Educational Things to Do with (Halloween) Candy – Mommy Maestra: Once you have all that Halloween candy, try these math activities to put them to good use!  Includes a link to a bilingual candy bar graph.

Pumpkin Size Ordering Activity – For the Love of Spanish: This activity is a fun way for kids to learn relative sizes in Spanish – with pumpkins!

Gross Motor

Spanish Skeleton Song – Spanish Playground: My kids and I have already been having fun dancing to Los esqueletos thanks to this post!  It is great for practicing numbers, time, action words – and of course, your best skeleton dance moves!

Of course, Halloween is not traditionally celebrated in Latin America, though it has become popular in some places in recent years.    From what I’ve heard from my Costa Rican family, for example, it was something of a fad a few years ago!  Just for fun, you can share with your kids how people have started celebrating Halloween in Spain!  (Day of the Dead – or el día de los muertos – is not just a version of Halloween but an entirely different tradition, though it also stems in part from All Saints Day).

Looking for more Halloween fun?  Don’t miss my Fall Fun for Kids board on Pinterest, plus check out these amazing posts from the All Things Kids Halloween Blog Hop!

Potato Print Spider Craft – Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Halloween Chalk Art – Craftulate

Bat Yarn Craft – Sugar Aunts

Floating Ghosts – Rainy Day Mum

Pumpkin Ice Painting – Crayon Box Chronicles

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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