We recently visited the California Science Museum in Los Angeles. I have to admit that I haven’t visited this place in years, so it was like going for the first time. I was very impressed with the space and exhibits. We didn’t do the special exhibits because we wanted to learn our way around the museum.
It turned out to be a fun experience as my son and husband went on a virtual ride and followed a photo time line of the Space Shuttle Endeavour making its way through Los Angeles. We also visited several of the permanent exhibits such as the Ecosystem exhibit and the Air and Space exhibit. We sat and listened to a presentation given by a scuba diver in one of the fish/shark tanks. My son was able to ask questions and interact with the presenter.
Our favorite part is definitely seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavour up close. It’s fascinating how much work went into making this shuttle and viewing different parts of the shuttle up close.
If you haven’t visited The California Science Center, I highly recommend you take your children. It provides a great learning experience as many of the exhibits have hands on learning activities. Please be aware there are strict COVID protocols in place. Adults have to show vaccination cards at the entrance and wear masks at all times unless we are eating.
As we get ready for the that special time of the year, I wanted to share some fun kid items I found. If you are looking for last minute gifts, consider one of these for your child.
I love giving books to kids, let’s face it, our kids don’t need another toy. I feel like books are priceless and all kids should have their own library. If you are in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, consider visiting Mija Books at Lakewood Mall. Recently, I visited Mija Books and for the first time in my life, I see books that represent my culture! The store is beautifully organized by age. There is even a Spanish section. I am so impressed with the plethora of diverse books being offered. There are also stickers, coloring books, crayons and affirmation cards. I just love it! Books vary in prices and begin at $7 for soft cover books. If you are not in the LA/OC area, you can also order on line at https://mijabooks.com I highly recommend their store.
4. Another favorite making it on my list this year is KiwiCo. I really love their age breakdown and their STEAM choices. https://www.kiwico.com They offer monthly, 3-month, and yearly subscriptions. I highly recommend this for children of all ages. They offer educational, but hands-on learning activities. Their directions are easy to understand and it’s an activity you can do with your child or let them challenge themselves and complete the task on their own.
It’s so important to highlight and celebrate our Latinx culture. September and October is a great time to highlight historical figures that made an impact in our world. Most importantly, we must celebrate our Latinx roots all year long! My son and I started this celebration with reading books about Frida Kahlo. It’s a colorful children’s book that lends itself to children of all ages. As you take your child through the pages you can talk about “auto-retratos” and the importance of embracing our Latinx features.
We talked about our skin color and the beauty of our culture. He was very thoughtful about choosing colors that represent his facial features. Crayola makes crayons for different skin colors now. This is a fun activity to do as a family and at the same time teach your child about an important person in history. You can also visit Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul virtually!
Kids are back in school! So, what now? Take advantage of Back To School Night and ask your child’s teacher how you can continue to support your child at home. Here are some questions you can ask your child’s teacher:
How can I support my child’s social/emotional well being?
Can you recommend some books that help my child talk about their emotions.
Do you have a feelings chart you use in school? I’d like to use it at home as well.
Can you share your daily schedule with me?
How can I support my child in math, reading, and writing?
What strategies do you use in reading that I can use at home?
In math, what counting strategies can I apply while helping my child with homework?
Share a success story about my child.
These questions open up the conversation to learning more about your child as a student. It helps you, as the parent, learn what happens throughout the day. Ask your child’s teacher for resources. If you are not sure how to explain math to your child, ask the teacher to share some sample strategies used in the classroom. If your child struggles in reading, ask the teacher what are some strategies you can use at home to help your child. Covid has affected our little ones in different ways. It’s important that we take time to support them not only academically, but also emotionally. Teachers have so much insight into our children’s world. Asking these questions help parents have a bigger picture about your child as a learner.
Don’t forget to ask your child’s teacher how they are doing as well. Teachers do so much behind the scenes work. A little cafecito or special drawing from your child is always welcome too.
It’s that time of year! We are getting ready to send our children back to school. We are enjoying the last few weeks of summer, getting that back to school list together, and look for clothing and supply deals! This is another unique year! We are still living in the times of COVID. Two years later. We have to prepare our kids the best way we can. We have our checklists, supplies…check…..clothes…check, room assignment…check…Let’s not forget the most important part of all. Let’s make sure our children are emotionally ready. Don’t forget to check in with them. Ask them how are they feeling? What are they most excited about? Are they scared? If so, why? Plan something fun right before school starts. If you haven’t already, start those back to school routines. Get to bed early, early rising, have breakfast planned out, and get them out the door. The sooner you do it, the easier it will be for you.
Don’t forget to read some fun books with them! I am including some back to school books along with a bilingual book titled Basquiat coming out soon from https://lillibros.com/collections/fall2021. If you haven’t learned about him, you must get this book. It’s also a great opportunity to support a Latina owned book publishing company.
I wanted to give my son a space where he can enjoy his reading time. I really want to give him a sense of ownership and responsibility when it comes to putting his room together. He is a vivacious reader, so he asked for a special reading nook. I wasn’t sure what that would look like in his room, so I had to think outside the box. We looked around his room and tried to pick a quiet space where he can focus and read without distractions. We chose a corner of his walk in closet!. I know it sounds outrageous, but it’s even more outrageous that a child would need a walk in closet, so it will be part walk in, and part reading nook.
We started with going to Home Depot and picking out a color. He chose green, I had to bite my tongue! I know that means letting go as a mom and allowing him to make choices on his own. I decided I will add some neutral decals to it to balance out the bright green.
He really enjoyed painting the wall and learned how to paint up and down instead of side to side. I decided to let him paint as long as a he wanted to and then even out the paint when he tired out. That happened very soon. I could see the pride on his face as he painted his wall. Once he gave up, I took over and finished the painting project.
Next, I ordered some hot air ballon decals from Amazon and my friend sent inspirational quotes to put on his wall. It all came together well. He is so happy with his reading nook. This is an easy and simple way to give your child space to enjoy reading without the outside distractions.
As summer comes to a close I want to share some of the fun activities I did with my son. I provided some days where he was able to sit around, play, and watch a little TV. Sometimes we take fun day trips that include visiting friends or going to the beach. I created a short schedule for my son that includes some academics and afternoon playdates. This seemed to be the best mix for him.
I really love the Learning Bridges books! They are a great review of what he learned and he is introduced to new concepts for the upcoming school year. He completes about 2-3 pages daily and reads two chapters of Magic Tree House (he also has to write a reading response). This takes him about 1-1.5 hours to complete.
I decided to invest in two programs this summer. The first one is Kallpachay. Please read my prior post about my son’s experience. The next one I chose to invest in is KiwiCo. I’ve heard so much about them. You can have a monthly subscription, or every 3 months, or a yearly one. KiwiCo provides all the materials for your child. The directions are easy to follow and it has a lot of visuals. My son is a lego lover so following these directions is very simple for him. He needed minimal help from me. I chose a Science based subscription with some art activities. It is very much STEAM driven.
In his first subscription he made a claw for a game. He was so excited and it was wonderful to see his face light up as the claw came together. He even went as far as making a box to hold toys in it. Then, he asked me to take him to the 99 cent store so he can buy small toys to put inside the box and he made some fuzzy dolls with the KiwiCo materials. Now when his friends visit, they can grab a small toy using his claw. This is hands hands-on learning, literacy, science, and art all in a fun box!
Finding a Spanish camp for my son is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I am sure many of you can relate! The list of quality Spanish classes for kids is very limited. There are a lot of great song, dance and story-telling classes for babies and toddlers, but very few conversational classes for school-aged children. After many conversations with my best friend about Spanish camps, she tells me about a class her children attend virtually during the school year.
I sat at the edge of my seat as she shared her experience with https://www.kallpachay.com. She said her children are engaged and eagerly participate. My friend said the teachers are creative and animated. Her children always participate whether in person or online. I decided my son will participate in a virtual or in person camp. I enrolled him in a one week in person camp with two other children!
From the very first day his teacher Margarita was warm, welcoming, nurturing, and animated. She led children through a series of hands-on learning experiences which included movement games, planting flowers, and talking about stories in Spanish. Margarita did a great job with providing a balance of interactive lessons that include listening, oral responses, reading, and writing. She encouraged my son to speak in Spanish and helped him when he was stuck. My son also worked on grammar such as, identifying nouns and verbs in Spanish. The 1:3 teacher-student ratio really helped my son feel comfortable and stretch his oral language skills. I was impressed with the level of fun and rigor Margarita provided for the children. Margarita always met my son with a smile and enthusiasm like everyday was the first day. My son ended each day telling me all the fun things he did with Margarita and he couldn’t wait for class the next day. At the end of the one week camp, his teacher gave him a special gift that included Spanish books (not translated in English…YES!), an activity book, along with other things. It truly meant a lot to my son. He completes pages in his activity book everyday and often talks about Margarita. Thank You Margarita and https://www.kallpachay.com for emphasizing the importance of maintaining his Spanish language skills and helping him feel proud of his culture! My son looks forward to attending Kallpachay classes virtually during the school year.
Parents I highly encourage you to consider taking classes with Kallpachay. If you are looking for a virtual or in person Spanish class for your children, register with https://www.kallpachay.com you will not regret it. Use discount code- 21bgprm for 10% off your in-person/virtual registration. This code is valid through August 31.
I’m always trying to change it up and do fun things as family. We were watching TV and learned about the movie “Yes Day.” If you haven’t watched it, it’s a must see! It’s silly and over the top. The most important message is let your kids have a voice, don’t forget to be silly and have fun with them.
As we are watching the movie, my son and I look at one another and start laughing. He excitedly asks me if he can do it. I wonder oh gosh what crazy things are my husband and I going to have to do? He creates a list of activities: card games, running around the backyard, visiting the playground, and having play dough fun. We laughed so much together. It turned out to be a wonderful day that included running around and laughing. We ended our day with pizza at the beach.
This year of COVID has taken a toll on my son. He’s had frequent nightmares, cries a lot and asks for a lot of hugs. My husband and I give him as much of a normal life as we can, filled with outdoor fun and special family time. Having Yes Day isn’t just about letting a child have his/her way, it’s about providing new experiences and making memories. I hope that he will one day look back and remember all the fun things we did as a family.