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!
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.
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.
Once your child starts school (as in pre-k) the pressure is on! Children are learning their alphabet and colors at a much younger age. Whatever you do, don’t measure your child against his/her peers. Each child learns at a different rate and when it comes to reading children technically have until the end of second grade to master reading. Did you know that in some European countries children are taught to read in second grade and not Kindergarten like in the U.S.
It’s so important for our children to play and spend as much time outdoors as possible. Dramatic play and discovery is important in the elementary years. Hands on learning is the best type of learning in my opinion.
My son is in K and his teacher gave me a list of words he should know. I looked at it and laughed. There is no way I am doing boring flash card drills with my kid. He loves homework and wants to learn to read. He is always asking me to read labels and titles for him. I tell I’m he will read when his brain is ready. He is curious about letter sounds and learning words. I notice he loves to paint, so I gave him a few words and he painted the words on paper. He had a lot of fun and enjoyed figuring out the sounds. It seems like a better way to teach words rather then putting them on a flash card. I don’t know if we will do it everyday, but it is a great way to integrate art and literary. So before you run to the store and buy flash cards consider tapping into your child’s interests to teach them new things.
Lil Libros is a publishing company I discovered when a family member gave Lucas his first board book. Since then, I am obsessed with the company. I love how relatable the books are for small children. Some books are about counting in Spanish, while others are about learning colors and shapes in Spanish. The illustrations are beautiful and the pages are easy to turn for little hands.
One of our parental goals is to make sure our son is bilingual. We always look for books that offer our son an authentic experience. Quality Spanish books are hard to find, they are poorly translated alot of the times. I think Lil Libros does a great job of providing quality Spanish books for babies and toddlers.
In El Chavo, the pages have short sentences with repetitive phrases on each page. This is a great book to teach children to read in Spanish. Children can use the pictures to help them figure out the words. After a few reads, children will catch on to the repetitive phrases and read the book in no time. He enjoys trying to read it and looking for El Chavez on each page.
I try to do a few activities with my son during the week. They are usually arts and crafts and cooking related. One week we made blueberry bars. It’s the easiest recipe ever. The hard part is making the bar look like the one in the recipe picture. I’m not the best baker, but I try. I learned about this recipe in Against All Grains book. It’s a simple recipe and in the process I learned how to make blueberry jam. It’s easy and I can’t believe I didn’t learn this sooner. My son enjoyed spreading the jam on the almond flour dough. I did a lot of the heavy work, but the point is we do the activity together. He learns about measurement, how to read a recipe, and the importance of portions in Spanish. It’s a fun way to learn new words such as “una cucharra” or “una taza.” He feels very proud of himself for knowing Spanish. Here is the picture of the blueberry bars. I don’t want to show my horrible baking. This is better.
I am currently working with children on not only having strong comprehension skills, but also making sure their fluency and word problem solving skills are strong and consistent. I decided to put a “kit” together. Students can use this as a reference while reading at home with a family member. Here is what my kit contains:
reading marker-it’s a highlighted strip that children can put over a sentence and not get distracted by the other sentences.
reading strategy bookmark- students can use it while reading when they approach a difficult word.
retelling hand– students use their hand to retell a story by identifying the character, their actions, problem, and solution.
story sequence sheet– students use linking words to talk about what happens first, then, next, after, and lastly.
questioning– Students discuss stories by asking I wonder . . . why, how, when in relation to the story.
main idea and details-students use a graphic organizer to talk about non-fiction stories.
Kids enjoy using tangible materials that help them become stronger readers.