Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spanish "On the road" BINGO--BINGO por viaje

As summer vacation time approaches, many families may be spending time in the car traveling.  In another attempt to substitute a fun, learning activity in place of video games, I created a Spanish road BINGO game.  Click on the image below to access the free printable, BINGO por viaje.  You can print the pages single or double-sided, then cut in half for 12 unique cards.  They are the perfect size to fit on the mini-clipboards available at the dollar store. 

The clipart used to create this printable is public domain clipart found on the following websites:

Friday, March 28, 2014

8 Resources for Spanish Activities in Pinch

Below I have listed 8 great resources to put in your pocket for those days when you've run out of Spanish lessons and need something for your kids to do in a pinch.  I like to have a list of "go-to" activities because it seems that--despite my best intentions--I never have as much material planned for the week/month as I would have liked.  Usually by the end of the week the kids and I are both ready for a Spanish activity that requires less interaction.  The resources listed below are activities that require little or no active participation.

1. Movies from your own DVD collection

Most DVDs have an option in the menu under languages to play the DVD in Spanish.  If you want to be nice, you can also put on English subtitles, but I usually make my kiddos suffer through trying to understand the Spanish.  I try to pick movies that they are very familiar with, so they already understand the story.

2. Spanish TV programs for kids on HULU

HULU is a free website where you can watch full TV episodes.  I found Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, Thomas the Train, Cyberchase, and several others available in Spanish.  Click here to access Spanish kids programs on HULU.

3. Narrated stories from Reading is Fundamental

This site features animated stories for the very young and early elementary aged children.   Even though the stories are organized into different age groups, any aged Spanish language learner could benefit from listening to the stories.   

4. Salsa TV from Georgia Public Broadcasting

I can't say enough great things about this program from GPB.  My kids love it and have watched every episode.  The episodes range in length from 15 to 30 minutes and teach basic Spanish.  Even though the episodes are completely in Spanish, they are created so that someone who doesn't know any Spanish can understand the story.  Each episode builds on the vocabulary/concepts covered in the previous one.  Click here to access Salsa TV.

5. VMe's Planeta Feroz

From the VMe website you can access full episodes of Planeta Feroz, a show about nature.  Click here to access Planeta Feroz.

6. Cuentos Interactivos (Clic Clic)

Another site with animated stories; however, on this site children must interact with the stories.  For example, one of the stories mentions Papá and you must click on the dad in order for the story to continue.  Click here to access Clic Clic.

7. Pocoyó

Youtube has complete episodes of this cartoon in Spanish.  Click here to access Pocoyó through Youtube.

8. Bianfa Cuentos

Another interactive story website.  This site also has videos of some of the stories, although I couldn't find a way to make them full-sized.  Click here to access the Bianfa Cuentos website.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Classical Conversations in a Nutshell

It's that time of year when Classical Conversations communities begin accepting registration applications for the following school year. Many of you may be wondering what exactly is Classical Conversations. If you have gone to their website to try to figure it out, you likely ended up more confused. Below is my attempt to explain the program in a way that is (hopefully) easy to understand.  I'm going to focus my explanation on Classical Conversations Foundations, which is the program for elementary aged children.  I have inserted FAQs in spots where I feel they would help to provide a better explanation.

Classical Conversations (CC) is a community of homeschoolers that meet once a week for 24 weeks during a school year.  Each community follows the Classical Model for education and the same curriculum which consists of History, Science, Geography, Math, English, Latin (yes, Latin!).  For more information on Classical Education, click here to read a previous post detailing it.  Additionally, each week the students participate in a science project, study fine art (6 weeks drawing, 6 weeks music, 6 weeks fine art, 6 weeks orchestra), and give an oral presentation.

FAQ: Do I have to use the CC curriculum if I join a CC community?  Yes and no.  You do have to use the CC curriculum to the point that your child can participate in the class.  S/he would feel left out if all the other kids were familiar with the material, but your child was not.  You don't have to use the CC as your only or even main homeschool curriculum, though.  More on this later...

Each CC community hires and trains parents, referred to as tutors, to lead the weekly classroom activities. The classes are divided up by grade level from pre-K thru 6th grade, with a maximum of 8 students per class (9 in special circumstances).  Students at every grade level learn the same weekly material.  So, if you have a 1st grader and 3rd grader, they will be studying the same information. Additionally, every CC group across the nation follows the same CC curriculum schedule.  If you move from Wisconsin to Arizona during week 17, your child can jump in right where s/he left off.

FAQ:  How can a pre-K child and 5th grader study the same material?  Students across all elementary grade levels study the same information, but the information is tailored to the individual class level.  For example we recently did a science experiment to determine which material was a better insulator, metal or carpet.  For the little ones we discussed the scientific method (which they can understand!), then discussed which material we thought would feel colder.  At the conclusion we talked about which material allowed the cold to go through and which one kept the cold underneath.  The older kids went into much more detail about insulators and conductivity.  Another example is Geography.  The little ones learn the names of geographical features and point to them on a map.  Whereas each year the older kids make a step in the direction of independently drawing the features on a map until eventually they are able to draw a map of the entire world unassisted.

The CC curriculum is arranged in 3 year cycles, meaning children will have a repeat of the same information every 3 years.  Part of the CC curriculum is a 161 point timeline, which the students study every year.  CC math also repeats each year.  It consists of skip counting thru 15 x 15, squares thru 15, and cubes thru 12; basic equivalents, geometric equations, and math laws.

FAQ: Why does the information repeat every 3 years?  

As its name implies, the purpose of CC Foundations is to provide students with a strong foundation of academic knowledge.  By repeating every three years, students truly know the material.  So that by the time they are middle-school aged, they have the necessary tools to develop excellent writing skills, tackle higher math, and understand complex science, or history issues.

The CC curriculum is not a full elementary curriculum.  It does not have a reading component, and the math portion is basic, but necessary math facts--not a math program.  Parents can choose to use the history, science, geography and english as a full curriculum or as a supplement.  There are plenty of blogs out there of CC moms who choose either method.  Personally, I use CC as supplement.  My kids get really excited when we come across something in our studies that they already learned in CC.

Other FAQs

Do I have to start my kids in the program at age 4?  What if my kids are older?  Your kids can jump in the program at any time.  It may take them a bit to catch up to the other students, but they will catch up. 
My child has a learning disability, is CC a good fit for us?  Absolutely!  All children can benefit from a CC community.  CC employs the Classical Model for education, which consists of laying a strong foundation with lots of repetition (among other features).  This method of learning is well-suited for all types of learners.  In general, CC communities are full of compassionate families who are very accommodating.

It seems very expensive, why does it cost so much?  I agree that the CC tuition seems expensive, but when you look at what the money pays for and what you get out of it, I think it's well worth it.  The registration fee goes to CC, the supplies fee to fund science/art supplies.  100% of the tuition goes to pay the director and the tutors.  It may seem like the tutors and director are making out with a big chunk of change.  However, if you figured up their hourly wage, you would find that they are making just above minimum wage.  In exchange for the tuition, your child receives a day of instruction from someone that isn't you (a big plus for me!), a science and art project, and a public speaking opportunity (something that is difficult to provide at home).  In my experience, my kids are much more motivated to learn when we are attending CC weekly, and they interact with their peers who are learning the same things.  When we missed CC for several weeks during our move last year, I fought the boys every day to do school.  Another reason for the tuition is to hold parents and students accountable.  A family is much more likely to stay home on a yucky day if the homeschool group is free.  I find this to be so true with myself!  Last but not least, you are a member of wonderful support community.

How can I learn more?  Most CC communities hold open houses around this time of year.  Check one out near you!  Go to and enter your zipcode to find contact information for the community nearest you.  Many CC communities also hold FREE Parent Practicums in the summer.  These Practicums are a great way to learn more about CC and Classical Education.  There is usually some type of learning camp for the kids to go along with the Practicums. There is a charge for the kids' camps, but it is minimal.

If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Educación en el hogar (Guestpost)

Today I am featuring a guest post from fellow homeschool, mom, Aracely Gándara.  Aracely is a psychologist by trade.  When she is away form her homeschool duties, Aracely dedicates her time to serving the Hispanic community by offering counseling and classes in marriage, child-rearing, depression, and women's issues.  I am amazed at Aracely's courage to take on homeschooling her children in a country where the spoken language is not her native language.

Please find her story below, submitted to me in Spanish.  The English translation follows.

Educación en el Hogar

La educación en casa es un tema apasionante.  Creo en que los padres somos la primer escuela de nuestros hijos y este es uno de los muchos motivos por los cuales asumí la responsabilidad y el compromiso de educar a los míos.  Soy mamá de 2 maravillosos hijos, un adolescente de 14 y una niña de 10 años.  Este es nuestro séptimo año educando en el hogar.

Muchas personas se preguntarán cómo es que uno toma la decisión de educar en casa y créanme que es todo un reto.  La mayor parte del día lo paso dividendo mis actividades entre impartir las clases de mis hijos, mis labores del hogar y colaborar con el Ministerio de ayuda a la comunidad hispana.  Pero quisiera compartir con ustedes mi experiencia personal y comentarles el motivo que abrió la puerta de la educación en mi hogar.  Esto se remonta justamente 7 años atrás, en el mes de noviembre 2006 cuando me encontraba revisando el cuaderno de matemáticas de mi hijo, quien cursaba el primer grado de primaria.

Grande fue mi asombro al encontrar el 80% de sus notas con errores y esto me orillo a charlar al siguiente día con su maestra para preguntar a él porqué de tantos errores y no había correcciones.  Su respuesta me asombro muchísimo.  Su explicación fue que no me preocupara, que con el paso del tiempo él se daría cuenta de que 2 + 2 no eran 5.  Wow!!  No pude creer lo que estaba escuchando.  Ante los constantes errores sin explicación no corrección, hizo que como familia mi esposo y yo intentáramos una solución.  En casa yo le ayudaría a rectificar, pero esto lo confundió aún más...

Luego de 1 semana pasó lo más terrible.  Él fue víctima de bullying.  Un día en la mañana después de una actividad, los niños en el salón de clases estaban recogiendo sus utiles escolares.  En eso un compañero de mi hijo, se acercó a él y tomó un lápiz e hizo el intento de clavarselo en su cara.  Cuando no pudo hacerlo, le dijo que iria a clavarselo en la noche a su casa para matarlo.  Mi hijo solo tenia 6 años.  Comenzó a pedir ayuda, justo en ese momento la maestra vio la escena.  De inmediato hizo que fueran ambos a la oficina de la directora.  Después de ese evento, mi hijo se sentía con miedo por las noches y no quería regresar a la mañana siguiente al colegio.  Ya que el niño que lo agredió, seguía en la escuela, sin consecuencia alguna.

Un día me dije a mi misma: "No más escuela pública, de ahora en adelante mi hogar es desde hoy la escuela en donde formaremos a nuestros hijos y nos esforzaremos en hacer de ellos personas con valores morales, espirituales.  Les ayudaremos en la formación de su carácter y que aprendan a desarrollar su inteligencia emocional".  Somos una familia cristiana y basamos nuestra decision de educar en casa a nuestros hijos basandonos en Proverbios 22:6 "Instruye al niño en su camino y aún cuando sea grande no se apartará de el".

Gracias a que hace muchos años tuve la oportunidad de prepararme en el ámbito de la psicología educativa y tuve siempre el amor y el apoyo incondicional de mis padres.  Ahor puedo ser de utilidad, no solo a mi comunidad, sino a la parte más importante de mi vida, que es mi familia.

Mi primer idioma no es inglés y por ese motivo sentí una doble responsabilidad sobre mis hombros, pero también sé que con la ayuda de Dios todas las cosas son posibles.  Me dediqué a investigar donde encontrar un currículo en español.  Después de preguntar aquí y allá encontré uno de acuerdo a mis necesidades, lo hay en ambos idiomas Inglés e Español.  También solicité la ayuda de mis contactos en mi país de origen y ellos me enviaron libros de texto para iniciar, así como un programa de cds que va paso a paso pronunciando letra por letra en Inglés.  Además para complementar mi trabajo los inscribí en un programa después de escuela en donde ellos reciben asesorías o tutorías en Inglés 2 veces por semana y les dejan tareas 365 días al año.  Durante el fin de semana siempre saco un tiempo para programar la semana y las clases, por materia y por niño.  Esto me ayuda a ganar tiempo durante el día y a tener todo preparado para que papá pueda hacer el trabajo cuando no estoy.  

La clave principal de hace la educación en el hogar tiene varios elementos y son desde mi muy personal punto de vista y de acuerdo a mi experiencia, la disciplina, el orden y la organización del tiempo.  Por supuesto quien nos ayuda a la familia completa es Dios, ya que no podemos atribuirnos todo el crédito.  Para mí realmente es un reto mantener un balance entre el trabajo, los niños, la casa, el matrimonio, y la educación en mi hogar, pero me gustaría invitar a todos aquellos que sienten que necesitan hacer algo por sus hijos y no saben por dónde comenzar.

Seéntase libre de contactarme en:

Homeschooling is a passionate theme.  I believe that we, parents are the first school for our children, and this is one of the biggest reasons why I took on the responsibility and commitment to educate my own children.  I am a mother to 2 wonderful children, a 14 year-old teenage boy and a 10 year-old girl; this is our 7th year homeschooling.

Many people ask how does a person make the decision to homeschool, and believe me, it is a complete challenge.  Most of the day, my activities have to be divided between teaching my kids, housework, and collaborating my ministry: assisting the Hispanic community.  I would like to share my personal experience with you and discuss the events that opened the door to homeschooling for us.  It all began 7 years ago, in November 2006, when I was reviewing my 1st grade son's math work.

I was astonished to find that 80% of his work was wrong with no corrections, which prompted me to make an appointment to speak with my son's teacher the next day.  The teacher's response was even more astonishing.  His explanation was not to worry, with time my son would learn that 2 + 2 is not 5.  Wow!!  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  In the face of these mistakes without explanation nor correction, my husband and I, as a family, tried to find a solution.  At home I would help him to fix his errors, but this ended up confusing him even more...

A week later something awful happened.  My son was a victim to bullying.  One morning after an activity, the kids in the classroom were getting some school supplies.  A classmate of my son's approached him and tried to stick a pencil in his face.  When his attempt was unsuccessful he told my son he would go to his house at night and stab him.  My son was only 6.  He began to ask for help when the teacher noticed what was going on.  He immediately sent them both to the Principal's office.  After this incident, my son began feeling fearful at night, not wanting to go back to school the next day.  All the while the boy who threatened him continued at school without any consequences.

One day I told myself, "No more public school, from now on my house is the school where we will raise up our children and encourage them in the formation of their character and development of their emotional intellect. " We are a Christian family and based our decision to homeschool our children on Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Thankfully, many years ago I had the opportunity to study in the field of educational psychology.  Additionally, I have always had the unconditional love and support of my parents.  Now, I had the opportunity to be a tool, not only to my community, but also to the most important part of my life, my family.

My first language isn't English, and for this reason I felt a double-responsibility on my shoulders.  But also, I knew that with the help of God, all things are possible.  I dedicated myself to finding curriculum in Spanish.  After asking here and there, I found a curriculum which met my needs, available in both English and Spanish.  I also asked for help from contacts in my home country, and they sent me textbooks to get started, as well as a CD program which pronounced words letter by letter in Spanish.  In addition, to support my work at home, I enrolled my kids in an after school prgoram where they received tutoring in English twice per week with homework 365 days per year.  During the weekend I always take time to plan the week, the classes, and material for each child.  This helps me have more time during the day and to have everything prepared so that dad can do the work when I am unable.

The key to successful homeschooling has several components, which from my point of view include discipline, order, and time management.  Of course, the person who completely helps our family is God.  We can't give ourselves all the credit.  For me really, it is a challenge to maintain a balance between work, kids, the house, marriage, and homeschool, but I would like to encourage anyone who feels that they need to do something for their kids and don't know where to begin.  

Feel free to contact me at: