This Summer: Go Hiking! 5 Tips On How To Turn Hiking Into A Wonderful Scavenger Hunt Bilingual Activity

A scavenger hunt while hiking is the perfect bilingual activity for this Summer!

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It is also fun, free, and great exercise!

This Summer I would strongly recommend you to go hiking as a family. There are many reasons why you should do such an activity, but did you know that hiking can be the perfect opportunity to introduce, review, and/or reinforce a foreign language?

Here are some tips on how to go about it.

1. Together, create a scavenger hunt list in the target language.

Before my children and I met grandma’ to go on a hike,  they both wrote and drew 5 things that they expected to see during our hiking adventures.  Since Spanish is our target language, we wrote everything in Spanish.

The list included the following six items:

  1. Una araña (a spider)
  2. Una oruga (a caterpillar)
  3. Muchas hormigas (many ants)
  4. Un árbol caído (a fallen tree)
  5. Muchas bancas (many benches)
  6. _________________ ***We left number six blank so that the children could add something unique to their list, something that sparked their curiosity.***

NOTE: I like to keep the list short so that children can also use this time to observe and discuss whatever interests them through out the hike.

2. Make a video. It is their time to shine!

My children really like to play Minecraft and they also like to watch Minecraft tutorial videos. Well, these videos -along with America’sFunniest Home Videos– have motivated my children to try to create their own.

Soooo, in order to encourage them to practice their minority language, we also made a short video where they were empowered with the task to try to inform friends around the world what they were up to on this day.

This was their very first one! I am very proud of their efforts.

3. Let the hiking begin!

Observing, analyzing, and much much more… all in the target language!

This is a wonderful way to allow children to use the language in order to describe what they see (animals, trees, etc), how they feel (thirsty, tired, etc), and whatever else goes through their amazing little minds.

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Discussing the texture of a tree.

Lucky for us, grandma is not fluent in Spanish so my children were given the task to teach grandma certain words and expression in Spanish. What a fun and cute way to get them going!

4. Time to focus!

Every once in a while I reminded my children what they were looking for during the hike. They challenge was to fill in number six in their scavenger hunt lists.

Guess what Alex picked?

Una mano! (A hand!)

Yes, it was soooo weird… He found a small’s doll hand laying on the trail, in the middle of our path. See it?

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Alex (4) & Contessa (6) found a small doll’s hand on the trail.

Guess what Contessa picked?

Un venado! (A deer!)

Yes, we saw one!

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We also found some deer tracks by the creek…

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5. Time to go home

By the end of our hike, we had found it all and more!

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Una araña (a spider)
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Una oruga (a caterpillar)

And some other interesting things caught our interest:

Contessa was fascinated with the contrast of color in the picture below. She proceeded to tell me all about camouflage and how these mushrooms stand out too much compared to other kinds of mushrooms. All in Spanish! Loved it!

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See? Hiking as a family is a wonderful bilingual activity, isn’t it? Tell me what you love the most about your hiking adventures!

Related posts:

Tips for Hiking with Kids is a short and sweet article that provides the basic information for all of you who are wondering what to take along on a family friendly hike.

The 10 Best Hiking Spots in the United States is a pretty good article with wonderful information about various hiking spots. This article makes me want to hop on an RV and travel the country!

The 2007 University of Souther

Money 101 for Kids: Save, Share, & Spend {bilingual parenting}

 Money… what does money mean to you?

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No matter what your thoughts are about money, in order to succeed in life, it is important to learn how to manage it.

In today’s world, children are used to seeing adults swiping credit cards & debit cards in order to shop for things.

If you think about it, from a 4 year old point of view, an adult only needs a plastic rectangle with numbers in order to get stuff. But how can we teach them about money in a way that they will understand?

Here is what I have done and it has worked beautifully. Hopefully, it will help you get some ideas too.

Save, Share, & Spend

To me & my husband, it is critical that our children know what money is and how to manage it. Since Contessa (6) & Alex (4) are still young, we make talk about money in an age appropriate manner. Something meaningful to them.

“For Me, For You, For Later Kit” by PNC bank was an awesome way to start!

It is FREE… And it is BILINGUAL!!! (Spanish/English)


Here is a link to PNC’s Grow Up Great website where you can find tons of info like what I have quoted below and more!

“For Me, for You, for Later: First Steps to Spending, Sharing and Saving was developed in 2011 by Sesame Workshop, the creators of Sesame Street, in partnership withPNC  Grow Up Great. For Me, for You, for Later provides parents, caregivers, and educators with strategies and resources to turn everyday experiences into learning moments that build the basics of financial skills.

The free, bilingual multimedia kit includes a parent and caregiver guide, a children’s book, three jar labels, and an original Sesame Street DVD that features Elmo, Cookie Monster, and their Sesame Street friends as Elmo learns the basics of spending, saving, and sharing.”


“…The research is compelling: A focus on the years from birth to age five helps reap dividends for society and the economy — better achievement in school, more graduates of high school and college, higher salaries, less crime and drug abuse, fewer people on welfare…on and on. Even better: the chance to feed the passions and curiosity of all those young minds.”

Here is a link to Sesame Street’s videos about Saving, Sharing, and Spending. Some of these videos are about various professions, learning to wait (saving), and some even provide ideas for parents and caregivers on what we can do everyday to teach about saving, sharing, and spending money.

What did I do with my kiddos?

1. Work: Bake Sale

My children baked a whole bunch of goodies with grandma in order to sell them at our garage sale.

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This was a great activity to review money (math) and show leadership, initiative, commitment and hard work.

2. Math & Computers (spreadsheet 101)

The bake sale was also not only empowering, but also inspired us to do even more! We created a table where we tally marketed our sales so that we could then analyze our data.

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A week or two later, we entered everything into a spreadsheet in the computer and created pie charts, bar graphs, and more!

3. Math & Language

At the end of the day, it was time to add our money. They made over $55.00!!! I could not believe it!

This was a great bilingual activity since they added in English, I asked them questions in Spanish and they were dividing the money into bilingually labeled bags.

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Counting our money

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4. Applying Everything To Real World Scenarios

Alex and Contessa have three money jars: One for saving (red), one for sharing (yellow), and one for spending (green).


Note that these jars are also labeled in both languages: Spanish and English.

After adding all the money from their bake sale, they had to divide their money into their three money jars. Please note that each jar already contained some money.

This was a wonderful opportunity to talk about the concept of donation and helping others in need.

5. What To Do With All The Money?

We reviewed all three jars and what they were for: Saving, Sharing, and Spending, so after some discussions. Alex and Contessa decided to (1) save some money, (2) buy a new toy with their spending money, and (3) donate some of it (sharing).

With their spending money they bought…


Contessa bought a horse for her 18″ doll names Saige.

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And Alex bought a Hot Wheel toy.

It was a pleasure to watch my children buy their own toys. From the selection to the cash register adventures.

And with their sharing money…

They decided to shop at PetSmart for dog and cats items to be donated to a local shelter: TAPS Animal Shelter.

These was an entire day adventure:

First, we had to take our “Sharing Jars” full of coins and exchange them for bills at the local CEFCU bank.

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Then, we drove to the local PetSmart where each child had a task.

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Alex was given a list in Spanish that asked him to find certain items. These items included things like un pez naranjo, comida para perros, y juguetes para gatos. (an orange fish, dog food, and cat toys.)

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Taking a break to check out the kittens, awwwww

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Contessa, on the other hand, was given a budget of $45.00 and she was asked to write a list of the items they were dropping into the shopping cart as well as adding the price to each item so that we stayed within the budget. GREAT MATH REVIEW!

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Contessa making the list (all in Spanish)
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Alex crossing off items on his list (half in English, half in Spanish)

Once we had all the items we could buy with our money, we took a trip to the animal shelter of their choice.

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Contessa (6) & Alex (4) holding their goodies.

After turning things in, we had to check everything out! People were so nice and welcoming… So many animals in need of a home! We also took some with us!

Checking out the cat room.
This little guy was screaming to me “take me home with you!” I almost did!
My children become aware of other animals’ reality and all the wonderful people that volunteer and help at this shelter.

This was such a wonderful and eye opening experience that when we got home my children were all over our dogs telling them how much we loved them and giving them more attention than ever before.

I hope that this post will motivate you and inspire you to teach your little ones about money and how the world works. Do you have any ideas or comments to share with us about teaching children about money? Please share! I would love to know what you do too.

The 2007 University of Souther

A Family Experience: Learning Together About England

This past month, my husband traveled to England for job training purposes. While he visited this amazing country, my children and I took the opportunity to study the United Kingdom in more detail.

UK Flag
Contessa (6) recreated the flag of the UK.

As an art project, we decided to replicate the United Kingdom‘s flag (see above). In this lesson, we were able to review primary colors and discussed various types of lines including the ones we used in this project which were various types of lines -vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines.-

We also replicated places their dad visited, suck as the London Eye.

Kid's London eye
Contessa (6) and Alex (4) recreated the London Eye

This lesson was fun because we studied the London Eye in great detail, from its design to how it was built.

We also watched a few videos such as the one below, to go over the concept of accents when talking about languages. To my kids, it was fascinating to listen and try to replicate the British accent.

Upon my husband’s arrival, my children got to play with all the wonderful souvenir they got including fun books, office supplies,…

Books about England

… put a fun 3D puzzle of the Tower Bridge

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And finally, we got to discuss currency. Comparing and contrasting dollars to pounds was fun and it allowed us to discuss many other topics, including the royal family, and the United Kingdom’s history in general.

Learning while having fun is the best!

The 2007 University of Souther

The Impossibility of Deciding Between My Two Countries

Decidir Entre Mis Dos Patrias Es Imposible

This past weekend, El Sur -a Chilean newspaper from my hometown- published an article about me and my life here in the United States.

The article was part of the Penquistas Por El Mundo section of the Vida Social.


The title of the article is “Decidir entre mis dos patrias es imposible” which translates to ‘to decide between my two countries is impossible.’ For my bilingual friends, you can read the article in Spanish here.

Otherwise, here is the translated version of the story. Enjoy.

“It was mid-1998, and Denise Leitch (32) began to pack to live one of her greatest adventures to date, becoming an exchange student in Morton, Illinois, USA, for one entire year in order to get to know a different culture from within. However, the stay was extended and there was no return. The years passed, she became a professional, got married and now has two children.

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The 2007 University of Souther

¡Feliz! ¡Feliz! Happy Birthday To Me!

5 Things To Consider When Choosing Bilingual Homeschooling

This past year, in November 2013, I had the wonderful opportunity to write a guest blog post for Mommy Maestra titled 5 Things To Considering When Choosing Bilingual Homeschooling.


The feedback I received after posting this article was very insightful. I am thankful for the opportunity Monica Olivera, founder of Mommy Maestra, gave me. In addition, this post allowed me to form wonderful connections with readers including multilingual families, educators, and other Latina bloggers.

My goal to help, motivate, and inspire my readers was met thanks to this guest post.

Happy birthday to me!

Today, a few days after my birthday, I came across a post The Best of Mommy Maestra 2013. And after a few clicks, I realized that MY post (yes, my post!) was selected for the month of November!

I am thrilled. What an honor and wonderful b-day present!

Related Posts:

5 Things To Consider When Choosing Bilingual Homeschooling

List Of Useful Links: All About Bilingual Parenting And Multilingual Education

6 Ways to Motivate your Students in the Foreign Language Classroom 

The 2007 University of Souther

5 Tips To Traveling Successfully With Young Children {A Chilean Adventure}

Crying. Winning. Kicking. Complaining. Talking loudly. Having to go potty at the worse possible time… the list can go on and on.

Alex (4) and I traveling with style. Hehehe

These are all types of behaviors and scenarios that, as parents, we would like to avoid when traveling.

Ideally, we all want our children to behave, listen, and be respectful so that all other passengers and your own family can enjoy the trip.

I have traveled with Contessa (6) and Alex (4) multiple times nationally and internationally since they were infants. From my perspective, it is not difficult to have a successful and enjoyable traveling experience as long as you factor in the children’s needs.

5 Tips To Traveling Successfully With Young Children

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The 2007 University of Souther

Questioning Little Minds {A Chilean Adventure}

Have your children flown on an airplane before? If so, what was your experience like? What did they think of it? How did they behave? Where they bombarding you with lots of questions along the way?

Children are always trying to make sense of their world and attempting to understand what is going on around them. Asking questions is so natural and such a great way to learn.



Not to mention that human beings are curious by nature anyway, right?

During our trip, we had to take three different airplanes to arrive from point A to point B. Alex and Contessa were full of fascinating questions and observations all along the way. Most I was able to answer right away, others we had to figure out together, and some we just had to wait and do some research later on.

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The 2007 University of Souther

Where Are Your Roots? {A Chilean Adventure}

Do you live far away from your native country? How often do you get to travel back home? If you have children, do you get to take them along? Are they proficient in your language?

I have lived in the United Stated for half of my life now -so hard to believe!- And I have been fortunate enough to travel back to Chile every so often. Now, that my husband and I have two young children, we are making the effort to go visit my homeland at least every other year.


This time, I am currently on my way to Chile with our six year old daughter, Contessa, and our four year old son, Alex, ready to experience a two month travel adventure.

For the first time in my life, I am very nervous about my trip back to my homeland. Going back to my family, childhood friends, and my roots seems very emotionally difficult now.


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The 2007 University of Souther

The Thousand Origami Cranes for Washington, IL

Let’s help children of Central Illinois create a symbol of our commitment to helping Washington, IL rebuild after being hit by the November 17th tornado.

Because of how much we care about children and their emotional state, my husband has come up with this wonderful initiative called The Thousand Origami Cranes for Washington, IL.

Our goal is to create a Thousand Origami Cranes!



An ancient Japanese legend promises that if you fold 1,000 origami cranes you’ll be granted 1,000 years of good fortune. These cranes, strung together, are called “Senbazuru.”

Though good fortune may not come so easily, the Thousand Origami Cranes has become a symbol of hope given to those met with tragedy.

As it turns out, telling the story of a Thousand Origami Cranes to children, and teaching them how to fold the crane is a great way to approach the subject of tragedy and the importance of helping people overcome it, both physically and mentally.


Kids may not have the money to donate, but it’s clear they want to help in their own way. They definitely understand what it means to know someone cares about them.

We want to help children from the surrounding communities create the Thousand Origami Crane Senbazuru to be given to the Washington school districts as a symbol of determination and our commitment to helping their community rebuild.

Click here to read the article about how to reassure your children.

If you are a parent, teacher, or otherwise work with children we’d love for you to get them involved in this project! Just click here for more information.

The 2007 University of Souther

Chica Chica Bum Bum, Alex Alex Bum Bum

We have all heard the saying “children say that darndest things” at some point in our lives.

From left to right: Alex (4), Samson (6), and Contessa (6)

As a teacher and as I mom I get to hear all kinds of wonderful things from amazing new knowledge that they have acquired to the silliest quotable sayings.

When children makes these types of comments, there are certain ones that I just have to share with the world!

My son’s latest comment made me want to squeeze him, hugging him so hard,… and shower him with kisses. Now, I think he is still wondering why Mami did that.

Image from inside of Chica Chica Bum Bum Book
Chica, Chica, Bum, Bum by Bill Martin. Image from

The other night, I was reading Chica, Chica, Bum, Bum to my children as a bed time story. This book is the Spanish version of Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom by by Bill Martin Jr. (Author) , John Archambault (Author) , Lois Ehlert (Illustrator).

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The 2007 University of Souther