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)

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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.”

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“…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).

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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…

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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!

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Checking out the cat room.
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This little guy was screaming to me “take me home with you!” I almost did!
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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.

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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.

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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

2014 Winter Olympics at the Leitch’s household

Winter Olympics? Yes, please!

Learning about the Sochi Winter Olympics has been so much fun! Today, I wanted to share with you one of the most successful lessons I have done with my children about the Winter Olympics so far.

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Contessa (6) and Alex (4) snowboarding Winter 2014

What started as a simple PE lesson about Snowboarding turned into a language arts, foreign language, math, social studies, and much-much-more-kind-of-a-lesson. Priceless.

I hope that you enjoy reading about our lesson and that it inspires you to create lessons of your own! (Please share. I am starting to run out of ideas!)

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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.

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www.mommymaestra.com

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

Bilingual Craziness! ‘Un poquito de esto, a little bit of that…’

This past couple of months have been quite an adventure in our homeWhy? Well, we started homeschooling a little over eight weeks ago and our family has been adjusting to the new ‘routine’ ever since.

This adjustment has been… -what word should I use? oh yeah-… crazy. Although, I must admit that this is how I have always lived my life. I like things that are exciting and different. I live in the moment, and to many, most of my decisions are viewed as crazy.

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This craziness and love for what I do is what motivates me on a daily basis. It is what fuels me to be a better person and allows me to be positive -always striving for the best I can be- as a mother, as a wife, as a teacher, and most importantly as a person.

Finally, it is this craziness and love for what I do that has allowed me to become the passionate teacher and hands-on mom I am today. It fueled me to create a successful bilingual classroom curriculum for children that many educators are able to use in their schools. And now, it is what keeps me motivated and always challenging myself to provide my children -and my students- with the best bilingual education I can.

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The 2007 University of Souther

5 Daily Spanish Activities Every Child Should Do

As a Spanish teacher and a bilingual homeschooling mom there are a few activities that I do on a daily basis in order to introduce, review, and reinforce the foreign language acquisition process. Most of these mini lessons and activities are what some would consider to be a part of circle time or a class introduction.

1. Calendar: days of the week, months, year, and numbers 1-31

Discussing la fecha (the date) in Spanish is a great addition to your circle time and a wonderful way to begin your lesson. Here you will be able to listen and read about all of the following vocabulary: los días de la semana (days of the week), los meses (months), el año (the year), y los números del 1 al 31 (and numbers 1-31).

I also recommend: Calendar: Basic Spanish Vocabulary {audio}On-Line Spanish Classes: Date and Calendar, and this cute video about the months of the year in Spanish:

http://youtu.be/Ga8h5d242-M

2. Weather

An activity that has to do with el tiempo (the weather) allows children to be hands-on and active participants. Giving children an important role where they can analyze the situation and arrive to their own conclusions is very powerful. They become more interested and motivated, therefore they tend to perform even better with their language skills. Here you can listen and read all about el tiempo (the weather).

I also recommend: Weather: Basic Spanish Vocabulary {audio}

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The 2007 University of Souther

7 Fall Activities To Do With Your Bilingual Child

Este otoño (this fall), I have made an effort to take my students and my own children to various locations to study nature so that we can learn about autumn and understand the world around us all in the foreign language.

Here are 7 Fall activities to do with your bilingual child. Have fun!

Basic Spanish Vocabulary about Autunm

1. Corn maze

Find a corn maze near you and go! This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about what a map is, how to read it, and go over direction vocabulary in Spanish.

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  • ¡Vamos a un laberinto de maíz! (Let’s go to a corn maze!)
  • Es un mapa (It is a map.)
  • Un mapa es un dibujo de un lugar desde arriba (A map is a drawing of a place from above.)
  • Este es un mapa del laberinto de maíz. (This is a corn maze map.

Las direcciones (The directions)

  • ¿Para dónde vamos? (Where are we going?)
  • derecho (straight)
  • derecha (right)
  • izquierda (left)
  • abajo (down)
  • arriba (up)
  • al lado de (next to)

2. Play The Sneaky, Snack Squirrel Game!

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Fun game to play at home or in the classroom. How to play? Well, you can follow the instructions OR…

You can do what I do and just do your own thing. Ha! Before we begin to play, I start by talking about el árbol (the tree) and its part: el tronco (the tree trunk), las ramas (the branches), las hojas (the leaves), y las bellotas (the acorns). Then, I pretend to cut the tree trunk and that is how I introduce the four pieces that each player will hold and use during the game.

I continue by asking what color circles they have in their tree trunk piece, and after we going over the vocabulary mentioned above one more time, I introduce la ardilla (the squirrel) in a fun and silly way.

During the game, I tend to use the following sentences – based on the spinner.-

  • __el nombre del niño__ es tu turno (_name of the child_ is your turn)
  • Hace viento, pierdes todas tus bellotes. (It is windy, you loose all your acorns.)
  • Parece que la ardilla tiene hambre, ella quiere dos bellotas. (It seems that the squirrel is hungry, she wants two acrons.)
  • ¿De qué color es la bellota que tiene la ardilla? (What color is the acron that the squirrel has?)
  • ¿Cuántas bellotas necesita sacar la ardilla del árbol? (How many acorns does the squirrel need to take out the tree?)
  • La ardilla tiene que robar la bellota de otro tronco. (The squirrel needs to steal an acron from another trunk.)

3. Visit an apple orchard or local farm

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Visiting an apple orchard or a local farm is a must during the Fall time. There is so much to see, discuss, and learn about Autumn at these locations. Some of the things my children shouted during our visit were:

  • Hay muchas manzanas en los árboles. (There are many apples on the trees.)
  • ¿Mami, podemos comprar una calabaza, por favor? (Mommy, can we buy a pumpkin please?)
  • ¡Esta es mi calabaza favorita! (This is my favorite pumpkin.)

NOTE: I would follow a comment like this with a question that would encourage them to speak more about it. For example: ¿Porqué esa tu calabaza favorita? Te gusta el color? La texture? El tamaño? (Why do you like that pumpkin? Do you like its color? Its texture? Its size?) etc.

Some of the questions/comments I shared:

  • ¿Donde están los manzanos? (Where are the apple trees?)
  • ¿De qué color son las manzanas? (What color are the apples?)
  • Miren, ahí están las calabazas. (Look there are the pumpkins.)
  • Toquen esta calabaza, es lisa. (Touch this pumpkin, it is smooth.)

4. Decorate pumpkins

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Buy a few pumpkins and let your children be creative and have fun with them.

At the apple orchard we visited, we analyzed the pumpkins and discussed how they come in various formas (shapes), colores (colors), tamaño (size), y textura (and texture).

We bought a few pumpkins, and at home, we decorated them. We started by painting and ended up adding some clips, ribbons, and even pipe cleaners!

This activity was a great opportunity to review colors, textures, the life cycle of a pumpkin, and more!

Related books:

5. Study animals

Introduce, review, or add to the concept of hibernation. My children love animals and we are always learning something new about them. Fall is a great time to introduce the concept of hibernación (hibernation) and animal migration if you have not done so already.

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Locally, we have a pond that is full of geese and ducks that soon will leave this area to go South. So, on a late morning we walked over and feed them an early lunch taking each moment to discuss the concept of hibernation, the weather, and more.

6. Painting with nature

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Go on a hike and gather all kinds of ‘Fall stuff’ – as my children called it.-
Some of the things we collected were:

  • bellotas (acorns)
  • palitos (small sticks)
  • hojas cafés (brown leaves)
  • hojas rojas (red leaves)
  • hojas amarillas (yellow leaves)
  • hojas verdes (green leaves)
  • piñas (pine cones)

At home, we painted with leaves, we marble painted with bellotas, piñas, y plalitos (acorns and pine cones, and little sticks).

7. Apple pattern

While teaching my nieces an online Spanish class, we did a fun, easy, and useful activity using laminated manzanas (apples).

We created a pattern! The key of this activity was to use full sentences and be able to match the adjective with the noun’s gender. Therefore, what we covered was the following vocabulary:

  • Esta es una manzana amarilla. (This is a yellow apple.)
  • Esta es una manzana roja. (This is a red apple.)
  • Esta es una manzana verde. (This is a green apple.)

After finishing our pattern, I had my nieces close their eyes while I took a few apples away and ‘broke’ the pattern. Once it was time to open their eyes, they had to tell me in Spanish which apples were missing.

I told them: Faltan cinco manzanas.(Five apples are missing.). Then, I asked ¿De qué color es la manzana que falta aquí? Apuntando a un espacio. (What color is the apple that is missing here? Pointing at a certain spot.) Using full sentences, they completed the pattern once again. It was silly and fun.

What are some of the activities you do in your Spanish classroom? At your home? Do share.

The 2007 University of Souther

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month begins today and, as a Spanish teacher and a bilingual homeschooling mami, I am very excited and proud to celebrate such important dates with my students and my children.

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Students playing twister on a world map.

What exactly do we celebrate during this month?

“During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate the group’s heritage and culture.” via Hispanic Heritage Month website.

Children love to learn. They may claim that school is boring or that they are too tired to do anything, but I have never had a student who does not enjoy learning.

My role as a Spanish teacher and a homeschooling mami is to create an environment where children become intrigued, interested, and want to learn more no matter how tired or how disinterested they may feel.

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The 2007 University of Souther

Let The Bilingual Homeschooling Adventure Begin!

Deciding wether to keep Contessa -our six year old daughter- attending a local elementary public school or to homeschool her was very difficult. Max -my husband- and I felt very overwhelmed because, as parents, there are so many factors to consider when the ultimate goal is to do what is best for your own children.

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Our family picture. Bilingual homeschooling, here we come!

Through out the entire decision making process we kept our daughter informed. Part of the reason why Max and I want to homeschool is to allow our children to think critically through a problem, give them more responsibility and consider their opinions and reasons on everyday life decision. Therefore, we knew that she had to be part of it all.

Being part of the decision making process made Contessa want to be homeschooled even more!

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The 2007 University of Souther