Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spiderman Puzzle

I have a VERY hard time throwing any of Diego's masterpieces away. I also can not save them all so about a year ago I started taking pictures of my favorites with his name and date written on them. This day Diego drew a picture of Spiderman. I love to see how his "people" drawings have changed over time.
Good thing I took the picture because when I came back in the room he was cutting it into pieces and making a "puzzle" for me.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

On the other side of a Parent-Teacher Conference

I have been a high school teacher for many years and I have conducted MANY parent-teacher conferences. Last week I ate lunch with Diego at preschool and afterwards had a parent-teacher conference with his preschool teacher. I have to admit that it felt strange to have someone else tell me about my son since I feel that I know him better than anyone else. Diego's teacher described him as very intelligent and independent. I would definitely agree to both of those. He turned four in December and they wanted to move him out of the three year old classroom into the four year old classroom. Academically, he is very advanced for his age and he has already mastered all of the three year old skills and they think that he needs more of a challenge. After talking it over with my husband, we agreed. The only complaint that the teacher had about Diego's behavior at school was that he can be stubborn and likes to do things his way or not at all if does not want to do it. I have this issue with Diego at home also and it can be very frustrating but it is also one of his best qualities. He is very much a color-the-tree- yellow or do-it-upside-down kind of guy. He has an amazing creative and imaginative mind and this often comes off as being uncooperative. For example, after lunch that day the teacher passed out chunks of play-doh to each of the kids. The teacher announced that they were going to make dolls out of the play-doh and each child should start by making a ball for the head. Diego completely ignored the teacher and got busy separating the play-doh into several pieces and molding them into little creatures. The teacher walking over to him to try to get him back with the rest of the group but stopped herself, laughed, and said that she didn't know what he was making but it was WAY neater than what she had in mind. I very much appreciated that she did not stop him and allowed him to be creative. I do see the value of learning to following directions but I love his creativity and his ability to think outside of the box and do not want that discouraged.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Más pingüinos

Keeping with our penguin activities we made handprint penguins. The smaller penguin is Diego's hand and the larger one is my hand. We made his first and later when he wanted to decorate mine, he decided that the penguin was upside down and flipped it over. I think that it works either way.

This was a fun penguin counting activity that I found at Bubbles, Balloons, and Blessings. There are a total of 12 printable penguins with the numbers on theirs wings. Diego had to place that number of goldfish crackers on each penguin. Again, Diego insisted on coloring several of the penguins.
Look closely at the blue arrow on Diego's forehead and hands. His Papi drew these for Diego after watching an episode of Avatar (a cartoon) together. I am MUCH pickier than my darling husband as to the shows that I allow Diego to watch. My husband assured me that I would approve of this show and I got to sit down and watch it with them one night and I have to admit that it is a pretty cute show. Diego loved his "tatoos."
I had rented March of the Penguins for the boys since it has a Spanish language track and we are studying penguins this week. I tried to play it twice and no interest whatsoever. Diego sat for a few minutes asked me why the penguins weren't talking. I am going to rent Happy Feet this weekend. I am sure that he will approve of talking, singing, and dancing penguins.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Toys my children ACTUALLY play with.

Just because a toy is very popular with my son, does not necessarily mean that I recommend it to other parents. My husband bought my son something called a "Bakugan" before Christmas. (Yes, I had to look up the spelling and no, I do not know how to say it.) I did not pay too much attention to it since it was just some little ball that he didn't seem to play with much but did talk about quite often. Well, after Christmas we went to a local bookstore and they were selling "Bakugans" for 75% off and my husband ended up buying three sets of them. Basically they are Transformerish balls that open up when a magnet located underneath them touches a magnetic card. Diego is totally in love with these things so it definitely falls under the Toys my children ACTUALLY play with category. Because of the magnetic pieces and the fact that they break easily, we have to bring this out only when Mateo is taking a nap or otherwise out of the room. Also, I understand that if you buy these at full price they are quite expensive.
This is NOT my favorite toy that Diego owns by a long shot but I am trying very hard to get excited when he wants to talk about them and open and close them over and over and over and over again. I have to remind myself that he is getting older and has his own opinions and likes and dislikes that may be different than mine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This week we have been studying penguins and Antartica. One of our first activities was this step-by-step penguin drawing that I found at Just Playin' Around. Diego is no stranger to doing projects in this manner. He and his father do TONS of Lego activities following the instructions step-by-step. He has gotten so good at these that he can do several that are aimed at five years and older without help. Anyways, this penguin activity was a big hit and he wanted to do it several times.

Here is the first penguin that he drew.

The first penguin was the only black and white penguin. Afterwards, he insisted that he needed more colors. One of my favorite things about keeping this blog is that I am taking pictures and keeping a record of little things that I want to remember but I normally would not. I like to compare how his writing is progressing. Right now he loves to make his "i" very long and he always draws his "g" backwards. He though the "ü" in pingüino was funny looking (I wrote it first for him to copy.) He told me that the "ü" looked like a "happy face." (Yes, he said it in English.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shaving cream snow

I have seen this on several blogs and I wanted to try it. Since Diego loves to get messy I was sure that he would LOVE it. Boy, was I wrong! He played in it for a total of 15 seconds before insisting that I wash off his hands. We repeated this split-second playing then running to the sink to wash about five times before we both gave up. Oh well, you never know. Since I still had an entire can of shaving cream left, I let them "paint" with it in the bathtub. That was much more popular since he could clean off his hands at anytime.

Sopa de letras/Letter Soup

I caved in and bought Diego a sticker/activity book at the store the other day. The problem that I have with a lot of these books is that either the activities are two easy and Diego spends five seconds putting two stickers on the page and is finished or the activities are too difficult and he gets frustrated and gives up. Since I can not stand to throw ANYTHING away, I am trying to find creative ways to use up this book that I bought. Below is an activity that I made from one of the wordsearches. (Please excuse the art. I made it very quickly while making dinner.) I cut up the lowercase letters from the puzzle and Diego glued them in the bowl of soup. Afterwards, we went on a letter hunt. I have some more ideas for book that I will post later.

Toys my children ACTUALLY play with.

We received this game, Hissss, from my mother for Christmas. Since then we have played it several times and the boys love it. The premise is simple. You take turns flipping over cards with different pieces of the snakes and you have to match parts with the same color until someone completes the snake. The box says that it is appropriate for ages 4 and up but I think that a three year old who knows the colors and has enough patience to take turns would enjoy this game. An added bonus is that this game would be a great way to reinforce colors in Spanish (or any foreign language that your child is learning.)

If you have a toy or product that your children love and you blogged about it, please link-up below or leave a comment.

Winter activities

We did several activities this week with our theme of winter, snow, and snowmen. Here is a VERY simple snowflake matching game that I made by placing two sheets of paper together to get duplicate snowflakes. This kind of activity is easy for Diego now so instead of just matching the snowflakes we talked about the similarities and differences between the snowflakes. I was surprised when he asked to do it several times.

After making the snowflakes, Diego wanted to make his own snowflakes. He learned how to make them on Christmas Eve when we decided to decorate to celebrate our first snow.
Another day we worked on bigger and smaller by putting "snowballs" in order of size. Diego is still wearing his Three Kings Day crown. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Art Box -Puppets

Diego dug through the craft closet and created these puppets out of craft sticks, pom-poms, stickers, scrap construction paper, sequins, and feathers. I though that they turned out pretty cute and they kept him busy for quite a while! Check out more creative kids at Tired, Need Sleep.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Spanish language DVD giveaway

The Adventures of Bear is having a great giveaway for a Spanish language teaching video that she would recommend to parents with children growing up in a Spanish speaking home like ourselves and to parents that are teaching their children Spanish as a second language. I prefer that my children watch a majority of their limited t.v. time watching programing in Spanish so I am always on the look out for quality products. Check out the Whistlefritz website and then head over to the Adventures of Bear to register to win a copy of the DVD Adentro y Afuera.

Parlez-vous français ?

That phrase and the numbers from 1-10 are the extent of my knowledge of the French language. Nevertheless, in our quest to raise multilingual children we have decided to learn French as a family. If you read my post last month, you would know that we decided a while back that we wanted the boys to learn a third language but we could not decide what that third language would be. I appreciate all of the emails and comments that I received with suggestions and advice to help us make a decision.

I have spoken to several parents that would like their children to learn another language and ask me where to start. I tell parents that you must first decide what is the outcome that you are expecting from your child's language skills. Would you like for your child to just get an introduction to the language (colors, numbers, etc.)? Would you like for you child to be able to speak at a conversation level? Would you like for you child to read, write, and speak fluently? For us the answer is the latter.

Now that you have decided the level that you hope for your child to obtain, you have to realistically decide whether you are willing to put in the time and effort it take to make that happen. Research has shown that for a child to become fluent in a language he must be engaged in it for 30% of his waking hours. After much discussion and research we realized that they only language besides English and Spanish that we could come close to providing enough exposure to would be French. Here are some of our plans for our French education in the coming months.

1. Kid videos. Almost every video sold in the US has a French language track. I am going to look through the kid videos that we have and see what which ones might work. After that I will search our public library.

2. I plan to use the internet to look for free materials and websites. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. :)

3. I have several friends who are French teachers. They have suggested that I hired a college student who is majoring in French to come to the house to play with the boys once a week and only speak to them in French. I love this idea but I am curious as to whether it would work out.

4. I am going to keep looking for a playgroups or storytime sessions in French in our area. There is an excellent French private school that is WAY out of our budget. They do provide, however, camps and classes in the summer.

I am lucky that Diego is very receptive to learning another language. He is already used to the idea that there is two ways to say everything. He has no problem understanding that there will now be a third. We are starting slowly by just counting objects in French here and there. One very strange thing for me is that I am teaching Diego a third language (French) while using my second language (Spanish.) It is going to be a challenge but I am exciting to start this journey of learning with my husband and sons.

If anyone has any resources that you would would recommend, I would love the help!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Toys my children ACTUALLY play with.

Today's Toys my children ACTUALLY play with is dedicated to playing dress up. Both of my boys love to dress up as cowboys, firemen, dinosaurs (old Halloween costume) and put on any type of hat. After a suggestion from Danita at The Land of Pleasant Living I purchased this knight in shining armor costume from Target. My niece received several princess dresses for Christmas as well and they ran around together slaying dragons and rescueing damsels in distress. It was hilarious to watch as their stories unfolded.

If you have a toy that your would like to recommend and have written a post about it (new or old), feel free to link-up or leave a comment.

Shape Snowmen and working with two different ages

I mentioned in a earlier post that I am trying very hard to include Mateo in more of our activities. I usually do "school" activities and art projects with Diego while Mateo is napping. I didn't start doing any of these types of activities with D until he turned two. M just turned 21 months but he is so excited when I include him that I am now planning a lot of activities designed for the two different ages. This week we are doing activities and reading books about snow, snowmen, and winter. For Diego, I drew the shapes on different colored paper and let him cut them out by himself and then assemble the snowman by himself. For Mateo, I pre-cut all of the shapes and then put glue where they should go and let him place them there. D stayed very busy cutting out his pieces while I talked to M about the shapes, colors, and sized of the pieces. This seemed to work very well for us.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Me and Marie

I can't tell you how many hours I spend preparing manipulatives and learning materials for the boys. For the most part I love to do it so I don't mind. Lately, however, I have been trying to encorporate more me time (reading books without pictures and exercising for example) so I just don't have time for everything. Today I spent at least an hour making a snowflake matching game since I decided that I needed to laminate them with contact paper (I HATE contact paper). Diego had a lot fun matching the snowflakes..... for about 3 minutes. Money is also an issue for us so I just can spend a TON of money on learning materials right now. I came across a REALLY great site that I wanted to share that might just help me out. Me and Marie is a company run by a former teacher now stay at home mom that makes Learning Packs, Pretend Play Props, and File Folder Games for preschoolers.

Here are some of my favorites:
Shop Along Cards- cards with different pictures of food on them to keep your child busy, I mean have your child help you at the grocery store.
Rainbow Sheep File Folder Game- one of MANY color matching games that I saw.
Farm Baggie Game- small baggie size games that you can take with you to use in the car or at a restaurant.

Best part is that a lot of her products are $3.00 or less. Go over and check it out at

Friday, January 8, 2010

Just like big brother!!

Since Legos are too small for Mateo's little fingers, we bought him Duplos for Christmas. I was busy cleaning the living room but I had to stop check on Mateo since he was TOO quiet. I found him proudly displaying his very own block tower. He looks up at me and say "Ta-da!" He and Diego are going to have SO much fun building together!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Toys my children ACTUALLY play with.

My husband was hanging over my shoulder while I wrote this post and ask me if I thought that this "toy" was blog-worthy. I told him that I am sharing the "toys" that the boys love to play with and even though this one cost a dollar at Target, if definitely falls into that category. Several months ago my mom bought Diego a packet of Magic Grow Dinosaurs. I used them for a few weeks to lure him into the bathtub on the days that he wanted to stay dirty. Basically they are little capsules that you submerge in water and after a few minutes of absorbing the water the reveal their shape. I was surprised that they actually looked like what they were supposed to. The back of the packet had a silouette of each dinosaur with its name so that we could identify it. Afterwards Diego sorted them by color, food preference, and then conducted dino-battles. Except for the few that Mateo ripped in half, they lasted for weeks. I finally had to just throw them away. I found the Magic Grow Vehicles (seen below) at Target and used them as stocking stuffers. These have not been as big of a hit as the dinosaurs but I think that they was definitely worth a buck.

Do you have a toy or item that your child ACTUALLY plays with that you would like to share with us? Please leave a comment below or link-up if you wrote a post about it.

Happy Three Kings Day!!

The day before Three Kings Day we made crowns. I cut out the crown shape, pulled out the markers, filled small tuperware containers with stickers, pom-poms, and sequins and let the kids go to town.

Here is Diego's crown. I think it is so interesting that he made it completely symmetrical.
Diego modeling his crown.
Except for a little help with the glue, Mateo decorated his crown all by himself. He loves when we include him in our projects. I think that I am going to have to stop doing them while he is napping.
After we played with our crowns. The boys set their shoes by the fireplace with some grass inside for the Wise Men's camels. After they went to bed the Three Kings visited us and left a couple gifts in their shoes.

Three Kings Day- El Dia de los Reyes Magos

clipart illustration drawing Star light beams palm trees trees camels dromedary Three Kings Christmas religion

Just when you thought that all holiday celebrations were over...... Tomorrow is Three Kings Day or El Dia de los Magos. This is the day that the Three Wise Men who followed the star for twelve days arrived to see the baby Jesus. In Spain and many parts of Latin America this is an especially exciting day for children since the Three Kings also arrive tonight to bring gifts to the good boys and girls. Traditions vary a little among the different countries but I will let you know what our family does to celebrate. First, the boys will write a letter to the Three Kings much like we did for Santa Claus. Instead of stockings, the children leave out their shoes to receive gifts. We do not leave cookies and milk this time but we do put a little grass in the shoes for the Wise Men's camels. In the morning the boys will run downstairs to find out what the Reyes Magos left for them.

If you are interested in teaching your child a little about Three Kings Day traditions, here is a website from Nick Jr with information and crafts. Not surprisingly, Dora did an episode Dora Saves Three Kings Day and it airs tomorrow at 9:00 and 1:00.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gracias- Awards

I am always very honored to be recognized by my fellow bloggers. Blogging is something I enjoy doing and it is nice to know that someone (besides my mom :) likes to read it. I received two awards recently. First, the Lemonade Stand Award from two awesome and inspiring moms at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns and Fun with Little Mouse. Second, the Sunshine Award from a wonderful bilingual blogging mommy at Mi Escuelita Montessori.

The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity & creativity inspires others in the blogworld!!

The Lemonade Stand Award is awarded for being a blogger who shows great attitude and gratitude. The rules for accepting this award:

- Put the Lemonade logo on your blog or within your post.
- Nominate at least 10 blogs with great attitude or gratitude.
- Link the nominees within your post.
- Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

I would like to share both awards with some of the great blogs that I follow:

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