Thursday, February 25, 2010

French Zingo

I did a review of a game that Diego received for Christmas, Zingo, a couple of months ago. This game is still a huge hit and Diego ask to play it almost every day. The playing pieces and cards all include a picture of the object and the word written in English. We have never played Zingo in English, instead we call out the words in Spanish.

In order to incorporate more French into our playtime, we have started playing French Zingo. First, I had to translate all of the words into French (for myself), make a cheat sheet, and ask my friend, the French teacher, to help me with the pronunciation. Next, I pulled out the game and told Diego that we were going to play it in French. My always easy-going up-for-anything son was instantly on board. I called out the words in French and Diego repeated them. After a couple of rounds, he would say the word in French without prompting. I am amazed at Diego's willingness to learn French. I really think that it is partly his personality and also that he is so used to having two ways to saying everything that he is fine with having one more. We plan on doing the same process for more of our favorite games soon.

ThinkFun French Zingo!

*** I recently found that you can buy a French and Spanish version of Zingo on Amazon. I am not going to by another game but I thought that someone might by interested.

Typical Saturday morning

Our Saturday mornings generally consist of music playing in the background, playdough everywhere, and Papi cooking way more food than we can eat. It is wonderful.
Mateo is showing the camera his two snakes and saying "CHEESE."

To say that my children love playdough would be an understatement. Diego will spend HOURS playing with it. This playdough started out as eight different colors and ended up as a lovely shade of gray as usual. I don't mind at all if they mix the colors or even if they make a mess. Diego especially is so creative and absorbed in his playdough activities that I wouldn't dare interrupt him.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Giveaway- Mama Latina Tips

I am always looking for fun material in Spanish for the boys. I have quite a large collection of DVD's, CD's, and books. I am planning to share some of my favorites in an upcoming post since I have been asked by several moms who are teaching their children Spanish too.

Today, however, I am trying to add to my collection by passing on the word that Mama Latina Tips is giving away two Spanish CD's by 1-2-3 Spanish Together™.
I visited their site and listened to a sample of the music and it sounds like something that the boys would love. Head over to Mama Latina Tips to register to win.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Decoding Secret Messages

We rarely go out to eat. Partly because of the cost and partly because eating out with small children can be more of a chore than a treat. Diego, however, is at an age where he can keep himself pretty occupied with the activities on the children's menus. The other day we went for pizza and the menu included a secret message decoding activity. Diego was thrilled because he often is off on a secret mission or a "secreta missión" as he calls it. The next day I recreated this activity for Diego using words and phrases that he recognizes. Below is the first one that we did. Obviously, I wrote the first line after he told me which letter to write and he took off from there. We have done several more since. (He usually writes his name much more clearly. I think that his artistic interpretation of his name was inspired by the symbols.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Mateo loves trains (or as he calls them "Choo-choos"). Lately he has been lining everything (coins, toys, cards) up and calling it a train. This day he lined up some boxes and took his animals for a ride.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vamos a China (Let's go to China)

For about six months now we have been doing our homeschooling activities based around a theme. For me this works the best for many reasons.

First, I have to find and gather resources and materials. We are very lucky to have a library system with lots of books in Spanish. I have to plan ahead and reserve them, however, because they are spread out among several libraries and would be impossible to find on my own. I also have to look for videos, printables, and websites in Spanish. They are out there, but again, not always easy to find.

Second, I think that the thematic approach allows us to get more indepth with a topic. The boys hear the same new words while we read, play games, color pictures, sing songs, and watch videos.

This past week we did a mix of Valentines activities and China. I had planned to start a new topic today but Diego is still interested in China so we will keep learning more. Isn't that the beauty of homeschool?

Free Dragon Picture

Here is a list of activities that we have done or are in the process of doing for our study of China.

Found China on the globe.
Set up chairs and pretended to fly to China.
Coloring pages (Great Wall, Dragons, etc.)
Color-by-numbers dragon (picture below)
Made Chinese Dragon out of toliet paper rolls (picture coming soon)
Made a Panda puppet
Played dominos (idea from Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns)
Made a Great Wall of China out of Legos (also from Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns)
Visited this website many times to learn about Chinese Dragons, Pandas, and Chinese New Year (This is an awesome website IN SPANISH for all of my bilingual buddies who are studying China.)

Diego's numbers are obviously on the right. He wanted to do this over and over again.

This was our first color-by-numbers page. He understood the concept but wanted me to do half of it with him.

Here are our topics since the beginning of the year. I do not allot of specific amount of time to each one. We just learn until we are ready to move on the next topic.

Space (next)

Check out more Geography inspired activities at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feliz Día de San Valentín

This was one of the best Valentine's Days that I can think of. There are a couple of memories that I want to record here.

1. Diego ask me several times a day leading up to V-day "Cuánto es más que once?" (How much is more than eleven?" I would obviously respond "doce" (twelve.) To which he would reply "Te quiero más que doce." (I love you more than twelve.) To him that is A LOT! :)

2. Diego looked up while he was coloring on Valentine's Day and said "je t'aime" which means "I love you" in French. Smart little sucker. It told me a minute to figure out what he said. His French is already better than mine.

3. Diego was so excited to give me the card that he made me and hid under the bed. It was supposed to be a secret so he told me that it had hearts on it but he couldn't tell me anything else. Oh, and not to look under the bed.

4. Mateo... well Mateo was his usual active, fun-loving, life is a fiesta self. He is such a funny little guy. I know that he is destined to be the life of the party.

5. We spend the afternoon at the Children's Museum where Diego got to see his first IMAX with dinosaurs. The first thing he told me when he got out was that he wasn't scared- which pretty much means he was. Mateo ran (and I mean ran) around and had fun.

6. After dinner we made a chocolate fondue, which the kids, of course, loved.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentines Puzzle

Diego LOVES puzzles and his little tag-along brother wants to do everything that big brother does. Diego (understandably) gets very frustrated when Mateo steals his pieces and otherwise destroys the puzzle that D is working on. I made this simple heart puzzle for Mateo to do to give his brother some breathing room.

I folded a large piece of paper several times and I cut out hearts of different sizes. I glued the hearts to a piece of cereal box cardboard to make them thicker.

I glued the red paper with cut-out hearts to a piece of pink paper to make the board.

This ended up being pretty easy for Mateo but he did it several times. His favorite game to play was to put it in all of the wrong spots on purpose and ask me "Aquí?" (Here?) until he landed on the right spot.

If you give Diego a heart to weave...

Do you ever feel like you live in a Laura Numeroff book? The plan this day was to weave with a heart like we saw here at the Adventures of Bear. Things went as planned for a couple of minutes......

until Diego decided that the strips of paper would make great letters so he ask for tape.

When he taped the letters together, he remember that we were going to decorate for Valentines day and he asked to tape the letters to the cabinets......

then to the fridge. You can image how my kitchen and bedroom AND living room looked after this.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update on French

I am very proud to say that Diego has mastered his colors, numbers, and the words for please, thank you, hello, and good-bye in French. We rented a Brainy Baby video and I was surprised how much French we were both able to learn. He will now randomly say a color in French and after we count something in Spanish we always recount it in French. I am very encouraged.

Next on the agenda: Some of my blogging friends have directed me toward some great websites and even classes in my area. (Merci!) Because of time constraints we are going to continue renting videos from the library and visiting websites for now. I have tried to check out some simple vocabulary books but the French pronunciation is SO difficult for me. I am used to the word sounding like it is spelled like in Spanish. I am hoping to get Diego (and possibly me) into some sort of class this summer when we have more time.

Other news: I am taking a break from the weekly "Toys" post for a couple of weeks. Right now the boys spend 90% of there time playing with playdoh and various blocks. I will let you know when I will be back.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentines Math

We have been working on A LOT of math lately since Diego has been showing so much interest in numbers. Here are a couple of activities that we did this week.

Ok, so I got a little carried away on the stickers here. The plan was for Diego to hunt for and then count the number of the different types of hearts on the card (just little the Christmas Tree we did for Christmas.) Since I put too many stickers, it was a little difficult for him to count them all with out losing his place. We ended up using it more as an I-Spy kind of activity. It was still fun and I put it on a piece of foam so we can use it again next year.

I made these pattern sheets with heart stickers. (Can you tell that I got a great deal on 1000 Valentines stickers?) Diego has a hard time with patterns. The next time I make it I will make just one type of pattern at a time and repeat it many times.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My little Dino-boy

Mateo has developed a great love of all things dinosaurs lately. He even wants to sleep with his hard plastic dinosaurs. (Yes, I know that can be dangerous. I sneak in and remove them when he falls asleep.) While Diego was at school the other day, Mateo and I had some rare time alone. He, of course, wanted to play with his dinosaurs. I took the opportunity to take some pictures of my little Dino-boy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentine's Cards

We just started making our Valentine's cards and Diego wanted to make a book. I cut out a large red heart and several small white hearts and stapled them along the back.
(I have no idea why some pictures are right side up and some are sideways since I took them all the same way.)

Here is the front cover. We added "Te quiero" or "I love you!" Diego can already identify this written phrase because I draw a picture and write "Te quiero" on a note in his lunchbox for preschool.

Next I wrote the name of all of our family members on each page and Diego drew their pictures.
Diego told me that you can't see my face because I am looking the other way.
Papi has a large head because he just ate a hot dog.

Mateo. That is his hair above his head. Mateo is very "chiquito" (little).

Our dog Nacho.
We had one page left over so I asked Diego what else he loved. Of course, he said Transformers and robots. I planned to give this card to someone but I am definitely keeping it. We are going to have to make a couple more for the grandparents.

Free Printable Bingo

Today I was not inspired by any of my kids' toys enough to talk about them. I decided instead to share a fun printable BINGO game that I found that we have had a TON of fun playing. A few weeks ago I talked about the game ZINGO that Diego received for Christmas. It continues to be a big hit so I went looking for more Zingo-ish games. I found these printables at DLTK's website. You can choose from several themes (holidays, animales, letters, cartoon caracters, etc.) and customize your own Bingo game. I love the flexibility of this game because you can choose to make it more or less difficult by altering the number of squares on the game card. This would also be wonderful for teaching vocabulary in a second language. I do not have a colored printer so I printed mine in black and white and decorated them with marker.

Here is a Bingo card and the game pieces. We are working on identifying lower case letter so this Valentine's theme game worked perfectly.

I wanted the game boards to last longer so I glued them to a sheet of construction paper. My little helper (Diego) colored the second one. He insisted that the flowers should be blue.

Here is another game with a winter theme that I printed off.
If you posted about a game or toy that you would like to share, feel free to link-up!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Before his third birthday, we took our dino-crazed son to see a large anomatronic dinosaur exhibit and it was a big hit. We had a weeked of lovely weather recently so we decided to return now that Mateo is bigger and very much into dinosaurs himself. As you will see below he was not that thrilled.
A year ago Diego would never have done this. First of all, he would have been scared of the dinosaur and he would have been too shy since lots of people were standing there staring. He has grown up so much over the last year.
I have to admit that that dinosaur IS scary looking. I took the picture fast so that I wouldn't torture him for to long. He seemed to like some of the dinosaurs, but from a distance.

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