Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another use for Zingo

Since we had a very busy week getting ready for and hosting family from out of town, we did not get to do many Easter projects. I am hoping to get to do some this week. I do not think that the boys will mind that we are a little behind. One afternoon Diego and I did make up a game using our plastic eggs to practice our French. We continue to get a ton of use out of one of favorite games Zingo. The game was extremely simple. We hid the game pieces in the eggs and took turns opening them. The first person to say the word in French got to keep the piece.

Friday, March 26, 2010


One of my favorite traditions that my husband brought to our family was "cascarones." This Mexican tradition adds a fun addition to the boiled and plastic eggs that my family has always hunted on Easter morning.

We eat a lot of eggs at our house but we still have to start this process many weeks before Easter. Make a hole in the top of the egg and empty out the yolk. Clean the egg out with hot water and let is dry out completely.
Color the eggs with Easter egg dye.

Fill the eggs with confetti.

With a little glue, stick a piece of tissue paper over the hole to seal it.
On Easter morning we will collect these with our other eggs and then break them over each others' heads. :)

Oh Lily!

Mateo has never had a favorite toy. Diego has a bear that has been his best friend since he was two weeks old. Mateo, on the other hand, is just as happy carrying around any toy that happens to be in the same room.

One of Mateo's favorite books is "Lily, la ruidosa" about a hippo that makes too much noise. Ever since we read the book, every time he sees a hippo he smiles and yells "Oh, Lily!"
Too Loud Lily / Lily La Ruidosa
I wanted Diego to have a gift to give to Mateo for his birthday. While we were at the zoo one day I asked Diego to pick out a stuffed hippo for his little brother. When Mateo pulled it out of the gift bag he exclaimed happily "Oh, Lily." He now has to sleep with his hippo every night. I have a feeling that it has something to do with the fact that his big brother gave it to him.

Another use for Legos

To my surprise, Diego hasn't been into playing with Legos for the last couple of weeks. A couple of days ago, however, I caught him doing this. I never would have thought of using Legos to make letters and write words. He is such a creative little guy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mateo's Birthday- Take One

For the last two years the boys and I have gone to visit my parents, sister, and neice for Spring Break. Since we do not get to be together that often, we try to make the most of our time together. While we were there we did an Easter egg hunt and celebrated Mateo's birthday early. We always make sure that the cousins are together for each kid's birthday.

Obviously, remembering Diego's birthday a couple of months ago, Mateo knew exactly what to do to blow out the candles. He proudly called his cake "años" for cumpleaños (birthday.)

The cake was a very yummy carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

This was my favorite picture. Diego is hugging his brother as they look at his new Melissa and Doug dinosaur stamp set.
This is the cupcake kit that we bought at Walmart. Very easy to use and has many possible future cake possibilities.


Now that our weather is improving, we have started working on our garden. Last year Diego and I put in a small garden with carrots, zucchini, beans, and marigolds. We had a bit of success but it was mostly a learning and fun project for the two of us to do together. Mateo was not invited to help last year because he just wanted to eat the dirt.

This year since both boys are helping we have doubled the size of the garden. We have plans to go to the store this weekend to buy some more dirt and seeds. For now we are just playing in the dirt (mud) and looking for "gusanos." My boys can not get enough of looking for worms! Last year Diego refused to touch them but this year he filled he bucket up with the creepy-crawlies. Mateo, who is eager to do anything that his big brother is doing, started collecting them right away. Diego wanted to take them inside to be his new pets but I convinced him that they (and I) would be much happier if they were outside.

Mateo is showing me a "gusano."
Mateo is feeding his worm grass.

Spring is FINALLY here!

After an unusually long winter (for us in Texas anyway), we are extremely happy to welcome Spring and get OUTSIDE to play! Next item on the list-- mow the grass! :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Toys my children ACTUALLY play with- Retro toys

I have not written a "Toys" post for quite some time because frankly I did not have much to say. The boys had been very busy playing with their favorites (mostly blocks and playdough) for the last few weeks. A couple of new toys have entered our playing rotation lately and I will start posting about a few of them in the coming weeks with a McLinkly. Please feel free to link up any new or old post that you have written. I like to record what my children are playing with because their interest change so fast.

We spent Spring Break visiting my parents. My boys are very lucky that grandma does not like to throw anything away. She still has a great stash of toys that were mine (and my sister's) when we were kids. They are still in great shape and Diego thinks it is hilarious to play with "Mami's" toys.

Diego has no idea what this phone was at first. He thought that it was an alarm clock. No surprise since the only phone that we have at home is a cell phone. What a different world our kids are growing up in!

These are actually dinosaurs that we brought and left at grandmas, less, heaven forbid, we have a dinosaur storage somewhere. He did have a lot of fun playing with the dinosaur on this car old garage.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fun at the Grandparents' house

We love going to visit my parents for many reasons. For one, the boys get immersed in English. We speak only Spanish to the boys and most of their day is spent surrounded by Spanish, through books, t.v., Spanish preschool, friends in the neighborhood, etc. I am always amazed by how much Diego's English improves within a few days. Since I very rarely hear him speaking in English, it surprises me to hear him use sophisticated vocabulary and complete sentences. No matter who he is talking to, Diego always turns to me and speaks in Spanish. He knows that I speak English also but our language together is Spanish.

Another reason that we love to go to the grandparents' house is their big backyard. The boys spend hours running around and collecting rocks, acorns, pinecones, and, of course, sticks. Is there anything more fun to play with than sticks?

I loved this picture of Diego. He is taking his teddy bear for a ride in his little wheelbarrow just like Papa gives him and Mateo rides in the big wheelbarrow.

Feliz Día de San Patricio

We have been out of town visiting Grandma and Grandpa for Spring Break. We read a book about Saint Patrick's Day so Diego, knowing the importance of wearing green, brought along his dinosaur shirt. I think that he would make a very cute leprechaun! Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spanglish Baby Giveaway #2

Another great giveaway from Spanglish Baby. I have wanted to try Yoga with Diego but I have have never got around to it. I would love to win this Yoga DVD for kids in SPANISH! If you would like a chance to win, head over to SpanglishBaby.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Evidence of Learning

It is so exciting and rewarding when your children show you what they have learned in their own way. On a (finally) warm day last week, we took our bucket of chalk outside to draw. Diego kept himself very busy while I worked on preparing the garden. After awhile, I came to see what he was up to. He had drawn the ENTIRE Solar System with the Sun, planets, and even some moons. He was able to tell me the names of all of the planets in the correct order until Urano. The largest one that he is touching is the Earth. Even though he knows that it is not the largest, he always draws it that way.

Here is the Earth close up. He explained to me that the blue parts are the oceans and the two white spots are the North Pole (or where Santa and Polar Bears live as he calls it) and Antartica (or where the penguins live.) This thrilled me because we read books and studied about Antartica a few weeks ago and he show minimal interest.

I want our activities to be first and foremost fun but it is pretty nice to know that he is learning something too! ;)

Spanglish Baby Giveaway #1

Spanglish Baby is having a series of great giveways this week with products for parents of bilingual children. The first is a set of boardbooks from Bilingual Readers. Hurry up and go register since the giveways ends Sunday night at midnight.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Espacio- Planetas y Astronautas

Between illnesses and just being busy, our space-themed activities ran about three weeks. I choose this topic because Diego has a genuine interest in space. While doing my research I found a TON of great activities to do about constellations, comets, rockets, etc. I finally decided to narrow it down to two topics that Diego loves planets and astronauts. We started by reading several books about the planets.

These first books are a set that we own that covers each planet individually. They are appropriate for older preschoolers and younger elementary. There is no fun story here, but a lot of good facts and pictures. Diego has been asking me to read these to him for months at bedtime so he already knew basically what planets are and their names.

We checked out several other books from the library in Spanish but most were too difficult and technical.

We completed a chart of information about each planet comparing size, color, and number of moons.

We put our Melissa and Doug Solar System puzzle together several times. The only complaint that I have with this puzzle is that the planets are shown as if you are standing on the moon. This, of course, makes the Earth look larger than all of the other planets. Diego already knew that Jupiter was the largest planet so this was confusing for him.

We made a toliet paper roll astronaut. This activity and several space-themed coloring sheets can be found here.

We decoded some more secret messages with the answers being the names of planets.

Finally, we completed a Solar System kit that my husband bought for Diego months ago. It is basically foam balls and wooden dowel rods. You could certainly put this together without a kit but he found it on a clearance rack so it was very cheap. First Diego had to paint the planets.

Next we had to cut the dowel rods so that the planets with different distances from the Sun.

The last step was to hang the Solar System in the boys' room.

This was a really fun unit and I am glad that we didn't rush it. We had plenty of time to pretend to be astronauts and explore the planets. We did this outside flying around on our spaceship (a.k.a. the swingset) and jumping on the couch cushions on the living room floor trying to avoid the lava of Venus. I am sure that we will revisit this topic several times and add a little to it each time.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Películas y Palomitas

I am not a big fan of my kids watching t.v. I try to limit it as much as possible. Yes, I agree that there are some good children's programing but I have a couple of problems with television shows. First, the commercials. Children's shows are just full of enticing products that make me have to hear "I want that" or my favorite "I NEED that" for days after. I am just not ready for my four year old to be trying to keep up with the latest trends. Second, we prefer that when the boys to watch television, that it is in Spanish. They are hearing more and more English from outside of the house so we want to maintain the Spanish as the language inside of the house.

Although I still very much limit the screen time, my solution to this problem is DVR and DVD's. If you are looking for some preschool programs in Spanish, check out Univision on Saturday mornings. They have Pocoyo, Dora, and Go Diego Go ALL in Spanish. I record them to watch during the week and we can just fast forward through the commercials.

On Friday evenings we have implented Películas y Palomitas (Movies and Popcorn) int he playroom where Diego gets to pick a DVD and we all cuddle up to watch a movie with some popcorn. Diego will watch the entire movie but Mateo just watches for a few minutes and then goes and plays.

I snapped this picture of them watching a movie last Friday.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What my child is reading...

I have been meaning to do a post about our favorite books lately, but I never seem to get around to it. I really would like to have record of some of them so that I remember to check them out again. We are very lucky to have a library system FULL of great books in Spanish. However, since it is made up of over ten libraries, I have to look for the books online and order them to be delivered to my closest library to prevent driving all over town.

Mateo is obsessed with dinosaurs right now. I mean OBSESSED. He has never had a favorite stuffed animal or lovey that he was really attached to. He has found love now in the form of little plastic dinosaurs. He eats with them, bathes with them, reads with them, and carries them everywhere. I think that is why I love these books so much- the little boy reminds me so much of Mateo. This is a series of books about a little boy, Dani, who finds a box of old dinosaurs in the attic, fixes them up, and carries them around in a little blue bucket. So far we have found four at our library and I am looking for a couple more. They are available in English too.
Dani Y Los Dinosaurios Juegan/dani And The Dinasaurs Play (Spanish Edition)

The next couple of books are all from a series of books made by a company called The Magic Castle. They are also available in English and I highly recommend them. They would make fairly easy early readers and (the Spanish versions) would be great for beginning to intermediate Spanish learners.

This book is about a little boy who finds a spaceship with an astronaut ready for take-off. Pablo wants to go to the moon also but he keeps remembering more and more things that he would like to take with him. After filling the ship with his pets, food, toys, and materials to build a house, the ship can't lift off of the ground.
El Disco Volador Magico (El Castillo Magico) (Spanish Edition)
We have read this book so many times that I probably should just buy it. A little boy finds a dinosaur that grants him a wish. The boy wishes that the dinosaur with stay with him all day and be his friend. The two get into trouble when the boy tries to teach the dinosaur tricks.


Besides dinosaurs Mateo also loves hippopotamuses. This is mostly due to a book that I will mention next time. I checked out this book just because of the main character but it turned out to be one of our favorites. The little hippopotamus gets hurt because he is playing dangerously and his mother and father show him how to behave safely. My favorite part of the book is a "Be Careful book" that they suggest you make at the end of the book. It covers not touching poison, not talking to strangers, etc. It is a great way to talk about safety at a level that preschoolers can understand and we plan to make our own safety book soon as a StArt project.

Sí, no, Pequeño Hipopótamo (El Castillo Magico)

Head over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns to see other great book recommendations.

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