Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spanish, Bilingual LeapFrog Toys--a lot to choose from...

Just wanted to spread the word about a new blog I started showcasing learning toys from LeapFrog called LeapFrog Learning Toys Review. I'm very excited about LeapFrog because they offer so many toys and reading activities not only in English, but in Spanish and bilingual.

What I've done on the blog is searched out the Spanish and bilingual toys on LeapFrog (as well as English) and put up a post about one toy a day.

The toys are also categorized for visitors to easily search for the type of language learning toys they want.

Please visit and if your child has any of the LeapFrog toys displayed, leave a comment to let us know how it's doing for your family.

These toys would make wonderful gifts for little language learners and enhance any preschool's language program!

Nos vemos a LeapFrog Learning Toys Review.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moving Picture Books Giveaway--Ending Soon!

Visit Wanna Jugar with Migo? to enter for a chance to win a DVD with wonderful animated short stories in English w/captions, English and Spanish.

Moving Picture Books takes adorable children's picture books and then animates, adds sound effects and puts music to them. They have them in English, English with read-along text and Spanish! The animation is well-done and perfect for kids to help them understand even if they know only a little Spanish.

Hurry, giveaway ends 10/27 TONIGHT at 10 central/11 eastern.

I think my family will enjoy just about all of them, but I liked the Bible Stories one, and I especially liked "On Top of Spaghetti." My husband sang that song to the kids from the time they were babies. The animation was so funny. They'll get a kick out of it.

And of course, I appreciate any audio resource that will help my children and me learn and practice Spanish--in a fun way, of course.

¡Gracias Tati!

Is Bilingual Education Best for American Students?

(excerpted from

I watched the piece featured below on the Today Show this morning that presents the pros and the cons of bilingual instruction in U.S. public schools. This is an ongoing debate, some feel that Hispanic students are better off being completely immersed in English so they may adapt to an English speaking nation- while others fear that teaching only in English limits what students will learn and will subsequently fall behind.

The Hispanic population is growing rapidly and is playing a significant role in American society and the workforce. Public schools in cities such as Charlotte, NC have embraced teaching students both English and Spanish and are reporting positive results. Where do you stand on this debate? Watch the piece below and let me know what you think- share your comments in Twitter and on our Facebook Page.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Unraveling how children become bilingual so easily

Baby brains offer clues to learning new language

By Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer
On 3:01 pm EDT, Monday July 20, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The best time to learn a foreign language: Between birth and age 7. Missed that window?

New research is showing just how children's brains can become bilingual so easily, findings that scientists hope eventually could help the rest of us learn a new language a bit easier.

"We think the magic that kids apply to this learning situation, some of the principles, can be imported into learning programs for adults," says Dr. Patricia Kuhl of the University of Washington, who is part of an international team now trying to turn those lessons into more teachable technology.

Each language uses a unique set of sounds. Scientists now know babies are born with the ability to distinguish all of them, but that ability starts weakening even before they start talking, by the first birthday.

Kuhl offers an example: Japanese doesn't distinguish between the "L" and "R" sounds of English -- "rake" and "lake" would sound the same. Her team proved that a 7-month-old in Tokyo and a 7-month-old in Seattle respond equally well to those different sounds. But by 11 months, the Japanese infant had lost a lot of that ability.

Wait a minute -- how do you test a baby? By tracking eye gaze. Make a fun toy appear on one side or the other whenever there's a particular sound. The baby quickly learns to look on that side whenever he or she hears a brand-new but similar sound. Noninvasive brain scans document how the brain is processing and imprinting language.

Mastering your dominant language gets in the way of learning a second, less familiar one, Kuhl's research suggests. The brain tunes out sounds that don't fit. (read more)

Monday, October 19, 2009

LeapFrog Wants to Put Tag in Kindergarten Classrooms--FREE!

If you're a kindergarten teacher, you may be interested in learning how to integrate LeapFrog's Tag Reading System into your classroom for free.

LeapFrog Tag Kindergarten Program

Helping teachers inspire children's love of reading

Thank you for your interest in the LeapFrog® Tag™ Kindergarten Program!

A teacher helping a student use Tag.With this exciting new program, LeapFrog partners with teachers, families, and schools to inspire the love of reading and learning in children during their critical early years. The centerpiece of our program is the Tag School Reading System, which features a pen-like tool that provides students with an easy-to-use, multisensory, independent reading experience.

Children touch the Tag School Reader to a page of a Tag book to hear an entire story read fluently, hear a page from a story, hear the pronunciation of a single word or, in some cases, a word part, or initiate comprehension exercises in the form of fun games that extend learning and provide immediate feedback.

All of this can be done independently, which is a crucial feature in a busy classroom where it simply is not possible for teachers to give all children one-on-one attention at the same time. For example, if a child reading a Tag book gets stuck on a word, he uses the Tag reader to touch the difficult word and hear the pronunciation, allowing him to continue reading and enjoying the book independently.

In this program, LeapFrog provides teachers with Tag School Reading System kits, including several Tag Readers plus books that focus on phonemic awareness, vocabulary building, comprehension and other key reading skills. Teachers agree to integrate Tag and Tag content into their classroom curriculum and to give feedback on the program. (Read whole article and FAQ's)

Application Deadline is November 11, 2009.

Let us know how it went! (and maybe they will develop a Tag reading system in Spanish!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Yo quiero un 'snack-o'

¡Hola todos!

I've totally slacked off in doing Spanish Discovery Time with my kids.

I guess with them being in school most of the day, by the time they get home from school it's homework, eat, ready for bed.

They do somehow manage to get Spanish in themselves, though. Earlier today, they were playing with Dora action figures and the dollhouse. And they were playing pretend in Spanish, saying things like "hola" (hello), "pase, pase" (come in, come in), "Yo quiero un snack-o." I know, 'snack-o' is not a Spanish word, but my oldest daughter corrected her younger sister and said, "Oh, not 'snack-o'. You mean, 'Yo quiero una merienda.'"

I also have her read her Spanish books to us, when she does her homework.

So, that's what we've been up to.

!Hasta pronto!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our Spanish Alphabet Song on You Tube

¡Saludos todos!

I'm inviting you all to check out a video/slideshow my daughter and I did and put up on You Tube. This was our first multimedia project for Spanish. Please write a comment and let us know what you think.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dual-Language School, Aquí Vienen!

In September, my 3 girls will be off to school-FULL TIME. This is an exciting year for our family because the twins will be starting kindergarten, and now all of them will be in a dual language school.

My eldest daughter will be entering 2nd grade and she'll be continuing the bilingual model of one day English, next day Spanish.

The kindergarten classes operate differently. As of last year, the school day is conducted in English with a portion of day in Spanish with a Spanish teacher. I had spoken with the dual language coordinator who said they're thinking about changing the model to 90/10 - Spanish/English. I told her that I am for that because I do believe immersion is the way to go.

So, I will find out later this month how the K class will be handled.

As an aside:

Even though I believe immersion is the way to go, it was a challenge for my family to do that totally for even 30 minutes. And immersion schools were out of the question because of the cost. That's why I sought other ways to create a bilingual environment in our home. And I'm proud to say that everything we've done and are doing at home have been good for the girls and my son: they embrace Spanish, they're familiar with the language, they question how to say words in Spanish, and they have fun with it.

If you like to learn more about what I've done with my children so that you can do it too with yours, visit

¡Hasta pronto!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How I'm Improving My Spanish in 15 Minutes with a Study Partn

I have a Spanish study partner. Her name is Ino. She's from Puerto Rico. She's a friend I've known for a long time through my husband's friend. I've been very slow going in calling her just to practice Spanish.

Last Saturday I called her. We talked about our kids, she mentioned that she took them to the circus, and she talked about plans for a birthday party for her daughter. The conversation was great, but it was all in English. I told her, "Ok, how are we going to do this Spanish practice. I would not have a clue on how to talk about what we just talked about in Spanish."

So, she reviewed everything we talked about in Spanish and had me repeat words and phrases. If I didn't understand what she wanted me to repeat, I said, "No entiendo." Then she helped.

I enjoyed it.

She also gave me study and practice help:

1. Watch the news in Spanish or telenovelas. She said that's what she did when she was learning English, and that's all she would watch.

2. Have a Spanish word of the day and create as many sentences I can using that word. For example, house. The big house. The little house. The pink house. The house is over there. Come to my house. So, in Spanish this exercise would be casa. La casa grande. La casa pequeña. La casa rosa. La casa está allí. Ven a mi casa. (The next time I speak with her I'd ask her about using allá and aquella for over there.)

3. She also recommended a website called Live Mocha - where you can study Spanish (or any other language) for free and have community members help correct your usage. I'm trying it now, and will write a post about it later.

¡Hasta luego!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Comment on Tortilla Española Recipe Video

¡Saludos a todos!

For those who are subscribers to my Spanish Discovery Time! e-newsletter, I just sent out my very own video recipe on como hacer tortilla española. This is the first recipe video of many that I plan to do with my girls.

So, let us know what you thought about it by leaving a comment below.


And if you have other simple Spanish recipes you'd like us to do a video on, please write your suggestion below.

Finalmente, if you're not a Spanish Discovery Time! subscriber, you can sign up by filling out the form to the right of this post. It's FREE and it's FUN!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Let's Play Chess - Juguemos al ajedrez

Let's Play Chess - Juguemos al ajedrez

This summer my girls (ages 7, 5, 5) are learning to play chess with their dad. He's tried to get them into the game for about a year, but now they're really into the pieces and how they move. They play Chessmaster on Playstation 2 and are actually having fun doing the tutorials.

They were able to visit a chess club once at a local library before the club closed for the summer. My husband was impressed with how the chessmaster (that's what the girls called him) there was able to keep Jaida focused. And then when they played at home, he was thrilled that she was using what she learned on him.

And of course, I seized this chess learning opportunity to weave in Spanish.

Beginner's Chess Terms in English/Spanish

- el ajedrez

chess board
- el tablero de ajedrez

chess pieces - piezas de ajedrez
- el rey

- la reina

- el caballo

bishop - el alfil
rook - el roque
- el peón

- el jaque mate

Visit here for more (advanced) chess terminology in English/Spanish

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Christian Music in Spanish for kids

Recently I had a visitor to my blog looking for Christian music in Spanish for kids.

I remembered that I've had these cd's for years since my oldest was little. We've thoroughly enjoyed the songs. I chose these cd's because we're already familiar with the tunes to these songs in English. Totally surprised that I didn't put these up before.

Visit the link below to hear audio clips of songs:
Songs Kids Love to Sing: Cantos de Escuela Dominical

Visit the link below to hear audio clips of songs:
Himnos: 16 Himnos Para Niños
Cedarmont Kids

Please share with us albums like these you may have in your collection.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A School Near You?

I like to get updates on where public schools are opening up to and growing their dual language programs.

Here's a recent article about the progress of a school in Johnston County, NC:

SES reviews progress of Spanish/English program

Selma Elementary School is one of 21 other schools in North Carolina, and the only one in Johnston County, to have a first grade class and two kindergarten classes taught every other day in Spanish and English, according to the school’s program sponsor company Splash! CEO Alan Young, who spoke in the school’s cafeteria Thursday night, March 26.

SES administration welcomed interested parents of rising kindergarteners to inform and answer questions about its Spanish/English Dual Language Immersion Program, an educational program designed to teach students in two languages, which is entering its third year.

The school has one of the highest Hispanic student populations in Johnston County, and it is a program, Young said, that is proven to help students of all backgrounds perform higher on standardized tests.

The program currently has 60 students. In each of the dual language classes, there are 50 percent native English speaking children, and 50 percent Spanish speaking students. There are 70 families, according to SES social worker Kristen Percy, who have filled out applications for the program.

Young was there along with SES administration and other Splash! – a company located in Chapel Hill that provides schools across N.C. with bilingual education programs -- to talk about how first grade and kindergarten students currently in the program were performing in class by showing a video. (Read more)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Triumph Over Autism Bilingually

Something I've been mulling over is what to do with my son in teaching him Spanish. We were advised to teach him English only for now, so that he's learning the same terms for things at school, with his therapists, and at home with us.

I'm so used to doing the bilingual method* with my girls that I have to stop myself with my son. But deep down inside I don't think exposing him to Spanish will confuse him. It's just hard to know because he's not saying any words.

*speaking English and Spanish side by side. For example, "Are you thirsty? ¿Tienes sed?"

I came across this article about a little girl the doctors said would never speak, yet now she's bilingual!


Little Laura Cuthbert's parents were delighted when she learned to speak after doctors warned she would never talk properly.

But it was nothing to the couple's joy when their autistic daughter astounded experts by becoming BILINGUAL- chatting away in English AND Spanish.

The nine-year-old's amazing achievement is a tribute to the devotion of mum Gill and dad Dave, who refused to accept predictions that she would never have a normal life.

Gill, 43, said: "The doctors said she would probably spend most of her time in an institution. Now we have a happy daughter who never stops talking - in two languages. (Read more)

The parents used a therapy call the Son-Rise Programme. I decided to look more into this program and wrote about it in Jaden's Travels.

**As this post becomes old, the source for this article may be archived or removed.

Friday, May 8, 2009

TV and Professor Pocket

Last year my oldest daughter started a dual language school. It was such an exciting time for us because after much searching, disappointments, and prayer, she's finally in a dual-language learning environment.

It's fantastic that more and more public schools and districts are offering dual language schools and programs.

At my daughter's school, she has an English teacher and a Spanish teacher. One day she's in English world and the next day Spanish world (el mundo de español.)

She seems to be enjoying her time there. One of my concerns was would she be able to keep up with the other children in her class since she didn't do kindergarten there. But that didn't turn out to be a problem at all. Her teachers are impressed with how much Spanish she knows. They love her enthusiasm for learning the language and her courage for speaking Spanish.

One teacher told me that she asked my daughter, "How do you know all of this Spanish. Who speaks Spanish to you at home?" My daughter told her that she learned from TV and Professor Pocket. So, the teacher said she had to ask me if I speak Spanish. I said I know just enough to teach them the basics, but I'm not a fluent speaker.

Then she wanted to know what we're doing at home. I told her about the lessons we do, songs we sing, and shows we watch during our Spanish time.

It's certainly possible for monolingual parents to teach their children Spanish. We're doing it and so can you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Keeping the Spanish Alive!

Well, hello everybody...I'm back!

And Sarah I can totally relate to how easy it is for 5 or 6 months to pass by without reading, writing, or doing anything with blogs.

Along with starting a children's ministry at my church, dealing with a child's (then children) illnesses, my Mom in and out of the hospital, and driving my children to and from school, another big adjustment for my family and I is having 2-3 therapists come into our home 6 days a week for 3-4 hours to work with our son. I also take him to school for 2 hours in the morning.

You might remember in one of my e-newsletters, I mentioned that his speech was delayed. Well, in August or so, he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified). At the moment he's not saying any words and, according to the dr., demonstrates some characteristics of autism. I started a blog about it called Jaden's Travels.

I thought long and hard about whether to close my blog and bid every one "adieu" or should I say "adiós." But then I saw that there are 2 people following my blog. That really encouraged me to get it going again. ¡Muchas gracias!

And the desire for my children to be bilingual never went away. So, here's to overcoming challenges and keeping the Spanish alive!