Canticos – Los Pollitos / Little Chickies

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I’m really excited to share this new book collection and app with you guys because it’s adorable and amazing in every way. By the end of this post, you’ll see what I mean.

The book series and apps are part of a project called Canticos which brings to life some of the most beloved Latin American nursery rhymes and children’s songs; it’s a project created by two Latino families with roots in Venezuela, Colombia, The Dominican Republic, and El Salvador, with a mission to develop products and stories that would share their culture and language with today’s kids.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the song that inspired the first book in the series, LOS POLLITOS / LITTLE CHICKIES by Susie Jaramillo which is based on “Los Pollitos Dicen” (pío, pío, pío!) – But the song hasn’t just been transformed into an adorable bilingual lift-the-flap book, there’s an educational app [available for iOS and android], and sing-along videos to go with it.

The sturdy reversible book is quite ingenious in the way it folds out, with one side being Spanish and the other side in English. The illustrations are super cute, and to be honest I thought I couldn’t fall more in love with this project until I tried the app.

Let me tell you, when I was first contacted to review these products I told them I’d review it because I knew my readers with young children would love it, but my own kids are much too old. Yet, when I downloaded the app and started playing it, my 14 year old son appeared beside me and within seconds was asking if he could play with it, too. Jajaja… Here’s a video to give you an idea of what the app is like. My favorite part of it is where you can hear the song “Los Pollitos Dicen” not just in English and Spanish, but in French, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, and several other languages!

pollitos-languages

All the singers in each language sing so lovely, which is nice, because sometimes with these musical bilingual products I’m not that impressed with the voice. These are voices I would actually enjoy listening to if I had a little kid playing the song over and over again, as little kids tend to do.

The app also has this fun little game called “Create a Bouquet” where you add flower blooms and other objects to flower stems and it’s just so pretty. All I can tell you is that when you check out Canticos, you will see how much heart and soul was put into it. By the way, for every Canticos book purchased, the company will donate a portion of the proceeds to preschool programs across the U.S. to help low-income families in need.

Here’s a link to learn more about Canticos, as well as a giveaway so you can enter to win a copy of the book and app!

Giveaway Details

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a copy of the book LOS POLLITOS / LITTLE CHICKIES by Susie Jaramillo, as well as a download code for the app.

How to enter: Leave a comment below with your favorite nursery rhyme (Latin American or otherwise!)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the person responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between July 26th, 2016 through July 31st, 2016. Entries received after July 31st, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

7 Fun Ways to Improve Your Child’s Spanish This Summer

improve-spanish

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. No payment, monetary or otherwise, was received by Latinaish.com. This is a guest post with language learning tips from PandaTree which includes a code for a free session for Latinaish readers!

Summertime, and the living is easy; or at least that’s how George Gershwin’s song goes. If your kids are learning a foreign language, it can be challenging to keep up their language practice during the summer. Kids can lose one to several months of learning over the summer, which means they spend time catching up in the fall instead of making new progress. Luckily, you can turn summer into a chance to maintain – and even deepen – their language skills without losing out on any of the fun.

1. Traveling to a Spanish-Speaking Destination

Maybe this is just the excuse you needed to visit a new place, learn about another culture and give your children a chance to practice Spanish in the process. Dos tacos, por favor! Immersing yourself in a different culture can be a great motivator – and a lot of fun for the whole family. If a trip isn’t in the cards, try regularly visiting a Latin American or Spanish restaurant or looking for local events celebrating Spanish-speaking cultures.

2. Summer Camps

Similarly, foreign language camps can provide an immersion environment and boost language skills. Your child can build friendships and make connections with other children studying a foreign language.

3. Books on Tape

Long car rides – or hanging out in the hammock – are perfect times to listen to audio books. Choosing a book your child has already read in English can be helpful because knowing the plot line helps with comprehension if they don’t know all the words. Check your local library for Spanish audiobooks. Audible.com also has quite a large selection of a selection of Spanish audiobooks for kids.

4. Spanish Game Night

If you speak some Spanish, try turning a family game night into a Spanish theme. Games like Bananagrams, Scrabble, Pictionary and even card games are fun to play in Spanish, and no need to buy a Spanish version. You can also play games while on the road, like I Spy or Twenty Questions. Or play an alphabet game where a player has to think of a word starting with the last letter of the previous player’s word. Everyone’s Spanish will get sharper and you might even have a few laughs.

5. Become the Student

If you don’t speak Spanish yourself, asking your child to be your summer Spanish tutor can benefit both of you. Mark 20 minutes on your calendar a couple of times a week for you to be a willing pupil. Your child can even use some of the materials they covered in school as teaching aids. Not only is teaching someone else a great way to reinforce your child’s own learning, your child will gain a new perspective on the learning process. Even parents don’t learn things instantly – it takes practice and making mistakes is part of the process. By seeing you model a positive growth mindset your child will pick up some important learning strategies in the process.

6. Find Someone to Practice With

Conversation practice is crucial for developing language fluency and one of the best ways to help your child keep up their Spanish language skills over the summer is to find someone for them to practice with. If you speak Spanish at home you’re already doing this, although sometimes as kids get older it can become more difficult to get them to reply in Spanish. If you don’t speak the language yourself, it can be extremely helpful to find a trusted person that your children can practice with. Is there a babysitter or a grandparent they can talk to regularly?

7. PandaTree

One option parents find really convenient is online foreign language video sessions with a native Spanish speaker. It’s a great way for kids to get one-on-one conversation practice. PandaTree.com has made it simple for parents by handpicking tutors who are friendly and engaging to talk with. A few 25 or 50 minute sessions a week can accelerate your child’s skills – and fit conveniently into busy summer schedules with no driving required. Sessions are recorded so parents can review their child’s progress, and parents get updates after each session about what their child covered.

Want to give it a try?

Until June 15, 2016, Latinaish readers can get their first PandaTree session for free!

Just visit PandaTree.com and use promo code Latinaish516

Know it’s Worth the Effort

Whatever approach you choose for keeping your child’s language skills fresh over the summer, know that it is worth the effort. By helping your child learn a foreign language you are giving them a gift for life. Learning a foreign language boosts their brainpower, opens future career doors and deepens their understanding of different cultures as well as their own. So bring on the summer (learning) fun!

Kristina Klausen is the Founder and CEO of PandaTree.com. Her children are learning Mandarin and Spanish. Kristina started PandaTree to help give kids the conversation practice they need to become fluent. One-on-one online video sessions with carefully picked native-fluency tutors are easy to schedule and happen conveniently from home. Sessions are tailored to each child’s interests and language level, and parents receive updates after each session and can even watch recordings to see their child’s progress.

The Bilingual Household: Changing Family Dynamics and The End of an Era

On my older son's future college campus.

On my older son’s future college campus.

Family dynamics are complicated in any household, but in a bilingual household, even more so. The addition or subtraction of one member can change everything – and I think that is what we’re getting ready to face in our family as our oldest son prepares to go off to college.

For the first time in our youngest son’s life, he will be the only child, (at least in respect to who will be physically living under our roof day-to-day.) This creates an interesting opportunity. With his brother around, he had a willing “accomplice” to speak English to. Despite my best efforts, having two people speaking English all the time has made it difficult for me (a native English speaker) to remain consistent with Spanish. It’s like when you go on a diet, but the rest of the family keeps eating cake and Doritos right in front of you — it makes sliding back into comfortable habits much more difficult to resist.

My prediction is that when my older son goes off to college, it will become easier to maintain a better balance of Spanish in the household because I’ve seen it happen before when he went off to summer camp. With only me to talk to (and Carlos usually at work), my younger son ends up speaking Spanish more easily without his brother around. Although I’ve long given up on a “100% Spanish only” household, I think a realistic expectation is that we could get closer to 50/50. Right now, unfortunately, I would say we’re down to 80/20, (Eighty percent English, twenty percent Spanish… no bueno.)

While I have my eye on this new possibility of fluency for our younger son, of course I’m also dealing with the emotional aspect of closing a chapter in our lives. There’s the expected mix of pride and bitter-sweetness at seeing our son grown up and ready to go off into the world, but there’s also a sort of ticking clock feeling, like our days together are numbered. Of course our days have always been numbered, but they felt infinite until only a handful remained, which is where we’re at right now. When time begins to run out, as a parent you start to think about all the things you’ve taught your child to prepare them, and all the things that somehow, regretfully, you never got around to teaching them.

I think we did well. We’ve taught him to be kind to others, confident, to make good choices, to be self-sufficient. We’ve taught him to be true to himself, to always ask questions, we’ve encouraged his passions. We’ve done everything we could to make sure he was well-rounded, well-educated, and knew his roots, but this “raising bilingual children” experiment which has gone on for the past 18 years is coming to an end. Was that part of our parenting successful?

The answer isn’t immediately apparent, but I’ve decided success isn’t always a pass/fail sort of thing.

While I do mourn the fact that native speaker fluency wasn’t in the cards for him, I can honestly say we gave it a good shot, and I’m content with the results. Maybe he can’t read and fully enjoy a novel in Spanish, and maybe he doesn’t dream in Spanish. Maybe he doesn’t always understand every single word, but if we were to drop him off alone in a Spanish-speaking city, I have no doubt he would be able to get about just fine on his own. He talks to his abuela on the phone without a problem, and he has lost count of how many Spanish-speaking customers he assisted at his part-time retail job. Do I wish he was fluent? Does he wish he was fluent? Of course.

But we’ve given him what we were able to, and like so much else in his life, the rest is now up to him.

Conversations at Casa López – Part 8

casalopez-2

Here we go – my family’s most recent “bilingual moments” and funny conversations. (Be sure to share your recent funny conversations in comments!)

Tracy: Police officers in England don’t use firearms and you never hear about mass murders there, do you?

Carlos: What about Jack the Stripper?

Tracy: [picks up a ghost-shaped Halloween cookie] Booooooooo!

Carlos: [picks up a pumpkin-shaped cookie] Booooooo!

Tracy: Um, no.

Tracy: He wants K.D.’s for his birthday.

Carlos: What?

Tracy: K.D.’s, it’s a type of fancy Nike shoe named after the basketball player Kevin Durant.

Carlos: Kevin Duran? Is he Latino?

Carlos: I have sarpullido.

Tracy: What’s that?

Carlos: That’s how you call rash in El Salvador – sarpullido.

Tracy: Oh, that’s so cute. Sapollido because when a person is rashy they get bumpy like a sapo!

“You’re lucky I’m phone-lingual.”

– My 17 year old son [who owns an iPhone] after I asked him to figure out something on my Android

Día de Los Muertos – book giveaway!

Dia de los Muertos book

It’s Día de Los Muertos, the sun’s coming round,
as niños prepare in each pueblo and town.
For today we will honor our dearly departed
with celebraciones – it’s time to get started!

So begins the fun, rhyming picture book, DIA DE LOS MUERTOS by Roseanne Greenfield Thong illustrated by Carles Ballesteros. I loved everything about this book, from the way it’s written in Spanglish which helps teach vocabulary related to the holiday, (a glossary is included) – to the colorful illustrations.

I think you guys will love this book too, so I’m excited to be able to offer one for giveaway. See details to enter below!

—GIVEAWAY CLOSED—

Giveaway Details

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a copy of the book DIA DE LOS MUERTOS by Roseanne Greenfield Thong illustrated by Carles Ballesteros.

How to enter: Just leave a comment below telling me what you’re favorite part of Día de los Muertos is! (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the person responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between October 28, 2015 through November 2nd, 2015. Entries received after November 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Photo Challenge: Day #7

I’ll be participating in the “15 Days of Hispanic Heritage” photo challenge over on Instagram hosted by ¿Qué Means What? and The Nueva Latina. If you want to participate, just use the hashtag #HHM15Foto and take a photo for the given theme on each day! Here’s my photo and caption from Instagram for Day #7: Tiempo / Time

hhm-day-7-latinaish

#HHM15FOTO challenge day 7, theme: #tiempo / time… The first thing that comes to mind, and the clearest indicator of time passing, is how fast our boys have grown up. I imagine this is one of those universal experiences shared across cultures and ironically, unchanged by time – that bittersweet feeling of seeing one’s children are growing up, or have grown up. The two baby boys who used to fill our days with equal measures of joy and chaos, are now very nearly young men, ready to go out into the world.

My mother and grandmother used to remind me to “enjoy them while they’re young, because they grow up quick.” It seemed like they must be joking on some days, but I remembered and tried to heed their advice as much as possible. Our oldest filled out his first college application yesterday. Gone are the days of first word, first smile, first steps; soon it will be first acceptance letter, first loan, first night away from home as he starts the next phase of his life.

#HispanicHeritageMonth

Multiracial Kids, Latino Lit, Jane the Virgin Quiz, and Latin American Foods to Eat Before You Die

Well, that might be the longest and most inelegant title I’ve ever written for a blog post, pero no quería marear la perdiz. (If you didn’t know, that’s a Spanish-language idiom for “I didn’t want to beat around the bush.” It literally means “I didn’t want to make the partridge dizzy.” How much cuter is that?)

Anyway, I just wanted to put up a quick post with links to all my latinamom.me posts for the month of February in case you missed any of them. I hope you’ll check them all out and let me know which you liked best so I have an idea of which stories I should write more of in the future. Here we go!

8 Things Moms of Multiracial Kids Are Tired of Hearing

The first is an animated gif post which is a little controversial! My editor asked who wanted to write on the topic of stupid things people say to the parents of biracial or multiracial children, and I volunteered. I usually try to steer clear of topics that get people steamed in any way because I prefer to focus on the positive, but I knew I had some important things to say on this issue so I’m happy I wrote it. [Read it here.]

Latino Lit to Warm Up the Winter

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The second post is book recommendations. I’ve been in kind of a reading rut so I can’t wait for some of the soon-to-be-published Latino Lit to finally be available! (What’s on your “to read” list that you’re most looking forward to right now?) [Read it here.]

Which Jane The Virgin Character Are You?

which-jane-character

This third post was incredibly fun to create because it was the first quiz I designed and it’s all about “Jane The Virgin” – which is my favorite show right now. (A close second would be “Fresh Off the Boat.” Are you watching that, too?) Anyway, let me know which result you got on this quiz and if you felt it was accurate! [Take the quiz here!]

Latin American Foods to Eat Before You Die

143-93709-6-mixto-joel-sowers-1424388693(Image source: Joel Sowers)

My last piece for latinamom.me for the month of February is “Latin American Foods to Eat Before You Die” – (I know, the title is just a tiny bit dramatic.) It was difficult to choose just 10 foods though and the hunger I felt while putting that post together was painful. If you could have any of the foods mentioned in the post magically appear before you right now, (but just one!) – which would it be? [Read it here.]