Friday, December 3, 2010

Welcome Baby Javier!

Multicultural Doll Collection Offers the Gift of Tradition and Heritage

As a mom raising bilingual children and an educator of many Bilingual Fun students, I am enamored by Baby Abuelita Products! My daughter received Baby Andrea a few years ago and it was an immediate favorite. She loved to sing along with the familiar Spanish songs and lullabies. My little students who are learning Spanish have always been thrilled when Baby Andrea makes a classroom appearance. My children were so excited to meet Baby Javier and hear his classis nursery rhymes come to life! I am proud that Baby Abuelita was founded by 2 moms Carol Fenster and Hilda Argilagos Jimenez, who shared a goal to leverage traditions Spanish-language childhood songs to ensure that Hispanic heritage is preserved, passing it along to the next generation.

Gifts that touch the cultural and traditional heartstrings of families will score big this holiday season and Baby Abuelita Productions is there to meet consumer needs. In its 5th year, the Miami based company is rolling out Javier, the first toddler boy doll in the series of products that focuses on classic Spanish nursery rhymes and favorite lullabies of Hispanic Heritage.

Affordably priced at $24.99, each doll comes in packaging designed to look like a rocking chair and sings a different group of songs, such as “Arroz Con Leche” (Rice Pudding), “Duermete Mi Niña” (Sleep, Baby, Sleep) and “Campanitas” (Little Bells) in a voice reflective of the doll’s character at the press of its hand. This adorable dolls are perfect for teaching Spanish to children and preserving heritage!

Be sure to check out the other characters:
Abuelita Rosa
Abuelito Pancho
Baby Andrea
Baby Tita

If you know a child that is learning Spanish or already bilingual, this is a fantastic gift that they will love to play with and learn from at the same time!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Adventures in Teaching our Kids Spanish

The journey and adventure in raising bilingual children takes many turns as they grow and develop. When my children were babies and toddlers, we spoke Spanish with them all of the time and their bilingual development happened naturally and easily. They responded and interacted in both English and Spanish with ease, as their little lives were immersed with both languages. Today, with my children being elementary age, their bilingual development has changed and focuses more on age appropriate learning skills that they are currently learning in school. My son is learning to count by 2's, 5's, and 10's in his kindergarten class. Likewise we focus on these same math skills in Spanish with him. My daugther is a proficient reader in English and we have been working on her proficiency in Spanish as well. Her bilingual brain allows her to easily hear the sound of Spanish and understand how to pronounce words. We focus on the vowel sound differences when reading in Spanish and she can immediately know when she is pronouncing something incorrectly. As a bilingual educator, I know the importance of being a proficient reader in your first language before introducing the second. We waited until I felt my daughter was secure in her English reading skills before introducing Spanish literacy. We often read bilingual books that are written in English with a smattering of Spanish words thrown in the text. This enables my daughter to differentiate the sounds and pronunciation. It is fun to find new ways to teach Spanish to my children. Here is a brief clip reading the beautifully written and illustrated Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Foreign Language Friends

Foreign Language Friends is a web-based language learning process created just for children. Filled with rich multimedia content, this approach will help your children learn a new language almost effortlessly!

This fun, interactive site teaches languages to children through full immersion with a variety of activities, theme based learning, and encourages family participation. As a parent of bilingual children and an educator, I am always very interested in worthwhile, interactive resources that children can use to develop their language skills. Foreign Langauge Friends hits the mark!

My own son enjoyed navigating the site and playing the fun games. It was a great reinforcement of vocabulary and communication that he hasn’t used frequently and a perfect way to peak his interest. One of our Bilingual Fun families tried it out as well and had this to say: “I have been looking for something that would get my son interested in learning Spanish and I think I found it with this website. We worked with the website together in the beginning after 8-10 minutes he took over the mouse and was doing it on his own at his own pass. He really was enjoying it and following right along he said a few times on his own "this is really fun", "ok how about we do this every day at 10:00", and the words I have been waiting for "can we sign up for this?”

Here is what my kids and I really like about Foreign Language Friends:

• the introduction to all the vocabulary words first before beginning games or exercises
• the comparison review ( great reinforcement)
• the length of each section, just the right length of time before kids lose interest
• great graphics that hold attention
• relevant, interesting subject matters
• familiar games like matching game, hangman layout, spelling games, etc
• easy to navigate website
• upbeat, fun music and songs
• opportunities to hear the language and practice speaking, repeating

Visit to learn more about the program and how to sign up! Take advantage of the 7 Day Free Trial to try it out yourself!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fun with Piñatas!

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15- October 15. The culture and language can be taught and celebrated in a variety of ways. One fun children’s activity is to make an authentic piñata. As an integrated activity, you can play the Pinata Concentration game to teach children Spanish. Also be sure to read the beautiful children's book El Piñatero/ The Piñata Maker by George Acona.

Piñatas are found at almost every Mexican celebration. Traditionally they were in the shape of a six-pointed star and were filled with fruit, candy, and small toys. Today you can find them in all shapes, including animals, flowers, and popular characters. At fiestas, the piñata are hung in the air and children are blindfolded and take turns swinging at the pinatas. Kids often sing “ dale, dale, dale no pierdas el tino, mira la pinata que hay en el camino. No quiero oro ni quiero plata, lo que yo quiero es romper la piñata.” Eventually, the piñata is hit hard enough and it breaks releasing the candy and toys that it contained.
Making an authentic piñata is a fun, interactive lesson you can do either at home or in a school setting. Bilingual Fun incorporates this cultural activity in our summer camps, as it takes a few days for each layer to dry. The kids love participating in the creation of the piñata and of course the culminating fiesta is worth all of the hard work.
• 3 cups water
• 2 cups flour
• 1 balloon
• Newspaper cut into long strips
• Colored tissue papaer
• String
1. Blow up a large balloon and tie the end
2. Mix the flour and water together until it makes a smooth paste
3. Cut the newspaper into long 1 inch thick strips and dip into the flour/water mixture
4. Carefully place the strips on the balloon until it is covered, leaving a hole at the top
5. Set aside and let the balloon dry
6. Place another layer of newspaper dipped in the mixture over the balloon and let dry
7. Repeat with one or two more layers, making sure you leave the hole at the top
8. When dry, pop the balloon with scissors point and remove the balloon
9. Cut small pieces of colored tissue
10. Scrunch the papers into little pieces and glue all over the piñata.
11. If desired, hang colored crepe paper from the sides and bottom
12. Punch 2 small holes in the top near the opening and string a large piece of string through the two holes
13. Fill your pinata (through the hole you left at the top) with candy, toys, or any other fun surprises.
14. Get ready for your FIESTA!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Of My Favorite Language Websites!

If you haven't been a visitor to Multlingual Living yet, race over there now! It is a multitude of resources, tips, expert advice, ideas, and inspiration about raising a multilingual family. The creators of Multilingual Living offer a smart, useful, and inspiring site that just keeps you wanting to learn more. If you are a parent, teacher or bilingual learner yourself, you will most definitely want to sign up for their newsletter. As a teacher and parent myself, I am always looking for ideas, resources, activities and fresh new strategies to keep my children and students bilingual development growing and stimulated!

One of the exciting things that they are doing this summer at Multilingual Living is an impressive language challenge! Children and parents alike have committed to learning Spanish in 101 days. The activities, methods, ideas, and committment have been impressive and so much fun to follow. Maybe you can grab some ideas from their challenge. Check it out!

We Have A Winner!

..... and the winner is..... la ganadora es....

BETH T!!!!

THank you all for your insight and feedback regarding using music to stimulate your child's bilingual development!

If you haven't checked out yet, be sure to visit them. Fantastic products and great music!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Teach Spanish with Music!

I strongly believe music is an extremely important element in the language acquisition of young children. As a mom and educator, I teach Spanish to children through movement, hands on activities, interactive games, and of course music! I love to add new music to my repertoire of songs and CDs that are teachable, easy to sing, and that will engage young children.

I was thrilled when our friends at Whistlefritz announced the release of their second CD, Cha, Cha, Cha! We are big fans of their first CD and the award winning singer Jorge Anaya. This newest release is definitely a colorful collection of songs that helps children learn Spanish. Not only does it have songs rich with everyday vocabulary, but it is a lively mix of Latin rhythms, including bachata, merengue, cumbia, reggae, and more!

Some of our favorites are Cha Cha Cha to Los Números and the samba to Los Vocales. In my many years of teaching, I have found some very great songs that teach basic Spanish ( number 1- 10, colors, etc), but it is sometimes difficult to find more advanced structures such as counting through the hundreds, communicating about travel, clothing, or other vocabulary themes. Whistlefritz hits the mark here with a great mix of easy to sing along songs that really are a super tool for teaching Spanish to kids!

My own kids and I have been having dance party in the living room as we have been listening to Cha, Cha, Cha! If you like to move, groove, and reinforce Spanish with your kids, I think you will certainly enjoy this new CD.

We would love to extend you the chance to win the great product!

One lucky winner will receive Whistlfritz’s CD Cha, Cha, Cha!

To enter and a chance to win:
1. Please leave a comment telling us what your favorite Spanish song is with your children.

2. For an additional entry, please “ LIKE” us on Facebook. Gracias!

Contest will end August 10, 2010.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fun, Easy Spanish Song

Here is another easy song that kids can sing to practice Spanish numbers. This is a traditional song which is sung to the tune of Ten Little Indians. Children easily learn and practice Spanish with this fun song.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Let's Count in Spanish

Here is an easy, fun song for learning the Spanish numbers. It is a great practice for counting 1-20, than a bit more challenging for counting 20-1. Sing it faster each time for fluency practice!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Imagination and Language Learning

Teaching Spanish to children is something I am passionate about and this summer, I am looking forward to fun, interactive ways to keep the language alive. Through our Bilingual Fun Summer camps and with my own young children, we will be using lots of imagination and interactive games to keep their language development fresh.

Summertime is a great time to spark the interest of your bilingual child by trying new activities, getting outside, having some hands on fun, and taking field trips to realistic settings. Fun, easy activities that focus on teaching children Spanish allow kids to hear and to produce the language in a natural environment.

My children love to use their imagination, so I am going to tap into that this summer with these fun Spanish speaking activities. As I tell my students and children, not only is it important to speak multiple languages, it is FUN to be bilingual!

Animal Rescuers:
With the momentum that Diego has created, you and your children can become animal rescuers too! Make a list of 10 animals that you are going to look for outside, at the park, in your backyard, or anywhere at all. Have children illustrate the list so they have a visual. Be sure to pack your backpack with necessary items: flashlight, notebook, pencil, water bottle, rope, band aids. Paint the picture with the children that you are going to use your imagination and find the animals that need help. The adventure begins! Reinforce your animal words and phrases, so that the kids can repeat and produce the language too. When you find the pretend animal, ask kids what kind of help do you think they need?.... stuck in a tree, has a cut on it’s paw, needs water, is stuck in a dark cave, etc, etc. For example, my son is trying to rescue el jaguar that is stuck in the tree pictured above. Check off the animals as you find them. Keep reminding kids to use their imagination. Kids will love the anticipation of looking for the next animal and creating the scenario. This is easily adapted to any language, but here are some key phrases for teaching Spanish to kids with this activity:
La mochila- backpack
El aqua- water
La linterna- flashlight
El papel- paper
El lápiz- pencil
Los animales- animals
¿Dónde está?…..- where is? ….
Busca- look for
Aqui está- here it is
Vámonos!- let’s go
Ayuda- help

Bug Hunt:

This is another great outdoor activity that incorporates lots of vocabulary and stimulates the language production. I am a big fan of the The Dollar Tree, especially for easy activities like this. Get a large bag of plastic bugs and some brown paper bags. Have children decorate bags any way they chose (a perfect opportunity for color, object reinforcement!). Scatter bugs around your backyard or park. Then let the kids search for and gather as many as they can. When you get together at the end of the hunt to share your bugs, this is the chance to be very imaginative. Tell kids to count and sort bugs by color, shape or size. Then ask kids to be silly and name their bugs and give them ages. This allows the children to practice communicative activities with question/answer and descriptive phrases. Here are some easy words/phrases to reinforce:
Busca- look for
Los insectos- insects
¿Dónde está …?- where is…?
¿Cuántos tienes?- how many do you have?
Yo tengo….- I have…
¿Cómo se llama el insecto- what is the bug’s name
¿Cuántos años tiene el insecto?- how old is the bug
¿De qué colores son los insectos?- what colors are the bugs?
¿Cúal es tu favorito? – which is your favorite?

I am going on a picnic:
There are many variations of this game and you can plug in whatever vocabulary theme you want to practice and imagine. Place plastic or real food items on a table or in the center of a circle. Be creative and set out a picnic blanket, or sit outside under a tree or at a picnic table to make the activity authentic. Introduce and practice the vocabulary that you will be talking about. Start the game by saying: I am going on a picnic and I am going to bring an apple, or I am going to the beach and I am going to bring a towel, etc etc. The child has to chose the item from the center of the circle and hold it. When it is their turn, each child has to repeat all of the items chosen and then add another for themselves. Ex: I am going on a picnic and I am bringing an apple, a sandwich, lemonade, and a cookie. Etc etc. You don’t need a large group for this game, you can even play it with 2 people! This is a fun way to work on fluency and comprehension, as children have to repetitively produces the phrases each turn. Spanish food vocabulary here.
Reinforcement words and phrases:
Yo voy al picnic- I am going to the picnic
Yo traigo- I am bringing
La manzana- apple
La naranja- orange
El sandwich- sandwich
El agua- water
La limonada- lemonade
Las galletas- cookies
Las servilletas- napkins
Las uvas- grapes
El queso- cheese
La sandia- watermelon

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


It's cinco de mayo and the American marketing is encouraging everyone to have a margarita today and celebrate. :)

I have many students and parents asking what exactly is cinco de mayo? No, it is not Mexican's Independance ( Sept 16), rather it is the victory of the
Battle of Puebla. Nonetheless, any chance we can celebrate this wonderful culture and give our kids another chance to learn Spanish, I think is a great reason to celebrate!

If you are like me with little ones at home, there will be no margaritas here, however some fun cinco de mayo crafts can always be a festive activity and can add bilingual fun to your day!

Here are some fun easy crafts to enjoy with your children or students.

Mini Sombrero

God's Eye

Beaded Chili Peppers

Tacos y Tostadas

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Being Bilingual

This is such a beautiful poem about the gift of being bilingual. It is on the wall in my daughter's room.

Yo x 2

por Jane Medina

Leo por dos
Escribo por dos
Pienso y sueño
y lloro por dos

Yo río por dos
Yo grito por dos
Canto, pregunto,
Intento por dos

Hago mucho más
que hacen todo ellos
Porque yo hablo por dos,
Lo doble que aquellos

Me x 2

I read times two
I write times two
I think, I dream
I cry times two.

I laugh times two
I shout times two
I sing, I ask,
I try times two

I do twice as much
As most people do,
'Cause most speak one,
But I speak two!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How To Make Language Learning Come Alive

I love teaching Spanish to children and making the language come alive is an important part of their development. Through my experiences as an educator and a mom, I have found one of the most successful keys to language teaching and learning is to keep things relevant to the child’s life.

Play based immersion allows the parent to weave the language into everyday activities and tasks, thus enabling the child to make easy connections. For example, when my children were very little, we sang all of the time, did finger plays, and played with their baby toys in the target language. Now that they are ages 5 and 7, their interests have changed. My husband and I focus on keeping their language development alive with activities that are interesting and relevant to them. We play lots of board games, guessing games, Pictionary, and charades in Spanish. My daughter loves her American Girl dolls and accessories; therefore we often have fashion shows and make believe parties with her dolls where she has to describe them, their outfits, where they are going, etc. My son is a Superhero fanatic. We use lots of action words when we play with his ‘guys’. We have so many of them and their outfits are so colorful, that we easily practice color and number reinforcement with them. All the while we are playing, my children are hearing the language, as we ask questions, make up stories, etc. Their comprehension and fluency is enhanced through these simple activities that are fun and important to them.

Here are some fun, easy ideas that you can do at home to help your child learn Spanish:

*Write their English spelling words in Spanish and put them in sentences.

• Watch movies in Spanish.

• Listen to Spanish language music while in the car.

• Play online games together that allow the children to hear and read Spanish.

• Play I Spy while waiting at a restaurant, doctor’s office, etc.

• Read together in Spanish. Ask comprehension questions after the story.

• Play Caliente/Frio by hiding an item and have kids give you commands to find it.

• Look at family photos and talk about descriptions of relatives, what their names are, where they live.

• Read recipes or directions on the back of products.

• Cook a recipe and prepare a dish in Spanish. Have children help you find items in kitchen while giving commands in Spanish.

• Participate in imaginary play with your children. This is a great opportunity for vocabulary rich conversation practice. Play House, Doctor, Police, etc.

The ideas are endless, but as long as you keep things fun, simple, and relevant to your child's life, the language learning will come alive!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February is Discover Languages Month!

The American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages has a fantastic campaign going on this month... Discover Languages! Visit the ACFL site for more information about the campaign and about learning languages.

There are SO many reasons to learn a language! Here are a few of our reasons we think it is important. Please feel free to tell us your reasons too!

1. To enhance your cognitive skills.
2. To enrich your life and learn about other cultures.
3. To give yourself a leading edge in the academic world.
4. To give yourself a leading edge in the professional world.
5. To improve your problem solving skills and mental flexibility.
6. To make travelling easier.
7. To communicate with neighbors and members of your community.
8. To have fun and to open your world to new ways of communication.

Why do you think it is important to learn other languages?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Easy Spanish Learning Activities for You and Your Kids!

5 Tips for Teaching your Child Spanish at Home

We all know that young children need to learn in a realistic, fun, and interactive environment. Many parents from our Bilingual Fun™ language program ask me how they may continue their language development at home. Here are 5 basic tips on how to teach your child Spanish at home:

Teaching Spanish Through Movement

Active learning is a key factor of language learning success. Children love to interact and choosing activities that have physical movement often helps children retain the language. You can create fun, easy Spanish lessons for kids through dancing and movement. I suggest doing the ever popular ‘freeze dance’. You can change the rules as you go along. Play music and when it stops, kids have to ‘freeze’. Give various commands as to what they have to do…. Count 1-20, count backwards, salta- jump, marcha- march, aplaude- clap, etc. Another way to incorporate movement is to make up hand and arm motions for opposites. Make large gestures for arriba/abajo, largo/corto, etc. Keep the children moving and you will see how quickly they pick up the new Spanish words.

Teaching Your Child Through Music

Teaching kids Spanish through music is very important. Fluency, pronunciation, and comprehension are reinforced by singing. You can pick thematic songs that correspond with words you are learning. There is lots of great children’s Spanish music to choose from. We recommend
Ms. Lily’s Spanish Sing Alongs which are full of bilingual songs covering tons of different vocabulary. Also, using familiar tunes to teach new phrases is a fun, easy way to teach Spanish. I have many original songs that I have made up and are favorites of my children. We use the tune of Frere Jacques, Skip to My Lou, Farmer in the Dell, and many more to create easy to sing along songs in Spanish. We incorporate colors, numbers, animals, family, etc. Children are able to quickly learn the songs because they have prior knowledge of the tune.

Make Their Learning Realistic

Whenever I can give children something tangible to hold during a song or activity really makes their learning realistic. For example, we sing a song called " La Fruta- Fruit". Every child has a plastic piece of fruit in their hands, and as the vocabulary is named in the song, they hold it up. Choose toys and objects that are favorites of your children. Incorporate them in your easy Spanish lessons. If they love cars, sort them by color and number. Or when playing with dolls or stuffed animals, give them all names and ask ‘ cómo se llama?”. If you have blocks, make towers and count in Spanish. Each time your child is playing, try to make their Spanish lesson relevant and realistic to their lives.

Teaching Through Reading

Reading and listening to books on tape are fantastic ways to enhance comprehension skills. If you are comfortable reading aloud in Spanish, take time each night to do story time in Spanish. You children will pick up new words and phrases. Be sure to reinforce by asking questions at the end to ensure their comprehension. A great resource for quality Spanish books for children is the Latin Baby Book Club. They send monthly suggestions and reviews of fabulous multicultural Latin inspired Spanish and bilingual books. If you are not comfortable reading aloud, but still want your children to be exposed to literature in Spanish, seek out some books on tape at your local library. Most libraries will have a nice selection and this is a favorite activity with my own children.

Keeping Learning Fun

When teaching young children anything, whether it is language or math skills, keeping things fun is important to help foster their interest. Play based learning is a great way to making learning Spanish easy for kids. Singing, dancing, movement, reading, etc should all be done in fun, natural environment. Incorporate outside play in your Spanish lessons for kids. Practice kicking the soccer ball and counting the goals in Spanish. Jump rope and count in Spanish. Play hopscotch in Spanish. Draw with chalk on the driveway and reinforce colors and common vocabulary by playing Pictionary. Blow bubbles and reinforce ‘arriba/abajo’. Play versions of “ Mother May I” and incorporate the numbers and ‘rapido/lento’. These are easy ways to incorporate fun as you are teaching kids Spanish.

Even with limited language skills, there are many ways that families can continue their child's development and exposure to the language. We recommend to use materials that incorporate music, movement, and fun activities, such as the Spanish for Children DVD series. Children are able to remain engaged and sing, chant, and repeat along with the children in the DVDs. Active learning while keeping things relevant to their lives, is a key factor of language learning success!