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!