Summer Fun Ideas

Coming from the Andes, I have learned to enjoy the heat of Summer season and to make the most of it.  Also, as a homeschooler, I like Summer to be an opportunity for learning.
Goals for the season
  • Enjoy the Summer as a family.
  • Speak more Spanish as a family.
  • Read in Spanish and English to the children.
  • Study Science and Art.
  • Outdoor activities.
  • Research Books and Curriculum for the coming School Year.
  • Spend the least amount of money possible.
Activities we did, we are doing and we will be doing to get to our goals.
  • El huerto! The vegetable garden has taught us a lot!. It is nice to see how much pride the kids take once they harvest the fruit of their work and share with the family.
  • A Scarecrow is a must.
  • Flower picking, they love to decorate our table with the flowers they grew or with the wild flowers they picked. 
  • Playing with sand, if you have small kids and space for a sand box. Sand is a great thing to have. The best, you can rinse them off outside, without worrying if they get cold.
  • Bubble time, we will make our own bubbles.
  • Park time, they just love going to the park, ride their bikes, feed ducks and the playground.
  • Set dates to meet with other friends that we do not get to see often.
  • Biblioteca, libraries are a wonderful resource of productive fun.  Ours, besides the summer reading program has crafts, puppets, legomania and lots of fun.
  • Latinas for Latino Literature has launched an amazing Summer Reading Program, I already signed up my kiddos for it!
  • Insect Collection, my kids love to collect insects. We will get books from the library to study what they find.
  • Rock Collection, let them get library books related to rocks. My kids can dig treasures and look for cool rocks all day long!
  • Cooking, they love making and creating their own recipes, fruit salads, salads and sandwiches.
  • I should train them to wash the dishes also.
  • Painting is the perfect summer outdoor activity.
  • Hiking and playing scavenger hunts there. Better yet, I will ask them to create the rules for the hunt.
  • Swimming lessons
  • Camping as a family, I may even let them sleep in the backyard. 
  • Vacation Bible Schools.
  • Zoo Time, I am foreseeing a trip to DC.
  • Museum time.
  • Lightening Bugs, they just love late nights to catch fireflies.
  • We will bring the fireflies inside in a mason jar, to lighten up their room.
  • Play dough time, my kids love play dough. 
  • Fire works, July the Fourth is a perfect time to enjoy fireworks.
  • Going to the Carnival, somehow they just love it.
  • Lemonade Stand. On Saturdays lemonade can be a good thing to sell.
  • Did I mention selling? perhaps I could organize a yard sale, they can practice math, social skills and economics.
  • Observe Birds. We are going in full swing with the birds, and they love it. 
  • Observe the stars, look ahead if there is an eclipse or astronomy event coming soon.
  • Build our own bird feeder, or perhaps 2.
  • Build a bird house, or perhaps 2.
  • Bathe the dog, they think is cool to do it.
  • Take them to a lake or river to enjoy nature.
  • Take them fishing.
  • Take them berry picking.
  • Have picnics in the backyard.
  • Paint rocks with vegetable names on them to decorate the huerta or garden.
  • Roast Smores.
  • Take care of tad poles. It can be gross for a city mommy but kids love to see the frog / toad cycle. They are already naming the frogs they found anyway.
  • If we go to the beach, we will collect shells and I will make sure to do some art project with them.
  • Take walks on the beach  at sunrise and at sunset.
  • Teach them to take pictures of their Summer activities.
  • Encourage them to keep a diary of their summer days.
  • Work together on their own photo album.
  • We must take them to the Drive Inn, we have one very close to our home.
Have you noticed I have not mention Television or Computers? It is simple, kids need fresh air and they especially need share time with me and my husband.  Can you think of more activities to add to the list? More ideas are welcome!

Time to re-organize and re-plan in Español

10 years ago, when I did not have any children, a good friend of my husband was trying to convinced me to homeschool my future kids and do it in Spanish.  At that time I thought he was crazy, but now, I look back and I think he was right I should have done it all in Spanish.

I am homeschooling yes, his craziness was contagious, but I should have used more Spanish with my kids.  Living with my in laws, made a big difference in our Spanish.  Even my Spanish tongue has acquired an accent. I do not sound American, but I have been told that I have an accent.

I started to train my kids bilingual brains since they were babies, even before they were born I spoke Spanish to them.  But once we started to be more submerged in an English environment, in which I am the only Spanish speaker, the things started to change and they started to slow down in their Spanish acquisition process.

Our Starting Point as today,

Even though Spanish and Spanglish are in our everyday school time, here is where we are today:

They can understand any daily conversation and instruction in Spanish.  Yes, my husband and I need another secret language.

They use Spanglish in their day.

Great vocabulary, can recognize sounds and relate to things easily.

To my boys, I made sure to teach them to read through phonics (SWR and Veritas Press K and First Grade) and dictation.  And, I did my own cards for the Spanish Phonograms.  Thankfully, a lot of the sounds are the same, so I had to add a few extra sounds and structure.  It is easier to learn to read and write in Spanish that it is in English.
My older boy can read and understand it, and if I dictate it slowly he can also write.  He does not feel comfortable speaking in Spanish.  And I have to make him do it, sadly it does not come naturally.

My second boy complains of ear aches if I speak just Spanish for a long time, I know he can understand it.  He is also reluctant to Speak it, even during his once a week co-op class.

My older girl speaks English and Spanglish, and tries very hard to speak Spanish to please me.  She is learning her letters and sounds in both languages.  And she is not having any problems so far.

And the youngest cracks me up, she tells me, “I can not hear you, speak like me”.  I guess she gets more English from everybody in the house, but me. And she is trying to convinced me to join her team.


Today, March 4rd 2013 as a good homeschool mom,  I am going to change the weekly routine again. I will Introduce “oficially” Spanish as a daily group class.

Even though, I just have one first grader, I think this book will work. The book we will use is Coquito Integrado for first grade.

Why this book?  I have chosen this book because:

  • I already have it, and I like to use what I have.
  • It teaches to read through syllabic sounds. Lectura por Columnas and Pictures of the words.
  • It has components that I believe will encourage conversation.
  • Pictures that show action and a Personal Social Area for discussion.
  • Vocabulary
  • Sound recognition.
  • Teaches to count, that is always good to review.
  • The pictures are very cute.
  • Rhymes, are always good.

Well, I guess I will be telling you more about my Spanish class in my Spanglish house. And see if my new experiment works.

Have a good week, Lord willing mine will be exciting!


If you can not access Spanish – English homeschooling resources

When I started to teach my kids at home, I had set in my mind that even though Spanish was my first language, the school taught at home must be in English. These were the reasons that 4 years ago set my mind,

  • We leave in the States, they must speak English and Spanish, being English their first language (especialmente porque solo uno de los cuatro adultos en la casa es hispano hablante).
  • Most of the available books are in English
  • Most of the curricula is in English
  • English is going to bring them more opportunities in their future life and studies, everywhere..
  • Eso si! Spanish with mom must be used most of the time, but during school time.

However, and as the time went by, I started to change things around. Somethings, I just wouldn’t know how to explain them in English. So, I started to quick in some Español. Here are the changes we have made so far.

  • Phonics, we do it in English first and then in Spanish.
  • Mathematics, I drill in Spanish.
  • We count in Spanish and English
  • Shapes, both languages.
  • Measurements, in both languages
  • If I read the Math  problem, I do it in Spanish. If they read it, it can be in English.
  • Spanish cognates, help a lot to quick some Español in our English Homeschool day.
  • Grammar, sometimes I talk about el Verbo, el Sujeto y el Predicado. The structure and parts of a sentence are similar.
  • Vocabulary time, can be with both dictionaries. An English dictionary and a Spanish dictionary.
  •  Science, Geography and History. Even though our curricula is in English, I always show them Latin words or names of places that have Spanish in it.
  • Play games in Spanish, they love it.
  • Libraries, have some Spanish material. Not a big selection, but a few books is better that nothing.
  • TV, we do not have cable, and I am picky with what we watch. So I use DVD’s from our local library. The best of all is that you can change the language set to Spanish.
  • And of course the internet, that has many valuable resources.
  • We have some Spanish language lessons.
  • Listen to Music in Spanish.

Results I have gotten so far.

  • They understand what I read, and what they read.
  • Their English Speaking Grammar has a lot of Spanish Structure. Americans do not like it, but I love it. That is why we study English Grammar as a subject right?
  • Even though, they do not want to speak much Spanish. They can understand it.  I believe I can solve that problem going to visit home for 6 months.
  • They like Sylvio Rodriguez.
  • They use a lot of bolivianismos in their vocabulary.
  • They are growing accepting other cultures and races as part of God’s Creation, the best is that they love it.



Bilingual Homeschooling

Since my husband and I were expecting our first child, we would talk to him in Spanish and English. When he was born we chose a name that sounded normal in both languages.  We did the same with our other three children.  In fact, we chose Hebrew names that sounded pretty normal in both languages.

Before starting homeschooling, we went to a well known Christian Educational Program that was having an Open House.  The people saw me, Hispanic pregnant lady with three little ones, and suggested “you must get involved in our educational program. We bring the lessons to your house through our daily video classes”.  They tried to sell us a relief package!!!!  As my husband and I were walking to the car we did not know if we should feel relieved or overwhelmed.  Besides, we wanted something in which I could be active teaching my kids, in Spanish and English.

A good friend of ours suggested,  “slow down and enjoy the ride”.  So we did, I went to a used curriculum Homeschool sale.  When I started to talk to the people that were selling and buying the books, I started to feel more confident about the whole homeschooling business.  Next thing you know, I was buying my first teachers book!!! Saxon Math K.   My though was, I can always translate any math problem to Spanish. That is what I still do today.


Saxon K



Another friend invited me to her SWR (Spell to Write and Read) Seminar. I went, I liked the program and I bought the book.  I have to confess, my Spanish language tongue had to learn to move differently in order to make the sounds English has.

Phonics, Sonidos


Guess what? I started to use it in both languages!  I did more in English than in Spanish, but Spanish has less phonograms than English does. Anyway, kid 1 and kid 2 are reading in both languages.

I still have to work in their ability to communicate better.  They pretty much speak English and Spanglish, but they can read and understand what they read,