Sunday, November 30, 2014

Decorative and Delicious Candy Jar

I love checking out the Target dollar section. It's been a while since I've been able to browse the items, mostly because I've been avoiding stores/buying items because Manuel and I have been looking for a house. Thankfully we finally went through the process and I am so grateful we closed on a home last week, right before Thanksgiving.

Before I go off on a tangent about that, I wanted to keep going with the dollar section at Target. They have such cute things for all seasons, and I've purchased prizes and items to use in craft and science programs at the library, such as kitchen scales and Halloween socks. Sometimes they have really cute jars - all shapes and sizes - to use for crafts, and I bought a beautiful jar (this one was $3) and some holiday candy to fill it up with.

Mostly it's for my family to enjoy and to have as a holiday centerpiece at the table. I also found some peppermint bark bells and some Peanuts holiday crunch bells. Very cute!

It's nice seeing the red, green, and silver candies in the jar. And I wanted to include this awesome Hershey's Kiss Santa Hat in this post, just because it is so clever to have the kiss shaped like a Santa hat, with HO HO HO on the white strip of paper. This one is a little large, which I think makes it even cuter. I love when they make larger than usual kisses.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Angry Birds

Angry Birds have been really big for some time now. There are Early Readers with Angry Birds/Star Wars crossovers, and we have been getting a lot of National Geographic/Angry Birds nonfiction science books for children that I really love. I think kids see Angry Birds on the cover and check them out, and I'm really glad because I hope this helps them become interested in animals, dinosaurs, and other topics.

I'd collected a bunch of Angry Birds stuff (posters, postcards, stickers, etc) for some time and I thought they would make great giveaways at an Angry Birds program. I found a treasure trove of printables at this awesome website and printed out some of the boxes with handles. I cut off the handles while making them so they could just be cube boxes. The TNT boxes came from this website and a good tutorial for the popsicle stick catapult can be found at this cool site

I found the little bouncy Angry Birds balls shown on the catapult site, but they were really expensive. Oriental Trading has some Crazy Bird Molded Bouncing Balls that were cheap and fit perfect in the bottle cap of the catapult.

Here are some images of the final products, and you can see some really awesome kid lined up his Crazy Bird balls to take a turn on the catapult.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hispanic Themed Halloween Costumes

If you're looking for some cool Hispanic-themed Halloween costumes, look no further! Try some of these ideas:

Famous Mexican Characters:


Characters from El Chavo del Ocho

La India Maria

A Loteria Card or Character

Historical Figures

Emiliano Zapata

Pancho Villa

And of course, a beautiful Day of the Dead mask or painted face is always lovely to look at, and some places, such as Wal-Mart, have full costumes and accessories!

Feliz dia de brujas!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sock Creatures

The idea for this little guy is from Fun with Fabric by Annalees Lim.

Google Eyes
Pipe Cleaner

I found the Halloween socks and ribbon (and the Halloween eraser he's holding) in the Target dollar section.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Crafts for Hispanic Heritage Month

These are great books if you are looking for crafts for Hispanic Heritage month, or to study world cultures, ancient civilizations such as the Aztec and Inca, or to celebrate holidays such as Dia de los Muertos or Cinco de Mayo.

25 Latino Craft Projects
Ana-Elba Pavon, Diana Borrego

Hispanic-American Crafts Kids Can Do!
Fay Robinson

Manualidades con cilindros de cartón
Bernadette Theulet-Luzié

Multicultural Art Activities: From the Cultures of Africa, Asia and North America
Darlene Ritter

This fall I am doing two bilingual story times and for the first time I will be adding on a craft at the end which I am very excited about.

The first craft will be a shaker made out of a toilet paper roll. Kids can put masking tape on one end, put in a little rice, cover the other end with masking tape, and then cover the roll with a colorful paper that they can pick out of a bunch I printed out. This is the example I created along with some of the colorful papers in the background.

The second story will take place at the beginning of November, so I thought a great craft would be a paper sugar skull mask. I found this awesome template over at (sadly it looks like it's a little more difficult to find now).

Happy crafting!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Moon Festival

I thought September would be a great time to post these two books, since the mid-autumn moon festival falls in September. This year it fell on September 8.

Thanking the Moon
Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Grace Lin

A young girl and her family celebrate the moon and give thanks in this book. Beautifully  illustrated by Grace Lin, the book can be read aloud or quietly and maintains a calm, peaceful tone. We are also given background information about the festival and about the many things the family takes to celebrate the moon, such as mooncakes and lanterns. A very beautiful and informative picture book for all ages.

Loretta Seto
ill by Renne Benoit

A beautiful story about a young girl and her family, this book also shows some of the traditions that families have when celebrating the Chinese Moon Festival. A young girl and her family make mooncakes and hang lanterns and look up towards the moon under its light. Her parents tell her about the woman who lives on the moon, a woodcutter named Wu-Gang, and Jade Rabbit.

These books have lovely illustrations, stories, and cultural information, and would be amazing paired together or read individually.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hispanic Heritage Month

"Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America." (

Check out some of these books we posted about at the library!

Also, happy 1 year anniversary to Libros Rancheros!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Animal Shapes

Great as a preschool activity about animals, shapes, or both! I take advantage of any opportunity to insert facts and science into activities, and here I included facts about each of the animals.

This last image just shows a couple of other possibilities with circles.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

La última muñeca / The Last Doll

The Last Doll / La última muñeca
By / Por Diane Gonzales Bertrand
Illustrations by / Ilustraciones por Anthony Accardo
Spanish translation by / Traducción al español por Alejandra Balestra

This book brought the song “La Última Muñeca” to my mind when I first saw it. As a child I constantly heard this song, a very sad song about a father who buys his daughter her last doll, but doesn’t show it to her in the end, because he realizes that his daughter is now a young woman. This book starts off with a doll named Sarita who gets looked over at a toy story. Finally a gentleman buys her for a special occasion – the Quinceañera of his goddaughter Teresa. The party is shown beautifully – mariachis are playing and there is an arch where the dancers walk through, and the cake even has the small staircases that are often used in cakes for a girl’s fifteenth birthday in Hispanic culture. This book is very nostalgic. The writing is well done and the illustrations are very beautiful, with characters portrayed realistically. It makes me wish Sarita was a real doll that was available for purchase for special occasions. I’m very glad this book is around to celebrate the traditions of the 15th birthday in Hispanic culture. A must-have for Spanish collections.

Make sure to check out the lyrics to the song I mentioned earlier:

Nunca nos damos cuenta de cómo un rosal crece
Hasta el día en que florece la rosa una mañana
Quisiéramos que fueran nuestros hijos, niños siempre
Pero de repente, un día, les brotan alas
Hoy le compré a mi niña, el último juguete
No me había dado cuenta, de lo que ya creció
Se acabo el entusiasmo, ya se acabó aquel brete
De a ver qué trajo papi, ahora que volvió
Hoy le compré a mi niña, el último juguete
No me había dado cuenta, de lo que ya creció

Hoy, que me dió el abrazo de bienvenida
Noté que está mas alta, y que se perfumó
Cómo pasaron cosas, en unos cuantos días
Obra maravillosa, se hizo rosa el botón

Hoy le compré a mi niña, la última muñeca
No me había dado cuenta, se está haciendo mujer
Hoy le compré a mi niña, la última muñeca
La última muñeca, y ni se la enseñé

Y ahora se pasa, horas y horas en los espejos
Ella se mira de frente, de espalda, de perfil
Ahora ya ni me dice, papi cuéntame un cuento
Y a veces, ni me besa cuando se va a dormir

Hoy, que me dio el abrazo de bienvenida
Noté que está mas alta, y que se perfumó
Cómo pasaron cosas, en unos cuantos días
Obra maravillosa, se hizo rosa el botón

Hoy le compré a mi niña, la última muñeca
No me había dado cuenta, se está haciendo mujer
Hoy le compré a mi niña, la última muñeca
La última muñeca, y ni se la enseñé

LetsSingIt - Your favorite Music Community

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Calavera Abecedario

Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book
Jeanette Winter

I really love many of Jeanette Winter’s books. Her illustrations, for me, capture the color and vibrancy in Mexican culture. This book is a perfect example of that. Every color on every page, every different calavera and their profession, is perfect. This book reminds me of the books by Cynthia Weill, because it introduces the reader to a Mexican artisan and their body of work. We learn about Don Pedro, who makes skeletons for the Dia de los Muertos celebrations every year. He works tirelessly day after day with his family to make countless skeletons. We are shown an alphabet-full of skeletons, from Doctor to Quimico to Unicornio to Vaquero, all incredibly detailed. At the end of the celebrations, Don Pedro goes back home and wakes the next day to begin his work again in preparation for the next year (reminds me a little of Santa Claus). The end describes Mexican celebrations and tells us about Don Pedro Linares and his famous cartoneria creations. His children now carry on the tradition of creating these festive skeletons. A unique presentation of an artisan and his craft, the alphabet, different professions, and Mexican traditions.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Land of Lost Things / Lupita's First Dance

The Land of Lost Things / El País de las Cosas Perdidas
Dina Bursztyn

We follow the narrator as they travel to the Land of Lost Things, a place where buttons, pencils, and other things go when we cannot find them. Pencils become trees in a forest, scissors become butterflies, umbrellas can be found in a garden, and a flock of socks is playing in the wind. The narrator interacts with the items, until finally they arrive back in their own world. This is a very nice story that everyone will have fun reading, especially if you know of the feeling of being unable to find that lost sock pair. The imagination of the narrator is full of creativity, and will inspire children to use their own imaginations.

Lupita’s First Dance / El Primer Baile de Lupita
Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Ill. by Gabhor Utomo

Lupita's class will be giving a performance of ‘La Raspa’ and this will be Lupita's first time dancing in front of an audience. Her mother helps her with her dress, and she practices with her partner. When the night of the dance arrives, Lupita's partner cannot make it to the dance! She is so disappointed, but as she watches the pairs dance on stage, a sudden impulse pushes her on the stage with them, and she dances beautifully. I love how the dresses are illustrated and how Lupita's family supports her so much, from helping her with her dress to attending the performance. The disappointment in Lupita's face is shown so clearly you cannot help but feel sad for her. And the incredible courage it took for Lupita to dance on stage by herself makes you want to cheer for her. A very good story about doing what you love.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family

Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family
Cynthia Weill
Paper mache by Jesús Canseco Zárate

Like Cynthia Weill's other books, Mi Familia Calaca is bright, vibrant, colorful, and perfect for learning words in Spanish and English. Anita, a young skeleton girl, introduces us to her family: brothers, parents, grandparents, great-grandmother, and pets. She says something about each one of them: her brother can be a troublemaker, and her pets are her best friends. This book is crisp and clear and very good for beginning readers. This book also introduces us to the paper mache artwork of Jesús Canseco Zárate, who did a wonderful job of crafting each of the family members. Beautiful!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Little Car / Mi Carrito

My Little Car / Mi Carrito
Gary Soto
Ill. by Pam Paparone

Teresa receives a gift from her Abuelo Benito: a small green lowrider car that she can power by pedaling. It is the envy of the neighborhood, and Teresa receives many compliments. As time goes on, however, Teresa begins to ignore her little car, and soon it is falling apart. Teresa's little sister asks for the car, but Teresa says no. She takes it out for a ride, and is surprised by a dog, who chases her down the block. Teresa pedals as hard as she can and her ltitle carrito pulls through without falling apart. Realizing her neglect, Teresa begins to fix her little car, and soon her grandpa Benny arrives. The car is in such bad shape that he cannot recognize it. He helps Teresa fix her car and they make it look good as new. I loved the colorful illustrations of this picture book, and while I like the scene of the dog chase because it made Teresa realize how dependable her car was, I feel that there could have been another way for her to realize the value of the car. At the same time, this book accurately portrays the way some people really like something in the beginning, only to forget about it soon after, and teaches about appreciating what you have.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

More Interesting Articles

These were some very interesting articles from listservs I follow.

Salon: #WeNeedDiverseBooks goes viral

Lee and Low Books: Where Can I Find Great Diverse Children's Books?

New York Public Library: Celebrating Diverse Children's Books: These Stories Dazzle and Reflect

NPR - New Initiative Aims to Encourage Diversity in Kids' Publishing

Teen Librarian Toolbox: Dear Media: Let Me Help You Write That Article on YA Literature

Anne Ursu: On 'The John Green Effect,' Contemporary Realism, and Form as a Political Act

Zetta Elliott, The Huffington Post: It's Not Me, It's You: Letting Go of the Status Quo

There is also a great list of Native authors and illustrators by Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature, and this is the link to her WeNeedDiverseBooks post.

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: a Migrant's Tale

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: a Migrant’s Tale
Duncan Tonatiuh
The rains have not come, and Pancho Rabbit's father and some of the other workers have to travel to El Norte to find work. When he is about to return Pancho's family plans a big party, but they never arrive. Pancho knows that there is something wrong, so he asks a Coyote to help him get to the North. The path is long and difficult, and Pancho has to pay the Coyote in food that he had planned to give his father. Soon, Pancho runs out of food, and the Coyote makes plans to eat the rabbit instead! Thankfully, Pancho's father and his friends are nearby and hear Pancho's yell for help, and the Coyote flees. Pancho, his father, and his father's friends go back home now that Pancho has learned the way.

This book is really a treasure, and a necessity. Using animal characters, especially the Coyote in the role of the "Coyote," was a really good idea that will help children see the plight of the migrants who make the difficult journey North for work. The story conveys the fact that many people who come to work in the United States as migrants do not always have a choice; there is simply no work for them back home. They have to stay away from their families for long periods, and the journey here and back is very difficult. And, sadly, the Coyote can sometimes turn out to be a villain in disguise. By telling the story from Pancho Rabbit's point of view, we see the worry families go through when their loved ones leave, and when, unfortunately, some never return.

This is a very serious and sad part of life for many migrant families, and this book conveys the reality and hardships undertaken for a better life in a way that young children can understand.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Diversity and Multicultural Books

School Library Journal has a really great variety of articles in this month's journal, many focusing on diversity. You can check out some of the features on the web:

Landing page for May 2014: The Diversity Issue

Article: We Need Diverse Books...But Are We Willing to Discuss Them With Our Kids?

Feature: An Expanded Cultural Diversity Booklist: SLJ Readers Respond

There are a great number of multicultural books featured throughout the journal. One example is Don’t Say a Word, Mamá, featured in an article focusing on summer reading for K-3.

Along the same lines, Booklist just had a great webinar titled "Reaching All Readers: New Multicultural Books for Children and Teens." If you visit their webinar archive, the webinar should be available next week. There were great handouts and a list of books from each publisher was also provided. A great resource!

I'd like to take a few moments to include some book covers of some of my favorite multicultural books. I've previously mentioned The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales, but these are just three of my favorites as well. Give them a try if you can!

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin

Cat Girl's Day Off, Kimberly Pauley

Who Am I Without Him? A Collection of Stories about Girls and the Boys in their Lives, Sharon G. Flake

Saturday, May 3, 2014