Friday, May 14, 2010

Product Review: Hap Palmer Learn In Two Languages

I recently received Hap Palmer's brand new, educational CD: Learning In Two Languages / Aprendiendo en dos idiomas to review. It arrived the day before we headed out on a 6 hour mini-roadtrip so I thought it would be perfect to listen to while driving. My kids do a lot of learning in the van anyway, so this was perfect.

Hap Palmer is an American musician who writes educational songs that integrate music and movement. His music helps develop motor skills, improve language acquisition, encourage creativity, and develop reading readiness and math concepts. He has been well loved by schools and day-care centers for over 3 decades and helped write songs for the best-selling Baby Songs
video series. Other CD's of his include: Multiplication Mountain, Rhythms on Parade, and Learning Basic Skills Through Music.

His newest CD, Learning In Two Languages / Aprendiendo en dos idiomas was just released in May 2010. It is designed to help children ages 4 to 9 build vocabulary in both English and Spanish. The songs play first in ENglish and then in Spanish and at the end, are all the songs music soundtracks. Each song encourages the listener to participate in music and movement activities to help with the learning and enjoyment of the music. Palmer worked with several people, including certified ESL and Spanish teachers, a Spanish language educational expert, and in a bilingual classroom to develop these songs. The music introduces children to a wide range of "true" (as opposed to synthesized" musical instumnets including: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, flute, piccolo, violin, viola, cello, marimba, bongos, congas, tambourine and maracas. The listener is also exposed to variety of musical styles including jazz and mariachi. They cover a wide range of introductory vocabulary as well as early childhood educational topics such as: days of the week, animal sounds, opposites, clothing, and prepositions.

We enjoyed listening to the CD on our road trip, but the kids enjoyed it more when they were able to actually move around in our living room. For example, it was difficult to actively participate in the "What Are You Wearing?" song where the child is encouraged to stand up if they are wearing a certain article of clothing, while riding in the van. We did end up adapting the song to "raise your hand" instead, but they enjoyed it much more when they could really stand up. However, they loved looking all around in the van while listening to "Percival the Parrot". I also like that I can go to the Hap Palmer website and find all the lyrics and ideas for corresponding activities for each song, allowing me to further expound on the learning concept. This is actually available for all of Hap Palmer's CDs along with coloring pages for various songs, sheet music for many of the songs, and even instructions for making teaching aides such as scarves, hoops, and bean bags.

Do I recommend this product? Absolutely, and it is ideal for families as it helps even the youngest children learn basic skills while teaching those of all ages basic Spanish vocabulary. On the flip side, it would also be a great tool for those learning English as a second language. The CD itself is great, but the treasure trove of additional activities and information on the website, add to the value of this CD.

I received a free copy of this CD for review. No monetary compensation was received. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any outside source.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


______ Reading: Read this story about camping on a Gálapagos Island:

______ Writing: Write a story about what it would be like to live in the Amazon rain forest. (You may want to do the science assignment first)

______ Math:

· Rafael Correa became President of Ecuador on January 15, 2007. How many months has he been the President?

· The estimated population of Ecuador is 13,927,650 people. Tell me what this number is (13 million, 927 thousand, 650). Round the population to the nearest million (14 million/14,000,000). What is the value of the 2 (20,000)? What numer is in the hundreds place (6)?

______ Science: Ecuador is home to a portion of the Amazon rain forest. Read more about rain forests here: Write 10 facts about rain forests that you learned.

______ Service: Make a paper basket by following these instructions: Fill the basket with flowers or cookies or another treat, and give to someone as a gift.

______ Vocabulary/Spelling: Write each word 10 times and use each one in a sentence- sculpture, proverb, Ecuador, canopy

______ Health: The equator runs right through Ecuador, making it an area that gets lots of sun exposure. Take the sun safety quiz and do the activities found here: (note to parents- this is a teacher’s manual so you may want to print out the pages ahead of time, rather than have the child sift through all the pages)

______ Social Studies:

· Learn the capital of Ecuador and be able to locate Ecuador on a world map

· Print and color the flag of Ecuador:

______ Language Arts: A proverb is a short saying that teaches a life lesson. A common proverb in Ecuador is, “It is one thing to cackle and another to lay an egg.” What do you think that proverb means?

______ Domestic Arts: Potatoes grow abundantly in Ecuador. Llapingachos are one food that is made from the many potatoes. With an adult’s help, use this recipe to make a batch of llapingachos:

______ Art: Experiment with the Ecuadorean art form of masápan:

______ Music: Watch this video of a traditional Ecuadorian dance:

______ Spanish/ASL: Learn each word in Spanish and ASL- bread (el pan), art (arte), sculpture (la escultura), potato (el papa)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


______ Reading: Read about Carmen’s life in Mexico: and tell me 5 things you learn about Mexico.

______ Writing: French forces outnumbered the Mexican peasants nearly 3 to 1 at the Battle of Puebla. The French forces were more experienced at war and far better armed. But the rag-tag Mexican forces under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza were fighting to protect their homes and families.

If you were a Mexican peasant about to enter into a battle in which you knew you were greatly outnumbered and outarmed, how would you feel? Write a journal entry describing your feelings right before the attack.

The 6,000 French troops approaching Mexico City had anticipated no resistance. How do you think they felt when they were confronted by -- and lost to -- a far smaller army? Write a second journal entry from the perspective of a French soldier after the battle
. –from (there are more Cinco de Mayo language arts ideas on the web page as well)

______ Math:

______ Science: Watch this video about Monarch butterflies:

______ Service: Grandparents are revered in the Mexican culture. Make a treat or do a chore for one of your grandparents.

______ Vocabulary/Spelling: Write each word 10 times and use each one in a sentence- Mexico, monarch, Pacific

______ Health: Beans are one staple of the Mexican diet. As a vegetable, beans offer more protein and fiber than any other vegetable. They are also a good source of iron, magnesium, folate, and potassium. The My Pyramid food guide recommends that we eat 3 cups of beans each week. Choose one of the following recipes and make it:

- Refried Beans (no-fat, slow-cooker)

- Chili:

- Black Beans

______ Social Studies:

  • Be able to locate Mexico on a world map and to identify the capital (Mexico City) and the bodies of water on either side of it (Gulf of Mexico on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west)

______ Language Arts: Discuss the differences in titles for people in both English and Spanish. Men are usually addressed as Mister/Mr. in English and as Señor in Spanish. Married women are addressed as Mrs. or Ms in English and as Señora in Spanish. Single women are addressed as Miss in English and as Señorita in Spanish.

______ Domestic Arts: Make a piñata to use on Cinco de Mayo or for a future celebration:

______ Art: Make a God’s Eye: an craft made by the Huichol people of Mexico.

______ Music:

______ Spanish/ASL: Learn each word in Spanish and ASL- hello (hola), goodbye (adiós) and thank you (gracias)/you’re welcome (de nada)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mother's Day Unit

I finally have the first unit ready to post, although I am posting it a bit later than I had hoped. Please feel free to leave me feedback, positive or negative, about the new format and let me know what you like/dislike. I would love to hear any suggestions you may have as to how this can work better for you. Thanks for your patience.

Mother's Day

______ Reading: Read “The Search for the Good Child” and tell your mom what the story was about.

______ Writing: Use the questions found here: to interview your mother. Then write up a mini-biography from what you learn. This would be a nice gift to share with your mom.

______ Math: - Read this chart: and then answer the questions found here:

P______ Science: Turn a white flower into your mother’s favorite shade: Fill a vase ½ full of water and add food coloring to make your mom’s favorite color. Cut the stem of a white flower (carnations work well) at a 45 degree angle and place the flower in the water for about 24 hours. The colored water will travel up the stem and into the petals, changing the color of the flower.

______ Service: Help a younger sibling make a gift for your mother for Mother’s Day. Here are some ideas:

A Garden Rock-

Helping Hands-

Tissue Flowers-

______ Vocabulary/Spelling: Write each word 10 times and use each one in a sentence- corsage, carnation, maternal

______ Health: See mom for lesson (use this lesson plan: ***This is a lesson on the names and basic functions of the reproductive organs. The pictures to label are fairly detailed and the lesson has separate pictures for boys and girls. Depending on your child's age, maturity, and your personal feelings, you may or may not want to use this lesson plan and/or you may choose to only study the parts appropriate for your child's gender.***

______ Social Studies: Read about the history and symbols of Mother’s Day: Write a short report sharing what you have learned. Be sure to include Anna Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe in your report.

______ Language Arts: Make an acrostic for the word MOTHER. An acrostic is when a poem is written where the first letter of each line spells out another word, in this case that word will be MOTHER. There is an example at the top of this page:

______ Domestic Arts: Plan out a nice, yet healthy, breakfast that you can make your mother on mother’s day. Be sure to serve it to her in bed and decorate the tray to look nice.

______ Art: Design a card for your mother for Mother’s Day. You can even include the acrostic you created for language arts.

______ Music: Create a special song for your mom by changing the words to a song you already know, such as a nursery rhyme. You can find some examples here:

______ Spanish/ASL (or whatever language you may be working on): Learn each word in Spanish and ASL- mother, love, flower (In Spanish mother= la madre, love= amor, flower= la flor)