Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Check Out These Hands-On Learning Books to Teach Your Kids All About Hispanic American History and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera - Great Resources for Homeschool Families! (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent review copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

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It wasn't until I started homeschooling my girls, who are part Latina (as my husband is originally from El Salvador), that I found myself discovering that most of the school textbooks (even dating back to when I was in primary school) didn't touch about Latino History and/or famous people of Latin American or Mexican decent.  I remember first learning about Frida Kahlo in college, when I was taking an art appreciation course and had to choose an artist to cover.  I ended up choosing Diego Rivera, while my now husband was covering Frida Kahlo.  We visited a local museum hoping to find artwork by these two artists and was surprised that they didn't have any. **  If you want to check out works by Frida Kahlo, they are on exhibit in NYC right now  at the Brooklyn Museum- hopefully we will be able to take the girls soon to see Frida's work in person.

Not being able to find original artwork by Frida Kahlo or Diego Rivera, we had to rely of art books from the library to check out their pieces, which they were known for.  I found myself falling in love with these two artists, especially Diego Rivera, who would create murals with a social message.  So, when I decided to homeschool my girls over 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to included Latino History and art appreciation in our studies, so that they could see famous Latinos who make a mark in history, and who are not usually mentioned in our textbooks or books for school aged children.  So, when I found that IPG Books (Independent Publishes Group) had "Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas, 24 Activities" and "A Kid's Guide to Latino History, More than 50 Activities," I had to get my hands on these two books, to share with my girls and incorporate in our homeschooling.

Here is more about these two books, which are a must have for homeschool families, especially ones with Latino roots, like my girls...

"A Kid’s Guide to Latino History features more than 50 hands-on activities, games, and crafts that explore the diversity of Latino culture and teach children about the people, experiences, and events that have shaped Hispanic American history. Kids can:* Fill Mexican cascarones for Easter* Learn to dance the merengue from the Dominican Republic* Write a short story using “magical realism” from Columbia* Build Afro-Cuban Bongos* Create a vejigante mask from Puerto Rico* Make Guatemalan worry dolls* Play Loteria, or Mexican bingo, and learn a little Spanish* And much more Did you know that the first immigrants to live in America were not the English settlers in Jamestown or the Pilgrims in Plymouth, but the Spanish? They built the first permanent American settlement in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. The long and colorful history of Latinos in America comes alive through learning about the missions and early settlements in Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, and California; exploring the Santa Fe Trail; discovering how the Mexican-American War resulted in the Southwest becoming part of the United States; and seeing how recent immigrants from Central and South America bring their heritage to cities like New York and Chicago. Latinos have transformed American culture and kids will be inspired by Latino authors, artists, athletes, activists, and others who have made significant contributions to American history."

224 PAGES, 11 X 8.5
TRADE PAPER, $16.95 (US $16.95) (CA $18.95)
ISBN 9781556527715

"Children will find artistic inspiration as they learn about iconic artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in these imaginative and colorful activities. The art and ideas of Kahlo and Rivera are explored through projects that include painting a self-portrait Kahlo-style, creating a mural with a social message like Rivera, making a Day of the Dead ofrenda, and crafting an Olmec head carving. Vibrant illustrations throughout the book include Rivera's murals and paintings, Kahlo's dreamscapes and self-portraits, pre-Columbian art and Mexican folk art, as well as many photographs of the two artists. Children will learn that art is more than just pretty pictures; it can be a way to express the artist's innermost feelings, a source of everyday joy and fun, an outlet for political ideas, and an expression of hope for a better world. Sidebars will introduce children to other Mexican artists and other notable female artists. A time line, listings of art museums and places where Kahlo and Rivera's art can be viewed, and a list of relevant websites complete this cross-cultural art experience."

9 & UP
160 PAGES, 11 X 8 1/2
TRADE PAPER, $17.95 (US $17.95) (CA $25.95)
ISBN 9781556525698

Too bad the "Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Their Lives and Ideas" book was not available when I was in college, as it would have made my class assignment easier to do, and more interesting, as I really liked the 24 hands of activities that are included in the book, for readers to get a better understanding and appreciation of these two famous artists.  

We have been using these two books in our homeschooling for the past couple months, and I am amazed at not only how much my girls have learned about Latino, but also what I also learned, too.  Like I said, I don't recall learning about Latino history in school, except maybe about Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on my birthday. There is a nice Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) recipe that kids can make to celebrate this Mexican holiday in the "Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Their Lives and Ideas" book.  Other fun activities in this book include:

  • Kahlo-style self portrait
  • Picture Hunting
  • Portrait Gone Wild
  • Powerful Pictures and Poems
  • Fresco Painting
  • Fool the Eye
  • Painting Mastery
My girls completed all the activities in this book, and loved the all. They really did help apply what they had learned in each section by getting a hands-on experience of things like making a self portrait like Frida is known for.  You can't help but get inspired by these two artists, whose art was an expression of hope for a better world.

In addition to the "Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Their Lives and Ideas" book, the "A Kid's Guide to Latino History, More than 50 Activities" was another great book from Chicago Review Press, to introduce kids of all ages to the diversity of Latino culture, while also teaching them about people, experiences and events that shaped Hispanic American history.  My husband who is from El Salvador, ended up sifting through this book before I shared it with the girls.  He had found that many so-called Latino history books geared towards kids really didn't include accurate information, or swayed more to covering European events and figures in history even though the books were supposed to be able Latino history.  After reading through the whole book, including the 50+ hands on activities, he came to tell me his thoughts.  He was all smiles so I knew before he opened his mouth that they liked this book.  But, then he started to share why he liked it, and how it was set up in a great way, to make learning about Hispanic American history fun for young learners (7+ years old).  

These are just some of the activities you will find in this book:
  • Fill Mexican cascarones for Easter
  • Learn to dance the merengue from the Dominican Republic
  • Write a short story using "magical realism" from Columbia
  • Build Afro-Cuban bongos
  • Play loteria, or Mexican bingo, and learn a little Spanish
  • Make Guatemalan worry dolls
  • Create a vejigante mask from Puerto Rico
My husband has tried to teach my girls Spanish, but they have been reluctant in wanting to learn.  They can count, know their numbers and basic greeting phrases, but that is about it.  But, after using this book with them, and having them learn more Spanish, they have since asked my husband to teach them more.  They love that they can trill their R's like him, and said Spanish is fun to learn.

In addition to getting excited and wanting to learn more Spanish, the girls really enjoyed learning about many Latinos have helped to transform American culture.  They also learned that the first immigrants to live in America were actually the Spanish, and not the English settlers in Jamestown or the Pilgrims in Plymouth, like most European textbooks share.  The first Spanish immigrants actually settled in St. Augustine, FL back in 1565.  This is just one fun fact about Hispanic American history that kids will learn when you pick up and share "A Kid's Guide to Latino History, More than 50 Activities with them.  And, the activities are all fun, and help with the learning process and getting kids excited to learn about Latino History. Even reluctant students and those who are not fans of history (like my oldest), will find themselves wanting to learn more and do all the fun hands on activities in the book.

I have been using these "A Kid's Guide..." books from Chicago Review Press, and have loved all the books.  Out of all the ones we have reviewed and used in our schooling, I have to say that these two books are my favorites. 

My girls really did gain a lot from them, and wanted to continue to learn more outside of the books, when we wrapped up our studies. I highly recommend these two books and others from Chicago Review Press if you homeschool.

Disclosure: I was sent review copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

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