When facing the decision about what program or materials to use as a homeschool educator, you have to wade through a lot of mediocre products before you find the right fit. Every child is different and each will have their learning styles and preferences so sometimes you find yourself mixing and matching to make it work. The same could be said, I’m sure, of classroom teachers.
Today I’m sharing my review of a Spanish language curriculum resource, Musica Amiga, which can be used in both home and school settings.
Musica Amiga is a well-executed 10-CD and booklet collection with a teacher’s guide. The poems and songs in the collection were written by award-winning Hispanic children’s authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. Music was performed by Suni Paz and illustrations provided by Ulises Wensell. Although the components can be purchased separately, you can also find the entire set at Del Sol Books, where I obtained my copy of Musica Amiga 4: Corre Al Coro. Overall, this collection is a very good value at ~$140 for the set, and ~$18 for a single book/cd combo.
What Musica Amiga isn’t, is an all-in-one curriculum for Spanish language learners. What it is, is a high quality and enjoyable supplementary resource that can be used in conjunction with nearly every other program out there. Use it solo to promote language awareness and excite children about other cultures. Or use it as a component of a larger immersive experience.
The graphics and design of the booklets and CDs is appealing and child-friendly. The production quality of the audio is top-notch. Songs are catchy and fun and appealing to adults as well as children (in a way that a lot of children’s music albums aren’t). There is a clear stylistic homage to Spanish music from Spain with classical guitar and flamenco flourishes.
The teacher’s guide, while fantastic, is only available in Spanish. If you as the educator have a background in the language, I highly recommend this guide. It includes thematic literature connections and activities for every song in the program. Plus, more of Wensell’s beautiful illustrations.
While reviewing this program, I listened to the CD multiple times. The first time was just to get a feel for the songs and the quality of the audio production. The second time I followed along with the CD and the booklet to check the reliability of the text. The third, fourth, fifth, and so on times were for pure enjoyment. I like this CD!
Regarding Pre-Reader Engagement, I found this CD and booklet to be very young-child friendly. Although young children may not yet be able to read, the text is in a clean frill-less font that makes following along easy for those who are. The illustrations, as I mentioned before, are lovely and bright. For the youngest Spanish language learners, they provide good context for deciphering the meanings of the songs.
I would recommend any of the Musica Amiga materials to build phonemic awareness*, print motivation*, and Spanish vocabulary. These are ideal resources for most Spanish language programs and library storytimes.
Thanks to Rey at Del Sol Books who sent me my review copy.
And thanks to http://www.mommymaestra.com/ for use of the Musica Amiga book set photo. For those not in the know, Mommy Maestra is an excellent homeschooling resources and a place I used as a jumping-off point for my own research into Spanish Language programs for pre-readers.
*These terms are “library speak,” used by librarians and educators to talk about pre-reading skills and reading readiness. Phonemic awareness is a skill we acquire when very young; it is being able to recognize individual sounds and understand that words are composed of several of one or more of these sounds put together. Print Motivation is a skill wherein a child becomes curious about books and motivated to learn more.