Pin Pon: Surprising facts about the popular song

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Pin Pon: Surprising facts about the popular song

By Nuria Santamaría Wolfe

For generations, children across Latin America have sung along to “Pin Pon,” the “cardboard doll” that helps kids learn about manners.  The popular song describes how Pin Pon washes his face with soap and water, brushes his hair without making a fuss, and goes on to describe the actions of this well-behaved boy throughout his day. 

From this catchy and charming song you might have learned the behavior your Latina mom expected of you from personal hygiene, to table manners, to completing schoolwork.  But did you ever learn the origin of this peculiar “muñeco de cartón”?

Pin Pon was the brainchild of Jorge Guerra, a Chilean actor, director, and academic.  Guerra developed the character and acted as Pin Pon in the children’s television show by the same name. Launched in 1968, the show initially aired on the Chilean TV station Canal 13. In 1971, the show moved to the government-owned TVN.  

In the TV show, Guerra dressed up as the character Pin Pon, donning a color outfit and face make-up reminiscent of a clown.  He interacted with the show’s famous pianist Valentín Trujillo, as he sang original songs that helped kids learn about manners, habits, and values.  The show aired until 1974 when Guerra was exiled during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.  

Nevertheless, exile was not enough to end the era of Pin Pon; the beloved character that was born in Chile traveled across Latin America to delight, entertain and educate kids across the continent through the iconic song.  

The character has become such a cultural phenomenon that we even find a reference in Disney’s blockbuster movie ‘Shrek’.  When discussing children’s characters, the Spanish language version of the movie replaces the Gingerbread Man’s question to Lord Farquad: “Do you know the Muffin Man?” to the question in Spanish: “¿Conoces a Pin Pon?”

Given the importance of Pin Pon, Encantos has developed its own version of the beloved character, bringing it to life through animated YouTube videos, bilingual board books, and in the Canticos Bilingual Preschool app.  Check out these learning resources and more in both English and Spanish to introduce your bilingual babies to Pin Pon in two languages. 

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Great ways to start start bilingual education for kids ages 0-5

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Great ways to start start bilingual education for kids ages 0-5

By Sophia Espinoza

Parents often ask us when the best time is to start bilingual education. Research suggests the earlier, the better. That being said, it can feel like a daunting task to plan language enrichment activities for your child. At Encantos, we know that parents are children’s first teachers, so we’re here to help! 

General Recommendations

For children of any age and proficiency level, it’s important to be exposed to a second language as much and as often as possible. There is no secret formula, no minimum amount of time required to make them fluent. The important things to keep in mind are:

  • What activities does your child genuinely enjoy doing and how can you incorporate their second language into them?
  • What is sustainable for your family?

Each family’s time and resources are different. Do the best you can and know that’s enough! If you feel you want to do more, try making small incremental changes that suit your family. 

Here are some ideas from a number of  developmental and language learning standards to help you find simple ways to  expose your pollito to Spanish at any age.

Children Ages 0-1

At this age, simple auditory exposure to another language is helpful. It’s as easy as listening! Try playing Spanish music or Spanish language television to your little one. (Our Canticos songs and videos are perfect for this, because they repeat in English and Spanish.) 

If you have a Spanish speaker in the household, encourage them to speak to the child in Spanish. Consistency is key, so try to create a ritual, like always playing Spanish language music during playtime or meals. Here are more ideas for fun activities: 

  • Caregiver interaction is key for children in this age group, so do everything you can to teach them Spanish in an interactive way! Active Spanish engagement is better than simple passive listening, so try to do more activities in Spanish. 
  • Play your child music with lyrics in Spanish. Canticos playlists on Spotify, Amazon and Apple music, and on our app  are great for open-ended play times, meals, car rides, or anytime
  • Use the Spanish names for common objects while they interact with that object; for example, when you hand them juice, say jugo.
  • Read bedtime stories in Spanish.

Children Ages 1-2

At this age, you’ll see the benefits of early exposure, because children will start to speak in Spanish. Keep exposure to Spanish high and try the following activities and suggestions to build their vocabulary and confidence: 

  • Continue reading to them, and at this age, try to do so on a daily basis.
  • Use activities like sorting and counting to practice basic, everyday vocabulary on topics like numbers, colors, common objects, etc.
  • Model correct words as your child is developing the ability to say words completely, If your child grabs a red toy and says “ro” you should reply, “Si! Rojo!”  
  • Use positive reinforcement with this age group. If a child says something incorrectly, correct them in a kind way like in the example above. 
  • Allow them limited screen time, and stick to high-quality experiences as recommended by the American Psychological Association and other organizations. The Canticos app is great for children in this age group, but you will likely need to co-play with them until about the age of 2.5. For children in the 1-2 age group, the best way to use our app is to set them up to listen to playlists and videos for extended periods of time (an hour or less a day). 

Children Ages 3-5

At this age, your child will speak in short to extended sentences. You may notice that they will start to mix up English and Spanish words in a sentence, which is normal and totally fine. Again, gentle, immediate feedback will reducerrors over time, but they are nothing to worry about at all – children will naturally learn which languages go together. Below are tips and activities perfect for this age group:

  • Build a love of reading by surrounding them with books.Any book can become a Spanish book if you have them simply name the pictures in Spanish to the best of their ability.  
  • Play Simon Says in Spanish to practice body part and verb vocabulary while building fine and gross motor skills. 
  • Model “grown-up words” as often as possible and discontinue the use of any “baby language”; though they are little, their foundation for their language skills is being built now. 
  • Continue to allow high-quality screen time. At this age, they will begin to be able to play all the games on the app independently, so they will learn letters, counting, social-emotional vocabulary, and so much more! 

Please don’t forget, our biggest recommendation is to keep things fun! For more recommendations for activities please see our other posts on the Canticos blog!

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Cultural Immersion: The Power of Learning Spanish Through Culturally-Authentic Content

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Cultural Immersion: The Power of Learning Spanish Through Culturally-Authentic Content

By Nuria Santamaría Wolfe

As a parent raising bilingual children, you may already know that the best time for kids to learn Spanish is: as young as possible. But do you know what is the best way for them to learn? 

Most language learning tools like digital language apps are all about rote memorization; repeating a vocabulary word again and again with little context until hopefully, the child memorizes it. This process is not only boring for preschoolers but it’s also not very effective. What’s missing from most of these language apps is the most important thing: culture.  It is culture that provides the context that helps little ones make sense of the words they are learning. 

There is nothing more effective in learning a language than full cultural immersion.  One option is to move to a Spanish-speaking country for a period of time and your toddlers are bound to learn the language quickly. They will be surrounded by the language: every conversation, TV show, song, and book around them will be in Spanish.  They’ll learn the vocabulary and the context in which the words are used. They’ll learn the nuances, the idioms, and the regional words. They’ll learn about the most important parts about learning a language: the people and the culture behind the language. 

For most families, moving to another country is simply not an option.  The next best thing is a full Spanish immersion program. In these programs, kids hear only Spanish spoken throughout the day. They learn all the preschool fundamentals like numbers, letters, and days of the week in Spanish, as well as learn about Spanish-speaking culture through exposure to things like music, food, and traditions.

If a Spanish immersion program is not an option, or if you’re looking to supplement that experience, try the one-of-a-kind cultural immersion language learning app: Canticos Bilingual Preschool The app was created by a team of bilingual early education experts and native Spanish speakers representing multiple countries throughout Latin America including Columbia, El Salvador, Mexico, and Venezuela.  

The app is full of cultural references and experiences that expose preschoolers to Spanish and Latin American culture through songs, books, and interactive games.  For example, one of the most popular math games introduces kids to counting using a piñata. Kids tap on the piñata with their finger to break it and count the pieces of candy that emerge, simulating a popular birthday party tradition. The app also teaches emotional concepts such as resilience through a song featuring the popular Spanish rhyme “Sana sana, colita de rana.”  The quicky rhyme about a frog reassures children that their booboos will go away soon. The Sana Sana video features a coquí – a frog native to Puerto Rico. 

It is this cultural context that makes learning Spanish fun and more effective. So if you’re looking for ways to help your little one learn Spanish faster and can’t commit to moving or a full dual immersion program, the Canticos app can give your child an immersive and culturally authentic experience that will help secure their Spanish language skills! 

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Canticos Learning with Little Sunny Sunshine/Sol Solecito

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Canticos Learning with Little Sunny Sunshine/Sol Solecito

By Valerie Barbosa

The fifth book in our Canticos Classics series, Little Sunny Sunshine/Sol Solecito is inspired by a classic Latino song and will help you and your chickies welcome the day on the brightest, most positive note. 

And best of all, you and your little ones can enjoy Canticos books over and over again! There’s always something new to explore in this vibrant read, whether it’s discussing plans for the day or simply describing the objects that accompany the days of the week.  

Below, check out some fun ways you can incorporate Little Sunny Sunshine into your little one’s day, and maximize their learning opportunities:

Talk

Wake up and chat about the day to come! In Little Sunny Sunshine, the sun is up and we must seize the day, which makes it a great morning conversation starter! Try asking: What day is it? What will you do today? Make sure every day begins with a big smile and a little learning!

Sing

Sing along and make it super fun! 

Head to our Youtube channel to watch our bilingual sing-along video and read the lyrics — there’s endless hours of fun available to your and your chickies through our collection of videos. 

Our Little Sunny Sunshine video shows our adorable cast of characters waking up to a beautiful sun and  playing outdoors. Kiki gets busy building a sandcastle and Ricky gleefully navigates the ocean in his red boat. 

Dance

While you’re watching the video, it’s fun to make up simple dance moves to coordinate with the action on screen. When the sun is out, try spreading your arms wide to welcome it, and when Ricky is navigating the ocean waters, you can mimic the motion of the waves with your arms. There’s tons of fun moves you and your little one can make up together, and dancing is a great, healthy way to move our bodies joyfully.

Read

Don’t hesitate to read Little Sunny Sunshine both day and night!

If you read in the morning, it’s easy to discuss your plans for the upcoming but at night you can  go over all the activities that took place earlier in the day. Talk about what you accomplished, the friends your little one saw, and how great it will feel to get some rest after all that fun. 

Board book tip: Pick one language to read the story through to the end, and lift the flaps to see what each chickie is up to on any given day. Start again in the second language! 

Write

Sunday — or any day! —  is a great day to have your little one write out a specific activity that they remember from each day of the week. Perhaps on Monday you guys went for a swim, and Tuesday they ate a big sandwich, or Wednesday you guys played with your pet. There’s always a good memory to revisit and write about! 

Got ideas for fun activities to suggest? Don’t hesitate! With this new book, there’s so much fun to be had in so many ways — we can’t wait to hear what you do!

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How do we teach and maintain multiple languages in the home?

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How do we teach and maintain multiple languages in the home?

By Valerie Barbosa

Dad is Brazilian, mom is Venezuelan, and we live in the U.S. So, how do we make sure our children get the best of both of our cultures? The answer is language. It is through language that our preschool-aged children now speak and enjoy speaking Portuguese, Spanish and soon enough, English. 

Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way that help support our language learning:

Cultivating a reading habit

It is never too early to start reading to your kids in your native language. By hearing language sounds and pronunciations over and over again, children’s brains, already in the process of rapidly forming, absorb so much more than imaginable. Read to your children every day, let them touch the books, use your finger to show them each word and its meaning, and make these moments a special time full of love and learning. 

Sing to them in your native language

Music connects us to our cultural roots, especially when it comes to songs from our own childhoods. Canticos Books are excellent for achieving this goal. With beautiful illustrations and adorable characters, your small children will feel the love and nostalgia that mom and dad bring to the songs that our own mothers and grandmothers sang to us. Additionally, these songs are translated in English so kids can be introduced to what will be their primary language in a fun educational way. 

Using technology

There are many technological resources that help to stimulate language learning in a fun and engaging way. We like to adjust the language settings on our TV to Spanish or Portuguese for all of the shows we put on, which helps to elevate the level of exposure to the languages you want your kids to learn. Other wonderful tools are the Canticos Apps, which are ideal because they are available in many different languages. The Little Chickies App is our favorite. My kids stay fascinated no matter if they choose Spanish, English or Portuguese, and they love to explore the sounds from other European and Asiatic languages as well. 

Everyone speak their native language in the home

It is worth it to make the effort. Children grow up relating each language with mom and dad and learn to communicate following these family practices. If our four-year-old sees me speaking portuguese or English, he will always say “Mami, habla Español”. And with his dad, he will do the same, asking that he only speak Portuguese. He is already accustomed to us speaking our respective languages and he likes it. It is incredible the capacity he has to flip the language “switch”, even though we are all speaking together. The mix is fantastic and he has learned to speak both of our languages, pronouncing each one perfectly and conjugating the different verbs. He is 100% fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese. 

Make use of teaching resources

There is an unlimited amount of resources created specially to help kids learn various languages. In our home Canticos has been our ally to achieve this, and I can tell that we are on the right track as our little ones already speak and understand our native languages and are now ready to start school and learn their third language, English. 

About the author 

Valerie is a Venezuelan-American writer. She lives in Miami with her Brazilian husband and two little ones. She created Relatos de Familia, a multicultural parenting blog that reflects her trilingual family and their faith at the center of their lives. Valerie is passionate about encouraging and guiding families going through difficult times and celebrating parenthood moments and learnings to inspire others. Follow Valerie on Instagram @relatosdefamilia.

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Piñatas: Tips to Make Your Next Piñata a Smashing Success

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Piñatas: Tips to Make Your Next Piñata a Smashing Success

By Nuria Santamaría Wolfe

Fiesta time means piñata time! Whether it’s your little ones birthday, end-of-school year celebration, or posadas during the holidays, piñatas are now synonymous with celebration. 

Those colorful paper maché designs are more than just fun party decor, they’re fun to smash to pieces! 

Whether you grew up with piñatas at every celebration or are curious to adopt this fun tradition at your next party, here are some tips to make sure your next piñata is a hit!

Piñata set-up: 

Start by selecting a fun piñata appropriate for your celebration. Today there are countless designs from the traditional six point star to piñatas of your favorite children’s characters. There are also countless places to buy them from local Mexican mercado, Target, to shops on Etsy! 

Fill your piñata with age-appropriate candy, small toys and other fun surprises your little ones will be delighted to see as the piñata breaks. 

Next, hang your piñata from a rope and either secure it to a wall or ceiling or recruit two volunteers to hold the rope at either end. Next, have all the little ones line up from shortest to tallest.  You can blindfold each party-goer to make the game more fun or simple spin them in place to make hitting the piñata a bit more challenging. Hand the first child a stick and you’re almost ready for the fun to begin!

Piñata song: 

No piñata experience is complete without The Piñata Song. As each kid approaches the piñata, burst into song to encourage him or her to “dale, dale” or “hit it, hit it”.

In Spanish we sing:

Dale, dale, dale,

no pierdas el tino,

porque si lo pierdes

pierdes el camino. 

 

Dale, dale, dale,

no pierdas el tino,

mide la distancia

que hay en el camino.

 

Ya le diste una,

ya le diste dos,

ya le diste tres 

y tu tiempo se acabó. 

¡Se acabó!

 

No quiero oro,

no quiero plata.

Yo lo que quiero

es romper la piñata.

Give each child a few chances to swing and hit the piñata while swinging it away with the rope to make it challenging and fun until the piñata finally brakes to reveal all the goodies. Don’t forget to sing for each child. 

Check out our Spanish and English versions of The Piñata Song here and get some birthday celebration inspiration from our video featuring Sammy the Bunny. 

Felicidades, you’re now a piñata pro! Have fun at your next fiesta and don’t forget the piñata!

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Playing Hide & Seek Help Get Your Kid Ready For School

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Playing Hide & Seek Help Get Your Kid Ready For School

By Nuria Santamaría Wolfe

While it is clear to see that playing hide-and-seek has some valuable physical benefits for children, other benefits of playing this popular childhood game may not be in plain sight.

This classic game has extraordinary benefits for the brain. Here are just a few ways playing this game with your child can help.

Boosts Emotional Intelligence:  For little ones, gathering the courage to go on their own, making their own decisions about where to hide and feeling that sense of independence can be very empowering.

Strengthens Bonds: As they play and learn that you will always come back for them, the experience helps prepare them for real world moments such as the first day at daycare or preschool.  Working through issues of separation anxiety in a safe environment is great for them.

Builds Executive Functions:  Developing skills ranging from working memory, to planning and prioritization, are early indicators of preschool readiness and school success. These are the skills needed to think of places to hide and to guess where you or their friends may have hidden.

Next time you play, you can feel even better about spending time with your child knowing that it’s good for him/her on so many levels.


And for a little inspiration, check out Chickie Hide and Seek – a fast-paced bilingual song featuring our Little Chickies and a determined Sammy who will not stop until he finds them all.  Behind a tree? Inside a drawer?

Watch with your little ones and join in on the fun! Check out the
Canticos collection of YouTube videos in Spanish and English for more.

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Bedtime Tips To Get Kids Dreaming Faster

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Bedtime Tips To Get Kids Dreaming Faster

By Nuria Santamaría Wolfe

Bedtime shouldn’t have to be a nightmare.  While getting your little one to sleep isn’t always easy, it shouldn’t be the hardest part of your day. 

Here are some of our favorite tips to help your little one doze off and free you up for some of that precious “Me Time” that we all need.

  • Stick to a routine: The first step to helping your child understand that it’s time for bed is if they can predict it based on your night time routine.  It can include a warm bath, putting on pajamas, brushing their teeth, and a final good night kiss. Design a routine that works for your family and stick to it. 
  • Read: A good book and a good snuggle can calm your little one and get them ready to dream up their own stories. 
  • Sing: Soothing lullabies have been the go-to songs to calm children for generations. Their calming nature put babies and toddlers at ease. The best bedtime songs feature sweet lyrics and soothing music. Check out our favorite:

Star Light. Star Bright

Star light, star bright.

First star I see tonight, 

I wish I may,

I wish I might, 

have this wish I wish tonight.

A simple yet charming nursery song that even the youngest can quickly learn to sign. Watch and sing-along to our bilingual song “Star Light. Star Bright” here featuring our Little Chickies, which includes a Spanish version…in case you need to sing it more than once. 

  • Final Touches: Whether it’s giving a final hug and a kiss, or applying a few drops of a calming essential oil, like lavender, make sure you clearly mark the end of their routine and signal the time to doze off. 

We know it’s not easy, but the better we get at their bedtime routine, the better we will sleep as well.  Wishing you and your little one sweet dreams.

¡Buenas noches!

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Los Pollitos Dicen: The History of the Classic Lullaby

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Los Pollitos Dicen: The History of the Classic Lullaby

For generations, mothers have sung the Spanish lullaby “Los Pollitos Dicen” to their newborns.  The simple, yet powerful lyrics of this lullaby tell the tale of newborn chicks ( “pollitos”) calling for their mother when they are cold or hungry.  The song has permeated culture so deeply that today it is common for Latina moms to refer to their babies as “pollitos” as an homage to the song. 

Perhaps it’s the thought of fluffy yellow chicks with eyes half closed, stumbling about, peeping for help that makes the song so endearing. Or perhaps it’s the image of the mother hen kneeling down to envelop her chicks under her wing to keep them warm, that makes the song so sweet.  Whatever the reason, this story of newborn love will always be the perfect song to lull a baby to sleep. 

Many lullabies and nursery rhymes have been around for so many generations that we no longer know who wrote the original. For years, the author of “Los Pollitos Dicen” was also unknown. It was writer Rienaldo Marchant who stumbled upon the identity of the songwriter during his time teaching language and literature workshops in Pichidegua, Chile. It was there that a local farmer pointed out to Marchant the home of Ismael Parraguez, the author of this now classic song.  

After some research, Marchant was able to confirm that Ismael Parraguez, born in 1883 in the Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins region of Chile, was indeed the original author. Mr. Parraguez first published the song in his book “Poesías Infantiles” or “Nursery Poems” in 1907.

The song quickly became popular not only in Chile but across all of Latin America.  Generations later, it’s been translated into English, French, Portuguese, and many other languages. 

And just like a mother’s love for her “pollitos” is ever-lasting, so “Los Pollitos Dicen” lives on for generations to come.    

Check out the Canticos Spanish app for toddlers “Canticos Bilingual Preschool”, which includes animated videos with a version of “Los Pollitos Dicen” in Spanish and in English. You can also find these and other children’s songs on our YouTube children’s channel, which includes many videos to foster bilingualism. Los Pollitos is also available in book form, to read to children any time of day.

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3 Fun Ways To Add Learning to Bath Time

ENGLISH | SPANISH

How to Teach Manners While Having Fun

By Nuria Santamaría Wolfe

Bath time can be more than a time to splash around, it can be an opportunity for your little one to soak up some learning. For multitasking moms everywhere, here are four fun ways to make bath time a great time to build literacy skills. 

  1. Sing: You sing in the shower so why not start them on the tradition with bilingual songs to help them grow their vocabulary? We love Little Sailor – a nautical theme song that you can use to ask your child to name objects around him or her.  Point to toys and other items in your bathroom to introduce your little one to new words. 

The easy verses and catchy tune will have both of you singing along.  Watch our video here and sing along with the lyrics below. Modify the lyrics to make it your own. 

Little sailor who went to the sea, sea, sea 

to find what he could see, see, see.

And the only thing that he could see, see, see

was the bottom of the sea, sea, sea.

And a diver! 

Little sailor who went to the sea, sea, sea 

to find what he could see, see, see.

And the only thing that he could see, see, see, was the bottom of the sea, sea, sea.

A mermaid!

And a diver!

Little sailor who went to the sea, sea, sea 

to find what he could see, see, see.

And the only thing that he could see, see, see

was the bottom of the sea, sea, sea.

A shark!

A mermaid!

And a diver!

 

…and on and on until you’re ready to set out and dry off. 

  1. Read: Ah the joy of reading in the tub! As adults, we know how relaxing this can be. Introduce your little one to the wonderful habit of reading in the tub.  You can do this in a few different ways:
  • Read to them: Bring a stack of books to read while you sit next to the tub.
  • Let them read: Use waterproof books to let them read on their own.
  • Listen to audiobooks: Turn up the volume and enjoy a good book together.  Check out all Canticos books available in the Canticos app in Spanish and English.
  1. Write: Once your little one is ready to write, get them to practice in the water.  Here are a few fun tools to use:
  • Foam letters: Stick them to the side of the tub and combine them to make words.
  • Bath crayons & paint: Let them practice writing letters and words and then easily wash them off once it’s time to get out of the tub. 

So next time your kid is getting ready to splish and splash, don’t forget that it’s also a perfect song for them to sing, read, and write!

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