Learn words, make food with a cabra, a burro, and the campesina in THE CAZUELA THAT THE FARM MAIDEN STIRRED

When my son wants to watch a movie or TV show, he usually requests “English Shrek.” Sometimes he will ask for “English Sesame Street.”

This isn’t because I have British-accented versions of these movies around. Rather, my son is, for better or worse (likely for worse), stuck with a former middle school teacher as a mom. And while I don’t make him sit at a desk and raise his hand (I didn’t even really make my middle school kids do that), we do tend to to do some dorky things.

One of the things we like to do is read Spanish. With all the data out there on how language learning starts young, it frustrates me that schools here don’t start it until they are older. So we do what we can with my limited knowledge and gringa accent. There are bribes, of course, as any good teacher or mom would implement. The usual Spanish bribe is that we read Spanish books for awhile, practice our vocabulary, and then he gets to watch a video in Spanish. Sometimes we use a language learning video and sometimes (when he wins) 🙂 we watch one of his movies in Spanish. (Which is why he is particular about requesting “English Shrek” on his own time.)

We dropped this habit for awhile but have picked it up again recently, and it was just in time for my mother-in-law to give us this phenomenal book.  I have only one question: Are all great bilingual books about rice pudding?

Title: The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred
Author: Samantha Vamos
Illustrator: Rafael Lopez
Genre: Picture Book, Bilingual
Age: 2 – 9

Summary and Review:

 This is a beautiful book with gorgeous prose that goes along with the colorful pictures. It’s the story of a whole community–animals and the farmers along with them–who get the ingredients together for a rice pudding. With each page, another Spanish word is added, which makes it really easy for even a young child to read along and learn the vocabulary.

Because there’s no way to describe this better than the author wrote it, here’s a sneak peak:

“This is the butter /
that went into the CAZUELA that the farm maiden stirred.

This is the goat /
that churned the cream /
to make the MANTEQUILLA
that went into the CAZUELA that the farm maiden stirred.”

etc. You get the picture. (Mantequilla is butter.) On the next page, goat is cabra and cream is crema.  Each page introduces two new words.

And at the end? A recipe for rice pudding. A literal recipe, for those of you for whom the poetic recipe in Arroz con Leche didn’t really work.

Follow-up with the kids

Just reading this will give your child an introduction to a new language and a new way of saying things. You can ask them to read the Spanish words for another level of participation. There is a glossary at the end of the book to remind yourself of the words and practice them. And, of course, you could make the rice pudding! And while you are making them, you can practice your new vocabulary. “Let’s pour the azĂşcar!” you can say while you get out the sugar. And then you can eat. That’s the best follow-up activity there is!

We plan to make it this weekend to celebrate my husband’s birthday, but don’t tell him!

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