Have a good time Hispanic Heritage Month with these actions for each class
According to the 2019 census, nearly 19 percent of the US population identified as Hispanic. That’s over 60 million people. The contributions of Hispanic and / or Latino Americans should be recognized and celebrated year round – their story is our shared American history. However, during Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) we have the option to go deeper. We can encourage our students to learn about the rich culture and history of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Read on for some of our favorite activities in Hispanic Heritage Month.
Read books by and by Hispanic Americans
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by sharing books written and illustrated by Hispanic or Latin American authors and illustrators. Younger classes could look at a different picture book every day. Older students can enjoy a book tasting of novels by Hispanic authors. You can find book ideas in the following lists:
Learn the spanish language
Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the US, so why not incorporate Spanish lessons into everyday school life? Check out Duolingo, an incredibly popular (and free!) Website and app. It offers basic Spanish lessons in a fun and engaging way. Are you looking for something faster? YouTube offers many options for short lessons on Spanish names for the colors, the alphabet, and more. You can even teach your students how to sing “Baby Shark” in Spanish. Check out all of our top deals on Spanish websites here
Take a trip around the world
Often times when people celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month they only focus on Mexico. But Hispanics and Latin Americans come from many different nations. In fact, September 15 was chosen as the start day of Hispanic Heritage Month because it is Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Similarly, Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate their Independence Days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively. Each of these nations has their own unique culture and traditions that are worth introducing to our students.
Younger students could research a nation and present important facts to their class. National Geographic Kids has a wealth of information to research. Older students, on the other hand, can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by delving deeper into the cultures and customs of each nation. Here is a link to a great website for learning more about the unique customs and traditions of each nation.
One way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is to take a look at famous Americans who are Hispanic or Latino. Showing your students the contributions of Hispanic Americans is a great way to show them firsthand the difference these people have made in our world. From Hollywood to Washington DC, Hispanics shape our nation every day.
It is appropriate for older students to discuss the unrepresentation of Hispanic and Latin American. Although they make up over 18 percent of the US population, they are dramatically underrepresented in the media and politics. Older students could research the topic, write letters to the editor or discuss possible solutions in a Socratic seminar in class.
Explore Hispanic Music
It’s important to pause here and note that while the music of another culture (or the food, see below) is a wonderful way to enhance any learning experience, it is not enough on its own to make any real sense. We encourage teachers to introduce music and food to enrich the student’s experience during Hispanic Heritage Month as part of a larger celebration of learning rather than the only activity.
However, music is a wonderful way to arouse enthusiasm and curiosity about a culture. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in your classroom by playing Hispanic music throughout the school day. A quick search for “Hispanic Heritage Month” on Spotify and Pandora shows that both apps have numerous school-friendly playlists to choose from. Not only will it introduce your students to music they may never have heard, but I urge everyone to be in a bad mood while listening to Selena’s Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.
Study day of the dead
While Disney’s “Coco” introduced the Mexican version of this holiday to many young people, numerous other nations also celebrate it. In Ecuador, for example, people like to make and eat guaguas de pan (bread babies). These baby-shaped breads are baked and colored with colored icing. In Guatemala, people fly huge, colorfully decorated kites at festivals to honor their deceased relatives. Invite students to learn more about how different nations celebrate this holiday. Or ask students to compare El Dia de los Muertos to Halloween to add extra critical thinking exercise.
Try some cuisine
Like music, the traditional food of a culture is a wonderful addition to the students’ understanding and appreciation of a culture. Many of our students have heard the phrase “Taco Tuesday” or eaten a burrito or quesadilla. But just as there is more than one country to learn when we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, there is also much more than just tacos to learn. Hispanic foods like Hispanic and Latin American nations are diverse and unique.
Enable senior students to practice their research skills by creating a menu that celebrates traditional Hispanic dishes. Have them look up Hispanic and / or Latin American nations and their favorite recipes. Then let them find menu items that work as starters, mains, and desserts. Show younger students some of the most popular Hispanic dishes eaten in the United States today. If possible, bring some samples from a local bakery. Conchas, Mexican sweet buns, are especially popular during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Immerse yourself in art
We don’t often give our students time to see and interact with art. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by showing your classes some of the amazing artwork created by Hispanic and Latin American artists. Ask students to choose a favorite artist. Which piece (s) are you talking about? What do you think you can learn about the artist by looking at your art? Also, consider sharing some modern Hispanic artists who are currently showing their work on Instagram and other social media platforms.
Learn by playing
Two very popular Hispanic table games are also perfect games for the classroom!
Domino, the tile matching game, is popular in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. This simple game is perfect for an indoor break or a quiet activity at the end of the day. But don’t let its simple instructions fool you. There are many strategies that can go into a game of dominoes. Invite older students to examine some of the ways dominoes players try to ensure victory.
Lotería is a game that is very similar to bingo except that it uses pictures on a deck of cards instead of the letter-number combinations from bingo. The traditional lotería contains 54 different images. Each player gets a table with 16 of the 54 randomly displayed pictures. While the caller or cantor (Spanish for “singer”) reads the short sentence for each picture, the players place a bean, pebble or other marker over the picture if it matches. The first person to complete a series and call out “¡Buena!”. Win!
Go on virtual excursions
Hispanic and Latin American heritage sites are common across the US From wild ponies in Virginia to glaciers in Alaska, the tremendous influence that Hispanic and Latin American and their ancestors had in forming our nation is visible to anyone who wishes to pay attention. Encourage your students to learn more about some of these amazing places by doing a research or two. Let them share their discoveries to build public speaking and collaboration skills, and learn more about the Hispanic and Latin American heritage with other students.
Consult the experts
In 2018, 79 percent of public school teachers identified themselves as white, not Hispanic, according to research conducted by the NEA. Another 7 percent identified as black, non-Hispanic. If you are a non-Hispanic teacher, how can you ensure that you are providing accurate and appropriate information to your students? Do your research first. Admit when you don’t know something. Consult people who are knowledgeable.
Not sure about the differences between Hispanic, Latino, Hispano or Latinx? It turns out it’s pretty complicated really! Take the time to read or watch some explanations so you can help your students through the same confusion. There are lots of great videos and articles out there to make sure the right information gets into the hands (and minds!) Of your students.