September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. Education World offers activities that will help teachers focus attention on the contributions of people of Hispanic heritage to the history of the United States.
Teaching of the contributions of Hispanic Americans, and learning about the cultures from which they come, will be the focal point of many classroom activities and discussions in the weeks ahead as students across the United States recognize Hispanic Heritage Month -- September 15 to October 15.
But why teach about Hispanic heritage? Or, for that matter, why teach about any heritage?
Clearly, teaching about the contributions of Latinos can only help to build the self-esteem and the pride of those who identify themselves as Mexican-American or Cuban-American or Puerto Rican-American or . . . .
But, even more importantly, it is essential that all students learn to understand the ethnic diversity that is our country, according to Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (Banks and Banks, 1992). Integrating the cultures in the social studies classroom helps develop "ethnic literacy" in all students. Developing ethnic literacy fosters pride in one's own culture and a respect and appreciation for the uniqueness of others.
Many Hispanic Americans trace their roots to the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas -- including the Arawaks (Puerto Rico), the Aztecs (Mexico), the Incas (South America), the Maya (Central America), and the Tainos (in Cuba, Puerto Rico and other places). Some trace their roots to the Spanish explorers -- who in the 1400s set out to find an easier and less costly way to trade with the Indies. Other Latinos trace their roots to the Africans who were brought as slaves to the New World. For purposes of the U.S. Census, Hispanic Americans today are identified according to the parts of the world that they or their ancestors came from, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, or the nations of Central or South America.
What follows is a loose series of activities that teachers might use to explore Hispanic heritage. But these activities -- which touch on the people, the statistics, the Internet resources -- are just the tip of the tortilla. Feel free to pick and choose, and (by all means!) to adapt these ideas in any way. Use these activities as a jumping-off point for a real fiesta celebrating and honoring the contributions of Hispanic Americans! Buena suerte!
ACTIVITIES TO CELEBRATE HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
U.S. geography. Many U.S. place names are derived from the Spanish language. Invite students to locate, tag on a U.S. map, and translate the following states and cities:
States -- Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Montana.
Cities -- El Paso, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Pueblo, Colorado; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; San Francisco, California; San Jose, California; and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Challenge students to find additional U.S. place names of Spanish origin.
Study skills. Use the Hispanic Americans in History worksheet with this activity. Invite students to use classroom, library, and Internet resources to match each famous Hispanic American listed on the worksheet with the brief description (in the second column) that tells what that person is noted for. Students might work cooperatively to complete this activity.
Hispanic Americans of the Past Answer Key: 1. i, 2. e, 3. a, 4. j, 5. h, 6. b, 7. g, 8. d, 9. c, 10. f.
Hispanic Americans of Today Answer Key: 1. d, 2. h, 3. c, 4. f, 5. e, 6. a, 7. j, 8. i, 9. g, 10. b.
Graphing. Invite students to use the following information from the U.S. Bureau of the Census to create a bar graph, a picture graph, or a circle graph showing the country of origin of U.S. Hispanics. The information below shows how many of every 100 Hispanic Americans list each of seven different countries as the nation from which their ancestors came.
|Mexico||67 out of 100|
|Puerto Rico||9 out of 100|
|Cuba||4 out of 100|
|Nations in Central & South America||14 out of 100|
|Other Hispanic Nations||6 out of 100|
Art. Invite students to design a postage stamp that could be part of a Hispanic Heritage stamp series. The stamp might show a famous Hispanic American or some aspect of Hispanic-American history or culture.
Dictionary skills. Many common English words are very similar to Spanish vocabulary. Following are a list of Spanish words and their English translations. Invite students to read each Spanish word below and to tell what the English equivalent might be.
|mucho (MOO-choh)||much||música (MOO-see-cuh)||music|
Language. Invite students to create books (libros) to help them learn the Spanish words for the numbers one to ten and for common colors.
World geography. Introduce students to the idea that the United States is a "melting pot." That means that people of many cultures have joined together to make this country great. Invite students to learn where their ancestors came from. Place a tag(s) with each student's name on the world map to indicate his/her place(s) of family origin.
Bulletin board/current events. Create a big black kettle (representing the "melting pot" that is America) out of construction paper and staple it to the bulletin board. Use white chalk to write the cultures represented in your students' families on the pot. Then ask students to keep an eye out for articles in newspapers and magazines that include references to different cultural groups that are part of the American "melting pot." Hang those articles on the bulletin board.
Biographies. Invite students to select one of the famous Latinos from the worksheet list (see Latinos in History) or one of the ones that follow and to learn two new facts about that person. Set up a "share time" when students will share with each other the information they've learned.
|Vasco Núñez Balboa||Explorer|
|Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra||Writer|
|Antonio Carlos Jobim||Musician|
|Juan Ponce de León||Explorer|
|Queen Isabel of Castille||Ruler|
|Captain Angela Salinas||Military|
Trivia. Challenge students to use Internet or library resources to locate answers to the trivia questions below.
Holiday research. Divide the class into groups and assign each group a holiday to research. Many of these holidays are celebrated today by Hispanic Americans: Guadalupe Day, Cinco de mayo, La Navidad, La Posadas, Three Kings Day, and The Day of the Dead.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage
Scholastic's home page for Hispanic heritage resources, which includes...
What Does My Heritage Mean to Me?
In this Scholastic resource, a handful of Americans explain what Hispanic heritage means to them. Lesson plans included.
Famous Hispanics in the World and History
The site includes links to biographies of dozens of famous Hispanics.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
The National Register of Historic Places presents lesson plans and much more.
Annotated Bibliography of Children's Literature
This particular list focuses on Latino people, history, and culture.
Make a Paper Mache Bowl
In Hispanic cultures, clay bowls often conveyed history.
How to Make a Pinata
Pinatas are easy to make, though they require a few days and some planning ahead.
The Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research (SHHAR)
SHHAR (pronounced "share") is a non-profit volunteer organization with the specific goal of helping Hispanics research their family history. Includes much research support and links to many other sites for additional help in genealogical research.
Integrating Mexican-American History and Culture into the Social Studies Classroom
An ERIC Digest looks at selecting texts and preparing teachers for integrating the Mexican-American experience into the social studies curriculum.
History of Hispanic Heritage Month
A legislative history.
A biography lesson plan.
The following link is appropriate for secondary school studies of Hispanic culture:
Lesson Plans for Teaching About the Americas [archived copy]
More than 65 lesson plans written by secondary teachers in 1995 as part of a summer institute at the Latin America Data Base. Many activities are cross-disciplinary and some integrate the Internet.
Article by Gary Hopkins
Copyright © Education World
Last updated 09/23/2011