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Great Sites For Teaching About... Hispanic Heritage Month


Hispanic Heritage Month -- celebrated annually from September 15 through October 15 -- honors the cultural diversity and unique contributions of the Hispanic community -- people in the United States who come from any of 20 different Spanish-speaking countries.

In 1968, Congress passed a joint resolution to recognize Hispanic heritage in the United States with a weeklong celebration. Twenty years later, Hispanic Heritage Week was expanded to a monthlong observance beginning on September 15 and ending on October 15. Hispanic Heritage Month is timed to coincide with the celebration of Mexico's -- and other South American countries' -- independence from Spanish rule on September 15 and 16.

Editor's Note: Some people believe that Hispanic, with its implied inclusion of all Spanish-speaking people and its connotation of a cultural identity related to Spain, is a less accurate term than Latino, referring specifically to those with a history, lineage, and/or heritage related to Latin American. We have chosen for this article to use Hispanic because that is the term used in the proper name of the month.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage
This comprehensive Web site includes activities for students in grades 4 through 7. Use the activities during Hispanic Heritage Month or at other times of the year. Through the study of important history-making discoveries, events, and people, students learn about Hispanic heritage in America. Provided are:

  • a project description, learning objectives, and various project components;
  • assessment tools, rubrics, and project test;
  • lesson planning suggestions;
  • national standards correlations;
  • suggestions for cross-curricular extensions;
  • a biography skill sheet;
  • additional print and online resources.

Mexican Independence Day

This activity about Mexico is for students in grades 3 through 5. The activity can be used at any time, or it can be used to coincide with Mexican Independence Day, September 16. An age-appropriate narrative about Mexico is followed by a variety of classroom suggestions, with an emphasis on the meaning of tradition.

Famous Hispanics in the World and History
Dedicated to famous Hispanics, both historical and current, this Web page consists of an alphabetical listing of names linked to brief biographical information and photographs. Included in this biographical archive are statesmen, artists, musicians, military leaders, writers, rulers, athletes, and explorers from all over the world. This list could be the starting point for individual research projects on prominent and influential Hispanics.

Have You Heard About Hispanic Heritage Month in Michigan?

This Web page, from the Web site of the Michigan Commission on Spanish Speaking Affairs, contains a well-written article about the history and importance of Hispanic Heritage Month, suggestions on ways to participate in the observance, and a Trivial Pursuit kind of game to test students' knowledge of Hispanic culture and history.

San Antonio Missions: Spanish Influence in Texas

Early 18th-century Spanish settlement of what is now the U.S. Southwest significantly affected the political and cultural development of the United States in ways that continue to be felt today. Religious missions were a major part of Spain's plan to establish and manage the frontier, bringing within their control local Native Americans who, in return for accepting religious instruction, were taught European technology and ways of life. This lesson, from Teaching With Historic Places, has the following objectives for students:

  • to explain the significant role that Spanish missions played in the early history of Texas and the Southwest,
  • to describe the psychological and cultural factors that led the Coahuiltecan Indians to accept mission life,
  • to explain the role irrigation systems, such as acequias, played in the development of Texas farmland and other arid areas,
  • to investigate the early religious history of their own communities. The on-line materials, which can be printed for distribution to the students, include maps, readings, photographs, and drawings.

Lauren P. Gattilia
Education World®
Copyright © 2005 Education World

Originally posted 09/28/2000
Links last updated 09/12/2005