Posts Tagged ‘Hispanic heritage’

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

We are in the midst of Hispanic American Heritage Month! There is so much to know about the Hispanic presence in the United States and its impact on the country’s development and its continued growth. Populations of Hispanic descent have thrived here since 1565, when Spanish explorers founded the Florida city of St. Augustine. That’s 42 years before English explorers arrived in Jamestown. America has always been Hispanic!

While it’s important to delve into the history of the Hispanic American community and meet prominent Hispanic Americans, it is also valuable to learn about from where Hispanic Americans have descended. For example, did you know that the beautiful South American country of Bolivia, ruled by the Inca Empire for centuries, was colonized by Spain in the 1500s? And that the mountainous Central American country of Honduras was once part of the Mayan civilization? Perhaps you can challenge your students to pick a country, research its history and cultures, and present their findings.

Mayan Altar in Honduras

Mayan Altar in Honduras
Image by Dennis Jarvis via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

Or, direct their research with questions so that they can research for answers! Maybe you want to try a history question like “What Central American country was home to the Olmec civilization thousands of years ago? What other ancient civilizations lived in this country and what impact did they have?” Or a cultural question like “What is a quinceanera? It originates from the Spanish word quince, which means what?”


Image by Razi Machay via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

This information and much more is available on SIRS Discoverer. During the month of October our Spotlight of the Month highlights Hispanic American Heritage Month. Not only can your students learn about the histories and cultures of Hispanic countries, but they can meet Hispanic American authors, poets, politicians, musicians, civil-rights activists, and more. There’s so much to learn about the United States and the amazing people who compose its beautiful diversity.

Get Crafty with Hispanic Heritage

It’s time to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month!

There are many ways classrooms can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, a yearly celebration that falls between September 15 and October 15: meeting significant Hispanic Americans throughout U.S. history, exploring Hispanic countries, tasting traditional Hispanic dishes, or learning about Hispanic cultures.

OR, students and teachers can get crafty…while learning about some long-established Hispanic holidays and traditions.

Maracas for Cinco de Mayo

Mariachi Aguilar Real celebrates Cinco de Mayo
courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida via Flickr Commons [Public Domain]

In late 1861, Napoleon III sent his French army to invade Mexico in the hopes of establishing a French presence in the country. Napoleon III did not expect that Mexico would put up much of a fight. He was wrong. On May 5th of the following year, the Mexican army defeated the French army in the Battle of Puebla.

People celebrate Cinco de Maya (which means the 5th of May) by taking part in or attending parades, learning about Mexican history and culture, eating Mexican cuisine, displaying Mexican décor, and listening to or playing Mexican music. Students and teachers can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by learning about Cinco de Mayo and making their very own Mexican maraca. Why not Have a Musical Cinco de Mayo?

Remembering Family on the Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico
by Gengiskanhg via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday celebrated from October 31 through November 2. It is a celebration that transcends cultures and is acknowledged around the world.

The Day of the Dead provides time to remember and pay homage to loved ones who have died. Families and friends gather for parties and picnics in cemeteries and other places near ancestors’ remains. Elaborate decorations include skulls, skeletons, coffins, and other images representing death. Some people dress up in costumes, and children collect candy from piñatas. Shrines and altars to the dead are erected and filled with flowers and other offerings.

This culturally rich tradition is a wonderful way to honor Hispanic cultures in the classroom. You can make the lesson crafty as well…check out Remember Family with Ornament for instructions.

Worried? Make a Worry Doll!

Guatemalan Worry Doll
courtesy of Kakarinka via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

According to Guatemalan legend, muñecas quitapenas, or worry dolls, were created  by a child named Maria. Hoping to help her impoverished family, she made tiny dolls to secretly sell. The night before she went to the market, she expressed to the dolls her worry about not having money. The next day, one person bought all of the dolls—for more money than Maria could have ever hoped.

Thus worry dolls were born.

Telling your worry doll one worry and placing it under your pillow at night is believed to make the worry go away. This legend has spread beyond Guatemala, and now worry dolls are popular in many countries and cultures. Students can make their own Worry Dolls while learning about this beautiful tradition and the country from which it originated.

There are so many ways to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. One way is to use SIRS Discoverer and SIRS Knowledge Source to find articles and Web sites appropriate (and fun!)  for students.

Just make sure you celebrate!