Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 – October 15 in the United States. Have you ever wondered why this time of celebration begins in the middle of September? Well, there’s an important reason! September 15 is the anniversary of independence for many Latin American countries, such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. There are several other countries whose independence days follow close behind, such as Mexico on the 16th.
This is a great time to reflect on and highlight the many contributions in food, art, sports, technology, science, music and more from the Latinx community! We all know how important it is to celebrate individuals and their culture in the classroom. For some students it is a time to learn about another culture, while for others it is a time to feel pride in representation.
If you are wondering how to incorporate Hispanic Heritage Month in your classroom, check out these 7 fun and easy ideas that you can do with your students. Also, make sure to grab a FREE biography article and poster below!
1. Read Picture Books
We can’t think of a better way to honor Hispanic heritage and history than through powerful children’s literature. Here are a few of our top picks:
Areli is a Dreamer by Areli Morales: This book shares the real life story of Areli, a young girl who immigrated from Mexico. It follows her through the ups and downs of learning how to live in a new, unfamiliar place.
Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla by Diana Lopez: Music lovers will enjoy reading this inspiring biography of Selena Quintanilla. Everyone has to start somewhere, and Selena began her singing career at quinceañeras and other small venues. As her popularity grew, so did the platforms — until she could fill entire stadiums with adoring fans.
Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Pena: When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they travel through their neighborhood, past the crowded bus stop, the fenced-off repair shop, and the panadería, until they arrive at the Laundromat, where Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make . . .
Turning Pages My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor: Although her childhood involved grief and difficulty, which included her father’s death and her diagnosis of diabetes, Sotomayor found inspiration and comfort in books. Here, she passes on that love for reading while giving us a glimpse of life in public service.
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown: Ana loves stories. She often makes them up to help her little brother fall asleep. But in her small village there are only a few books and she has read them all. One morning, Ana wakes up to the clip-clop of hooves, and there before her, is the most wonderful sight: a traveling library resting on the backs of two burros‑all the books a little girl could dream of, with enough stories to encourage her to create one of her own.
2. Take a Virtual Trip
Many of your students may have never had the opportunity to travel around the world . Now it’s easier than ever to show the beauty and majestic sights of these beautiful countries to your students through a virtual field trip. Here are some of our favorite places:
3. Get Creative with a Craft
The Latin American culture is known for vibrant and beautiful colors. An example of this is found in a type of design called a mola. This art originates from the Kuna Indians of Panama. They use colored layers of fabric to create beautiful works of art which can be used to decorate the Kuna women’s shirts. Find instructions on how to have your students create their own construction paper molas like the ones shown above here.
4. Learn Spanish Songs
There is something about music that connects us all. Students love to sing and if they are not already fluent in Spanish, they will love learning words in a new language too! Using a simple song that most kids already know, such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, is a good idea, . The video above has the Spanish version. You can find the lyrics in English and Spanish here. You will want to practice beforehand and maybe even print a copy for students to read along.
5. Show a Movie
You can talk to students about the important traditions of a culture, however watching a movie will help bring ideas to life in more impactful way. For example, students can learn about the celebration of Día de los Muertos by watching the Disney movie Coco. Or they can learn about the strong emphasis on family in the Hispanic culture by watching Encanto. Both of these films are so entertaining and heartwarming.
6. Research a Hispanic Leader
There are so many individuals who have made an impact on our society. Have students read a biography or research online to find out important facts about a Hispanic leader that they can share with others. If you would like for your students to create a poster that can be displayed, check out our Hispanic Heritage Month Biographies. This resource includes biography articles for 10 significant Hispanic leaders, as well as a poster for students to complete.
You can try this resource out for free by grabbing this free biography article and poster about the famous Mexican wrestler El Santo.
7. Play a Game
The game of Loteria is a fun, bingo-like game that is very popular in Mexico, but can be found in other Spanish speaking countries as well. Each student has a board with pictures/words that they will cover as they are called out. When you call out the words in Spanish, you can also show the picture. Students may not know the word if they don’t speak Spanish, but they will be able to recognize the picture. When they get 4 in a row, they can shout out “Loteria!” Enchanted Learning has a free printable version of this game.
We hope you have some new activities and ideas that you can implement in your classroom to share during this Hispanic Heritage Month.
If you’re interested in finding engaging classroom activities for Black History Month, check out the post below!