National Hispanic Heritage Month: Tips for How to Teach Your Students about Hispanic Cultures
By: Kate Humphrey
Did you know that in 2019, 18% of the U.S. population identified as Hispanic? That is 60.6 million people! From former astronaut Ellen Ochoa to actor Desi Arnaz, to Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Hispanic Americans have contributed to our country in remarkable ways. To honor their accomplishments, we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Set between September 15th and October 15th, this yearly celebration highlights Hispanic and Latinx achievements while praising their culture and heritage. For National Hispanic Heritage Month, here are some suggestions for ways in which educators can integrate the teaching of Hispanic culture and heritage into their classrooms.
The first step to teach Hispanic heritage is including it in the curriculum. To introduce younger students to Hispanic cultures, consider lessons such as ‘Spanish Word of the Day,’ ‘Important Person of the Week,’ or ‘Country of the Week.’ For older students, assign research projects on Hispanic traditions, people, or histories such as Bolivia’s Independence Day or the Jones-Shafroth Act.
To honor the millions of Americans who speak Spanish as their first language, incorporate Spanish lessons into the school day. For beginners, activities like matching games, labeling objects, or listening to Spanish audiobooks are exciting teaching methods. Challenging intermediate and advanced level students to speak only in Spanish for entire classes or conversing with native speakers are wonderful activities.
COOKING AND FOOD
Food is a significant part of any culture that is easily turned into a fun experience. While it may be difficult to cook during class, bringing in Hispanic food for students to enjoy is an exciting way to introduce them to different foods. For an interactive experience, challenge students to cook arepas from Colombia and Venezuela or the Cuban dish ropa vieja with their parents at home.
WHAT IS NEXT?
Although National Hispanic Heritage Month is ending soon, it is important to remember learning about this rich culture does not stop once the month does. To continue learning about Hispanic culture, and to help ensure that your schools’ curriculum is inclusive, we have compiled a list of books by Hispanic authors:
Children (Ages 5-12 years)
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown. Illustrated by John Parra (ages 5-8 years)
Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera. Illustrated by Raúl Colón (ages 8-12 years)
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina. Illustrated by Angela Dominguez (ages 5-8 years)
The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanos by Duncan Tonatiuh (ages 6-9 years)
Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabríel Garcia Márquez
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Morena-Garcia
Now that you have some ideas for class lessons, book assignments, and cooking activities, we hope you are inspired to incorporate the teaching of Hispanic heritage into your classroom!
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