Learning about different cultures all begins within the classroom! Hispanic Heritage month is featured every October and presents the perfect opportunity to celebrate and learn about the Hispanic culture. National Hispanic Heritage Month is a chance to learn about the wonderful cultural differences.
1. Explore Latino History
Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect opportunity to learn a little bit about the rich cultures of South America. There are so many different things to learn about various places such as Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, and more.
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2. Read About Civil Rights Activists
Activists like Dolores Huerta paved the way for Latino rights. Learning about the courageous people who fought for Latin people's rights is valuable. For example, Sylvia Mendez fought and won a Supreme Court case against the Westminster School district in a fight for desegregation.
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3. Explore the Art of Frida Kahlo
You don't have to be an art teacher to teach about the amazing and tragic life of Frida Kahlo. She endured much from an early age being in a life-altering motor vehicle accident to the loss of several pregnancies. Her art is beautiful and thoroughly displays the tragedy in her life.
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4. Read a Book of "Fairy Tales"
The Latino culture is full of folk tales of things that are far from something you would want to read before you go to bed. The tales of La LLorona, El Cucuy, El Silbon, El Chupacabra, and more. This is a great lesson for middle school students and is great to do around that spooky holiday of Halloween.
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5. Do a Little Dance
Latino culture is full of wonderful food, music, and dancing. Learning all about Mexican culture would not be complete without a dance lesson. Learn to two-step to Mexican-American Mariachi music or learn the various characteristics of salsa music.
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6. Learn about El Dia de Los Muertos
El Dia de Los Muertos is widely celebrated in Central America. This holiday is filled with a rich tradition, food, and music as the ones that have come before are celebrated. Let your students create displays for their loved ones and color the well-known sugar skulls.
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7. Read Artist Biographies
While Frida Kahlo is arguably the most well-known Mexican artist, there were many amazing artists that had interesting lives. People such as Diego Rivera (Kahlo's husband), Francisco Toledo, Maria Izquierdo, Rufino Tamayo, and many more.
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8. Watch Coco or Encanto!
I cannot think of a better movie to watch during Hispanic Heritage Month than the Disney movie Coco. This activity is fun for middle and elementary school students alike. Recently, the hit movie Encanto has also made its debut and is equally fantastic!
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9. Have a Book Tasting
There are so many amazing Hispanic authors that it is difficult to narrow the reading down to just one or two. Therefore, have a book tasting where your students can get the best of all the worlds!
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10. Learn about Hispanic Music
The best part of classroom learning is getting to experience and hear new things. As you create activities for this special month, ensure that you allow your students to hear the various music of the Latino culture.
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11. Learn about Hispanic Historical Figures
When you cover art and civil rights activists, you will already cover some historical figures. You could also focus on Mexican Americans who have become historical figures in the United States. This is a great way to show the integration of Latino culture into American culture.
Learn More: Wikipedia
12. Have a Food Day
Where there is good food, there is great learning! Plus, middle school kids LOVE to eat! Personally, I LOVE any lesson plans that include food because the kids always enjoy them. A good way to do this would be to involve your local community or restaurants and see if food could be donated to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
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13. Learn About the First European Settlement
Did you know that the first European Settlement in America was St. Augustine, FL.? In fact, a Spanish soldier named Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was the one who founded the town (www.History.com). This place is known for its beautiful white sandy beaches and for its amazing history.
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14. Present the Differences Between Cultures
Have students get into groups and teach the class some exciting lessons about various cultures within South America. There are vast and slight differences between those who are Mexican, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, and El Salvadorean. Learning the differences between these cultures will be both interesting and exciting!
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15. Explore Various Hispanic Artists
While Frida Kahlo is one of the most well knows artists in Mexican culture, there were many more fantastic Hispanic artists. This man pictured here, featured in the NY Times is a famous Mexican Abstract artist, Manuel Felguérez. He is simply one of many, but there are many to explore.
Learn More: NY Times
16. Research Famous Latino Landmarks
Did you know that there are still Mayan ruins in amazing shape today? Just this summer I had the opportunity to visit an amazing place and soak in the rich history of this great people. Make history come alive with 3D tours and pictures of these astounding landmarks.
17. Cook Something Popular in Latino Culture
You can't get any more interactive and engaging than allowing students to cook something and then eat it. While having a food day would involve bringing pre-made items, kids really enjoy being involved in the process. Teach the class how to make salsa or guacamole and let them snack out after!
Learn More: USA Today
18. Explore Cultural Outfits
All over the world, different nations have cultural garb for specific occasions. For example, in American culture, a bride will wear a white wedding gown, whereas, in Vietnam, a wedding gown would look vastly different.
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19. Have a Guest Speaker
Kids relate to the lesson better when you bring someone new in, and they can see the history or story right before them. Hispanic Americans, such as Sylvia Mendez (as pictured), still speak in classrooms regarding educational equality. Look around your community for Hispanic Americans that have made a difference and would be willing to come and talk to your students.
Learn More: LA Times
20. Students Teach the Class About Mexican Culture
When students teach the class, they have much more ownership of their learning. Break your class into groups of four to five students and give each of them a topic relating to Mexican culture. Allow them to have ample time to create a presentation lesson and activity. Students also pay more attention when their peers are the ones on the stage!
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21. Have a Spanish Lesson
Knowing just a little bit of Spanish is now part of American Culture. For a fun activity, have your students learn new words or phrases in Spanish and allow them to show off their skills. They can practice basic things such as asking where the restroom is, to ordering food at a restaurant.
22. Learn the History of Cinco de Mayo
This holiday recognizes Mexico's independence and victory over the French Empire in 1862. Many Latino Americans celebrate this holiday with food, music, parades, fireworks, and more. As a class, explore and learn all about this festive holiday.
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23. Make a Lesson About Religion in Latin America
Religion is far more prevalent in the daily lives of Hispanic people living in South America. The Catholic church is highly esteemed and is the main religion in Mexico. In fact, according to World Religion News, 81% of Mexicans practice or claim the Catholic Faith. That number is far higher than most regions of the world. Interesting stuff.
Learn More: World Religios News
24. Interview: Learn About the Importance of Cultural Heritage
I love when my students do interviews because it teaches them people skills and forces them to take charge of their learning (whether they know it or not). Some of the most insightful learning you will ever have in your life is through conversation with others.
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