Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for students to celebrate the histories, cultures and traditions of Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking countries of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Observed from September 15 to October 15, the annual celebration also highlights the contributions Hispanic and Latino Americans have made to the United States.
Classrooms are filled with students from diverse backgrounds. Today, 55 million people or 17% of the American population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. When students from a variety of cultures are accepted, nurtured and celebrated, the community benefits. Check out the following crafts, recipes, games and activities to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your students:
Mexican Cuff Bracelets: Hojalata, or tin art, is a traditional form of Mexican folk art. Mexican artisans and craftsmen used hojalata to make practical and ornate objects. To make their own hojalata, students can try their hand at repujado - the Mexican technique of metal tooling - to create Mexican cuff bracelets. Using the rounded end of a toothpick or paintbrush, they can create raised art from a foil pan.
Ecuadorian Migajon Miniatures: Migajon (mee-gah-hone) is made from bread crumbs and glue. Use it to create tiny animals, flowers and people - like artisans in Ecuador do. To make the dough, each student will need one slice of crustless white bread and one tablespoon of white glue. Mold the dough into tiny shapes and allow to air-dry overnight. Decorate with acrylic paint and display!
Paletas de Frescas: Paletas, or Mexican popsicles, are made with real fruits and a few other basic ingredients. To make these paletas, gather fresh strawberries, whole milk, sugar and heavy cream. Once ready, serve the Mexican treat to students!
Cinco Marias: Similar to the game of Jacks, this game for 2-4 people is a popular pastime for children in Latin American countries. To play, find five small stones or pebbles. One player tosses the stones on the ground then picks one stone up, tosses it in the air and picks up one of the remaining stones before the first one hits the ground. If the player can do one successfully, he tosses the stones on the ground again, and tries to pick them up two at a time, then three at a time and so on until he has picked up all of the stones.
Mini Pinata: Pinatas are a holiday staple in Mexican culture, and are often filled with toys, fruit and candy. Students can participate in the tradition by creating their own mini pinatas using simple materials.
Puerto Rican Güiro Craft: Originally from Puerto Rico, a güiro is a percussion instrument made from a hollowed-out gourd. Help students make kid-friendly versions of a Puerto Rican Güiro using an empty water bottle and acrylic paint. Once finished, play some Latin music and let students use wooden dowels to play their homemade güiro.
Panpipes: Panpipes are traditional instruments in Central and South America, and are among the oldest types of musical instruments known in the world. Although typically made from ceramic, bone, reeds, cane and other materials, students can create this panpipe craft using straws. Don’t forget to play some tunes with the panpipes once finished!
Loteria: Loteria is the Mexican equivalent of Bingo, but it’s played using a traditional set of cards with pictures and words instead of numbers. The game is a great way to incorporate culture and Spanish vocabulary! Download free loteria cards or purchase them on Amazon.
Storytime: Reading is a great method for learning about different cultures. Check out this list of children’s books on Hispanic heroes to teach students about people like Cesar Chavez and Frida Kahlo. To learn more about Mexican culture, read these books on traditional Mexican dishes, celebrations, music and more!
Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of Hispanic and Latino American heritage and culture. Use the above activities to help students celebrate all month long.