Chato's Kitchen Discussion Guide
In Chato's Kitchen, a "cool cat" named Chato decides he'd like to have his neighbors, a family of mice, over for dinner. The mouse family, smelling a rat, asks if their friend can some along. When Chato discovers the friend is a "cool dog", he panics, but just for a moment - until he realizes they can all eat enchiladas together.
- Children will become familiar with Spanish words and phrases and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries.
- Children will investigate the meaning of friendship and friendly behavior.
- Children will explore different neighborhoods.
Before Reading Activities
Share the book, Chato's Kitchen, with children. Then ask:
- What kind of a cat is Chato?
- What kinds of things did Chato do to show how he was feeling?
- What did Chato do to make the mouse family want to come to his house for dinner?
- How did Chato and Novio Boy feel when they saw Chorizo, the surprise visitor?
- How do you think the mice, dog, and cats got along once the meal was over?
Share the Spanish words used throughout the story and discuss their meanings. (You will find the Spanish words and English translations in the glossary at the front of the book.)
Then encourage children to share words and phrases in other languages that they may be familiar with.
Have children discuss the ways Chato tried to welcome his new neighbors. Encourage children to think of things they might do to help new neighbors or new classroom friends feel comfortable. Emphasize that being kind to new friends and neighbors is as important as offering gifts.
After Reading Activities
Have children recall the mambo twinge that Chato felt when he heard the mouse family next door. Explain that the mambo is a dance of Cuban origin. Play some mambo music in the classroom, giving children a chance to enjoy the music. Have someone in your school familiar with the mambo teach some basic steps to children or simply let children move in their own creative ways to the music!
Investigate the cultures of Spanish speaking countries with children. Visit your school library, explore appropriate museum exhibits, and invite friends and relatives of children with some background in the customs and traditions of these countries to visit the classroom and share their knowledge with children.
Talk about the different foods Chato and Novio Boy were preparing in the story. Encourage children to describe the looks, smells and tastes of some of these foods. Mix up some guacamole with children and serve it with tortilla chips for a classroom snack. Follow the recipe below:
- Peel, seed, and chop two large, ripe avocados
- Mash avocado with fork
- Add 1 clove minced garlic, 1 medium chopped jalapeno pepper, 3 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, dash of salt.
- Mix thoroughly. Serves eight.
Video programs about other cultures available from Weston Woods include:
Chato's Kitchen by Gary Soto, ill. by Susan Guevara
The Happy Lion, by Louise Fatio, and ill. by Roger Duvoisin
Hot Hippo, by Mwenye Hadithi, ill. by Adrienne Kennaway
Not So Fast, Songololo, by Niki Daly
Sam and the Lucky Money, by Karen Chinn, ill. by Cornelius Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
Strega Nona, by Tomie de Paola
The Pot that Juan Built, by Nancy Andrews-Goebel, ill. by David Diaz
The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks, by Katherine Paterson, ill. by Leo & Diane Dillon
Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel, ill. by Blair Lent
For Public libraries sales call 800-243-5020 / For School Library sales call 800-621-1115.
This guide may be photocopied for free distribution without restriction.
Copyright 2008 Weston Woods.
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