Marisol and Magdalena Lesson Plan
- Grades: 6–8
About this book
Subject Area: Language Arts
Reading Level: 5.2
Marisol and Magdalena have been mejores amigas -— best friends -— forever. Living in Brooklyn, the girls are much too Americana to appreciate the hip-shaking beats of salsa or the tasty frituras stirred up by their Panamanian relatives. And with a long, hot summer to look forward to before the eighth grade, Marisol is more focused on cool clothes and good-looking boys like Junior Vasquez than on the tradition of her tias -— aunts. But, all of a sudden, Marisol's whole life changes as she is swept off to live in Panama with her grandmother. Marisol must learn the language and traditions of her mother's homeland, without forgetting all that she holds dear in America.
To notice and become familiar with the author's use of language in the novel
Standard: Students will understand the use of language in literary works to convey mood, images, and meaning.
- Read Chapter 3 out loud.
- Ask students what they notice about the author's use of language. Focus on her use of Spanish and English. How do they know which words are Spanish? (italics)
- Ask students why they think the author uses Spanish words? How does that change the way they read the story?
- How does the author make sure non-Spanish speakers can understand the story? Look at an example on page24.
A. "Compaders, que tal?" Velicidad called out from on top of the stairs. "Mundial, fabulous, couldn't be better," the aunts answered back.
Discuss with students that sometimes she defines the words (such as with Mundial, "fabulous") and other times you can tell what the word means by the context. Practice with students by finding some examples of Spanish words and asking them to translate them into English.
- The following activity is intended for after reading the book. Have students collect Spanish words and phrases from the book and write down their meanings. Have students write down the entire sentence and explain how they knew what the words meant. (through the context of the sentence, or a definition next to the word)
- Go over some of words in the classroom.
- Have students write two poems from Marisol's perspective. The first poem should be before she leaves for Panama. The second poem should be from Marisol's point of view at the end of the book.
- Before students begin writing the poem, tell them to select five quotes from the beginning and five quotes from end of the book to use in their poem. For each quote, they should explain why they want to include it in their poem.
- Discuss with students how Marisol's use of language might change in the two poems. Would she use more Spanish in the second poem? How have her concerns changed from the beginning to the end of the book? How would she view the traditions of her homeland?
- Tell students to write the poems using quotes from the book in addition to their own words.
- Research Panama and its traditions. Bring in salsa music and (if possible) Panamanian cuisine for students to experience.
- Have students investigate and write about their own traditions and cultures. How do their experiences compare to Marisol's?
Other Books About Teens and Hispanic Culture
Quinceanera: Celebrating Fifteen
by Elizabeth King
A real-life view of the coming of age of two teenagers as they prepare to turn fifteen. The traditions of El Salvador and Mexico are compared.
by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
Stefanie sews her dress for her approaching quinceanera, while she is coming to terms with her father's death and her mother's detachment. Family friend, Rita, helps mend the family and falls in love with Stefanie's uncle.
The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
Esperanza and her family currently live on Mango Street. Told in a series of vignettes, learn about Esperanza, a young girl growing up in the Spanish-speaking area of Chicago.
Other Books by Veronica Chambers
Quinceanera Means Sweet Fifteen
Amistad Rising: A Story of Freedom
The Harlem Renaissance (African American Achievers)