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September 15, 2015

Hispanic Heritage Month Literacy Activities

By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    September is a crazy time in the classroom. For some school has just begun while others are a couple of weeks into the academic year, steadily working on classroom routines and Common Core State Standards. With so much to fit into our seven-hour school days, it can be difficult to find time to celebrate holidays and cultures. The great news is that Hispanic Heritage Month activities can fit right into what you are teaching and even meet the literacy standards for your grade level. Here are a few lesson ideas to help your class learn all about the vibrant culture of the Hispanic community. These are teacher tested in my bilingual classroom and most certainly student approved!

    Reading and Writing a "How to" Text

    Begin by reading El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker with your class. If you are an early elementary teacher you will want to read the story to your students, as it can be difficult for younger children to decode. The text is beautifully written with lots of description and can also be used as a wonderful example of voice in writing. For older grades, consider having the students read the story in groups. You could even assign groups of students to different sections of the story and do a jigsaw read. My students loved reading this story last week, especially because it is a bilingual book, so you can read it in English or in Spanish!

    As your class reads El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker, have students complete this graphic organizer to keep track of the steps involved in making a piñata. Younger students can draw pictures and write phrases in each box to show the steps, while older students can summarize the steps in their own words. Once they have completed their graphic organizers, students can use the information they gathered from the text to write their very own how-to compositions detailing the steps to make a piñata. Why not use this festive stationery to display students’ writing alongside their very own handmade piñatas?

     

    Art Extension: Make Your Own Piñata

    Ideally after a story like El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker, you would have your students follow their newly-written directions and make their own piñatas. But what if you don’t have the time or the resources for ooey-gooey papier mâché craft time? Instead of making piñatas from scratch like Don Ricardo does in the story, my class made our own simpler versions of piñatas.

    Materials:

    • Copies of the donkey template
    • Cardboard or cardstock
    • Pencils
    • Scissors
    • Tape
    • Glue
    • Tissue paper in a variety of colors
    • String
    • Confetti, candy, or small toys for filling

    How to Make a Simple Piñata:

    1. Print and cut out the pieces of your donkey template.

    2. Trace the template pieces onto cardboard or cardstock.

    3. Cut out all of the cardboard/cardstock pieces.

    4. Attach side A and side B of the donkey with tape using strips C, D, and E as directed on the templates.

    5. Fill the donkey with candy, small toys, or confetti through the opening in the top of the donkey.

    6. Attach strip F with tape to enclose the donkey completely.

    7. Cut strips of tissue paper about one to two inches wide. Fringe the tissue paper, leaving about half an inch along the top to glue to your donkey.

    8. Beginning at the bottom of the donkey, glue your first piece of tissue paper around the entire outside of the donkey. Repeat this step with varying colors as you work your way up the donkey.

    9. Once you have completely covered your donkey in tissue paper, add string and hang to display or whack to break!

    Social Studies Connections: Research, Compare, and Contrast Hispanic Countries

    Another great literacy activity I use in my classroom is this Compare and Contrast Countries During Hispanic Heritage Month lesson plan from Scholastic. In this lesson plan, students use books from the school library, world encyclopedia apps, or Scholastic’s Global Trek to gather information about various Hispanic countries for a mini-research project. As students are gathering their research information they can record their findings on this Country Fact Hunt worksheet.

    In order to modify the lesson for my younger students I paired two first grade students and two second grade students into small research groups. Each group was assigned a country and completed the worksheet together. If you have even younger students you might consider a whole-group research project where you read a nonfiction text together and gather all of your country information on an anchor chart or interactive whiteboard version of the Country Fact Hunt worksheet.

    Once all of the information on the Latin American countries was collected I combined two groups (for example, Mexico and Brazil) and had them share all they had learned with one another. The final step of the project was for students to work together to compare and contrast their two Hispanic countries. Using a Venn diagram the students were able to see how the many countries of Latin America were both similar and unique. Within my classroom this was an especially eye-opening activity, as all of my current students come from Mexican-American backgrounds. The opportunity for them to learn that Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates a huge collection of cultures was incredibly valuable.

    Try the lesson plan and expose your students to a whole new world of people and cultures. Let us know how you make it your own!

     

    More Resources for Hispanic Heritage Month

    If you are still looking for more activities and resources to use in your class for Hispanic Heritage Month, check out any of these great resources from Scholastic:

    September is a crazy time in the classroom. For some school has just begun while others are a couple of weeks into the academic year, steadily working on classroom routines and Common Core State Standards. With so much to fit into our seven-hour school days, it can be difficult to find time to celebrate holidays and cultures. The great news is that Hispanic Heritage Month activities can fit right into what you are teaching and even meet the literacy standards for your grade level. Here are a few lesson ideas to help your class learn all about the vibrant culture of the Hispanic community. These are teacher tested in my bilingual classroom and most certainly student approved!

    Reading and Writing a "How to" Text

    Begin by reading El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker with your class. If you are an early elementary teacher you will want to read the story to your students, as it can be difficult for younger children to decode. The text is beautifully written with lots of description and can also be used as a wonderful example of voice in writing. For older grades, consider having the students read the story in groups. You could even assign groups of students to different sections of the story and do a jigsaw read. My students loved reading this story last week, especially because it is a bilingual book, so you can read it in English or in Spanish!

    As your class reads El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker, have students complete this graphic organizer to keep track of the steps involved in making a piñata. Younger students can draw pictures and write phrases in each box to show the steps, while older students can summarize the steps in their own words. Once they have completed their graphic organizers, students can use the information they gathered from the text to write their very own how-to compositions detailing the steps to make a piñata. Why not use this festive stationery to display students’ writing alongside their very own handmade piñatas?

     

    Art Extension: Make Your Own Piñata

    Ideally after a story like El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker, you would have your students follow their newly-written directions and make their own piñatas. But what if you don’t have the time or the resources for ooey-gooey papier mâché craft time? Instead of making piñatas from scratch like Don Ricardo does in the story, my class made our own simpler versions of piñatas.

    Materials:

    • Copies of the donkey template
    • Cardboard or cardstock
    • Pencils
    • Scissors
    • Tape
    • Glue
    • Tissue paper in a variety of colors
    • String
    • Confetti, candy, or small toys for filling

    How to Make a Simple Piñata:

    1. Print and cut out the pieces of your donkey template.

    2. Trace the template pieces onto cardboard or cardstock.

    3. Cut out all of the cardboard/cardstock pieces.

    4. Attach side A and side B of the donkey with tape using strips C, D, and E as directed on the templates.

    5. Fill the donkey with candy, small toys, or confetti through the opening in the top of the donkey.

    6. Attach strip F with tape to enclose the donkey completely.

    7. Cut strips of tissue paper about one to two inches wide. Fringe the tissue paper, leaving about half an inch along the top to glue to your donkey.

    8. Beginning at the bottom of the donkey, glue your first piece of tissue paper around the entire outside of the donkey. Repeat this step with varying colors as you work your way up the donkey.

    9. Once you have completely covered your donkey in tissue paper, add string and hang to display or whack to break!

    Social Studies Connections: Research, Compare, and Contrast Hispanic Countries

    Another great literacy activity I use in my classroom is this Compare and Contrast Countries During Hispanic Heritage Month lesson plan from Scholastic. In this lesson plan, students use books from the school library, world encyclopedia apps, or Scholastic’s Global Trek to gather information about various Hispanic countries for a mini-research project. As students are gathering their research information they can record their findings on this Country Fact Hunt worksheet.

    In order to modify the lesson for my younger students I paired two first grade students and two second grade students into small research groups. Each group was assigned a country and completed the worksheet together. If you have even younger students you might consider a whole-group research project where you read a nonfiction text together and gather all of your country information on an anchor chart or interactive whiteboard version of the Country Fact Hunt worksheet.

    Once all of the information on the Latin American countries was collected I combined two groups (for example, Mexico and Brazil) and had them share all they had learned with one another. The final step of the project was for students to work together to compare and contrast their two Hispanic countries. Using a Venn diagram the students were able to see how the many countries of Latin America were both similar and unique. Within my classroom this was an especially eye-opening activity, as all of my current students come from Mexican-American backgrounds. The opportunity for them to learn that Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates a huge collection of cultures was incredibly valuable.

    Try the lesson plan and expose your students to a whole new world of people and cultures. Let us know how you make it your own!

     

    More Resources for Hispanic Heritage Month

    If you are still looking for more activities and resources to use in your class for Hispanic Heritage Month, check out any of these great resources from Scholastic:

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