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December 8, 2015 Las Posadas: A Cultural Christmas in the Classroom By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    December is one of my favorite times to be an elementary school teacher because I get to share in the joy and excitement of the winter holidays with my students. In Illinois we are usually blanketed with a fresh snowfall and cozied up indoors learning about winter celebrations around the globe. My amazing first grade team of teachers works together each year to create our own Holiday Express, a journey through six different international holidays. The students move from classroom to classroom with their passports to learn about Christmas in the United States and Christmas in Germany, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and Las Posadas. As the bilingual teacher, it is my privilege to teach all about Las Posadas, the Mexican Christmas celebration commemorating Mary and Joseph’s search for room in an inn. If you are looking for some ideas for teaching Las Posadas in your classroom, go ahead and give these a try!

     

    Background Information

    Posada is the Spanish word for inn and is used in reference to Mary and Joseph’s journey to find room in an inn for the birth of baby Jesus. Many families in Mexico and the United States remember this occasion by reenacting the pilgrimage as they go door to door throughout their neighborhoods asking their friends and neighbors if they have room for the Holy Family. Participants may dress like Mary and Joseph or carry statues from their nativity scenes (nacimientos) as they walk, candles in hand, singing a traditional Posada song requesting entrance. The first houses visited always turn away the travelers, saying they have no room. Finally, upon reaching the last house, all are welcomed in for a festive celebration, complete with food, music, and a piñata. This practice is repeated nightly for the nine days leading up to Christmas (December 16–24). For a great handout or even a close read for students, download this free printable, The Story of Las Posadas.

     

    Great Reads for Las Posadas

    Each year my Posadas lesson begins with an introduction of the holiday. My students help me find Mexico on a map and share a little bit about what they already know about Mexico and its culture. I then tell the students that we will be learning about a special winter holiday in Mexico called Las Posadas, which I introduce using one of the following books:

    • The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola: I love this great K–2 story because it takes place in the U.S. (Santa Fe, N.Mex.) so my students can relate to the theme of bringing your family's cultural celebrations to your new home.

    • The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola: While this book doesn't discuss the Posada celebration, it does allow for an additional study of Mexican Christmas traditions by recounting the tale of the origin of the poinsettia flower. If you are planning to do a poinsettia craft as part of your Posada study, this is a great story to tie in.

    • Nine Days to Christmas by Marie Hall Ets: This is a cute story with a young girl ready to celebrate Las Posadas for the first time — something to which your students may now be able to relate! It is an older book, but a Caldecott Medal winner and a fun story to follow up with a piñata craft or game.

    • Carlos, Light the Farolito by Jean Ciavonne: Students can see the Posada tradition through the eyes of a young boy and experience the fun of the procession, music, and fiesta.

    • Las Navidades: Popular Christmas Songs from Latin America by Lulu Delacre — If your class is planning to throw their own Posada party, this book can be used to find a few songs to sing in your cultural celebration.

    • Las Posadas: An Hispanic Christmas Celebration by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith: This book shares the story of the Posada tradition continued in the United States. I like that this story has real photographs to show students instead of just illustrations.

    • Uno, Dos, Tres, Posada! by Virginia Kroll: I really love the illustrations in this book, as well as the fact that the author rhymes the story with both Spanish and English words. I use this every year in my Posada unit as a great way to introduce some Spanish vocabulary.

     

    Class Crafts and Activities

    As you can probably tell from reading my posts, I LOVE to make crafts with my students. After we have learned all about Las Posadas, my class makes one of these three crafts (I switch it up year after year) to decorate our classroom and get ready for our own posada party.

    Posada PiñataStyrofoam cup pinata

    Materials:

    • Styrofoam cup

    • Crayons

    • Pencil

    • String/ribbon

    • Candies

    • Scissors

    • Tissue paper

    • Rubber band

    How to Make it:

    1. Use crayons to decorate the outside of your upside down foam cup. Don’t try to use markers — they rub off of the cup’s surface and leave you with a class full of brightly colored fingers. Encourage your students to include designs that represent the Mexican culture and celebration of Las Posadas, such as stars, Mary and Joseph, angels, etc.

    2. Use your pencil to poke two holes in the bottom of your cup.

    3. Thread your string/ribbon through the two holes and tie at the top so you can hang your piñata.

    4. Fill the cup with candy (guaranteed to be your students’ favorite part!)

    5. Cut a tissue paper circle about an inch larger in circumference than your cup. Place the circle over the opening of the cup and secure it with the rubber band. This keeps the candy inside the piñata until you are ready to break it open!

    How to make a cup pinata

    Paper PoinsettiaPaper Poinsettia

    Materials:

    • Small paper plate

    • Glue

    • Scissors

    • Pencil

    • Construction paper (red, green, yellow)

    • Glitter glue (optional)

    How to Make it:

    1. Draw a poinsettia petal on red construction paper. Once you have made a petal that you like, trace it to make 9 petals total.

    2. On green construction paper draw and cut out two leaves.

    3. First, glue the two leaves to your paper plate. Then begin adding your petals around the plate to create the poinsettia bloom.

    4. Cut out a yellow construction paper circle for the center of your poinsettia. If you choose to use glitter glue, outline your petals with the glue for a little added sparkle.

    How to Make a Paper Poinsettia

    Construction Paper Candlestick Construction Paper Candlestick

    Materials:

    • Toilet paper tube

    • Construction paper (variety of colors)

    • Paper plate

    • Scissors

    • Tape/glue

    • Crayons or markers

    How to Make it:

    1. Wrap the toilet paper tube with construction paper.

    2. Decorate the toilet paper tube with paper or crayon/marker designs.

    3. Glue the toilet paper tube to the center of the paper plate.

    4. Add a yellow construction paper flame to the top of the toilet paper tube.

    5. Decorate the paper plate to be your colorful candle base. Don’t forget to add a handle for the final touch!

    For additional Posada crafts, try Poinsettia Prints or Piñata Fun from Scholastic Printables.

     

    Scholastic Resources for Las Posadas

    I have always included these Scholastic resources in my Las Posadas unit as well. Read a little bit about each one, and if you like it, click the link to download it from Printables. Don’t worry — they’re all free!

    • Make Your Own Holiday Scrapbook: Print this page to make a class book or posters. The students in my class have done this independently in years past, but you could also have them work in groups. This is especially fun to do as a reflection activity after your class has its own Posada party.

    • Las Posadas Comes to School: The first part of this printable gives you ideas for acting out the Las Posadas procession, but my favorite part is the second page sequencing worksheet. Early elementary students can simply order and then color the piñata scene, while older students can write about the steps shown. I use this with my ELL students as well, asking them to describe to me or a partner what they see happening in each picture.

    • Spanish English Spinner: This is a cute introduction to the numbers one through nine in Spanish, counting the days of Las Posadas. Students get to color and assemble the spinner and then we use it to do some math problems. Ask your students addition and subtraction facts and see if they can give you the answer in Spanish using their spinner!

    • Room at the Inn: A Classroom Mini-Play: There’s no better way to learn about Las Posadas than to actually experience it, so go ahead and have your class act out a Posada using this class play. It is also a great way to get young ones reading aloud and practicing fluency, articulation, and expression.

    • Creative Winter Holiday Crafts: While these crafts are not Posada-specific, they can easily be adapted to give students a creative way to show what they’ve learned about this new holiday. Students can make holiday symbol mobiles, giant candles, banners, and even special Posada cards using the template on the last page.

    Once your class has learned all about the festive Mexican celebration of Las Posadas, don’t forget to throw your own party. Hang a piñata, listen to villancicos (Mexican Christmas carols), and enjoy time together as one big classroom familia. I hope you have a wonderful wintertime in your classroom and at home this holiday season!

    And a special "Farewell to 2015" treat (my next post will be in January!) for friends, family, and readers of the Top Teaching blog is 25 percent off at The Scholastic Store. Just use the promo code from the coupon below!


     

    December is one of my favorite times to be an elementary school teacher because I get to share in the joy and excitement of the winter holidays with my students. In Illinois we are usually blanketed with a fresh snowfall and cozied up indoors learning about winter celebrations around the globe. My amazing first grade team of teachers works together each year to create our own Holiday Express, a journey through six different international holidays. The students move from classroom to classroom with their passports to learn about Christmas in the United States and Christmas in Germany, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and Las Posadas. As the bilingual teacher, it is my privilege to teach all about Las Posadas, the Mexican Christmas celebration commemorating Mary and Joseph’s search for room in an inn. If you are looking for some ideas for teaching Las Posadas in your classroom, go ahead and give these a try!

     

    Background Information

    Posada is the Spanish word for inn and is used in reference to Mary and Joseph’s journey to find room in an inn for the birth of baby Jesus. Many families in Mexico and the United States remember this occasion by reenacting the pilgrimage as they go door to door throughout their neighborhoods asking their friends and neighbors if they have room for the Holy Family. Participants may dress like Mary and Joseph or carry statues from their nativity scenes (nacimientos) as they walk, candles in hand, singing a traditional Posada song requesting entrance. The first houses visited always turn away the travelers, saying they have no room. Finally, upon reaching the last house, all are welcomed in for a festive celebration, complete with food, music, and a piñata. This practice is repeated nightly for the nine days leading up to Christmas (December 16–24). For a great handout or even a close read for students, download this free printable, The Story of Las Posadas.

     

    Great Reads for Las Posadas

    Each year my Posadas lesson begins with an introduction of the holiday. My students help me find Mexico on a map and share a little bit about what they already know about Mexico and its culture. I then tell the students that we will be learning about a special winter holiday in Mexico called Las Posadas, which I introduce using one of the following books:

    • The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola: I love this great K–2 story because it takes place in the U.S. (Santa Fe, N.Mex.) so my students can relate to the theme of bringing your family's cultural celebrations to your new home.

    • The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola: While this book doesn't discuss the Posada celebration, it does allow for an additional study of Mexican Christmas traditions by recounting the tale of the origin of the poinsettia flower. If you are planning to do a poinsettia craft as part of your Posada study, this is a great story to tie in.

    • Nine Days to Christmas by Marie Hall Ets: This is a cute story with a young girl ready to celebrate Las Posadas for the first time — something to which your students may now be able to relate! It is an older book, but a Caldecott Medal winner and a fun story to follow up with a piñata craft or game.

    • Carlos, Light the Farolito by Jean Ciavonne: Students can see the Posada tradition through the eyes of a young boy and experience the fun of the procession, music, and fiesta.

    • Las Navidades: Popular Christmas Songs from Latin America by Lulu Delacre — If your class is planning to throw their own Posada party, this book can be used to find a few songs to sing in your cultural celebration.

    • Las Posadas: An Hispanic Christmas Celebration by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith: This book shares the story of the Posada tradition continued in the United States. I like that this story has real photographs to show students instead of just illustrations.

    • Uno, Dos, Tres, Posada! by Virginia Kroll: I really love the illustrations in this book, as well as the fact that the author rhymes the story with both Spanish and English words. I use this every year in my Posada unit as a great way to introduce some Spanish vocabulary.

     

    Class Crafts and Activities

    As you can probably tell from reading my posts, I LOVE to make crafts with my students. After we have learned all about Las Posadas, my class makes one of these three crafts (I switch it up year after year) to decorate our classroom and get ready for our own posada party.

    Posada PiñataStyrofoam cup pinata

    Materials:

    • Styrofoam cup

    • Crayons

    • Pencil

    • String/ribbon

    • Candies

    • Scissors

    • Tissue paper

    • Rubber band

    How to Make it:

    1. Use crayons to decorate the outside of your upside down foam cup. Don’t try to use markers — they rub off of the cup’s surface and leave you with a class full of brightly colored fingers. Encourage your students to include designs that represent the Mexican culture and celebration of Las Posadas, such as stars, Mary and Joseph, angels, etc.

    2. Use your pencil to poke two holes in the bottom of your cup.

    3. Thread your string/ribbon through the two holes and tie at the top so you can hang your piñata.

    4. Fill the cup with candy (guaranteed to be your students’ favorite part!)

    5. Cut a tissue paper circle about an inch larger in circumference than your cup. Place the circle over the opening of the cup and secure it with the rubber band. This keeps the candy inside the piñata until you are ready to break it open!

    How to make a cup pinata

    Paper PoinsettiaPaper Poinsettia

    Materials:

    • Small paper plate

    • Glue

    • Scissors

    • Pencil

    • Construction paper (red, green, yellow)

    • Glitter glue (optional)

    How to Make it:

    1. Draw a poinsettia petal on red construction paper. Once you have made a petal that you like, trace it to make 9 petals total.

    2. On green construction paper draw and cut out two leaves.

    3. First, glue the two leaves to your paper plate. Then begin adding your petals around the plate to create the poinsettia bloom.

    4. Cut out a yellow construction paper circle for the center of your poinsettia. If you choose to use glitter glue, outline your petals with the glue for a little added sparkle.

    How to Make a Paper Poinsettia

    Construction Paper Candlestick Construction Paper Candlestick

    Materials:

    • Toilet paper tube

    • Construction paper (variety of colors)

    • Paper plate

    • Scissors

    • Tape/glue

    • Crayons or markers

    How to Make it:

    1. Wrap the toilet paper tube with construction paper.

    2. Decorate the toilet paper tube with paper or crayon/marker designs.

    3. Glue the toilet paper tube to the center of the paper plate.

    4. Add a yellow construction paper flame to the top of the toilet paper tube.

    5. Decorate the paper plate to be your colorful candle base. Don’t forget to add a handle for the final touch!

    For additional Posada crafts, try Poinsettia Prints or Piñata Fun from Scholastic Printables.

     

    Scholastic Resources for Las Posadas

    I have always included these Scholastic resources in my Las Posadas unit as well. Read a little bit about each one, and if you like it, click the link to download it from Printables. Don’t worry — they’re all free!

    • Make Your Own Holiday Scrapbook: Print this page to make a class book or posters. The students in my class have done this independently in years past, but you could also have them work in groups. This is especially fun to do as a reflection activity after your class has its own Posada party.

    • Las Posadas Comes to School: The first part of this printable gives you ideas for acting out the Las Posadas procession, but my favorite part is the second page sequencing worksheet. Early elementary students can simply order and then color the piñata scene, while older students can write about the steps shown. I use this with my ELL students as well, asking them to describe to me or a partner what they see happening in each picture.

    • Spanish English Spinner: This is a cute introduction to the numbers one through nine in Spanish, counting the days of Las Posadas. Students get to color and assemble the spinner and then we use it to do some math problems. Ask your students addition and subtraction facts and see if they can give you the answer in Spanish using their spinner!

    • Room at the Inn: A Classroom Mini-Play: There’s no better way to learn about Las Posadas than to actually experience it, so go ahead and have your class act out a Posada using this class play. It is also a great way to get young ones reading aloud and practicing fluency, articulation, and expression.

    • Creative Winter Holiday Crafts: While these crafts are not Posada-specific, they can easily be adapted to give students a creative way to show what they’ve learned about this new holiday. Students can make holiday symbol mobiles, giant candles, banners, and even special Posada cards using the template on the last page.

    Once your class has learned all about the festive Mexican celebration of Las Posadas, don’t forget to throw your own party. Hang a piñata, listen to villancicos (Mexican Christmas carols), and enjoy time together as one big classroom familia. I hope you have a wonderful wintertime in your classroom and at home this holiday season!

    And a special "Farewell to 2015" treat (my next post will be in January!) for friends, family, and readers of the Top Teaching blog is 25 percent off at The Scholastic Store. Just use the promo code from the coupon below!


     

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