Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month in the Classroom

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*Swing recommends that substitute teachers get all outside teaching resources approved by the school prior to sharing with students.

Wednesday, September 15th marks the kick-off of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time dedicated to celebrating the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latinx Americans. This date is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for the countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days this same week on the 16th and 18th, respectively.

The impacts of Hispanic and Latinx communities on North American culture, society, law, food, art, and literature is difficult to overstate. Below you’ll find a collection of free resources to teach students about these influences.

Grades K-5
ADL. The organization compiled a list of nine books to help young students explore identity, names, culture, and notable people in Latinx history, as well as challenging topics like  immigration and discrimination. This includes titles such as Dreamer which comes with a downloadable discussion guide for both educators and families.

Education.com. The site offers downloadable coloring pages of famous Hispanic-Americans, including Roberto Clemente, Ellen Ochoa, Joan Baez, Luis Walter Alvarez, and many more.

Scholastic. The company’s “Let’s Travel to Mexico!” lesson plan provides students in grades 1-2 with a great introduction to Mexico and the Spanish language. The lesson plan additionally includes pre-instruction, instruction, and post-instruction planning tips for teachers.

Grades 6-8
EDSITEment! This project of the National Endowment for the Humanities offers a history- and social studies-focused lesson plan to teach students about Mexican culture and history through Mexico’s national holidays. This includes background on the various holidays, lesson activities, assessment options, and more.

Fact Monster. Teachers can utilize online quizzes offered by the educational game site to test students’ knowledge on various topics. Examples of these quizzes include Hispanic America: Geography, Hispanic American: People, and Hispanic America: Cultural Spanish.

Scholastic. Esperanza Rising is a well-known, historical fiction novel written by Pam Muñoz Ryan that tells the story of migrant workers during the Great Depression. To further engage students in this piece of literature, Scholastic offers a number of lesson plans and activities aimed specifically to improve students’ writing skills.

Grades 9-12
Colorín Colorado. The bilingual site for educators and families offers a crossword in which high school students can test their knowledge of famous authors, musicians, artists, leaders, scientists, and athletes.

PBS. The broadcast station provides teachers with access to its documentary series Latino Americans, as well as accompanying lesson plans. The series chronicles “the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape North America over the last 500-plus years.” This timeline from Learning for Justice provides an overview of Latino Civil Rights from 1903 to 2006 and would be a helpful resource to support the documentary.

The Kennedy Center. Teachers can help students learn about the Mexican Revolution with this lesson plan in which students create artwork demonstrating the style of an early 20th-century artist from the Mexican Revolution.

Additional Resources
In addition to the resources above, teachers can also sign up to participate in Teach Central America Week from October 4-10, 2021. The website has resources including lessons, films, books, and poems.

The National Hispanic Heritage Month website also has a library of videos on culture and folk life, history, music, poetry, politics, and sports that can be accessed for free.

How do you plan to teach about National Hispanic Heritage Month? Do you have additional resources to share? Let us know!

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