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Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, is a time to celebrate and remember Latin American history and culture.
For teachers, it’s an excellent opportunity to bring fun cultural activities into the classroom.
Here are some suggestions to incorporate history, art, literature, and more on Hispanic Heritage Month for your classroom.
Start by Recruiting Latino Parents & Students to Help for Hispanic Heritage Month
If you have Latino students in your classroom, they may be interested in sharing their culture with the class. Having parents or students come in and share their personal stories and cultural traditions can be an enriching way for your class to learn.
You can email students and parents asking if anyone is interested in collaborating on the Hispanic Heritage Month agenda.
It’s important that students and parents should be willing to share their culture. Teachers shouldn’t pressure individual students to share if they are uninterested or shy.
Learn from History, Books, & Movies for Hispanic Heritage Month
Students can learn about Latino culture from important Latino historical figures.
Depending on the level you teach, you can assign a Latino leader to each student to learn about. Younger students may prefer interactive presentations, while older students can write essays.
Students can also learn about Latino history and culture through reading.
Picture books like I am Frida Kahlo, Across the Bay, and Areli Is a Dreamer can teach young readers about historical Latinos and the immigrant experience.
Books for older readers include The House on Mango Street, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Mexican White Boy, which can help your students put themselves in a Latino teenager’s shoes.
Assign chapters from these books and then have your class come together for a discussion on what can be learned about Latino history and culture.
In addition to books, movies can be an entertaining way for students to learn about Latino culture. Coco is a movie that teaches about Día de los Muertos.
Use Art & Music to Get Creative for Hispanic Heritage Month
You can incorporate art and music in the classroom to teach about Latino culture.
Studying famous Latino artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera can help students learn about Latino culture. You can also give students the chance to make their own art with inspiration from Latino artists.
Younger students may enjoy getting crafty by making papel picado, a traditional Mexican craft.
Teachers can also get creative by bringing music to the classroom. You can show videos of traditional mariachi music, or print out the lyrics to Spanish songs by popular artists like J Balvin, Selena Gomez, Shakira.
Another fun activity for younger students is making your own instruments, like maracas, from simple items like toilet paper rolls and beans. Students can also make drums from tin cans to make their own music.
For more ideas at getting creative for Hispanic Heritage Month, check out TeacherVision’s suggestions.
Why Teach About Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month is an important opportunity for students to not only learn about history and culture, but also to celebrate diversity in the classroom and community.
Learning about Latino culture is important for non-Latino students because it decreases the likelihood of harboring implicit biases and exposes them to outside cultures – a concept known as intergroup contact theory.
“Members of one group, having incomplete or inaccurate ideas about members of another group, can positively change their beliefs and attitudes toward that group via contact (either face-to-face or other interactive, even digital, methods),” according to a Salud America! research review.
Hispanic Heritage Month is important for Latino students as well because it can make them feel more welcome and appreciated.
For example, Jennifer Morris, an English Language Learner teacher at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School in Philadelphia, noticed that her Latino students were often less engaged in class.
“I realized that when we had our new immigrant students, there were sometimes days when they would sit in a full class for two hours and sit in silence and never talk to anyone,” Morris said. “I knew that we needed to do more work, so the students felt valued and that the teachers would start to value those students more and pay attention to them more.”
That’s why Morris crafted a plan for Hispanic Heritage Month. She put on a festival for her class and others in the school.
“Everyone loved it. It was disappointing that we couldn’t really do something as big this year just because of being digital, but we plan to do it again next year, especially the students who got to lead things,” Morris said.
Of course, once Hispanic Heritage Month ends, there’s no need to stop learning there. Teachers can keep students engaged with culture year-round by diversifying their curriculum and highlighting different aspects of Latino culture throughout lessons.
How Else Can We Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
As Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off, we can celebrate in many different ways.
Check out these 17 awesome ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in your community.
Learn about the history of Hispanic Heritage Month and why we celebrate it today.
Salud America! is also celebrating with this upcoming content:
- Historical Latino “Salud Heroes”
- Diving into the Use of the Terms Hispanic, Latino, Latinx
- Exploring Important Milestones for U.S. Latinos
- Exploring the Diversity of the Latino Population
- Progress on the National American Latino Museum
- Podcast on COVID-19 and Latinos
In addition, Salud America! will keep sharing our other tools and news on Latino health equity.
We recently updated the Salud America! Health Equity Report Card.
You can see how your county stacks up in health equity issues like housing, transit, poverty, food access, and now also social vulnerability and COVID-19 compared to your state and the nation.
Then you can share the Report Card with your local leaders to advocate for healthy change!
Get your Health Equity Report Card!
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