Hispanic Heritage Month in the Classroom

by Susan Baxter


It’s always important to make sure your curriculum includes a variety of cultures and perspectives from people throughout history. September 15th marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a date chosen because it coincides with several Latin American Independence Day celebrations. Hispanic culture should be part of your classroom all year long, so that students can feel included and represented.

This month is an opportunity to begin thinking of new ways to weave Hispanic culture into your classroom lessons throughout the year, by highlighting the histories, cultures, and contributions from places like Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

The History of Hispanic Heritage Month

First recognized in the United States as an awareness week in 1968, it was later expanded to Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988, lasting from September 15th to October 15th each year.

Today, Hispanic Heritage Month is a good reminder to appreciate and learn more about the lives, cultures, and histories of Hispanic people. Read on for a few ways you can explore Hispanic culture with your students.

Activities and Ideas that Highlight Hispanic Culture

You can help your students learn about a variety of cultures through fun activities that can be found in the Waterford Resource Library, available in both English and Spanish. For example, you could feature some folk songs in your classroom lessons like “Colors, Colors” from Mexico or “The Painted Rooster” from Argentina.

Here are some other fun ideas from around the web:

  • Share a Little Each Day: Sharing some fun facts about Hispanic heritage each day can be a great way to offer bite-sized lessons on the topic.
  • Practice Counting to 10 in Spanish: Counting to 10 in Spanish can be a fun and engaging way to introduce students to the Spanish language.
  • Make Themed Crafts Together: Crafts can be a great option to explore Hispanic heritage with younger students..
  • Discuss Hispanic Art and Music: Exploring art and music can help students learn about and connect with this heritage.
  • Highlight Hispanic Change-Makers: Sharing a brief history of influential Hispanic figures in history can be another great way to celebrate.

Explore Spanish Through Reading

Check out these digital books available from the Waterford Resource Library. Your students may already be familiar with several of these traditional tales. Reading familiar books in Spanish can be a great way to introduce a new language while supporting dual-language learners in the classroom.

  • La Lagartija y la Roca Pintada: Lagartija no se siente importante porque el artista no pinta su imagen, pero cuando el artista le pinta rayas a Lagartija en la espalda, se da cuenta de lo importante que es realmente.
  • Los Tres Deseos: Un hombre aprende a través del encanto de tres deseos que debería ser feliz con lo que tiene.
  • Los Tres Cochinitos: Los tres cerditos edifican casas propias y tratan de evitar al lobo grande y feroz. 
  • Sr. Paja Afortunada: Debido a que Yosaku escoge ver el lado positivo de las cosas, él puede ayudar a las personas de su aldea. 
  • La Olla Mágica de Avena: Con la ayuda de la olla mágica y unas cuantas palabras mágicas, una niña y su madre nunca más tienen hambre, pero ¿qué sucede cuando la madre olvida las palabras mágicas?
  • Los Hermanos: Aún durante una sequía, dos hermanos comparten su comida y viven juntos en amistad. 
  • La Pequeña Gallina Roja: La Pequeña Gallina Roja hace pan sin la ayuda de los otros animales, y cuando los animales ofrecen ayudar a comer el pan, la Gallinita Roja los rechaza.
  • La Tortuga: Un Cuento Mexicano: Los niños capturan a La Tortuga para hacerla en sopa, pero La Tortuga usa su inteligencia para escapar. 
  • El Hombre de Jengibre: Un hombre de jengibre piensa que puede correr más aprisa que todos, pero una zorra sabe que no.
  • Henny Penny Español: Henny Penny y sus amigos se llenan de pánico al creer que el cielo se está cayendo y debido a su pánico casi son comidos por Foxy Loxy.
  • La Manopla Grande: Demasiados animales tratan de acomodarse en una manopla, y la manopla no puede sostenerlos a todos.
  • El Ratón de Ciudad y el Ratón de Campo: La ratona de ciudad y la ratona de campo visitan las casas de cada uno, encontrando que prefieren mejor dónde viven.
  • El Patito Feo: El patito feo no tiene cabida en su familia hasta que se entera que en realidad es un cisne.
  • El Zapatero y los Duendes: Cuando el zapatero y su esposa no tienen dinero para hacer más zapatos, duendes llegan para ayudarles. 
  • Anansi y las Siete Colinas de Camote: Anansi les hace una broma a los otros animales, pero los otros animales encuentran la manera de vengarse.
  • Ricitos de Oro y los Tres Osos: Ricitos de Oro se come la avena de los osos, se sienta en sus sillones, y duerme en sus camas.
  • Lizard and the Painted Rock: Lizard feels unimportant because the artist doesn’t paint his picture; but when the artist paints stripes on Lizard’s back, he realizes how important he really is.
  • The Three Wishes: A man learns through the enchantment of three wishes that he should be happy with what he has.
  • The Three Little Pigs: The three little pigs build houses of their own and then try to avoid the big, bad wolf.
  • Mr. Lucky Straw: Because Yosaku chooses to see the positive side of things, he is able to help the people in his village.
  • The Magic Porridge Pot: With the help of a magic pot and a few magic words, a girl and her mother never go hungry again; but what happens when the mother forgets the magic words?
  • The Brothers: Even during a drought, two brothers share their food and live together in friendship.
  • The Little Red Hen: Little Red Hen makes bread without the help of the other animals, and when the animals offer to help eat the bread, Little Red Hen refuses.
  • La Tortuga: A Mexican Folktale: The children capture La Tortuga to make turtle soup out of her, but La Tortuga uses her wits to escape.
  • The Gingerbread Man: A gingerbread man thinks he can outrun everyone, but a fox knows better.
  • Henny Penny: Henny Penny and her friends panic when they think the sky is falling and because of their panic, they almost get eaten by Foxy Loxy.
  • The Big Mitten: Too many animals try to fit into a mitten, and the mitten just can’t hold them all.
  • The City Mouse and the Country Mouse: City Mouse and Country Mouse visit each other’s homes and find out that they like where they live best of all.
  • The Ugly Duckling: The ugly duckling doesn’t fit in with his family until he finds out he’s really a swan.
  • The Shoemaker and the Elves: When the shoemaker and his wife have no money to make shoes, elves come to help them.
  • Anansi and the Seven Yam Hills: Anansi plays a trick on all the other animals, but the other animals find a way to get even.

Research shows that children can build the phonological awareness skills necessary for reading by learning new words in any language! Practicing these skills in both English and Spanish can help children become successful lifetime learners.

For more book recommendations, check out our list of digital books for International Literacy Day.


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