National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. This is a great time to recognize, honor, and celebrate the many contributions and positive influences that members of the Hispanic and Latinx communities have made in America. The official celebration began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, but it was expanded to a month-long event in 1988.
The celebration begins on September 15 to coincide with the independence days of five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, the independence of Mexico, Chile, and Belize are also celebrated during this time, September 16, 18, and 21, respectively.
There are many ways you can teach, celebrate, and pay tribute to the diverse Hispanic and Latinx cultures, traditions, languages, art, literature, and heroes during Hispanic Heritage Month and throughout the school year. Here are some creative ways to celebrate.
Read and Investigate Hispanic and Latinx Literature
Reading books, articles, poetry, and plays that explore the rich culture of the Hispanic and Latinx communities are great ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month and to learn throughout the school year. There are many prolific Hispanic and Latinx authors and illustrators. When Hispanic and Latinx students see themselves in the curriculum, they feel valued and empowered. Students who do not have a related heritage also benefit by gaining a fresh perspective on different cultures and positive contributions. They can better understand and appreciate the diverse world around them.
To help students learn about and celebrate Hispanic and Latinx culture through literature, consider implementing the following ideas:
- Add books by Hispanic and Latinx authors and illustrators as well as books that feature Hispanic and Latinx people, places, and culture to your classroom library. Check out these books that celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
- Set up your classroom library in a way that features Hispanic and Latinx culture during Hispanic Heritage Month and throughout the school year. During other times of the year, be sure to highlight Hispanic and Latinx people and culture. For example, during Women’s History Month, be sure to include Hispanic and Latina women like Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina US Supreme Court Justice and Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina astronaut to travel to space.
- Include books that are written in Spanish or have been translated into Spanish. Here are some great bilingual children’s books.
- Invite a Hispanic or Latinx author to discuss his/her book with your class.
Recognize and Celebrate Hispanic and Latinx Heroes
Hispanic and Latinx Americans have made tremendous contributions to the fabric of the United States of America.
They have contributed to the fields of science, medicine, engineering, law, education, business, athletics, entertainment, and many more. Hispanic and Latinx history is American History and it important that all children are given the opportunity to learn about Hispanic and Latinx men and women who have made a difference.
To highlight Hispanic and Latinx heroes, consider some of the following activities to add to your in-person or virtual classroom.
- Feature a Hispanic and/or Latinx hero at least once per week during Hispanic Heritage Month. Make sure students are able to see photographs, learn their ancestral heritage, successes and hurdles. If students are older, consider assigning Latinx heroes to students and have them present each week. Be sure to highlight Hispanic and Latinx attorneys, authors, chefs, engineers, judges, scientists, athletes, politicians, artists, celebrities, etc.
- Have students dress up like their Hispanic and/or Latinx hero and give a report.
- Hang posters throughout your classroom and school that feature a Hispanic or Latinx hero. If you have set up a Classroom Bitmoji, hang artwork or quotes from Hispanic and Latinx artists on your virtual classroom wall.
- Have children work in groups to complete a report, slide presentation or project about a Hispanic or Latinx hero or country.
- Have Hispanic and Latinx students interview their personal heroes like parents and other family members or invite family members to come in to talk about their culture. Reach out to Hispanic and Latinx organizations to find local heroes.
Learn about Hispanic and Latinx Culture Through Geography, Food, and Music
Exploring Hispanic and Latinx countries, ethnic foods, and music are fun ways to learn about and celebrate Hispanic and Latinx cultures while experiencing it firsthand. Even if you are not able to physically travel to the countries or a museum, websites like the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum are engaging and fun. Be sure to explore art, traditional dances and the different ways the countries celebrate holidays.
Food is an integral part of any culture. Traditional Hispanic and Latinx cuisine can be a source of pride as recipes are passed down from generation to generation. To have students explore Hispanic and Latinx culture through food, consider having families bring in food or have Latinx or Hispanic restaurants donate food. If students are not allowed to share food, give students recipes and encourage their families to try the recipes at home. Here are some Hispanic and Latinx recipes.
Hispanic and Latinx music is incredibly vibrant and diverse. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by listening to current and traditional Hispanic and Latinx music. Watch Hispanic and Latinx musicians and dancers create and perform to the rhythmic Hispanic and Latinx beats and sounds.
Here are some activities that you can include to explore Hispanic and Latinx countries through travel, food, and music.
- Assign students a country or city and have students create a travel brochure that outlines the features, history and traditions of the location.
- Celebrate traditional holidays like Cinco De Mayo or Day of the Dead.
- Create a class recipe book of Hispanic and Latinx recipes.
- Create crafts to learn about artifacts from a particular country. Here are a list of artifacts children can make from Chile, Peru and Mexico.
- Incorporate movement into your learning activities by playing Hispanic and Latinx music when students transition from one activity to another. Here is some recent music from artists from Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic and Guatemala.
Incorporate Spanish Language into Your Classroom
Language is a vital aspect of Hispanic and Latinx culture. While Spanish is the most common language spoken by most Hispanic and Latinx countries, some speak other languages, like Portuguese.
Below are strategies to incorporate Spanish language into your classroom during Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond.
- Include Spanish words on vocabulary or sight word wall cards. For example, if butterfly is a vocabulary word, be sure to also include mariposa, the Spanish word for butterfly.
- Label items within the classroom and throughout the school in English and Spanish.
- Encourage students to speak in Spanish. For example, in math, teach students the numbers in Spanish and have them respond verbally saying numbers in Spanish.
- When you send home correspondence to families, be sure to translate it in Spanish. Consider using apps like Google Translate and Babble and have some someone who reads and writes Spanish to review it for errors.
Make sure to take time to celebrate Hispanic Heritage between September 15 and October 15, but try to make every effort to incorporate Hispanic and Latinx culture throughout the school year.
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