September 15 — October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month! That means it’s time to find ways to integrate conversation about Hispanic culture into your classroom routine. Through these activities, you can position your students to empower each other and exercise cultural awareness.
To support your lesson planning throughout the observance, we’ve gathered some classroom activities that encourage Hispanic Heritage Month learning and engagement. We have also listed two resource centers for teaching Hispanic Heritage Month on the web. Be sure to always prioritize respect and compassion in your classroom environment during these celebratory activities and promote open conversations among students.
Highlight a Country: Collaborating with other teachers to each highlight a country for your classroom can be a great way to ensure students get an in-depth cultural learning experience. Taking time to rotate students through several participating classrooms that each display specifics of a different country can allow students to compare similarities and differences in culture. Hispanic Heritage Month encompasses Puerto Rico, South or Central America, or other Spanish origins. Countries may include: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, Belize, and more (1).
Hispanic Heritage Student Sharing: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic Americans are one of the fastest growing population groups in the United States. Therefore, it is not uncommon for teachers to have students of Hispanic heritage in their classroom. Providing an optional platform for these students to highlight and share their culture in a safe and conducive environment can be beneficial for all students. These students may choose to share photos of their hometowns, important cultural items, or basic phrases in their first language (2).
Biography Wall: Assigning students Hispanic historical figures and having them research images and develop biographies for them to share with the class, can be a great source of engagement. Documentaries, such as PBS: Latino Americans, can be a useful tool for writing biographies or learning about these figures.
Travel Guides: For older students, having them develop travel guides to a specific country, or city represented by Hispanic Heritage Month, can be a great learning tool. Students may choose to include, cultural tips, common menu items, common phrases, history, or specific travel destinations of interest. Engaging students in culture and helping them easily share their learning with classmates in a visual way.
Smithsonian Education: If you’re looking for primary sources to practice analysis and inquiry, this should be your first stop. The site provides a variety of resources including a virtual museum, Latino gallery and additional resources. You can also check out the Smithsonian’s Learning Lab Collections on Hispanic Heritage.
Library of Congress: The Library of Congress National Hispanic Heritage Month page has several Image, exhibit, audio, and video resources for exploration, or further teaching. These sources can easily be used to direct discussion and generate classroom conversation.