Do you need teaching ideas and activities for Hispanic Heritage Month in your upper elementary classroom? Consider these books, music, art, and research.
Are you looking for ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in your upper elementary classroom? Here is a list of activities to spark your imagination. We’ll begin with books and movies, then move on to activities, crafts, and ideas for teaching. I use the term Latinx in this blog post. What is Latinx? It’s an inclusive gender-neutral term that can be used in place of Latino (masculine) and Latina (feminine).
When is Hispanic Heritage Month? It begins on September 15th, with the independence days of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16. Hispanic Heritage Month ends on October 15.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating and learning about these cultures. It’s a wonderful way to begin to introduce your students to Latinx culture and celebrate all of its diversity.
With over twenty-one Spanish speaking countries in the world, the exploration of Hispanic Heritage has wide variations. Here are some ideas to celebrate and observe this important month in your upper elementary or middle school classroom.
Let’s begin with books and movies.
Upper Elementary Books and Picture Books by Latinx Authors
- Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros.
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. This is one of my all time favorites.
- The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
- Rosita y Conchita by Eric Gonzalez . This book is about Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. It’s in both English and Spanish.
- Martina, The Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale by Carmen Agra Deedy. I love this book so much for teaching figurative language and turns of expression. Plus, it’s an adorable folktale that even the older students love.
- A Spoon for Every Bite by Joe Hayes. This book is also in both English and Spanish. It’s an old moral tale involving the use of tortillas and of not being greedy.
Have a Film Screening
The Disney movies Encanto and Coco appeal to all ages of students. It’s great for a fun way to explore some of the music and customs in Mexico and Colombia. It could kick off a country research project, (see my ideas for this further down in this blog post.)
Have students write a short summary of the movie when they are done. Include the theme, the main characters, the problem, the moment the problem seems unsolvable, and the final solution.
As always, you can save this post and come back to it again. Just pin this image to your Pinterest board!
Games and Crafts for Hispanic Heritage Month
Print the cards and leave them on the students’ desks. This lotería game is similar to bingo and isn’t exactly like the adult La Lotería (for obvious reasons.) This classroom version of the game makes a fun way to learn and practice words in Spanish.
Create Some Papel Picado
In my opinion, there’s nothing more colorful and inviting than having papel picado strung around the classroom. Here is a wonderful Youtube tutorial for students to learn about papel picado and how to create their own.
When you’ve done this with your class, share the photos with me! I’d love to include them in this blog post.
Listen to Latinx Artists
Explore the works of famous artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Picasso. Create artwork centered around these famous artists. A great place to get started with your art exploration is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum of Latinx Art.
I could spend hours here getting inspiration for my next art project.
Hispanic Heritage History and Latinx Leaders Biographies
Learn about Manuel Hidalgo and El Grito de Dolores to introduce Mexican Independence Day on September 15. The website Schools for Chiapas has a short history appropriate for upper elementary students, including a video and images. It also has links to lessons and activities for you to use with your students. You can download them for free.
Do this fun color coded activity as a front loading introduction to Mexican Independence Day or as a review and conclusion of your lesson.
Learn about famous Latinx leaders with short biographies and flipbooks. Students love to combine reading comprehension and writing with making a flipbook. In my TeacherWriter Teachers Pay Teachers store you can find many to choose from. Choose from Latinx leaders in all walks of life. A list of current and soon to be finished flipbook projects are listed here.
This quick video let’s you see inside the product.
Pele, Soccer Star
El Santo, Fighter
Fine and Performing Arts
Law and Social Justice
Alex Ocasio Cortez
You can grab a bundle with all of these biographies in one resource. When new biographies are added, you’ll get them at no extra cost. So it’s a money-saving option for you to buy the bundle now and save later as it continues to grow!
Explore Latinx Music
Head to the internet to find the official sites for the music of Celia Cruz, Selena, Gloria Estefan, or other artists who have music you would like to share with your class. You can combine some of these people with a study of their life story in the biography reports.
Include a brain break each day featuring a different song or artist. Or play one song at the end of each day for students to enjoy while they clean up their desks and the room.
Hispanic Guest Speakers
Invite local guests to come to your class and share something they love or something they do. It could be art, cooking, a craft, storytelling, or anything else they are passionate about or skilled at.
Spanish and Central and Latin American Countries Research
There are twenty-one Spanish speaking countries around the world. You could explore a map and have students choose one country to research and report on. The report could take several different forms:
- A short video
- A slides presentation
- A written or oral report
- A poster project
This research is fun for students to do in groups. If you choose a poster project, do this near the beginning of the month so you can hang the posters around the room and enjoy them for a few weeks.
Ideas for Teachers to Enjoy Hispanic Heritage Month
This section is for you, my friend. Here are a few things I can honestly recommend. You can find these books and videos at your library.
Videos for Hispanic Heritage Month
- Mexican Cooking MasterClass by Gabriela Cámara (This might be included in a Great Courses section.)
- Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It (I think her life story is incredibly interesting and inspiring.)
- Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Reread the book or watch the movie. (The expression, “like water for chocolate” means that the water is at the boiling point, as it would be if you were making hot chocolate. One of the themes of the book is about emotions that are at the boiling point.)
Newer Books and Audiobooks from Hispanic Authors
- American Brujería by J. Allen Cross ( A study of Mexican folk magic and healing and its crossover with American folk magic and healing.)
- Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia An exploration of a Cuban American family’s roots and history extending into the present day reveals how our past history affects our circumstances in our lives today.
Enjoy your time fostering the cultural appreciation and understanding of the Hispanic and Latinx world. You don’t have to limit this to just September 15 to October 15. You can celebrate all year round. Have fun and enjoy it!