From September 15 to October 15, the United States celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s an opportunity for our country to celebrate the diverse identities of Hispanic Americans and recognize the many contributions they have made to American culture. For educators, this time of year also provides a wonderful opening to share Hispanic art, history, and accomplishments with our students.
We all strive to build classrooms where our students feel seen and respected. Through Hispanic Heritage Month, we can affirm the identities of our Hispanic American students. At the same time, those of different backgrounds can learn what makes Hispanic culture unique. It’s a fun, engaging way to widen student perspective. To show them that this world of ours is a big place filled with diverse and extraordinary people. As always, however, the first question we find ourselves asking is, “Where do I start?”
If you’re looking for some fun, engaging ideas for celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with your students, consider trying one of these activities:
- Hispanic Heroes: Take a moment to introduce your students to several extraordinary individuals whose work and accomplishments have made our country a better place. Spend a lesson covering the life of Cesar Chavez, whose activism radically improved the lives of agricultural workers. Or reflect on the influential rulings of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who made history as the first Hispanic American to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court. There are many historical heroes to choose from, and all of them have something noteworthy to share!
- Festivals and Holidays: Your students may have attended a local Hispanic festival in their neighborhood, but how much do they know about the holidays themselves? Spend some time introducing your class to important Hispanic holidays such as Cinco de Mayo or Día de los Muertos. Investigate the history behind these celebrations (when and why did they start?), then explore what traditions make these holidays unique. You could even spark engagement with authentic holiday food, music, and games!
- Geography Time: Do your students know what countries are considered Hispanic? Challenge their geography skills by seeing how many they can name or find on a map. Afterwards, take a closer look to discover what similarities these countries share, as well as how they are unique. You can even take a step further by having students try to identify them by their flags.
- Friends and Family Interviews: Does one of your students have a friend or family member who immigrated to the U.S. from a Spanish-speaking country? If possible, invite them into your class for an interview. Students can ask questions about what their life was like. What brought them to the United States? What do they love most about their homeland? If you really want to challenge your students, have them craft a biography from the moments that made their friend’s life meaningful!
By celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month together, we can learn more about the people of our community and the world around us. Don’t miss this chance to broaden your classroom horizon and get students thinking about art, history, and so much more!
*Today’s image comes from Pepe and the Parade by Tracey Kyle and Mirelle Ortega. Get your copy today.