Hispanic Heritage Month is coming up, and for teachers, that means a great opportunity to teach their students about the many cultures that Hispanic people represent.
But first maybe you are wondering: When did Hispanic Heritage Month begin? It actually dates back to 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the first Hispanic Heritage Week. 20 years later, Congress expanded it to a whole month. And that means a month of lessons.
Are you a teacher looking for Hispanic Heritage Month themes? Here are a few ideas:
Hispanic Heritage Month Theme #1: Day of the Dead
This Hispanic Heritage Month theme is very timely. With the creation of the animated movie The Book of Life, this is a great chance to teach your students about el Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.
- Elementary: Students color drawings of Day of the Dead skulls.
- Junior High: Students research, make, and decorate sugar skulls in class. At the end of the month, they have a Day of the Dead party where they paint their faces similar to a sugar skull.
- High School: Students research the tradition of the Day of the Dead altar. Then they create an altar, with different groups bringing different offerings (ofrendas).As appropriate, those represented can be famous people who have died, or students can choose to honor loved ones who have died, such as grandparents.
Hispanic Heritage Month Theme #2: Music
Latin America is famous for its music. Your students will love learning more about it.
- Elementary: Make maracas. All they need is beans and a juice can.
- Junior High: Each week, pick a different style of Latin music (salsa, cumbia, mambo, merengue, mariachi, trova, Andean panpipes, etc.).Play several songs, then have them talk about the music: how does it make them feel, is it similar to something they know, etc. At the end of the month, the class votes on its favorite, which is then the featured music at a Hispanic celebration.
- High School: In groups, students pick a Latin ritmo (rhythm): salsa, merengue, cumbia, etc. Using the Internet, they learn how to do the accompanying dance.The groups then do a presentation where they teach the others the steps. At an end-of-month party, all the ritmos are played and the students practice – and have fun!
Hispanic Heritage Month Theme #3: Legends and Stories
Latin America is rich in myths, ghost stories, and legendary figures. This Hispanic Heritage Month theme is very versatile because each country has its own myths and legends.
- Elementary: Have students color drawings of Latin American myths or dress up as them.
- Junior High: Students read several ghost stories or legends. In groups, they write and then perform their own mini-plays based on the stories.
- High School: Students pick a country and research one of its legends. They then do presentations for the class.