To The Teacher:
This activity invites students to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month by uplifting all things Hispanic that are present or have been influential in our lives. The activity gives students an opportunity to reflect on how everyday items, sounds, people, and even movements are connected to Hispanic Heritage and the Hispanic Diaspora.
The lesson begins by inviting students to share their understanding of the word “Hispanic.” For your reference, here is a definition and context drawn from this article on “Hispanic vs. Latino.”
Hispanic refers to people who speak Spanish or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations.
Latino / Latina / Latinx refers to people who are from or descended from people from Latin America, who have a mix of Black, Indigenous, European, and other ancestries. It is a shortened form of the Spanish phrase latinoamericano—Latin American, in English.
Hispanic is a term created by white people, and many Latinx folks do not identify as Hispanic.
Preparation and Materials
Find a table, wall, or windowsill where you can display artifacts.
For a table, find:
- Fabric or a tablecloth to cover the table
- Unused books of blocks to create height and multiple levels for the display
For a wall, find:
- Thumbtacks, double-sided tape, or any other material you can use to mount artifacts.
Provide students with art materials, including:
- Cardstock, index cards, or cereal boxes
- Markers, paint and brushes or colored pencils
If time and space permits, conduct this conversation in a circle format. Whatever your classroom set-up, encourage all students to share at some point.
If this activity is taking place during Hispanic Heritage Month, you might begin by sharing with students that Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) invites us to celebrate the generations of Hispanic Americans who have influenced and enriched our nation and society.
Check in with your students on their understanding of the words Hispanic, Latino/Latina/Latinx, and Latin American. Share the information provided above it is helpful.
- Who here identifies with any of these terms?
Invite students who identify to share a bit more about their connection to the terms, maybe where they and/or their families are from (geographically).
Note: these shares are to celebrate aspects of identity, not to lead to comments or conversations on political or national status.
- What are some of the things and who are some of the people that come to mind when you think of celebrating “Hispanic Heritage”?
Encourage all students to share – not just those who identify as Hispanic or Latinx. As students share, ask:
- Does this resonate with others here?
Notice whether the things students share refer to people, things, places, or actions. Encourage students to share responses that are about all of these.
Conclude the conversation by expressing gratitude for students’ participation. Share how much you learned from them (if this applies).
Creating a Culture Community Gallery
Part 1: Find and Collect the Artifacts
Next, share with students that we’ll be co-creating a Culture Community Gallery on the wall, table, or windowsill.
Ask students to each bring in an artifact – an object that you have a personal connection to – that represents Hispanic culture.
Tell students that if they are thinking about a person they know, they can bring in a photo or make a drawing that they can contribute to the gallery.
If they are thinking of a food, they can bring in the food (something that doesn’t need refrigeration, and is well-sealed, if necessary) – or bring a photo or drawing of the food.
The idea is to bring or create some kind of visual representation of this object, person, movement, music, dance, food, clothing, etc., that will fit in their gallery space.
Emphasize for students that their gallery and the items in it are open to their interpretation. Invite students to be creative about the artifacts they bring – the more creative we can make our gallery, the more we are honoring Hispanic culture. Some examples:
- If you love arepas and they make you think about your abuela (grandma), but you can’t bring in an arepa, you might bring in some flour in a jar or bag. It will look beautiful and honor both your abuela and the corn flour that arepas are made from. (Arepas are cornmeal cakes, traditionally from Venezuela and Colombia.)
- If you’d like to pay homage to the tasty Takis, bring in an empty Takis bag – or even better, a full bag to share with your classmates that you can display in the gallery once the bag is finished. (Takis are a Mexican brand of rolled corn tortilla chip.)
- Bring in an image of your favorite reggeaton artist, or the flag of the country they or their family are from. (Reggaeton, a music style from Puerto Rico via Panama, is one of the most popular music genres in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, and now in the United States.)
- Your tribute to the nutritious and delicious avocado could be in collage form - made from gathered green and yellow paper. (Most of Hass Avocados in the U.S. come from Mexico and Peru.)
Part 2: Create Plaques for Artifacts
Have everyone drop off their artifact in a designated area.
When all the artifacts have been collected and students are back in their seats (or somewhere with a writing surface), ask them to create a plaque for their artifact using the art materials you have assembled (For example: the blank sides of index cards, cut pieces of poster board, or the inside of cereal boxes for the surface and pens/markers/paint for the works and décor.)
Ask students to create a plaque that will share the following information:
- Name of their artifact: It can be a literal name or a naming of their artistic representation
- What it means to them
- Country or region of origin
Part 3: Share Artifacts & Plan the Gallery
Once students are ready with both their artifact and their plaque, ask them to share their contribution to our Community Gallery. This can take place as students are gathering around the gallery space, or in a circle, with students seated.
Invite each student to:
- Show their artifact
- Explain what it is
- Share what it means to them
- Note its country(ies) of origin, if they can
Decide if students will set up of the gallery (objects and plaques) collaboratively as a class or if you (the teacher) will do it and have the students view the gallery the next time you meet. If students opt to install the art themselves, invite their thoughts and ideas about how to arrange the gallery, given the options in your classroom.
Invite students to reflect on this activity. Ask:
- How did it feel to think about the connections you have to Latino America?
- How do you feel when you see the gallery?
- What most strikes you about the artifacts we shared?
- Do any items especially stand out for you? Why?
- Do any of the items make you feel curious to know more? What do you want to find out?
- During Hispanic Heritage Month – or any other time – what can you do to honor Hispanic / Latinx culture?