November 4th | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! The readings for this week are a mix between celebrating Día de los Muertos and bilingual education. I really hope you enjoy them.

After Nearly 2 Decades, Californians Revisit Ban On Bilingual Education. “Our children live in Spanish-speaking families, Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, and listen to Spanish television when they’re home. If school refuses to teach them English, where are they going to learn it? They’re not going to go to college if they don’t have academic English down well.”

– Our Teaching for Change friends shared on Facebook their favorite bilingual children’s book (and one of ours!), Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, in celebration of Día de los Muertos.

— Also on Facebook, Latinas for Latino Lit shared their list of chapter Books with Latina Protagonists.

–Here are 21 Of The Most Powerful Things Ever Said About Being An Immigrant shared by our friends at We Need Diverse Books. Warsan Shire writes, “You have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

– Lastly, from Remezcla, we discovered 5 Virtual Día de los Muertos Altars to Women Who Defined Music History that you can share in your classroom.

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Día de los Muertos Art. Reprinted from Flickr user Kubetwo under CC©.

¡Mira Look!: The Spirit of Tío Fernando, a Day of the Dead Story/ El espíritu de tío Fernando

tio-fernandoSaludos todos! As we continue our October themes of death, grief and loss, this week I will be reviewing The Spirit of Tío Fernando, a Day of the Dead Story/ El espíritu de tío Fernando, Una historia del Día de los Muertos, written by Janice Levy, illustrated by Morella Fuenmayor, and translated into Spanish by Teresa Mlawer.  Although this year we’ve tried to expand our October themes to focus on the general concept of death, and not just as it relates to specific holidays, I felt it appropriate to feature at least one book on Day of the Dead. Since Day of the Dead is a celebration and cultural ritual that we’ve worked on extensively here on the blog, we wanted to expand our themes a bit this year; however, there is a reason that we’ve worked so extensively on Day of the Dead, and I find it nearly impossible to talk about the concept of death in Latin America without mentioning this beautiful holiday. Moreover, this particular story does a nice job of exposing readers to the various elements and practices of the holiday as it is celebrated in Mexico, while centering primarily on the young, male protagonist’s experience with death and grief.

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Reading Roundup: 10 Children’s Books About Día de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos Reading Roundup

¡Buenos Días!

It’s that time of year! This week I’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite Día de los Muertos books, from which students can learn more deeply about the holiday’s traditions and history. The Día de los Muertos fiesta is a time for honoring and remembering. It is a time for celebrating family, ancestors, history, and loved ones who have passed away. It is mainly celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala and the United States, fusing Native Mesoamerican traditions with Spanish traditions. On our site, you can click on our Día de los Muertos tab under “Our Most Popular Themes” to see our many posts about Day of the Dead. Just this week Charla posted a video that teaches the meaning behind Día de los Muertos, and Katrina posted about Pictorial Input Charts for teaching about it in the classroom. Furthermore, we have a Halloween and Día de los Muertos Roundup of Books that is worth checking out. I hope you enjoy this month’s Reading Roundup, and that it helps with the teaching of this exciting holiday!

¡Saludos!
Kalyn

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En la Clase: Día de los Muertos, Chants, and the Cooperative Sentence Strip Paragraph

Dia de los Muertos | ELL and GLAD Strategies | Vamos a LeerThis week’s post will wrap up my En la Clase posts on Día de los Muertos.  The activities I’ll talk about today are great ones for the end of a unit, especially the Cooperative Sentence Strip Paragraph.  Just in time, our complementary guide with ELL and GLAD strategies for teaching about Día de los Muertos is now available online (just scroll down to the end of the activities, they’re right below our art activities).  We’ve gotten great feedback from teachers about the materials, so be sure to check them out.  Before we start talking about today’s activities, I want to make sure you saw Charla’s WWW post from Friday.  She highlights one of my favorite animated short films about Día de los Muertos.  It’s really beautiful.  It communicates so much in such a short amount of time and without a single word of dialogue! It’s perfect for classroom use.

Now, on to chants.  Chants are a fun way to engage students while encouraging language fluency and reinforcing important ideas, concepts, and vocabulary.  They can be adapted for any grade level and only take 10 or 15 minutes a day, maybe even less. Below I’ve shared the beginning of a chant our amazing graduate student bloggers Charla, Kalyn, and Alice created especially for Día de los Muertos. You can download the entire chant along with two others here. Continue reading

WWW: The Meaning behind Día de los Muertos

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks for stopping by the blog this week!  In light of the upcoming celebrations for Día de los Muertos, I am featuring a great short film (about three minutes in length) that really moves the viewer to understand the meaning and importance behind Día de los Muertos.

Vamos a Leer | WWW: The Meaning behind Día de los MuertosFrom the description of the publishers, “[In] this beautifully animated, and heart felt, short film about a little girl who visits the land of the dead, […] she learns the true meaning of the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos.”  The main character is first seen at the cemetery, visiting the gravesite of a loved one, when she finds a flower that pulls her into the party of afterlife.  She is given guidance by a friendly skeleton, who feeds her fruits and bread, and turns out to be the very loved one who’s gravesite the little girl was visiting.  It’s a brief, three-minute-long film that can explain Día de los Muertos in a much easier, more emotional relatable way than just reading a description of the holiday online or out of a book.  We think this short could be easily incorporated into a class discussion about Día de los Muertos, and could be used as a base for discussing traditions, afterlife, honoring the dead, and multicultural holidays. Continue reading

En la Clase: Día de los Muertos and Pictorial Input Charts

Today I’m sharing another GLAD (Pictorial Input Chart | Dia de los Muertos | Vamos a LeerGuided Language Acquisition Design) inspired strategy for teaching about Día de los Muertos.  But first, if you missed Alice’s post on Monday, be sure to check out her review of Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead.  It’s a really interesting book about Día de los Muertos and the the migration of monarch butterflies in Mexico–quite unique in terms of children’s literature about the celebration.

Last week I wrote about how to use a Cognitive Content Dictionary Chart as part of a unit on Día de los Muertos.  Today we’re going to talk about Pictorial Input Charts.  In this activity the teacher creates a large poster with important content knowledge overlaid on an image relevant to the unit or topic of study.  As you can see from the picture above, the content information is chunked or categorized with sub-headings.  If you’re studying multiple traditions or celebrations throughout the year, these categories could be used for all of them.  This would provide some consistency from unit to unit.  Typically, in preparation for the activity, the teacher would lightly trace the image and information on a large sheet of white butcher paper.  When it’s time to begin, the teacher hangs the butcher paper poster on the board and begins coloring parts of the image and tracing over the content information she/he had already written in, while presenting the information to the class.  When using this strategy, teachers want to follow the concept of 10:2 teaching: for every 10 minutes of direct instruction, students are given 2 minutes to discuss with the class, a partner, their table group, etc. the information that has just been presented. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead

Children's Book Review: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman | Vamos a LeerSaludos, everyone! As I shared last week, we’ve drawn upon Día de los Muertos happening at the end of this month as an opportunity to reflect on the loss of loved ones. In accordance with that, this week I will be reviewing Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead, written by Judy Goldman and illustrated by René King Moreno. This book is best for grades 1-5, and will teach readers a valuable lesson on love and loss, while they journey through the seasonal traditions of a small, Mexican village.

Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead is written entirely in English, though it is rich in Mexican cultural heritage, focusing as it does on the traditions of Día de los Muertos. At the back of the book, for instance, Goldman includes a list of Spanish terms and their definitions, including mole, “a rich, dark sauce made with, among other things, peanuts, chilies, tomatoes, and chocolate”, and cempazuchitl, “a type of marigold”, usually used to decorate altars for the dead. She also includes a page explaining the cultural significance of this Mexican holiday: “Many Mexicans believe that the souls of those who have died return on those days, and they are lovingly remembered by family and friends… Día de muertos is a time of fun, remembrance, and love.” This book is not only a great resource for teaching children about significant cultural traditions, but also for explaining the reality of death in a gentle and comforting way.

Children's Book Review: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman | Vamos a LeerThe story starts with a little girl, Lupita, running to her elderly uncle, Tío Urbano, to tell him that the monarch butterflies have arrived for the season. Lupita and Tío Urbano exit the house to admire the marvelous monarchs, and bask in the bitter-sweet memories that they bring each fall. Tío Urbano reminds Lupita of the familiar admonition that you must never capture or hurt a monarch butterfly, “for they are the souls of the dead ones, who have come back to visit us before Día de Muertos.” Tío Urbano explains to Lupita why Día de Muertos should not be a sad day, but rather a day to remember loved ones who’ve passed, and the good times spent with them: “Never be afraid of the dead, for those who loved us can never hurt us. We will always miss them, and this is why it is a blessing to receive the butterflies before Día de Muertos, when we show our dead that they are treasured and not forgotten.” Lupita and Tío Urbano spend a moment together fixated on the mesmerizing, undulating swarm of orange and black, remembering their loved ones who are no longer with them.

The illustChildren's Book Review: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman | Vamos a Leerrations, done with soft colored pencils, complement the story’s soothing tone. My favorite image is one of Lupita and Tío Urbano staring up at the canopies of coniferous trees, with hundreds of butterflies flying through the shady maze. The forest resembles the pine-oak forests in Mexico, where a biosphere reserve was created to protect this transient species. The monarch butterflies migrate from North America down to these Mexican forests during the colder months, and then back to the US when it warms again. They are the only known butterfly to make a two-part migration the way that birds do. According to Annenberg Learner, “People in the region have noticed the arrival of monarchs since pre-Hispanic times.” This symbol has long been a part of Mexican culture and tradition. People all over the country associate the monarch butterflies with Día de los Muertos.

In recognizing the monarch butterflies as reincarnations of the dead, and emphasizing the sacredness of these butterflies, this story also speaks to the importance of respecting and preserving nature and its habitats: “Lupita nodded and said, ‘I must never capture or hurt a monarch’.” The monarch butterflies’ seasonal habitat is currently threatened by climate change, as the increase in winter precipitation risks freezing the butterflies’ wings while they lay dormant. By teaching Lupita about the different ways of honoring loved ones, Tío Urbano also instructs her on a similar respect due to the environment.

Children's Book Review: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman | Vamos a LeerOnce Lupita and Tío Urbano enter the house, Lupita starts helping her parents prepare for the festivities of Día de Muertos, while her uncle sits and rests. As she does so, the reader learns about the different traditions that accompany this holiday, such as putting up an altar to commemorate the dead with family photos, candles, and sugar statues of skulls, and making food that they “liked in life, and would now enjoy in spirit.” Lupita and her parents set up an arch of cempazuchtil flowers and string rows of colorful papel picado from one end of the living room to the other. Lupita also uses the cempazuchtil flowers to make a path of  petals leading up to the house to guide the dead (the strong scent of the flowers is said to guide the spirits home). As Lupita dedicates herself to welcoming the deceased back into the lives of the living, she learns a great deal about the meaning of the holiday. This proves to be an invaluable lesson later on, when she is confronted with the death of a loved one for the first time.

I loved this book, and I think it does an excellent job of radiating peace, tranquility, and comfort. This is a perfect book for any child who wants to learn about Mexican traditions or who is struggling with the loss of a loved one.

Because Moreno and Goldman do such a lovely job speaking about the metaphor and migration of the monarch butterflies, we’ve found a few resources to expand on that topic:

• A video of monarch butterfly migrations
• More on monarch butterflies and climate change
• René King Moreno website
• Judy Goldman blog

Also, don’t forget to check out Charla’s post on the Monarch butterfly migration!

Stay tuned for more great books!
¡Hasta pronto!
Alice


Modified from illustration, Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead, pages 8, 10, 12