¡Feliz viernes a todos!
To all who are joining for the first time or who are following the posts each week, thank you for stopping by the blog! We are kicking off the new month by celebrating and acknowledging the personal histories of our families and communities. In light of this focus, I thought I’d emphasize the importance of oral histories, traditions, and story-telling by highlighting a few interconnected resources, with a focus on La Llorona! As Keira mentioned in her “Sobre Octubre” post, the myth of La Llorona can serve as a means of understanding story, history, and memory. Her’s is a story that has been passed down as a myth among generations. By looking at how her story has endured and evolved, we can open up conversations about storytelling and oral histories within our own families and communities.
So, the first resource I highlight here details how the Latin American legend of La Llorona (the wailing woman, the weeping woman, the crying woman) has developed and changed throughout the years, both in Latin America and in the United States. The website also has a number of interviews from community members, each of whom give a different account of La Llorona’s history, as they have been taught by their families. I particularly enjoyed the clips that described who La Llorona is, what she looks like, and what traditions have come about in her honor/memory. These interviews, along with the timeline, can be a great way to start conversations not only about La Llorona, but about storytelling and oral histories as a means to transfer traditions from one generation to the next.
The second resource is a lesson plan created to help teach students how to be storytellers with their own traditions and histories. The teacher starts by giving an example of an oral history, like La Llorona, and then proceeds to work with students to create their own stories. This lesson plan is particularly interesting because it allows the teacher to connect the process of storytelling to the genre of ancient epics and serves as a bridge from the students’ own personal experiences to literature written many generations ago. The lesson plan has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards in New Mexico for grades nine through twelve, which are detailed under the standards tab for each grade individually. This plan also links to other related resources that can be used in conjunction with the one I have included above.
Using La Llorona as a starting point, the students can interactively create their own oral histories with the help of the lesson plan provided above. Even further, teachers can use commonly talked about oral traditions to connect what the students already know to what they need to learn! These resources can help incorporate Hispanic Heritage into common curriculum requirements, reviving the standard curriculum and making it more relatable. I hope these resources can bring to you and your students a new perspective on reading and relating to older materials, all in time for Día de los Muertos!
With warmest wishes,
Image: Photo of “La Llorona” Signs. Reprinted from Flickr user baldiri under CC ©.
I’m here to wrap up our September focus on “Resources to Honor and Understand Latin American Influences,” and introduce you to the themes we’ll be tackling in October: Día de los Muertos, remembering, and celebrating.
Before I talk about our upcoming month, I have to acknowledge that we’re still smack dab in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), and here at Vamos a Leer remain caught in a love-hate relationship with it. Even while HHM promotes the discussion about Latin@/Hispanic culture, it minimizes the conversation to stereotypes and relegates the information to one month out of the year, effectively communicating to students that Latin@/Hispanic heritage offers a “break” from the real curriculum; it’s apart from authenticate knowledge. There are many, many reasons why this is problematic. Katrina has discussed some of them on the blog, joining other educators such as Enid Lee and Deborah Menkart who advocate for a “beyond heroes and holidays” approach to education. In short, she’s advocated for a classroom where discussions of other cultures are not limited to one month out of the year, but instead are integrated meaningfully throughout the curriculum.
But we’re not suggesting dismissing HHM completely. Instead, much like readers who responded to a recent poll on “How do you feel about Hispanic Heritage Month? Tell us” organized by LatinoUSA, we suggest that HHM is “what you make of it.” Let’s use this an opportunity to start (or better, continue!) meaningful conversations about Latin@/Hispanic heritage, but conversations unfettered by the arbitrary dates of Sept. 15 – Oct. 15. Continue reading
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Thanks for joining me again this week! In an effort to show how immigration has truly impacted the United States, I am featuring a resource from the Smithsonian Education website. Since this month is Hispanic Heritage Month, the Smithsonian has put together a Hispanic Heritage Cultural Tour that can be completed online without even leaving the classroom. On this virtual tour, users can find descriptions of the twelve objects showcased, and links to related objects, along with activities that explain their cultural significance, and quizzes to check comprehension. Users will also notice that there is a list of resources that can be used in conjunction with this tour. Students can even use the Interactive Lab Notebook to take notes and can refer to them at any time.
The objects, some of which include a short-handled hoe, a uniform from Roberto Clemente’s time playing for the Pirates, and a carnival mask, to name just a few, are all accompanied by descriptions of what they represent for the Latino community. Many of the objects also illustrate ways in which the Latino community has influenced or impacted the United States. For example, the Devoción de Nuevo Mexico art piece shows the influence Latin American art has had, while the carnival mask illustrates the maintenance of Latino traditions even in the United States. Each object showcased on the tour can be a discussion point for the importance of immigration! Continue reading
For our final World Wide Web post before the Día de los Muertos celebration, I would love to share a fantastic online teaching resource about the linkages between Día de los Muertos and Halloween.
You may notice that many of our materials on this blog caution you against doing exactly this. Time and time again, we reiterate in different ways that Día de los Muertos should not be construed as the Mexican version of Halloween. Continue reading
Here in Albuquerque we are gearing up for one of our favorite local traditions, the 22nd Annual South Valley Dia De Los Muertos Marigold Parade and Celebration. The parade is a special celebration in which different groups within the community come together to honor those who have passed away. With this in mind, this week’s featured book is about a local tradition specific to a small village in Guatemala that takes place on Día de Los Muertos. Continue reading
As the 1st and 2nd of November approach, students may start to wonder about some of the deeper meanings behind Dia de los Muertos traditions. Today we have an important “Double Header”, the first article uses a beautiful resource provided by National Geographic to introduce the complex idea that death can be as much cultural as it is biological, and how certain visual elements of Dia de los Muertos teaches us that. The second is an article that focuses on the ancient Olmec’s and their contributions to Dia de los Muertos traditions. Continue reading
Last week I reviewed a book that touches upon the issue of losing a loved one. This week I present a book that can be used to introduce the issue of death to children in a light and playful way. Given that it also includes imagery related to Día de los Muertos and celebrates Mexican traditions, it’s a great addition to your classroom discussions about this holiday. An Américas Award winner in 2003 and Pura Belpré Award winner in 2004, Just A Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, (ages 4-8) written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, is a wonderful book that mixes multicultural literature with bilingual elements and math. Continue reading
Tonight is our sixth and last workshop in our series on teaching about Día de los Muertos. We’ve had such a wonderful time with all of the teachers and community members who’ve participated this year. We’ve spent the last two days making pounds and pounds of sugar skulls and icing, so I’m sure tonight will be just as much as fun. We also just installed the ofrenda we created for the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Día de los Muertos exhibit. To say our LAII k-12 outreach team has been busy lately just might be an understatement. We definitely plan to share some pictures of all of these fun projects soon! Continue reading
In last week’s post, I introduced the theme of Día de los Muertos and we looked at a book that inspires students to think about honoring ancestors. This week we will continue with our theme as I present a book that tells the story of a young girl’s relationship with her grandmother, tackles the issue of loss, and explores traditions particular to Día de los Muertos.
A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead/Un regalo para Abuelita: En celebración del Dia de los Muertos (ages 5-8) is a bilingual children’s book written by Nancy Luenn and illustrated by Robert Chapman. Continue reading
Continuing with this month’s theme of teaching about Día de los Muertos, in today’s En la Clase I’m going to share one of my favorite poetry writing activities from our Día de los Muertos teaching guide: Calaveras and Conjuring with Words. If you’re planning on having your students make a classroom ofrenda or individual mini-shrines this is the perfect activity to pair with that. This activity was produced by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and they very kindly let us reprint it in our guide. They have excellent K-6 and Middle/High School lesson plans available for free on their website. It’s definitely a site that I recommend you spend some time with. Continue reading