En la Clase: ‘Twas Nochebuena. . .

Twas Nochebuena | En la Clase | Vamos a Leer BlogToday’s En la Clase continues our December theme on winter celebrations by sharing how to implement another great children’s book into your teaching.  We’ve already shared posts on The Miracle of the First Poinsettia and A Piñata in a Pine Tree.  Be sure to check those out for some other fun resources if you missed them.

I recently remembered a recommendation a blog reader gave me last year about the beautiful book ‘Twas Nochebuena written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by Sarah Palacios.  Somehow I’d missed this book when it came out in 2014, but I’m really happy to be writing about it this year in time for one of our December posts.  Greenfield Thong and Placios have created a new version of the familiar ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas tale. Here, students will read about one family’s Nochebuena celebration.  This story, like some of the others we’ve highlighted this month, is filled with references to Latino Christmas traditions such as tamales, adornos, canciones, las posadas, and champurrado. Written in a mixture of English and Spanish, the book can be used with English speakers or Spanish speakers, as the surrounding words and illustrations provide plenty of context clues.  The glossary at the back is also a great resource. Continue reading

En la Clase: A Piñata in a Pine Tree

A Pinata in a Pine Tree | Teaching Holidays and Celebrations | Vamos a Leer BlogI realize it’s still November, but based on our search statistics, many of you are already looking for books, lesson plans, and resources for teaching about winter celebrations like Christmas and Las Posadas.  I’m impressed! You all are far more organized than I was when I was in the classroom.  You’ll definitely want to check out this week’s giveaway of Merry Navidad!  In previous posts we’ve discussed our philosophy for how to approach teaching about cultural celebrations and traditions in a way that’s authentic and meaningful.  Many of those same ideas are relevant here as well.

First, I thought I’d share some of the ideas I’ve written about in past posts on teaching about winter celebrations.  This time of year was always one of my favorites times to be in the classroom because the possibilities for engaging and interesting lessons were endless.  When I taught third grade, at the beginning of each December I began a unit on three winter celebrations: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Las Posadas.  As a child, I remember talking about Hanukkah in school, but the extent of what we learned seemed to be limited to eating latkes and learning a song and game about dreidels.  I wanted to go beyond that.  I wanted my students to have a deeper understanding of cultural traditions that may be different from the ones they or their families personally observe. Continue reading

En la Clase: Mexican Christmas and Winter Celebrations

December is full of opportunities to teach about a variety of cultural traditions.  For today’s En la Clase, I’m sharing lesson plans and resources that focus on celebrations specific to Mexico, and that are observed across parts of Latin America and the United States. I’ve separated out three of the celebrations below, but Rebecca Collins created a thematic unit that incorporates many of the Mexican celebrations that take place during December and January.  She provides great background information and lots of ideas for classroom activities.

Continue reading