WWW: Migrating Ancestors and the Flight of the Monarch

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Whether you’re joining for the first time or you stop by frequently, thanks for checking out my post this week!  In light of the upcoming celebrations of Día de los Muertos, I wanted to highlight one small detail involved in the holiday that sometimes gets overlooked: the Monarch migration!  Vamos a Leer | WWW: Migrating Ancestors and the Flight of the MonarchThese butterflies fly south for the winter, sometimes over 100 miles per day as they migrate from the United States to southern Mexico.  The Monarch Butterflies are a small detail among many in the celebration of Día de los Muertos; however, this detail is of particular importance because many people believe the butterflies migrating are the souls of their ancestors returning to celebrate the holiday with them.

In recognition of this belief, this week’s World Wide Web post brings you a few different resources – all of which are available on the same website!  The first resource is a Teacher’s Guide to teaching about the Monarch Butterfly.  The guide explains the background of the Monarch migration and the cultural importance of the migration.  It includes many activities for the classroom, such as a slideshow (available in English and Spanish) that explains many aspects of the traditional celebration of Día de los Muertos, topics for discussion in the classroom, and research ideas for students.  There is also a Resource list with links to more information on how the celebrations of Día de los Muertos take place and some of the foods that are made in preparation.  It would be great to make Pan de los Muertos for a classroom cultural celebration!  Aside from the Teacher’s Guide emphasized here, the website includes a great deal of information about Monarch Butterflies in general, including updated maps on the butterflies’ travels and news of their progress.  The section titled Kids includes many resources for students to interact with, such as charts about the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly and the importance of its migration.  It would be a great resource to work with in the classroom to highlight themes of tradition, migration, and the benefits of cross-country movement. Continue reading

Sobre Octubre: Resources on Día de los Muertos, Remembering, and Celebrating

Sobre Octubre: Resources on Día de los Muertos, Remembering, and CelebratingHi, everyone,

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