Winter Celebration Resources

¡Buenos días! As everyone prepares for the holiday season, we thought we’d wrap up our posts for this year by sharing some winter and holiday literature resources.

Two years ago we put together a Reading Roundup of 10 Children’s Books About Latino Winter Celebrations, which you might reference if you’re looking for engaging books for your young ones in the coming weeks. Some of these books have been reviewed in more depth by Alice and Katrina: The Miracle of the First Poinsetta, José Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad, A Piñata in a Pine Tree, ‘Twas Nochebuena, and La Noche Buena: A Christmas Story.

In addition, if you visit our Las Posadas/Winter Celebrations tab, you can find more posts related to Latin American/Latinx holiday celebrations. Also, Colleen wrote a Reading Roundup about Latino/a Children’s & YA Books Honoring Immigrant Experiences in the Winter Season, which I recommend checking out. Although not all of them are holiday related, most are. Finally, Katrina has written several En la Clase posts about the holiday season, including one about literature for teaching about Las Posadas, and another that highlights 3 books for teaching about the holiday season.

We hope you are able to use these resources in the classroom as the winter holidays approach!

Saludos y felices fiestas,

Kalyn

¡Mira, Look!: Feliz Navidad

Children's Book Review: Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano | Vamos a LeerSaludos, todos! Welcome to our last book review of the year. This week I will be reviewing Feliz Navidad, written by José Feliciano and illustrated by David Diaz, to wrap up this month’s holiday themes. This book is written in both Spanish and English and is best for ages 3-7. However, with a sing-song rhythm and dramatic illustrations, it could brighten any home or classroom.

Children's Book Review: Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano | Vamos a LeerThe book begins with a two-page introduction describing the Puerto Rican holiday tradition of parranda. Parranda is a yuletide tradition where carolers, or parranderos, go from house to house singing classic holiday songs called aguinaldos. The first neighbor to receive a visit invites the carolers in for singing, dancing, and food. From there, the party of carolers grows and the group continues to other houses in the neighborhood. At the final house, there is a big party where everyone gets together to celebrate family, friends, and the holiday season. According to the book’s introduction, “This feast unites families, friends, and neighbors for a magical celebration during the Christmas season.” For those of you who read last week’s book review, the tradition of parranda may remind you a bit of las posadas, a Mexican tradition where a group of people go from house to house asking for food and warmth in a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Parranda, however, is a unique Christmas tradition celebrated on the tropical island of Puerto Rico, as well as other Caribbean islands, such as Cuba.  Continue reading

Reading Roundup: 10 Children’s Books about Latino Winter Celebrations

December 2015 Winter Celebrations

¡Buenos días! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! This month I’ve compiled a list of children’s books about winter festivities celebrated in Latin America and Latino communities in the United States. Here at Vamos a Leer we have tons of resources for teaching Latin American and Latino holiday traditions in the classroom. Many of them have been compiled under the heading “Las Posadas,” given that we’ve found many search engines that bring people here just for that topic. Below I’ve compiled a list of ten exemplary books that can help you explore the topic further with your students. I hope you enjoy reading these books as much as I did!

Saludos y felices fiestas,
Kalyn  Continue reading

Sobre Diciembre: Resources for Teaching Latin@ and Latin American Winter Celebrations

Vamos a Leer | Sobre Diciembre: Resources for Teaching Latin@ and Latin American Winter CelebrationsHi, everyone,

In the spirit of the season, we’re spending our last few weeks of the year by talking about resources for teaching Latin@ and Latin American winter celebrations in the classroom. I could go into more detail about what each of our wonderful bloggers will cover, but suffice it to say that they’re each going to share some superb resources with you to help teach about cultural diversity during the month of December.

The idea of using this month to diversify the classroom is not a new topic on this blog. For some of our many past references to this theme, see our posts on “Las Posadas” and other winter celebrations.

Enjoy and let us know if there’s anything else we can address for you!

Cheers,
Keira

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: Around the World with the Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread PartyI realize that most teachers have about a week and a half of school left before winter break.  As I’ve shared before, this time of year was always one of my favorites to be in the classroom, but it was also a struggle.  As a teacher I couldn’t wait for winter break.  It was a time of much needed rest and relaxation so that I could come back refreshed and ready to go in January.  My students weren’t always as excited.  While many looked forward to the break as much as I did, for some of them it was a source of anxiety.  School was where they were sure to get two full meals.  School provided a dependable structure where they knew what to expect and when to expect it.  I learned that as much as I might want to throw our regular schedule out the window and do more open ended projects to get us through those last two weeks before break, that wasn’t what my students needed.  They wanted to have fun, but they wanted to maintain our structure.  Their minds were already focused on break (whether with anxiety or excitement) so this also wasn’t the time for anything too demanding. This meant that I was always on the look-out for lesson plans and activities that would meet all our needs for this time of year.

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En la Clase: Tamales, Poinsettias, and Navidad

As I was researching books and materials for our last two En la Clase posts on Las Posadas, I came across some other really beautiful books and fun activities that are perfect for December.  These just may help you get through these last couple of weeks of school before winter break!

Too many tamalesOne of my favorite children’s books for this time of year is Gary Soto’s Too Many Tamales. In the story, the main character Maria is helping her mother prepare the tamales for Christmas dinner.  She decides to try on her mother’s diamond ring.  She only meant to wear it for a minute, but suddenly the ring was gone, and Maria and her siblings are left with 24 tamales that just might contain the missing ring.  It’s a fun story that my students always enjoyed.  It’s the perfect book to lead into a discussion about all the different foods that are part of students’ winter holiday celebrations.  Lots of times they are surprised to find out how different their classmates’ celebrations are from their own.  There are lots of different lesson plans out there for Too Many Tamales.  Here are a few that I found:

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