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: Gratitude, Awareness, and Poetry for the Classroom

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It’s officially November. Here at Vamos a Leer we’re not advocates of teaching the traditional tales of Pilgrims, Indians, and the First Thanksgiving (Charla does a great job discussing this in her post “Thanks but No Thanks: Creating a November with No Stereotypes”). This doesn’t mean that we want you to entirely ignore the fall season. One of my favorite parts of being in the classroom was that I was able to explicitly call attention to the changing of the seasons.  This made me so mindful of the different things I loved about each time of year and allowed me to encourage my students to do the same. The end of fall and the beginning of winter are a great time to have your students focus on gratitude, gratefulness, and awareness. So for today’s En la Clase post, I thought I’d highlight the ways the two beautiful books by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and John Parra can be used as the basis for a great seasonal literacy activity.  The books by this duo are amazing. If you’re not familiar with their work, you must remedy that right away! In tVamos a Leer | 2015 Pura Belpré Award Winners and Honor Books| Green is a Chile Pepper by Roseanne Thong and illustrated by John Parrahis post, I’m going to discuss Green is a Chile Pepper and Round is a Tortilla. Check out the review Lorraine wrote last year of Round is a Tortilla for a quick introduction to their work.

Focusing on shapes and colors, both of the books were written with young children in mind.  But as with many great children’s books, this doesn’t mean that young readers are the only ones who can enjoy or benefit from them.  For me, these books really inspire the reader to be fully aware of all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures around them.  Full of cultural references, they really encourage students to think about all of the everyday things that not only make up our daily experiences but really enrich our lives.  As is probably evident from the titles, Round is a Tortilla encourages this kind of awareness by focusing on the shapes of the things that surround us, while Green is a Chile Pepper highlights colors.  Written with a lyrical style, I think the books really lend themselves to a poetry activity. Continue reading