¡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

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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