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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¡Mira, Look!: Tamalitos: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem

tamalitos-coverHello there readers! Last week I reviewed a children’s book that teaches shapes through showcasing Latino foods, and two weeks ago I presented a bilingual poetry book written by award-winning, Salvadorian author, Jorge Argueta. This week I tie them all together by presenting one of Argueta’s poetic recipe books: Tamalitos: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem (ages 4-7), illustrated by Domi.

Here is a description from Goodreads:
In his fourth cooking poem for young children, Jorge Argueta encourages more creativity and fun in the kitchen as he describes how to make tamalitos from corn masa and cheese, wrapped in cornhusks. In simple, poetic language, Argueta shows young cooks how to mix and knead the dough before dropping a spoonful into a cornhusk, wrapping it up and then steaming the little package. He once again makes cooking a full sensory experience, beating on a pot like a drum, dancing the corn dance, delighting in the smell of corn . . . And at the end, he suggests inviting the whole family to come and enjoy the delicious tamalitos “made of corn with love.” Domi’s vivid paintings, featuring a sister and her little brother making tamalitos together, are a perfect accompaniment to the colorful text.

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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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En la Clase: More Resources for Teaching Las Posadas

LuminariasLast week’s En la Clase shared a number of children’s books and ideas for how to teach about Las Posadas.  There were so many resources that I just couldn’t fit them all into one post, so today I’m sharing some other online resources and art activities that you can use to complement any of last week’s literature. Continue reading

En la Clase: Literature for Teaching about Las Posadas

Diego Rivera Las Posadas

I 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 Las Posadas.  I’m impressed! You all are far more organized than I was when I was in the classroom.  In previous posts on Día de los Muertos 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. Continue reading

En la Clase: A Year in Review

cat 3

Photo Courtesy of John M. Cropper

This will be our last week of posting until January here at Vamos a Leer.  I can’t believe how fast a year can go by!  For us, it’s been an amazing year as we’ve continued to develop and expand Vamos a Leer and our k-12 Outreach program.  The best part by far has been getting to know all of you–the wonderful educators, librarians, administrators and readers who impact the students in our classrooms on a daily basis.  Your jobs are not easy ones, and we truly appreciate everything that you do.  Our hope here at Vamos a Leer is that through providing ideas and resources for authentic multicultural education we can make your jobs a little easier.  And as always, we would love to hear your suggestions or ideas for things you’d like to see more of on the blog.  This year we really enjoyed the development of our two big thematic curriculum projects on Día de los Muertos and the Chilean Arpilleras.  Our monthly book group and Educator’s Guides are always one of my favorite parts of my job.  If you haven’t had time to check out any of this year’s projects or guides be sure to browse through past posts or do a search to find something specific.  We’ve got some exciting projects in the works for this coming spring and fall that I can’t wait to share with you. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Celebrate Christmas and Three Kings’ Day with Pablo and Carlitos

three kingsThis week, we’re going to turn our attention to another book on the Christmas holiday. This is a little different than the one we discussed last week. As a general note and/or disclaimer, this one has a slight religious component. This week’s book will focus on Christmas as well as el Día de los Tres Reyes, or Three Kings’ Day. We will be reviewing Campoy Isabel and Alma Flor Ada’s Celebrate Christmas and Three Kings’ Day with Pablo and Carlitos.

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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.

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¡Mira, Look!: A Piñata in a Pine Tree

cover-pinataIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, the holiday season is officially on the horizon. As the first half of the school year starts to officially wind down, it’s time for us to take a look at a few books which can be used in the classroom to discuss Christmas in the context of Latin America. For the next two weeks, we will be discussing books that are about Christmas. For this week, we will look at Pat Mora’s A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of ChristmasContinue reading

En la Clase: Bilingual Books Perfect for December

I know that it’s still November, and I’m sure some of you are gearing up for lots of cooking and time with family later this week.  While I always enjoyed the extra days off, inevitably part of my Thanksgiving weekend went to working on lesson plans that would get my class through December.  In case some of you will be spending part of your weekend doing the same thing, I thought I’d share a post that originally went up last year.  In it, we include lots of bilingual titles about various winter celebrations.  I always tried to plan read-aloud, writing projects and crafts for December as much as possible around literature.  If you’d like to do the same, I thought it would be helpful to have these titles sooner rather than later–I always found many of them at our local public library.  This list may still be useful for those of you who aren’t teachers, but celebrate Christmas with children at home.  Recently, I stumbled across the blog post “A Bookish Advent Calendar” which describes a different kind of advent activity.  Children count down to Christmas by unwrapping a different book to read each night (don’t worry–you don’t have to purchase 24 books, a quick trip to the library should help you find everything you need).  It might even be fun to adapt this activity for the classroom as a countdown to Winter Break, including books about winter and a variety of winter traditions and celebrations.  I hope you find the resources below helpful.  You may also want to check out Katie’s post on Multicultural Books for Christmas from Youth Literature Reviews.  She includes a number of different titles from the ones we share below. Continue reading