Hispanic Heritage Month Activities

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Every year, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates Hispanic cultures and history in the United States. These activities will give your students options for participating in this cultural celebration.

Hispanic Heritage Month

In the United States, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15 every year. It is meant to recognize the role of Hispanic-Americans and Hispanic cultures in the United States throughout history and today. Over this month, there are many ways to get your students involved in Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Heritage Month Activities

The following activities are designed to be adaptable to classrooms of any grade level and can be coupled with existing language, history, and literacy curricula.

Independence Days

Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 because this is the independence day of five countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico's independence day is September 16, Chile's is September 18, and Belize's is September 21. Celebrate these days with a class fiesta that includes music, food (if possible), a parade, and the making of flags for each of these countries out of poster paper.

  • Materials: Poster paper, arts and craft supplies as desired, Latin American music from various countries, food and party supplies as desired/possible

Magical Realism Short Story

Introduce students to the literary genre of magical realism, which is heavily associated with Latin American literature. Explain the basic tenets, and consider providing some sample passages for them to read. After this, students will write their own magical realism short stories in class. To do this, have each student randomly draw a regular, mundane scenario from a hat. Students will have to find a way to incorporate magic and fantasy into this mundane scenario. Remind students that the morbid and macabre are acceptable (and perhaps even advisable) ways to combine the mundane and magical in the style of the great Latin American authors.

If you wish to add a language component to this (even in a class that is not designed to teach Spanish), provide students with a list of common Spanish words and phrases. Ask students to look through their stories and think about places where people might choose to speak or think in Spanish instead of English. This is a good way to get them thinking about code-switching.

  • Materials: Writing materials, list of random, mundane scenarios, passages of magical realist literature (optional), list of Spanish words and phrases (optional)

Hispanic Musical Traditions

To celebrate Hispanic cultures through music, consider one or both of the following:

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