Too Many Tamales Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this two-part lesson plan to teach students about the literary element of irony and reinforce Spanish vocabulary. Students start by learning Spanish vocabulary, then use the mentor text 'Too Many Tamales' to examine irony. Follow up with a fun activity to reinforce skills.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • listen to and speak Spanish vocabulary terms from the lesson
  • demonstrate understanding of irony
  • summarize key points in Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto


2 45 minutes lessons


Key Vocabulary

  • Irony
  • Coincidence

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.1

Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2

Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3

Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.2

Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.


  • NOTE: This is a two-day lesson.

Day One

  • Connect students to the topic by asking them to think of a time they ate too much and share with a partner. Discuss as a group.
  • Tell students they will be reading a story about a little girl who learned a lesson on Christmas. Before reading Too Many Tamales, review and teach related vocabulary words with the lesson Christmas & Three Kings' Day Vocabulary in Spanish.
  • Display the lesson on a shared reading device and read the section 'Beautiful Season' together. Discuss:
    • How do Spanish celebrate Christmas differently than some of us?
    • Why doesn't Christmas end of December 25th for some Spanish-speaking countries?
  • Write the terms 'Navidad' and 'Nochebuena' on chart paper along with their translation. Practice pronunciation with students.
  • Now read through the remainder of the lesson, recording Spanish vocabulary words along with their translations and practicing pronunciation.
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary' together.


  • Distribute index cards to students and assign each one or two vocabulary words. Have them make one card with the vocabulary word and another matching card with a translation and a picture of the word. For example, the word 'hierba' will have one card with the term and another with a picture of grass and hay and the English translation.
  • When all cards are finished, collect and mix up.
  • Gather students to an open space and place all cards face down in rows.
  • Have students work in partner pairs to play 'Memory' with the vocabulary word cards.
  • Take the lesson quiz together as a group to check for understanding.

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