celebrate hispanic heritage

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your family through art, literature, music, food, and carnival!

Hispanic Heritage Month Activities
Latin Americans come from over 20 countries and have a wide array of customs and rich and varied histories. That's why celebrating Latino culture is a bit like eating tapas: you get to try a little sampling of everything. Here are a few ways you and your familia (family) can experience some of the sabor (flavor) of Latino culture.

Look Through the Eyes of Latin American Artists

A creative way to celebrate Latino culture is with a family visit to a museum exhibiting work by Latin American artists. (Many special exhibits are held during Hispanic Heritage Month, so check with your local museums.) If you aren't able to make a visit in person, take your kids on a virtual visit to these sites:

Check out the bright and colorful depictions of the circus by Cuban artist Thomas Echaverria.

Take a look at murals by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Rivera, Mexico's greatest painter of the twentieth century, is famous for his many frescoes (paintings done on fresh or wet plaster) depicting the lives and hardships of everyday working people and how technology affected humanity and the lives people led. By painting large murals on public buildings and universities, Rivera was able to bypass elite society and their values and grant access to his work to the general public.

To learn more about Latin American artists and view work by several different artists, go to Artists of the Americas Online.

To view contemporary works, go to the Museum of Latin American Art.


Read a Bilingual Folktale

In every culture, there are stories told to children before going to bed. Here are a few in English and Spanish that you can find at a bookstore or your local library:

La Lagartija y el Sol/The Lizard and the Sun, by Alma Flor Ada
In this wonderfully rendered folktale, a little lizard is determined to bring back the sun and warmth to all his friends after the sun disappears from ancient Mexico.
Get the book here.

A Gift from Papá Diego/Un regalo de Papá Diego, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
A heartwarming story of a boy who yearns to see his grandfather on his birthday, but Papá Diego lives on the other side of the border.
Get the book here

Little Gold Star/Estrellita de oro, by Joe Hayes
A retelling of the classic Cinderella, but with a Hispanic twist, and in some cases more interesting and full than the original story.
Get the book here

Cada niño/Every Child: A Bilingual Songbook for Kids, by Tish Hinojosa
A collection of 11 new, old, and traditional songs that celebrate the varied and rich cultures of Latinos
Get the book here.

Taste the Sabor of Mexico

You can find guacamole in any Mexican restaurant and in most grocery stores, but it's much more fun (and tastes better) when you make it together. Here's an easy recipe:

1 ripe avocado
1–2 garlic cloves
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
5 sprigs fresh cilantro
5 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper

Show kids how to mash the avocado in a small bowl using a large spoon. Be sure to use a ripe avocado. (Place it to your ear and shake. If you hear the pit moving around, it's ripe.) Add the spices to a food processor and pulse for just a second or two. Mix the garlic, oregano, cilantro, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper into the avocado. Add the lemon juice and cayenne pepper, and then taste. Add more garlic and salt and pepper, if needed.

Sing a Spanish Song

If you're trying to help your kids speak Spanish as well as English, try singing a Spanish song with a melody children easily recognize. Here's "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" (with the pronunciation in parentheses).

Itzi, Bitzi Araña

Itzi, bitzi araña
(itsee bitsee ah-rragna)
tejió su telaraña.
(teh-heeo soo tell-eh-rragna)

Vino la lluvia,
(veeno la yoo-vee-ah)
y se la llevó.
(e seh la yeh-vo)

Salió el sol,
(Sah-leeo el sole)
se secó la lluvia.
(seh seh-ko la yoo-vee-ah)

Y itzi, bitzi araña,
(ee itsee bitsee ah-rragna)
otra vez subió.
(oh-trah-ves soo-vee-oh)

Color Carnival!

In many Latin American countries, cultural pride is celebrated through street festivals known as carnivals. They are family celebrations filled with music, food, dance, art, traditional costumes, and familiar icons. The most famous carnival is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Puerto Rico, carnival is celebrated in several different towns and feature people dressed in colorful costumes and wearing or carrying a huge colorful mask known as caretas. Called vejigantes, these costumed figures were originally intended to scare people, but today they are also seen as figures of fun. You can turn paper plates into your own caretas masks with scissors, crayons, and your child's imagination. Then, have a carnival-like parade at home.
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