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Holly Loranger | September 24, 2017

Hispanic Heritage Month is dedicated to recognizing the impact and influence of generations of Hispanic Americans on the United States, both as a nation and as a society. Originally established in 1968, Hispanic Heritage month takes place from September 15 to October 15. The 15th of September corresponds to independence days in five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Independence celebrations in Mexico, Chile and Belize also occur during the second half of September.
Hispanic heritage has a long and rich history in the United States and continues to shape American society and culture. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately one fifth of the total US population is Hispanic. The US Census bureau uses the term “Hispanic” as a reference to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. Integrating connections to Hispanic heritage in curricula across grade levels presents an opportunity for educators to develop global competencies and build critical literacy. There are many opportunities throughout the school year to make connections to Hispanic heritage. Read more for some possibilities and resources.

Teaching Connections:

The Library of Congress’ Hispanic Heritage Month website has curated a collection of resources to bring Hispanic Heritage into the classroom. Browse primary source collections, lesson plans, research guides and more.

Scholastic Classroom has developed a list of “Community Connections” to extend learning about Hispanic heritage both within and beyond the classroom. Some of their suggestions include:

Zapotec Rug Paintings:Have students use paint to recreate Zapotec geometric rugs from Mexico.
Grow a Heritage Garden:Work with students to plant and track the growth of staple crops commonly found in many Spanish-speaking countries, including beans, squash and peppers.
Our Heritage Album: Have students collaborate on a class album of significant Hispanic Americans throughout history.
• Or check out Scholastic’s month of ideas for celebrating Hispanic Heritage.
• Explore the Hispanic heritage teaching resources curated by Smithsonian Education here. Selected resources include Smithsonian Folkways recordings of Latino music, Bracero Program resources, “¡Del Corazón!: Latino Voices in American Art,” “From Vaquero to Cowboy” and “Latino Family Stories.”
• The National Education Association has gathered curated grade-level appropriate materials and resources for connecting curriculum to Hispanic heritage. Click here for materials by grade level:
Grades K-5
Grades 6-8
Grades 9-12
• Looking for literary connections to Hispanic heritage? See the Américas Award winning books here or see the Pura Belpré award winning books here.
• The PBS documentary series Latino Americans and its companion site are excellent tools for learning more about the history and contributions of Latino Americans. Companion lessons are designed for grades 7-12 but can be adapted for all grade levels. The site also includes a series of film excerpts and activities to make curriculum connections. You can find them here.
• This guide from the State Library of North Carolina provides resources specific to North Carolina’s Hispanic heritage.
• Finally, this guide from the Anti-Defamation League provides a helpful framework for considering ways to commemorate Hispanic heritage in the classroom. These tips are valuable year-round as you consider ways to help students explore the complexity of the Hispanic American experience.