La Noche de las Velitas (Part 2)

La Noche de las Velitas (Part 2)

La Noche de las Velitas is one of the most exciting celebrations in Colombia since it marks the beginning of the Christmas season.  What a great opportunity to share this with your students and make it part of your class! I have written some blog posts in the past that provide more background and introduce you to some activities you may use to bring this celebration into your classroom.
Last, but not least, I just added a PowerPoint that’s ready for you to use anytime! Click on the picture below to download it.
¡Feliz Noche de las Velitas!

La Noche de las Velitas {Farolito Tutorial}


December 7th is an exciting day in Colombia! It’s the day when many people celebrate “La Noche de las Velitas” also known as “El Día delas Velitas.” Although the origins of this celebration are religious (as the night when many families welcome and celebrate “The Immaculate Conception”),  it’s also seen as a way for families to welcome the end of year festivities in which many people, but not all, celebrate Navidad. Farolitos (luminaries) and candles are seen everywhere.
I have blogged before about the importance of this celebration in Colombia. Visit the links below to read my previous posts and find other activities to help you share with your students about this and other Christmas traditions in Colombia.

La Noche de las Velitas 
Christmas in Colombia


Farolitos Tutorial

This is a simple way to make farolitos with your students. You will need:
1. Paper lunch bags
2. Led tea light – battery operated
3. Templates of different Christmas shapes
4. Tissue paper – preferably green and red
5. Glue

6. Scissors


Use the opportunity to bring some language to the lesson. Visit my previous post with some ideas about questions for this activity. Talk about the colors and materials needed to make the farolitos.
You will need to prepare the templates in advanced and pre-cut the pieces of tissue paper.


1. Trace the shape on the paper lunch bag.


2. Cut out the shape. Younger students might need help to start cutting the shape.


3. Glue the tissue paper inside the paper bag.


4. Insert tea light

This is optional. Students can make designs around the edges of the bag.


5. Get ready to sing some villancicos while celebrating La Noche de las Velitas in class. Here is a great playlist on YouTube. I also recommend the “Mi Burrito Sabanero” version by Colombian singer Juanes.
Mamá Tortuga, who is also a Colombian bloguera has another awesome tutorial to make farolitos with your students. Please hop over her blog – rápido y no a paso de tortuga- to learn all about it!
¡Feliz Noche de las Velitas!

La Noche de las Velitas in Colombia {Freebie}

Every year on December 7th, Colombia celebrates “La Noche de las Velitas” (also known as El Día de las Velitas), a night filled with candles and joy to celebrate Virgin Mary. This night also marks the beginning of all Christmas activities in Colombia. 

What a good opportunity to bring some culture to your Spanish classes. Use a map and invite your students to find Colombia. You can also use Google Earth to make the trip more interactive and use a play passport for the trip. Share with them some information about this important celebration. Here are some useful resources for teachers to learn about the celebration:

La Fiesta de la Luz (Historia)
The Beautiful Noche de la Velitas in Bogota

Some videos of the celebration:

 Families get together to light the candles outside their homes. It’s a long night filled with happiness, fiestas and tons of Colombian goodies.

In the main parts of the big cities, people gather together to watch fireworks and shows.

Click here to view pictures
Invite your students to decorate the flag or the map of Colombia  with the candles! 
 Click HERE to download the freebies! 
Conversation tips in a FLES class
1. ¿Dónde se celebra la noche de las velitas? ¿En Costa Rica o Colombia?
2. ¿Dónde está Colombia? ¿América del Norte o América del Sur?
3. ¿Quién celebra la Noche de las Velitas? 
4. ¿De qué color es la bandera de Colombia?
5. ¿Qué lengua se habla en Colombia? ¿Inglés o español?



Finding stories that are short and comprehensible is not an easy task, even more when looking for elementary or beginning levels. These are some of the stories that I have written and successfully used with my students. 

This story goes well with the Monarch butterfly migration. In this story, Monarca is finding her way to Michoacán. On her way there, she asks a few animals for directions to Michoacán, until she finally finds a kind caterpillar that guides her there.

La Noche de las Velitas is a unique Colombian celebration that happens every year on December 7th. Felipe is getting ready for this celebration, but suddenly he realizes that he doesn’t have any candles for the celebration. He is worried and visits different supermarkets. He finally finds some candles at his last stop. He goes home and celebrates the ‘Night of the Little Candles’ with his family and friends.

This story works wonders to introduce the Three Kings Celebration in Puerto Rico. Daniel needs a box to put some grass for the Three Kings’ camels. He is looking for his box. Daniel even asks his dog, but there was no way for him to tell Daniel where the box was!

This is another fun story with a lot of repetition. Abuelita takes the time to make a big doll called “Año Viejo”. In some countries in Latin America, años viejos are burned on the last day of the year at midnight to get rid of the bad things that happen during the year. Burning the año viejo represents a kind of closure and cleaning for some people. In this story the año viejo becomes alive and runs away from a grandfather, a baker, and a parrot. What will happen at the end?

Happy reading!


More stories available on Teachers Pay Teachers




To be able to talk about the integration of culture in a Comprehensible Input class, it is first necessary to define “Comprehensible Input” and “culture.”

The “Comprehensible Input” theory is one of the theories of language acquisition proposed by the American linguist Stephen Krashen. In his hypothesis, Dr. Krashen explains that there can only be the acquisition of a language when the input, linguistic component or message is understood by the learner, but in addition to being understandable it should be of interest to the learner and that it be about an issue with which the learner can relate and connect. Visit  to learn more about CI.

Culture is a term that has been defined by different authors in different fields. The definition most commonly used and that challenges people in different fields is that of Clifford Geertz (cited in Ortner, 1999) who defines culture as “a system of values ​​and beliefs that represent a group, as a network of meanings within which people live. Meanings encoded in symbolic forms (language, artifacts, etiquette, rituals, calendars, etc.)” (p.3).

Taking into account the definitions of “Comprehensible Input” and “culture,” I will explain a little the process of how I integrate these two elements in practice and offer you some advice, too.

I find it helpful to start with the goal or the objective of the topic. Why do I want to share this topic in my class? Where do I want my students to arrive with the exploration of this topic in class?

Then I think about the developmental stage and the linguistic level of the students. Is it a topic that is easily understood with the level of L2? Is the subject relevant to the students’ age?

I suggest you consider this approach:

Define the theme or cultural content that will be shared with the student. Once the theme is defined, make sure that the content that is going to be shared is true and does not fall into the perpetuation of stereotypes. If possible, check that information with someone from the culture. Another important aspect to take into account, especially at the beginner levels or early grades, is whether it is a specific issue and whether it allows generating connections and space for comparisons. The cultural theme should not be limited only to the culture of L2.

Determine the input: In this case, it is not important for the students to understand each word, but the input must be by context and the use of cognates.

Determine what type of material can be used to support the topic: Photos, videos, songs, artifacts or authentic resources, etc.

It is possible to teach culture in a world language class, but in this case, it is very important that this input is understandable so that there is a success in the fusion of culture and Comprehensible Input.

Here are some resources that might help you get started with this topic. Ready, set, go!

La Noche de las Velitas

Llegó el Biblibioburro

¡Viva Colombia!

Frida Kahlo for Elementary Students

Reasons to Share About El Día de los Muertos in Spanish Class


Orter, S. (1999). Introduction. The fate of “culture”. California, University of California Press, p.1.

Have fun!