El Día de los Muertos is celebrated in many countries around the world on November 1st and 2nd. This holiday is celebrated nationwide in Bolivia, mostly on November 2nd, and is known as “El Día de los Difuntos.” They celebrate the return of the souls of their ancestors. In preparation to receive them, people typically set up altars with pictures, candles, flowers, fruit, and a special bread called “Tantawawas” which in the Quechua language means babies made out of bread. They also have a bread called “Tantachachis” which means grandparents made out of bread. This tradition is also shared with Perú, Ecuador, Argentina, and a specific region of far south Colombia called “Nariño,” where this kind of bread is called “guaguas.” Bolivian Tantawawas have a specific characteristic in which the faces placed on the bread are made out of clay.
This video below explains how this beautiful holiday is celebrated in Bolivia. People go to the cemeteries to paint graves and decorate them. They also set their offering at home where it is important to have horses to help the souls arrive to the table. There are also stairs made out of bread to help the souls go back to the sky. The videos below have been helpful for me to educate myself about this holiday, as well as exploring Bolivia’s official website for tourism and culture. Please feel free to watch the videos to learn more.
Get inspired and create your own Tantawawas in class. I know time is limited, so I recommend you use modeling clay with your students, acknowledging that we need to be respectful of this tradition and share with your students why a different material is being used in class.
I was able to find white and brown clay. I mixed them up to produce a shade closer to the real bread. I drew the face of the Tantawawa on a piece of white paper and cut it out to place it on the Tantawawa shape. Here are the results:
This is a fun game that is played in many Latin American countries. It’s simple, fun, and doesn’t require much preparation. There are different versions of this game. I am sharing with you the one I remember playing with my friends in a (then) small neighborhood outside of Cali, Colombia. You will need a minimum of six participants to play the game. Each team will have three participants. One person is placed in the middle in a squatting position, grasping their hands between their legs. The two other members of the team have to pretend to prepare el “sancocho,” which is a traditional soup in Latin America. They have to pretend they are adding the ingredients to the bowl while saying the lines below:
Para preparar el sancocho, pongo el pollo, pongo la yuca, pongo la papa, pongo la mazorca, lo pongo al fuego.
¡El sancocho ya está listo!
When everyone is done making the sancocho together, the game turns into a competition. You will need to set a finish line for everyone to get to. The team who makes it to the finish line first wins the game. You can continue playing until everyone gets tired of it. I recommend playing the game on a field with grass so nobody gets hurt.
This is a video of a Scout Troop playing a version of “las ollitas” game.
Variation: You can use visuals for the students to use while playing the game.
Over several years of teaching Spanish I have collected coins and bills from different Spanish speaking countries. Either someone brings them to me or I collect them during my own travel. I got to a point where I didn’t know what to do with them. It occurred to me that I could use them for a center in my class. I laminated all the bills for students to manipulate easily and placed them with the coins in a basket. I printed and laminated maps where all the Spanish speaking countries are listed.
This is now a center for early finishers or when I do a center-based class. My students really enjoy looking at the different bills and coins, comparing them to the United States bills, and locating the countries on the map. If you don’t have real bills, you can print a few from the internet and it will serve the same purpose.
I have decided to go ahead and end the school year with an engaging project that can be used at the beginning of the new school year. Every year, from September 15th to October 15th, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in the United States. It’s a month to celebrate the Hispanic presence in the US and contributions to the country.
This celebration starts just a week after the school year has started here in Massachusetts. Because it’s so early in the school year, I feel it’s hard to start my class with a project when I am working hard just to make sure everyone understands the routine and dynamic of the class as we get used to new year.
I found a simple project posted on a middle school blog run by Señorita Lona. This past school year, I piggy-backed on her project for creating this poster. I had my third grade students pick a famous Hispanic person from the list below.
They did basic research on Wikipedia to find the person’s full name, date of birth, country of origin, and why the person was famous. They had to pretend they all were alive to be able to write the sentences in the present tense. Due to the limited time I had available for the project, I gave my students the questions in advance that they had to glue on their posters.
After getting all the information together, they had to answer using full sentences and decorate their posters.
Many of the students worked in pairs during this project. We recorded their voices with one being the interviewer and the other one being the interviewee, using a free version of the app called “Voice Record.” Then I created the QR codes with a free program called “QR code.” I plan to display the posters around the school in September and invite family members, school staff, and faculty to use their devices to listen to the children reading their interviews. That will be a starting point for my students to help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in my school.
This game has been motivating my second graders a lot lately. We did a unit on family members, we talked about the diversity in families, and they then described their own immediate families orally and in a small written project. I modified the well known game called “Who Stole the Cookie for the Cookie Jar?” to support this unit. Instead of a cookie, I printed a picture of an empanada. This added a small cultural twist to the game (and made me hungry for Colombian comfort food…).
I told my students the story of abuelita, whomade just one empanada and that someone in the family had eaten it without her permission. I added a detective to this version. I printed a picture of a detective and gave it to one student. I also gave printed pictures of different family members to the rest of my students. I got them from my “La Familia” set that I have in my TpT store. When you play it, you can also print pictures of family members from other sources.
I gave each student in the room one picture to represent a family member, and I made sure to include pets such as a cat and dog. Before playing the game, I made sure to go over the lines of the chant. We chanted every line and also helped the detective say his/her line.
How to play the game?
Once you have assigned the different pictures of family members to the students, choose one student to be the detective. The detective will have to leave the classroom. While the detective is outside the room, give a student with the picture of a family member the picture of the empanada. Everyone in the room has to pretend to have the empanada in their hands. The detective comes back to the classroom and will have three opportunities to guess who has the empanada. The class chants: ¿Quién se comió la empanada de mi abuela? (two times) The detective answers: ¿El papá se comió la empanada de la abuela? (two times) Usually the class helps the detective chant. Depending on who has the empanada the class will answer: “El papá no se comió la empanada de la abuela.” or “El papá sí se comió la empanada de la abuela.” Remember that the detective has three turns to guess. You can play this game for a long time in class and get everyone using some language skills that they’ve learned in your class.
This carnival has been declared by UNESCO as one of the “Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” That’s a mouthful, but it really is amazing! It’s important to share this with our students not only because of its recognition, but also because it’s an opportunity to bring some language to the classes in a colorful way. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the city where Shakira was born and raised. I am a big fan of using Google Earth in class when doing cultural explorations. You can also add the use of play passport. With your students, first locate Colombia and then find Barranquilla. Bring the language alive by asking students question such as: ¿En qué continente está Colombia? ¿Cuál es la capital de Colombia? ¿Qué lengua se habla en Colombia? ¿Dónde esta Barranquilla? ¿En el norte o en el sur? ¿Qué pasa en Barranquilla en febrero?
Carnival time is a happy one in Barranquilla. Dances, parades and even children celebrating in their schools. Here is a short video of “El Carnaval de Barranquilla.”
One of the most iconic characters is la Morimonda. It’s a funny character – a combination of monkey and elephant.