Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

Ages 0 to 3

Why I Created This Kit: 

Monica-O.-Circle.jpg

It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I suddenly felt the overwhelming need to delve back into my own heritage. Having married a non-Latino and living far away from family, I felt a great sense of loss that my children don’t have the same immersive cultural opportunities that I had as a child. And it made me realize that what I took for granted when I was little, was now an experience that I would have to consciously create for my own kids.

Even though they are now older at eight and ten years old, I know that those beginning years and the time we spent exploring our heritage through books, music, and more had a profound impact on their perspective of our family’s Latino heritage and their own self image. I hope that through this kit your child will delight in discovering the richness and beauty of the Latino culture.

 

Talk About It

Latino parents:

A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, shows that Latino kids who grow up knowledgeable about their culture, and proud of it, are more likely to excel in school, have a strong self-esteem, and develop healthy behaviors. The study reveals that these children develop fewer social problems, and experience less hopelessness, aggression, and substance abuse.

Even if your child is still in diapers and has a limited vocabulary, take the time to talk to them about their grandparents and other relatives. Share family stories and ask them questions, even if they aren’t old enough to respond yet. Sing popular lullabies and nursery rhymes that are unique to your culture. Read picture books that are rich with images and situations that reflect your culture and traditions and point to the items as you read. Play games and musical instrument frequently found in your family’s country of origin.

Non-Latino parents:

Maybe you have decided to raise a global citizen who is familiar with many cultures and traditions. Or maybe you are planning to enroll your child in a dual immersion school to help them learn a second language. Whatever your reason for exploring Hispanic heritage, remember that the best tool you have to develop your child’s literacy skills and knowledge of others is reading aloud. And Latino children’s literature provides you with many opportunities to teach your child about the diversity within the Latino culture.  

Books For Discussing This Theme

Arrorró Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games by Lulu Delacre

Ages 0-3; ISBN: 978-1600604416

At the heart of teaching little ones about any culture or community are the nursery rhymes, lullabies, and fingerplays. In this lovely book, author and illustrator Lulu Delacre shares the popular rhymes and games from 14 different Spanish-speaking countries, including the directions for correctly doing the fingerplays. Do the fingerplays first yourself while your child watches, then encourage your child to do them with you.

My Colors, My World / Mis colores, mi mundo by Maya Christina Gonzalez

Ages 0-3; ISBN: 978-0892392780

This brilliant bilingual book teaches your child to identify colors in his surroundings with the vibrant illustrations by Maya Gonzalez. As you move from color to color in the book, pause and ask your child to name three things - in the room, in your home, or in the world - that have the same color.

Maria Had a Little Llama / María Tenía Una Llamita by Angela Dominguez

Ages 0-3; ISBN: 978-0805093339

This delightful picture book gives the traditional nursery rhyme Mary had a Little Lamb a Peruvian twist! Afterward, draw a simple sheep on some construction paper and give your child some cotton balls and glue. Show your child how to carefully dip the cotton ball into the glue and stick it to the page to cover the sheep image without covering up its face.

What Can You Do With a Paleta? / ¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta? by Carmen Tafolla

Ages 0-3; ISBN: 978-0385755375

This bilingual story is everyone’s favorite as author Carmen Tafolla shows you all the different ways you can use a paleta (a popsicle). Magaly Morales’ lively illustrations are a feast for the reader! Celebrate this book by making some popsicles of your own!


Apps for Exploring This Theme

Babybug en espanol

Ages 0-3; Available for Android & iOS

This wonderful app isn’t just a Spanish translation of the English version. Instead, it is full of cultural images, stories, fingerplays, rhymes, and more that are popular throughout Latin America and Spain. Take time to ask your child questions. As you read the digital magazine, pause at the end of a page and ask your child what she thinks will happen next. Note: This app is in Spanish only.  

Los Pollitos Dicen

Ages 0-3; Available for Android & iOS

A sweet, interactive little app centered around one of the best-known songs for children in Latin America. Toddlers meet the characters from this nursery rhyme when they help the eggs hatch, feed the chicks, and more. Extend the learning by asking your child to count the number of eggs and chicks in each scene.

Suggested Media (Videos)

Round is a Tortilla

A read-aloud of the bilingual book of shapes for toddlers. Children will discover shapes in scenes from the daily life of a typical Latino family, such as triangular watermelon (sandia) slices, round tortillas, and many others. See if you can find similar items inside your own home.

Baby Abuelita: Episode 1, Family Fiesta

This series introduces children to Latin culture through engaging scenes that take place at Abuelito’s house. Abuelita Rosa and Abuelito Pancho teach their grandchildren about their culture through activities and stories. This is just one episode, but there are many others exploring various themes.

Activities

DIY Maracas

Help your baby build her own set of maracas! Then use them as you sing along to traditional songs for children from Latin America and Spain.

Note: Parental assistance required as beans are a choking hazard for children under 3.

You will need:

  • Plastic Easter eggs

  • Beans

  • Plastic spoons

  • Tape or glue

  • Stickers

Instructions:

  1. Open one of the plastic eggs and add 1 spoonful of beans.

  2. Close the egg and tape - or glue - it shut.

  3. Cup the egg between two spoons, with the handles together pointing down. Tape together as shown. [Pictures coming soon.]

  4. Have your toddler decorate the outside of the maraca with stickers.

Make Cascarones!

Source: Hispanic Culture Online

Source: Hispanic Culture Online

Cascarones are brightly colored egg shells that are filled with confetti.

Note: Parental assistance required as beans are a choking hazard for children under 3.

You will need:

  • Empty egg shells, rinsed and dried

  • Egg coloring kit

  • Confetti

  • Tissue paper

  • Glue

Instructions:

Preparation: Save up empty egg shells by carefully draining them at one end from a smallish hole. Rinse the shell and set aside (hole side down) to dry.

  • First, color egg shells using your traditional egg coloring kit or by using natural dyes.

  • While the egg shells are drying, make confetti using brightly colored cardstock and a whole punch. (You can use purchased confetti, if you prefer.)

  • Add two spoonfuls of confetti to each egg. It works best if you use the egg carton to hold the eggs hole side up while you fill them.

  • Add a little glue around the edges of the hole and cover it with a small square or circular piece of tissue paper to close the hole and keep the confetti in until ready to use.

  • Use your cascarones by gently smashing them over your head and watching the confetti flutter to the ground! Warning: this can be a little messy!

Popular Songs in Spanish

Los pollitos dicen

One of the most beloved nursery rhymes known throughout Latin America and Spain is the story about the little chicks, los pollitos. Click on the link above to see a sweet animation and hear the song. I’ve written the words below and added a translation.

Los pollitos dicen...                        The little chicks say,

pío, pío, pío.                                   “Peep, peep, peep!”

Cuando tienen hambre,                  When they are hungry,

cuando tienen frío.                         and when they are cold.

La gallina busca                             The hen searches for

el maíz y el trigo.                           corn and wheat.

Les da la comida,                           She gives them the food,

y les presta abrigo.                        and keeps them warm.

Bajo sus dos alas                          Under her two wings,

acurrucaditos,                                huddled together

hasta el otro día                             until the next day,

duermen los pollitos.                     the little chicks sleep.


Arroz con leche

Another universal rhyme from the Spanish-speaking world, this song is sung to all children from the time they are born. Click on the link above to watch and sing along with the Baby Abuelita version.

Arroz con leche,                         Rice pudding

se quiere casar                          wants to marry

con una viudita de la capital;      a widow from the capital city

que sepa coser,                         who knows how to sew

que sepa bordar,                        who knows how to embroider

que ponga la aguja en su delantal . . . .  and puts her needle in her apron.

Rin, ran...                                     Rin, ran...

-Yo soy la viudita,                        I am the young widow

la hija del rey,                              the king’s daughter

me quiero casar y no encuentro con quién.        I want to get married, but can’t

                                                                           find anyone to marry.

-Contigo, sí; contigo, no                 With you, yes; with you, no

contigo mi vida, me casaré yo.       With you, my life, I’ll get married.

Favorite Bilingual & Spanish Albums for Toddlers and Infants

  1. Music with Sara Sara creates her own original versions of Latin American songs and they are clever, upbeat, and funny. Sara’s albums can now be found on Amazon and iTunes. Don’t miss her adorable music videos!

  2. ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés! Musician Andrés Salguero’s debut album is a bilingual feast of Latin rhythms and introduces families to salsa, bolero, mariachi, and so many more! Andrés' bilingual songs are fun for children and parents alike, covering topics like colors, friendship, and parents.
  3. Mariana Iranzi Mariana’s new children’s album, Hola Hello, takes traditional Latin American rhymes and songs and makes them her own. In fact, her version of Los pollitos dicen may be the best one I've heard. The best part is that Mariana’s distinctive style is appealing to both children and adults alike.

Suggested Family Experiences

Museums, cultural centers, and theaters frequently offer exhibits and events that display art, music, and historical moments unique to Latino communities.

  • Latino Arts (Milwaukee)

  • El Museo Latino (Omaha)

  • The Mexican Museum (San Francisco)

  • Mexic-Arte Museum (Austin)

  • American Sabor (National Tour)

  • Museum of Latin American Arts (Long Beach)

About Monica O.

Monica is a homeschooling mother of two and a freelance education writer. Her blog, MommyMaestra.com, is a resource for other homeschooling families or Latino parents with children in a traditional school who simply want to take a more active role in their children’s education. Monica is also the co-founder of Latinas for Latino Lit and one of the creators of the L4LL Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program. She is a regular contributor to NBCNews.com, and her work can be found on PBS Parents’ Adventures in Learning, LatinaMom.me, and Plaza Familia.

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