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Activities & Lessons

9 National Hispanic Heritage Month Activities for Students: A Celebration of Culture

6 Min Read
National hispanic heritage month 2021 hero

Students love to participate in celebrations of all kinds—and some of the most exciting lessons for kids involve learning about traditions that may be new to them. As we seek to be more inclusive of all cultures, it’s important for kids to learn about the patchwork that makes the U.S. one nation with many different cultures.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15 through October 15 in recognition of Hispanic American contributions and influences in our society. In areas of education, science, technology, government, and arts and culture—to name just a few—Hispanic influence is innovative and far-reaching. National Hispanic Heritage Month activities for students of all ages allow them to learn about, celebrate, and acknowledge the history and heritage of Hispanic Americans.

A sense of togetherness embodies the Hispanic spirit, which is why Hispanic Heritage Month often celebrates family ties and culture. Family does not just include relatives but also friends and neighbors. Music and food—there are so many traditional dishes to try—also play an important role in the festivities.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a great celebration for all because there’s always something new we can learn from one another, and we can appreciate the impact of Hispanic culture on our nation as a whole. Each of us uses words daily that are of Spanish origin—such as tomato, ranch, canyon, and more—often without realizing it.

Hispanic Heritage Month Lesson Plan Ideas for School

These nine Hispanic Heritage Month lessons and activities enable students to explore Hispanic culture and history in the United States.

Hispanic Heritage Month Activities for Elementary Students

Activity 1: Watch and Discuss the Mendez Family

Have your students watch this HISTORY® video about the Mendez family. Then, conduct a discussion in class. For Grades K–3, you could discuss why it’s essential to recognize the Mendez family and the actions they took that made a difference.

For Grades 4–5 students, have them write a short research paper about the relevance of the Mendez family in the fight for ending segregation in schools. They could use the internet to gather relevant information, then produce and publish their writing and share it in class.

Activity 2: Learn about Carmen Lomas Garza

In this literacy activity for Grades 4–5, students listen to a text that you read aloud about Carmen Lomas Garza, a Chicana artist who shares her life story through her art. Students should set a purpose for listening, such as finding out who Garza is, what her art is like, and why she is important to learn about.

Activity 3: Create a Country Commercial

This collaborative social studies lesson for upper elementary allows students to research and profile an assigned Latin American country. Students create a short commercial in groups about their country to promote tourism. Through the creation of their video, students learn about their country’s landscape and culture. Plus, students get a chance to practice filming and editing videos. You can modify this lesson for Grades 6–12 by asking students to write a guide for potential tourists that includes landmarks to visit, foods to try, maps of the country, and more.

Hispanic Heritage Activities for Middle School and High School Students

Activity 4: Read and Research Chicano Artwork

In this social studies activity, Grades 6–12 students research Chicano artwork from the civil rights movement and think about the messages people were trying to convey. Then, they design a poster that communicates their stance on an issue.

Activity 5: Explore the Life and Work of César Chávez

In this social studies activity for Grades 6–12, students explore the life and work of César Chávez. Then, they write responses to questions about this historical figure.

Activity 6: Learn about Dolores Huerta and the Delano Grape Strike

Have students learn about the work of Dolores Huerta, an influential labor activist who worked alongside César Chávez in founding the National Farm Workers Association. In this Grades 6–12 social studies activity, students take on the role of reporters set to interview Dolores Huerta and write an article all about her and her involvement in the Delano grape strike in California in the 1960s.

Activity 7: Research Boycotts and Consumer Power

Further explore the 1960s Delano grape strike and boycott with this social studies activity for Grades 6–12. Students research the economic damage caused by the 1960s grape boycott and display their findings. In September 1965, grape workers walked out on strike because of poor pay and conditions. The grape workers asked for the support of César Chávez and the National Farm Workers Association (a primarily Latino farm workers’ union). Chávez tried to ensure that strikers remained nonviolent.

Activity 8: Launch Into Real-World Modeling with Functions

In this math activity for Grades 9 and up, students learn about Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman to go into space when she served as a crew member aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Then, they participate in an activity that lets them explore functions using the real-world example of a Space Shuttle launch.

Activity 9: Read Literature Written by Hispanic Authors

Explore the works of notable Hispanic authors during Hispanic Heritage Month and throughout the school year.

Sandra Cisneros, the Mexican American author known for her novel The House on Mango Street, is noted as a key figure in Chicano literature. Download and read her short story “Eleven” with your middle school or high school class.

Panamanian American author Cristina Henriquez captures the experience of Latin American immigrants in her novel The Book of Unknown Americans. Download an excerpt of Henriquez’s novel and a Grades 6–8 literacy activity below. The activity is available in both English and Spanish.

We hope you find these Hispanic Heritage Month lesson plans and activities helpful as you celebrate with your students, whether you focus on Hispanic Americans’ cultures, biographies, or achievements.

Have more ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month? Share your favorites with us on Instagram or Facebook, or email us at shaped@hmhco.com.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

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This blog, originally published in 2020, has been updated for 2023.

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