Hispanic Heritage Month is a month-long celebration of the history, achievements, culture, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Hispanic Heritage Month begins on 15 September, the day of independence for five Latin American countries. These five countries are El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Interestingly, Mexico won its independence on 16 September, while Chile gained its freedom on 18 September.
President Lyndon Johnson was the first president to declare a Hispanic Heritage celebration in 1968. At that time, the celebration lasted only a week. On 17 August 1988, President Ronald Regan extended the celebration to a month. Today, Hispanic Heritage Month runs from 15 September to 15 October each year.
In the U.S., Latinos and Hispanics have made valuable contributions to society with achievements in science, art, entertainment, politics, sports, and various other fields. It's important that Americans take time to recognize these achievements in order to deepen their appreciation for this rich, diverse culture. Teachers can help students celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in many interesting ways.
Some teachers create units that allow them to teach about the Hispanic culture in every aspect of the curriculum. Teaching about the contributions of Latinos and Hispanics builds self-esteem and pride in the students who identify themselves as part of the Hispanic community. It helps other students gain an appreciation and respect for the culture and realize that the U.S. is a country of diversity.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, some teachers try to incorporate the Spanish language throughout the school day. They may read children a book that uses Spanish vocabulary or show a movie that teaches kids the Spanish language. Students might make a miniature dictionary of Spanish vocabulary as well.
Another way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is to become immersed in various types of music from Hispanic cultures. Teachers may bring CDs that encompass different genres of music originating from Mexico, Cuba, or Spain. In this way, students are exposed to music that they may have never heard before. An ambitious teacher may even invite a dance teacher to instruct students on Mexican folk dance, Spanish flamenco, or the merengue, a popular social dance from the Dominican Republic.
Students can read books about famous Hispanic Americans or design posters that highlight the contributions of Hispanics and Latinos. They can learn to cook foods from a variety of Hispanic or Latin American countries. Some students may enjoy making crafts that originated from Spanish-speaking countries as well. They can make piñatas, papel picado, or some other craft from Hispanic culture.