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Grade: Elementary
Subject: other

#246. Feliz Navidad (A Mexican Christmas Unit)

other, level: Elementary
Posted by Addie Gaines (againes@netins.net).
Seneca R-7 School District, Seneca, MO USA
Materials Required: varied
Activity Time: varied
Concepts Taught: Students will participate in interdisciplinary activities related to a Mexican Christmas celebration

Begin by reading the book, Nine Days to Christmas. In this story a little girl excitedly prepares for her first "posada". The book clearly explains the meaning of the celebration ("posada" means shelter, and during the posada procession the participants are symbolizing the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem) and this will set the purpose for the rest of your unit.

Other books that fit into the unit are The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie DePaola, Too Many Tamales, Agua, Agua, Agua and Hats, Hats, Hats.

The children love learning some Spanish words. We learn to count in Spanish and to say the days of the week in Spanish. On Miss Jackie Wisemann's CD, "Joining Hands with other lands" there is a really cute spanish counting song, "Counting Cha-cha-cha" We also learn color words by using some color sheets, family words, and we learn parts of the body. After we learn the parts of the body we use the words to play "simon says" or "hokey pokey". I have a tape called Rock and Learn Spanish that has plenty of songs too. Here are the words to the days of the week song and counting song we use in class. They do not go to familiar songs, so you are on your own about a melody....

Lunes, Martez, Miercoles, Juevas, Viernes,
Sabado, Domingo
The days of the week.
Start each day with a smile.
Make each day full of fun.
So let's make each and every day
A very very special one.
Lunes, Martez, Miercoles, Juevas, Viernes,
Sabado, Domingo
The days of the week.
Saturday and Sunday
The best days of the week!

(In Spanish the order of the days is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.)

Uno, dos, y tres,
Quatro, sinco, seis
Siete, ocho, nueve
I can count to diez.

La la la la la....la la la la la....la la la la la
La la la la la...la la la la la....la la la la la!

Uno, dos y tres,
Quatro, sinco, seis
Siete, ocho, nueve,
I can count to diez.

We also learn the song "Feliz Navidad" which is found on many Christmas recordings.

Feliz Navidad... Feliz Navidad...
Feliz Navidad
Prospero ano y felicidad.
(repeat)

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas.
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas.
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart!
(repeat)

I have a recording of the Mexican Hat Dance and we learn to do this in a simplified version. Put a sombrero on the floor and stand in a circle around it. As the music starts, put your hands on your hips and the pattern is right heel, left heel, right heel, (clap, clap) left heel, right heel, left heel, (clap, clap). Then the music changes and we hold hands and skip in a circle counterclockwise and then clockwise when the music changes. Then the music goes back to the original pattern, so you do the right, left, right... action again. Then when the music changes we hold hands and take two steps forward and raise hands up and two steps backward and swing hands down (this part goes slow, I tell the kids it is "siesta time" and they need to be relaxing because the next part goes really fast). Then there is more fancy footwork and quick circling and then the dance is over with an ole`!

Art projects include making paper mache sombreros and maracas and making serapes from brown paper sacks.
To make sombreros, each student needs two circles of paper about 36 inches in diameter. Mix flour and water to make paste. Spread paste on top of one circle and place the other circle on top. Then mold the circle around the head of the owner and tie a string around it to hold it in place. Curl up the edges to make the brim and allow to dry overnight. Then paint with tempera paint in colorful designs. Allow to dry. Then punch a hole in each side of the brim and run a string over the back of the brim and through the holes to tie the hat on.

To make maracas put some dry rice, small beans or popcorn inside of two egg carton pieces. Tape shut. Then fasten a popsicle stick to the egg carton pieces and secure with more tape. Cover entire thing with paper mache strips and allow to dry. Paint decoratively.

To make serapes, cut sides from paper grocery sacks so that you have one long rectangle. Cut a diamond shape that will fit over the top of child's head. Then color patterns on the sack with crayons. Cut fringe at the bottom and wear.

It is good to have examples of the real thing for each of the items so that children have the concept of what they are trying to make. Parent volunteers are good for these activities or divide class into small groups and provide an alternate activity for the rest while you work with small groups of kids.

Make a replica of the Mexican flag and learn the legend behind the symbol.

Color a simple map of the US and Mexico to see where Mexico is in relation to the US.

I always read factual information about Mexico today to the children, so that the holiday celebration isn't all they learn about Mexico.

Our Christmas Party has a Mexican theme. We begin by going from class to class in our kindergarten and first grade wing asking for shelter (Yo les pido posada.) We are turned away in class after class, NO Posada. (prepare the other classes ahead of time for best results) Finally we return to our class room for a party celebration complete with a pinata and Mexican food. This year the children will be dividing up into groups to make the Mexican food at different stations. At one station they will make tacos, at another station they will make quesadillias and at a final station they will make fried tortillas with cinnamon sugar. One other station will be in the hallway. It will be a game of some sort. Following the food prep, we will go on our posada procession and have our pinata.

Feliz Navidad!!! (Merry Christmas)