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12 National Hispanic Heritage Month activities for kids to celebrate and learn

Broaden horizons and teach kids (and grown-ups) about lesser known aspects of Latin American culture with these activities for Hispanic Heritage Month.

12 National Hispanic Heritage Month activities for kids to celebrate and learn

Every fall from September 15th through October 15th, it’s National Hispanic Heritage Month — a time to celebrate the culture and achievements of Latinx individuals and communities hailing from Latin America. For those of us who are part of the community, it’s a nice time to reconnect with our heritage — especially with our children. For others, it’s a welcome opportunity to broaden horizons and teach kids (and their grown-ups) about lesser known aspects of our cultura.

While we still refer to the month as Hispanic Heritage Month, there’s a push from some to rebrand to Latinx Heritage Month (in order to sever the colonial associations and re-center the focus more on indigenous and Afro-Latinx communities). Keep this in mind as you research more about what this month means and how to celebrate it in a fun and respectful way. 

Here you’ll find a number of activities to get you started festejando National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM) for kids:

1. Fill your bookshelves with Latinx authors

Kids can read Latinx authors in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month

While kiddos might not be entirely ready to read the works of Latinx authors like Isabelle Allende, Gabriel García Márquez and the like, they can certainly read other books that explore our culture. Challenge children to find Latinx authors on library or bookstore shelves, and then make a list of books to check out or buy and read at home. 

Kids can learn about important Latinx figures by reading: 

Or simply enjoy other books by Latinx authors, such as: 

2. Brush up on your Spanish, Portuguese or other Latin American language

While not all Latinx folks speak Spanish, there’s no doubt that the language heavily influences much of our culture. Plus, Spanish is the second most common language spoken in the U.S., so it’s really a win-win for kids to learn at least some conversational skills.

Alternately, you can also encourage kiddos to learn Brazilian Portuguese, which is spoken by over 211 million individuals in Brazil, not to mention 693,000 speakers here in the United States. Moreover, many Latin folks are starting to show more interest in learning the indigenous languages of their homelands, including Nauhatl, Quechua and Mayan languages. This can especially help children with indigenous heritage connect to that part of their roots.

Encourage kids to work on becoming bilingual (or even multilingual): 

  • Sign up for language learning apps like Duolingo, more immersive programs like Rosetta Stone or classes with a live instructor via sites like Preply
  • Hire a bilingual babysitter or bilingual nanny who’s willing to practice conversational Spanish or Portuguese with kids. 
  • For kids and their friends, it could be fun to even start up a Language Club after school for practicing their skills.

3. Visit a Latinx museum or exhibition

Image via Floyd Wilde

A trip to a museum is another excellent way to learn more about Hispanic and Latinx culture. Hop onto Google and see if there are any Latinx-centric museums in your neighborhood like Denver’s Museo de las Americas, the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, NYC’s El Museo del Barrio, and El Museo Latino in Omaha. 

Even if you don’t live near one of these museums, many art and history museums will still have exhibitions on display specifically for NHHM 2022. Look into the museums near you. Then take a trip with the kids so they might learn more about our famous artists like Frida Kahlo and Ana Mendieta, and find out more about our culture on the whole.

4. Try a fun DIY craft (and then TikTok it!)

Image via The Crafty Chica

Crafting is always a fun, immersive way to get to know more about a culture — and artesanías are a huge part of ours! If you’re not sure where to start, check out Kathy Cano-Murillo’s site The Crafty Chica. A popular Mexican-American crafter, author and influencer, Cano-Murillo offers DIY instructions for a number of crafts, from painted tins cans (image above), faux pan dulce (image below) and Mexican embroidery murals to stamped clay plates, Day of the Dead ofrendas and more. 

You can even have kids follow along and make TikToks out of their Hispanic Heritage activities and tag the Crafty Chica herself! If you need additional help, Cano-Murillo also has plenty of books (many of which are for craft making) available for purchase so you can learn even more unique Latinx-inspired crafts!

For more Latinx craft inspiration, families can follow Lucia Maella DIY, La Catrinita Crafts, or look for hashtags like #latinxcrafts and #latinacrafters.

Image via The Crafty Chica

5. Play a round of Lotería

Millennial Loteria Game GenZ Edition
Image via Mike Alfaro

Similar to bingo, but at least in my opinion, way more fun, is the game of lotería. A popular activity in Mexico and among some other Latin American diaspora, each player gets a tabla (akin to a bingo card) and one individual draws cards from a pile, calling out different images. If the image matches one on your tabla, you put a coin, dry bean or other small object on it until you fill out your card.

While the game was brought over to the Americas from Italy, it became popularized by Don Clemente Jacques, whose images have become the standard found on most lotería cards (although older tweens and teens might also enjoy checking out “Millennial Lotería” or the new Gen Z version, created by Mike Alfaro). It’s a great way to experience Latinx culture, while also learning some Spanish words along the way (as card images include everything from “La Sandia,” “El Tambor,” “El Paraguas,” “La Dama” and more).

Where to buy: Millennial Loteria: Family Fiesta Edition or Gen Z Edition ($20, Target)

6. Make a Latinx playlist to listen to

Letting kids make their own playlists is a fun way to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month with kids

No doubt music is another special way to connect with a culture, and kids will jump at the chance to discover playlists and create their own featuring Latin American and Latinx musicians during NHHM. Ask kids which medium they prefer to use — Spotify has some easy playlist-making capabilities, but they can also make one via YouTube or other services (or if you want to go old school you can teach them how to make mixtapes like when we were their age!) 

Next, help them look at various artists, keeping their musical preferences in mind. From Chavela Vargas and Celia Cruz, to Bad Bunny and J Balvin, to Gloria Estefan, Amara La Negra and Cardi B, they’ll come up with some creative mixes to listen to all month long — and beyond.

7. Take a Latin American dance lesson

Showing kids Latin dance moves is a fun way to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

Once a playlist is made, there’s an excellent chance kiddos might begin to feel their own hips sway to the beat. Not surprising as dance is a huge part of our culture. 

Many folks tend to think of salsa first as a Latinx dance — and they wouldn’t be wrong. Salsa is certainly one of the most popular styles, and odds are you won’t struggle to find a salsa class near you. But if you’ve got more options, consider checking out other styles as well, including merengue, cumbia, bachata, bomba, and of course, tango. No matter which style you choose to explore, this is a solid way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month for kids.

8. Watch a Latinx film or TV show

Image via Netflix

Television and movies have always been great mediums for getting a glimpse into the lives of others, and during NHHM, you can totally put your focus on Latinx and Latin American shows and films to do just that. 

Binge a family-favorite like the “One Day at a Time” reboot, about a Cuban-American family that offers plenty of laughs. Or host a movie night with friends with Latinx films like Disney’s “Coco” and “Selena,” plus Latin American films such as “La Leyenda de la Llorona” and “Anina.” Afterward, have a discussion about anything you may have learned about the particular culture(s) depicted.

Where to stream: 

9. Try a new recipe from a Latin American country

Making Strawberry Mango Banana Paletas is a fun way to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month with kids
Image via Dolores Wiarco Dweck

What better way to find what you love about other cultures and countries is there than by tasting the local cuisine? While it may not always be possible to actually fly out to taste some dishes, you can always go online or grab a cookbook and test out a new recipe. 

Try Mexican cooking blogger Dolores Wiarco Dweck of Lola’s Cocina’s kid-approved recipe for strawberry, mango, banana paletas — Mexican-style sweet treats the whole family will love. Lola also shares plenty of other easy-to-follow recipes like elote (Mexican street corn and agua fresca de avena (a style of oat milk). Make sure to check out her workshops (including virtual) for additional instruction (you can even find some past ones on YouTube). 

If kids want to explore beyond Mexican cooking for NHHM, feel free to scour the web for other ideas, like bean and cheese pupusas (a staple in Salvadoran and Honduran cooking) or pan de bono (Colombian cheese bread). If you’d much prefer to just sample different foods, however, feel free to order out from various Mexican, Caribbean, and Central and South American restaurants in your neighborhood. 

10. Visit your local library

While libraries are excellent places to go and pick up new books, they are often hosts to a number of other fun NHHM activities for the whole community. Visit your local library and check out their HHM display for reading suggestions, and ask if they are offering any additional HHM programming. 

For example, Northfield Public Libraries in Minnesota will host a whole day of in-person events for HHM, and Denver Public Libraries also have an array of events all month long, including a papel picado workshop and kid’s yoga in Spanish. And over at the LA County Libraries, folks are welcome to attend virtual and in-person events and download online tutorials for DIY crafts. Pop into your local library this month to find out what’s happening in your neighborhood and for more ideas on celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month for kids.

11. Teach kids about soccer or other popular Latin American sports

 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez
Image via David Berding/Getty Images

While futbol (soccer) is a game that’s played the world over, no one can deny its extreme popularity and influence in Latin America. Watching a game on television or at a live match is a great way for kids to experience the excitement of the game themselves. Kids can also learn about famous Latinx futbol players by reading books, magazines or articles online to find out more about their lives.

“Using soccer players like Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez or Messi helps students to see how successful they can be,” says Michelle Huitink, a Latina English teacher based in Los Angeles who bridges soccer with Latin American history in her classroom. “They have very idealistic views of these professional players, so I tell them to get on that level, they have to practice just as these players do, that these players are good because of how hard they work.”

You can also teach them about other sports that are popular in Latin America, including baseball and jai alai (also known as basque pelota).

12. Learn about Latin American holidays together

September 15th, the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, marks the day of independence for a number of countries, including Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador. Take some time to teach kids about why this day (and other Latin American independence days) are so important and how each country celebrates.

You can also read books and watch videos about other Latin American holidays, like Las Fiestas Patronales in Puerto Rico and Mexico’s La Batalla de Puebla (also known here as Cinco de Mayo). Kids can also enjoy learning about Dia de los Muertos — a two-part holiday celebrated not only in Mexico but also Ecuador, Guatemala and other nations. Since it occurs shortly after HHM, families can even look into learning how to create altars for their deceased, a project that can be worked on together for the weeks leading up to the holiday.

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