National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
People of Hispanic descent make up more than 18 percent of the U.S. population and a quarter of all children living in the U.S., according to the 2020 census. That’s a lot of students who need to see their culture represented in American history.
“A real equity raiser for Latinx students is to see American history and societal contributions by other Americans of Hispanic ethnicity,” says Jorge Valenzuela, an education coach with Lifelong Learning Defined and host of the SEL in Action podcast. “It’s crucial for young people of Hispanic ethnicity to see people from their communities as role models who achieve at high levels and strengthen America with their accomplishments.”
Use these eight digital resources to bring the expansive history and varied accomplishments of Hispanic heritage into your classroom any time of the year!
1. The Anti-Defamation League
ADL is dedicated to confronting discrimination, not just antisemitism but against all marginized groups. Find information and lesson plans on current conditions in detention centers at the border, sanctuary cities and the Dream Act. Materials are divided by grade level and include links to additional resources, such as age-appropriate books and Common Core Standards alignment. Lesson plans on historical figures and topics include Cesar Chavez and the history of anti-immigrant bias.
2. Google Arts & Culture: Latino Cultures in the U.S.
Google hosts an online goldmine filled with curated collections on everything from Latino superstars to Latinas who made history. There’s in-depth information on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and photos from the Puerto Rican and Cuban diasporas. The collection is curated in partnership with museums across the United S.
3. The Hispanic Museum & Library
The Hispanic Society of America is a free, public museum and reference library for the art and culture of Spain, Portugal, Latin America and the Philippines. The collections include more than 900 paintings and 6,000 watercolors and drawings, many of which are available through digital access.
The Library’s Maps programs center on the Americas' early history using the museum's maps and globes in four lessons, available on the website. Students learn to use map coordinates and the history of Hispanic culture in the Caribbean and the Mayan, Aztec, and Incan civilizations.
There are several interactive art activities for kids inspired by the museum’s collections.
4. Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC)
The University of Texas, Austin, hosts this online database with resources about Latin America’s economy, society and culture. The digital archives include curated information on Venezuelan political discourse, the Zapatistas, an election observatory and much more.
5. The Library of Congress
In addition, there are helpful blog posts with ideas for celebrating Dia de Los Muertos, teaching Spanish using the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape (AHLOT), and Latin American musical greats such as Gloria Estefan.
6. The National Archives
DocsTeach allows teachers to search by keyword to find primary source documents. Some gems are the original proclamation for National Hispanic Heritage Month, photographs from the Spanish-American War, and photos from demonstrations for immigrants' rights.
7. National Endowment for the Humanities
The EDSITEment! Initiative provides lessons plans and teacher’s guides on various subjects, including Cesar Chavez, Victoriano Huerta, the United Farm Workers, Hurricane Maria and the history of Puerto Rico and the U.S., and Hispanic and Latino Heritage and History in the U.7. S.
8. The Smithsonian’s Latino Center
The Learning Lab’s Our Journeys/Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement portrays a group of extraordinary Latino men and women and the stories they tell. Geared for middle and high school, the exhibition and companion book, Nuestra América, combine personal narratives, portraits, and dichos, or traditional sayings in an illustrated anthology of Latino accomplishments across generations.
Photo by Carlos M. Vazquez II.
Jennifer Snelling is a freelance writer based in Eugene, Oregon, and mom to two digital natives.