Hello Kinder Friends,
We make decorations for the stage and the teacher's lounge as part of our contribution to the school wide event. As we discuss and learn about celebrations in class, we decide what to make for those props based on our discussions. It is no surprise that flags and pinatas are two things that most of the children identify with celebrations, so we always include those. This year flags have been very popular and we have made a few versions.
As I came home, I immediately went to my computer to see what was happening in the blogging world. I had a comment waiting. It said, "I love the idea, but I would like to invite teachers to take this beyond sombreros, tacos and burritos! I hate all the stereotypes created behind this kind of unit." I respect that thought and opinion but I see things a little different.
My State requires me to teach that...
K.12 People learn about themselves through family customs and cultures
K12A Identify family customs and traditions and explain their importance
Cinco de Mayo is observed nationwide in the US as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride and
it commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the battle of Puebla on
May 5, 1862
In my classroom, we have spent an entire year learning and discussing the topic of diversity which includes a foundational understanding of heritage. I wrote and was awarded, a grant called Under One Sun...Celebrating Diversity For Everyone! Due to this grant, we have spent numerous hours learning about the similarities and differences in people and in Kindergarten we begin with "us", our classroom, family and community. We have read numerous books, written about ourselves, our families, our family traditions and we have spent a year sharing those experiences with each other in order to learn about each other as a way to develop a foundational understanding in Social Studies. Once we have a better understanding of ourselves, we can better understand others, especially when we do not see eye to eye or get along. As Kindergarten teachers, we lay the foundation for a broader perspective in the subsequent school years and these early positive experiences are critical. During this school year each one of us has had to open our eyes and minds to different perspectives and ideas. We have had to respect things we may or may not agree with and at times our thinking has changed and we all have learned a new or different way of thinking about many different things.
In my class, I am the minority and at some point, everyone has realized that. I did not grow up recognizing Cinco de Mayo and a few of my students didn't either. Over the years, I have grown to love this time of year and you can ask anyone and they will tell you the same. And I am crazy in love with the donkey pinata you have seen on this blog. And this year I am crazy in love with the flags and sombreros the children have made. Those projects are included in our unit study because they are symbols to the children that represent their family, heritage and culture and remind them of times of celebration. The children also perform the Mexican Hat Dance and they wear clothes that represent their heritage that their families lovingly prepare or buy or create from what they have on hand. To us these items are not stereotypical, they are authentic. We also share food with each other as well. We have also learned a lot about each other over some good food we have shared together much like a family eating a meal together. It never was about tacos or salads because it was more about what each of us brought to the table...our hearts. At Thanksgiving it was the contribution of everyone that made our vegetable soup a reality because our Kindergarten grown vegetable garden only produced lettuce. We would not have had a feast had it not been a combined and collected effort. And through that, we learned that we need each other.
I participate in this program because I believe it is important to celebrate or recognize the heritage of my students. I dance with an open heart and I sing with an open heart just like we all did for the Black History program and every other big or small event during the year. We have laughed together and learned together and I can tell you we care deeply about each other. I will cry a river of tears to say goodbye. when the year is over. And when I see the images of donkey pinatas, child painted sombreros and child created flags, I will think of the children of the past, present and future that I teach and I will have nothing but good thoughts and I will remind myself...
"It is in the spirit of ALL children that we dance."
Love, Mrs. Coe