Holiday Traditions in Spanish-Speaking Countries

There are so many ways we can incorporate culture into the classroom. I love to share different culture and traditions with my students. There are so many holiday traditions in Spanish countries! The tradition of las doce uvas in Spain is one of my favorites to share with my students, and I love to do it with a special treat to help them relate!

This is my lesson plan for the last day of the semester with my middle school students. We’ve finished semester assessments, and it’s time to do something light, but still soaked in culture for them! It’s a PACKED lesson so you could split this up into multiple days if you have the time for it!

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HOLIDAY TRADITIONS IN SPANISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES

After welcoming and greeting my students, we watch this video from Tío Spanish together. It’s specific to Spain, but he covers a lot of traditions in December and into January, in well-illustrated Spanish so it’s a nice introduction to our lesson!

Next, students do an interactive Google Map activity to explore holiday traditions in Spanish-speaking countries. I love that this lets them work and explore on their own, but the graphic organizer helps make sure they have some direction. A few of my classes in the past have used the comprehension questions instead. It just depends on the group of students!

You can check out my post here for more info on cultural activities with Google My Maps!

While students are working on their organizer, I walk around and drop off a napkin. Hmm..I wonder what that’s for? No, it’s not a tissue for your nose. Yes, you will need it later. Hmm.. the suspense builds.

WRITING ACTIVITY

Next, I make an announcement. If you’ve finished with the maps, you should pick up a writing sheet. Tell me about what you’re going to do on your winter break! Yes, in Spanish. Yes, you should illustrate it.

The sheet I use with my ones in this lesson is the bottom right of the image. They practice the near future with “Yo voy a..” structures. My Spanish 2s use the sheets on the left after we come back from break! Click here to check out the download!

As students are wrapping up their maps and moving onto the writing, I make another announcement: “I’m going to swing by and put something on the napkin. Don’t touch it. DON’T EAT IT. You will see.”

I walk around and drop off 12 mini marshmallows for each student.

At this point, they are positively perishing with curiosity. Marshmallows?? But we can’t have them?? BUT WHY?

LAS DOCE..UVAS?

Okay. Before they break out the pitchforks and torches, you have to explain what’s going on. I project a reading on the screen, we read it together, we think back to the video at the start of the lesson, where Tío Spanish explained Las Doce Uvas. Oh…clase, how many marshmallows are on your desk? DOCE? No.way.

I pull up this video of the clock and tell them to get ready. I give them a little bit of time to think about their hopes for the coming year, and I make sure I have 12 marshmallows too. Then I hit play, and we all eat 12 mini marshmallows along with the clock chiming midnight! It’s more challenging than you might think! We talk about what it might be like with grapes instead of marshmallows, and I remind them they could always try again over the break with their families!

The lesson wrap up is simple. Students each get a sheet with a bunch of grapes and write their hopes and wishes for the new year. I leave the instructions open-ended and students tend to self-level. Some write single words, and others squeeze a whole sentence onto each grape! You could be more specific, of course.

I have also done it where I give each student a few circles or ovals and let them write their wishes, then we do one BIG grape bunch for our display. Both options work really well!

As they finished, we stapled their bunches up onto a board. January display? Check!
Here’s the link to the grape template and display, if you’d like!

A FEW NOTES

Of course, as with any time you involve food in a lesson, make sure you check for food allergies first. I have a few each year, but marshmallows have been pretty safe so far. You could always do real grapes, but I’ve done marshmallows because it’s way cheaper, and I can actually do it for all of my Spanish I students without breaking the bank. Also, it’s super important to do MINI marshmallows. I’m not positive it’d be safe to try and eat 12 big marshmallows in 18 seconds!

What are your favorite ways to explore holiday traditions in your classroom? Drop me a comment below to share!


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