This past spring, the kindergarten’s Owls and Toucans learned about their teachers' different cultures in the target language. We took time to talk about the mountainous terrain which yields various types of exotic fruit in Honduras and also touched on the volcanos surrounded by lakes in Nicaragua. More importantly, discussing these topics in-depth allowed our students to learn more about us, their teachers, similarly to how we learn about them through their weekly family shares. We had the amazing opportunity to talk about the time we have spent in those countries with our families and detailed all of our favorite activities when we visit including taking naps on hammocks and biting into bright, white pineapples that you would never see here in the U.S.
This year’s study was extra special because this year we have families in our class who are also from Central America; this greatly contributed to our centers. Fortunately, they were able to come into our classroom and share facts about the symbolism displayed in the Honduran and Nicaraguan flags. They also discussed instruments used in those countries, as well as their typical folklore, music and dress. It not only allowed us to build community but also celebrate our cultures together. But our students couldn’t get a true taste of these nations until we literally got into the kitchen and cooked up some well-known dishes towards the end of April.
Students had a blast mixing water and corn flour to craft authentic tortillas. After adding refried beans, sweet cream and cotija cheese to the recipe they were able to enjoy baleadas, the classic Honduran breakfast. For our Nicaraguan snack we brought in plantain chips and drizzled sweet cream followed by a sprinkling of cotija cheese. Even our pickiest eaters gave these snacks a thumbs-up!
Students also noted how similar ingredients were used in signature dishes in both countries that are located right next to each other on a map of Central America. We also briefly touched on other surrounding nations including Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The experience led up to our Carnaval, and in order to absorb even more culture, we visited our friends on the Chinese side of school to ask them to share what they learned about the country they studied. We even had live instruments and finished with a dance.