Hispanic Heritage Month Lessons

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by learning about history, culture, art, food, and civil rights.

By Carrie Jackson


Hispanic Heritage Month Lesson Plans

In September of 1968, in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, President Ronal Regan extended this week into a month-long celebration, which starts September 15th and ends October 15th. This celebration recognizes the culture and contributions of individuals who came to America from various countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The span of dates chosen for National Hispanic Month coincides with independence celebrations in various Latin American countries. September 15th commemorates independence for Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. Chile’s independence is celebrated on September 18th, and Mexico celebrates her independence on September 16th.


Equal Rights for Hispanics 

The creation of National Hispanic Heritage Month marked a major milestone for Latin Americans who have settled in the United States. Hispanics have been an integral part of the development of the country, but have fought for equal rights in the areas of employment and education. In order to make this struggle more relatable to your class, consider studying the civil rights movement as it relates to Hispanics. Learning about Cesar Chavez might be just the place to start. Cesar Chavez made major contributions and had great success with fighting for workers’ rights. Chavez was a Mexican-American who experienced the harsh realities of inequalities associated with migrant farm work. As a child, his family suffered financial loss during the Great Depression. This resulted in their need to work in California’s agricultural fields. Take some time to trace the history of this fascinating man, and his eventual organization of the United Farm Workers Union. 

Equal Education for Hispanics

Allow some time for your learners to research the number of Hispanics who start college. Ask them to also check the statistics for how many Hispanics graduate from college, and then how many go on to earn an advanced degree. Once this research is complete, you will have an excellent foundation for introducing them to the amazing accomplishments of Jaime Escalante, a notable Hispanic crusader in the field of education. He was born in Bolivia and moved to the United States in the 1960s. Mr. Escalante learned English, graduated from college, and became a high school teacher. His ability to teach high school math in a hostile environment in Los Angeles was made into a movie entitled Stand and Deliver. He has received numerous awards and was awarded a place in the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1999.

Hispanic Heritage Month Lesson Plans:

Cultural Diversity Unit Plan

This six-lesson unit plan focuses on an individual's cultural identity and awareness. The unit also focuses on the cultural influences of other groups of people in the United States. Pupils are introduced to related topics such as cultural awareness, tolerance, and diversity.  

Film Festival: Documentaries for Hispanic Heritage Month

Take some time to show your class some or all of these short documentaries compiled by the New York Times. They show Hispanic culture and themes in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Diversity in Television and Movies

Scholars examine the diversity of Hispanic actors on television and in the movies. They will also investigate the roles given to Hispanic actors. In addition, they write letters to people based on diversity in the profession.