Curriculum Materials

The Center for Latin American studies has organized its curriculum resources for educators of all levels. Please contact Clea Conlin ( with requests for materials or questions. Each category contains a variety of information, activities, lessons and ideas that can be used directly or adapted to teach about Latin America in many learning environments. Some categories have more materials than others, therefore we invite you to visit the resource center or contact us for a more detailed explanation. See the lists below to see what kind of resources we have available for different regions, subjects, and grade levels. We will be updating this page with downloadable PDFs soon, so be sure to check back.

To download PDFs from our 2012 Teaching the Borderlands Summer Institute, click here.


Resource Categories (Region and Subject)

* Brazil

* Caribbean/African Latin America

* Celebrations and Holidays

* Central America

* Conquest/Columbus/Colonialism

* Cultural Expression

* Drug War

* Economics

* Environment and Ecology

* Geography

* Global Education

* Human Rights and Stereotypes

* Immigration/Migration/Borders

* Indigenous Cultures

* Literature and Poetry

* Mexico

* Religion

* South America

* Spanish & Portuguese Language

 * U.S./Latin American Relations

*Women/Gender Issues


Many of the topics are geared to middle school but could be adapted to other grade levels.

Topics include: the rainforest, indigenous cultures and folklore, slavery, coffee, economics, history and child workers

Elementary: some games and activities are included.

High school/college classrooms:

    * book and accompanying slides on cultural and ethnic variety in Brazilian cities
    * slide presentation on Rio de Janeiro's favelas (slums)
    * a report entitled "Afro-Brazilians: Time for Recognition"
    * a working paper, "Afro-Brazilian Music and Rituals: From traditional Genres to the Beginnings of Samba"


Caribbean/African Latin America


    * mostly found in the green booklet titled Haiti: Teacher's Guide
    * geography activity
    * Haiti fact sheet (for teachers)
    * proverbs
    * two traditional children's stories
    * games
    * recipes
    * coloring sheet
    * craft ideas

Middle school:

    * articles on refugees (boat people) from Cuba and Dominican Republic
    * a folktale
    * activities on geography (including a "Buccaneer Board Game"), poverty, post-Columbian exchange, holidays, history of banana cultivation and trade, and role of women in slavery.

High school/college:

    * role-playing suggestions about the islands' place in the global economy
    * case study of human rights in Haiti
    * article on U.S. intervention in Cuba
    * debate on Puerto Rico's political status
    * geography activity

Middle-school readings on Africans in Latin America:

    * 19th-century description of a Brazilian slave auction
    * Brazilian folktale of slavery
    * Brazil's racial melting pot
    * descriptions of Brazilian favelas (slums)

Materials about Africans in Latin America for the high school/college level:

    * readings and a lesson in Spanish titled La huella africana en America Latina
    * a working paper on Afro-Brazilian music and rituals
    * a report, "Afro-Brazilians: Time for Recognition."

Celebrations and Holidays

Although primarily aimed at middle school, most of these materials are adaptable to elementary and, to a lesser extent, high school.

Topics include: Brazilian carnival and samba (mask-making activity), Peruvian holidays, Christmas in the Dominican Republic (with recipe), Venezuela's "Bull of Tachira," with how-to instructions to make/use a bull.

Upper elementary/middle school:

Presentation on The Day of the Dead contains:

    * nine overheads plus explanatory articles
    * a recipe
    * two craft ideas

A 5"x7" black box entitled Mexico: The Day of the Dead contains:

    * 96-page book, with ample photos (written at high school/adult level)
    * a print of two clothed skeleton people
    * a tin skeleton (could serve as model for craft project)
    * a poster-print of a detail from one of Diego Rivera's murals (depicting Day of Dead street scene)

Central America

Note: Some materials designated for one level, e.g. middle school, may be adaptable to elementary or high school/college classes.

Elementary school:

    * a variety of activity sheets, each providing information on a country or a subject (e.g. coffee)
    * sheets are in large print, with illustrations and a word puzzle on each sheet
    * Art/craft and snack recipe ideas are also available

Middle-school: information on:

    * human rights
    * economy (poverty)
    * migration/asylum seeking
    * environmental activities about Costa Rica (from curriculum entitled "Boots, Bananas and Biodiversity")
    * history of banana cultivation
    * snack ideas/recipes
    * profile of former Archbishop Oscar Romero
    * activity idea for illustrating Quiché Maya calendar
    * suggested activities for a "Latin American Day"
    * word puzzles using "borrowed" Spanish words

High school:

    * materials on mental cartography (geography)
    * Guatemalan Indian costumes (with instructions for making a huipil)
    * history of U.S. /Latin American Relations (with slides)
    * immigration (push/pull)
    * lessons with slides on land use


These materials are primarily articles, most written for high school and college students and their instructors, providing background and discussion-starters about the European-Indigenous American encounter.

Also available:

    * world maps dating from the late 1400s
    * various historical reproductions
    * Theodor de Bry's early engravings of the encounter
    * These primary source materials, located in a portfolio entitled Columbus & the Age of Explorers, are copies from a Library of Congress exhibit marking the quincentenary of the European landfall in the Western Hemisphere

Two Visions of the Conquest is a curriculum for grades 9-12 on the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. It contains 23 slides with a script, readings and discussion questions.


Cultural Expression

"Cultural Expression" encompasses arts/crafts, art history/fine art, dance, food/recipes, games and music/song. Most of the activities suggested for one age level may be accommodated to the needs of older or younger students.

Elementary school:

    * ideas for making simple musical instruments (maracas, castanets, claves, drums and drum sticks)
    * "Animals of Latin America" coloring sheets and card game
    * three Brazilian games; Peruvian flora and fauna cards
    * riddles from Colonial Argentina
    * making bean and seed mosaics and yarn collages


    * Venezuelan "bull of Tachira" craft
    * two Mexican dances
    * Brazilian samba and masks
    * how-to instructions for a Peruvian zafa-casa (house decoration)
    * writing an Amazon Explorer's Journal of Flora and Fauna
    * constructing a floating city (as in Manaus, Brazil)
    * bean/seed mosaics and yarn collages
    * Argentine leatherwork project

High school:

    * various songs
    * background information for the musical Evita
    * Argentine leatherwork project
    * weaving (constructing a loom)
    * "how-to" for a Guatemalan costume
    * Panama's "reverse applique" molas
    * a working paper on Afro- Brazilian music and rituals from traditional genres to beginnings of samba

Drug War

High school/college level:

    * readings on impact of illegal drugs on U.S./Latin American relations (contains discussion questions and activity sheet)
    * reading plus suggested discussion topics and activities
    * recommended quiz
    * nine accompanying slides on Narcotrafficking: The Story of Drug-Dependent Nations
    * educational unit with discussion exercises titled From Information to Education: Narcotics and Development
    * a class lesson with overheads on Coca-Cocaine Production: Social Change in Bolivia
    * a spiral bound notebook with varied articles about coca production's impact on culture and development in Bolivia (from a 1996 seminar)

Also available:

    * six booklets (produced in 2001 by Strategic Studies Institute of U.S. Army War College)
    * evaluating the pros and cons of the American "Plan Colombia"
    * An "Opposing Viewpoint" pamphlet (Greenhaven Press, 1998) entitled Is the war on drugs succeeding? provides six varying viewpoints on the question poised


Middle-school: articles and activity suggestions on:

    * poverty and distribution of world's resources
    * the history of banana cultivation and trade
    * U.S.-Mexico economic interdependence
    * setting up a classroom tianguis (Mexican marketplace)
    * relationships between illiteracy and poverty and between land ownership and poverty
    * Venezuela's petroleum resources
    * global production of goods
    * poverty and shelter (including activity "making a floating city" as in Manaus, Brazil)

High school/college: readings on:

    * U.S.-Mexico Economic Interdependence
    * U.S. economic interests in Latin America
    * role-play on participants of "global assembly line"
    * poverty and social change
    * pros and cons of NAFTA
    * gional economic integration
    * role-play on "Hacienda: The Game of Life"
    * land tenure
    * debt crisis
    * economic development of the Amazon and its repercussions
    * overhead classroom presentation with readings on "The Flaws of Globalization"
    * curriculum unit (with slides) called "Coffee Connections," a case study of international exchange of commodities

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Environment and Ecology


    * a 52-page booklet with coloring sheets of Latin American animals
    * animal card game
    * activity sheet with word puzzle on Guatemalan wildlife

Middle school:

    * activity suggestions for Peruvian flora and fauna collectible cards
    * mural on post-Columbian exchange of plants and animals
    * a Oaxacan "bark" painting
    * illustrating a Quiché Maya calendar

High school/college:

    * lessons on destruction of the rain forest and choices to be made at all levels
    * unit on why world should be concerned about Latin America's environmental problems
    * vocabulary
    * background inf
    * 10 slides and card game ("environmental poker) in unit entitled "Latin America's Natural Environment: Wealth Untapped or a People Trapped?"
    * examination of environmental quality of life issues using Mexico City as case history
    * a slide set curriculum unit (in both Spanish and English) on land use in a Guatemalan Village (also suitable to middle school)
    * "Environmental Literacy across the Curriculum: Costa Rica,": a packet of text, activities and slides for high school classroom
    * A thick "Atlas of Reproducible Pages" on Latin America, prepared in the 1980s

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Elementary and middle school:

    * a buccaneer board game
    * mapping the origins of Brazil's "racial melting pot"
    * "Let's Design a City: Brasilia"
    * Venezuela's petroleum route
    * relationship between crops and altitude

High school/college level:

    * a mental cartography exercise
    * a variety of map exercises
    * unique physical features of Latin America
    * available in both English and Spanish, each in spiral-bound notebook format, are "Mapping Latin America" and "Geografía de América Latina." This resource contains mapping exercises on, among other topics, countries of Latin America, physiographic features, and climate.

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Global Education

A variety of resources, geared to elementary, middle grades and/or high school students:

    * address questions of sensitivity to differences in values and customs between North Americans and Latin Americans
    * cross-cultural conflict with an emphasis on how to avoid or manage it
    * understanding cultural diversity and world cultures.

Some of the resources are global in scope, not just on Latin America.

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Human Rights and Stereotypes

Human rights resources for middle school (some may be adaptable to elementary level) are:

    * poverty
    * authoritarian and/or repressive governments
    * slavery
    * poverty and land reform
    * poverty and literacy
    * organizations to monitor human rights
    * "Argentine Mothers of the Disappeared"
    * and a profile of a peacemaker/defender of human rights

Resource guides on human rights for high school or college classrooms include:

    * an examination of poverty and its global effects
    * relationship between majority rule and individual rights as reflected in U.S. legal and governmental system
    * factors contributing to poverty in Latin America (with video)
    * poverty, human rights and social change (with video)
    * authoritarian and/or repressive governments
    * repercussions of global economy controlled by transnational corporations
    * and slide presentation (in Spanish) entitled "Choza, mansión y casa de cartón" (Hut, Mansions and Cardboard House)
    * booklets on HIV and development, population and development, and conflict and development

In addition:
Speak Truth to Power is an educational/advocacy resource produced by Amnesty International and Umbrage Editions. It profiles advocacy "heros" with a description of the violation they work to end, for example, Juliana Dogbadzi who works to end sex slavery and trafficking in women.

Resources at the middle school level on stereotypes:

    * exercise to map Latin America's many languages
    * an activity called "Using ads to study U.S. influence in Latin America"
    * role of women in Latin America
    * "machismo"
    * stereotypes of Texans and Latin Americas
    * examining Caracas to break stereotype that Latin America consists of small towns full of "bandidos"

In addition:
Various resources for high school/college classrooms help identify and break stereotypes. Some lessons contain video and/or slides.

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Immigration/Migration materials geared to middle school may be adaptable for elementary classes: activities and readings for students, covering the following issues:

    * such as race/ethnicity
    * poverty
    * social class
    * urbanization
    * agriculture as it relates to migration/immigration

Immigration/Migration materials for high school/college:

    * background readings for teachings
    * activities--mostly readings and discussion questions for students--on globalization, militarization, economics, drug trade and culture related to immigration and migration
    * Some sources are in Spanish and some include videos and slides
    * Seven black-and-white photos depicting scenes of the bracero program are also available

Border materials are high-school level and include:

    * overhead presentation on globalization and NAFTA
    * background reading materials for teachers and activities
    * readings and discussion questions for students on issues such as
          o globalization
          o NAFTA
          o economics
          o poverty
          o migration and maquiladoras

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Indigenous Cultures

Elementary resources include activity sheets with word puzzles that can be photocopied.

Middle school (may be adaptable to upper elementary grades):

    * activity suggestions such as reading the Inca and the Gê (of Brazil) creation myths
    * re- enacting the chasqui relay race of the Incan Empire
    * illustrating the Quiché Maya calendar
    * mapping the languages of Latin America
    * identifying pre-Columbian stylized figures
    * learning an Aymara song
    * reading about folk medicine in Peru

High school/college:

    * a unit on how colonialism affected the indigenous people of the "New World"
    * a lesson (in Spanish) entitled "Los dueños de casa: las civilizaciones indígenas de Latinoamérica"
    * 32 slides and accompanying descriptions on pre-European America
    * a contemporary examination of the Amazon, including its indigenous occupants

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Literature and Poetry

Elementary: A bilingual curriculum, Dedos de Luna, with accompanying video (in Spanish only story in English found in appendix), provides a wealth of information and cross- cultural activities. After listening to the story, children learn how to make the various items needed for a Mexican festival:

    * dances with masks
    * costumes
    * adornments (tissue-paper cut-out banners and crepe paper flowers)
    * food (recipes for bunuelos and champurrado)
    * simple percussion instruments

The curriculum also contains lessons on:

    * intergenerational interaction,
    * expressing feelings and comforting others
    * word game
    * activity sheets that can be photocopied

Most of the Dedos de Luna activities are adaptable to middle school.

Additional middle school:

    * potpourri of myths
    * folk tales
    * riddles
    * proverbs
    * poetry
    * booklet As We See Ourselves contains 15 selections of works by prominent Latin American writers, in both English and Spanish

As We See Ourselves may also be appropriate to high school, especially for Spanish-language-learning classes.

College students:

96-page booklet, Civilization and Barbarism: A Guide to the Teaching of Latin American Literature,
a packet of essays, short stories and program ideas entitled Down Mexico Way: The Literature of Conscience

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Elementary and middle school:

    * activity suggestions with accompanying background information
    * explorations of corridos, or ballads, including music and words (in both English and Spanish) to La Cucaracha [Mojada]
    * sports/games
    * word puzzles
    * recipes
    * constructing retablos (miniature houses)
    * Oaxacan "bark" paintings
    * dances
    * setting up a tianguis (marketplace)
    * eight activity sheets, done in large-face type and with ample illustrations
    * a Christmas script called Parties, Piñatas and Plays
    * a spiral-bound book (elementary level, adaptable to middle school) entitled Mexican Celebrations discusses nine holidays, with ample suggested activities
    * Refer to CELEBRATIONS for more on Day of the Dead
    * a 1992 compendium of annotated resources on Mexico for middle schools comments on curriculums, readings and videos

High school/college:

    * guided imagery exercise regarding Mexico City's environmental problems
    * mental cartography exercise
    * a unit on the Mexican Revolution (in Spanish)
    * instructions for a role-playing activity entitled Hacienda: The Game of Life

Also available: articles/lessons on:

    * border issues
    * modern Mexican painting
    * characteristics of Mexican culture
    * the Chiapas (Zapatista) rebellion
    * indigenous communities and Mexican literature
    * four classroom lessons (with handouts and activity suggestions) on U.S.-Mexico relations,immigration and NAFTA, entitled Contemporary Issues in U.S.-Mexico Relations
    * four lessons on U.S.-Mexican economic relations, including trade and devaluation, entitled U.S.-Mexico Economic Interdependence: Perspectives from Both Sides of the Border
    * three lesson guides entitled Episodes in the History of U.S.-Mexico Relations
    * a presentation of 27 slides with explanatory text on Colonial Mexican Society
    * history lessons on The Texas Secession and the Mexican- American War

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A Christmas Script called Parties, Piñatas and Plays (Mexican Christmas Traditions) is geared to upper elementary and middle school students.

A high school/college unit titled The Catholic Church in Latin America consists of readings, related vocabulary, quiz, and slide presentation.

Another lesson is about The Encounter, which briefly addresses the initial religious clash and later syncretism.

"The Importance of the Catholic Religion in Daily Life" is addressed in lesson titled Looking into Mexican Culture.

Also at the high school/college level is a set of 30 slides, with explanations/commentary entitled The Christian Base Communities of La Paz, Bolivia.

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South America

Note: BRAZIL is a category of its own, although some materials on Brazil are included here as well.

All ages: Tourist brochures (and slides) from and about Argentina

Elementary level: a teacher's guide on Bolivia contains:

    * an overview of Bolivia (geography and culture)
    * profiles of six Bolivian children
    * games
    * recipes
    * two indigenous Guaraní folktales
    * eleven Quechua riddles
    * craft (appliquéd drawstring bag)

Some of this is adaptable to middle school.

Middle school (many adaptable to elementary classes):


    * tour of Caracas
    * Venezuela's demographics (rural/urban migration)
    * Venezuelan lifestyle
    * gestures
    * holidays
    * history
    * Venezuela's natural resources
    * geography


    * Argentine history
    * riddles
    * folk heros (gauchos)
    * recipe, proverbs
    * superstitions/myths about birds
    * human rights

Latin America:

    * Latin America interdependence
    * a Latin American banquet (with recipes)
    * preparing a Latin America Day


    * land reform in Peru
    * Peru's flora and fauna
    * an Aymara song
    * Peruvian holidays
    * art
    * religion
    * folklore (Incan)
    * "borrowed words"

High school and college:

    * military dictatorships/repression (using Chile as a case history)
    * business etiquette in Latin America
    * cultural overview of Latin America that also addresses stereotypes
    * global problem solving (using Amazonian rain forest as case study)
    * mental cartography
    * geography
    * history

New Search -
Spanish & Portuguese Language


    * Dedos de Luna, a bilingual curriculum based primarily on a story (on videocassette), provides a wealth of activity ideas. (See more on this resource under LITERATURE AND POETRY.)
    * A coloring book, Algunos animales de Latino America/Some Animals of Latin America has short bilingual fill-in-the blank phrases to accompany the 27 outline drawings of animals, graphics to create an animal playing card game, and a section with facts about the depicted animals.
    * Horizontes is a hard-cover Spanish reader for upper elementary students, including fiction and nonfiction selections, pre- and post-reading questions, with ample illustrations.

Middle school: info/activities are:

    * borrowed words with puzzles
    * mini- drama emphasizing how many languages are spoken throughout Latin America
    * plans for a Latin America Day
    * family surnames in Latin American countries
    * meaning of gestures in L.A.
    * riddles/refranes
    * As We See Ourselves is a compendium of 15 short prose and poetry selections by Latin American authors, in both English and Spanish
      This resource may also be suitable for high school classes.

For students who have already taken one or two courses of Spanish: ¡Dime! Uno: Ancillary Sampler contains overhead transparencies, spoken activities, comprehansion checks and a testing program. (Illustrations are at middle-school level.)

High school/college:

    * Two Mexican textbooks, intended to teach Spanish grammar and literature to Spanish-speaking Mexican youth. They contain a multitude of excerpts and selections written by renowned authors and poets who wrote in Spanish.
    * A booklet, Tradición y cambio en una comunidad indigena, provides five class lessons for advanced beginner/intermediate middle- and high-school Spanish students.
    * Spanish lessons are provided via information on the indigenous Zinacantecos. Handouts (to be photocopied) for each lesson and slides for one lesson are included. Attractive, up-to-date format.


Middle school: a few sheets provide basic Portuguese phrases and explore the relationships among English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Contains a copy of Volume II of the soft-back video-based textbook, Travessia, and a workbook to accompany Volume I of the textbook. High school/college level.

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U.S.-Latin American Relations

    * Christian base communities in La Paz, Bolivia
    * Argentine protest music

Also available:
(filed with "Drug War" materials) are six booklets (produced in 2001 by Strategic Studies Institute of U.S. Army War College) evaluating the pros and cons of the American anti-narcotics "Plan Colombia."

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Women/Gender Issues

Middle school (some adaptable to high school):

    * a reading from Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (renowned Colonial scholar and poet)
    * a folktale about women in the Dominican Republic
    * an exercise in Latin American surnames
    * a skit concerning "machismo"
    * a brief look at Eva Perón
    * a mini-drama on Argentine Mothers of the Desaparecidos

High school and college:

    * materials on Caribbean and Latin American women on the global assembly line, with role playing
      women workers on the U.S./Mexican border
    * a reading with slides, discussion questions and activity suggestions entitled "Women in Latin America"
    * a lesson with slides (in Spanish) called "Otro modo de ser: La mujer y el hombre en Latinoamérica (Another Way of Being: Woman and Man in Latin America)
    * lesson plan on women of the "disappeared" in Chile under Pinochet
    * A hefty, all-encompassing resource entitled "Contemporary Issues for Women in Latin America" (1991) is a development education unit with audiovisual components (slides, handouts) for secondary- to adult-level audiences. Topics examined are:
          o women and family
          o machismo/marianismo
          o working-class women
          o women activists
          o microentrepreneurs.

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Related Topic(s):