When second-graders at Greenbriar West Elementary hold a Mexican fiesta, they really do it up right.
Not only do they wear serapes and sombreros, but they also do activities such as weaving blankets out of cotton scraps, doing the Mexican Hat Dance, playing Aztec beanbag toss, making God's eyes decorations and playing Spanish bingo.
Students in Gayle Peterson's, Nancy Elkins', Cathy Munsterman's, Suzie Hosey's, Karen Barnes' and Gabrielle Birch's classes participated, Dec. 19, and had a terrific time. The event culminated their three-week study of Mexico.
Patrick Cahill, 8, said his favorite part was the Mexican Hat Dance "because I like dancing, and I like maracas 'cause they sound really cool." Mohamed Isse, 8, also loved shaking those maracas.
But Eunice Kim, 7, was pleased "that we're doing the fiesta and having fun," but she especially enjoyed wrapping colored yarn around Popsicle sticks because she planned to give her God's eye to her parents for Christmas.
Vasudha Rathore, 7, played bingo, and parent Shahin Ladak called out the numbers in Spanish. "If you get four numbers [in a row], you get a smiling-sun stamp on your hand," explained Vasudha. She also liked the bean-bag toss; a sturdy picture of a Mayan warrior served as the bean bag.
Parent Lisa Lagos also helped out in the school library — headquarters central for the Mexican fiesta. "This is nice because it's giving the children an interesting view of culture and history," she said. "It allows them to learn through fun, hands-on activities."
During their study unit on Mexico, the students also did various crafts projects in their classrooms. Mary Evers, 8, made a piñata out of crepe paper, along with her classmates. Then their finished products were filled with candy.
"We also made serapes out of construction paper," she said. "We took different shapes of colored paper and glued them on to decorate them." From her studies, she learned that "there are a lot of beaches in Mexico." If she got to visit there someday, said Mary, she'd "probably go to a fiesta."
Hicham Alaoui, 8, drew a zigzag, a clock, triangles and circles on his serape. He also made a colorful parrot out of construction and scrap paper, and his teacher hung up all the students' parrots in the hallway outside their classroom.
He also learned "a whole bunch of stuff" about Mexico. "The Gulf of Mexico is hotter than the Pacific Ocean, and they make their piñatas out of pots — in the shapes of animals and stars," he said. If he visited Mexico, said Hicham, "I'd go to the Gulf of Mexico and swim in it." His favorite activity during the Mexican Fiesta was making a God's eye because it also made a nifty Christmas ornament.
Connor Golden, 7 1/2, made an orange, yellow and green God's eye and said it was "really easy." He also enjoyed making a Mexican "rug" out of colored strips of construction paper decorated with markers. He learned "there are mountains in Mexico and hamburgers and stuff and French fries." And on a visit, he said, "I'd go to the Mexican markets and buy food."
Danielle LeFrancois, 8, liked making a paper parrot and planned to decorate her room with her God's eye. She said her parrot's body was yellow and red, "his tail was light green and his head and his wings were light blue."
Wearing a yellow-canvas serape painted in red, orange, green, blue and purple, Amber Dillon, 7 1/2, said she really liked the fiesta and, if she could visit Mexico, she would "go to the beach and soak my feet." So what information did she glean about Mexico? Said Amber: "I learned that they speak really good in Spanish, and they eat tacos and hot chocolate and stuff like that."
Daniel Im's class took a "flight" to Mexico. Students pretended their desks were seats on a plane, and they watched an "in-flight" movie about Mexico. "We made a suitcase out of paper and put our guidebook in it and symbols on it that reminded us of Mexico," said Daniel, 7 1/2. "I made a tortilla and maracas. We made passports, too."