Tuong-Vi Trinh, 7, made a yellow poncho out of burlap and painted stars, dots and cornstalks on it. He learned that Mexico "has the biggest tree in the world" and said he's visited there twice and enjoyed swimming and collecting shells.
A second-grader at Greenbriar West Elementary (GBW), he and all his classmates studied Mexico for four weeks and culminated the unit before Christmas with a Mexican Fiesta. They played Mexican bingo — saying the numbers in Spanish, did the Mexican Hat Dance with maracas, wove rugs and God's eyes and tossed beanbags through an Aztec warrior figure.
THE CHILDREN also did lots of fun activities in their classrooms. They took a pretend trip to Mexico and even made passports containing their photos and fingerprints. They took along tourist guides and boarding passes and watched a movie about Mexico while on board the "plane."
One class set up a Mexican market — with Mexican music playing in the background — and other classes "bought" items with pesos or bartered and traded goods. Students also made clay pots, wove serapes out of paper and made ponchos, piñatas and tissue-paper flowers. And they all had a Mexican food-tasting day, sampling tacos, tortilla chips and salsa.
Jeremy Gross, 7 1/2, made a rainforest bird out of construction paper and learned that "Mexican families are usually large because the grandparents live with the kids." Swaraj Dhumne, 7, made a green poncho and painted stars, the moon and the sun on it. He learned that "Mexicans jump off high cliffs and swim" and said, if he could visit, he'd see the plateaus.
"Mexico has lots of mountains, and the people eat food like us — like French fries," said Sabrina Pierce, 7. "I liked making the piñatas because we got to put candy in them." If she got to go to Mexico, she said, she'd like to climb mountains.
Russell Goetzke, 7 1/2, learned some Spanish words, such as "mercado" (market) and can now count to seven in Spanish. He also learned that tortillas are made out of corn. Andrew Trump, 7, made a red poncho and decorated it with drawings of a fish and "someone raking outside his house." He learned that Mexicans eat peppers, corn and tortillas and said he'd like to someday visit a Mexican marketplace.
"It's really hot in Mexico and it has volcanoes," said Alexis Stoltz, 7 1/2. "The hot lava dries up and turns really smooth and hard. Mexico is surrounded by three bodies of water." She liked making a God's eye and used red, yellow, green and orange yarn for hers.
AT THE FIESTA, Maddie Karwowski, 7, enjoyed weaving strips of cloth in and out of a loom to make a rug and had fun playing Mexican bingo. She said things such as tacos, shoes and animals are sold at the Mexican market.
Jessica Wu, 7 3/4, learned that Mexican money is called the peso. "Some of their houses are made out of adobe," she said. "Mexico City is the biggest city in the world and it's very busy." If she could visit Mexico, she said, she'd go to the beaches.
Learning to recite the days of the week in Spanish was Nikhita Joy, also 7 3/4. She said the Mexican flag is red, white and green, and she'd like to see the Mexican deserts, mountains, peninsulas and cliff divers, firsthand.
Sahil Laheri, 7 1/2, also learned the months in Spanish. He said Mexicans like eating corn and making crafts such as baskets, clay figurines of people and woven mats. Joshua Lee, 7, enjoyed making a God's eye of green, pink, red, yellow, blue and orange yarn and planned to put it on his Christmas tree. He also had fun doing the beanbag toss at the fiesta and would like to someday see the Mexican rainforests.
As for Katrina Truong, 7, she learned that tortillas and sandals called "huaraches" are sold at the Mexican market. She, too, liked making a poncho and a God's eye, but she especially enjoyed making a piñata in class. "It was all different colors of tissue covering a cardboard tube," she said. "I put in packages of Trix fruit snacks."