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Hispanic Heritage Month with Maps101

Posted on September 18 2022

Hispanic Heritage Month with Maps101


Dear Educator,

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15. The celebration starts on that date because the area of Latin America that includes the present-day countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua declared its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. Hispanic Heritage Month got its start as Hispanic Heritage Week. On September 17, 1968, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Hispanic Heritage Week bill into law. At Maps101, we have a special, curated collection of content that specifically enhances this celebration. This week, we will look more deeply into Hispanic Heritage week, and read biographies of a Latina astronaut and a Latino activist. We will also look at maps that help tell the story of Latinx people in the United States.

Unlike Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), Hispanic Heritage Month overlaps two months—the end of September and the beginning of October. This GNN article explores more about Latinx people in the United States, including the terms used to describe these immigrants, their history since the days of Spanish exploration of the Americas, and several important, historic, Latinx figures with whom students should be familiar.

Cesar Chavez was a labor leader and active in the civil rights movement. He was a Mexican American who was born in Arizona, but he and his family came to California to earn money as migrant farmworkers. He was influential in unionizing farmworkers. His efforts eventually led to the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) union. Students should know of this important fighter for workers’ rights.


Cesar Chavez focused his cause on rights for migrant farmworkers. They were often from countries in Latin America and had emigrated to the United States, some with visas and others without official documentation. This map shows the population statistics of Hispanics in each state. Unsurprisingly, the states that border Mexico have higher Latinx populations.


Let’s look at the same map, but from a decade earlier. Ask students to create a chart that compares the percentages in each state from both 2010 and 2020. What trends do students note? What do students think about their comparisons?


To help students understand what the term immigrant means, we have a short video (2:48) you can project on the board. It explains that America is a nation of immigrants and why people came to America. It also asks students to think about why people would move to live in a new country. Encourage students to explore that topic and understand how difficult it would be to move to an entirely new country. Potentially, people may not speak the same language. Encourage students to share their family stories, if students feel comfortable about doing so.


As explained in the video, the United States is a nation of immigrants. Only those with Native American heritage had ancestors living on the land of the U.S. before all others. This interactive Field Trip explores the different people who found a new life in the U.S. Featured immigrants include the Irish, Germans, Chinese, Mexicans, and more. It also explores borders, becoming a citizen, and contemporary issues regarding immigration. Hispanic Heritage Month is an excellent time to delve further into immigration, as Latin Americans are now one of the largest immigrant groups in the country.


Use this GNN article to help students understand contemporary information about immigration into the U.S. Although this article was written for a lower level, it is appropriate for higher grade levels as well. Students will learn what DACA means. The accompanying map shows the various border crossings between the U.S. and Mexico. Have students research to learn the latest about DACA and the relationship the U.S. has with Mexican immigration today.


Finally, let’s end this week with another biography of an important person with a Latin American heritage. Ellen Ochoa is the first Latina to journey into space. In fact, she has had four separate missions in space. She also served as the director of the Johnson Space Center, which houses Mission Control for NASA’s spaceflight programs. Students can read this biography to learn more about this extremely accomplished Latina. Encourage students to research other Latinx people who have made an impact on American culture. Interested students can create their own biographies, slideshows, or play music from the person they are interested in focusing on. Students can share their findings in a special day set aside to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.


We hope you have enjoyed this mini-sample of Maps101 that focuses on Hispanic Heritage Month. The featured resources above will give you an idea of the type of content available with your subscription. We hope your weekly tour of topics in the GeoJournal helps not just inform you of themes you can focus on throughout the year, but that it also draws your attention to content you may not have realized is available. Happy hunting for more content that benefits your class this school year. And don’t forget to favorite to save what you use often for easy access.

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