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Kaiser Elementary students explore Mexican traditions

The fiesta, which started in 1993, included hearing about Mexican history, food and learning some Spanish words.

September 25, 2012|By Britney Barnes
  • A Kaiser Elementary School third grader decorates a a Mexican flag in honor of Mexican Independence Day in teacher Sherrilynne Dangl's class. Dangle introduced her students to Mexican Independence Day with a fiesta.
A Kaiser Elementary School third grader decorates a a… (courtesy Barbara…)

The quintessential Independence Day celebration involves a parade, fireworks, hot dogs, hamburgers and homemade apple pie, but what do other countries do?

At a fiesta Friday afternoon in the multipurpose room, Kaiser Elementary School third-grade students in Sherrilynne Dangl's class got a taste of how Mexicans celebrate their Independence Day.

Anna Walburge, 8, said she wants to incorporate some of what she learned into her Fourth of July celebration.

"I like having tacos and Mexican food," she said. "If I could have both [American and Mexican traditions] I would."

Students at the Costa Mesa campus colored and glued together red, green and white paper for their own Mexican flags while learning the folklore behind the flag's eagle. They learned about Mexico's founding father, Don Miguel Hidalgo, and practiced some Spanish words, like bate (beat or stir) while singing the chocolate song.

"It hits the jackpot," said Joaquin Hinkens, 8, who got up many times to dance during the chocolate song.

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Dangl started the fiesta in 1993, when she first started at Kaiser and was teaching a bilingual class where half of her students were English-language learners. She said the celebration helps the Mexican community feel involved and valued.

Dangl, who has lived in different countries, tries to introduce her students to the diverse traditions.

"I want the kids to know all these different countries and customs," she said.

The highlight of the celebration for many was the food, which was laid out on a table in the center of the room while the students sang.

Mexican music played as students lined up to help themselves to, flan, tacos, rice, beans, sweet corn, enchiladas, taquitos, fruit, chips, Mexican sweet bread and horchata.

The sweet Mexican drink was not for Casey Mader Dauk, 8, but that didn't ruin the celebration for him.

"It's really fun," he said. "I like the food. It's just really fun."

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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