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CNN Student News Learning Activity: Hispanic Heritage Month

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  • Investigate how Hispanic Americans have contributed to U.S. culture
  • Identify the opportunities and challenges that exist for Hispanics in America

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(CNN Student News) -- Students will investigate the contributions of Hispanic Americans to U.S. culture, and what it means to be an Hispanic in America today.

Point out to students that Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15) celebrates the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively."

In observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, send student groups on a multimedia scavenger hunt to investigate how Hispanic-Americans have contributed to U.S. culture, and the opportunities and challenges that exist for Hispanics in America today. Pose the following questions to guide students' research:

  1. Why is the term "Hispanic" difficult to define? How do the terms Hispanic and Latino differ?
  2. How has the U.S. Census changed since 1980 with regard to Hispanics?
  3. What role did Hispanic explorers play in the formation of the U.S. states?
  4. Who are some famous Hispanic-American musicians, artists, writers and actors? How have they impacted U.S. culture?
  5. What aspects of Hispanic culture exist in mainstream America?
  6. What Hispanic businesses exist in your community and other parts of the U.S.? How have these businesses contributed to the economic climate in the U.S.?
  7. What Hispanic issues have been in recent news?

Have groups share and discuss their findings with the class.

Extension: Instruct each student to interview several Hispanic-American teens and adults to get their responses to the following question: What would you like other Americans to know about what it means to be Hispanic in America today? Have students summarize the interviewees' responses and share them with the class.

Correlated Standards

Social Studies

Standard I. Culture: Students will learn about culture and cultural diversity.

Standard III. People, Places and Environments: Students will make informed and critical decisions about the relationship between human beings and their environment.

Standard V. Individuals, Groups and Institutions: Students will explore how institutions are formed, what controls and influences them, how they control and influence individuals and culture and how institutions can be maintained or changed.

The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies ( are published by the National Council for Social Studies (


Hispanic Heritage Month, Latino, U.S. Census Bureau, demographic, culture, contribution E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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