South America

Paraguay- Bottle Dance

PARAGUAY: La Danza de La Botella, or Bottle Dance, is a traditional Paraguayan dance with unclear origins- although many say it is an offshoot of the galopa (a different folk dance). Dancers begin at a young age, balancing one glass bottle on their heads. As they gain more skill, more bottles are added. While four … Continue reading Paraguay- Bottle Dance

Uruguay- Casapueblo

URUGUAY: Obviously, we need to do some sort of amazing artistic project on this art studio turned hotel with no straight lines (in the entire edifice, as per the artist’s preference, Carlos Paez Vilaró). I was thinking of using marshmallows as our medium, but the temptation to eat them is just too great for elementary … Continue reading Uruguay- Casapueblo

Peru- Huacachina Oasis

PERU: When I first read Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, I had a vague idea of what an oasis was. It seemed nice, but the concept felt distant and inaccessible–that is, until I stumbled onto an article about Huacachina, Peru. Granted, Coehlo describes an oasis in Egypt, but I would bet that there are similarities. The … Continue reading Peru- Huacachina Oasis

Chile- Torres del Paine

CHILE: Torres del Paine, Chile is a national park that covers nearly 500,000 acres of land. Its diverse wildlife, epic views, and sunrises and sunsets are among the most peaceful sights in the world. If you’re looking to “get back to nature”, this is the place to be. Image #1, Image #2, Image #3, Image … Continue reading Chile- Torres del Paine

The Post Office Pulley System

Post Office Drop Box (Spain/España). Post Office Drop Box (USA). In class, we cover a lot of territory. I am constantly throwing culture, geography, grammar–first graders don’t know it’s grammar, but it is–songs, new vocabulary, and more at them, with confidence that they will catch at least one new thing each day. In the last … Continue reading The Post Office Pulley System

Chile- Futaleufú

CHILE: Futaleufú, Chile (in Patagonia) is perhaps most famous for its extreme water rafting. While this looks like the adventure of a lifetime, there are also plenty of other activities available for visitors there, should this fast-paced sport not, um, float your boat (bad pun). Click HERE for more information and to schedule a trip! … Continue reading Chile- Futaleufú

Chile- Skyscraper

Image #1, Image #2, Image #3, Image #4 CHILE: In Santiago, Chile, stands the tallest skyscraper in all of South America. It is called both La Torre Costanera and the Gran Torre Santiago. While this 980 foot (300m) tall and 64-floor high building is impressive, there are plenty of extremely tall buildings around the world. … Continue reading Chile- Skyscraper

Uruguay- Punta del Este

URUGUAY: La Mano de Punta del Este is a huge sculpture on the beach of a seaside resort called Punta del Este in Uruguay (on the Atlantic coast). It was constructed in 1982 by an artist, Mario Irarrázabal, when there was an art exhibition but no space for him to participate in the town. So… … Continue reading Uruguay- Punta del Este

Peru- La Rinconada

PERU: La Rinconada is the highest city in the world. It is over three miles high (16,732 feet). It is also on top of a gold mine! For more details, check out this link HERE. In class, students made their own tiny pieces of gold, while others tried to build a tower to the ceiling … Continue reading Peru- La Rinconada

Venezuela- Ice Cream

VENEZUELA: Heladería Coromoto in Merida, Venezuela, is home to 900 flavors of ice cream and a world record, at that! Have you ever been in a rut, and wanted to try something new, different, novel to get another perspective? Well, here is your chance! Try avocado ice cream with black beans; or trout ice cream; … Continue reading Venezuela- Ice Cream

Paraguay- Ñandutí Lace

PARAGUAY: “Ñandutí, (Guaraní Indian: “spider web”), type of lace introduced into Paraguay by the Spaniards. It is generally characterized by a spoke-like structure of foundation threads upon which many basic patterns are embroidered. This structure, resembling a spider web or the rays of the Sun, is usually made on a small circular cushion and is common in … Continue reading Paraguay- Ñandutí Lace

Chile- Atacama Desert

CHILE: Atacama- Article (Chile), Atacama- Video (Chile), Why To Explore Atacama Desert At Night, Mysteries of Atacama Desert, Lithium Mine Fields of Atacama Desert, Atacama- Flowers Bloom Following Rain

Bolivia- Pantanal & Trains

BOLIVIA: I read a book recently that took place primarily in the pantanal. It sounded fascinating–and I desperatedly want to do a project on it–but the lesson plan has not come to fruition quite yet. Check back in the future for more on this! LINKS: GLOBE TREKKER- Tough Trains (Bolivia), Tough Trains Series- Across Bolivia … Continue reading Bolivia- Pantanal & Trains

El Fútbol (Soccer)

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA: Fútbol is an important part of the culture in many Spanish-speaking countries. During the 2014 World Cup, I happened to be in Buenos Aires–and the city exploded with enthusiasm after advancing to the finals. It seemed like everyone was your best friend, whether you knew them or not. Horns honked for … Continue reading El Fútbol (Soccer)

Venezuela- Roller Skating

VENEZUELA: “For locals in the capital of Caracas, it is customary to strap on your roller skates and glide to Christmas mass. As legend has it, children go to bed with a piece of string tied round their toe and the other end dangling out of the window. As skaters roll past, they give the … Continue reading Venezuela- Roller Skating

Argentina- Mercados

ARGENTINA: In much of South and Central America, outdoor markets, or mercados, are a common sight to see. In Buenos Aires, we would spend our weekends wandering the ferias, taking in all of the sights (tables/blankets of items for as far as the eye could see), sounds (street musicians and Tango), and smells (dulce de … Continue reading Argentina- Mercados


Dance is a very important part of the culture in many Spanish-speaking countries–from the Tango in Argentina and the Flamenco in Spain to the Merengue and Salsa in the Caribbean, dance brings everyone together. Virtual or not, we are all one big family, so let’s get up & dance! In class, students watched two astounding … Continue reading Dancing!

Different Currencies

No matter the age, most students seem to love looking at different currencies from around the [Spanish-speaking] world. One day, my kindergarteners spent an entire class cutting out euros and pesos; I couldn’t get them to stop! As they get older, the conversation expands. Second graders, for example, looked at me like I had 14 … Continue reading Different Currencies

Argentina- Street Art

ARGENTINA: We return to Argentina because it is a fascinating land of extremes: from the Southern Lights in Ushuaia, to Iguazu Falls in the north, there is something for everyone here. This week, we are focusing on the constantly changing street art of Argentina. When I lived there, I was amazed at how some of … Continue reading Argentina- Street Art

Peru- Nazca Lines

PERU: The Nazca Lines are a group of ancient geoglyphs in Peru. They are made out of naturally occurring elements, like rocks, stones, or earth. These trenches–running in all different directions in this part of Peru–appear to be roads from ground level. However, from an airplane, you can see that they are actually huge designs … Continue reading Peru- Nazca Lines

Colombia- Emeralds

COLOMBIA & BEYOND: Last year, second graders became very excited about gemstones and minerals. As a result, we spent time learning which minerals come from South and Central America, and then painted rocks to create amethysts and lapis lazuli look-a-likes. Several filled little cups of water and dyed the water various shades with food coloring. … Continue reading Colombia- Emeralds

Colombia- Colorful Town

COLOMBIA: Is Guatapé, Colombia the world’s most colorful town? Last year, students painted colorful buildings and houses on tri-folds, and set up the cardboard in two lines so that they could ‘walk’ through town, stopping at various businesses and mercados along the way. The Señor Wooly song, “¿Adónde vas?” worked well with this unit. *Image … Continue reading Colombia- Colorful Town

Paraguay- Landfill Harmonic

PARAGUAY: Cateura is the name of a landfill in Paraguay where a town of people have taken a difficult situation–living in, quite literally, a dump–and made the best of it. They began by taking trash and repurposing it to build instruments, and now have an orchestra called Landfill Harmonic. In class, students extended their study … Continue reading Paraguay- Landfill Harmonic

Bolivia- Salt Flat

BOLIVIA: Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat formation in the world. It is almost 11,000 square kilometers in area, with 10 billion tonnes of salt. During the rainy season, a light coat of water creates a perfect reflection of the sky–from sunrises and sunsets to beautiful starry nights. For a good read (with photos), check … Continue reading Bolivia- Salt Flat

Argentina- Southern Lights

ARGENTINA: Ushuaia, Argentina is the southernmost city in the world, and also a great place to view the Southern Lights. We tend to hear more about the Northern Lights simply because more people live close to the North Pole than the South Pole, but in the south they are just as beautiful! In class, students … Continue reading Argentina- Southern Lights

Argentina- Yerba Mate

ARGENTINA: Yerba Mate Tea (“MAH-tay”) is the ‘friendship drink’ of South America, especially Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Paraguay. You drink the tea out of a gourd, and keep refilling it with hot water all day long to sip. The tea leaves are loose (not in a tea bag). It can be quite strong to some … Continue reading Argentina- Yerba Mate

Peru- Amazon River

PERU: Ed Stafford walked the entire Amazon River on foot. It took him 860 days, or almost 3 years, to complete the walk. He faced every kind of imaginable danger, and oftentimes had to machete his way through brush, while wading up to his neck in water. Unbelievable but true! Watch the videos to learn … Continue reading Peru- Amazon River

Peru- Boiling River

PERU: Deep in the Amazon there is a river… that actually boils. You can fill an empty mug with a teabag and have instant hot tea. Animals that fall in are instantly boiled. The average coffee is 130*F; this river has been measured at 210*F. Yikes! It is an awesome thing to behold- just don’t … Continue reading Peru- Boiling River

Venezuela- Lightning

VENEZUELA: Catatumbo Lightning is a naturally occurring phenomenon in Venezuela. Here, lightning strikes continuously above Lake Maracaibo for 140-160 nights per year (some sources say up to 300) for 10-12 hours straight each night. This can produce up to 40,000 strikes per night! To learn more, read this article HERE!! Or, to make lightning in … Continue reading Venezuela- Lightning

Argentina- Iguazu Falls

ARGENTINA: Las cataratas de Iguazú, or Iguazú Falls, is the largest set of waterfalls in the world. “Iguazú” means “big water” in the Guaraní language. They are amazing- my friends and I even took a speedboat under the falls! Here is some basic information about them. I also saw a baby coatí in almost every … Continue reading Argentina- Iguazu Falls

Argentina- Train to the Clouds

ARGENTINA: This terrifyingly high “Tren a las nubes” (Train to the Clouds) in Argentina is, well, terrifyingly high! Students are in the middle of creating a model of it out of Popsicle sticks. Check out this video compilation of “The World’s Most Extreme and Dangerous Railways”, including trains in Argentina (Tren a las nubes, 7:35), … Continue reading Argentina- Train to the Clouds

Bolivia- Yungas Road

BOLIVIA: Yungas Road is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It is only 12 feet wide, and the elevation varies from 4,000 to 15,000 feet high. Yikes! Third graders made a miniature diorama of this road, and presented their research at the weekly assembly. Would you dare to ride on it? LINKS: … Continue reading Bolivia- Yungas Road

South America- Condor

SOUTH AMERICA: The Andean Condor is the largest flying bird in the world. It weighs up to 33 pounds and can have a wingspan of nearly 11 feet. Students tried to make a life-size replica of this massive bird with paper feathers, but ultimately tired of cutting them out. So many feathers! Last year, a … Continue reading South America- Condor

Chile- Marble Caves

CHILE: Chile’s Marble Caves are a truly beautiful natural wonder. Students mixed teal and green paints to capture different shades, and later added true-to-life purples and yellows to their paintings to accent the vibrant backdrop. The author of the video below describes the caves as “like being inside the Aurora Borealis”. Wow! LINKS: Marble Caves1, Marble … Continue reading Chile- Marble Caves

Peru- Rainbow Mountain

PERU: Rainbow Mountain, or Vinicunca in Quechua, has a unique composition–14 different, colorful minerals–that makes the mountain range appear like the inside of a jawbreaker. For more information on Rainbow Mountain, visit this link. Here are a few quick facts from the aforementioned site: In class, students painted their own versions of Rainbow Mountain and/or tried … Continue reading Peru- Rainbow Mountain

Ecuador- Galápagos Islands

ECUADOR: The Galápagos Islands off of Ecuador are known for their diverse range of wildlife, including Galápagos tortoises and iguanas. In class, our class joke was to say, “Ecua-DOOR”, and my stuffed animal Pato would pretend to look for the door that led to Ecuador. To follow up with this silliness, kindergarteners cut out slits … Continue reading Ecuador- Galápagos Islands

Peru- Machu Picchu

LINKS: Machu Picchu – Llama (Peru), Machu Picchu (Peru), Ascenso a Waynapicchu, Video (Peru), Cusco Video (Peru), Explore Macchu Pichu in Virtual Reality

Chile- Easter Island

CHILE: Easter Island is an island located in the South Pacific. There are hundreds of massive statues and wooden tablets scattered over this landmass, but no one knows how they got there–it is a mystery! The tablets have a mysterious language written on them (called Rongorongo) that no one can read. In class, students carved … Continue reading Chile- Easter Island