Latino Americans

Expand/Collapse Latino Americans


What are the stories of U.S. Latinos and how do they inform the broader American narrative? From southern Florida to the San Juan Islands of Washington state, from the pre-history of the nation through today's most contentious issues, Latino experiences illuminate our country’s history and its struggle to live up to its ideals. This collection of lesson plans, videos and classroom resources invites teacher and students to explore the history, people and issues chronicled in the PBS series, Latino Americans. Along the way, it engages students in dramatic real-life stories and offers primary texts that serve the goals of the Common Core.

  • Latino Americans: a Webinar

    The PBS LearningMedia collection, Latino Americans, provides a rich array of bilingual lesson plans, activities, videos, and other classroom resources for grades 4-13+. Join Antonio Gomez, Education Director at KCTS, to find out how you can use these engaging, CCSS-aligned resources to enhance your next social studies lesson.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Who Are Latinos?

    Who are Latinos? What does the term Latino American reference? In this quick, introductory activity, students consider their own preconceptions of Latinos, view a trailer for the documentary series Latino Americans and identify new topics questions to investigate further.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Identity, Immigration and Economics: Involuntary Deportations of the 1930s

    A rich lesson plan that uses firsthand accounts, video, historical photographs, creative writing and experiential activities to help learners understand the involuntary deportations of Mexican immigrants and U.S. citizens of Mexican heritage during the 1930s. Students examine attitudes and policies that scapegoat particular populations during times of economic stress and distinguish terms such as deportation, repatriation, resettlement and internment. 

    Grades: 7-12
  • Digging at the Roots of Your Family Tree

    Students reflect on their own family’s arrival to the U.S. by filling in as much information as possible on the names and birthplaces of themselves, their parents, grandparents and so on. Next, they plot the names and birthplaces on a world map. Students complete reflective questions that compare and contrast their family’s story of arrival with the rich arrival stories of characters from the documentary.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Stereotypes vs. Statistics (grades 9 - 12)

    There are many preconceptions and stereotypes about Latinos and how they have come to the United States. In this activity, students will examine some of the myths and compare these to actual demographic data. A reflective pre-activity is followed by analysis of statistical graphs from the Pew Research Center. 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Stereotypes vs. Statistics (grades 4 - 8)

    There are many preconceptions and stereotypes about Latinos and how they have come to the United States. In this activity, students will examine some of the myths and compare these to actual demographic data. A reflective pre-activity is followed by analysis of statistical graphs from the Pew Research Center. 

    Grades: 4-8
  • Latinos at the Ballot Box

    This lesson drawing on content from Latino Americans examines the evolution of Latino electoral participation with specific reference to the growth of voter participation in South Texas and New York in the 1950s – 70s, as well as the impact of Latino voters in major elections of the early 2000s. Students will explore early efforts to mobilize disenfranchised voters, examine watershed campaigns and elections and consider major issues – including the politics of immigration. They will reflect on the major paradigm shifts that have occurred within the last 60 years.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Stories of Arrival

    Latinos have come to be part of the United States through many different avenues: immigrants seeking a better life, refugees driven by war, and those who did not move at all, but who found themselves on the other side of redefined borders as the United States expanded. Students will document details of historical characters from the program and plot their movements on a map. In this activity, students will trace firsthand, the varied stories of becoming Latino in the United States—and dispel common generalizations. In addition, they will compare and contrast these stories with the arrival experiences of their own families.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • What's In a Name?

    Structured as game questions, this activity challenges students to identify cities, states and geographical features whose names tell the story of the Indigenous, Spanish and Mexican settlement that pre-dated the U.S. The investigative questions can be used alone as a geography trivia game, as a matching activity, or in conjunction with analysis of historical maps. 

    Grades: 4-8
  • Students Rising

    Students view a clip on the situation of Mexican American students in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and how self-concepts and expectations began to change during the Chicano Movement. Students can respond individually or in small groups, in writing, or through discussion. The last set of questions connects the historical study to student’s own civic participation. Two extensions offer options for connecting the history to current student activism.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Organizing the Farm Worker Movement

    Explore the early days of the United Farmworkers under the guidance of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. See the condidtions that led to the oranization of a farm labor union and the initial challenges to its work: the strike in Delano and the march to Sacramento. Contrast the leadership styles of its leaders and examine the movement's use of symbols. 

    Grades: 7-12
  • Extranjeros & Expansion

    In this lesson plan drawing on material from Latino Americans, students learn about how regions such as Texas, New Mexico and California had established Mexican and Indigenous communities already in place as the United States expanded westward. Students review the different ways that Mexican citizens come to terms with the expansion of the United States and the ways in which they became foreigners in their own lands within a very short time.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Puerto Rican Perspectives

    What is Puerto Rico's relationship to the United States? How did it come about? How was the destiny of Puerto Rico incidental to other objectives of the Spanish American War? What does this mean for Puerto Ricans, themselves? When did migration from Puerto Rico to New York begin? What was Operation Bootstrap? How were the Puerto Ricans of New York, particularly youth, portrayed in the 1950s? What were the pros and cons of the smash hit, West Side Story, for this community? What was Herman Badillo able to accomplish? Who are "Nuyoricans"?

    Grades: 7-12
  • Latino Americans Series Teaser

    Latino Americans is the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape North America over the last 500-plus years and have become, with more than 50 million people, the largest minority group in the U.S. The changing and yet repeating context of American history provides a backdrop for the drama of individual lives. It is a story of immigration and redemption, of anguish and celebration, of the gradual construction of a new American identity that connects and empowers millions of people today.

    Grades: 4-12
  • The Mexican-American War

    In this clip from Latino Americans, students will learn about the Mexican-American War.  Until the mid 1800s, the region that is now the western United States was part of Mexico. Meanwhile, inspired by the notion of Manifest Destiny, U.S. leaders tried to buy and later went to war over this expanse of land. The result was that not only land, but people and long-standing settlments also became part of the U.S.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Julia Alvarez

    Julia Alvarez, author of "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent" was the daughter of a political dissident from the Dominican Republic. When the family sought a new life in the U.S. it was more than just a change of address. Writing became the place for her to process a clash of cultures, generations and languages. Here she describes how her experiences informed her as a writer and person. As her mother says, "El papel lo aguanta todo." Paper holds everything. 

    Grades: 4-12
  • Journey from Mexico

    Juan Villaseor was born in Jalisco, Mexico and lost most of his family to the violence of the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s. He, his mother and two sisters make the dangerous journey to the "Mexican Ellis Island" - the border between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez - only to find another set of challenges. Told by Juan's son, acclaimed author, Victor Villaseñor

    Grades: 4-12
  • Deportations

    The young Emilia Castañeda and her family lived in Los Angeles in the 1920s and 30s. Once the Great Depression hit, the Hoover Administration implemented involuntary deportations. Through various means, hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrants and U.S. citizens of Mexican heritage were deported to Mexico. Emilia would not return to her home for many years. 

    Grades: 4-12
  • Spanish-American War

    U.S. imperial aspirations and diminished Spanish colonial power set the scene for the Spanish-American War in the late 1800s. The media helps frame the discussion. The fates of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines are in the balance, but none of these regions play a direct role in the final negotiations. The U.S. sets itself up to continue intervening in the futures of the former Spanish colonies. The post-war status of Puerto Rico, in particular, frames the island's continuing questions of political autonomy and the U.S.'s imperial actions are at conflict with its democratic ideals. 

    Grades: 4-12
  • LA Walkouts

    In response to poor educational opportunities, students and teachers in Los Angeles begin to organize in the late 1960s. Teacher Sal Castro reflects back on the formative experience of seeing his family split up through the involuntary deportations of the 1930s. This informs his resolve to ensure better conditions for a new generation of students. Student activists reflect on the sense of empowerment and accomplishment that came through claiming Chicano identity and taking action.

    Grades: 4-12

Contributor: WETA