The Clubhouse Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month: Spicy Tamale Art

This year, I am six, so I get to mix the dough, which is made of cornmeal. My sister Lidia is eight, so she gets to spread the dough on the corn husk leaves. I wish I was eight, so that my hands would be big enough to spread the dough just right--not too thick and not too thin...
          -Growing Up With Tamales by Gwendolyn Zepeda

As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month here at the Clubhouse, we have been reading some good books about food. Food is a big part of the Hispanic Culture, with many cultures having specific foods/recipes that are passed down from generation to generation.

A popular favorite at the Clubhouse?


So, I decided it was time to bring some of the ingredients, scents and spices of tamales into the Classroom, the Clubhouse way.

Corn husks.

A variety of seasonings used in the cooking of tamales (and other Hispanic foods).

A mini muffin tin to mix our spices.

Some watercolor paintbrushes.

Now we were ready to make some tamales of our own ;)

We filled the mini muffin tin with all of the spices. The different scents, from sweet to spicy, filled the air. The Clubhouse Kids immediately involved their noses.

"This orange one smells so good."

"The green one smells weird."

They compared scents and colors, deciding what they thought would be good to cook with, and what would make the best colors.

When they were ready to start painting, they mixed a little warm water into each spice.

Then they got their corn husks ready and got right to work.

Scents were still strong in the air as they painted.

"My nose smells everything!"

Perfect gateway to talk about, and explore, our Five Senses. My favorite way to teach concepts is simply in natural conversation while the Clubhouse Kids are engaging in an activity. Often time, a topic evolves simply because of the comments made by the children. I listen, and I take it from there.

The spices all diluted differently, leaving some more gritty and textured. Fingers dipped in to explore these differences. (Touch)

The corn husks were definitely a different paint experience than paper. There was a lot of crinkling of the corn husks. (Touch and Sound)

Colors were different, some more vibrant than others. The Clubhouse Kids compared which were brighter, darker... choosing their favorites to paint their corn husks with. (Sight)

Taste? Well of course there was the Clubhouse Kids who wanted to put a dab of spice on their tongue. Knowing this would happen, I didn't include any spices that were going to be hot.

Exploring different cultures through books. Engaging in an art activity that allowed us to not only include alternative materials to paint on and with, but also to explore all five senses while we did it.

Oh, and did I mention they created fabulous tamale masterpieces?

The spice paint dried nicely on the corn husks. I would have liked to have created a nice Spicy Tamale Art display, but most of the Clubhouse Kids were excited to take their tamales home to share with their families. After all, that's what tamales are for, right? :)

Ms. Liz

Check out this post to see how we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a Rice and Beans Sensory Experience.

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Enjoy some good books about tamales, and make some spicy art of your own. Hispanic Heritage Month isn't over yet!

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