I feel like I’ve been finishing up Esperanza for months now. Last week my students completed Esperanza Choice Projects and this week we watched Under the Same Moon. I had one last Esperanza-related lesson up my sleeve and I used it today – Los Muñecos Quitapenas.
I was very fortunate to run into a vendor at the CSCTFL that was selling Guatemalan items! I told her about the book and asked if she had anything that might tie in well. She recommended the Quitapenas and I was fortunate that she had the normal and mini sizes. I bought just enough bags of the mini sizes to be able to give every Spanish 1 student their own.
Los Muñecos Quitapenas are called Worry Dolls in English. The general idea is that a child will tell their worry to the doll, the child puts the doll beneath their pillow, and the doll takes care of the worry for the child.
For today’s lesson we read about the dolls (with a handout that has borrowed information from this VeinteMundos Article about the Quitapenas) and then we tried to make connections. Students mentioned the Tooth Fairy, Dream Catchers, and worry stones. A few likened them to voodoo dolls, but we then contrasted the two. At the end of class, I gave my Spanish 1 students their mini Muñecos Quitapenas and students seemed to really like that.
Next year I plan on keeping the lesson on Los Muñecos Quitapenas, but I’d like to do a better job. For example, I would like to introduce them sooner in the Esperanza novel – one of the earlier ones where the kids are vomiting or when Esperanza is first deciding whether or not to leave the children. I could then incorporate some of the worries of the characters into the lesson. I would also like to include some of the songs I found on the VeinteMundos Article about the Quitapenas. If I can work out some kind of pen-pal exchange for next year, we could send our Quitapenas (or student created Quitapenas) to our pen-pals along with the students’ description of what the Quitapenas are. (Hint, hint!)