In my first two years of teaching, we ended the school year in Spanish IV with a mini unit about piñatas. At that small private school, the last couple of weeks were crazy for seniors. They were pulled out of class for full-day retreats, community service, events with grandparents, graduation practice, and more.
I found it was nice to end the year with a fun cultural unit that the students are very interested in. It also worked with the crazy schedules of students being in and out of school. Below are some resources and ideas that we have used, and others that I am considering implementing for a Spanish class piñata unit.
Authentic Listening – Piñata in Spanish Class
Como hacer una piñata – Estrellas Navideñas – DIY Piñata
This great video gives step-by-step instructions in Spanish on how to make a piñata. It would be perfect to use to introduce the steps, as well as the vocabulary used to create a piñata. I have used this video in the past, pausing to explain in Spanish what is going on.
Authentic Reading – Piñata in Spanish Class
This would be a great cultural reading to use in a piñata mini-unit. It would be a great resource to add more history and culture of Mexico to the unit.
La piñata #infografia
This infographic would be another great authentic reading source. It could be used to introduce vocabulary as well as culture. It brings up the origin of the piñata from China, which could then be expanded into a web quest comparing and contrasting the two.
This short animated video in Spanish shows how the piñata connects China and Mexico. UPDATE: Arianne shared this transcript of the video.
After interpretive reading and listening to the resources above, it is time for the fun part, to make a piñata! Yes, I know that just doing the craft of making a piñata is not a communicative activity, but there are many ways it could become one.
Interpersonal Speaking Ideas for Piñata Unit
- Students must speak only in Spanish while working on their piñata.
- Working in partners, students take turns giving the other directions in the form of commands. (This could have the added twist of blindfolding one during the messy paper mâché part 🙂
Presentational Ideas for Piñata Spanish Unit
- Students give demonstration speeches on how to make different kinds of piñatas.
- After researching some aspects of piñatas (the history, when they are used, different types, the significance, etc), students present the information either in written or spoken form.
How to make a piñata
- White Glue
- Colored Tissue Paper
Directions for How to Make a Piñata
Paper Mâché Piñata
- Cover tables or desks with garbage bags or plastic table clothes.
- Rip newspapers into strips.(the torn edges work better than cutting)
- Mix equal parts flour & water to make your paper mâché paste.
- Dip newspaper strips in paste, pulling off excess with two fingers and then draping over balloon or piñata form.
- Repeat until the whole balloon is covered in a thin layer and then repeat with layer two.
- Let dry overnight, flipping the balloon so all areas are dry.
Decorating the Piñata
- If using cones, roll newspaper, cover in tissue or decorative paper, and tape to balloon.
- Cut lots of squares of tissue paper, about 2×2 inches.
- Stick the pencil in the middle of the tissue square, dip the end in white glue, and stick it on the balloon. Repeat 100+ times until the entire surface is covered.
Piñata Tips for School
- Have students work in pairs, or this could take weeks for a single perfectionist student to finish.
- Rip newspaper strips in advance and have 1 dedicated paper mâché day. This way you can cover all surfaces and insist that students it completed that day.
- Save tissue paper from being thrown away at Christmas and birthdays and save it to use for your piñatas. At family gatherings, everyone just folds and saves the tissue for me now.
- Buy the white glue bottles at back-to-school sales so each pair can have its own bottle.
- If you work with middle school or want to make piñatas on a smaller scale, without the paper mâché, have them decorate two small paper plates, and staple them together.
- Once completed, hang the piñatas from your classroom ceiling for a festive decoration.
I would love any feedback, ideas, or resources that you may have about piñatas!
More Ideas for Spanish Class Culture
More Ideas to Teach About Mexico in Spanish Class
Piñata Mini Unit was 1st published on Mis Clases Locas by Allison Wienhold on 12.26.14 & most recently updated 12.6.22