From “Eyes of the Jaguar” (Ada & Campoy)

Our indigenous roots are alive

Many indigenous cultures have survived. Most people in Latin American have indigenous roots.

“The children of the Americas should learn to know, respect, and love the indigenous mother
of this continent.” José Martí, La edad de oro.


Questions to Initiate and Guide the Creative Reading Dialogue

From “Ecos del pasado” (Ada & Campoy)

Descriptive Phase

 What do we know about Juanita’s family and about the place where she lives?
 How was Juanita’s school in her hometown?
 Why did Juanita struggle in school?
 What did Juanita wished she knew more about?
 What was the great surprise? How did it make her feel?

Personal Interpretive Phase

 Do you have indigenous roots? Do you know anyone who does?
 Do you speak at home a language other than English?
 Do you know anyone whose home language is not English?
 Have you ever moved? How did you feel about living in a different place?

Critical/Multicultural/Anti-Bias Phase

Have you noticed anyone struggling to speak English?
 Have you seen people making fun of someone because they do not speak English fluently, or because they have a different culture or background?
 Why is it valuable to know how to speak more than one language?

From “The Quetzal’s Journey” (Ada & Campoy)

Creative/ Transformative Phase

 How is the life of people who know well more than one language enriched?
 How can we show respect and appreciation for indigenous cultures and their languages?


Questions for the Analysis of the Composition and Structure of the Text

 What words Juanita used to describe her friend?
 How does she describe her home town?
 What is the meaning of:

We smile in silence.
No explanations
to break the magic of the moment.
We have learned to smile
when we understand that silence is better…


Activities Students Can Do Individually or in Groups

From “On the Wings of the Condor” (Ada & Campoy)

  Find/create a map showing all the countries where Spanish is spoken.
 Make a list of the countries.
  Search to find how many people speak Spanish throughout the world.
  Find out which are some of the indigenous languages that are also spoken on those countries.
  Make a display of pictures, a collage, or a mural showing monuments created by indigenous cultures
in Latin America and/or some of their art expressions.
  Have students research and share contributions of the indigenous cultures in the areas of:

  Social structures


A Creative Writing Transformative Education Activity

Students can further the exploration of their own personal identity by creating an I Am poem. This activity becomes stronger when you model it by creating a book about yourself.

By Myself
Eloise Greenfield
When I am by myself
and I close my eyes
I’m a twin,
I’m a dimple in a chin
I’m a room full of toys
I’m a squeaky noise
I’m a gospel song
I’m a gong
I’m a leaf turning red
I’m a loaf of brown bread
I’m a whatever I want to be
And anything I care to be
And when I open my eyes
What I want to be
Is me.

F. Isabel Campoy

I am a woman, creator of life.
I am Latina, passionate, familiar.
I am an emigrant,
conscious of my two horizons.
I am bilingual,
capable of negotiating contradictions.
I am the granddaughter of peasants.
I am the daughter of tenacity and love.
I am mestiza of cultures, of races,
of ways to see life.
I am a voice without fear.
I am here, building new roads
to go forward,
true to myself.

From “Eyes of the Jaguar” (Ada & Campoy)

1. Create your own “I Am” book

 Metaphoric “I Am” book
—-Present yourself in terms of:
 colors, fragrances, feelings, food, music, songs, etc.
 a part of nature: ocean, mountains, desert, fields, trees, or flowers, animals, birds, fish
 a place or object in your house, an element of your life
 a cultural icon
 any image that represents you
 Relationship “I Am” book
 Present yourself as daughter/son; sister/brother; aunt/uncle, etc.
 Acrostic “I Am” book
 Use each letter of your name to guide the structure of the book
 Combination or Original structure “I Am” book
 Dare to be creative.

2. Create a collective “I Am” poem with the class
Share your poem with the students and ask each one to give you one sentence to create a collective poem.

3. Encourage students to create their own individual poems

4. Create a class book
Include your poem, the students’ collective poem and their individual poems.

5. Share the class book with parents

6. Invite parents to create their own poems

7. Create a parents collective books for the classroom, school and public libraries.

The Transformative Education Principles supporting these activities and the methodology of Authors in the Classroom can be found in www.authorsintheclassroom.com

Specific examples of I Am Books can be found at: http://authorsintheclassroom.com/1-affirming-self-i-am-books/

Visual activities

Take advantage of quality sites in the Internet to provide valuable visual experiences for your students.

The Smithsonian Institute has a virtual exhibition: http://latino.si.edu/exhibitions/centralamericarevealed/3DSim/RACA.pdf


Related Books Grades 2-4



Laughing Crocodiles by Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy.
Includes Guatemala section with poems by Humberto Ak’abal


The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh

howchilecameHow Chile Came to New Mexico by Rudolfo Anaya

thegoldenflowerThe Golden Flower: A Taíno Myth from Puerto Rico by Nina Jaffe

Related Books Grades 4-8



The Quetzal’s Journey by Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy


On the Condors’s Wings by Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy


Eyes of the Jaguar by Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy

serfarinasSerafina’s Stories by Rudolfo Anaya