One of the most tangible and authentic ways I have brought culture into my elementary classroom, which I believe hits both surface and deep culture at the same time, is the tradition of Ratoncito Pérez, the Tooth Mouse. It is a celebration of sorts, that wonderful and magical experience of losing a tooth, and a coming of age moment for little kiddos. Recognizing and celebrating it in Spanish class via an adorable mouse (not a fairy!) has always been the most remembered, understood and delightful aspects of culture my students interact with. And, because kiddos always have loose teeth or one has fallen out, Ratoncito Pérez is part of EVERY class! Talk about keeping something fresh in their minds!
Here are ways I integrate Ratoncito Pérez in my classes:
*Right from Kindergarten kiddos learn how to say 'Tengo un diente flojo' and 'Se me cayó un diente'... they are encouraged to share their 'tooth news' with me anytime
*I have tooth chart posters featuring Ratoncito Pérez where I record each kiddo's name when he/she loses a tooth (they have to tell me in Spanish or their name doesn't go on the poster :) )
*I teach an entire theme about Ratoncito Pérez in Second Grade, where we read our book 'El diente de Javi' (see the link to our store at the end of this post) and then imagine what Ratoncito Pérez looks like (color and size) and what mode of transportation he uses to get around. After they have practiced this, they then write and illustrate three sentences describing him with this vocab. Super cute!
*I hand out certificates celebrating the lost tooth
*I read books I have collected over the years of various authors imagining adventures with Ratoncito Pérez-go to Amazon and type in 'Ratoncito Pérez' or 'Ratón Pérez'...a whole load of books will come up. My favorite is 'Cartas al Ratón Pérez'! (Note: most of these are in Spanish and with vocabulary far too advanced for my students to understand so I translate in my head and read it out loud in English)
*I have printed out lots of illustrations from Google images over the years which I put around my classroom...he is always present!
If you are interested in integrating Ratoncito Pérez into your classroom and don't want to start from scratch, please check out our Activity Pack in our store on TpT! It is full of printable activities, posters, 'El diente de Javi' minibook, props for retelling the story, and more! Ratoncito Pérez Printable Minibook & Activity Pack