Today in your child’s classroom, I read the book Grandma’s Chocolate by Mara Price. The story pays tribute to the relationship shared between a grandmother and her granddaughter. Grandma traveled from Mexico to the United States to visit her granddaughter Sabrina. Grandma shares stories with Sabrina about their culture, customs, traditions and heritage history, which dates back to Pre-Columbian time. Sabrina’s favorite stories are of the Mayan and Aztec princesses who had plantations of cacao. She also likes the story of how the Olmecs and Mayas were the first to make chocolate.
This month’s dicho: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Pre-Columbian time in Mexico: Mexico’s Pre-Columbian time refer to an era in Mexico before the arrival of Columbus to the Americas. In the years 1800 - 300 BC, indigenous civilizations existed in Mexico. Among the most powerful civilizations were the Mayan, Aztecs, and Olmecs. These tribes existed for about 4,000 years and are credited for many inventions and advancements, including pyramid-temples, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and theology. The Mayan civilization occupied a vast region in south and southeast Mexico and Central America. The Mayans developed a highly advanced number system. The Aztecs lived in Tenochtitlán, which is now Mexico City. They are among the first empires to have mandatory education for everyone, not just for the high class. The Olmec culture developed in the area of Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Tabasco. One of their major achievements includes the invention of the calendar.
This month’s classroom activities: There were two activity options. Option one allowed students to see, smell and touch some of the main items described in the story: colorful hair ribbon, cocoa seeds, Mexican hot chocolate tablets, clay whistles, drums from Mexico or Latin America, huipils or another traditional latin garments, molinillos (chocolate whiskers/stirrers), and jarros (clay cups). Option two gave students additional information about cocoa trees. Students drew a cocoa tree and glued cocoa seeds to it for a chocolatey smell.
Ideas to reinforce the message at home:
- Ask your child about the Aztecs, Mayas and Olmecs.
- Ask your child about cocoa. Where did it originate from? What were some practical uses for cocoa seeds during Pre-Columbian time? What are cocoa seeds used for today?
- Enlist your child’s help to make hot chocolate or any dish or desert that has chocolate as the main ingredient. If available, use a molinillo (chocolate whisk/stirrers) to make the hot chocolate and serve it in jarros (clay cups).
If you would like more information about our Los Dichos program or are interested in becoming a volunteer reader, please contact me or visit the Project Cornerstone website at
Los Dichos VolunteerTelephone/Email