Lessons - Middle/High

Also see: ElementaryTeaching Stories, Central America Quiz


Introduction to Central America

Middle and High School

This lesson introduces students to key people in Central American history through a short interactive, introductory activity.  


Exploring the Histories of El Salvador and Guatemala with Literature


In this instructional unit, students draw on the When We Were Young website and literature (fiction and nonfiction) to understand the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala and the ongoing effects of these conflicts on Central America and the United States.


The Roots of Immigration from El Salvador and Current Policy Debates

Middle and High School

Most of the current immigration debates ignore the historical roots of migration to the United States and the history of immigration policy in the latter half of the 20th century. This series of lessons uses the country of El Salvador as a case study to provide important historical context for contemporary immigration issues. The lessons were developed for use in conjunction with the website When We Were Young There Was a War.


U.S. Policy in Central America


The countries in Central America have played a significant role in the rise of the U.S. empire. This series of lessons invites students to investigate the role of the United States in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 20th century. The lessons were developed for use in conjunction with the website When We Were Young There Was a War.


Salvadoran History Through Poetry

Middle and high School

In this two-part lesson by Justin Sybenga, students explore the history and culture of El Salvador through Claribel Alegria’s poem “Little Cambray Tamales” and then write their own recipe poems.


Inside the Volcano: A Curriculum on Nicaragua

Middle and high school

This teaching guide by Bill Bigelow and Jeff Edmundson includes interactive lessons on land distribution in Nicaragua before the revolution, the Sandinistas, the role of the United States, the literacy campaign, Ben Linder, and the Honduran connection.


Personal Creed

Middle and High School

In this lesson by Justin Sybenga, students use the lens of Claribel Alegria’s poem “Personal Creed” to understand how the civil war in El Salvador (1980-1992) shaped the experience and perspective of this accomplished poet and an entire generation of Salvadorans.


Poetry Fires the Revolution

High School

In this series of three lessons, students will gain background knowledge on life in Central America during a volatile period of war and unrest in order to understand the risks writers, artists, and poets took.


Geography is History: Locate the Countries of Central America


This interactive map lesson provides students with clues based on the history and geography of Central America so that they can find and remember the location of each country.


Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale

Elementary AND Middle SCHOOL

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh is one of the best books we’ve seen for children on the experience families forced to migrate to the U.S. to survive. In a child-friendly format, the story addresses the push factors, the hardships caused by family separation, the dangerous journey through Mexico, and crossing the border. The Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP), on behalf of the Américas Award, produced an extensive teaching guide to accompany the book. Written by Katrina Dillon in 2015.


Rediscovering America

Elementary, Middle and High School

Rediscovering America/Redescubriendo América is a bilingual collection of short stories, essays, poetry, folktales, and songs from Latin America and the Caribbean for K-12 on conquest and resistance. 


Leaving Home: Socratic Dialogue with Art

elementary and middle school

Students are introduced to noted Guatemalan artist Paula Nicho Cumez and explore the emotions of leaving home through a Socratic dialogue about a painting. This short teaching activity by Lynda Tredway can be adapted to various ages.