I am participating in the “Booking Across the USA” project: 50+ bloggers are each choosing a book and a state, and creating an activity for kids to learn more. We did Texas last year, and this year chose New Mexico because we spent our spring break there! Here are the books we read, and instructions on making your own farolitos, paper bag lanterns used around Christmastime in parts of New Mexico.
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
First let’s learn about New Mexico. New Mexico is a unique mountain state in the southwest of the United States with a fusion of 3 cultures: Spanish, Mexican, Native American, and Anglo.
Check out Awesome America’s page on New Mexico- it is chock full of photographs and history.
Learn all about New Mexico from Enchanted Learning.
See if you can label and color in a map of New Mexico with its features.
Books about New Mexico
We read about New Mexican cultures in several books before our big trip. We got out several simple nonfiction books that talk about the state, and also found these 3 books:
E is for Enchantment: A New Mexico Alphabet. This book is great as an introduction to all of the famous places, the landscape, history, and cultures in New Mexico. Both children and adults enjoy this book and its illustrations- we were so excited to read it before our trip!
My daughter picked up Welcome to Josefina’s World: 1824 (American Girl) in the library before we left for our trip. I had never seen that they have these non-fiction supplements to the regular American Girl chapter books. The book was filled with photographs and offered a glimpse into daily life in New Mexico during the time of Josefina (early 1800s). My kids really liked looking at the pictures and explaining them to me.
The Farolitos of Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya is a sweet story about a girl who decides to make her own Christmas farolitos when her father is injured and cannot help. In the book, we saw how she lit the path home with her homemade farolitos. In parks, churches and homes in Santa Fe and Albuquerque (and other New Mexican towns), farolito displays are common around Christmas Eve.
Make your own Farolitos
Making your own farolitos are really easy. First, have the kids decorate a paper bag. We used stickers, markers, and hole punchers. Next, we put sand in the bottom of each bag, to weigh it down. Traditionally, the candle is stuck into the sand; we put each candle in a baby food jar for an added layer of protection. Finally, light the farolitos at night to watch their glow. Next Christmas party, we’ve decided we will make enough to line our walkway up to the house!
Now that you’ve learned about New Mexico, don’t forget to check out the other books in the Booking Across the USA project!