In the Classroom
How to use this book in your classroom
As with any great text, there is a plethora of ways to use this book in your classroom. See below for study questions.
Shelby County Schools, Memphis, Tennessee used the book in their Cultural Literacy Day activities Oct 2021. See Program HERE
Use Margarito's Forest for:
Read aloud on Earth Day
Math lesson on Mayan Number systems
Spanish language study*
A model for art collages*
Teaching environmental awareness
Introducing the concept of sanctuary to young people
Teaching empathy and inclusion
Teaching the importance of storytelling
Introducing an interview-a-relative project
Understanding the impact of conflict
Introduce a classroom to gardening
Dona’ Guadelupe told Esteban that caring for the land and respecting all of creation were the traditional ways of the Maya. She said she had learned these traditional ways from her father, Don Margarito. What are some important things that you have learned from your parents?
As a child Margarito liked to go exploring in the woodlands to find new and interesting plants and animals. Where do you like to go exploring? What discoveries have you made in these places?
Margarito’s questions about plants and animals led him to the village holy man, Don Calixto. When you have questions, where do you go to find answers?
Don Calixto taught Margarito how to count the days and follow the cycles of the earth in planting and harvesting. Why do you think the ancient Maya needed to count the days? How do you think the Maya learned to predict the cycles of the seasons? What in nature can you use to tell things about the seasons?
When the army came to destroy Dona’ Guadelupe’s village, she fled into the jungle with her two young children. But Don Margarito would not leave his land, and he was killed. Throughout history there have been people with the courage to die for what they believe. Can you think of any other people in history who have been willing to die for their beliefs?
When Dona’ Guadelupe fled into the jungle with her two young children, they survived by eating weeds and roots. How did she know which plants she could eat? Do you know any wild plants that you can eat?
People in the village laughed at Margarito for planting trees instead of planting more corn and beans. But he was not bothered by their teasing because he believed that his forest was important. Have you ever been teased or taunted by someone who did not agree with what you were doing?
When Dona’ Guadalupe and Esteban planted his seedling, they lit a candle to ask the Earth’s blessing. Lighting a candle when planting was a Maya ritual that Dona’ Guadelupe learned from her father. Does your family have any rituals?
The Mayan people held a deep love and respect for the land. If we adopted the Maya way, how would we live differently in our community?
Why is it important to plant and care for forests? What do they contribute to our lives or to the condition of planet earth?
How the book has been used
This is an example of an art and Spanish language project that was done in a 2nd grade classroom at a public school in Chicago. The students read the book, created their own versions of the illustrations, and practiced their writing by copying the captions in English and Spanish.
These are selected pages from Elliot Papczun's illustrations from Spanish class. Note the Mayan numeration, Spanish and English captions from the story, along with the details in the illustrations that correspond to the original.
This reinforces various ways to tell a story-- in various languages, through images, and with different number systems.