Many families have their home cooking traditions and in many Latino homes, the making of tamales is a very special time. It’s a time to gather, chat, bond, and build tradition. Young ones learn from others in the family, connecting generations at one table. As a teacher, exposing my students to experience
this wonderful tradition has been a mission. My students have learned so much from these lessons. To top it off they feel accomplished, included, and encouraged to continue with learning new tasks and sequence of steps. They also learn to try foods that they are not exposed to.
Find a favorite recipe for tamales and set up on a large table. It's usually best that the teacher makes the fillings and masa in advance without too much help from the kids, but assembly time is totally about the kids. Delegating some tasks is a good way to establish jobs. Assembly line style has worked for me in every instance. A couple students can be in charge of spooning/spreading masa into the cornhusks and others adding the filling into the individual tamales and some to fold them.
I had the experience with my 3-5 year olds and the older ones would actually help the younger ones. Children are sometimes eager to put their leadership skills to use and what a better way than them teaching the younger ones. Participation of each child makes this experience memorable and exciting. Eating their hard work is even more exciting! Check out some pictures.