National Museum of Mexican Art
A 2011 grant from Nuestro Futuro has helped develop and pilot the Arts Inspiring Early Learning curriculum.
Recognizing that Latino children fall behind in cognitive skill development at an early age, the National Museum of Mexican Art launched "Listo para la Escuela: Building Blocks to Early Learning," a learning program for children aged 3 to 5.
Listo para la Escuela blends teacher professional development, parent/child workshops and in-class lessons to create an innovative curriculum. Using the arts, educators help students develop cognitive skills that are fundamental in the literacy learning process.
The cornerstone of the program is the alebrije, a fantastical creature in the Mexican art tradition. Imaginative and whimsical, alebrijes capture the imagination and inspire students to learn about the history and geography of their origins. Teachers are given books about alebrijes that they read to their students, building literacy and vocabulary skills.
Moreover, children learn critical thinking skills through hands-on art activity. Creating their own alebrijes from papier-mache requires developing an idea, planning, creating and critiquing: all skills that will benefit them in the classroom and beyond.
One kindergarten student from Orozco Academy explains, "My alebrije is a dragon with a tail of a shark."
"I love painting my alebrije," says another. "It looks real!"
Learn more about Nuestro Futuro, the Trust's affiliate that supports programs improving the quality of life of Latinos in metropolitan Chicago.