Teaching the novel Tumba - Mis Clases Locas

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Teaching the novel Tumba

As a part of my Spanish 1 expansion Culture & Civilization class, we are reading Tumba by Mira Canion. It is now my third time teaching the novel, and it gets better each time. My first time with the book I posted each chapter with ideas. You can see them all with the label Tumba. I am including links to the original plans, along with what did this time. We have 60 minute classes and typically did 1 chapter with expansion activities per day. For more ideas, here are all posts with the label Day of the Dead.

Introducing the novel Tumba

  • Read & discussed the chapter as a class. 
  • Compared our school to both a private school and public school in Mexico using the pictures & school schedules in the teacher's guide. 
  • The next day reviewed the chapter by completing a cloze activity of the chapter using target vocab. 
  • Looked at pictures of day of the Dead to spark discussion. 
  • Students read chapter on their own. We then listened to the audio book, pausing to discuss as we went. 
  • Students completed a timeline activity by Elena Lopez & we discussed it. 
  • We discussed "calavera" poems. Students wrote their own and read them to the class. (With a bigger class earlier in the year we did a 2-line retell, sharing poems to one partner at a time). 
  • Since the chapter is titled "Altares" before reading it we watched and discussed this video & this infographic
  • We also watched this video for more visuals of the holiday. 
  • While reading I drew out the family tree on the board to try to keep all of thr new characters straight. 
  • Before starting the chapter, we used the comprehensible reading and questions on the Mexican revolution from the teacher's guide. This gave more background on the history of Mexico for this culture class, as well as gave context for the buried treasure in the book. 
  • At this point, the students are finding the actual book quite easy to easy, so they read the chapter on their own, and then we discussed it. 
  • We looked at pictures of typical foods in Mexico, as well as watched this video about how to make tamales. 
  • To review the chapter on Monday, students used images of the chapter from the teacher's guide to do a free write describing what happened. We shared these to review as a class. 
  • We listened to multiple versions of the traditional song "Cielito Lindo." We also watched this Coca-Cola ad , which shows whole stadiums of soccer fans singing the song. 
  • After reading and discussing the chapter, where Sergio flirts with Alex's little sister, we discussed pick up lines in Spanish. 
Tumba - Chapter 6
  • Using pictures from the teacher's guide, we compared cemeteries in the US and those in Mexico using PQA. 
  • Students explored pictures of caves in Mexico from my original Chapter 6 post to see the variety an beauty of caves in the region. 
  • After reading the (very short) chapter, students worked with a partner to put together sentences from the chapter (activity from Elena Lopez). They then put the sentences in order of the chapter, used their books to check, and then retold the chapter in Spanish and English to their partner. To finish, we reviewed the chapter as a class. 
Tumba Chapter 7
  • Using pictures from the teacher's guide, we discussed Ciudad Mante.
  • Students came up with 2 truths and a lie (Mentiroso) about chapter 7. They wrote them on small pieces of paper, I read them, and students guessed which was the lie. 
  • After reading chapter 7, students made an 8 box storyboard to review what had happened in the book so far. They used one box for each chapter 1-7, and one box for their predictions for the rest of the book. 

Tumba Chapter 8
  • To intro the vocabulary, students worked in partners to sort words from the chapter into categories of their choice. See this post for possible extensions to this activity and other ideas for this chapter. Students explained their choices of categories and how the words fit. 
  • Using an activity from the teacher's guide, students read a passage of the chapter that goes back and forth between telling a story in the past and the present and identified which verbs were past tense and was present. They justified why they thought each word was past or present and we spent a little time looking at how you could identify based on context or the word ending. Pop up grammar in context at its finest!

Tumba - Chapters 9&10
  • After reading chapter 9, students create 10 question true/false quizzes to give out loud to multiple partners. 
  • Students practice interviews of the characters by matching up questions and answers provided in the supplemental section of the teacher's guide. 
  • When we finishthe book, we will discuss how Alex, the main character changed throughout the books and students will take a Chapter 10 Kahoot
  • Students will complete both an interpersonal speaking and presentational writing assessment. 
  • For the interpersonal speaking they will use authentic pictures from the teachers guide to ask each other questions about the book, including the school, home, city, Mexico, day of the Dead, etc. They could also compare these elements in the book to their lives. 
  • For presentational writing, they will chose one or more aspects above from the book to compare to their lives. 

Coco - Movie Guide

Coco - Movie guide for Spanish class

As an extension I usually teach the movie El Libro de Vida, but now I use Coco. Here is my Coco - movie guide or El Libro de Vida - movie guide

Please share other ideas for this novel in the comments!


  1. Hola Allison,
    I expanded on the Tradiciones Televisa video activities.
    Here is my resource page (it's all free)

    Elena :)

  2. Sorry I grabbed the wrong link. Here is the correct one

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Do you have a rubric you prefer for presentational writing? I purchased your Tumba assessment and was trying to find one and thought I'd ask :) Gracias!

  5. It's my second year with Tumba (I love it!) and your advice and lesson ideas have been invaluable!! I really appreciate your willingness to share your fantastic ideas! Mil gracias!

  6. Hey Allison, I tried clicking the link "elena lopez" next to the intro dia de los muertos video and it was not found. Do you have an updated link to these activities?

    mil gracias!

    1. I am sorry, but if other teachers have removed items from their blog, I can not help


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