peru culture

Cancioncitas de los Andes is a wonderful CD and digital book set that introduces children to life in the Andes of Peru. Both are by the award-winning artist Daria. The CD has six songs with traditional Quechua music and instruments. The digital book A Child’s Life in the Andes shares Quechua culture through engaging information and activities. They are available individually or as a set from Daria – World Music for Children and also from Teachers Pay Teachers. The digital book is a PDF, so you can conveniently print the pages you need.

Effectively teaching the culture of Spanish-speaking countries is one of the most challenging parts of teaching the language to children. Which cultures do we introduce? What aspects of culture do we focus on? The Cancioncitas de los Andes CD and digital book are wonderful resources for anyone who wants to offer children quality content about Peru with a cultural focus.

Digital Book – A Child’s Life in the Andes

The digital book A Child’s Life in the Andes is divided into eight sections that bring Quechua culture to life and provide context for the music on the CD:

1. Where Are The Andes Mountains?
2. About The Songs
3. Instruments
4. A Child’s Life
5. Animals
6. Food
7. Language
8. Coloring Pages, Make Your Own Activities and a Word Search Puzzle

Each of these sections contains lots of information presented in accessible language and supported with beautiful photographs. Interesting facts about daily life engage kids and make clear that, in addition to a rich history, Quechua culture in Peru is alive today.

The final section of the book has activities and coloring pages. There are detailed instructions for making two instruments, a word search and a suggestions for creating your own Corrido de Cuy with stuffed animals. There are also beautiful coloring pages of the instruments and animals of Peru, each with information about the picture.

The quality of the information and different activities in this book makes it appropriate for a wide range of ages. It could easily be used on one level with first graders, and yet middle schoolers will also appreciate the richness of the Quechua culture in Peru.

I was particularly impressed by the straightforward, respectful tone of this book. It includes facts that may be new and unusual for young readers (animal dung used as fuel, guinea pigs as food, an instrument made from the toenails of goats or sheep). Yet the author manages to put that information in context and balance it with familiar concepts (wood as fuel, potatoes and corn as food, the guitar as a stringed instrument) so that children understand new information as part of a rich experience they can relate to.

Music CD – Cancioncitas de los Andes

In the digital book, there is information about each of the songs on the CD. This background will help children get the most out of the music and also relate it to other information in the book. The six songs are in different styles. Some have no lyrics, some have lyrics in Quechua and one is sung first in Quechua, then in Spanish and then translated into English.

In the video below, you can hear Yaw Yaw Puka Polleracha. The book describes the song this way:

This in an “I’m gonna tell on you” song. The language is Quechua and it is often sung between kids as a way of poking fun at each other. The word “Yaw” means “hey”, the word “puka” means “red” and a “pollera” is a skirt, so the song starts out by saying, “Hey, girl in the red skirt.”

In Cancioncitas de los Andes, music, photographs, information and activities combine to create a wonderful introduction to the Quechua culture of Peru. This is an excellent resource for anyone introducing children to other cultures, in particular those associated with Latin America.

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