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How to
Use the Activities


Inquiry Question

Historical Context




Table of

Putting It All Together

This lesson demonstrates the ways in which ranchos in northern New Mexico provide evidence of the ability of Hispano culture to adapt to new influences while still maintaining its traditional character. The following activities will help students apply what they have learned.

Activity 1: Early Building Materials
Ask students to find photographs or drawings of early settlers' houses on the east coast and explain how they differed from the early homes in New Mexico. Then ask students to compare the climate of New Mexico (arid, but with occasional torrential rains, hot in the summer with cool nights, cool to cold in the winter with occasional heavy snows) with that of Virginia (moderately hot in the summer with mild winters, high humidity, frequent rain). Next have students consider the following questions: Would adobe have been a useful building material in Virginia? Would the wood and brick used to build Colonial houses in the East have been practical or comfortable in New Mexico? Why or why not?

If possible, have a few students mix their local soil--clay if possible--with straw and water and put the mixture in several wooden molds about 12" by 18" by 4". Let the mixture dry in the sun for a few days. Students can then see for themselves what building with these adobe bricks would be like.

Activity 2: Building and Culture
Explain to students that different regions and ethnic groups in the United States frequently are associated with specific traditional building techniques: immigrants from Finland built log cabins into the 20th century, the Pennsylvania Germans preferred to build with stone, barns in Tennessee are different from barns in Illinois, Chinatowns don't look like other parts of the city, even though they frequently occupy buildings originally constructed by others. Have students investigate groups that played a role in the early history of their community and whether there are surviving buildings or structures associated with those groups. Ask them to find examples of the same types of buildings from other parts of the country and compare them with the local examples. How are they the same? How are they different? What might account for the differences?

Activity 3: Continuity and Change in the Community
Have students investigate their own communities to find out who first settled there, when they came, and how they made their living. Next, have them study how customs have changed between the time of the first settlers and today. Ask them to compare the life led in the early local settlements with the lives of the Hispanos. Have them make a list of similarities and differences. Hold a full class discussion to compare the early life in the community with early life in New Mexico and to compare how early traditions survived in the community and in New Mexico.



Comments or Questions

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