La Noche de Las Velitas

La Noche de Las Velitas is the official start of the holiday season in Colombia.  It is a very special night in which families gather to light candles and lanterns in honor the Immaculate Conception. The festivities begins at sunset on 7th December and ends at sunrise on 8th December. People place paper lanterns and candles on their windowsills porches, balconies, streets, sidewalks, squares and parks.

Here is a video with more info!

In my 8th grade classes we do a unit on December holidays and focus on holidays in Colombia and Spain.  We begin the unit by talking about holidays they celebrate and the first holiday we learn about is this one.  One special video we watch is this Home Center video – it is a great video to build vocabulary and if you have higher level students talk about indigenous tribes, environment and giving back to the community.


Here are two activities I do with La Noche de Las Velitas – one reading and one listening. Do you teach December holidays? Which ones?! Share below!

Navidad en Colombia

My family and I are from Colombia so I can’t talk about holidays in December without talking about Colombia!  Since I also talk about holiday time in Spain, it’s a great opportunity for students to compare their traditions.

The students just love to watch all of these videos and see how people really celebrate the holidays and how they are different and in many ways similar.  I begin my conversations about Colombian holidays with the following video and then have them talk about what they see and how it compares to holiday time here in the US.

This next video was taken in San Cipriano in Valle del Cauca – I love it because it shows the Afro-Colombian community and although it is a bit hard for my novices to understand the video its okay because they get the visuals.  After the video we also do comparisons and talk about what they do that is similar or different.

Conozcan la magia de Colombia

A few years ago Bibi Deacon (an old colleague and dear friend) and I presented a workshop about Colombia at MaFla.  It was titled- Conoce la magia de Colombia.  It was a workshop all about Colombia and its culture.  I love teaching about Colombia, not only because that is where I am from but because unfortunately, Colombia has a bad rap- and as an educator I feel it is my duty to dispel any and all stereotypes against Colombia.

Here are a few resources I use to teach about this amazing country

A powerpoint- all in Spanish


Pistas Game

Juego de pistas



Colombia Travel Youtube Channel- there are videos about travel to Colombia in Spanish and in English

Pico y Placa

Teaching numbers and the alphabet can get a little boring- no? Especially at the beginning level where I have found it hard to find interesting and authentic materials to present the information with.  On my last trip to Colombia, I was in Bogotá and discovered that they use a system to control traffic based on the car’s plates- brilliant!  Why?  Because I can use the site and their visuals to practice days of the week, numbers and letters (letters appear in the license plates) !  Score!

This is how the system works- if your plates end in a certain number on X day than you can’t drive that day!  It’s public transportation for you!

¡Ojo!  This does change yearly so you may want to update your docs accordingly each year.

News videos explaining pico y placa

Here is the link to the pico y plata site…

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AB Speaking activity-