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Greetings from The Paley Center for Media’s Education Department!
Welcome to the latest installment of “What We’re Watching,” a weekly Paley Education@Home guide. During this unprecedented time, we thought we would reach out to our community with some tips and ideas for consuming media with your kids! It’s inevitable that screen time is going to increase in the coming months and so we’re here to help! Each week we are highlighting a different theme that connects to two selected programs, one for younger kids and one for older students, each with related activities.

Consuming media with your kids is a perfect jumping-off point to making media literacy a part of your everyday lives. Familiarizing yourself with the basics is a great first step. In case you missed it, you can view our first edition about media literacy best practices. We also recommend the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Parents Guide—it’s a terrific introduction!
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Thursdays, 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET
You can join us at our weekly Zoom Meet-up, Thursdays from 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET, to chat about the episodes we are watching this week or whatever else is on your mind regarding media literacy and at-home learning.

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What We're Watching: Cinco de Mayo
Feliz Cinco de Mayo! This week we thought it would be fun and festive to celebrate Cinco de Mayo through our viewing choices! Many Americans assume that Cinco de Mayo is widely celebrated in Mexico but interestingly it is much more of an American holiday. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the First Battle of Puebla, between Mexican and French forces in 1862. The popularization of the holiday in America was traced by historian David Hayes-Bautista back to its origins; Hayes-Bautista poured over Calfornian Spanish-language newspapers from the mid-1800s and noticed that Americans of Mexican heritage saw the victory as proof that the Union could also win the Civil War. The holiday’s message and meaning has changed over time—it was embraced by Chicano activists in the 1960s and now it seems like it’s just one big consumer opportunity—but we look forward to any occasion to appreciate and celebrate Mexican and Mexican-American art, culture, and heritage. Learn more about Cinco de Mayo: here and here.
This Week's Recommendation for Younger Kids: Coco
Coco (2017)
Recommended for Grades 2+.
Available to stream on Disney+

Coco is the story of Miguel, a young boy from Santa Cecilia, Mexico, who dreams of being a musician against the wishes of his family. When Miguel is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead on Día de los Muertos, he hopes to track down his great-great-grandfather, a celebrated musician, to help him return to his family and reverse the ban on music in his home. The film features stunning animation, beautiful songs, and a stellar all-Latino cast. It also connects deeply to Elementary curriculum units like family, community, and global understanding. It is a powerful example of the importance of representation in popular culture and a celebration of the things that connect us all… family, music, art, and love. While this is our recommendation for younger viewers, it will absolutely be enjoyed by older kids and parents too. Disney+ has a Spanish language version of the film available to stream as well!
Pre-Viewing Questions
  • Who is the main character? Describe him. What does he care about?
  • Who are the members of his family? Describe them. What do they care about?
  • Notice everything you can about Miguel’s home and his community. What details do you notice? Describe them.
  • What is Miguel’s problem(s)? What is the solution?
  • Notice everything you can about the Land of the Dead. What details do you notice? What are the similarities and differences between the real world and the Land of the Dead?
  • What lesson(s) does Miguel learn? What lessons does Miguel’s family learn?
  • What role do music/art/culture play in communities?
  • What do you already know about Mexican history and culture? What else do you want to know?

Extension Activity: Get Crafty!
The tradition of Día de los Muertos is deeply intertwined with art making (see more about this below). Get started with some tutorials:

Related Children’s Books

Additional Resources
This Week's Recommendation for Older Students: Artbound
Artbound: “Día de Los Muertos / Day of the Dead” (2020)
Recommended for Grades 8+

Artbound is a series from KCET, a public broadcaster in Southern California, that spotlights: “the lives, works, and creative processes of arts and culture innovators making an impact in Southern California and beyond.” Now in its tenth season, there is a rich library of arts and culture focused documentaries available to stream. The episode “Día de Los Muertos / Day of the Dead” focuses on artist Ofelia Esparza and the community arts center Self Help Graphics & Art in order to examine the history and artistic traditions of the celebration. Using beautifully shot cinematography and sensitively told documentary storytelling, it expands the viewer's understanding and context of Día de los Muertos. For older students, it’s also a perfect companion to Coco.

Viewing Questions
  • What is the history of Día de los Muertos celebrations in the Mexican-American community of East LA? How did they start?
  • What role does art-making play in the history, and later popularization, of Día de los Muertos?
  • What made the founders of Self Help Graphics & Art interested in Dia de los Muertos? How did they incorporate the celebration into their creative process and community?
  • How do cultural traditions change over time?
  • How can cultural traditions succumb to commercialization and cultural appropriation? How can that be solved?

Extension Activity: Self Help Graphics & Art Online Art Party
Self Help Graphics & Art hosts a weekly Friday night online art party for teens. Check it out!

Additional Resources

The Whitney Museum of American Art’s upcoming exhibit Vida Americana includes some great online resources.

El Museo del Barrio, a mecca for Latino art, features a great deal of online content from their exhibitions.

Paley Online Classes
Explore these rich, full online classes, with complete thematic descriptions, clips from the Paley Archive, pre- and post-viewing questions, associated vocabulary, further online resources, and more.

As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

Happy viewing,
Rebekah Fisk, Director of Education
Caroline Quigley, Senior Manager of School & Family Programs

Support the Paley Center
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