St. Elizabeth Parish School: Tamales and Tradition

Saint Elizabeth Parish School believes in and advocates for teaching to the whole child; that is, teaching core subjects as well as giving each child a well-rounded arts education. Part of teaching this way includes bringing representations of different cultures into the classroom and allowing children to experience hands-on activities that are traditional to these cultures. Some of these activities allow children to have an esoteric experience, or one in which they would not be able to have at home.

For the first grade class at Saint Elizabeth, one of these experiences was making tamales in class. Peeling back a corn husk, children first spread the masa, or corn-based dough, onto each husk. Then, they spread their choice of filling onto the inside, either chicken with green sauce, pork with red sauce, or cheese. With assistance, the children practiced folding their tamale and wrapping it up in a special kind of paper for it to cook in. The tamales were steam cooked for two hours at school, and each child was able to take home their homemade creations to taste and bring to their families.

Making tamales around Christmas-time is a treasured tradition in Latino cultures. It symbolizes cherishing family, giving love, and sharing memories. This special cultural tradition was brought to the first grade class last year and this year, and hopefully will now become a Saint Elizabeth tradition for years to come.

Come see what you are missing and experience St. Elizabeth School:

St. Elizabeth Parish School, 1840 N. Lake Avenue, Altadena, (626) 797-7727 or visit



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