Category Archives: Loteria

Australian Loteria, Part Two


So, my students prepared for their loteria creation by watching watching videos

We discussed putting the cassowary in place of the rooster.

on Safari Montage and on Discovery Education.  I also had them go through the Carole Marsh CRCT Prep book, which is to the point and a great resource.  The videos had a lot of great things to identify, such as strange animals and landmarks.

But, since it was close to the end of school, I thought I needed to step it up a bit.  That’s where Amazon Video on Demand comes in.  The first thing I found was a series called “Bite Me”  with Dr. Mike.  This crazy man goes around finding venomous plants and animals and trying out the venom and irritants on himself.  Then, he tells you what it feels like…  Here’s the blurb:

Virologist and intrepid explorer Dr. Mike Leahy is on a high-stakes mission to meet the maddest and deadliest creatures on the planet. In this 8-episode installment, join Dr. Mike as he puts his body on the line against an army of exotic pests whose bites, sprays, and stings promise much more than rash. From fire ants and vampire bats in Brazil, to venomous lizards in the jungles of Borneo, to acid-spraying scorpions in India, Dr. Mike will subject himself to the full brunt of nature’s wrath in the name of scientific understanding — even if it means swallowing a tapeworm cyst in Hanoi! Down the hatch!

I showed episode 6 of Season 1 – Coastal Australia.  One of my students said that it was the best video they had ever seen at school.  Oh, make sure you get all school videos approved, of course.  😉  Episode 4 shows the Australian Outback, but the images are much grosser and have more to do with viruses and fungi you can get from sheep and other animals… I chose not to show that.

The Spider

Another good series is Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.  Here’s the blurb from Season 4, Episode 5 (Sydney):

Andrew goes snorkeling, spear fishing and visits a farm where they “pamper” their cattle. He ventures to the Sydney Fish Market where he finds things even he has never tasted before, such as Morton Bay and Balamain Bugs, Flathead Fish and Spanner Crabs.

There is also another episode about the Outback (Season 4, Episode 3):

Andrew heads into the Australian Outback where he eats wallaby with some Aborigines, samples crocodile cooked on the barbie and helps thin out the huge populartion of poisonous cane toads by making them into a meal.

I told my students to do their best on spelling the names of the things they thought should go in the Loteria deck.  I also put some of the words on the board.  Then we talked about the traditional food and plant and animal cards in the original Don Clemente deck and what items we would substitute from Down Under.

That is one wierd camaron (shrimp) - lobster... but it works.

There is a need to show a spectrum of foods, famous people, cultural icons, everyday items, musical instruments, and other things – slang words are good – so that the entire loteria is not animals.  That’s an easy thing to do in Australia, where there are so many bizarre fauna.  You may have to have them vote on what animals should go in the deck.

Australian Loteria, Part One


Click on the picture to go to the NEH Oaxaca website, also known as the Wired Humanities Project. Scroll down to High School/Middle School Art / Celeste LeTard Williams / “Lotería” to download the PowerPoint tutorial.

Last summer, when I attended the NEH Oaxaca Institute for School Teachers, I created a PowerPoint tutorial on how to make an original Loteria game about any topic.  I am happy to say that it was posted on the Wired Humanities Project page along with some worksheets and resources for the classroom.  Just click on the image to the left and it will take you to the lesson plans prepared by myself and my colleagues from last summer’s Mesoamerican Institute.  You will need to scroll down to the section which says High School/Middle School Art, then look for my name and the title “Loteria”.  There are also some worksheets to be used for students to draw a loteria card, as well as a rubric and a sheet with the original cards and calling rhymes listed on it.

This year, I planned on having my students create a Loteria game about Australia.   The idea was to introduce the original Mexican Loteria and to have the students search out analogous icons and symbols from Australia to replace the Latino images.  I have done blog entries about this idea in the past. This one actually lists the different cards of the Loteria in order.   I also collect Loteria decks and images, which I use for classroom examples.

An important resource is also the gallery of Loteria Card Deck uploads at  There are about 20 decks scanned and uploaded to the website.  They are great for examples.  You could have students research the images there, but just beware of the “Queer” Loteria because of inappropriate images.  Some of the other decks are great for pulling images.  Or, you can just purchase a Loteria game at a Mexican grocery or at an online source.

The thing I appreciate about is that there IS a variety of images.  So you can pick and choose your images for classroom appropriateness.  There are things on the traditional deck that could be considered inappropriate.  For example, La Sirena/The Mermaid is usually bare-breasted.  You can find images with covered breasts, such as the Anahuac Sirena and the Compadres Sirena.  There is a non-smoking El Catrin (also known as the Dandy, or the Gentleman), El Valiente (The Brave One)  without a weapon,  La Botella that is not Tequila – yes, I know, the one in the original deck is catsup, but I don’t like the image.

There are also some images that could be offensive, such as El Negrito (The Black Man) and El Borracho (The Drunkard).  And, El Soldado (The Soldier) is pretty much always going to have a gun.  But, you could replace those images with something else from one of the other decks, such as El Payaso (The Clown), or El Mono (The Monkey) or El Moro (The Moor, or Arab), or El Atleta (The Athlete) or Los Boxeadores (The Boxers).  Also, I like it that El Apache could also be El Azteca.  And… El Gorrito (the Bonnet – who wears a bonnet anymore?) could be replaced by El Sombrero (The Hat).  The possibilities are endless!

I really appreciate the work that was done with the Loteria Card Gallery.  Take some time to look throught the images.  Especially noteworthy are:

  • The Clemente Jacques Series 2 and Alternate Series 2 – These were introduced  in the 50’s or 60’s.  The images in the Series 2 Alternate look older than the Series 2, which are more refined.  These decks are very hard to find – I paid almost $100 for a Series 2 on E-Bay.
  • The Loteria de Teresa Villegas – also published by Clemente Jacques and available online – try E-Bay.  Teresa Villegas also has a website with more details about her Loteria project.
  • My Loteria, by Cristina Sosa Noriega, was available at HEB grocery stores, along with coordinating products.  Some of the products are still seen on e-Bay and she has a website.
  • The Loteria Zarela was commissioned by WalMart several years ago and was put on a product line for home and bath.  Zarela Martinez is a celebrated chef who has a restaurant in NYC and has authored many cookbooks.  She also had a designed loteria of fruits and vegetables.  These items are very hard to find now.
  • – my CafePress Store is where I display and sell my own Loteria designs.

House of the Scorpion Loteria, Card #4


How else do you get a spare heart?

Spoiler alert!  If you have not read House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer, yet: this may upset you…  On the other hand, it tells you right on the back of the book in the blurb what is supposed to happen.  I think that the only person who does not know is Matt, the clone.

New Vintage Loteria Designs: La Muerte and El Cupido


Just in time for Valentine's Day!

I love my Vintage Loteria Cupid!  I don’t know if it is a boy or a girl… The image is from an old Loteria set that I bought at a flea market in Mexico.  This version has been around for a long time, and has been copied so many times that the pictures are rather grainy and murky.  I love building them up from 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inches to a usable size, then cleaning them up and making them beautiful again.

I think I am getting the hang of standardizing my image sets for CafePress.  I upload about 5 huge files to my image basket for each design I make.  The sizes of the images range from 9 by 12 inches to 23 by 35 inches.  I have found that the rectangles do well for shirts and oval objects, but the posters need specific measurements to get rid of any white edges.  The squares work well for circular items as well as squares, so I haven’t gone to the trouble yet of tailoring my designs to a circle shape (or an oval) yet.

Death in a pink frame...

My other design is La Muerte – which is seen in a lot of Loteria decks (The Cupid is not as common).  I like this image, which is a little more dynamic than the traditional standing Death in the Don Clemente deck.  I also liked the blue color in the background as opposed to the pink on the D.C. deck.  I chose elements that bring out the skeleton’s colors, as well as the scythe.  This is the 9 by 12 inch image.  The larger image for the poster has a pattern of colorful sugar skulls on the top and bottom, with a turquoise stripe coordinating the whole thing.

I like the idea of mixing up the designs in my shop, so that everything doesn’t just have the same image.  For one thing, one image won’t do for all of the items.  I have learned that over the years after my original impulsive shop opening with my Valentine designs.

I have 10 designs right now in the Vintage Shop.  After I’ve done two more, I can think about designing a calendar.  I have been selling quite a few calendars with my Milagros and Loteria themes.  It is very gratifying!  Here is a link to the Calendar Shop.

House of the Scorpion Loteria Card 3


El Latigo Negro

This is another of the Loteria cards that I designed digitally for my Loteria Card Lesson plan based on the book House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.  The first card was called Durango, and the second was called Property of the Alacran Estate.  Each card is meant to represent an aspect of the story – and I have read this book and listened to it on CD over 50 times, so my references can be pretty detailed.

This card represents El Latigo Negro.  When Matt Alacran (the clone) was left alone at the Alacran Estate – when the other children were away at boarding school – he relied on a rich fantasy life to entertain himself.  He would often pretend to be one of a few television heroes that were played on the estate television.  Since El Patron insisted that life at the Estate be kept the same as when he was a child, these TV series were rather vintage – maybe from the 1950’s or 1960’s.

El Latigo Negro was the only character I was able to find on the internet.  He was a Zorro-like character who wielded a long whip instead of a gun, I think.  That actually makes me think of a great George Hamilton film called Zorro, The Gay Blade because the gay brother used a whip…

But I don’t think that this is what Mrs. Farmer was referring to when she referenced the character.  😉  I don’t even know if she had anyone specific in mind.

It is difficult to find information on El Latigo Negro, but I found a very interesting blog post here written by an aficionado of old B movies.  According to that post, El Latigo Negro was honored in two series.  The one referenced in the post – I think – was part of a trilogy made in the late seventies.  But there was also a trilogy of films made in the 1950’s, as well as a series of comic books based on the character.

The other two heroes mentioned were Don Segundo Sombra (Sir Second Shadow) and El Sacerdote Volante (The Flying Priest).  The Don Segundo Sombra I found was based on a 1926 novel about a gaucho, so I don’t think that was who Matt admired.  The description in the book says that Matt’s Don Segundo drove sports cars and seemed more like a James Bond character.

As for The Flying Priest, I think she made him up, but it makes a great visual – a flying priest who flings holy water on demons and burns them like acid.  Hee hee.

House of the Scorpion Loteria Card 2

Property of the Alacran Estate

Property of the Alacran Estate

I just ambushed a fellow teacher – she said that she is teaching House of the Scorpion.  Okay, I didn’t jump her – I just eagerly offered my help.  I don’t know if I will be teaching HOTS this year.  Although it is written on a 6th grade level, I have usually used it for older students.  This is my first time teaching 6th grade ESOL, so I don’t want to push it.

I had already offered my services to one teacher, but she just said that most of her students had already read the book by 6th grade.  She must teach “enhanced” Lang. Arts classes.  So, I hope that there is someone that will benefit from my experience.

This card is from the deck I started designing last year.  When he is born, Matt Alacran is tattooed on his foot.  I actually imagine it as one of those round address label stamps, but I really liked this tribal scorpion tattoo that I found online, so I thought I’d use it.  I hope it was on his left foot…  I like this card – the feet, the “Property of” t-shirt design in the background and the scorpion tattoo look cool.

In the story, the tattoo is usually out of sight, but it give him away at the beginning when he cuts his feet and hands.  Then, someone at the orphanage sees it and rats him out.

House of the Scorpion Loteria Card 1

The purple mountains of Durango...

The dusty cornfields and purple mountains of Durango...

Last year, after my classes finished reading House of the Scorpion (written by Nancy Farmer), I asked them to create loteria cards.  I asked them to draw images that were representations of characters, symbols, concepts, themes – anything relevant to the story.  This was very difficult for them, and a little tedious for me, because there were a lot of repeat cards.   I decided at the beginning of the assignment not to assign the student specific cards, hence the plethora of cups (poison wine), scorpions, and hearts.

To keep myself stimulated while this activity was going on, I decided to do some loteria cards of my own.  So far, I have 32 – each representing different aspects of the story.  I did try one exercise – I laid a card on each student’s desk, then asked the student to turn it over.  Then I asked that student to tell me why I chose that image for my loteria deck.  After some coaxing, my more reluctant students were able to say something.  I had some very sharp students last year that totally got it.

Now, to explain the above card (I am not sure yet if I will put a word on it…):

Durango is where El Patron, the original Matteo Alacran, was born.  His last name a tribute to the people of Durango, who are called “alacranes” or scorpions.  Celia, the cook, and Matt’s mother figure, is also from Durango.  She was saved from becoming an “eejit” because El Patron recognized her accent and kept her on to cook traditional dishes for him.

There is a very important story that El Patron tells four times in the novel.  The first time he tells it is when he and Matt meet for the first time (pp. 57-58).  There, he just provides the bare bones of the story:  that he was born in Durango (he always mentions the dusty cornfields and purple mountains – hence the image above), that his brothers died of various things before they had a chance to grow up, and his sisters died from typhoid.

Later on in the story, El Patron tells the story three more times:  at his birthday celebration (pp. 100-101), when he is in bed and sick for the first time (p. 200), and finally, when he wants to the ultimate sacrifice from Matt (pp. 232-233).  Each time he tells the story, we learn more details about the deaths of his brothers.  He also adds more detail to the fiesta where his sisters contracted typhoid.  It’s a masterful device, and I endeavored to point this out to my students.

I love this book so much – it is obvious that I’m a bit obsessed.  But, then again, I must have read it (okay, listened to it on CD) at least 30 or 40 times, because I also listen to it when my students are reading with the CD in class…  I never grow tired of it and always find something new to remark upon each time.

Loteria Artesania, Part 3


Okay, here is the rest of what I found up until now.  I had a really good time looking at all of the cool sites on Mexican Folk Art.  La Fuente Imports was my favorite!

34 El soldadoThis tin soldier, although it may not count because it was manufactured as part of a set on the Mexican and American War… but this paper mache soldier is hand-made.

35 La estrellaThis star lamp was the first one I found on my Lomini - 023teria journey.

36 El cazo – Now, some people translate it as “the bean pot” and others as “the ladle”: this miniature copper pot looks like the picture, so it will do!

37 El mundo (The World) – they have all sorts of suns, moons, and stars, but I haven’t found this yet!

38 El apache (The Apache) – I don’t understand why it’s an Apache – I may substitute with an Aztec warrior.

39 El nel alacran huichol beadedopal –  Here is a tin mirror and a painted tin ornament.

40 El alacrán – I looked around a lot, and found this beaded Huichol egg (ornament?)

41 La rosa – Check out this Tehuana embroidery – this is called a huipil. Here is another one.  I was also finally able to find some paper roses.

42 La calavera – I really loved this groovy skull tile, but here’s one in paper mache that’s pretty traditional.

43 La campana – Here is a little bell – it’s a tin campana tin orn

44 El cantarito – This is a gorgeous blown glass pitcher.

45 El venado – So many to choose from – here is a Oaxacan carved alebrije.  Here is a Huichol yarn painting of an ordinary gray deer, and here is my favorite – the magical blue deer in a yarn painting.

46 El sol – Finding a sun figure was not difficult at all – it was narrowing it down that was difficult!  Here is a paper mache sun and here is one in Talavera.

47 La corona – I found this – it’s used to “crown” saints statues in churches.  Maybe this one is more el sol talavera 1 large“crown-like.”

48 La chalupa – I haven’t found many options.  I may replace it with  la muneca.

49 El pino – Here’s a Christmas tree tin ornament.

50 El pescado – Here’s another coconut creation (it’s not really a mask) and a Oaxacan carving.

51 La palma – Yet another tin ornament.  Next project:  the tin ornament loteria!

52 La maceta – Here’s a Talavera pottery flower rana pmache

53 El arpa (The Harp) – coming soon!

54 La rana – Finally:  the frog in paper mache.

Now I may spend some time on another project – but this was fun.  Later, I will talk about the riddles that come with the loteria and how you can write your own (also an excellent classroom activity!).

Loteria Artesania, Part 2


Sorry I missed a day – I thought I would be able to access the internet at Callaway Gardens, but I could not.  Still, I have had a pretty good run at NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month).

Here is the next group of Loteria images I found.  As you will see, even after so many hours of searching images (I’m embarrassed to tell you how many), I have some missing.  That means substitutions.  Let me explain:  the idea behind this Loteria exercise was to come up with a traditional number of cards – that would be 54.

So, while I could have approached it several ways, I was trying to stick with images as close to the names of the cards that I could.  And – they needed to be some form of Mexican Folk guitarra toy

17 El bandolón – I couldn’t find a sitar (or mandolin?), so I used la guitarra instead.

18 El violoncello (The Cello) – still looking.

19 La garza – I found this Oaxacan wood carving (alebrije).la mano nicho

20 El pájaro – I like this Otomi embroidery swatch, or this Talavera bird.

21 La manoThis milagro (but it’s not large) and this hand nicho – I like it because it’s unique.

22 La bota – It wasn’t easy, but I found these Virgin of Guadalupe boots.

23 La luna – I love this paper mache moon.el borracho pap mache

24 El cotorro – Here is a paper mache parrot.

25 El borrachoHere is a drunk man made from paper mache.

26 El negritoHere is a traditional wooden carved and painted mask called El Negrito.

27 El corazón – I have soooooo many kinds of hearts, but I like this one in wood with milagros.

28 La sandía – a lovely coconut shell mask with a watermelon on it.

el tambor huichol29 El tambora Huichol yarn picture.

30 El camarón – haven’t found one yet.  I may replace it with this elefante (Oaxacan carving).  I have already asked for it for my birthday.

31 Las jaras (The Arrows) – Not yet.

32 El músicoa painted tin ornament of a musician.

33 La araña (The Spider) – Nothing yet.

More later!

Loteria Artesania, Part One


Yes, summer’s ending, and what am I doing?  Creating loteria decks in my head.  Here’s the deal.  What I do when I am bored is to, well, uh, instead of counting sheep… I look for rhyming words.

I can see your confused looks – It’s very simple.  I choose a phonetic ending, let’s say “-ait”.  Then, I go through the alphabet, looking for words that are spelled with that ending, or that sound (you know: -ate, -eight,…).  That would be ate, bait, crate, date, eight, fate, freight, gate, gait, great, etc.  What can I say – it keeps my mind occupied.

I don’t think I have OCD – I can stop whenever I want.

That has sort of transferred to the whole Loteria thing.  I have already started one post on “Making Your Own Loteria Deck“.  So, this is the logical next step.

I chose the theme of Mexican Folk Art – Here is Part One:

1 El gallo – I found three possibilities:  a Oaxacan carvinga painted clay rooster,  and a painted tin rooster.el gallo clay

2 El diablito –  a coco mask

3 La dama –  a huichol mask or  a clay miniature.

4 El catrín –  a clay figure of a smoking man.

5 El paraguas –  these oilcloth dishwashing gloves (to keep the water off your hands – I know it’s a stretch… or this clay day of the dead beach figurine.

6 La sirenaa painted tin mirror

7 La escalerathese primitive ladders or this Aztec temple tin ornament (it has stairs).

8 La botellaa set of Cuervo bottle tin ornaments.

9 El barriel arbol de vida 2lthis balero toy is shaped like a barrel.

10 El árbol – either this arbol de la vida or this one.

11 El melón – this one’s a long shot: a paper mache pumpkin.

12 El valientethis tin ornament.

13 El gorrito – no bonnets – I had to go with this sombrero or this sombrero pinata.

14 La muertethis clay pera laque

15 La perathis silver leaf gourd.

16 La banderathis popotillo plate with the eagle on a cactus, like the Mexican flag, or this papel picado which is like little flags, or this tin soldier holding a Mexican flag.

That’s it for part one.  Yes, I don’t have much to do right now.  More tomorrow!