Beyond the Book – Playing Lotería

Today is the last day of Hispanic and Latine Heritage Month and I wanted to close it out with one of our favorite bilingual English-Spanish books, Playing Lotería by René Colato Laínez. I have to give all of my thanks to one of the doctoral students in my program, who has became a good friend, Keisey F. She created the guide, as well as the translations you’ll see in it.

Bookshop and Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

Book Summary

A young boy is visiting his grandmother in Mexico and he is a little nervous. He is scared he won’t be able to talk with his grandmother because she does not speak English and he does not feel too confident about his Spanish. How will they ever understand each other? Will he learn to speak Spanish? Or is his grandmother going to learn English? What is a “Lotería” and how do you play it?


4 – 8 years

Before reading the story:

Discuss what you see on the cover of the book. What could the cards mean? Make predictions about what may happen in the story. Lotería is the Mexican version of Bingo. Talk about whether you or your child has ever played Bingo. Google the Mexican game, Lotería, and discuss the different types of artwork you see in the pictures.

During the story:

Read the book aloud to your child, have the child read, or take turns reading each page. Make predictions about the text based on the illustrations. Provide definitions and connections for any of the target vocabulary words that may be unfamiliar. Ask questions throughout the story to help your child comprehend what is being read. Have your child sound out or repeat unfamiliar words.

Example Questions:

  • How did the boy feel about going to see his grandmother?
  • What game does Lotería remind you of?
  • Would you want to learn to speak Spanish?
  • How did the boy feel after his grandmother taught him about Lotería?
  • If you won Lotería, what kind of prize would you want?
  • How did the boy feel at the end of his trip to visit grandmother?
  • Why is it important that the boy learns to speak in Spanish?
  • Describe the way Lotería and Bingo are the same and how they are different.
  • Tell me about a time you went to the fair.
  • Imagine you were teaching your friends how to play Lotería. What would you say?

Target Vocabulary

a public area that is near city buildings and has places to sit, walk, and shop
a building where buses or trains stop so that passengers can get on and off
a round container with curved sides and flat ends
to call out loudly
an agreement between two or more people that helps each person in some way
a hat that ties under the chin
a place where products are bought and sold

After reading the story:

Have your child re-read the book in their own words using the illustrations. Talk about other words you or your child may know in Spanish. Think of words you would like to know in Spanish and find their translation on Google. Search for videos of how to play Lotería on Youtube or play an online version of Lotería. Discuss what type of drawings your child would include if they made their own version of Lotería.


DIY Lotería

Draw 16 rectangles on two sheets of paper and take turns thinking of figures to draw or cut from a magazine. This could be animals, cars, people, food, or anything else your child can think of! These will be your game boards. One will be for you and the other for your child. Make sure your drawings are colorful as Lotería is known for its colorful figures!

Once your drawings are done, it is time to create the phrases. Write these down on a separate sheet of paper to help you remember the ones you make. Don’t forget, they should be short phrases that rhyme. Have fun and get creative!

Fold the phrases and place them in a cup. Take turns pulling out a piece of paper and reading the names from the cup. Each time a figure is called, place a bean or counting chip on the picture. Don’t forget to shout “Lotería!” when you have 4 beans in a row. Have fun!

We hope you all enjoyed going Beyond the Book with Playing Lotería! You can download a printable version below that also includes translations for phrases included in the book and English-Spanish cognates.

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