Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz - Lesson Plans, Videos, and Books for Kids

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz - Lesson Plans, Videos, and Books for Kids
                                      A portrait of Juana during her youth in 1666, which states she was 15 at the time

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz has been on my mind a lot lately. She was a 17th-century nun, self-taught scholar, and poet. Her passion for women's education has led to her being recognized as the first (published) feminist in the "New" World. 

In fact, Juana was a child prodigy who learned to read and write in Latin when she was three and wrote her first poem when she was eight. A voracious reader, Juana was mostly self educated as women were not allowed to attend the university. But her pursuit of knowledge and great intelligence soon earned her a reputation and the nickname "The Tenth Muse."

Juana rejected many marriage proposals and instead embraced the church, becoming a nun so that she could continue her freedom to study. Her library is thought to have been one of the largest with more than 4,000 books. And she was quite a prolific writer, but few of her writings remain. She wrote poetry in all its various forms (sonnets, ballads, odes, etc.), plays, and even villancicos (carols). 

Unfortunately, Sor Juana's outspoken nature eventually resulted in punishment by the Catholic church. She frequently challenged the church's patriarchy and the final straw was her critique of a sermon by a Jesuit preacher. It led to the confiscation of her library,  as well as her scientific and musical instruments. Sor Juana's final written words appear to have been a document of penitence which she bitterly signed "Yo, la Peor de Todas" ("I, the worst of all women").

Despite this, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is recognized today as one of the most influential writers of her time, and is considered a national icon of Mexico. She is said to embody the bridge between the Spanish Golden Age and the Enlightenment, Spain and New Spain, and Catholic philosophy and scientific pursuits.

Equally important, Sor Juana’s outstanding poetry and other writings make her a major figure at the beginning of Mexican literature.

She really was a fascinating woman and remarkable historical figure. There's so much more I could write about her, but I'll let you or your students do some research. And the videos included below are wonderful. 

I truly wish there were more resources for children about her. I have listed a few materials below and am working on some printables for a variety of ages. I'll add them to the bottom of this post when they are complete. 

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz - Lesson Plans, Videos, and Books for Kids
Retrato de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695), painted by Juan de Miranda

Lesson Plans



I really enjoyed this video from TED-Ed, though I think the title is not quite accurate:

Another good one from BESE (best for older students):


Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz printable activities for kids

Two coloring and counting activities to introduce little ones to Sor Juana. Strengthen number recognition and number order with this simple set of activities.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz reading passage for students

(4th - 8th)

This is a brief history of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the 17th-century nun, self-taught scholar, and poet. Learn who she was and why she is significant in world history. This informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. It includes an 6-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.

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Here are some of my other posts and reading passages that you may enjoy for Women's History Month.