Traveling Suitcases

The Traveling Suitcase program offers teachers the opportunity to introduce students to an assemblage of artifacts from around Latin America, including books, toys, music, clothing, product packaging, currency, bus schedules, and many more items. The Traveling Suitcases are divided into thematic areas that span across the many cultures, traditions, and economies of Latin America.

Traveling Suitcases allow students to handle items and explore the differences and similarities among the various cultures represented within the suitcase and their own lives in the United States. Many teachers use the suitcases to create learning centers in their classrooms and each suitcase comes with lesson plans and ideas for teachers.

For more information and ideas, see Linda Hahn Miller’s article about the traveling Suitcase: Bringing Latin America to the Classroom

“It makes a big difference when students can hold authentic material in their hands and see the creative and intricate work that goes with every piece in the Suitcase” – Borrower testimonial

How To Borrow & Return a Suitcase

PLEASE NOTE: Due to high demand, there is limited availability for most suitcases until December 2023. However, we are happy to accommodate requests as best we can. 

  1. Submit a completed Lending Agreement & Request through Google Forms at least two weeks before your desired date. We recommend submitting a request as early as possible, however.

  2. Use the suitcase in your classroom. We will ship the suitcase to the address on your lending agreement free of charge. After it has arrived, you will have two weeks to take advantage of the included lesson plans and classroom ideas.

  3. Prepare the suitcase for return shipment by ensuring that all of the items are returned to their appropriate bags and completing the inventory form located in the binder.

  4. Review the suitcase by completing the evaluation form either online or in the binder.

  5. Return your suitcase to the Center by the due date. You or your school will be responsible for return shipping costs which at library rate will usually be around $25-$30 depending upon the weight of the suitcase. Complete return instructions are included in the binder.

  6. Share your expertise by submitting any lesson plans that you have developed while utilizing the suitcase so that future classrooms can benefit from those great ideas. If interested in doing so, please reach out to us so that we can make arrangements. All teachers and their school are acknowledged for the hard work involved in crafting their lesson plans. We truly appreciate all lesson plan submittals as this allows our program to develop and better serve classrooms across the nation.

  7. Tag us on social media! If you post any photos of the students using the suitcases, tag us and we'll share! You can find us on Twitter (@LatamUF), Facebook (@UFLatinAmericanStudies), and Instagram (@uf_latam).

Roster of Suitcases

Traveling Suitcases at the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida are thematic, rather than country-specific, in order to encourage students to think broadly. Students will learn to recognize shared cultural, historical, and social phenomena across Latin America while also appreciating the uniqueness of various regions and cultures.

Click on a suitcase below to see a description, the inventory of items included, and sample lesson plans.


Afro-Latin America

The Afro-Latin American Traveling Suitcase is one of the newest traveling suitcases offered and it offers a collection of items that explore race, the history of slavery, and the commodification of Afro-Latin American identity within tourist souvenirs. The suitcase also includes items that pick up various elements of the diverse cultures of the African diaspora in the Americas.

Learn More!

Andean Music and Dance

The Andean Music and Dance Traveling Suitcase is one of our most popular traveling suitcases. This suitcase encourages students to explore the role of music and dance within the various cultures of the Andes. The suitcase includes musical instruments, clothing, music samples, and dolls that demonstrate traditional dress. Explore the rich textures of the textiles, hear the sounds of the music, and feel the vibration of musical instruments as they play.

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Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead Traveling Suitcase is always popular around October and November! Explore the cultural differences between Halloween and Day of the Dead with your students. Inside, the suitcase has all of the items needed to make an altar for Día de los Muertos in your classroom. The suitcase includes many traditional items for the table including figurines, offering dishes, plastic food and flowers, and candles. We also include a teacher’s guide and some of the other essentials such as table clothes and extra tissue paper so students can make their own papel picado.

PLEASE NOTE: This suitcase is always in high demand around October. If you would like to borrow this particular suitcase, please submit a request well in advance.

Learn more!

Latin American Art

The Latin American Art Traveling Suitcase showcases jewelry, dolls, handmade ornaments and other examples of craftsmanship from around the region. Students can handle an indigenous talisman from Brazil and admire straw baskets from Colombia. The collection also includes dozens of postcards, posters, and books on Latin American art. Exploring the commodification of art for tourism or the differences between folk art and “high art,” this suitcase is sure to inspire discussion in your classroom.

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Latin American Childhood

Check out our collection of toys, coloring books and musical instruments from around Latin America. Dive into some fables and fairy tales from Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Play with dolls from Nicaragua and Ecuador. Whether students are comparing their own childhood to the variety of childhood experiences captured in these artifacts or whether they are learning to talk about their own childhoods in Spanish, this suitcase is sure to liven up your classroom.

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Latin American Economy and Business Spanish

Liven up your classroom with this collection that contains brands of coffee from countries throughout Latin America. Food products – like sugar, beans, spices – that are key drivers of local economies come in this suitcase. Plus, students can review money (bills and coins) from almost every country in the region.

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Latin American Food

Explore the variety of foods, drinks, and food cultures that span Latin America. This suitcase includes various food items such as beans, coffee, nuts, and even Palmitos, but it also includes a variety of food related items such as table cloths, yerba mate cups, mortar and pestles, and even a coffee maker. Explore similar items from different countries to examine the many similarities and differences or read up on recipes from St. Vincent!

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Latin American Indigenous Peoples

In Box 1, touch the wool of the Colombian highlands, see embroidery stitched by recent Mayan people in Guatemala, and read a children’s tale in English, Spanish, and Quechua. In Box 2, compare the variety of clothing from Mexico including traditional Mayan pants and a child’s Huipil. Most of the items in the suitcases come from modern day living indigenous peoples. Use these suitcases to engage in conversations around indigeneity that encourage students to recognize that indigenous people are not a thing of the past.

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Latin American Music

The diverse sounds of Latin America will fill your classroom with this Suitcase. Music is an important aspect of the cultural diversity of Latin America and this suitcase allows you to explore the instruments and rhythms that fill the streets of Mexico, Cuba, Honduras and many others. Hear the rattle of the Chajchas, an instrument made from hooves that is attached to the ankle in Andean countries, create the clave that forms the basis of traditional music in Cuba, listen to a variety of CDs with samples, or explore dance with the video, Dancing Across Disciplines. The Latin American Music Traveling Suitcase is sure to liven up your classroom and engage your students!

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Latin American Elementary Science

Please note, the suitcase is currently unavailable.

For science-lovers, this suitcase has what you need: Brain coral, a preserved blue morpho butterfly, a bird's nest from a tropical forest and guides to national parks. These objects provide a glimpse into key natural resources and diverse wildlife found in the region.  And if you like learning about health, there are also examples of popular medicines used in Latin America like Costa Rica’s cofal fuerte.

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Latin American Traditional Attire

Traditional dresses, woven bags and colorful belts known as chumpis can be viewed in this assortment of clothing from around Latin America. View the indigenous styles of Guatemala or the complex handicrafts made in Venezuela. This suitcase also integrates dolls from Mexico and Panama in traditional costumes. Engage in the wide variety of styles and accessories that make up these diverse lands.

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National Identity and Symbols

Explore the important symbols and figures associated with various Latin American countries. The collection includes flags, currency, and stamps. Students also can check out lottery tickets, tourist brochures, political flyers and a pair of soccer (football) jerseys.

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Traveling Around Latin America

Take a journey through Latin America with this touristic guide to the region. The suitcase contains postcards, maps and even transportation tickets. Countries featured in this kit range from Cuba to Costa Rica to Brazil to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The items offer a taste at some of the iconic features found in these countries, including Machu Picchu in Peru and the Galapagos in Ecuador.

Learn more!