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The Circuit

Mapping Activity

*Note: Objectives of the suggested activity:

  • To place the students in the travel of the Jimenez family throughout the novel
  • To introduce and build location and distance researching skills
  • To allow students to work with classmates to build social skills and allow for a creative outlet


Students will team up with one or two classmates to develop a map depicting the travels of the Jimenez family throughout the novel. The groups will use the Internet or other resource to research states, cities, and the distance traveled using the suggested links. Each day the group will add to their map, resulting in the finished product of a 3x5 foot map (preferred map size is flexible for this activity).

Background Knowledge

  • Use of the Internet
  • Map reading
  • Use of a distance scale – the miles will be provided by mapquest or another search engine, but students may need a lesson in drawing a map to scale.


  • Butcher paper or 3x5 poster board (Instructor can determine size)
  • Rulers/yard stick
  • Colored pencil/lead pencils
  • Access to the Internet or map resources


  • Divide students into groups of 2 or 3
  • Introduce the activity
  • Hand out materials

Teacher Resources

Spanish to English Translations for The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez

  1. La frontera = the border
  2. El Rancho Blanco = The White Ranch
  3. Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico = National Railway system of Mexico
  4. Cantinflas = a famous movie star from the past
  5. Mi’ jo = my son
  6. Mi’ ja = my daughter
  7. Dios lo quiera = God would want
  8. otra vez la burra al trigo = literally – again the donkey (female) in the wheat.
  9. Panchito = Little Francisco
  10. La Migra = Immigration/Border Patrol
  11. Viejo/Vieja = endearing nickname for spouse. Literally = old
  12. Comal = metal skillet used over an open fire
  13. Verdolagas = an edible weed
  14. Carachita = name given to their old car; jalopy
  15. si = yes or if
  16. corridos = bullfights
  17. Como se dice ‘es tuyo’ en ingles? = How do you say “it’s yours” in English?
  18. Torito = little bull. Nickname for Juan Michael
  19. Virgen de Guadalupe = The Virgin of Guadalupe
  20. frijoles de la olla = beans in a pot
  21. la crandera = healer
  22. El mal de ojo = evil eye
  23. vieja, vamonos al hospital = old lady (endearing term used between
    husband and wife), we must go to the hospital
  24. Santo Nino de Atocha = Holy child of Atocha
  25. el Angel de Oro = Angel of Gold
  26. Tonto =silly, stupid
  27. paisano =countryman
  28. Que dios los bendiga = May God bless them
  29. Feliz Navidad, vieja = Merry Christmas, old lady (endearing term used between husband and wife)
  30. El Perico = The Parrot
  31. periquito bonito = pretty little parrot
  32. “Santa Maria, Madre de Dios, ruega Senora por nosotros los pecadores ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte, amen” = Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners no and at the hour of our death, amen
  33. contratista = contractor
  34. mocoso =snotty, stuck up
  35. La Bola = the ball
  36. alla = over here
  37. braceros/bracero = workers allowed to be in the U.S. Circa 1940’s
  38. Ya es ora = its time
  39. listo = ready, smart
  40. mi olla = my pot
  41. es todo = that’s all
  42. tienen que tener cuidado= you have to be careful
  43. quince = 15
  44. chile con carne = chile with meat
  45. huaraches = sandals
  46. sin vergueuza = brazen
  47. abuelita = grandma
  48. hacendados = landowners
  49. campesinos = field workers
  50. librito = little book
  51. Mi’ jito = my son (endearing)
  52. El Ratoncito = little mouse
  53. Ay, Dios mio = oh, my god
  54. Ya no seas tonto, Pancho! = Don’t be silly/stupid, Pancho