What is Cinco de Mayo? Do your students know what the day commemorates? If not, a good starting point for the activities below would be a brief history of the day. In 1862, the Mexican army was involved in the Battle of Puebla with the French who were determined to occupy their country. Outnumbered two to one, the Mexican army defeated the French invaders in a battle on May 5th. Inspired by their countrymen’s bravery, Mexican Americans used the day of the battle as a unifying rally cry to gain respect and acknowledgment during the Civil Rights Movement. The day become a celebratory occasion and is now voluntarily celebrated by Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike. The activities below are quick and easy to prepare, but give students insight into Mexican culture and fun.
Cinco de Mayo Activities for Kids
Make a Mexican Flag
Using a Mexican flag as inspiration, have students create their own Mexican flags from construction paper. Copy the eagle on plain paper and have the students cut it out and glue it on the white stripe of the flag. If a real Mexican flag is not available, show students a picture of it in a social studies book or from a printout from the Internet.
Kids love to eat and tacos are an excellent, and easy, meal to prepare. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with an Taco Party. Parent-volunteers can assist in bringing in ingredients and serving at the class’ taco bar. Prepare the taco meat ahead of time and reheat it in the school’s microwave or oven. Is a real taco bar too much of a hassle? No problem! Serve ice cream tacos instead. Students will be just as happy, and it will be a great way to end the school day.
Learn Some Spanish
This website offers a variety of Spanish word books and coloring pages. Create a dictionary of common Spanish words that students can use when talking with one another. Feeling competitive? Have a Spanish-word Jeopardy style game at the end of the day to review the new vocabulary.
Make a Map
Let students get down and dirt with this 3-dimensional map making activity. Using a large chunk of basic salt dough, have students work in pairs to create a map of Mexico. Encourage them to study the topography and create the necessary mountains and valleys in the landscape.
Ancient Mexican artists were famous for their mosaic works. Using square scraps of paper, have children create a mosaic of themselves or an image related to Mexican culture. For older students, use dried beans instead of construction paper as the mosaic material.
How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo in your classroom?