Cinco de Mayo is all about food, music, and parades, right? Well, while these may be ways we celebrate the holiday, what’s the reason behind the festivities? How did this holiday come about?Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for May 5th) is celebrated to remember the unlikely victory the Mexican army had over the French on May 5, 1862 in the Battle of Puebla. While the Mexicans were greatly outnumbered, they managed to confuse the the French army and win the battle by releasing a herd of cattle. Your students can read all about the origin of Cinco de Mayo as well as the ways Americans celebrate this holiday in the Big Universe title Cinco de Mayo. This text, found in Holidays and Festivals, is a 4.0 ATOS reading level and has bright colorful pictures to engage readers. The “Did You Know” section on each set of pages gives interesting tidbits of information that adds to the meaning of the text. This title contains important nonfiction features (table of contents, glossary, index) as well as includes several smaller sections of procedural text within its pages. Check out this title and possible ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in your classroom.
- Learn some new Spanish words. If you have any ELL students in your classroom that speak Spanish, this is a great time to let them shine! Give them a chance to be the teacher for a short time.
- Reenact the Battle of Puebla with dollar store army men. Allow students to create mini flags and other props for the miniature battle.
- Take the time to learn the dance steps printed on page 21 of Cinco de Mayo. Make a sombrero to use for the dance.
- Make a Mexican flag.
- Teach your students how to make Papel Picado (perforated paper) and decorate the room with their creations.
- Make pinatas with your students. Follow the simple directions on page 9 of the text.
Celebrate your students’ learning by having a Cinco de Mayo party. Hang the Papel Picado and play Mariachi music and dance with the new steps the students learned.
- Hang and break their pinatas. Be sure to follow safety guidelines if you choose to do this one.
- Bring an authentic Mexican dish to try during your celebration.
- Make simple tambourines by stapling two paper plates together with beans inside. Make maracas by putting a small amount of rice inside a plastic Easter Egg and attach it to two plastic spoons. Connect the spoons at the bottom of the handle. Your students can perform with their own Mariachi band. Parade through other classrooms (with teacher permission, of course).
If you’ve got more ways you celebrate Cinco de Mayo with your students, Big Universe would love to hear about them in the comments section below.